It started out as a work training trip for my mechanically inclined hubby but, thanks to a serendipitous find of cheap plane tickets, I was able to accompany him to Kennebunkport, Maine. We treated the trip like a belated 25th anniversary adventure. At night we both enjoyed traipsing through the various gift shops, and savoring the local food specialties, especially the lobster! Or as the folks of Maine would say, “lobstah”. During the day my husband went to work while I explored the towns plethora of art galleries, so of course I decided to share a few of my favorites here.
Click on the links to see what I’m so excited about!
One of the first places I found was located at 8 Western Ave. Deborah Randall Fine Art is owned and operated by its namesake. Even in the few moments I got to spend speaking with Deborah, I can tell you she exudes strength and passion in person, as well as in her art. The front of the gallery displays her amazing Maine seascapes in large, small, and even smaller amuse bouche sizes. Water, clouds, and earth in every shade capture the many moods of the surrounding area in a majestic and magical style. The back of the gallery doubles as her studio / office, but also houses her more whimsical enamels. Smaller 5″ x 7″ paintings, these bold offerings are fun and thought provoking little petit fours of artistic expression.
**I fell in love with two pieces “Big Red Sky” and one of the chicken enamels. Love!
The Maine Art Gallery at 14 Western Ave. was my next stop. Filled with paintings and sculptures from many incredible artists. I was blown away by the eclectic nature of the works offered. Paintings of every discipline graced the walls, while sculptures both wood and metal filled up any blank spaces. In fact the metal sculptures continued to the outside parking lot as wind catching whirligigs. Gallery Director, Amy Lewia, kindly answered my questions with a smiling enthusiasm that drew me in and kept me browsing. From ethereal to earthy there was something to appeal to every taste.
**My favorite sculpture was a perfect sphere, nearly as tall as me, made out of rusty old horse shoes. Amazing!
David P. Fouts at 31 Ocean Ave. The Landmark gallery was painting a seascape featuring a tall ship when I walked through the door. That didn’t stop him from getting up to shake my hand and inquire about my day. Personable and talented, his work as well as that of many other regional artists, both painters and sculptors, is displayed in this lovely renovated firehouse. Sea birds, ships, boats, beaches, waves and sand, the offerings in this gallery are representative of all things nautical and lovely. A total treat for the eyes, the styles ranging from dreamily impressionistic to amazingly life like are well worth looking into.
**David P. Fouts’ painting of St. Ann’s (sorry I lost the title!) and David Tutwiler’s “Thunder of the Iron Horse” stood out to me. Gorgeous!
Northlight Gallery , 33 Ocean Ave. is right next door to The Landmark and one of the owners, Harry Thompson, was jamming out to 60’s music when I stepped in. I had to admit, the music drew me in and put me in the mood for a bit of funky art. I wasn’t disappointed. This gallery displays artists of all kinds. Paintings, photos, and sculptures don’t compete for space as much as share it and compliment each other. Harry himself, besides being a talented artist, is a warm and lively host / curator with a quick smile and great sense of humor. Creative to the core, he asked me to compare and contrast east coast (Maine) artists against west coast (Washington) artists. Well Harry, that topic is way to broad for this old broad (jet lag being what it is) so instead I’ll give you all the highly generalized short version: Kennebunkport vs. Spokane.
The artists I enjoyed in Kennebunkport, despite their wildly different styles, all seemed to have a couple things in common: a sense of life and inevitability. Like the ocean they live by, the waves against the shore, ever changing, ever the same, their work can be counted upon to create feelings of wonder and awe. Motion and mystery.
The artists I know and love in Spokane share a different aesthetic. Evergreen forests and animals inform much of their work. The wildness of the ocean is traded for the ruggedness of mountains and river valleys. Spokane artists tend to honor native traditions, question authority / reality, and highlight nature’s bounty, and wrath. Their work invokes appreciation of and respect for inland nature, as well as a sense of mirthful irony.
**So many great artists to choose from here, I have to say I was struck by Stephen Maka’s folded photographs, Harry Thompson’s colorful dorys, and Jack Standish’s clean, minimalist paintings. Overwhelmingly cool!
My final visit ended up being the most amazing. Little did I know when I walked into the W. Robert Paine Gallery who I was meeting or how lucky I was to do so.
The screen door squeaked when I opened it and I was greeted by the sound of small dogs barking. I was looking at two 8″ x 8″ paintings hanging just inside the doorway; waiting for my ankles to be attacked, when a door opened and a gentle voice shushed the enthusiastic pups. A tall, elderly gentleman approached me and apologized for the noise. I joked about his “vicious guard dogs” and inquired about a familiar painting above his left shoulder showing George and Barbara Bush sitting with their dog. That one question started a forty-five minute conversation that would keep me smiling for days.
