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Art & Life with James McClung

Today we’d like to introduce you to James McClung.

James, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born in San Dimas, CA. As a child, my family and I lived in Fontana, CA. This is where my earliest memories of finding the love for drawing and creating. My older brother and I would spend hours making our own comic book stories consisting of some weird characters like ducks, which were inspired by the Saturday morning cartoon Dark Wing Duck. We called our ducks “Down Under Ducks.” I feel that these childhood experiences really helped fuel my interest in making art.

From Fontana, we moved to where I still reside in Redlands, CA. I was just beginning 6th grade at the time. I quickly learned that I had some talent in drawing from my classmates’ encouragement and my teachers. Through the next few years into Jr. High I always gravitated to really focusing on art classes. In High School, I found skateboarding, which really sparked my creativity. School became tough on me at this time. My class sizes were very large, like 35-40 students. My attention suffered, so I focused more on drawing in my notebooks rather than pay attention to the science teacher whom I rarely talked to because there were so many students. My grades through the freshman year to Junior year spiraled down extremely because I became so focused on drawing and skateboarding. I was so behind I had to transfer to a continuation school called Orange Wood High School. At this school, I formed a close relationship with the art teacher Mrs. Young. Sue Young is a huge reason why I am painting. She really encouraged me to pursue art seriously, as well helped me to do well in the other academics.

I feel in love with making art because of the people who pushed me to do well at that school. After High School, I enrolled in the community college nearby Crafton Hills College. I took a few art courses there such as life drawing which really helped me with line work and shading. My professor was Suzana Petrovik, like Mrs. Young, Suzana really encouraged me to pursue my art seriously. She actually told me to do one of two things, either enroll in an Art School or continue to learn and paint on my own daily which I was already doing. I looked into enrolling in a few different Art Schools throughout the states but decided I wanted to go on my own path. I’ve painted and drawn daily since then and now its such a part of my life it almost feels like another limb to my body.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Most of the work I do is driven and inspired by places I’ve traveled and how images from these places correlate to what life experiences I am going through at the time. A lot of the artwork is created with ink and bold colors using either gouache or acrylic paint. I try to really make these scenes have a unique graphic look to them sometimes using geometric shapes to stir an emotion or metaphor of how the picture has an in-depth story. Typically the way I start a new project is I’ll plan a trip somewhere not really knowing what to expect, letting the scenery speak its beauty. Recently I’ve traveled through the southwest, driving hours along outer highways through Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas. There is so much inspiration and enchantment to be found in those rural landscapes. On these trips, I’ll bring along a sketchbook/journal and a 1970’s Yashica 35mm camera. Shooting usually about 10-15 rolls of 35mm film, once home I develop and scan the images. Sifting through hundreds of photos is when I start to really dive into what the experience is about. Each project has its own story, such as it is about finding that voice to truly pursue art, or realizing a healing process within my self. Through these images, I hope they speak to the viewer in some special way. That being a sense of feeling like they’ve experienced traveling to that destination or connecting to the message that painting is trying to portray. I’ll be going to India this winter, So I’m sure there I will find a lot of inspiration.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
Success for me is how you handle failures. Admitting mistakes and applying what I’ve learned on the next project is being successful.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
This past summer I had two shows. One at the Kate Oh Gallery in New York City back in June 2018. The other show was at the Preacher Gallery in Austin, Texas. To view the past projects, I’ve made since 2015 please visit my website, jamesmcclungart.com.

Within this site, you can view all the artwork individually in each collection. Along with a synopsis of what that series is about.

To see what I am working on lately visit my Instagram page @jmsmcclng Currently I’ve been producing some work inspired by the southwest titled “El Camino.” Once I get close to finishing the series, I begin to look for a gallery or place to show the collection. Instagram has been a great tool to promote shows etc. I’ll be leaving for India on a two-week trip next month. I’m sure this trip will inspire a lot of creativity as well.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 416 The Terrace apt 3
    Redlands, CA.
    92374
  • Website: jamesmcclungart.com
  • Phone: 951-941-2085
  • Email: jmsmcclng@gmail.com
  • Instagram: jmsmcclng


Image Credit:
Studio photos by Jaime Valdovino

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