“I Drive Alone” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

Title: "I Drive Alone" / Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

Title: “I Drive Alone” / Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

One full moon  night in July I decided to paint en plein air.  This is the view outside my studio, looking south from my backyard.  For light while painting, I used a flashlight and the light of the moon.  It wasn’t easy, but it was fun.  I hope to do this again.

While I was painting, a single car drove past.  I began to wonder about the driver and why  he or she would be out driving at 2 AM  (perhaps the driver wondered what I was doing as well!)  My dog Jonny accompanied me, and I know he was definitely confused by what was going on!  Throughout the process, he happily hopped in and out of the studio while I worked, enjoying this change to his normal nightly routine.  The song title is from a lyric from a song by Them Crooked Vultures.  (Painted 2014)

“…Provincetown Ferry” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

Title: "Change in the Weather on the Provincetown Ferry" / Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

Title: “Change in the Weather on the Provincetown Ferry” / Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

It was a perfectly beautiful sunny day at sea.  We had just departed from Provincetown, MA on the ferry to Boston when, suddenly,  the billowing white clouds began to change to a purpley-blue grey and the water took on a greenish cast, as the sea breeze became a wind.  I wanted to depict the exact moment when this sudden change in the weather occurred as a metaphor for the abrupt changeability of emotions. (Painted 2014.)

“Pink Dawn…” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

Title: "Pink Dawn at Blue Mountain" / Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

Title: “Pink Dawn at Blue Mountain” / Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

I painted this image in two hours, after setting that challenge for myself. It is an image of a nearby mountain that appeared  blue in the cool shade of passing night, as the sun began to clear the horizon, turning the sky an orange-pink.  I liked the slashing diagonals of the mountain slopes.  (Painted 2014)

“Nubia” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

Title: "Nubia" / Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

Title: “Nubia” / Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

I saw this lovely girl with a group of African immigrants involved with some urban community service activities.  Her tall, haughty beauty reminded me of an exiled African princess from Nubia.  She also had a look of utter disdain; I have seen this look before on the faces of teenage girls.  I sensed her resentment at wearing white plastic gloves and having to participate  in the community clean-up events. Her hair was an amazing pile of copper-tinted braids. I thought that she had a beautiful but strong look. (Painted 2013)

“Max Montana…” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

Title: "Max Montana and JawKnee RawKet" / Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

Title: “Max Montana and JawKnee RawKet” / Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

This is a double portrait of my son holding our then-puppy.  I am not satisfied with the way the portrait of my son came out;  so I decided that it is not my son after all, but a fictitious person named Max Montana! In the title, I spelled our dog’s name phonetically, just for fun. The characters are reclining on a couch, covered with a black floral bedspread that I have always liked.  I also like the shape of the pillow next to the young man’s head: It reminds me of a steep mountain top. Since the word for mountain in Spanish is “montaña”, I decided to add the word “Montana” to the title.

I was drawn to this image one evening, because of the high contrast between the very light areas of the scene and the extremely dark areas. I especially loved the way the dog’s dangling white paws appeared against the darkest area of the design.  But what I loved most was the endearing way the dog and human interacted:  They seem so relaxed and content together.  (Painted 2012)

 

“A Little Light / Reading…” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

Title: "A Little Light / Reading: That time we lost power and…" Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

Title: “A Little Light / Reading: That time we lost power and…” Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

In New England, we often lose power during harsh winter storms.  This is a scene from one such night.  We clustered around the wood stove and used a tiny battery-powered light to read.  I really liked the way the blue white light of the reading light contrasted with the orange yellow flames.  (Painted 2015)

“Father and Son” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

Title: "Father and Son" / Acrylic on Canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

Title: “Father and Son” / Acrylic on Canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

This is a large double portrait of my husband and my son, at nearly the same age, separated by many years.  It is meant as a visual family in-joke, really,  since this father and son look quite similar.   By design, the painting is intended to resemble an exhibit of natural science “specimens” against a marble wall with bronze plaques.  The concept of the painting began when a family member remarked that a photograph of my son at a wedding resembled a photograph my husband on our wedding day, particularly the beards and sunglasses.  The original photo of my husband did not have a car in the background as did the photo of my son. For balance of design,  I decided to insert the image of the car my husband owned at the time of our wedding. Then I included, as backdrop, the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, NM, because I have many happy memories of traveling to ABQ in that screaming yellow car.  For the look of the “marble”,  I was inspired by a lovely chunk of azurite and malachite that I have,  which has dramatic veining.  (Painted 2014)

“April Night in Boston” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

Title: "April Night in Boston" / Acrylic on canvas by NH artist Denise Clark

Title: “April Night in Boston” / Acrylic on canvas by NH artist Denise Clark

This is a painting of my daughter under the lit colonnade in Christopher Columbus park on the waterfront in Boston, MA on the evening that the city-wide lockdown was lifted, several days after the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013.  My daughter, a city resident, was happy and relieved to be able to venture out again into a mild April evening.  I loved the way the lights of the colonnade  resembled a halo above her head. ( I was reminded of imagery of the Catholic Virgin Mary, with a celestial blue sky and golden stars forming her halo. )  Painted 2013.

“Sudden Death” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

Title: Sudden Death / Acrylic on canvas

Title: Sudden Death / Acrylic on canvas

This painting was initially inspired by two random events that appeared in my local newspaper:  an explosion of a meteorite overhead in a Siberian city and a photo of a group of high school basketball players.  First, I had read the story of the streaking meteorite and how, by chance, no one was harmed. Then I saw the photo of the basketball players. When I saw the earnest looks on the faces of the basketball players, all staring upwards towards the airborne ball, I thought about how it would feel to be staring upwards at a meteorite that had appeared out of nowhere,  about to crash upon my head.

The whole notion became a metaphor of the sudden and unexpected death of young people, in the prime of their lives.  I used the basketball photo as models for the young people and changed the gender and facial features of several of the characters.  In the center of the painting, barely visible, I placed a tiny orange dot that represented the first burning ember dropping from the meteorite, as the harbinger of things to come, much like the first tiny snowflake of an approaching blizzard.  The idea of the orange dot came from a Childe Hassam painting where there is a tiny orange dot indicating the lit end of a man’s cigar.

The painting is dedicated to my nephew who was, at the start of this painting,  a healthy, robust and successful young man, about to be married.  Halfway through the painting, he was unexpectedly diagnosed with leukemia.  By the time I had completed it, he  was dead. (Painted 2013)