Gaius, Ethereal of the Land

Gaius 13x19 fantasy art print
Artwork by Rene Arreola
tree reference
The tree reference used in the Gaius painting. Photo by Rene Arreola.

In the Gaius, Ethereal of the Land painting (“Gaius” pronounced GUY-us), I was inspired by a tree near where I live in Monterey, CA. Near the Monterey Bay recreational trail, there is a tree that I’ve always really been drawn to. The image of the tree in the Gaius painting is made based on a photo reference I took on my phone. I’ve known for about a year or so that I would end up painting this tree into one of my artworks. So there you go.

For the figure itself, I was inspired in particular by bodybuilders. Although not wearing posing trunks, Gaius is shown in nothing more than a wrap around his waist, hips, and groin area. I suppose I could have made him practically nude (kind of like Nor) but that just seemed to be a bit too much. 

My inspiration is in painting the human physique. I will admit to not wanting to cover up the figures I paint. Or, I at least find ways to barely cover them up. But it’s largely due to simply wanting to celebrate the human form and paint the types of physiques I imagine these Ethereals to embody. In Gaius’ case, a decent, muscular form. And flowy, long cape-like things. Capes being a common theme you will find in some of my work because I prefer caped superheroes. 

On a much deeper level, my paintings have had double meanings. In my painting titled “Charis: Metaterran”, the subtitle is “Found”. You can read all about that story here. In this Gaius painting, the other meaning of the painting has to do with fire. Devastating fires as they pertain to the wildfires of August-September 2020 in California. These fires have been devastating to people, animals, and the land, to say the least. 

I would be remiss if I did not even mention how these fires affected me and my wife. Thankfully, my wife and I were never in any immediate danger of the fires reaching us. We were in a fairly safe spot on the Monterey Peninsula, but we knew several friends who were directly impacted by the devastation caused by the wildfires. Through it all though, we were subject to the smell of the smoke. Evidence and a reminder of the fire itself were made evident with our cars being covered in white ashes. We also definitely had our fair share of dangerous air quality. After all, there was a reason why the skies were reddish at one point.

The eeriest thing in my mind was the yellowish to reddish skies due to the fires burning all around us. Some dramatic photos were taken from the San Francisco Bay area and other locations near to it showed blood-red skies and city views. These skies were beyond eerie to me. These skies appeared sinister at times. Or, at least what life on Mars might look like.

Gaius Ethereal of the Land profile_fantasy artThe Gaius painting symbolizes re-birth, or new growth, coming out from the devastation. The idea that amongst all this destruction, life will prevail is a hope I think most of us have. It can be a long time to heal and rebuild, as it often has been before. But it’s a reminder that even though the fire burns bright at times, at some point, it burns out. Life is a cycle which we are all a part of. Different people are in different stages of that cycle. I think it’s a good thing to remember that, appreciate it, and respect that. ◼︎

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