Turns out, the elderly gentleman was none other than the artist W. Robert Paine. Ninety three years old and still as sharp as a tack, Mr. Paine shared many lovely memories about his paintings, his family, and his friendships. Incredibly charming and elegant, he regaled me with stories of serving his country, going to art school with renowned American artist Norman Rockwell, creating those iconic Palmolive dish soap ads, and hanging out with both Presidents Bush and their families.
Agog at his history, I asked him if he’d ever considered writing an auto-biography. I should have known better. Mr. Paine strode across his studio and picked a book off his coffee table. Together we leafed through it as he pointed out past work he’d done and people he’d known. The book is out of print now, but as I promised him, I tracked one down. It’s used, but I’m hoping if I send it to him, he’ll sign it for me. W. Robert Paine has lead an amazing life. I am honored to have gotten to spend time with him, and wish him all the best. I also wish I lived closer so that I could visit this amazing and kind man again. God bless you Bob!
**Favorite painting at W. Robert Paine’s house? “God Bless America.” Great story attached to that one. Thanks again for sharing it with me sir.
**A quick mention** On our way to catch our return flight home, the hubby and I stopped by the Franciscan Guest House and the adjoining grounds of the St. Anthony Monastery and Shrines. If you appreciate Catholic / religious icons and statuary, or just wish to enjoy a walk through beautiful garden-like areas, drop by.
Artist Clancie Pleasants has been creating art her whole life. Always moving, always learning, this Aquarian, former Montessori teacher does more in a week than most folks do in three, and she loves what she does.
I got to speak with Clancie after she’d spent the last few days painting originals for an upcoming show, going to meetings at her local community center, doing some live model painting with friends, and picking elderberries with her brother. Kindhearted, adventurous, relaxed, and possessing a positive “can do” attitude, she is a sweet whirlwind of a woman. Keep reading to learn more about this fantastic artist.
**Featured Image is titled, “Players”**
Q: What first inspired your love of art; your want to create?
A: As a child I was always encouraged to do art, read, write, anything creative. I was a country child. I had 2 older sisters and a younger brother. We lived on a large cattle farm/ranch in Northern California and spent a lot of our time doing whatever we wanted, we were self entertained. We had horses, dogs, cats, chickens, but not a lot of children, other than each other, to play with. We created our own play and had the materials at hand to do whatever we wanted. A lot of my love of nature comes from this experience. I was encouraged to read classical literature, draw, paint, make baskets, build forts, and work with clay. I have been doing this for almost 70 years now.
Q: Have you always been an artist, or have you had a 9 – 5 day job? If so, was there a defining moment, when you decided to make a go of it as an artist?
A: I have always been an artist. I didn’t realize that I was until it was all that I wanted to do. I would do it 24/7 if I could.
I had my own Montessori School for 24 years on our acreage, on Hoodoo Mountain, out of Blanchard Idaho. It was a very creative school, and, of course, full of art. I ran it three days a week and did art the other four, while raising and homeschooling my own children. It was an artful way of living.
I have never created art with the idea of making a living at it. It was just something I had to do, a driving force. It is hard to make a living doing fine art, especially as a woman. It is just something I incorporated into my life and everything that I do. If I make money doing it so much the better. But, selling is not the driving force.
That being said, I have been showing and selling art for over 30 years. I have been in numerous galleries nationally. Locally, I’ve had pieces in The Art Spirit Gallery and various other galleries. I now show at Studio 107 regularly, in downtown Coeur d’Alene Idaho.
Q: I’ve seen your paintings on canvas, boxes, clocks, etc. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever painted on or do you wish to paint on?
A: Probably when I helped a friend paint a VW van in the 60’s. A fun project, as was the time a fun time. Also, I built an active art fence and painted part of that at a funky place where I was living while in college.
Sonoma County was a fun place to be during my college years. Lots going on. Lots of art, lots of music, lots of experimenting. We used to hear Dave Brubeck, Charlie Musselwhite, Miles Davis, just to mention a few, at a little place in my college town. The campus was always having music outside and you could plop yourself on the lawn, do your art, study and listen. Sonoma State University was a very small college at the time. Our teachers were, for the most part, really creative, as they were artists and writers and doing it all themselves. It was such a creative place to be.
Q: Do you have a “process”? (Do you drink tea and dance the Macarena before painting?) What do you do to get in the mood to create? What inspires you?
A: Everything inspires me except for the negative forces at work. Sometime even the negative inspires me as I like to find the light in the dark.
I live in the middle of my medium and so never have to go far to have it available. I have a beautiful studio. It has a bathroom and closet in the way back. And then one big room with two hanging lofts for paintings on either side. My home is also my studio where my art has taken over more than just one room. Our wood working shop, where my husband frames some of my work, is available to me as well as all the saws, sanders etc.
My process is to just do it. That is what I tell others when they ask me about this. Don’t think about it….just do it. Don’t think about what you have to do to get ready to do it….JUST DO IT.
