'Buckeye' artists gain life of freedom by making rocks shine
TURNER FALLS - Wayne Clemons can't believe that for all those years he scratched the hills and valleys for his own rocks to paint.
"There's not a hill in five miles of here that I haven't dug for rocks," he says.
Before he wised up, Clemons spent three hours a week, at least, finding flat stones on which to paint the landscapes for which he is famous.
Now, instead of 12 hours a month, he goes once a month to a quarry, where he spends three hours sifting the culls.
"We're using their scrap," he says. "We go through a ton of rock a month."
"And," chips in his nephew Gary, who is painting on a rock even as he speaks, "we don't work full time at it."
Wayne Clemons was born and raised in Oklahoma City, but even as a child, he spent much of his life at Falls Creek Baptist Assembly and at Turner Falls.
Wayne's father - and Gary's uncle - was Louie "Clem" Clemons, a painter and decorator in Oklahoma City. "About half of Nichols Hills at one time was decorated by him," Gary says. Wayne and Gary are heir to Clem's skills, which he picked up in the '20s when itinerant artists made a living painting pictures in store windows in downtown Oklahoma City. Gary watched and learned. Then Wayne followed the same path, painting pictures in the window of the H.L. Green 10-cent store.
Wayne and Gary were born six years apart and grew up more like brothers than uncle and nephew. ("We finish each other's sentences," Gary says.)
Wayne's father painted rocks to pay for their trips to Turner Falls. In the mornings, he painted for tourists at Turner Falls. Afternoons, he painted rocks free for the youths at Falls Creek.
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