Breathe in & Keep Working

It’s my habit to knock out small things in between big projects.  “Lady With Accordion” was physically and mentally challenging and I needed a break.  It’s usual to have stiff, tired hands and a slightly bored mind itching to move on after completing a large piece, but this time the effect was particularly noticeable.  There was one 8×10 piece of already-primed plywood knocking around the garage which was small enough to give the body a break yet keep the art momentum going.  I had already collected an image of Hanuman the Monkey God fighting a green sea monster which had piqued my interest and proceeded from there.


Hanuman With Monster

First came the under-painting.  I kept the idea of a small figure attacking a huge green one but chose as actors an over-sized alligator and a lady-ninja.  The female figure is taken from an old Chinese calendar and the alligator is a mash-up of scientific illustrations from the web and my own imagination.  The layout came together only after the addition of webbed claws.  The resulting design, a large “X,” is one I gravitate to often without really meaning to.

“Sea Monster With Ninja” Under-painting

Here is the final painting.


“Sea Monster With Ninja” by Lynda McClanahan

All the color choices were easy except for the lady’s outfit.  Finding something to stand out from the red but not too much was a visual problem.  All paintings come down to problem-solving in the end,  so nothing new here.

The next project is unusually large for me, 30″x36,” and I’m a little afraid of it.   I like to work hard but the amount of labor which lies ahead is considerable.   One of the advantages of not being well-known is freedom to do whatever I like, a condition I highly prize.  To keep it, there’s nothing for it but to breathe in and keep on working.

Another gift from the art gods appeared on the curb last night: a large, brand-new frame free for the taking.  Even after an interminable round of rejections, this seems like a whisper in the ear to not lose heart.  Thanks, Mr. art-broker guy.












Rejection and Renewal

The artist’s path means living in the land of “no” with only occasional forays into the Oz-like terrain of the big, magical “yes.”   I’ve learned not to take rejection personally, but that doesn’t mean the mind doesn’t fret.  Did I make a strategic error by entering the wrong piece?    Does the obvious labor of my style have value, or is it as embarrassing as an out-of-fashion party dress with too much lace and not enough taste?   Did jurors view the entries on a large screen, allowing for detail, or did they scroll through them on a phone which doesn’t?  You can go mad thinking about these things.  The worst thought is the ever-present anxiety that you’re not the artist you hoped you were;  just a source of irritation to the educated and an object of inscrutable wackiness to those who aren’t.  Sometimes the whole business feels as crazy and lonely as singing to an empty room.

Maybe I’m delusional but even as the rejections pile up, the work gets better.  The latest effort, “Lady With Accordion” is finished and resting on the kitchen counter before heading out to the scanner tomorrow.


Basic Design and Under-painting

“Lady With Accordion” is designed for possible inclusion in “The Sight of Music,” an open-call show slated for the Cultural Arts Center in the Fall.  I took the prospectus literally and centered the piece on synesthesia, a cross-wiring of the brain which allows people to see forms and colors via activation of any of the five senses.


“Lady With Accordion” In Process

I did quite a bit of research on the kinds of things a synesthete sees when listening to music.  Wave forms and geometric shapes seem to predominate, but I allowed myself creative licence for the sake of visual variety.  Some of my choices worked better than others and there is a bit of a country-craft-piecework vibe to the piece, but things came together in the end.


“Lady With Accordion” by Lynda McClanahan

The main figure is inspired by a publicity shot of a pre-WWII German accordionist which promptly sank beneath the internet waves when I went back to find it.  I thought it might have been a Jewish lady who didn’t survive the war and wanted to give her credit, but the best I could do was make sure the globe was inclined toward Europe.  God bless her, whoever she is.

I included a reference to each of the five senses in the painting so for those of a mind to indulge in a bit of “Find Waldo” fun, happy hunting!  Only the Art Gods know if this piece will be accepted into the show, or even if it deserves to be.  Either way, it’s on to the next project.