When Allen Clapp teaches painting at an art seminar, he tries to keep it simple and take the mystery out of it. Instead of just having them paint landscapes, he takes his students out in the morning and has them engage in a detailed study of the sky.
He has them turn all the way around and study the changes in the sky. He asks them to focus on the look and feel of the clouds.
The abstract exercise might seem normal to an artist, but it seems a bit odd given Clapp’s day job. Though he fell in love with oil and landscape painting as a child in Siler City, N.C., in the 1950s, he was trained at NC State as an engineer (and also has a degree from the Poole College of Management). Engineers can’t think in abstractions. They have to be precise and exact and can deal only in the tangible.
But Clapp, who owns the power and utilities consulting firm Clapp Research Associates, likes that his painting and teaching art allows him to step out of his 9-to-5 world. “A lot of my business is so particular. It’s so regimented,” he says. “The more I can step out of engineering, the more I can free up my thinking.”
It’ll be an entire world of freedom for Clapp this weekend, as he’s a featured artist in the World of Art Showcase, an annual international art show featuring professional and emerging artists.
And the honor to be featured in the showcase is even more special to Clapp this year since the event takes place at the Raleigh Convention Center Friday through Sunday. You can visit the showcase’s link above to find more information on event and ticket information.
Even though the engineer in Clapp likes having a break from his day job, he says that there are certain connections between his profession and his passion for painting that don’t call for him to stretch himself too much.
“One of the things about engineering is that you need to understand relationships,” he says. “You need a plan. And both of those are a must for painting. You look at an abstract painting, and you see there are rhymes and reasons to it.”