Category Archives: Painters

Cheryl D. McClure, Freedom through Abstraction

Cheryl McClure has always enjoyed the advantages abstract painting allows.  Instead of being bound by the confines plein air landscape painting imposes, she is much happier letting the memory and feel of a place inform the direction her abstract paintings ultimately take.  She is interested in the formal elements of surface, color relationships, and the design aspects of a painted surface rather than just rendering her version of reality.  By following this path, Cheryl has truly found freedom through abstraction.

Cheryl McClure painting
Farther Than the Eye Can See 1, 2001, a/c, 30 x 24 inches
Beginnings:

In 1945, Cheryl D. McClure was born in the small town of Hugo, Oklahoma, located just across the Red River from Paris, Texas.  As opposed to many children who become artists, she did not spend all her spare time drawing or even showing much interest in art as a young child.   However, when art did start to interest her, she remembered that from a very early age, she was oddly more interested in the shapes and colors that formed the subject of an artwork, than the actual subject itself.

At the age of 8, she decided that she would like to try her hand at painting, so her father signed her up for the only art class in town.  He bought her the required artist materials, and she joined the class.  To her utter disappointment, she discovered that the only painting taught in this class was how to paint my number.

Painting by Cheryl McClure
Collioure1, 2004, a/c, 36 x 48 inches
Finding One’s Passion:

In her early 20’s she moved to Longview, Texas and started to involve herself as a volunteer at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts.  She also started attending lectures and demonstrations sponsored by the East Texas Fine Arts Association.  Cheryl said of this period that she learned a great deal about art and artists, and this interaction inspired her to attend a watercolor class associated with ETFAA.  She found watercolor tedious because to do it well required a lot of compositional preplanning, but it also showed her the importance of negative space.

A Cheryl McClure painting
Facade 13, 2005, a/c, 36 x 48 inches
Developing a Studio Practice:

On her own, she explored working in other mediums like charcoal and pastel.  The medium she ultimately gravitated to was acrylic.  This medium allowed her to quickly layer and texture the paint on a support without having to wait the long periods between applications, that oil paint would often require.  This allowed her to be more gestural and spontaneous with her paint application, an approach better suited to her preferred studio practice.

Diptych by Cheryl McClure
Wonderous Place 1&2, 2001, a/c, 29.75 x 63.75 inches

When Cheryl paints with acrylic on canvas, she does so quickly, allowing her feelings to be expressed with determined gestural strokes.  After reaching a point of indecision, she will stop and spend time studying where the painting stands and determining what is needed next to advance it towards completion.  She then repeats this process until the elements of color, texture, and their relationships harmonize.

Artist working at the Mississippi Art Colony, c.2000
Cheryl painting at the Mississippi Art Colony, Utica, MC, c.2000
Discovering Encaustic:

In 2005, she discovered Encaustic.  Cheryl was excited by how quickly a layer of wax would cool and harden, allowing her to quickly apply another translucent wax layer of color and add texture.  Although it was not as freeing as using acrylic pigments, it provided another medium that was sympathetic to her preferred working method. This became another compatible medium for her to use in her quest to find freedom through abstraction.

Encaustic by Cheryl McClure
Patina 2, 2007, Encaustic on wood panel, 12 x 12 inches

She became well known as an artist and arts patron in Longview, ultimately living there for 41 years.  As her reputation grew, she developed long-term relationships with 5 galleries around the country.  In addition to an extensive exhibition history, she is asked to teach painting workshops and her work is often used to illustrate books.

Greeting Guests at an exhibition opening
Cheryl greeting guests to the opening of her solo show at West End Gallery, in Winston Salem, NC, 2005
Accomplishments:

I asked Cheryl what things she was most proud of in her artistic career to date.  She quickly listed three things:

Book Cover showing Cheryl's work
The updated version of “The New Creative Artist, A Guide to Developing Your Creative Spirit,” 2006 by Nita Leland showing Cheryl’s artwork on the cover
    1. One of the books that was most influential on her as an artist was, A Fine Artist’s guide to Expanding Your Creativity.  She was thrilled when one of her paintings was chosen to be on the cover of its updated edition titled, The New Creative Artist, Revised, Expanded Edition, a Guide to Developing your Creative Spirit.
    2. The Poet Theodore Worozbyt asked Cheryl to collaborate on a book of his poetry titled Smaller Than Death, published by Knut House Press in 2015.  In addition to the book’s cover, 15 of her graphic wax resin paintings were illustrated in color.  They were from a series of paintings she did titled Johnson Creek Field Notes, inspired by walking along a creek that runs through her property.
    3. In 2011, she was a finalist for the Hunting Art Prize, an annual event to award $50,000 to a Texas artist for excellence in drawing and painting.
painting by Cheryl McClure
Little Pieces of Land 31, 2009, a/c, 40 x 30 inches

For the past 12 years, she has lived on a farm located just outside New London, a little town Southeast of Tyler, Texas.  Her three room second floor studio has a room set up for painting and a dedicated well-ventilated room set up for her to work in Encaustic when she wants a change.  She works most every day either producing or thinking about producing her next adventure into her world of abstraction.

