A stroke of beauty
a palette of pain
a rendering of passion
…creating a work of art
In a life driven by passion, famed artist Maxfield Caswell lives in a world of brilliant color and drama, pushing his art and affairs to his emotional edge. He’s stunning, charismatic and celebrated in the art world, but are the trappings of fame also destroying him?
Ava Jacobs is diligently working toward an art career of her own when she’s swept off her feet by the self-destructive artist — creating a world of sensuality and all-consuming love. But will the pain of the past and turmoil of the present make their future uncertain? From desire and mystery to a muse that almost slips away, The Work of Art Collection will be the inspiration that has you breathless for the unveiling of their final masterpiece.
This beautifully written love story is finally being released as a collection (complete box set) for the first time and includes new material and extras.
“Max, I realize now I have to live my life with passion and go after exactly what I want.”
“What do you want, Ava?” His eyes search my expression for what’s still unspoken.
I look at him and smile before I hurl myself off the cliff. The anticipation
of the freefall is delicious, because I’m sure of where I’m going to land. I pause to study him for our final moment as two separate people.
Standing before me is my sparking live wire…his mind a verdant forest to endlessly wander. His uncontainable spirit swirls around me, lifting me off the ground. My cheeks are windburned and my heart wildly racing from the sheer force of it.
My gaze travels along his jaw, across his shoulders and down his thighs. I’m desperately hungry, because his body and his beautiful face
are the physical manifestation of everything I’ve ever desired.
My friend, my greatest love…my Max.
He looks at me expectantly.
“You,” I whisper. “I want you.”
“Oh, Ava.” His voice is heavy with emotion as he steps forward
and pulls me into his powerful arms. All of the longing we’ve suffered
through now defines the surge of passion between us. His hands press
into me as if in prayer.
My next breath catches with a sob, and tears of joy and relief paint
my face. But he gently brushes them away and kisses the salty remains.
A shade of disbelief and confusion lingers. “You want me?” he whispers,
as if he’s hoping so much to believe me. His lips graze my cheek,
pausing so close to mine. I imagine he wants to breathe in my response,
draw it inside and let it course through him like the blood that keeps
his heart beating.
I grab his arms and shake him, my voice heated and urgent. I’m
desperate to have him understand. “You have to know…I may have
fought it, but you’re all I’ve ever wanted. I don’t want to deny it for
another day, another moment.”
This time he sways, rocks forward, and lifts me into his embrace.
Our kiss is desperate as our hearts join together. I’m drunk with
his taste, my tongue sliding across his, my teeth grazing his bottom lip
before I sink further into him. His passion intoxicates me until I float
out of my body to watch the scene before me.
We’re in a Maxfield Parrish amber-dipped landscape redefining the
cinematic kiss. I imagine we’re near the edge of a cliff with the world
laid out before us. The sun’s about to sink behind the horizon while we
hold onto each other, bracing against the wind of all our past experiences
as they whip past us. It’s a masterpiece. This moment should be
in an elaborately gilded frame hanging in the Louvre.
When an artist works at her craft long enough, she creates something so beautiful, it needs to be called a “collection.” Ruth Clampett has achieved this by creating three beautiful pieces in her compelling “Work of Arts” collection. As a former graphic designer and practicing (being the operative word!) artist and someone who appreciates art in all its forms, I immediately fell in love with the use of art in this collection. I am obsessed with “tortured artists” and bad boy Maxwell Caswell embodies this archetypal character so authentically. The world Max exists in, and Ava Jacobs is trying to join, can seem like a foreign land, filled with language and customs that many of us are not familiar with. It is immediately obvious that Clampett has an intimate background in the art world and I treasure her for inviting us into this universe. I absolutely loved this journey into the heart of two artists and their creative processes. I love Clampett in a whole new way as she shows all of us the deep angst of creativity and the pain of being true to your craft.
The first piece is called The Inspiration. It is a gripping story that was everything I expected and more. From the moment Ava and Max encounter one another, Max feels something that seems predestined and compelling. Max is quick to notice that Ava is a “calming force”, and he is drawn to her. But because Max is well known for sleeping with a different “art groupie” every night, Ava believes he is not someone she would ever date. As a writer, Ava is a creative force in her own right and is intelligent and driven. Ava is interested in the art scene for her own professional reasons and not just to “find a boyfriend.”
From the first meeting, Ava and Max’s sexual tension is obvious. These two engage in the dance of intimacy, swapping the pursuer and distancer roles, trading back and forth throughout this first installment. Clampett outright pulls on our heartstrings as we watch these two characters attempt to avoid pain and yet don’t yet realize that their heart wrenching angst is created by the avoidance itself. The relationship is emotionally charged and the roller coaster ride is romantic, sexy, and infuriating at the same time.
