Awash in Ideas

Some ideas come easy, some come hard and some don’t come at all. Lately I find myself experiencing a deluge of ideas, drowning in a flood of projects half-imagined and half-begun.


Hula Dancer Sketch on Board

A large project based on a long-ago experience in Hawaii has tentatively begun, but just barely. Sometimes ideas jostle for position, competing against one another for fruition. This time, a smaller work prompted by memories of a pre-gentrified neighborhood strip club has nudged out the bigger piece. How these things proceed remains a mystery.

The building where the ladies used to gyrate in the window still stands so I was able to snap a reference photograph.


870 North High Street Storefront

Alas, the ladies themselves are gone, edged out by optometrists, tatoo parlors and craft beer joints, so the rest had to be made up from memory. That’s alright. I’m not much for literal realism anyway.


Original Sketch 870 North High Street

As usual, doing the sketch was time-consuming but oddly reassuring. After the familiar labor of correcting the sketch and transferring it to the board, here is the progress so far.


Club La Rouge by Lynda McClanahan In Process

This piece has everything I like: a brightly-colored, blocky composition and a strange and sexy subject matter with plenty of opportunities for detail. The Hawaiian piece is resting forlornly against a chimney as other ideas continue to vie for attention like a herd of cats rubbing against the leg. Choose me! Choose me! Choose me! I am in manic-artist-heaven.


Ohio Art League 2018 Fall Juried Show

The last show in what, for me, has been a breathless spate of exhibitions opened last night.

The Ohio Art League Fall Juried Show has become increasingly competitive throughout the years and submitting is always I’ll-just-give-it-a-shot for yours truly.  It’s always a welcome surprise to be accepted.

Deciding what to submit is full of angst and neurotic fussing.   There’s always an attempt to ‘suss out the jurors by researching their websites, but this activity almost never predicts what they’ll take and what they won’t.  Word to the wise:  don’t bother with time-wasting attempts to load the odds in your favor.  Getting into a juried show is a mysterious process and just one more indication that life is a crap shoot.   Frankly, acceptance might come down to nothing more than what the juror had for breakfast.

This particular show had a slight bump in the road before opening night.  My original submission, “Little Sister” was accepted by the jurors but rejected by the venue as being too sexy for a public space.  I was surprised by the first occurrence, but not the last.  It’s come up before (the necessity of adding pasties to “Nude With Buzzard” for a library show comes to mind), but it’s always depressing.   Memo to self:  even though Beyonce goes around half naked most of the time, boobs are a forbidden object of contemplation for the young (Ft Hayes is a public high school).


Banned in Columbus:  “Little Sister” by Lynda McClanahan

It always feels bad to be rejected, for whatever reason, but a venue has the final say as to what goes up on its walls.  I’m salvaging my ego by touting myself as a naughty old lady.   “Banned in Columbus!”  What’s not to like?


Lynda McClanahan with “Lindsay With Dogs,” Ohio Art League 2018 Fall Juried Show

The strange thing is, “Lindsay With Dogs” looks better on the wall than “Little Sister” would have.    I thought about telling viewers that the dogs were naked but thankfully thought better of it.  Fellow artist Roger Williams suggested the Art League could have covered “Sister” with a sheet and charged people a quarter a pop as a fundraiser.  Clever lad!


“Lindsay With Dogs” by Lynda McClanahan

There is always more than a bit of neuroticism at an art opening.  The painting which looked so dramatic on my drafting table seemed much smaller and less dramatic once it was in the show.   As usual, there was nothing remotely like it in the rest of the cavernous room.  I’ve always been an outlier but even at this stage in the game, it’s always a jolt when it’s brought to my attention.   Showing your work always means showing yourself as you really are, not as you’d like to be.   The thing nobody tells you about doing art is that even though you spend 99 percent of your time alone and sequestered from humanity by choice, art is no place to hide.  It’s just another one of God’s jokes.


Ohio Art League 2018 Fall Juried Show

I didn’t have it in me to stand next to the piece and chat people up, but it was gratifying to see folks come in close and really look as I lurked in the background.   Part of the reason for doing what I do is to stop viewers long enough to fall into the narrative world of the painting.  Technique is a lure, not a final destination, and virtuosity is meaningless if it only takes you to itself.


Ohio Art League 2018 Fall Juried Show Opening.  Work by Elham Bayati in Background

The show is wide-ranging and strong, with only a few clunkers.   I especially admired the quilt-like assemblage by Elham Bayati on the back wall behind these folks.  It works far away and close up and…you could sell each piece individually if you wanted to, a great strategy.   The opening was a great success, full of delightful conversation with fellow artists, who are the most down-to-earth people in the world.  Those of us who work with our hands form a companionable fraternity based on mutual respect for human labor.  This is the real reason art costs so much.

I’m working on two sketches:  one a large hula girl dancing on the beach, and the other a modestly-sized depiction of a long-departed strip club in the old neighborhood.  It feels good to have projects plotted out and ready to go.  I’m getting closer and closer to being ready for another solo show.