But, of course I think about what I want to do, lots. I just have to calm myself down or the daily chores of living would never get done. But, while doing those chores, I am always thinking about what I will do next or what I am currently working on. I have unfinished paintings hanging from the rafters of our living/kitchen area, just to study while I am doing other things.
My husband is a saint, did I mention that yet?!
Q: Why do you say your husband is a saint?
A: Because he has always supported me in my endeavors. He helps wherever he can, and never expected me to play the super traditional housewife role where everything is kept spotless and supper is on the table by 6:00. He’s happy with who I am.
Q: From the pieces I’ve seen in gallery, and on your website, your creations seem both poignant and playful. How would you describe your style?
A: Narrative, impressionistic, expressionist.
Q: Do you have a favorite artist (from any genre) & how might they have influenced you / your style?
A: Virginia Woolf, because “A Room of One’s Own” is terribly important.
Picasso, because he lived it ALL the time. Of course he had many women supporting him and doing all the other things. One can dream.
Truthfully, too many: Van Gogh, Alice Neel, Klimt, Kollowitz, Diebenkorn, etc.
Q: Your website mentions you have a BA in English Lit. as well as art. What type of writing do you do? Does your writing ever inspire your painting or vice verse?
A: Yes both inspire each other. I have a book of fiction almost finished and ideas for two more. The 70’s are a good time to work on those, don’t you think?!
I also write poetry, essays and fiction. Creative writing is terribly important to me. I love reading and writing it.
I have a blog, Clancie Pleasants.blogspot.com . My poetry pairs with my artwork on there. I don’t have a lot of followers as I have not announced it to the world. It is mostly for me to blog on privately, but I guess it’s time to share it. ** Yes folks I got permission to post that link 🙂
Q: You mentioned you’ve been working on writing a book. Can you tell me what it’s about?
A: The first book is a piece of fiction which takes place in Idaho. I have lived in Idaho for almost 40 years.
In the second piece I’d like to tell the story about my grandparents and how they lived. My grandfather was a 3rd generation farmer / rancher in Norther California. My grandmother was a new teacher in the one room, country, Pleasants Valley School. They got engaged and she returned to Southern California for the summer. They wrote letters back and forth. I have all of my grandfather’s letters to my grandmother tucked away in a shoe box. I do not have her letters to him. So I would like to write the letters myself and put the whole thing together with other information I have. It is a sweet story for the most part and it would be fun to write it with the grandfather I never knew.
The third book would be about the other side of my family. I am a 5th generation Californian on both sides, and there are many stories that no one has written about. I guess I feel pulled to do some of that to keep it alive.
Q: What advice would you give to new artists just starting out?
A: Take some classes and find out what you love. Take more classes, read a lot of art books and find out who you love.
Then, DO IT…just do it.
Traditional study, self taught learning, whatever, study those artists who are doing what you love. I have lots of art books that I binge on as well, and I check out art books from the local libraries to recharge. But, when the schooling process is finished it is good for an artist to isolate and do her own thing. I have spent years finding my own voice and doing my own thing. But, I am still learning from everyone I know and paint with, when I get together with other artists. Also from reading, studying, learning about different artists, relearning about different artists.
Also, don’t listen to negative people but listen to good constructive feedback. Then, isolate, and listen, mostly to your inner voice.
Q: If you could travel ANYWHERE (time or place), where would you go and why? Who would you bring with you?
A: Mostly, I have found that traveling to the natural, untouched by man, places, are where I find solitude enough to do my creating. There and home. We live on Hoodoo Mountain out of Blanchard in North Idaho and have acreage. It is wild and natural and peaceful. It is on the edge of the wilderness and we have all kinds of wildlife around.
I would still love to go to the European continent, in the 60’s or before, live there for a year or more, to paint and write.
I would love to travel to Africa and live there for a year or more, sometime in the 1920’s.
I would always choose to take my two daughters, who also both do art, and my dear husband with me.
Q: Are your daughters painters like you?
A: Yes, both daughters paint and work with clay. They are both very creative. One is a Montessori teacher and the other one is an architect. They both are good writers as well.
Q: Do you have any hobbies or causes you support?
A: Educating people about the importance of art.
Supplying children with the art education that they are not getting in school.
I love sharing the art experience with children and adults. I run our community arts program out of our beautiful community center, in Blanchard Idaho. We run a free art program for children in the summer. We have adult classes throughout the year. We offer area seniors and teens scholarships to our classes, workshops, and sessions.
I have been doing this for the past 10 years. I see this as my community service, my way to pay back for my good fortune in life.
Camping and hiking and being with the family doing these things, is how we love to spend most summers.
I am passionate about organic gardening and herbs, medicinal and otherwise.
If you would like to see more of Clancie Pleasants work, you can visit her website at Clanciepleasants.com – or see her in person at the CDA Plaza this Saturday 10/15/16 for “Art in the Making”, an event put on by Steve Gibbs and the Art Spirit Gallery. “We will all be painting and drawing from live models, something we do every Oct.”