Getting Real With Artist, James McLeod

Getting Real With Artist, James McLeod

 

I met artist James McLeod at a friends card party, and right away his mix of New York savvy and N. Carolina (southern) charm intrigued me. However, being somewhat shy of new people (yes it’s true) I was not being much of a conversationalist. Thankfully, the gal sitting on the other side of him was not shy. She, like him, was an artist and they struck up a conversation that eventually lead to James pulling out his cell phone to share pictures of his work. I was amazed, and hooked. His life-like sculptures looked ready to leap out of his phone!

I contacted him a few days after the party and thankfully, he agreed to speak with me. We enjoyed a chat at a local coffee shop, and the more I learned about him the more impressed I became. Down-to-Earth, warm, and funny, James McLeod is as wonderful a person as he is an artist. Keep reading to learn more about this incredible multi-media artist / Renaissance man.

SnS: Hello James and welcome to TheSquidandSquirrel. I understand that you are not from the PNW. How did you come to call Spokane home?

James: Well, I actually grew up in New York, but a few years ago I injured and re-injured my back and couldn’t walk or work for about a year. I lost everything, but I had corrective surgery and once I got back on my feet I had to start all over. So I had a cousin living here in Spokane. He said, “Yeah, this place is great. Why don’t you come check it out?” I told him I was at the end of my budget so if I came I’d have to make it work. I showed up with $400 and a suitcase. That was five years ago.

SnS: Wow, brave! What or who got you started creating art?

James: I’ve always been an artist. When I was four years old I made my first sculpture out of pipe cleaners. I made the big bad wolf. I can remember it like it was yesterday. He had legs and arms and feet, green pants and red suspenders. He was lighter around his mouth and his tail was extra fuzzy. I’ve been creating ever since.

Also, growing up in NY I spent a lot of time in museums and if you go to Manhattan a lot of the buildings are very sculptural. They have a lot of lions and people and muscles and all that kind of thing. I was forced to go to Broadway and off-Broadway plays and every class trip was to a museum, or something to that effect. So I was inundated with fine art, and that level of exposure had an effect on me.

SnS:. Cool. What is your favorite medium?

James: As far as medium, clay sculpture has been my thing for a long time. Now that I’m going to school I’m getting opened up to a lot of different things. Before this I was self-taught, through observing life, and other sculptures. Now I’ve dabbled in acrylic painting, and I’m not sure what to call the style. It wasn’t realistic in any way shape or form, but you knew it was human. You could identify what it was, but it was very folky, so I put it down. That’s not good enough for me.

SnS: You’re a perfectionist at heart.

James: Yes. My goal for my artwork is that when you see it, it should have a life. If it’s a thing, it should look like it’s going to get up and walk away, or at the very least you should see it thinking. That’s my goal when I’m creating anything.

I’m really getting into oil paint now. I took an oil painting class and found I have a gift for it. That’s the biggest thing about school to me right now. I’m being exposed to all sorts of things I hadn’t done before. I’m getting just enough instruction to take it and run with it, and I have plans to do a series of politically influenced works dealing with various aspects of activism. In school I’ve kept my subjects fairly sedate so that I don’t ruffle any feathers, but I’ve been told to take my hands off the wheel and run! So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve also gotten involved  in bronze. 

SnS: Yeah, that piece you brought is amazing! (See picture below)

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James: Thank you. I’ve always wanted to do bronze because when I was little we couldn’t have pets. So I would make my pets out of clay, and they would live and have babies, and little stories attached to them in my imagination. But my brother would come and pull out my clay tray, take them out and chop their heads off. So when I came back to play with them, I would find them mutilated. So I thought, “Well, if they were in metal he couldn’t do that!”

I’ve always wanted to work with metal and the piece I showed you was my first bronze. I’d like to do much bigger pieces but with what’s available to me right now, in terms of tools and kilns I can’t go too big. I would love to have a kiln the size of this building and make pieces that big. So that’s a goal.

I’ve also done a little 3D design, but it’s not really my thing. My focus is the imitation / replication of life. Not just the angles, but also the feeling of it. I’ve seen people who are technically perfect who could sculpt you perfectly, down to the eyelash, but you know it’s a statue. There’s no life in it. So I try to incorporate both perfection and life. Sometimes I make things a little bit stylized to give life to it because nothing in life is perfect. Sometimes when you cartoon it a little or give it an imperfection it makes it more lifelike. That’s the only departure from realism that I’ll do.

SnS: Have you had a mentor?

James: That’s hard to say. Yes and no. There have been people along the way that have fed into my box of tools. But I’ve never had a “mentor”.

