“La Pelirroja” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

Title: "La Pelirroja" | Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

Title: “La Pelirroja” | Acrylic on canvas, by NH artist Denise Clark

This is a portrait of a red-haired woman bartender with a wistful look.  This scene reminded me of Hopper’s “Night Owls”, so it is my homage to Hopper!  I really liked the contrast between the bright light streaming through the window and the dark shadowy interior of the bar, as well as the strong diagonal design element of the shiny bar-counter.  I also loved the look of the bartender’s green hair scarf against  her red hair.  I tried to channel Impressionism with choppy brush strokes, especially on her hand to suggest movement.  { “La Pelirroja” means red-haired woman in Spanish. }   (Painted 2012)

“Sly Eye” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

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

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

This is a pet portrait of my dog, Jonny Rocket, on his favorite rug in the house.  I really liked the diagonal design his body made, and how his white legs contrasted with the brick red rug.  Jonny’s pink skin shines through the white fur on his nose, chest and legs. Jonny has very emotive eyes, and sometimes gives me  that sideways sly look when he is considering mischief. In this image his back legs are poised so he can spring up in a second.  {Jonny appears in another painting in this portfolio: “Max Montana and JawKnee RawKet”.}  (Painted 2015)

“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)


“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)

“Little Wing” : Inside the Artist’s Studio

Title:  "Little Wing" / Acrylic on Canvas

Title: “Little Wing” / Acrylic on Canvas

Hummingbirds are my favorite birds to observe.  In my gardens, I plant many varieties of flowers that appeal to hummingbirds and I provide several feeders, as well. Each spring, I follow the birds’ migration to New Hampshire on a migration website.  I have been told that I am obsessed with them – could be…

When their little wings are folded, from behind, hummingbirds can look like green leaves. While the male ruby-throated hummingbirds have all that lovely magenta flash, the females have a subtle, iridescent beauty all their own.  I believe this particular female hummer was born in my yard.

I consider this painting to be an animal portrait. I entitled this painting  “Little Wing” after the song by the late, great Jimi Hendrix. This is a small painting from a series of small paintings I completed during the summer and early autumn of  2014. (Painted 2014)