Curious inspiration: Photographer, painter Greg Gearlds enjoys “no rules” in art

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“The Flood at Port-Marly” is a copy of an 1876 Alfred Sisley painting by local artist Greg Gearlds.

Submitted photo

Editor’s note: The Daily Reporter will occasionally highlight local artists and musicians. Here, Greg Gearlds shares about his painting and photographic art. Gearlds lives near Greenfield and is in technology management. If you have a suggestion of a Hancock County artist that should be featured here, email [email protected].

Daily Reporter: How long have you been an artist, and how did you get started?

Greg Gearlds: I have been an artist for about 30 years. For most of that time I was focused primarily on photography and only started painting within the last four years or so, although I’ve dabbled with it for much longer than that. I’ve also done a lot of writing during that time and produced a couple of short films. I can’t really explain how or why I started creating art; I think it’s a God-given desire and I just needed to act on it. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds because there are people telling you to focus on the right thing: the thing that will pay the bills and provide security. Unfortunately, the person with the loudest and most active voice was myself. But at some point I had to stop listening to those voices and began to focus on those things that had been pulling at me for my whole life.

DR: Can you tell us about a favorite piece, and share why it’s meaningful to you?

GG: I don’t get too attached to anything I create but there are two paintings that stand out above anything else that I’ve done. One is a copy of an Alfred Sisley painting which was from a series of paintings entitled “The Flood At Port-Marly.” First, I love the original painting and the story and history behind it. It was painted in 1876 and captured a point in time when the Seine river flooded the area. I also love the fact that the building is still standing and in use today. My copy of that painting is one of my favorites simply because I feel like I captured a little bit of the emotion that Sisley must have been feeling as he stood there in the flooded streets painting this scene. The second painting that stands out is an original piece entitled “Gathering of Friends.” This is a small painting depicting a couple entering a party that is already in progress. This painting stands out to me for a couple of reasons: the stories behind all of the people in this room; what were they doing before this party? Why did they get invited to the party? What is the party for? I can ask a million questions about a scene like this. This is also an environment that I would like to be in.

DR: What do you use as inspiration?

GG: Many things provide inspiration: colors, smells, emotions, fears, nature, desires, curiosity, other art or artists … it really could be anything. For me, the most interesting thing is how those translate into a piece of art. Colors and smells, for example, will generally inspire a more abstract piece. I would love to paint the smell of leather but I haven’t been able to do that yet. My biggest fear is loneliness so a lot of my art will include people and/or scenes where there are a lot of people. Curiosity translates with the help of a simple “what if…” question. What if that tree was purple instead of green? What if that chicken had a long neck like a giraffe? That sort of thing. And, although I’ve given some specific examples here, probably the most encouraging or inspiring thing about art for me is that there are no rules. An artist can do whatever they want, however they want.