Maxine McClendon | Artist Story



“In essence, all paintings are about the act of painting, getting the colors on the canvas in as beautiful a manner as possible. My subject matter happens to be landscape, not landscape as we are accustomed to seeing it in paintings but aerial views as we see them from mountains, hills and, most especially, airplanes, shorelines cliffs, crevices, rivers, lakes, farmland ploughed and furrowed, and strange patterns left as scars on the earth where buildings have once stood and long since gone.

I begin my work by drawing landscapes frequently working from sketches I have made on trips. These sketches are done on paper in watercolor. When dry, I study and generally crop these renderings with scissors to bring out a particular area or aspect. Up to now I have been preoccupied with the subject matter, with looking, remembering and drawing landscapes; at this point I become concerned with turning all this information into a painting. Next, I create maquettes (French for “model or little painting”) for studying its possibilities as the basis for larger works. I am looking for formal elements: shape, line, rhythm and form which combine to make the bones of a painting. Out of a dozen or so small studies, perhaps only a few have the compositional strength to be enlarged. I could have stopped with the original watercolor or with the maquette cropped from them, but it is this compositional strength I am seeking. Without the maquette you might arrive at a pleasant picture; but once you have seen this miniature study, there would be little need or desire to ever see it again. A great painting may not even appeal to you at all on your first contact, but it will continue to divert the eye, to delight the soul with color subtleties, to continue to offer something fresh to you for years.

This kind of art is referred to as Process Art, which means that by looking at the work you can tell a great deal about how it was put together. All the artist tracks have not been erased. There are abundant clues to how you arrive at the final object. An example in my own art is the evident drawn lines and hanging threads. The great charm of Process Art is that you, in a sense, become a participant. I have charted an aesthetic trip, and as your eye participates, you become the artist in a sense.

I make several working trips a year to make sketches and store up information, and the work flows out of this.

Some of the qualities that impress me in a painting are vitality, freshness and a sense of spontaneity, and these qualities are what I try to express in my work.”