How did you get started and then develop your career?
Larry Cannon: I was exposed to watercolor in college as part of my architectural training but only came back to it thirty years later. From that point onward, watercolor has been my passion, and I moved forward in San Francisco with dual careers in architecture and fine art. As a self-trained artist, I struggled early on with the challenging medium of watercolor. But, in a stroke of luck, one of my early paintings was selected by Wolf Kahn as the sole watercolor in an All-California, All-Media exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art. After that, I devoted my energies to entering regional and national shows mostly dominated by oil painters, which pushed me beyond my previous boundaries and widened my way of thinking about painting.
Two other seminal events in those early years changed my life. The first was an exhibition in Carmel of works by the early twentieth-century watercolorist, Percy Gray, whose paintings had a depth and nuance beyond what I had previously experienced in watercolor. The second was being accepted into the Second Annual Sonoma Plein Air event which led to participation in many other high quality plein air events, including the highly respected Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational.
Those events and the exposure of painting and exhibiting with some of the finest landscape painters in the U.S. resulted in my work being included in over thirty-five multimedia museum exhibitions from the Autry Museum of the American West and the USC Fisher Museum of Art on the West Coast to the Mystic Seaport Museum and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum on the East Coast.
How do you describe success?
For me personally, success has never been measured by the number of paintings sold or awards received. Rather, it is in respect from fellow artists for whom I have the highest regard. Some of the best and most sincere compliments that I have received over the years have come from oil painters. Most of them painted in watercolor earlier in their careers before moving on to oils, and they know how fiendishly difficult this fluid and fickle medium can be. They have all experienced how watercolor can appear to be docile and bending to one’s will only to have it suddenly turn on you with harsh and sudden punishment.
How do you find inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the beauty and underlying Forces of Nature which have always deeply moved me. So, when I head out into Nature, I have no problem finding subject matter that inspires me. One example is the painting A Moment in Time: Malibu which was recently selected as a Semi-Finalist in the Art Renewal Center 15th International ARC Salon Competition. The catalog entry from the California Art Club 106th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles perhaps captures that feeling.
“Visiting Point Dume State Beach, I was struck by two young women enjoying the warmth of the beautiful sunny day, an older couple gazing out to sea sharing a quiet moment together, and an elderly woman happily feeding the gulls as she probably does every day. This peaceful scene was in great contrast to the visual backdrop of violence from an earlier cataclysmic event that ripped huge boulders from the cliff face and tumbled them into the sea where they will remain for centuries to come until the sea slowly wears them down to join the sand of the beach.”
What is the best thing about being an artist?
The camaraderie that grows over time from bonding with fellow artists from so many places and with so many diverse experiences.
“I am pleased to be part of the PLEINAIR Live 2021 faculty, teaching the Basics of Watercolor Painting on Beginners’ Day, April 14.”
To see more of Larry’s work, visit: www.cannonwc.com