McClanahan’s quest for understanding and reflecting creativity in life is as much today a mystery to him as it was when he first began painting. As he continues to move through life, a puzzle of shapes, hues, textures, and complexities of our environment keeps him striving toward some mysterious goal. He believes all moments in art, as well as time, converge upon the here and now, waiting for an artist to capture.
Art has taken so many different directions in his life. He began his formal studies receiving his bachelor’s degree, BSE, from Arkansas State University and his graduate degree, MFA, from the Instituto Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. For twenty of his earlier years, he was an instructor of art from the secondary levels of education to the under graduate and graduate levels. Also, during this period he received his signature membership from the National Watercolor Society and the Mid-Southern Watercolor Society. His work has taken many avenues of techniques and media. He began as an oil painter then on to develop his skills in acrylics, watercolors, gouache, and in the past five years returning to oils.
Winning top awards in exhibitions in and around the United States and Mexico, he has been accepted in juried exhibits such as the National Wildlife Federation, the Annual Delta Exhibition, the Mid-Southern Watercolor Exhibition, the Arkansas Artist Registry’s Exhibit: Small Works on Paper 2008 in which his entry received a purchase award and was selected to be used as the poster for the exhibit and travel exhibit, all in his native Arkansas. Also, he has to his credit one painting in the permanent collection and exhibit on the U.S.S. Arkansas, CGN 41, Nuclear cruiser. He was accepted to exhibit at the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors, Old Forge, New York; the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; the Bluegrass Painting Exhibition, Louisville, Kentucky; the Terrance Gallery, New York City, N.Y.; the National Watercolor Society, Los Angeles, CA.; the Watercolor Art Society Exhibition, Houston, TX; the Texas Fine Arts Exhibition, Austin, TX; and was one of three Americans accepted in the “Lo Mejor de Color, Agua, y Papel” exhibition sponsored by Sun Chemical corporation of Japan (the exhibit toured Mexico, Northern Europe, and Japan for a year). Recently, a series of his pre-Hispanic Mayan paintings were used to illustrate the book “Ohne Spuren In Der Nacht” by Stefanie Tutepastell which is published in German and released in 2005. It is at present being released in Spanish, English, and French. Articles on his work have appeared in newspapers and magazines such as: Art in America, Southwest Art, Viaje, Arkansas Gazette, and the Mexico City News.
John Maxim, art critic of the Mexico City “News,” in his article “San Miguel de Allende Thrives as Art Center” wrote “….At the Galeria San Miguel…., I saw, among the works of many artists of note, the accomplished watercolors of William M. McClanahan, a good draftsman, who succeeds in making the tonalities of his medium possess the textural strengths of oil or tempera paints. His compositionally complex works are characterized by homogeneous figures embellished by baroque and filigreed forms and objects. His “Pyramid of Palenque” in a different mode catches the lushly and foreboding sylvan beauty of his subject. McClanahan’s works are imaginatively conceived and well executed.”
McClanahan has recently been selected to exhibit by the United States Department of State’s “Art in Embassy Program.” Three of his current works has been selected in 2009 to be on exhibit at the American Embassy in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo by Ambassador Alan W. Eastham. And three more paintings have been selected to be on exhibit at the American Embassy in Yaoundé, Republic of Cameroon by Ambassador Robert P. Jackson from November, 2010 until 2013.