*****

Other Artist Blog Posts:

An image of the artist ELLEN SODERQUIST & Drawing the Nude
Detail image of an Otis Huband painting, there is a sculpture of a nude female torso in the center of the interior of a studioOTIS HUBAND: A Consummate Artist
Landscape of a farm house and a windmill by William ElliottDallas Painter WILLIAM ELLIOTT (1909-2001)
photo of a young Valton Tyler smoking a cigarette in the printroom at SMUThree Important Early Paintings by VALTON TYLER
Photo of the printmaker working in his studioYUKIO FUKAZAWA: Master Printmaker
A mixed-media work on paper by M. J. LeeM. J. LEE Estate Gifts to the Amon Carter Museum
An early painting of a male deer standing in the foreground of a deep rugged landscapeEarly Career Paintings by JIM STOKER: The Eternal Naturalist
a brush, pen and ink landscape drawing by Everett SpruceDrawings from the Estate of EVERETT FRANKLIN SPRUCE: Texas’ Most Celebrated Modernist
Watercolor and collage of an abstracted landscape by M. LeeMARJORIE JOHNSON LEE, An American Modernist
Photograph of John Albok with his cameraIntroduction to the photographs of JOHN ALBOK, Part II: the Photographic Archives Collection

 

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Otis Huband: A Consummate Artist

Otis Huband is a consummate artist in every sense of the word.  When engaged in conversation, he is very sociable and will talk about art in most any form, however, he is far more interested in producing art than talking about it. Otis’ mother vividly remembered when her son returned from his first day of kindergarten and announced that he was going to be an artist. Otis said she thought it was very cute at the time, but, when he had not changed his mind as a teenager, she worried that Otis would have a hard time making a living.
The artists Otis Huband standing in front of one of his paintings.
Otis Huband in his studio

Now at 87 years of age, he has still not changed his mind, nor has he lost his Virginia accent despite spending most of his life in Texas. Otis confirms his decision, To this day, I have never pursued any other course in my life. Nor was I ever tempted to do so. Nothing to me was ever as interesting or nebulous as art.

 

This image shows the entire painting whose detail was used as the main image.
Gilbert’s Garden, c.1960, o/c, 56 x 40 in.
EDUCATION & EDUCATOR:

Otis transferred from the California College of Arts & Crafts, located in Oakland, to the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond in 1958 to finish his requirements for a BFA. During this time, he became proficient in all the traditional fine arts media. He loved being a student and said of the experience, I know that I learned more from my fellow students than from our well-intentioned and likable instructors. I would say that being in an environment five days a week with a congenial and, for the most part, serious group of seekers made a profound impression on me.

This is an image of an Otis Huband collage painting where newspapers were used showing the day before stock market closings.
A Closure, c.1989, 1989, mixed-media, 49 x 40 in.

In 1961, Otis received his MFA, also from Virginia Commonwealth University, and shortly thereafter traveled with his new bride, Anne, to Italy where he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Perugia for a year. When funds ran low, they returned to the US, settling in Houston, Texas, where Anne was offered a job teaching math. In 1967, Otis became an Art Instructor at the Houston Museum School of Fine Arts (now Glassell School). He left the Museum School in 1971 determined to focus on his own work.

During the 70’s I wanted to find a unique voice uninfluenced by current styles or fashions. Something based on universal aesthetic principals that apply to all painting, both ancient and contemporary. 

Otis retired from teaching in 1982 after working as an art instructor at the Art League of Houston for 11 years.

A painting of an abstracted figure in a landscape filled with foliage.
Soft Rapollo 2, 2000, o/c, 52 x 37 in.

Six years before Otis retired from teaching, he had become so frustrated with the commercial side of the art world, he stopped making any effort to show his work in art galleries. Instead, he opted to focus on painting and sold his work privately.

During this period, he was invited to have solo shows in non-commercial settings in Houston such as the University of Houston and the Health Science Center in 1985, the Goethe Institute in 1889, and the Museum of Printing History in 1993. He did not show his work again in a commercial gallery until art dealer and collector William Reaves offered him a retrospective at his new Houston gallery in 2010 when Otis was in his late 70’s. Valley House Gallery in Dallas began representing Otis in 2014 and produced a monograph on his work in 2019.

