You can wish and hope and wish some more, but there’s only one way to achieve a level of greatness in painting art: to practice and study those who’ve paved the way before you. Daniel Gerhartz has been painting for 25 years, and it shows, as you can see in Holding Her Close, (below). Gerhartz has an instructional DVD that includes six hours of his advice to you on how to paint beautiful portraits and more. The Beginning of Autumn takes you through the creation of a plein air portrait, and Gerhartz holds nothing back when it comes to teaching you the skills he has honed.
We exchanged a friendly Q&A with Gerhartz about his art career, his work, and–in what is the first and likely the last time you’ll read about a certain, um, product here at artistmagazine–one of his first jobs as an artist.
CH: For your portrait paintings, how do you work with your models?
DG: I handle models and compositions in many different ways. More often than not, I will begin with a specific harmony and design in mind, then hire the model and gather objects and costumes that fit that theme to arrange the composition. Sometimes if I’m working on location, all of the elements are present, and all I have to do is rearrange them to design the work.
CH: What has been the most satisfying aspect of your art career?
DG: From a technical/artistic aspect, the most satisfying times are when I have achieved what I have set out to do, whether it be application, design or capturing of light. From artist/audience perspective, it’s when the viewer is moved deeply on an emotional or spiritual level.
CH: What’s the most common question you hear from your students, and how do you answer it?
DG: This can be answered on two levels. The most common artistic question is, “How do I capture light?” My answer is to accurately render values, edges and color temperatures.
The most common business question is, “How do I get into galleries?” I tell artists to have a plan that includes:
1. Developing a body (7-10) of consistent works
2. Contacting the galleries via snail mail and email to introduce oneself and artwork
3. Calling them to discuss what they think of the work and the possibilities of any future relationship.
4. Being persistent, yet polite, to gain representation.
CH: The Beginning of Autumn is receiving rave reviews. If you could tell someone one thing about it, what would it be?
DG: In this production, as in all of the others, it’s my goal to share all of what I have learned in regards to helping painters get to the next level with their own work. Holding nothing back, I enthusiastically share the essentials of how to solve the fundamentals with simple practical tips, both in demonstration and in thoughtful discussion as I’m working through the problems.
CH: Lastly, just for fun! We all have them … what’s your artist confession?
DG: One of my first assignments as a commercial artist was drawing tampons … had to start somewhere!
This just goes to show us all that greatness can come from humble beginnings and, as Gerhartz says, you have to start somewhere. That’s why, no matter where you are in your level of artistry, you’ll benefit from The Beginning of Autumn.
Until next time,
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