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.
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.
“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.”
“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!
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:
Painting with A Lear Jet
Art Works, Virginia
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
Serena Kovalosky is the owner-producer at Artful Vagabond Productions LLC, specializing in cultural projects, exhibitions and films on visual arts. Kovalosky is also a professional sculptural artist and curator.