Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cheryl McClure: Six Miles Out of Overton, Texas

Cheryl McClure: teaching 
(photo by Nancy Johnson Standlee)

Please share a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what were any early influences on your work?

I have not gone far afield of 150 mile radius of where I was born in southeastern Oklahoma to where I now live in northeastern Texas. I have been married forever…and have three grown children, three grandchildren. I have been free to travel quite a lot since they left home. I’m looking forward to another trip to Italy in 2012.

I now live on a 200 acre ranch/farm between Longview and Tyler, Texas. The property was in my husband’s family until we moved over here three years ago. I love living out here with all the trees, pastures, animals. The peace and quiet is wonderful.

Bee-line Straight-Line Secant
mixed-media panel 20 x 16

Did you receive any formal art training? If yes where and what did you major in?
No, I am not formally trained in the arts. I married young and raised a family all while still wanting to paint. I just didn’t have a lot of time for it then. I can still remember the fingers in the oil paints smeared all around from a two year old. I have great admiration for the young women artists who can do both now. It is not easy. I did, however, take a lot of classes and workshops in painting from artists whose work I admired.

At what point in your life did you become interested in making art and was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
Before my dad died (I was barely 9 years old), I told him I wanted to take lessons in painting from my third grade teacher. He even made me a small hand-held palette. Of course I didn’t know she was not teaching much more than paint by numbers. However, I did not want to paint that way, and with my little oil painting box and home-made palette, I chose pictures from an encyclopedia to try to emulate. I laugh now since I have a feeling at least one of those pictures was a Cezanne landscape when I try to picture it in my mind’s eye now. Strangely, I never really like coloring books. I didn’t like staying in someone else’s line. I’ve always been drawn to abstraction as well. After dad died and we moved down to Texas, I never had much chance to take other classes in painting other than the art offered in school. I never really called myself an artist then or made any conscious decision that I wanted to be one. I guess I just am.

What is your media?
I’ve been painting more than thirty years with acrylic mostly, although there were periods of using other materials to try them out. I also am very interested in collage and have discovered encaustic painting the past five years. Acrylic is still my primary medium. It is more about making a painting than it is about the medium for me. I’m still trying out different things like oil and cold wax right now. I think I like the hot wax better however. It suits me better with the instantaneous drying.

Meander, 2010
30 x 40" Acrylic on Canvas

What is your current work about?
My work is mostly about the process of applying paint….gesture, color, surface quality. Unconsciously, the land, landscape, and other natural forms always seem to appear even when I am mostly thinking about how I am layering, gesturing, mark-making to make a painting. I love the juicy paint, whether it’s wax, acrylic or oil. I’m really into making marks and how I want to place color and shape……hard and soft edges and that sort of thing.

What is your workspace like? 

For more than 25 years I worked in a converted garage in my home. When we moved over here to the ranch, I took over a 3 room garage apartment on the property near the main house. I LOVE having this space all to myself. Sometimes I wish I had higher ceilings and maybe less steps to haul down panels and canvases. Other times I’m happy I’m up a little higher so I can look down over the pasture, creek and our little lake.

I set up the kitchen area for my encaustic painting so I could reserve the other room for acrylic, oil and collage work. The living area is for storage, book shelves and paint storage mostly along with a hide-a-bed sofa we brought in from the house. (Good place for a nap sometimes.)

Main painting room

Do you involved with any arts groups or communities? If yes, what do you gain from that affiliation and what do you contribute to it?

Through the years I have been very involved in the local art community and with art organizations. I don’t do as much of that sort of thing any longer. In the past I was the adult education coordinator for the local art museum…all while holding down positions on the board, including President. I learned a lot while working at the museum. I became more aware of professional practices, what work looked like before it was hung on the wall, etc. 

I was active in several art associations here in Texas. Currently, I am involved with TX WAX and International Encaustic Artists, starting out with the group in Dallas. While I was learning more about encaustic painting, the Dallas group has participated in many exhibits around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It had been a long time since I had shown my work this way instead of in a commercial gallery.


