RedDot Reader Profile | Jonas Gerard

Painter and sculptor Jonas Gerard lives in Asheville, North Carolina. His incredible work bursts with color, and his live painting demonstrations blur the lines between visual art and performance.

I enjoyed my opportunity to learn more about Gerard’s background.

Cool Rush #14 | acrylic on canvas 36×84 $10,500

Jason: How did you get your start in art?

Jonas Gerard: I started by exhibiting at the Greenwich Village Art Festival in NYC in 1957 at the age of 16.

J: Did your family encourage your art?

JG: My mother encouraged my art. She was a fashion embroiderer in Casablanca, Morocco.

J: How much art related education do you have?

JG: None. I am self-taught. I educate myself with a large collection of art books, and visiting galleries and museums whenever possible.

J: Are there other artists in your family?

JG: My daughter, Mira Gerard, is the Chair of the Art School at East Tennessee State University. She is an accomplished artist.

Enchanted Forest #3 | acrylic on canvas 36×72 $8,650

J: What is your medium?

JG: Painting and sculpture. I use mostly acrylics. I also do collage and use mixed media and found objects.

J: Describe your style and subject matter

JG: Currently mostly Abstract Expressionism, with a few expressionist landscapes.

J: How did you develop your style?

JG: I developed my style over the course of 50 plus years as a working artist.

J: What drew you to your subject matter?

JG: As the inner need came to grow out of representational subject matter, my inner voice clearly pointed to abstraction.  

J: What do you feel is unique about your work?

JG: Over the years I have developed a keen sense of composition and color coordination. This experience has allowed for my process of being spontaneously creative without any planning.

Flight of Self Discovery I | acrylic on canvas 42×60 $8,250

An important aspect is painting quickly, translating inspiration to canvas and eliminating any opportunities for second thoughts or regrets. The end result happens by itself: it’s always a beautiful surprise, a reward for letting go of concern about the results and opinions of others.

J: When did you sell your first artwork?

JG: At age 16.

J: Are you a full-time artist?

JG: Yes, for 60 years.

J: How do you promote and expose your work to potential buyers?

JG: Over the years I have used every possible method of marketing myself.

Through my two galleries in Asheville, I currently have a thriving fine art business dedicated to selling my art.  I have a full time staff covering all aspects of the art business including management, marketing, sales and studio assistants. My work is marketed through my website, social media, newsletter and other efforts.

J: What do you feel has been your greatest challenge in selling your work?

April 2015 “painting performance”

JG: In the past I have found that the traditional Artist / gallery relationship simply did not work for me. I found success promoting my own work, first through years of art festivals and ultimately by owning and operating my own dedicated gallery.

J: What do you feel you’ve been most successful at in your art, and in your art business?

JG: Allowing the creative energy to come through me as honestly as possible. My task is to be released from the pressure of performance, interpretation, comparison, and judgment.

From the Source | acrylic on canvas 60×60 $9,800

People seem to quickly develop an emotional response to my art. In addition, I encourage the public to “touch the art,” to feel the tactile sensation of running their fingers over the textures in my paintings. This allows for a connection to the art that you will not find in most galleries.

J: What other jobs have you held?

JG: After graduating with a mechanical AAS degree, I held a couple of jobs in various industrial fields, which brought me no satisfaction whatsoever. What gave me great satisfaction was showing my work in the streets of New York. This quickly became financially rewarding beyond my imagination.

J: How much time do you spend in the studio on an average week?

JG: I live and work in the studio. A day hardly goes by without me painting.

J: Do you have a daily routine?

Moroccan Wind XIII | acrylic on canvas 36×60 $7,950

JG: No. I paint when the inspiration comes, which is quite often, no matter what time of day or night.

J: How much work do you produce per month on average?

JG: More than you can count on your fingers and toes.

J: Who is your favorite artist from art history, and which of their works is your favorite?

JG: Willem de Kooning  – February, Pallisade, both painted in 1957, and Door to the River, painted in 1960.

J: What are your interests outside of your art?

JG: Meditation. I have traveled the world many times over, but the experience of painting has outlasted any other worldly pursuits.

J: Thanks, Jonas. To see more of Jonas Gerard’s work, visit his website, http://www.jonasgerard.com.