A still life in which the artist used the device of an oval composition in a rectangle.
Weeping Woman with Smoking Leg, c.1970, o/c, 40 x 56 in.
STUDIO PRACTICE:

Otis’ studio practice begins each morning by creating a series of small collages, before he starts to paint. The act of assembling the collages allows him to …make the transition from cognitive thinking to perceptual impulses, in other words, to bypass thinking in favor of impulsive feeling. The collages that result, made from any two- dimensional material that has been touched or altered by human interaction, are not studies for paintings. Otis states the collages, establish an emotional relationship to the materiality of being, seeing, and feeling, and they adjust his mindset for approaching the canvas that awaits him.

A patterned tangle of figures and decorative fabrics.
Interior with Figures, 1996, o/c, 48 x 36 in.

Although his early work was painted with brushes, his later works are composed primarily with oil stick. He loves the freedom oil stick provides as it allows continuous lines to be created without having to interrupt an inspired passage by reloading a brush.

This recent painting shows Huband's use of oil stick to create his current signature style of flat two dimensional areas of patterned space.
Mystical Circus, 2017, o/c 70 x 40 in.

For Otis, the hardest thing is placing the first mark on a pure white canvas. Once that first gestural line or shape is established, sometimes without even looking at the canvas as it is applied, he can then explore all the possibilities it suggests. As the painting evolves, each mark informs the next, figures, or parts of figures often emerge to become elements of an abstracted whole.

For me, painting is like an archaeological excavation.  Unexpected treasures are sometimes found, truths revealed, and aesthetic vistas open up exciting possibilities.  Banalities disappear.  One almost becomes a conduit for aesthetic states which are not always under the complete control of the artist.  That is the mystery and the fascination of art.  It is mystical!

This is an example of Huband's more three dimensional representational style..
Variation of Three, 1974, o/c, 50 x 40 in.

In Otis’ earlier work, the figure would often be the subject, rendered in a representational three-dimensional style, whereas the abstracted figuration that emerges in his later work is distinguished by two-dimensional shapes and patterns that play off the other elements in his paintings.

My paintings are flat and not illusionistic. An honest celebration of a flat surface which is characteristic of most modern art which celebrates paint itself and the flat surface to which it adheres.

A red still life of indeterminate objects.
Refusing Not to Say No, 1982, o/c, 50 x 50 in.
THEN & NOW:

In 2021, Otis will have been a professional artist for 60 years. During his career, he has participated in over 60 group, and 30 one-person exhibitions. In addition to showing in galleries across the country, Otis has had one-person exhibitions at the Lynchburg Fine Arts Center in Virginia, the Oak Ridge Art Center in Tennessee, Wisconsin State College, the University of Houston, and Palazzo Ferretti in Cortona, Italy

Another example of his collage paintings using paper bags, news paper and other found two dimensional objects.
Contact The 1st of 5 Poems, c.1989, mixed-media on canvas, 40 x 36 in.

When asked what makes a painting successful, he replied, The major requirement of a successful painting to me is that it be saturated with the vulnerabilities and frailties of humanity. The exact opposite of “cool” indifference. I want my fingerprints all over it. It is my testimony to passing through this world in this time and being involved with it in a deeply personal way.

I wanted to return to the pure art impulse that I experienced as a child in kindergarten. The honest independence of a child! I still work towards this goal.

*****

See all Otis Huband works currently available on FAE.

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For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Kevin at kvogel@fineartestates.com.

Dallas Painter William Elliott (1909-2001)

FAE is pleased to offer works from the estate of William Elliott, one of Dallas’ most respected watercolor artists.

William Elliott was born April 4, 1909 in Sedalia, Missouri. After his family moved to Dallas, in 1928 he graduated from Dallas’ Sunset High School, and then enrolled at John Tarleton College in Stephenville, Texas where he received a degree in architecture. Upon returning home, in 1931, he enrolled in Olin Travis’ Art Institute of Dallas. He had no money for tuition so, like Everett Spruce before him, he cleaned the classrooms at the end of each day in exchange for lessons. He took classes for three years at Travis’ Art Institute cultivating friendships with other Dallas artists which he maintained throughout his career.

Artist: William Elliott, Self Portrait, 1940
Self Portrait, 1940

After Leaving the Institute, he took on his first full time job as a commercial artist, creating artwork for the Interstate Theater chain. He was provided a studio by Interstate in the Melba Theater Building. When he was not working on a project for Interstate, he would look out his window for passersby that he might be able to do convince to sit for him. He learned this technique for finding inexpensive sitters while at the Art Institute. While in the depths of the depression, most people were willing to sit for whatever Elliott was able to pay.

