“Whatever we look at with delight, whatever we see that gives us pleasure, though we think we have forgotten it the next day — will influence us all our lives.” Georges Santayana
As I was perusing through my materials, looking for the keepsakes I tucked away from this time frame in relation to my artwork, I found the late artist Cleda-Marie Simmons’ “Design Class 2004” workbook and her booklet “Design and Your World” from her home-based studio workshops. The quotation excerpt was taken from these class materials — I am including a small tableau of design exercises.
Her class made a comprehensive exploration of design principles similar in nature to those taught by Johanness Itten at the Bauhaus (mentioned in prior post.). It was a great opportunity to experience her perspective on art while enjoying a tour of her studio and seeing her artwork.
“My goal as an artist is to capture the strength and beauty in life; to embrace life in the best way possible and then to bring that essence to others.” Cleda-Marie Simmons
Please see below to read Cleda-Marie Simmons’ biography.
As I connect to the exercises and workshops I did and the people (like Cleda-Marie) whom I met at that time, I can see the broad lines of testing and exploration of design principles and ideas, as well as the painting mediums (oil, acrylic and watercolor) that I employed in the artworks of this group from the Wheel within a Wheel series.
Wheel within a Wheel 22, Watercolor, 48 in x 48 in, 2004
Wheel within a Wheel 23, Acrylic, 20 in x 24 in, 2004
Wheel within a Wheel 24, Watercolor, 14 in x 20 in, 2004
Wheel within a Wheel 25, Acrylic, 20 in x 18 in, 2004
Wheel within a Wheel 26, Acrylic, 30 in x 20 in, 2004
Wheel within a Wheel 30, Watercolor Collage, 6 in x 4 in, 2004
Upcoming posts will continue to include more artworks from this series of paintings.
Following is a biography of Cleda Marie Simmons:
Cleda-Marie Simmons, 77
Lifelong artist Cleda-Marie Simmons died peacefully on March 25, 2005, following a recent stroke. Her prolific work as an artist spanned five decades.
Cleda-Marie Diehl was born and raised in the Rocky Mountain west to homesteading parents.
At the age 19, she “found herself” in the world of art and laid the foundations for her noteworthy career.
Cleda-Marie married Air Force Master Sergeant Alfred A. Simmons in 1951. While in Spain, Cleda-Marie became the first American artist ever to have a production exhibited in the exclusive famed Ateneo de Madrid.
The Simmons’ family, which now included three children, returned to the United States in the mid 1950s. Cleda-Marie had already established herself as one of the up and coming young artists both in the United States and Europe.
In 1964, Cleda-Marie turned away from oils and began using acrylics because they were more malleable and allowed her to explore wider dimensions in her creative artistry.
In the 1970s, the Simmons’ lived in Loveland, Colorado. Cleda-Marie became affiliated with the local chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha International (ESA). For the next 10 years, Cleda-Marie used her design gifts and creative genius as art director, graphic artist, and as the art editor for ESA’s Jonquil magazine.
By the mid 1970s, Cleda-Marie’s work reflected her vision to create a new way of seeing art. She painted large canvasses, used brilliant colors with a minimalist aesthetic, and incorporated multiple styles including abstract expressionism, minimalism, and magic realism.
While living in Boston in the 1980s, Cleda-Marie’s reputation led to her being listed in Who’s Who in American Art and the World’s Who Who of Women.
Following the death of her beloved husband of 37 years, Cleda-Marie moved to Vista in 1989.
For the last 16 years of her life, Cleda-Marie continued to be a prolific painter. She had completed six paintings just months before she died.
Cleda-Marie was an active community advocate for the arts. She gave demonstrations of her unique frameless mounting technique to art associations throughout North County San Diego.
She developed and taught numerous workshops and painting classes in her home studio. She created large scale murals for the Vista, San Marcos and San Diego communities. She continued to exhibit her art in galleries throughout California.
In December 2004, Cleda-Marie completed a new workbook called “The Art of Mixing Color” which will be published posthumously.
Cleda-Marie was an extraordinary person; at once, noble and refined.
She is survived by her sister, Dorothy; two brothers, Harlan and Ronnie; her son, Barry; her daughter, Nina; two granddaughters, Richelle and Laura; and one great-grandson. She will be sorely missed by numerous friends who lived and respected her generosity, loving kindness and civility.
Cleda-Marie’s once said, “My goal as an artist is to capture the strength and beauty in life; to embrace life in the best way possible and then to bring that essence to others.:” And she did.
Daniel Foster said:
Great to see the 20s in the series…I think 23 and 24 are quite different than most of the other geometric design approaches in the series. The breadth of your language and approaches is fascinating and great to revisit.
Lorien Suarez said:
Thank you, Daniel, you have a unique vantage point on my artwork, and it is very gracious and thoughtful of you to take the time to comment on my writing in this blog. And your knowledge of art and your insight when addressing artists and their artworks has always been valuable, drawing forth new insights and growth possibilities. It is of significance to those of us fortunate enough to know you.