An overview of an artist


A desire to create

Michaela Gerlaud was born in Versailles in 1952. Raised by her paternal grandparents in the heart of Burgundy, where she showed signs, at a very young age, of a desire to create. Her grandfather, a wood craftsman, taught her to work with various materials such as wood, wicker and cane and to closely and sensitively observe nature. Her grandmother, an ex-dress maker for Jean Patou in Paris, fashioned for Michaela princess garments which helped her become aware of the subtle harmony of hues and textures. She discovers the taffeta's delicious rustle and the thousand reflections of moire. As an adolescent in Paris, she was bathed in a universe of shapes and colors by her mother, who was then an interior designer. Michaela's desire to create through her passion to draw and paint was enhanced in the music she loved of Barbara and Joan Baez while studying at Racine High School. Taking her desires even further, she studied English at the Sorbonne and became equally passionate by studying the history of art, persistently attending a series of evening courses at the Ecole du Louvre.


An international modelling career and a passion for images

In 1971, after studying english at the Sorbonne, she was invited in California. Enticed by her new surroundings, she decides to stay and studies Art and Design at Sacramento's City College, renowned for its art department. Not far away in San Francisco, she was recruited as a model. Her successful modelling career will last for 15 years! She continued to paint while travelling to exotic countries as a model. She discovers radiant tropical colors, luxuriant vegetation and intense light which abounds in such countries as in Mexico, Brasil, Venezuela, which continued to feed her inspiration and draw her closer to her beloved painters Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Matisse.

Michaela's passion for images, upon which she appeared in numerous magazines and advertisements as a model, continues and she ventures in 1986 into a stylist career in New York City, where she worked with talented photographers (Demarchelier, Horst...) and models. She discovers Henry Clarke, a famous photographer of the 1950's, who also influenced her continued passion to paint.


Painting in Paris and a Gold Medal

In 1989, she leaves New York and returns to her roots in France. Michel-Henry, contemporary painter, offered her an opportunity to work with him in Paris. She is dazzled by the subtle colors and the rich texture of his work. She then devotes herself fully to painting with oil, with this “Master” in his studio. He will write: “to speak of life, silent life, passionate life, Michaela paints life, with sumptuous colors and rigorous lines; it is a world in which one would like to slip into.”. Work sessions and exhibitions continue to follow each other.

Her art is recognized by international art collectors. She was awarded the Grand Finale Portrait at the 41st International Painting Grand Prize of Deauville in 1990. Many more fortunate encounters will comfort her in the path she has chosen, such as with the editor Georges Dargaud who will put into words : his "wonderment - to see a talent born, the colors of which describe nature as she radiates it”. Furthermore, The International Société of Fine Arts (SIBA), The Salon d'Automne, the Salon of French Artists, have nominated her. From the Parisian Salons, she was invited to exhibit in Tokyo, Hong Kong or Taïwan beside other great names of figurative contemporary painters such as André Brasilier, Jean-Pierre Cassigneul or Alain Bonnefoit. In 1991, the National Federation of French Culture (FNCF) awards her the Gold Medal for her work.


Promotion of French Artistic Patrimony

In 1990, on the strength of her international artistic experience, she multiplies contacts and understands the need for the promotion of young french artists. One year later, under Michel-Henry's patronage and with their common german friend, Jürgen Reinhardt, she creates The Association for the Promotion of French Artistic Patrimony (APPAF) in 1991. Contemporary Masters and young promising talents are invited to exhibit in the Salons of the Arturo Lopez Center at Neuilly-sur-Seine. This first exhibit of APPAF, placed under the high patronage of Nicolas Sarkozy, deputy Mayor of the City of Neuilly-sur-Seine, inaugurated by Mrs Bernadette Chirac, was largely covered by the specialized press such as Actualités des Arts and Arts Actualités Magazine. In September of the same year, she organizes “L'art contemporain France – USA” at the Lammelin Gallery in Paris.

In October, 1991, APPAF created an “International Incident” according to The Washington Post, first newspaper of Washington DC, with the exhibition of 650 French artists at the Maison Française in the gardens of the French Embassy. Placed under the high patronage of Mrs Charles de Gaulle and of his Excellence Mr. Jacques Andréani, French Ambassador in the United States, the Salon France-America was a thundering success in the States and in France. The Actualités des Arts magazine devoted 3 pages to the story. Then, in 1992, she organizes the Salon France - Chicago, in the superb Palace The Palmer House, combined with conferences at the David and Alfred Smart Museum and at the renowned Art Institute of Chicago.


Le poids des mots, le choc des photos” or the weight of words, the impact of photos

Michaela continues to travel throughout Europe and America, working on the promotion of French painters, and has little time left for her own creation. In 1993, she feels the need for recharging her batteries and decides to isolate herself in the family property in Burgundy. With her sensitivity still on edge, she appreciated the freedom and chance to rediscover her love of nature. In her peaceful studio, she painted rich colourful canvasses and worked on the subtle contrasts of light and shadows. In 1997, a couple of art lovers took her out of her introspection with an exhibition in the sophisticated setting of the “Lion d'Or” near Sancerre. The exhibition Interiors and Portraits” lures the art collectors and the press. “From her past modelling and styling experiences, she has kept a certain taste of aesthetic and a care of detail which, added to a sensual and elegant stroke, has established her trademark, her label, to speak high fashion...”, comments the columnist Michel Tolleron.

In 2003 occurs a dramatic incident that reveals her bipolarity. She is now bound to live a "roller coaster" life, alternating between “low periods” of depression and “high phases” that increase her creativity. She has had to accept this reality and join the club of bipolar artists, many of the great artists she loves such as Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse or Yves Saint Laurent among others!

Still passionate about creating images, she has adopted the Paris Match ex-motto : “The weight of words, the impact of photos”. Besides her love of painting, she worked for eight years for the Commucation Mission of the Nuclear Power Plant of Belleville-sur-Loire, near Sancerre. Michaela created posters and on-line guides during those years. One project she completed called, “The Guide of Good Addresses 2006” received much commendation from the National Management of EDF.


Portraits from Nature

In 2011, Michaela moved to the Bresse Region in order to live closer to her sister. She paints every Friday afternoon at the “Clins d'oeil” workshop and discovers acrylic painting. She appreciates this technique and the speed of drying. From primary colors she creates her own. She produces, in her Druillat studio, (1 hour from Lyon or Geneva) acrylic portraits on square canvasses, inspired by fashion and advertising. Michaela was part of the 2013 and 2014 editions of Art Bis exhibition in Bourg-en-Bresse and of the 59th Salon ArtCité Bourg. Then, Dingues d'Art Gallery at Journans (01) welcomed her for a personal exhibition in september 2014 beautifully covered by the regional press. From the 15th september to 3d of october 2015, the espace culturel Leclerc at Cap Emeraude in Bourg-en-Bresse invites her for a retrospective exhibit of 30 canvasses according to 3 themes: an air of Summer, in action and cool attitude.  In september 2016, an exhibition with the photographer Christophe Genaudy takes place at the espace culturel Leclerc. In january 2018, she exposes a retrospective of her work at La Buvette in Bourg en Bresse. In april 2019, she participates at the 15th Salon des Arts d'Ambronay 01500. She participates at the Salons ArtCité Bourg since 2014.