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What works for me? Here's an audio 'look' at my process

Curt Clonts

I have Thelonious Monk cooking on the sound system, a pot of black coffee, all the flood lights are on, paint is squeezed out on pallettes, and brushes are at the ready. The blank canvas before me beckons for a mark. This is how a painting begins in my studio. I have a gallery show next May, for which I have been creating a new body of work. When I am in this mode I can work late into the night, finally hitting the sack around 3:00am—but only after some reading to calm my mind. I will later dream in color.

I love preparing for exhibitions. Making notes, studying color balance, drawing ideas from nature, and taking risks with large quantities of paint and canvas keep my brain fully occupied. I speak to my artist friends more often during these times, running ideas by them. These conversations help fuel me.

I wrestle with some of the paintings, butting putid colors against hot or cold colors in my search for the right “feel” and edge. I make quick sketches during the course of a painting to test ideas which come to me in flashes. I’ll use a hundred brushes working on a large painting, never cleaning one until the end of the week.

Sometimes long periods are spent sitting and staring at the work in search of what I cannot stand. Sometimes I hate it all and scrape it all off, only to begin again

I’ve been following this road for 45 years. It works for me. I do feel like each year I get deeper into each painting and take more risks.

When you’re 63 you paint like a mad man and hope for tomorrow.

Curt Clonts is a Wichita-born artist who volunteers as KMUW's art reviewer. When Curt isn’t working in his College Hill studio he is usually spending time with his wife, kids, and grandkids. He also spends the spring and summer months kayaking and camping.