Tybre Newcomer has been helpful and was instrumental into getting me the position in the sculpture studio as the tech. I get to help the students, which is a big opportunity for me because it helps me to hone my skills. It’s also made me more patient in terms of their learning process. No matter the skill level, whether a Picasso or Joe Blow from around the corner, if you put effort into it I’m ecstatic and I can show you how make it look like what you want to see. When you articulate to me what you want to see I can help you get that regardless of your skill level.

There was also a lady, Maryanne, in Colorado Springs, CO who gave me my first sculpting job back in 1996. In her studio I made animals, because she wasn’t good at that. So I made buffalo, chipmunks, and wolves. I also made generic people in proportion so that she could then take them and make cowboys or Natives to fit her Southwestern theme.

SnS: Some artists have a creative ritual, like listening to music, going for a walk, or rearranging their studio before they can work. Do you have a ritual that helps your creative juices flow?

James: Do you see this thing right here? *He holds up an Iphone with ear buds attached* That’s what I do. I listen to music, tune everyone out and I just work and listen. Listen and work. Dance a little bit.

SnS: So who do you listen to?

James: Oh Lord, I have a big playlist. I listen to a little dance hall reggae, soul music, and jazz. My favorite singer in the world is this lady named Ledisi, I’ve been following her since she was a regular person. She had been singing at the Blue Note in the Village in NY, and after I left NY I’d still go up there to get autographed CDs and now she’s really famous. But I love her. There’s nothing she can’t do vocally. From the highest high to the lowest low. She’s phenomenal. But yeah, so mainly I listen to soul, jazz, a little bit of Journey.

SnS: You just won something in school. Tell me about that.

James: Yeah, so excited!  There are 2 classes you have to take before you graduate as an Art major. One is Portfolio, where you take your ten best pieces, write a bio for yourself, do a resume, get a professional photograph of yourself, and do a Power Point presentation. Then every art professor gets in a semi-circle around you and your work and they critique you. They are very to the point. They don’t try to make nice, so none of that “Oh he’s sort of frail emotionally”. Oh no. So I got a lot of good feedback and it was a unanimous decision from all the teachers. Of course, they told me that they didn’t like the orange I used. But I like orange. I don’t care what they’re talking about. The orange is sort of an invitation into my world. It’s telling you that I’m in there and I’ve got more for you to see, so I won’t listen to that one. Still, I won Portfolio and a $250 scholarship. 

SnS: Congratulations! Are you going to display the ten pieces you made?

James: I’d love to, but I need to get ready for (SFCC) Exhibit, so I’m hoping to be able to make more things, better things for that particular show. Right now though, I only have 2, 3, or 4 of a lot of different mediums. I’d like to create a more cohesive group of items that have some type of theme before I show. I don’t want to have a Dollar Tree sort of show.

SnS: Understandable. So, what are you plans after school?

James: I would love to open an art school minus the art history. To me that’s a waste of time. Those people (famous artists in history) are glorified and seen with rose-colored glasses, when usually they are insane, on drugs, or whatever but we’re taught to think they were these awesome people. My only interest in them are their techniques. So the school I want to open up would solely be techniques, techniques, techniques and things of that nature. A place where you could use your own vision, and not be influenced by somebody from 1717. You have your own mind, your own thought process and my goal is to give you the tools to bring out whatever it is in you, that you want to portray to the world. Whatever that may be. I’m not here to indoctrinate anyone in anything, I’m here to give you whatever you need to bring forth what you want the world to see.

SnS: Do you have a favorite artist or two? Someone whose work inspires you.

James: Duane Hanson. I saw his work in my Modern Art class. It was so cool because it was like very realistic. Not only realistic, it had LIFE. Like when you look at his pieces you couldn’t tell that they were not living people.

SnS: Very cool. Where else do you find inspiration? (Nature? Books? A double espresso?)

James: I love going outside, which I haven’t done a lot of since I got to Spokane. I’ve been too busy with school and trying to keep my head above water. But growing up, we’d go visit my grandfather’s farm out in N. Carolina during the summer. I loved it all: the trees, the chickens, the dogs, the cows. I like to get out to the woods.

SnS: If you could travel anywhere for art inspiration, where would you go?

James: I don’t know. Hmmmm. I love the sculptures in Greece and Rome. I love the realism in them even though some, like the David were sculpted to be a little proportionally off. That’s because they were meant to be viewed from a lower position, forcing you to look up. So I understand that. I’d also love to travel to Central America to see the Olmec sculptures.

SnS: Okay, what if you could travel through space or time? Where would you go then?