Artist: William Elliott, "Elections" (Dallas) watercolor on paper
“Elections” (Dallas) watercolor on paper

During this time, Elliott frequently worked in the field alongside his friends Reid Crowell, William Lester, Reveau Bassett, and Otis Dozier. They sketched and painted at locations throughout Dallas, and the surrounding rural areas together. Although he was friends with many of the Dallas Regionalist artists, he was not considered a Regionalist by the group because he made his living as a commercial artist. Amusingly, over the next 10 years, he exhibited his work alongside theirs during the Texas State Fair in Dallas’ competitive Allied Arts Exhibitions held in the Dallas Museum of Fine Art, and at the Carnegie Library in Fort Worth.

Artist: William Elliott, "Hunter and His Prey" watercolor on paper
“Hunter and His Prey” watercolor on paper

During World War II, Elliott served as a staff artist with the U. S. Army Air Corps. Elliott returned to Dallas after the war and opened his own studio. He built a successful business serving the advertising and commercial artwork needs of numerous corporate clients.

Artist: William Elliott, "Dusk" watercolor on paper
“Dusk” watercolor on paper

Because he had been so successful as a commercial artist, in the mid-1960’s he retired so he could devote himself full time to his first love – watercolor. To further his skill set, he went to the Art Students League in NYC to study with Robert Angelock and to Woodstock to study with Stefan Lokos.

Artist: William Elliott, "Snow Covered Cedars" watercolor on paper
“Snow Covered Cedars” watercolor on paper

Over the next 30 years, he became one of Dallas’ best known and most accomplished watercolor artists. His paintings draw on observations from trips through Spain, Portugal, Colorado, Maine, and along the Texas Gulf Coast. He was a long-term member of the Southwestern Watercolor Society, and during his career, exhibited in over 100 juried art exhibitions, winning over forty awards. His works can be found in the collections of Diamond Shamrock Corporation, Southwestern Bell Telephone, John Deere Corporation, and numerous other corporate and private collections.

Artist: William Elliott, "Autumn Splendor" watercolor on paper
“Autumn Splendor” watercolor on paper

*****

See all available works by William Elliott.

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Early Career Paintings by Jim Stoker

THE ETERNAL NATURALIST

Valley House Gallery is pleased to offer a selection of early works by San Antonio artist, Jim Stoker.   

Jim Stoker was born in 1935 in Nash, Texas, and reared in Atlanta, a rural town in East Texas. He received a BFA in Applied Art from The University of Texas at Austin in 1957, and an MA in painting, drawing, and printmaking from New Mexico Highlands University in 1962 where he studied with Elmer Schooley. Stoker painted throughout a teaching career which culminated in a 30-year tenure at Trinity University in San Antonio. 

Jim Stoker, American, Born 1935
Jim Stoker, American, Born 1935

Most of the Stoker works we are offering range from the early 1970’s to the early 1980’s, when he was teaching at Trinity University in San Antonio. Stylistically, in the early 70’s Stoker’s oil paintings tended towards representational landscapes with figures at work. His compositions often incorporated incongruous animals milling around the workers or the tools they used.

The Hi-Ranger Rides Again, 1970
The Hi-Ranger Rides Again, 1970

In the mid-70’s the subjects and style of his work changed to flat colorful interiors, resembling paper cut out collages more than paintings.

Woman with Checkered Wall, 1975
Woman with Checkered Wall, 1975

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, he and his wife would spend the Summers in Santa Fe, NM where he painted a series of paintings focusing on the architecture and its relationship to the natural occurring and the planted flora.

House in Santa Fe, 1979
House in Santa Fe, 1979

He later said of that time, you used to see Hollyhocks everywhere in Santa Fe in the late 80’s.  You would think it was the state flower there were so many.  Now, you hardly see any when traveling around that area.

His work became more representational in style and focused more on nature and the environment. 

Jim and his wife Elouise are both naturalists who helped form the San Antonio, Texas chapter of the Sierra Club. Stoker’s efforts to protect the natural fauna and flora around San Antonio led to a series of paintings he titled No Place to Live:… The theme of this series pointed to the animals’ plight when humans are taking over their natural living spaces. 

Brown Trout, 2000/1, oil on canvas, 30 x 42 inches

Jim’s current paintings primarily focus on the riparian zone of the Guadalupe river near a cabin that has been in his wife’s family for generations.  He has created a unique technique he calls Confetti Splatter that he uses to create a multicolored dot matrix as an underpainting  for his naturalistic landscape compositions. 

*****

See all available works by Jim Stoker.

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For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Kevin at kvogel@fineartestates.com.