If you are a Pinterest user, and if you regularly browse imagery (for relaxation or work, or both ;), I invite you to follow me on Pinterest! Here are my categories and boards:
I am very interested in Orientalist Art. These are paintings that provide a western-world view of what the orient should look like, and they have thus very little to do with the reality of the Orient, past or present. Having said that, this artform does remind me of the books that I used to read as a small boy, and has a great personal sentimental value for me. I collect related imagery here: https://www.pinterest.com/clemenssuter/clemens-orientalist-pics/
Every week, people visit my workshop and the exhibition that I have at my house. They come to look at the paintings, but naturally, they are also curious to learn more about the process by which I paint. Very interesting conversations, which have actually helped me to structure my work in a better way. Occasionally though, I get a question, which used to confuse the hell out of me.
“How long did it take you to create this painting?”
Yes, this question used to confuse me. Depending on the person who asks the question, I may, on the one hand, notice some criticism behind it, as in: “I cannot imagine it took you longer than five minutes to create this s**t. On the other hand, for most visitors, this usually simply shows interest in my work. Whatever the case, in the past I found the question very hard to answer.
First of all, we all know that good art takes a long time to create, whereas poor art can be created within minutes. Although… come to think of it… is that actually true? Karel Appel, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Franz Kline, and even the public’s current favorite Banksy… how much time did or do these artists invest in a single piece? I know some of them created beautiful work within minutes. On the other hand, there are very poor artists who, at the kitchen table, spend months creating terrible paintings. By definition, a sculpture may take a long time to create, think about Michelangelo, Rodin, or Scarpello. … but how about Marcel Duchamp’s readymades?
The answer lies in the observation that creating art takes more than simply working on the piece in front of the artist. I arrived at the answer to the question when I read an article about hunting. For a hunter, to kill a wild boar takes less than a second: pull the trigger, and that’s it. However, we all know that a hunter has to purchase a weapon and ammunition, needs to take care of the equipment, will need practice in shooting, will have to wait for the prey in the early morning hours, and will need to transport the dead animal to the car and the butcher.. the author of the article calculated that the killing of one single boar takes the hunter on average18 hours.
With art, it is not much different. For instance, I study hundreds of pictures and photos each month. I look at motives, colors, shadows, techniques… even at movies or movie stills. I make dozens of sketches (in the end, most have nothing to do with the final work, and are thrown away). The artists that created action paintings may have made dozens of paintings, the majority ending up in the bin, and the one they liked was selected as the final piece. The failures are never shown, but they contributed to the masterpiece and were part of the creation process.
On top of that comes experience. If you create paintings or sculptures over many years, you become more skillful. Michelangelo didn’t start out as a pro in sculpturing, he practiced and practiced. At the height of his career, he probably needed considerably less time for a sculpture than as a student, but he (and his audience) was probably more pleased with the end result than with his earlier works.
So, if people ask me: “How long did it take you to create this painting?” I have both a short and long answer. The long answer is the explanation that you have just read. The short answer is something like “six weeks.” And that’s the truth. honestly, I have never created a painting within minutes.
My books and short stories received additional attention, this time in the newspaper Rhein Neckar Zeitung. A great interview about my work and sources of inspiration. The English translation of this German article can be found below. Here is the direct link to this February 1st, 2021 article. Here is the Article as PDF.
Curious about my books? Find them here on Goodreads.
The “Rheinmonster” short is available in English and German. For the English version, refer to the short story bundle “SHORT STORIES”.
English translation of the interview.
Clemens Suter-Crazzolara likes the city of Hockenheim: “I really enjoy living here.” Now he has set a monument to the city with his first horror story “The Rhine Monster”. It’s a mini science fiction book for young and old that is a little scary. It’s about a grandfather who tells his grandchildren a horror story about a dangerous monster. This monster is up to mischief in Hockenheim until two heroes take action against the monster. Will they actually defeat the monster?
That will not be revealed at this point. “It is my first book that I wrote in German,” says Clemens Suter-Crazzolara. So far, the 60-year-old has written three novels in English. It usually finds readers in Great Britain, the USA or Australia. A fourth novel is in the works and should appear later this year.
The author wrote his debut novel ten years ago: “I could no longer hold back the urge to write.” So he regularly got up at 3 or 4 a.m. to sit at his desk. Then he went to work. His first science fiction book is downright prophetic: An epidemic threatens the world. “By chance I chose a corona virus. As the current situation shows, it is one of the viruses that can quickly become dangerous through mutations.” The novel was published in 2011 and was successful. “With the actual Corona crisis, interest has increased again.”
Clemens Suter-Crazzolara actually comes from the Netherlands. Even as a child he loved to write. “I started a novel then,” he says. He still has the fragments. “They’re flying around somewhere.” After school, he had the choice of studying history, journalism or biology. The author decided to study biology. The first professional station was in Switzerland, where Suter did research in cell biology, also on HIV, and afterwards did his doctorate. He remembers the moment when he and colleagues looked at the first batch of HIV viruses delivered from the USA in their tubes: “We had respect for the danger.” He came to the Heidelberg University Clinic via the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne and did research on Parkinson’s disease. “I was always on the search for the truth. This is how you advance research in small steps in search of cures.”
