Who am I? That’s a rather philosophical question. Just when I think I have that all figured out, I realize I know nothing about myself. Is it possible to know everything and nothing at the same time? I guess it’s good to have no definitive answer as it must mean I’m still growing and evolving as a person and an artist. Explaining where I’m from isn’t much easier as I’m from everywhere, somewhere and nowhere. My father was in the military so we moved around a lot. I even lived in Europe for 4 years. Ultimately we settled in Pennsylvania. So that’s probably where I most identify as being “from”. But the rest of my family is from New England and I live in the Bay Area, California.
What is your journey to start making art? How did you start your art career and what brought you to start showing your works?
My mother, Joycelyn Erho Calande, was an artist so art has always been part of my life. Going to museums, galleries and art shows was nothing foreign to me. I have always enjoyed “creating” so by the time high school was wrapping up it was pretty clear to me I wanted to pursue art professionally in some capacity. I ended up attending the oldest art school in the U.S., The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. At the time, at age 17 and fresh out of high school, I was the youngest to ever be admitted. It was an intense 4 year art program focusing on drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture. By the time I was finishing college, I was doing commission work, showing in some Philadelphia area galleries and entering shows.
What is the process behind the creation of your works?
Non-artists might be surprised to learn there’s sometimes a tremendous amount of thought that goes into an art piece. I often contemplate a piece for a while before I begin the creation process. Sometimes it’s because I have a fledgling idea that I like but it needs to be fleshed out or refined. Other times I’m thinking more about the technical side, how to actually go about creating something from nothing. And then there are times when I’m thinking about what materials would best suit my idea. Some pieces come easy, they just pour out of you like honey. Others are more work and the process requires a lot of starting and stopping. There’s more struggle, but often the struggle is worth it. There are two things I consider important in the creation process. One is the ability to walk away. When I find myself tinkering and just making small changes, one of the best things to do is walk away. Shelve the piece for a bit. Stay away from it for a few days or a few weeks and return with a fresh pair of eyes. It’s amazing how much you will suddenly “see” when you return. The other thing I consider important in the creative process is the ability to make a significant change. If a piece isn’t working, small changes, that tinkering I mentioned, isn’t very effective. You need to do something that scares the hell out of you. You need to dive in and make a really bold, aggressive alteration. I find doing so often leads to surprising results. Creativity is a personal journey so don’t expect someone to hold your hand and tell you what to do next, take bold chances.
What does inspire your artworks?
Most of my work is probably inspired by nature, by life and by travel. But I find inspiration in many things, if not everything. Sometimes I see the work another artist is doing and that inspires me. Or maybe I go to a museum and see something that fires up my soul. Maybe I’m just on a hike in the woods and see something that I connect with. Maybe there’s something occurring in my life I think is worth immortalizing. There’s no single muse for me. Artists are observers and inspiration can be found in the most mundane circumstances. It’s just important to remain open because you never know when inspiration will hit.
Is there a specific meaning or message behind your Art?
I’ve never been big on having my art “say something”, that’s what books are for. That’s not to say there’s never a hidden (or not so hidden) message in some works. But mostly I feel as artists we are creating something unique, a different way to see and express something visually, we are sharing pieces of ourselves. Sometimes a pretty picture is just a pretty picture. And I think that’s where artists excel. We make the world a more beautiful and more interesting place. At least most of the time.
What is your experience with the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity?
I’ve been a longtime collector of animation art. Specifically the original production art used to create the original Looney Tunes / Merrie Melodie cartoons. I’ve always loved the art form. Many of those animators were also fine artists themselves. I was lucky enough to meet Chuck Jones (and the Jones family) on many occasions as well as some of the other animation artists like Maurice Noble, Pete Alvarado, Marc Davis, Eyvind Earle and others. What I loved about meeting Chuck Jones is that he always made sure you left with more knowledge than which you came. After visiting Chuck’s gallery many times over many years, I began to participate in their annual Red Dot Art Auction. Artists from all over the world donate 12 x 12 inch works of art for a silent fund raising auction. The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity uses the money to offer art and creativity programs to people of all ages, but especially to the young and old. I believe September of 2021 will be the 11th Red Dot Auction and I’ve participated in almost every one, missing only a year or two. This year I’ll be donating 2 works of art….or maybe 3, we’ll see. But the auction brings two of my loves together, Looney Tunes and art. It makes me happy that my work not only raises money for a good cause but it’s nice to know the auction winners are living with my artwork, giving it a home, and enjoying it. Hopefully for some, those little 12 x 12 works will become treasured family heirlooms and bring decades of joy. At the very least my little paintings will hopefully bring some color and life to yet another bare and sterile wall in this world.
How is the Covid-19 influencing your Art? How did you use the quarantine time?
Being stuck at home was no issue for me. I was happy to stay at home and go nowhere as most artists probably were. Creativity requires alone time and covid restrictions provided plenty of that. It granted more time to think about art and more hands-on time to create art. Before covid I was always “too busy” or “too exhausted” to create with any regularity. Covid changed that. Suddenly I had the time. So I managed to use the down time to start new works, experiment and to also gather new ideas. Now that things are getting back to “normal” I need to figure out how to continue creating and not get swept back up in to the rat race.
Old Glory – 12 x 12 – Acrylic on canvas
What are your plans and dreams for the future?
When you’re younger you have big ideas about where art can take you. Some are lucky enough to find their path. For others, life happens. It can be difficult to find that work / life / art balance. No one wants to stay in their studio 24/7, nor should they. You need to live life if you hope to bring it to the canvas. Likewise, no one wants to be a slave to a regular job and have zero time or energy to create. At this point in my life I find myself wanting to create the body of work I never had time to create. It doesn’t have to be the most substantial body of work, it doesn’t need to be unparalleled, it just needs to be something I’m proud of and something representational of my life and my interests. Hopefully some others will relate and find joy in whatever manifests. Aside from that, I think acquiring some representation and maybe securing a gallery showing would be great. And travel, lots and lots of travel.
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