A recent Public Television program, that centered around the question of whether it was possible to know God through experience (this post is not about religion but just happened to be what the program was about), made the point that the same religion can be practiced in different ways depending on geography and, more specifically, on the social makeup of the people.

So each member of a particular group will demonstrate the certain peculiarities of the group they are a part of. This is probably Sociology 101, but it leads me to think how my art may be tied directly into my social place; how much of what I do is a product of where I live, who I associate with.

Church (destroyed) 20x20 acrylic on canvas MTMcClanahanIn so far as what I believe being intrinsically tied to my life, it has to be inseparable I would think, i.e., I am where I am because of what I believe. But can I live in a certain demographic and still be different, still be an individual thinker? I try to do it everyday. But the infection of style can be insidious–how I dress, speak, behave, is easily fallen into without resistance. I don’t want my art to be arrived at this way. Why do I wear certain clothes–certain combinations? Because it fits where I am, where I go to do business in everyday life. So I have to ask myself, again, how does this translate into my art.

“What I see is filtered through my everyday”     

I want my work to be about what I truly believe—my fundamental, personal beliefs. I worry it being overly manipulated by other’s beliefs. My work is about how I see the world, it’s about my truth. But how much do I conform to local convention (and to everything I’ve admired) to the point that my work takes on my environment more than it does my truth. Art is thought, sensed. My art—the clothes adorning my thoughts—is an extension of me, but also of everything around me; I have to concede it is inevitable.

You can’t see when you’re in it. You step outside and there it is, clear. Inside my demographic, how clear is my work to me? What I see is filtered through my everyday. I want the work to transcend my everyday and exist on it’s on. I can’t separate myself from who I have become and therefore from what has molded me. Art historians can tell where a work was done—it usually shows it’s origins in manner of execution and subject matter. This doesn’t lessen the art but my fear is that influences may blind me to truth. Truth is most important.

I think one transcends the everyday simply by working. In art school, the way to moving beyond clichéd ideas was in the shear number of thumbnails (quick idea sketches) produced, because it seems a natural inclination for one to first lay down the easier, more known ideas that are not so original. Work seems to be the answer to most, if not all, of the questions we stumble upon. And being in the moment—in the process of going about our business–may not feel productive sometimes. But then one day we realize we are further along than we thought. It’s the being “in it” scenario again, where clarity is achieved when we are out, beyond a point, and we look back.

Church (destroyed) 20×20 acrylic on canvas MTMcClanahan
Sketchbook Page of Thumbnails MTMcClanahan

MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at

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