Clownin’ Around… Now and Then

by Alden Cole on January 12, 2014 · 0 comments

ClowninAround1WPClownin’ Around… Then, crayons on construction paper, 12″ x 9″ • NFS
Clownin’ Around… Now, oil on French linen canvasboard, 24″ x 18″ •  $432 (see below)

1953: Sixty-one years ago this spring, while completing my third grade of grammar school, I drew this childish clown on construction paper for Mrs Clementine Smith, teacher of grades 1, 2, & 3 in the newly-completed Dayton Consolidated School where I spent the first 8 years of my formal education. Even this drawing failed to crack a smile on the usually-severe face of Mrs. Smith. However, the drawing survived being discarded due to my making a gift of it to my saving-aunt Charlotte. She was my dad’s older sister, who lived in the farmhouse ‘up on the hill’; an early encourager of my drawing skills, providing me with paper (the blank backs of recycled advertising flyers) crayons and pencils. The May day I brought the finished Clown home from school, she congratulated me heartily on this my latest accomplishment from the drawing hour, which prompted the gifting. Years later she returned it  to me along with several pencil drawings from an even earlier time, probably pre-school, drawings that never would have made the cut which my teens years ruthlessly imposed on the truly Early Work. Precocious? Not really; nevertheless I intensely loved to draw, and it made my life. Vissi d’arte! 

ClowninAroundNowWP2005: Rediscovering my childhood drawing one fine day I was inspired to reprise the figure using knowledge accrued through years of drawing and illustrating. On a form fitting yellow clown suit, I splattered the same pattern of Big Red Dots as in the crayon drawing, with blue hands, hair and tutu to match, but passed on the big pink shoes in favor of more delicate pink feet. I spent a couple of sessions developing the under-painting in oils, then put it away for a while to dry thoroughly, which turned into a six year stretch. In 2011 I added a few finishing touches to the piece in order to display it in combination with the childhood crayon drawing, in a group show at the DaVinci Art Alliance on the theme Then and Now, which I chose to interpret through the lens of personal history and development: reflections on clownin’ around now and then. Vissi d’amore!

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