“Intensely gazing at nature for hours for the purpose of a painting allows me to capture a sense of emotion, time, and place.”
Jerarde Gutierrez is a Bay Area based painter, public artist, and educator––and a longtime supporter of ILE. We recently joined Jerarde on one of his plein air painting adventures at Point Reyes National Seashore to learn more about his creative practice and see his Travel Pack / portable studio in action. Check out our conversation below:
Jerarde, tell us a bit about yourself, what you do for work, and your creative practice.
After graduating with a BFA in illustration and painting, and pursuing a career in illustration and design, I began focusing on the arts education field working with communities in various capacities. With a strong belief in giving back to the community, and making art accessible to everyone, I have chosen to share my passion for art and creative practices through teaching and mentoring young artists.
I have worked with several camps, after school programs, youth organizations, and colleges, teaching photography, digital arts, drawing and painting. My path in education led me to my current work as a Project Manager for the Arts & Creativity/SEL Program at the REACH Ashland Youth Center in San Leandro, California.
When not working in education, you can find me hiking and painting En plein air. My passion for the outdoors collided with my love of painting, where I spend my time observing nature to capture its story.
What does your creative process look like? What are some current projects or themes you're exploring in your art?
Land and the outdoors are core to my work. Painting outdoors is as much a meditative experience as it is a technical skill. Although I enjoy studio painting, I am always looking to paint in the open air (En plein air). Being in nature as I paint forces me to be very selective about what I find important in the scene so that I not only accurately depict it, but edit to push how it “feels.”
Intensely gazing at nature for hours for the purpose of a painting allows me to capture a sense of emotion, time, and place. Being an avid hiker allows me to scout locations even when I’m not painting. Once I have a location in mind, I will hike anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour to find a composition I like. I can usually complete a painting in a few hours and will sometimes make a couple paintings from the same area. I will sometimes add details or make adjustments later from my studio, otherwise the work is left alone.
Which ILE pieces are you carrying? How do they complement your daily life / creative practice?
I recently switched from carrying the Flaptop to the Travel Pack. The Flaptop served me well for almost 5 years and is still ready to take on anything. I switched to the Travel Pack because I wanted more room and more hip support for heavier loads. Painting while hiking requires having an art studio on your back!
What I loved about my Flaptop, and now Travel Pack, is that they provide the right amount of compartments and functional free space to keep me organized. The fabric choices are also durable enough for the outdoors and easy to clean. I cram my bags with a travel easel, paint, brushes, random art supplies, first aid kit, snacks, even a drone or camera. Everything is easily accessible and secure.
Throw in one of the Load Cells and my travel art studio is well organized and functional. The Phone Holster is another nice addition to keep my phone safe and easy to grab for taking photos while I hike. Sometimes I even use the Phone Holster to hold a mini watercolor kit. I can fit a mini sketchbook, travel brushes and a travel palette in there!
And the icing on the cake is: the bags look great. Outdoor gear can have a certain aesthetic that is often dated or boring, but ILE gives my outdoor gear a modern twist while not sacrificing functionality.
Photography by Vicken Donikian
Final painting photo by Jerarde Gutierrez