James: Well, this will sound cuckoo crazy and weird but it’s true. There’s this civilization called the Muu civilization that pre-dates all of what we call factual history. I would love to see that. See these people, see what they did, and how they did it. Half of their civilization is under water, and it’s like giant monolithic structures. So I wonder, who were these people? If they had the skill to make that level of structures, then I bet their sculptures were even more wonderful.

SnS: Anything you want people to know?

James: I’m currently accepting commissions for portraits or sculptures. I’ve done a lot of personal commission work here. Mostly dogs, and I love dogs so that’s not a bad thing. I just need a picture of the head, from the side and top, and the front, and a view of the body and I’ll make it just like it is. I prefer to experience the dog in real life, to understand its personality so I know who he / she is so I can build that in too.

SnS: Excellent. Thank you for sharing your time and talent, James.

If you would like to contact James McLeod you can reach him at – 

jdbonthego1@gmail.com.

 

 

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Zombie-mode! Uhnngghhh

zombiemode Hello friendly readers!  Well, this months interview went down with the ship. The ship being me.

To say that I’ve been in zombie-mode is an understatement. Between chronic illness, change of season, working on the final edit of my novel, and the demands of everyday life I’ve been pretty out of it. Sorry to drop the ball.

Please hang in there with me. I have a wonderful artist lined up for November. Her work is whimsical, humorous, and filled with child-like delight and wonder. Want to know who she is? Wait for my “Coming Soon” announcement next month.

Until then, have a safe and happy Halloween!!

Your friendly neighborhood blogger,  MJ

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In case you missed it. . .

Hello everyone! Because I’ve been blessed to meet so many wonderful artists and authors this year I thought I’d do a quick retrospective, in case you missed it.

Whether a sci-fi or fantasy writer, intuitive, abstract, impressionist, or illustration artist, all of my interviewees have one (maybe two) thing(s) in common: they are all wonderfully kind and talented people. Learning about these fantastic folks – artists and authors – was such a pleasure I’d like to thank them once again for interviewing with me. You all have broadened my world view and enriched my life. Much love and appreciation to my SquidandSquirrel friends and readers!

First up, our excellent authors:

D. Andrew McChesney – author of Stone Island Sea Stories.  Click here for his interview, ‘I Love It When You’re Nautical!

 

Kate Poitevin – author of Saving Tir Gaeltacht . Click here to read her interview, ‘Kate Poitevin Talks Nerdy With Me.

 

Sue Eller – author of the Emily Trace Mysteries. Click here  to read her interview, Sue Eller Is One Rare Bird.

Now for our amazing artists!

Check out fur suit maker and Multimedia artist Allison J. Wier

A co-op of potters, they started their own business and have expanded nicely. Consider taking a class at Urban Art Coop

Take a gander at pet portraitist Grace Fairchild, an artist with an eye for eyes.

Here is A Glimpse into the Mystical Inner Space of artist Mitchell Pluto

Enjoy The Intricate, Imaginative Illustrations of Kim Long

and Clancie Pleasants – Telling Life’s Stories With Paintings. 

Next, Meet Tom Norton, People’s Choice winner at “Origins of Fear” exhibit.

Spend a moment Catching up with artist Kelly Loder’s “Emotion in Motion!”

Learn about The Universe According To Fantasy Illustrator Shannon Potratz

And finally, enjoy The Many Layers Of Artist, Linnea Tobias

Thanks, once again, to all of the artists and authors who’ve interviewed with me, and kept in touch. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you all, and sharing your talents with the world. Blessings to you all. 

~Mj (a.k.a. host of TheSquidandSquirrel)

Meet Tom Norton, People’s Choice winner at “Origins of Fear” exhibit.

Meet Tom Norton, People’s Choice winner at “Origins of Fear” exhibit.

**Plus bonus interview with exhibition curator Megan Holden!**

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“Room 208” (or) “Mother Please!” by Tom Norton

Our meeting started out with a smile and a hug. Artist and musician Tom Norton, the People’s Choice winner of the “Origins of Fear” exhibit is a kind, funny, deeply considerate, “live in the now” kind of guy. He believes that, “the last check you write should be to the funeral home, and it should bounce.”

A true Spokanite, Tom grew up near the Garland district and says his love of music started in first grade, when the nuns at St. Xavier asked him to play piano for them. He continued playing at G Prep where occasionally his talent bought him some leeway, getting him out of class, and sometimes out of trouble!