Jonas’ Studio

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business. Connect with Jason on Facebook

18 Comments

  1. I would sell my soul to live with FLIGHT OF SELF DISCOVERY 1. Can you imagine the effect of it in actual dimension! I struggle daily to create realistic animal art, yet this man’s art explodes in my psyche. Envy is not a good thing. So I will be content to drink in the energy of his work. Thank you Jonas Gerard.
    -lori garfield

    1. Thank you Lori. From my point of view, making art should never be a “struggle.” Yet many of us think that this is how art is made. When we get too involved in the preconceived result, we forget the most important part, which is the joy of the process. Allowing the creative energy to come through can cultivate amazing results even beyond expectations.

  2. I love your work Jonas. Also I am a fan of Willem de Kooning. I do a little painting and a lot of assemblage. I usually paint my assemblages, in one color. My work resembles Louise Nevelson. Never heard of her until many described my work as “looking like hers” My work has received a lot of attention and I have sold a lot, without trying to sell it! I often try to talk people out of buying it and even offer it to them as a gift! I live in a large space , in downtown Tyler Texas (2500 sq ft) I produce my work and live in the same space. It is in the basement if a commercial building and folks live seeing it. I have thought if making it my official studio and offering it for viewing my work by appointment and during special events such as Art Walks. Do you think it is a good idea or should I not consider this idea!

    1. It’s an excellent idea. Let folks see your space, and absorb the vibration of a working studio. It will also stimulate sales as people love to discuss what an artist’s life is all about. We break the rules and that is not too often seen as a sign of success. It’s also a sign that there is no such thing as a “starving artist.”
      Be happy and grateful that you have found an art form that is so beautifully accepted. That is the most valuable aspect of a successful artist. Keep up the good work and keep in touch.

  3. Jonas is one of my favorite contemporary artists. I was thrilled to see your interview in my email. Thank you, Jason, for sharing your experience interviewing him with us.

  4. Jonas’ work is awesome! And, this article is particularly encouraging to me. I’m glad to have woken up to it.

  5. Great interview. My 7 year old daughter recently watched a video of you painting during her art class at school. She was completely mesmerized. Last week she came home with an assignment to research someone famous who shares the same passion as her…she immediately thought of you. I e-mailed the art teacher for more information since she couldn’t remember your last name. You are such an inspiration. We just started the research process, but I can’t wait to see what her painting looks like.

    Joanna

  6. Jonas is one of my favorite artists! I had the privilege of seeing him paint live with live music to inspire him in Asheville. I’ve visited his studio several times. He has great information about the process and mostly the mindset behind the freedom in his painting that evokes the emotional responses. I’ve learned much from observing his works, his processes, and accessing the info on his website. I would encourage anyone to explore the site further if you are not able to meet him live or visit the gallery. Definitely worth the time and inspiration. His inspiration has helped me take my painting experience up a couple notches!

  7. I visited Jonas’s gallery/studio a few months ago. Awesome, awesome is all I can say. The man is a genius. He has great videos that teach and entertain. Hope to get back to Ashville this fall.

  8. I found jonas’ studio while taking a guided tour of Ashville. When I walked into the studio I just froze and my heart beat faster as I took in the explosion of beauty and color. Not to be dramatic but my eyes teared up. Jonas came over with another artist and introduced himself and the other artist. He was so open and free about his passion as an artist and his encouragement of other artists. As an amateur artist I can’t tell you how much this meant to me.
    I went home with a new enthusiasm for art.

  9. Hi Jonas,
    I was recommended to see your work from an artist friend and was very impressed with your live painting videos and artwork. I’m an artist myself and just got back from Asia after 5 years. I’m relocating to Ft. Collins, CO next week and will have my own art studio for the first time. I would love to try live painting too, but with portraits. I haven’t figured out how, but only time will tell. Anyway, all the best. Continue with great success.
    Josh-

    1. Josh,
      Thank you very much for the words of support. I know you can find a way to do the live painting in a way that is harmonious with your style. The main elements that can make it work include good lighting for the subject and the canvas, a comfortable atmosphere for the audience, good music, and a process that doesn’t take too long, so the audience does not get bored. Good luck!

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