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Clear Seeing Place

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

From the salt marshes and moss-draped live oaks of the South Carolina Lowcountry to the New York art world, Clear Seeing Place takes the reader behind the studio door to explore the making of a painter in intimate detail. Brimming with the joy of process and a love of art history, Brian Rutenberg reveals the places, people, and experiences that led to the paintings for which he is well known today. This book is packed with ideas, observations, techniques, and career advice all thoughtfully arranged into six sections designed to inspire artists of all levels, as well as anyone interested in creativity. Clear Seeing Place is a companion to the artist’s popular YouTube series, “Brian Rutenberg Studio Visits,” and is a love letter to painting written by a painter.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 8.75 out of 10


Plot: The author's story is engaging and keeps the pages turning, while the inclusion of information and advice about painting and art in general also draws in readers.

Prose: This is a cut above much memoir writing; impressive turns of phrase and a confident, forthright, and often humorous voice keep readers engaged.

Originality: Memoirs can often have an underlying theme of guidance, but the shared insights about creating art and working as an artist add to the unique quality of this work.

Character Development: Rutenberg is thoroughly developed, but many of the supporting characters are static and in need of further development.

Date Submitted: April 18, 2018

Abstract painter Rutenberg reveals his passion, authenticity, and artistic vision in a series of thoughtful vignettes about his life and work. Expanding on his YouTube series Studio Visits, the author invites readers into his New York City studio to learn about the messy act of creation, sharing his journey of self-discovery through short essays on his creative process and the people who have influenced his work, including the painter Gregory Amendoff and art dealer John Raimondi, who supported Rutenberg early in his career. Rutenberg tracks his artistic growth from his childhood in South Carolina in the 1970s experimenting with mud and stencils, to his days as an art student living in Queens, N.Y., and later in his career as an internationally exhibited landscape painter living in Manhattan. He frequently refers to musicians who influenced him; for example, he practices Duke Ellington’s dictum­, “The wise musicians are those who play what they can master,” by painting in his studio every day. This dedicated training has freed his imagination and originality, he writes, creating what he calls a “clear seeing place” into his art and revealing “a deeper truth that relies less on visual accuracy than on personal and cultural experience.” This well-written artist’s coming-of-age-story will appeal to young artists looking to make a career of their passion. (BookLife)
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"An original and stimulating memoir that takes readers into the mind and heart of an artist."