Always looking for the silver lining in things, Tom is still a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to his paintings. He believes that “Less is more” and admits to having painted over finished works when he felt that he’d tweaked them too much. As a writer, I understand that need to edit, re-do, edit again. I believe it is a condition endemic to the artists heart.

Now celebrating seven years of sobriety, (WTG Tom!!!) this self proclaimed “reformed” bad boy is putting his talent for art and music to good use and in turn, making the world a better place. Keep reading to learn more about this fun and fascinating man.

Q: Congratulations! You are the People’s Choice winner at the Little Dog Art Gallery’s “Origins of Fear” exhibit. Your piece, “Room 208 / Mother Please” is apparently creepy and haunting enough to have chilled the most spines. Please tell us what inspired it? Did you make it specifically for this show or had you finished it prior to the open call?

A: Thank you! “Room 208” began as a quick sketch of a face, which I immediately didn’t care for :), so I painted black hair over the face. A straight jacket came to mind – don’t know why, and so it “began”.

I began to think about my mom and her many, many dark years suffering from bi-polar depression. She was treated for this throughout her life, before anti-depressants and therapies evolved into what they are these days. I grew up watching her, not understanding what was happening – only being told to be quiet and kind to her – that she was “ill” and that we needed to do everything we could to make her days easier. Shock treatments, massive amounts of prescribed drugs, and the fallout from these things: nightmares, isolation, realizing that our family was not like the happy families on television – it was tough. Mom could be extremely manic and in no control of what was going on inside herself one day, and then sweet, gentle and wonderful the next, so these thoughts had some things to do with this painting.

It’s not about my mom though. It’s about isolation, and controlled environments. About being kept away from the world. And no, I did not create it for this exhibit. It was completed before the call, and just seemed to be a good fit to me as an entry. I wrote a quick story to go along with the painting . . .

“Mother says that she cannot protect herself from the world around her . . . and me. Mother please. She built a door for me. Then she sealed it closed. She sees me in my room. She put a ladder there today. I fear the world. I dream of better days instead. I must not try to leave. Mother please. . .”

Q: Is this a genre you usually work in, or was this a step outside of your comfort zone? Also, what would you call your style of art?

A: This was way outside my comfort zone or normal work genre. I don’t have, nor do I want a specific style of art. I go day by day, and ideas come to me, or scribbles turn into something. Most of my work ends up being “lighter”, more whimsical, more fun. Some of my art is dark though, and it’s rare that I show it, or even finish it in one pass. One day I’d like to do an exhibit of my darker art, but I fear that I may be locked up if I do! 

Q: How long did it take you to finish this piece? What materials did you use?

A: I started this one at Mt. Baker Blues Festival. I was performing there with The Bobby Patterson Band. I play keyboards. I finished it a few weeks later, so I guess about a month to complete. It was done with acrylics and charcoal on wood panel.

Q: Did any of the other pieces at the exhibit creep you out?

A: Yes, I don’t like spiders, but the spider mobile fascinated me. I stared at it for a long time. They were just so beautiful I was mesmerized. 

Q: How long have you been painting, and how did you learn your craft?

A: I’ve loved art since I was a young boy. Always doodling, always amazed by the artists in this world. I am primarily self-taught. I was invited to take some art classes at GU when I was in high school. I wish I would have studied art and learned more techniques back then, but I decided to be a rock star instead 🙂 and the music business consumed me for a long time. My art took a back seat, and it wasn’t until 2009 that I revisited that passion.

Q: As an artist, what do you do to find inspiration? (Hot yoga, spelunking, e-books?)

A: Everything inspires me. I love galleries. I love people. I love dogs. I didn’t paint for over 20 years. Then I retired, sort of. Now I can’t stop getting inspired!

Q: Do you make a living with your art or are you moonlighting from a more “muggle-ish” job?

A: No, I don’t make a living with my art. I sell a few pieces here and there. I’m supposedly retired, but my music and art keep me very focused, very busy. I don’t want to be that old man who sits in a chair and looks out the window. 

Q: After checking your facebook page, it looks like you are both a Seahawks fan and an animal lover. Is that correct? 

A: That’s right. I am a long time Seahawks fan! I love Seattle. I miss living there. And I love animals. Football players are animals too ;). I love my two dogs, Max and Sophie. I don’t care much for cats. They don’t like me.

Q: If you could travel to any place / time for your art, where would you go and why?

A: France and Italy in the present. I love the new emerging art, and I love the old masters. I was in Europe last March. Paris is amazing. I could spend a lot of time there, painting, learning, eating. . .

Q:Who are some of your favorite artists, in any genre, and how have they affected your artistic expression?

