|Photo by David Paul Bayles|
"The Vibrant One: Carolee Clark"
by Mj DeArmitt
are two important
components to an
Every artist seeks time to
Like many artists, Clark’s love of art began at an early age. “My mother always enjoyed painting,” Clark says, “and she would encourage me and my sisters to draw while she set up her easel. I’ve been drawing as far back as I can remember, but when I was twenty, my mother gave me a small set of watercolors, and I was hooked. They unlocked a world of color for me.” Clark would eventually become known for her vibrant use of color.
Clark worked in watercolors for years, yet even after winning awards in the medium, she suddenly and unexpectedly switched to acrylic. Like any artist making a jump in medium, she was nervous her body of work would shift and become unrecognizable.
“I decided that I would experiment with a completely foreign subject matter, non-objective abstract, when I made the transition. I had a showing of these paintings in a local hospital and some time afterward, a woman came up to me and said she had known immediately that they were my paintings!”
Clark was astonished. “I asked how she knew,
and she said that my color choices are the same and it just
felt like my work.”
Clark grew up in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. Her family would spend the hot summers at their cabin on the lake, where Clark and her two sisters would draw while her mother painted en plein air on the shoreline.
Clark recalls, “I have been exposed to art my entire life. My mom had her paintings around the house and she enjoyed sharing the experience of creating artwork with her daughters. I always had crayons and pencils in my hand, and I loved it.”
Having grown up surrounded by art, and interested in exploring and expanding her own abilities, Clark knew she wanted to pursue art. Her parents however, were concerned that Clark wouldn’t generate enough income with her art, and encouraged her to pursue a more traditional career path.
“On one hand they wanted to encourage my love of art, and on the other, they feared for my ability to feed myself.”
Clark entered school for business, focusing on economics, even though she knew art was her true passion.
After several years of college, Clark left school to open a business providing freelance secretarial and office services to small businesses. The business grew, and eventually Clark sold it for a tidy profit.
At first, Clark thought about starting another business but quickly reconsidered. “I realized that I didn’t want to reinvest in another venture and delay my desire to follow artistic endeavors. I want to enjoy life doing the things I love. I decided that I would live more frugally, and focus on the things that make me happy.” Art quickly became her highest priority.
As she began focusing on creating, Clark also started
spending more time in nature. On a
and wasted no time marrying and moving with him
to Oregon. “Our
courtship was not
a long one
before we were
with a laugh.
As with her whirlwind marriage, one can see
paintings. Her paintings seem to be
places - homes,
landscapes, cars, or
even the steps of a coffee
shop - but the color and vibrancy
When asked what subject matter she prefers, Clark says, “I need very little to inspire me. I carry my sketchbook with me wherever I go. I’ll draw people in cafes, airports and restaurants. I’ll draw cars in parking lots or while I sit in a traffic jam. I’ll draw buildings, houses, or garbage cans—anything in front of me.”
Clark primarily learned what she liked to paint when
more a matter of whittling away what
artistic influences are,
is not quick to
names of the famous. “The Willamette Valley has amazing artists and I was lucky to be included. I was working closely with a critique group of some very strong artists. I learned a lot.”
In fact, one of the most educational projects Clark has ever completed is a series of collaborative paintings she completed with Donna Beverly. “We had been painting together once a week for about seven years when, in 2007, Donna, who also works with acrylic, jokingly asked if we could paint on one another’s paintings. She was frustrated with her painting and was thinking about starting over. I said sure!”
Clark’s artwork can be
found lighting up public
of the world. Clark has sold her work through galleries and even
broadly on the
internet. Her work has been featured on the
Portuguese journal, Psicologia, as
When she’s not in her studio, Clark can be found playing golf, adventuring with her spouse, or taking care of her three cats. She is always expanding her media or technique, and is perpetually inspired by the beauty of her surroundings.