Who is Charlemagne?

Since we started this project, I have had a lot of emails asking who the mysterious grey cat is hidden in each of the main paintings for the story.  So, I thought I would take a moment to talk about Charlemagne, or as he is referred to in the studio, Charlie. 

I adopted Charlie about nine years ago.  I had seen him several times at the open adoptions they held at my local pet store each weekend. I would go on Saturday to pick up pet food, or look at the animals. I was not intentionally looking for a cat, but Charlie had a certain mystery about him. The shelter said he had been returned to them a few different times since arriving in their care.  I was intrigued! Weekend after weekend, there he was.  A big grey, regal cat.  

On the third weekend I had decided if he was still there he was coming home with me.  I will admit I was disappointed to find his kennel empty.  His name tag was still hanging, but there was no Charlie.  I started to walk away, when one of the volunteers asked if I was looking to adopt.  I told them I had seen Charlie a few times, but was apparently too late.  But to my surprise, she pulled me into the back room where this cat king had somehow mind controlled all of the volunteers into not making him stay in his kennel, and feeding him copious amounts of treats. I took him home that day.  

All of the animals in the studio while I work on this series. Charlie takes the best seat in the house, of course.

All of the animals in the studio while I work on this series. Charlie takes the best seat in the house, of course.

Charlie was an old cat when I adopted him, and I often wonder what his life as like before he came to live with us. He reigns in my bedroom, under the bed.  While the other furry residence in our home gather by us for meals eager for scraps, Charlie silently watches from a distance.  Once he is assured that we are occupied, he will return to his domain.  Where we will hear (for nearly an hour straight every single day) banging and thumping.  Running.  Jumping.  As if he is fighting his own secret cat battle against unknown intruders in our home.  But when we enter the room, he is always still.  Silently watching. 

So, Justin and I wrote a book about a mystery surrounding an old mirror, an old man, and an old cat.  There is nothing more interesting to me than the secrets of the past.  And I know that cat of ours has some of his own.

Moonlight Parade

Hey guys!  Here is the centerpiece image for our series "The Other Side of the Mirror", which debuts this weekend at Gallery Nucleus.  "Moonlight Parade".

"Moonlight Parade" 24x36, oils on panel

"Moonlight Parade" 24x36, oils on panel

November 14, 2015 - November 29, 2015
Opening Reception / Nov 14, 7:00PM - 10:00PM

Online sales start Saturday at midnight PST (3am EST Sunday) in the Gallery Nucleus shop.



Sketchbook 2015 shipping out!

Hey guys!  We have finally assembled all of the orders from our 2015 sketchbook.  Wow.  Thank you all so much for the overwhelming support and for your patience.  I know the orders are going out a little later than usual, but we were not expecting so many!  It was really exciting, especially now that we are working on the hardback storybook version.  Thank you!

Here are some of the drawings from the special edition books.  Justin still has a few left!


All special edition books come with a signed mini print of "Renard and the Strawberries".  Prints are double sided and printed on glossy 110lb paper.

And also, a shout out to Micah Epstein who was kind enough to come over and help up pack everything up!  Go check out his beautiful work!

Sketchbook 2015 preview

This Thursday at 10am EST, we will be releasing our 2015 joint sketchbook in our shop!  This year's sketchbook will contain all of the preliminary drawings for our new book/gallery show "The Other Side of the Mirror".  Unlike previous year's sketchbooks, this book is 58 pages with 30 pages of tutorials.  

The tutorials will cover:

Oil painting techniques for "Renard and the Strawberries" by Annie Stegg Gerard

Ink Illustration by Justin Gerard

Painting Process of "The Merchant's Daughter" by Annie Stegg Gerard

Oil painting techniques for "Renard and the Strawberries" by Annie Stegg Gerard


The first 400 books will be signed and numbered.  We will also be offering 100 limited edition copies that come with an original drawing in the front, as well as a mini print.  

Flying Foxes

While I am letting my Toad painting dry, I have started the preliminary sketches for the next piece in the series.  I am working on a demo for this piece as well that will hopefully appear in the new sketchbook for 2015.  Justin has been working like crazy scanning and laying everything out, so hopefully we will have some sneak peeks of the sketchbook coming soon!

On the Easel: Sketches for The Other Side of the Mirror

These fine folks are sketches from the upcoming Sketchbook 2015: The Other Side of the Mirror, which will be a companion sketchbook to the hardback edition appearing later this year.

Annie and I are going to be doing something a little special this year with the sketchbooks! This year our sketchbook is going to be a joint sketchbook, and it is going to offer a heavy focus on step-by-step demonstrations on ink work, painting, and drawing.

We also have a few other surprises in store this time around which we will be announcing this month, so stay tuned!  


