Photographs Courtesy of Will Cloughley

Photographs Courtesy of Will Cloughley

An example of the journal artwork created by Will Cloughley.

May 2014

Will Cloughley to Teach the Art of Journaling

Morgane Byloos

You might have kept a journal for a little while in your life, documenting every move of your middle school sweetheart or your college crush. But chances are that journal is now in a box that you’ll move from house to house over the years. 

Potrero Hill resident Will Cloughley has a different idea of what a journal should be, one he’ll share during a workshop to be held at the Center for the Book this month. Cloughley, who is in his seventies and lives on Missouri Street, has kept journals since the mid-1970s. He never thought they’d be publishable, although he thinks they’re great for teaching purposes.

“Everybody could benefit from having a benign habit like journals,” Cloughley said. He added that they serve as documentation as years go by, and that children enjoy reading them. “It is a consciousness-raising device and a form of meditation.” When crafting his journals Cloughley finds inspiration in nature, exploring a subject until he’s exhausted the topic.

Cloughley has a master of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa. In the early 1960s he worked as a creative writing instructor at North Texas State University. He then had a short stint as a technical writer, before becoming an assistant professor at Our Lady of the Lake College in San Antonio, Texas, from 1966 to 1969. Cloughley moved to San Francisco in 1969; he’s lived on the Hill since 1984. 

Cloughley first started working as a film maker at the University of California, San Francisco, filming surgeries. UCSF’s film department shut down in 1980, around the time Cloughley lost his Sunset District flat in a fire. He and his partner, Sondra Slade, decided to start their own media production company, creating lightshows and multi-image animations for shows and parties at such venues as Zellerbach Hall, Cowell Theater, Theater Artaud, the Mill Valley Film Festival, Marin Community Playhouse, and Camerawork Gallery.

After the dot.com era Cloughley didn’t think he could make the move to digital media. He continued to create images on paper, but has dedicated the past few years solely to making journals. 

In 2009, Cloughley published Red Rock Black Sun, which was originally created as a unique book accompanied by a sculpture made by artist David Dion. The collaborative piece is the product of Dion and Cloughley’s love for the American Southwest. The sculpture looks like a water-sculpted canyon, but also resembles an Egyptian tomb. It opens in the middle to reveal the book. Red Rock Black Sun was adapted for mass printing by Cloughley, and was published in 2010. In 2011, SF Weekly chose the piece as one of the ten Bay Area’s artistic “Masterminds,” and it was featured at the Fourth Annual Artopia Show.

“Drawing has a different feel to it,” Cloughley said, adding that when drawing is accompanied by writing something magical happens. His inspiration never dries up; he’s presently fascinated with views of the Earth as seen from satellites. Although he continues to focus on books, Cloughley said he’d like to go back to larger drawings as well. 

Cloughley’s workshop will be held May 21 and 28, from 6.30 to 9.30 p.m., at the San Francisco Center for the Book, 375 Rhode Island Street. Register at https://sfcb.org/

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