A: Dali, Picasso, Gahan Wilson, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Pollock, David Choe, Os Gemeos, andy and all true graffiti artists. The radical differences in these artist and styles of art have “infected me” for many years.

Q: Do you have any causes / charities you support that you’d like to share?

A: I’m currently supporting getting Trump to go away and never be seen again. (D’oh!) And I feed the homeless sometimes. I support 2nd Harvest and Salvation Army along with a few others, but I need to do more to truly support those in need. I need to make the time to do that.

Q: Where can we go next to see or hear more of your work?

A: I’m exhibiting at Left Bank Wine Bar again for the month of November. I love that place. I sell art there! People come, drink wind and beer, and sometimes they see and like my art! I like showing in wine bars. I don’t drink anymore, but I enjoy seeing people drink and have fun and then buy my art. 

If you are not into wine bars but want to check out Tom’s work, you can visit his website Tom Norton Art .

Or, if you are more interested in music, you can find him most Sundays playing with Voodoo Church at Cheap Shots. 

Q: So final and possibly most telling question. Tom, do you prefer Star Trek, Star Wars, or Dancing with the Stars?

A: I prefer Star Trek. I enjoy the cheesy first episodes, the evolution of Spock, and its more optimistic view.

I can’t say I’m surprised that Tom preferred Star Trek. He is constantly looking for the good in life, in people, in art and music. His kindness and wit made this interview completely enjoyable.

Of course none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for Kay West at the the Little Dog Art Gallery and her chosen curator for the “Origins of Fear” exhibit, Megan Holden. A fine line illustrator, graphic designer, and jewelry maker, I got to sit down with Megan a few days ago and ask her about  herself and the exhibit.

Unsure about what to expect upon meeting her, the first thing I noticed about Ms. Holden, beyond her gorgeous auburn hair, was her awesome Led Zeppelin shirt and amazingly detailed fingernails painted with skeleton parts on a black back ground. Pretty much everything about her oozed quiet confidence and fun loving friendliness. I was instantly put at ease, and drawn in.

Pun not intended, Ms. Holden’s drawings are intensely detailed, lively and full of motion, it is easy to get lost in them. A feast for the eyes, and her jewelry is just as lovely. You can see for yourself by visiting her facebook art page Poseidon’s Consort  or her jewelry page JewelryDesignedByMegan.

When I asked her how long she’d been a curator, the surprise answer was this had been her first foray into curating! Apparently, she’s known Kay for a while, having met at the New Moon Art Gallery , when they both had pieces there. Kay asked her to curate the show and, despite never having done it before, Megan jumped in with both feet and created an amazing exhibit.

She had two criteria for choosing pieces from the many entries the open call brought in:   1) Did the artist follow submission guidelines? No cutting corners or dodging procedure allowed.                                                                                                                                                              2) Did the piece generate a feeling of fear or a perception of danger in some way? Did it dredge up memories of past fear?

I asked how she came up with the theme of the exhibit. Her response was thought provoking. “I was raised watching Hitchcock films and although it was initially inspired by October and the heightened sense of tension created in Hitchcock movies, I came up with the subject matter by wanting to further explore the fears that lie deep within us. It was about tapping into things like fear of loss, fear of commitment and things that affect daily decisions or shape our character. I like to see how fear of all kinds either promotes or inhibits growth. It is a shared experience everyone can relate to on some level.”

I think we can all agree, we’ve all had some sort of fear response to unusual situations, shocking surprises, and those things that go bump in the night, right?  Thankfully, Ms. Holden wasn’t afraid of the unknown and agreed to curate the “Origins of Fear”.

Once selected, the artists works spent a month in the Little Dog being admired and voted on. Tom’s “Room 208 / Mother Please” ended up being the most popular / creepy. Second place went to a lovely gal previously interviewed for this blog, Kim Long! Her submission (below) is called “Surrender the Heart” or “Spirit of the Birch”.

Congratulations to Tom and Kim for winning the most votes, and to Megan for organizing a terrific exhibit!

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Coming soon!

Coming soon!

An interview with the People’s Choice winner of the “Origins of Fear” exhibit at the Little Dog Art Gallery

There are still 3 days left to vote. If you haven’t stopped by to experience the chilling art work or to cast your ballot yet, you’d better run down there. RUN, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

Then, stay tuned guys and ghouls, to find out who caused a shiver to run up the collective spines of all those visiting the gallery this month, and learn just how twisted they really are! Muahahahahahahahaha!

Clancie Pleasants – Telling Life’s Stories With Paintings.

Clancie Pleasants – Telling Life’s Stories With Paintings.

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.”