Renard and the Strawberries: Painting Demonstration


Justin and I had a very specific idea in mind for what the painting should be like in order for it to fit the narrative of the story. One of the themes we wanted to depict was the innocence and free spirit of youth, and the sense of a world full of possibilities and mystery.  

Justin came up with some initial conceptual thumbnails to start with while I did several studies of animals and figures. Once we decided on an arrangement and narrative that we both liked, I began the final drawing. 




Determining a palette is very important for me before I start adding color washes. For this piece I knew I wanted to use a limited base palette of Green Umber, Raw Umber, Paynes Grey, Titanium White, and for the fox, Old Holland's Red Gold Lake.  To thin the paint, I used Gamblin's Solvent-Free Fluid. (Remember to observe fat over lean!  If you use too much oil, it will bead up on the surface.) 

All of the base colors are applied in light layers.  I like to keep the pencil lines visible to act as a guide as I build color.  This step helps me determine the mood of the painting as well.  Having a strong foundation will help me in subsequent steps, and makes the detailing process much easier for me. After I apply my base colors, I set the painting aside to dry.  I need the painting to be dry because I like to drybrush in my shadows and highlights, and this works much better of a completely dry foundation. 



For this piece, I decided to start with the fox. Using Red Gold Lake mixed with Raw umber, I buff in the shadows of the fur.  Mixing Paynes Grey with Raw Umber gives the darks I need for around the eyes and the nose.  Titanium White mixed with small parts of Red Gold Lake are used for the highlights.  I like to paint the individual hairs, and then smooth them using a wider soft brush.  This way the fur is defined, but still appears soft.   For the finer hairs, like the long ones around his ears, eyes, and whiskers, I like to use a sharp tipped brush (Pointed Round 3×0).  For this step, I add a new color to my palette as well. Alizarin Crimson will give me all of the rosy hues I need for this piece.  


Now I begin work on the foliage.  

Starting with the dry base from step 2, I begin to block in the smaller details of the piece.  In this case, it's the individual leaves, and the strawberries. By mixing Green Umber with  Red Gold Lake a more vibrant leaf color is achieved. The strawberries are blocked in using Alizarin Crimson. To give the leaves more dimension, I highlight the top outer edge where the light would be hitting them using titanium white. As you can see in fig. 2, the colors are very stark. After this layer has dried, I soften it by applying a glaze of Green Umber mixed with Gamblin's Solvent Free Fluid (fig. 3). While the paint is still wet, I am going to add the same golden highlights to further define the leaves.  After the sharp details are added with the fine tipped brush, I can go back soften them by dabbing them with a wider frayed brush. Lastly, I will add highlights to the strawberries using Titanium White mixed with Alizarin Crimson (fig. 4).  These steps are repeated for the rest of the foliage in the piece.


Much like the fox, I buff in the shadows and highlights for the birds in the painting using the dry base from step 2 (fig. 1).  The feathers are created by dabbing the brush onto the painting. The feathers will will rough and chunky initially (fig. 3), but by gently dabbing them with a frayed dry brush using the same manner as the fox's fur you can achieve a softer finish (fig. 4).


For the little girl's skin tone I mix Titanium White with Red Gold Lake and Raw Umber.  Small amounts of Alizarin Crimson are added to the cheeks and lips.  For the finer details, like the lace trim on her dress, Titanium white is thinned using Gamblin's Solvent-Free Fluid.  Her hair is painted using Raw umber as a base.  For warmer highlights, I mix Titanium White with Red Gold Lake to warm them.  


"Renard and the Strawberries", 12x16, oil on board

"Renard and the Strawberries", 12x16, oil on board

Lastly, I add a unifying glaze with a very thin amount of medium and subtle warm tones. And now we are finished! From start to finish the whole process has taken about three and a half weeks of work.  

This painting, along with 8 others will be appearing in our book, The Other Side of the Mirror, later this year at Gallery Nucleus. Please check back in over the next few months as we release more demos and preview work! You can see some working steps of the other images in the series as we create them here.


Almost finished....

I like to step away from a painting in the last stages to get a better sense of where the painting needs to be for completion.  In this case, I will be putting Renard aside to work on a short tutorial which will be available soon.  In the meantime I am ready to start on my next piece for the series that I am very excited about.  It involves some of my very favorite creatures!  I will be posting the sketch on Thursday.

12x16, oil on board

12x16, oil on board


12x16 oil on board

12x16 oil on board

Many times I am inspired by nature and places I have visited when I come up with scenes to paint.  For this piece in particular, Justin and I had just gotten back from California where we visited some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen.  Here are some of the pictures I took while driving up the coast.  Unfortunately I did not see any foxes, but I did stumble upon a large orange cat who's palette I fell in love with.