C. Carey Cloud

C. Carey Cloud » Articles » Canvassing Art

Canvassing Art
        with Abe Eyed

C. Carey Cloud's realism-in-depth exhibition opened to a waiting audience Monday at the Brown County Art Gallery, and continues to Oct. 26.

The show features sagging barns, a delightful grist mill and either rustic structures of hushed grays and reds, all surviving generations of elemental weathering. Yet, these works are pleasingly brightened by the unfailing sun and by anecdotal touches of whimsy and tender by-play. The subtle vignetted accents are modestly placed in and around the meticulously detailed antiquities and fine grained environment.

The scrupulous recording of each aged board's veins, graining, knots and cracks is executed somewhat in the genre of Andrew Wyeth, America's most celebrated artist. The 71- year-old Cloud readily admits to this affinity, but hastens o add, "My pictures don't express she melancholy mood that Wyeth's do. I paint more sunny pictures."

Humor comes easy for the zany Cloud. For a number of years he brought joy to millions of kids as they opened their Cracker Jack boxes for the prizes he created. And now he's brought quieter pleasure to older generations with the millions of religiously rendered cracks and other lines in his incomparable show.

His original sculptures of models for toys and stylized caricatures of animals no doubt required understanding of the peculiarities of the different woods he worked. This experimentation was the logical step perhaps toward his zeal for reproducing the minutia that's so important in his current works.

The graying "Old Grist Mill" is an imposing victim of modern technology, but has retained its majesty throughout the fallen years. The red water wheel and the slanting white dam provide movement as the latter sits solidly propped against the creek's severely slanting bank.

"Home to a Chipmunk" is a symbiotic study of a pitifully neglected barn which shelters the cautious and lonely animal. And Cloud supports this silent dialogue simply by having an old scrap of twisted wire hanging from a big protruding rusty nail just above and to the left of the rotted round opening. In front, each living blade of detailed grass of the broad spread furnishes a gentle contrast to the barns deteriorated face.

These and the 18 other oil paintings show off Cloud's confident mastery of his technique. He uses the tiniest tipped brush made to apply his tempera paints on gesso (white glue) coated masonite. Bright colors are rarely considered and he depends instead on shading for the soft contrasts.

When his composition is completed, he over brushes it with a coat of light clear varnish. When required, he also hand rubs a film of transparent oil paint glazing. Later he spreads a heavy coat of varnish over the entire surface. All this effects a luminosity that hit the layers of colors, highlighting the depths in the picture at the same time.

Two pencil drawings, "A Blacksmith Shop" and "A Boat Shop" illustrate his deft touch in this medium. And lastly, you'll be treated to a retrospective view of his famous Cracker Jack models mounted on two panels.

Practically from birth on a farm near Warren, Indiana, Cloud's career has been filled with a variety of related art jobs to supply bread for his family. He began sketching at 6, but it wasn't till 12 that painting became his all-pervasive interest, starting with water colors. He did commercial lettering for a Fort Wayne engraving house, followed by a cartooning stint with the Cleveland Press.

He did line illustrations for cowboy magazines at the same time. He had two years as art director with a Chicago greeting card firm when the depression hit. To Brown County with his family where they barely survived until 1933. Back to Chicago and "Luke Barker," Cloud's syndicated comic strip. It folded and free lance commercial work followed, climaxed by his meteoric success in 1937 with his Cracker Jack surprises. This provided the means in 1947 to buy the attractive Will Vawter compound on Town Hill.

And the Cloud family never left Brown County again, nor had to worry about the hungry wolf... permitting Carey to follow his career in full pursuit, in his Florida home in the winter and as he days, "Enchanting Brown County throughout the other seasons, where I'm inspired to do my finest work." These you'll see at the show.

Caption under picture: The "Old Bradley Place," a new painting by C. Carey Cloud, is in his one-man show and will be a gift to the Art Gallery Association's permanent collection in the name of the artist's late wife.

C. Carey Cloud - Canvassing Art with Abe Eyed

C. Carey Cloud