Clampett’s writing is beautiful, and I immediately fell in love with Max. I was right with Ava, when she thinks to herself, “I am aroused watching him. I want to be the canvas his hands are moving over, stroking and blending—his work of art.” But in true “Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler” style, they are at cross-purposes and their timing is out of sync. Both have obvious personal demons, although at times Max’s baggage seems like a United Van lines truck compared to Ava’s small trunk.
The story develops with some very intriguing secondary characters, including Jonathan, an influential man in the art world that takes a shine to Ava. Ava’s roommate Riley and Max’s friend Jess round out some characters I grew to love also. They were important parts of the story, not just extraneous sprinklings around the two main characters.
Max and Ava’s relationship evolves as their careers develop adding another dimension to the story that held my interest throughout. The crescendo of The Inspiration is when Ava realizes, “Max has broken my heart. And perhaps through all of the events that led us here, his heart is broken as well.” Sob.
The second act is called The Unveiling. This piece picks up right where book one left us hanging, with three defaced paintings and a missing Max. The plot thickens and I am smitten. I came to understand Max’s broody and erratic behavior more in this even more compelling installment in the Collection. Max is a real flawed human being, endowed with special gifts that can overwhelm him at times. He is not unrealistically perfect; he’s just a man. One minute you are cheering for Max and the next you want to slap him silly!
This next chapter in the lives of Max and Ava lets us peek inside the development of their friendship and the fiery consummation of their love. Yet, once again Clampett forces us to get inside the roller-coaster car, pull down the bar, and hang on for the ride. These two have some of the most heartbreaking lover’s quarrels that broke this reader’s heart to read. Watching Ava come to understand Max in his jealous fits and his need for reassurance is heart warming and at the same time makes me love Ava even more.
The storyline is so full of drama and action that at times I wondered if this was a romantic comedy, drama, or a mystery novel. Clampett pushes/pulls on her characters and her readers at the same time, and I for one loved it. As the realization dawns on Ava, “Like there was ever a question—he owns me. He probably has all along; it’s just taken me all this time to figure it out,” we breathe a premature sigh of relief for our star-crossed lovers.
I love the truth of their relationship, the passion of creating a relationship while trying to create a life’s work. It is raw and dark at times, yet it shines so bright at others. Whether Max is “diagnosable” or not, we love him, just as he is. From New Mexico to Barcelona our characters travel a rocky road. Clampett continues to remind us through The Unveiling that “The course of true love never did run smooth.” We are left on a balcony, wondering what simple words could cause Ava and Max to go from “No one will ever touch what we have” to unraveling again.
As all good collections should, Clampett’s ends with the aptly title, The Masterpiece, the final installment in the WORK OF ART series. This piece depicts a perfectly imperfect couple facing issues that would challenge any couple. The dual forces of Max’s past and Ava’s future collide in this crescendo piece. Once again this story feels uniquely intimate and enticing.
I really don’t want to leave this review with any spoilers so I will just say that I loved this collection. As this third piece evolved, I was left madly in love with this couple, this world, and Ruth Clampett, as I had to watch the percentage of unread words shrinking. I was actually grieving as I read The Masterpiece, savoring every word between these two characters. Watching these two humans create themselves, and their relationship was a thing to behold. This dramatic and passionate conclusion was deeply satisfying and at the same time left me “book bereft.”
Perhaps that is why Clampett offers us The Extra’s and Liz’s Boys. Ruth is lovingly weaning us slowly off of the passion, conflict, angst and humanity of Max and Ava and the beauty of her words.
Ruth Clampett, thank you for taking all this loveliness and putting it into a beautiful package. These beautiful pieces in your collection will live forever together, just as we hope Max and Ava do. Ruth, thank you for this journey, thank you for facing your own angst of your creative impulse and being true to your craft. Thank you for Max and Ava, they are in my library forever.
Ruth Clampett, daughter of legendary animation director, Bob Clampett, has spent a lifetime surrounded by art and animation. A graduate of Art Center College of Design, her careers have included graphic design, photography, VP of Design for WB Stores and teaching photography at UCLA. She now runs her own studio as the fine art publisher for Warner Bros. where she’s had the opportunity to know and work with many of the greatest artists in the world of animation and comics.
The Work of Art Trilogy is Ruth’s third publishing endeavor, following Animate Me and Mr. 365. She lives in Los Angeles and is heavily supervised by her teenage daughter, lovingly referred to as Snarky, who loves art and visiting museums as much as her mom.