Art Demo: A look into the process behind an artist’s artwork

Photo by Alaysia Ezzard | The Signal

For the last two weeks the ABV Art Gallery in Atlanta has hosted a solo exhibition titled “Flux.” The artist behind the show is Claude-Gerard. On October 7, the artist was in the gallery performing a live demo of his art.

Gerard specializes in paper art. He stacks paper on top of each other and creates a sculpture out of it. The color in many of his pieces is from airbrushing, hand painting or the use of iridescent cardstock. The idea to create paper art wasn’t Gerard’s first idea.

“I wanted to venture into more physical art pieces, artwork,” said Gerard. “My first instinct was ‘Oh, I’ll illustrate some things’, and I learned very quickly that I am horrible at drawing since I haven’t done it in over a decade. So I’m like, ‘How do I get into some sort of means of making physical art that isn’t illustrative.”

His next idea was to try his hand at collages. He tried that for a bit but wanted to add a layering component. After playing around with this, Gerard decided to ditch the collage and just focus on layered paper sculptures, which has led him to where he is today.

“It all kinda stems from not being able to draw, but still wanting to be an artist,” said Gerard.

On average, the artist can finish a piece within a week, but the time it takes to finish depends on the type of project. If he has to airbrush in some color, that can add an additional week. If the piece he’s working on is large, that will take more time. Another factor that adds to his time is that he’s a full-time nurse.

Gerard has been a nurse for about 10 years. He enjoys his occupation, but art is what he’d rather be doing full-time.

“It’s not that I don’t like nursing, when it comes to art it’s like ‘yeah, I like nursing’ but, I’m very passionate about art and I love making art,” said Gerard. “The idea of picking one thing to do for the rest of your life it’s like you wouldn’t marry someone that you just like.”

Nursing has taught him many things. He has gained a lot of medical knowledge and life wisdom. Now Gerard is learning even more in his journey with art.

Contrary to other artists, Gerard doesn’t have an attachment to the art he has created. After spending so much time with it, he’s fine with getting rid of it.

“This show is the first time I was able to look at this body of work in its entirety and its relationship to itself,” said Gerard.

While creating the artwork for the show he was unsure if each piece would go together, but seeing the show as one whole he figured that it turned out alright.

In the gallery, a viewer asked if one of his art pieces was printed, to which Gerard answered that he actually hand-painted it.  He uses different machinery for his art, but wherever possible he prefers to create it himself.

“I feel like when you make art, a part of yourself resides in the art,” said Gerard. “The more machinery you use the less of yourself is in that art. When it comes to making these pieces, I don’t want to get to a point where I can’t tell if it’s me making this or the machine making it. As long as I’m cutting it by hand, a part of myself is still within that piece.”

Nurse by day, artist by night, Claude-Gerard is proof that it’s never too late to change paths and follow your true passions.