Painting with a Lear Jet and Other Unusual Mediums – Day 229

Painting with a Lear Jet. Art Works, Virginia
Painting with a Lear Jet. Art Works, Virginia

Inspiration can come from anywhere and the Artist Mind thrives on the unusual and the unexpected. For many artists, researching alternative mediums brings new perspectives into their creative practice.

Diane Clement is an artist who uses a wide variety of products and techniques, mixing assorted paints, water, beer, wine, oils, alcohol….and even Lear jets! “I have always painted and drawn,” says Clement, “but I hadn’t seriously focused on my artistic talents until I turned fifty and people began congratulating me on being ‘half-way there’ which made me think, ‘Half-way where?’ Did they all assume that I’d live to be a hundred? Geez, I’m probably OVER half-way there!!” So Diane Clement started to paint, with abandon, and thus began her professional career as an artist.

“The Tree” by Diane Clement. Copyright © Diane Clement

Back to the Lear jet. The hallmark of Clement’s work is her use of a variety of mediums to achieve her creative goals. So when the opportunity came to collaborate with painter Mike Keeling on a project organized by Art Works in Virginia where Keeling and a dozen artists were to create a series of paintings using a Lear jet for an innovative art show, Clement was definitely interested. Here’s her account of their extraordinary creative process.

MAX ITT - collaborative painting with Michael Keeling, Diane Clement and others
MAX ITT – collaborative painting with Michael Keeling, Diane Clement and others

“As the project progressed, we eventually figured out how far to place the jet engine to the boards on which we painted,” says Clement. “It was hot, hot work! Mike got overheated and since he and I paint in a similar style – he asked me to do the actual painting! This was absolutely the most exciting thing I have ever done!”

“The process was completely experimental,” the artist continued. “Mike and I both throw paint in our work, so we naturally thought we could just throw paint into the jet exhaust. At first, we strapped a wooden panel onto a forklift and positioned the lift a fair distance away from the rear of the jet. My thought at this point was that the paint would atomize before it hit the panel. It did…..and the panel was destroyed.”

“We moved the panel closer to the exhaust end of the jet…very close…and found that tossing paint into the exhaust at that point, gave us a more desired coverage. The heat was so intense, however, that there was no room for painting! The heat baked the paint onto the surface immediately and the exhaust had so much velocity there was no room for error. And it was soooo HOT! But fun, fun, fun!”

“We learned a lot in this process and since that experience I have been pondering other methods to be able to ‘control’ the paint as it hits the surface…knowing now that you have to be mindful of heat, velocity, drying time, instantaneous baking, things that might melt or get too hot to handle.”

Diane Clement continues her experimentation in her artwork and is now working with fire in her paintings. “Being self-taught,” she says, “I feel perfectly free to do anything I want and have not stopped to research if any other artist has done what I do…and frankly I don’t really care! I don’t mean to sound rude, but you just have to do what you have to do.”

Painting with Fire (in progress). Diane Clement. Copyright © Diane Clement.
Painting with Fire (in progress). Diane Clement. Copyright © Diane Clement.

“So, painting with fire is something I figured nobody else has done – because it’s not just burning things or setting things on fire…. I’m developing a process of painting using fire as my medium. It’s a method in progress, but it involves a controlled environment, plaster, paint, polyurethane, fire and, of course, plenty of fire safety equipment.”

Diane Clement’s work with alternative materials has a greater purpose and she sums it up this way, “We, as artists, have a responsibility to the profession: To be honest in our work to paint exactly what we want to paint from our inspired soul, even if it’s dark,  to be prolific and to continually explore and ‘forward’ the art so the final contribution to the art world will at least be real, even if only on a small scale and even if only one person is inspired upon viewing one painting.”

Here’s to spreading that inspiration!

– SerenaK


This post is part of  the 365 Days Project – a year-long series of daily posts that began as a tribute to artists and the creative mind and ended up as a collection of interviews with artists around the world.

Artist Credits for the images included in this post:

“Into the Abyss” by Diane Clement. Copyright © Diane Clement

Images featured:
Painting with A Lear Jet
Art Works, Virginia

The Tree
Diane Clement, Virginia
Acrylic and latex on raw canvas

Collaborative Painting with Mike Keeling, Diane Clement and members of Art Works, Virginia
Water-based and oil-based paints on board

Painting with Fire (in progress)
Diane Clement, Virginia

Into the Abyss
Diane Clement, Virginia
Mixed acrylics, metallic lettering enamels and sun

Diane Clement’s artwork can be viewed at: Diane Clement 

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.
Click to view The 365 Days Project

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