When he switched to the IT company SAP, the expert once again dealt with health issues, this time from the perspective of the software industry: “How is it possible, for example, to gain new information from the flood of data?” This know-how about viruses, infections, software programs and data flows into creative writing. Readers can deal with current future topics in an entertaining way.
The author publishes his books himself and markets them on the Internet as paperback and e-books. He is now looking for a publisher to publish his English books in Germany. The horror story of Hockenheim is already written in German. It should be noted that the chairman of the Kunstverein Hockenheim also paints and exhibits pictures. After deducting expenses, Clemens Suter-Crazzolara donates the proceeds from pictures and books to a good cause. “It’s great that I have the opportunity to write and paint – that’s where I want to help other people.”
Info: The e-book “Das Rheinmonster” is available in all eStores for 0.99€.
Originally I had planned an art exhibit of my work for June, and the organization of this live event was already initiated back in January, together with three other artists. But then the pandemic struck, and it became quite obvious that a live, on-site event was out of the question.
Luckily, through my previous job in business, I have experience in organizing remote events, so the decision to turn this “viral disaster” into a “virtual exhibit” was a relatively easy step to take. In the end, I managed to hand over a surprisingly high number of paintings and books through this approach. Perhaps you are interested in doing something similar, so let me share some tips and tricks on how to make this work.
Set the theme. I called my virtual event “the fundraiser against Corona” as my objective was to donate any proceeds to the WHO corona fund. This was the red tread through all communication.
Choose the timeframe. I took the month of May as the running time for the event.
Connect to your audience, I have a e-mail list with many subscribers, and emailing was centerpiece to the campaign. You can’t overwhelm people with continuous emails, so I designed just three emails: one for April with the general announcement, one for half of May, and a final closing email announcing that the event was almost over, with a final call to action.
Use a website as the central information resource. The link to that website should be simple so that it can be typed in by hand or communicated during a conversation, e.g. over the phone. Here’s mine: www.clemenssuter.com/papa.
Use all channels available. Not all people receive information through the same channel, as it turned out some customers heard about this campaign through Instagram, others through LinkedIn, and others through email. I pushed out the campaign through my website, email, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, tumblr, two sites on Facebook, YouTube… and a few others that I have in the meantime forgotten about ;-) Naturally you can also use any other way: even written letters or postcards.
Use a single, simple and unique hashtag across all social media. Check out my tag #cps_d2c. That hashtag allows all participants to find your work in their personal favorite channel, and it connects all channels.
Post and communicate continuously. Make sure to provide some piece of news every day, across many of the channels. Indicate which day it is: “today is the tenth day of the fundraiser” or “only five more days left for the fundraiser”. As an example, I shared details of a painting each day, or posted about one of my books every couple of days.
Use video. I made short movies that I posted on YouTube, telling why I was running the campaign. Even three weeks in, not all of the people that I had addressed understood what this was about, so you must keep on reiterating your goal. Vlogs are a great way to supplement blogs.
Talk about successes. If you sell your work, tell the audience about this right away. Also mention if you have successfully shipped a painting, or when it has arrived at the buyer. People will want to know that you can deliver. Also provide some guarantee that you will take the picture back if the buyer doesn’t like it. Naturally some buyers will want to look at the art too; so I organized live visits (in line with corona limitations).
Join forces with other artists. Actually, this is a call to action for YOU, if you create high quality art and literature. Imagine such a campaign with a number of artists, each with their own channels! That would lead to an impressive multiplication. If this approach interests you, contact me.
Before turning to PURGATORY, below a painting of a camel, created in the nineties. The background is acrylic paint, enriched with natural pigments and desert sand, the camel itself is in oil. The motive suggest heat, and a pyramid is visible in the hump. I painted this shortly after our trip through the Libyan Desert.
Talking about heat: lately I have been thinking about the principal of purgatory. Although this concept has come out of fashion in both the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, it is high on my radar. Purgatory: I remember books from my youth in which, in graphic detail, naked sinners sat in metal cauldrons, faces distorted by pain. No wonder: flames flickered around their bodies, and a red devil (carrying a three-pronged spear, see my novel Celeterra) tested their flesh.
Wouldn’t purgatory be a suitable, after-death punishment for some unsocial fellow human beings? I am not religious, so the argument is moot, but in my mind I sometimes assign a few days of purgatory to people who behave anti-socially:
Four days of purgatory for people that hit a neighboring parked car with their car door.
One day of purgatory for the couple that pushed past 25 fellow passengers in an attempt to get out of the plane first.
One day for each person that borrowed but didn’t return a smart phone cable
One day in a cauldron with melted led for all drivers that blocked our driveway with their parked car, being too lazy to walk a few extra meters.
One day of purgatory for all hotel guests that have loud conversations in the hotel floor between 11 pm and 7 am.
Half a day of purgatory for restaurant guests that have a dispute with the waiter, and try to pull other guests (me) into the argument. I don’t care about your problems, live with it. One day of hot cauldron, if this happens in a train or plane.
Two days for expressing an opinion about blogposts, without having read the entire text.
It was a cold Saturday afternoon, but we (the organizers: Clemens, Markus and Charlotte) were very happy about the big turn-out, the interest in our work and the opportunity to interact with our fans, readers and buyers.
Photography by Markus Pfeffer (in the fully renovated barn – the only place that was heated too :) “Fish XI” 2007 (Clemens Suter – sold)
Book reading by Charlotte Otter The book signing corner. In the background “Raven II” (2007, sold)