View from  McClure's studio
How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues? 
After all the years of volunteering at the museum and involvement with Texas art societies and the like, I took time off so that I could spend more time concentrating on my painting rather than organizing for other people. However, I do love people and I do go to conferences or an occasional workshop since I wanted to learn more about encaustic painting. I spend a lot of time networking with other artists who are interesting to me or that I can share with. I recently held a workshop (my first) in Dallas and enjoyed the experience very much. You can learn a great deal from teaching when you have to organize and explain how you work. It was a rewarding experience but not one I think I would do too often as it takes so much thought, preparation and physical stamina. I want to reserve that as much as possible for the studio.

Since the 5th International Encaustic Conference, five of us who attended decided at the conference to get together to talk and share our work…take in some art shows and generally just have fun. I’m looking forward to our first meet-up in Dallas in September where we will also exchange work.

I’ve also been an active member of Mississippi Art Colony for about 11 years. We all get together to paint and share our work as well as learn from visiting artists who come to tell us about the world outside our own. 

Acrylic on canvas 36 x 48

Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
HA HA… of course. This happens mostly if events have conspired to keep me out of the studio too much. When I am there all the time, work and inspiration just comes from the work being done. I, also, love to get out now and then and make gallery shows in Dallas or wherever else I might happen to travel.

Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
That’s a good question. Although I am an organizing type person, the past couple of years I got a little off course due to the move and the remodeling of some rooms of our home.

I keep a database inventory so that I can be professional when working with galleries or organizations. I’ve had a website since about 1996 or so. I always designed and kept it up myself. Recently, I had another person, for the first time, set me up on the technical design of a new Word Press based site.

I have great respect for my gallery owners/directors. I try to help them in their efforts to sell my work by being professional in my dealings with them. I keep my promises and schedules. I find it very off putting to hear someone say they can be late or flighty…”after all, I’m an artist.”

I try to always be disciplined about my studio time. With that said, I am always thinking about making paintings, looking at shapes, colors. I feel agitated if I can’t get in enough studio time. I’m happy to have the quiet time out here so I can be in studio without interruption more than I was in town. I try not to get too down on myself if time is short in the studio occasionally. After all, you have to have life experiences if you want something to come out in your work.

Do you have other jobs other than making art?
Making art is my job…other than wife, mother, grand-mom, cook, laundress, etc.

Pink Sky
Encaustic on panel, 30 x 30

Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
I don’t generally make myself a list of long range/short range goals. I know I should, but like my painting process, I prefer to know generally where I am going and let the practice/painting tell me what I think will be best as it happens.

I hope that I will keep evolving slowly with my painting. I don’t want to stagnate or stand still with where I am. It is hard to evaluate your own progress when you are so close to it. I keep up with gallery and museum exhibits so I hope to continue sharing my work through commercial venues and possibly an occasional art center or museum show.

Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
I don’t right at the moment. I have work in five commercial galleries. Some of them no longer have ‘shows’ per se. Possibly when the market gets a little better, they will start setting up more solo or two person shows again.

You can see more of Cheryl's work on her website and you can read her blog here.

Jack Meier Gallery,   Houston, TX
P's Gallery, 912 Glencrest (upstairs), Longview, TX

Thank-you, Cheryl!


Michelle Belto said...

Great interview. I feel like I know Cheryl and appreciate her work more. Thanks for these interviews, Lynette.

Tamar said...

It was wonderful to get to know more about Cheryl and her work. What a beautiful setting in which to live and make art!

Nancy Ferro said...

That is a really nice interview. I have admired Cheryl's energies for a while now. It was lovely to see her surroundings.

Nancy Standlee said...

Congrats, Cheryl, for a great interview. Great photo by the way (by some great photographer no doubt?)

LynetteH said...

Yes Cheryl's work environment looks very beautiful! Thank you all for reading and Cheryl for contributing to my blog.

Unknown said...

Lynette and Cheryl, enjoyed the interview and getting to know more about Cheryl's background and working process. Her studio appears to have marvelous light and the view over the lake, most inspirational!!