Category Archives: Art How To Hints

Abstracted sailboat painting, “Coming About”

contemporary abstracted painting of sailboats by Carolee Clark

© Carolee Clark, acrylic, 18″ x 24″ x 1.5″

“Coming About”
by Carolee Clark
18″ x 24″ x 1.5″
acrylic on wrapped canvas

Since I retired, I have not been showing and selling my work.  In fact, I have been painting very little.  Thus I am not interested in purchasing more canvas that I would need to store so I painted this commission over top of another painting.  The woman is a lovely lady whom I genuinely admire and she had no problem with me using an existing painting.  After all, do you know any of the old masters who didn’t paint over their work?  I am following in their footsteps.

Did I like the first painting?  Absolutely!  But I needed a canvas that size.

Do you want to see the under-painting?  I created a video of a few of the steps.  You can see it on my Instagram page by clicking here.

I forgot to show you this first step in my painting!

first step in my painting of Birch Banter

© Carolee Clark, “Birch Banter, Step 1”

In my excitement to show you the finished product, I forgot that I was going to post the first phase of the painting.  Starting with black gesso, I get the image onto the canvas.

Next I cover the rest of the white canvas with transparent paint, mixed and unmixed with other transparent colors. I don’t coat any particular color over the entire surface. At this stage it looks gaudy, bright and ugly. Much of this will be covered up but I do leave hints of it here and there.

Finally, I come in with opaque colors, covering up much of what was initially there.  And here is the final piece (which was posted a few days ago).

contemporary painting of birch trees by Carolee Clark

© Carolee Clark, “Birch Banter,” acrylic, 36″ x 36″ x 1.5″


Cropping a painting, sometimes less is more, sometimes not

contemporary landscape painting by Carolee Clark

© Carolee Clark, “Late Summer,” detail, acrylic on paper, 7″ x 7″

One of my favorite things to do is go through old paintings and get rid of them.  Clear out clutter to make room for new things.   It is cathartic and feels wonderful.

It also gives me new ideas.  I’ll look at a painting in a new way since I usually haven’t seen the piece in a while and I’ve released my attachment to it.

These old paintings don’t actually take up much room as they are on paper, but they do take my time and energy.  They take time when I am looking through them for a particular piece or when I am cleaning or moving things.

I started ripping up this painting (full sheet, acrylic on paper, circa 2005) and realized that I liked the half that I was holding.  Then I took a little 7″ x 7″ frame and separated this core of the painting.

Which do you like better, the cropped piece or the half sheet?  I do have an opinion, but I’d love to hear what you think!

contemporary landscape painting by Carolee Clark

© Carolee Clark, “Late Summer,” acrylic on paper, 22″ x 16″

This final version is from Susan Brehm’s suggestion which might be the best crop yet!

© Carolee Clark, "Late Summer" 22" x 7"

© Carolee Clark, “Late Summer” 22″ x 7″


Cleaning out the files … to keep or to toss?

© 2002 Carolee Clark, “A Mask for All Occasions,” 27″ x 19″, pastel … Keep

I do this every once in a while, go through old paintings or drawings.  This time I went through old pastels and old watercolors.  I don’t go through the pastels very often because I hate touching them.  They get my hands all dirty and dusty with the pastel dust and I worry about damaging the ones that I care about.

One of my cats decided to jump into the flat file drawer that I was going through and ended up with a blue paw pad and a green paw pad.  She got whisked to the bathroom where I tried to wash her paws and she mewed pitifully.  Then I threw her outside hoping the rain puddles would wash the rest.

Each time I go through them I throw out more, cutting deeper into any “stash” that seems precious.   I haven’t done any pastels since early 2003 … almost 10 years!  I have thrown out so many over the years that I bet I don’t even have 12 left.  The one above (“A Mask for All Occasions”) was on the toss out pile but I rescued it and it still lives in my flat file.

Don’t get me wrong.  Pastels can be absolutely beautiful but it is definitely not my medium of choice.

The watercolors are easier to go through.  No dust, no careful handling just a quick decision of whether to keep them or toss them.  My watercolor paintings are dwindling in number too.  I’m pretty ruthless about keeping things that I don’t like or am tired of looking at (the painting below was tossed).  This time I even chucked some paintings that were accepted into the Watercolor Society of Oregon.

This process can feel absolutely wonderful!

© 2002 Carolee Clark, “Playing Cards,” 22″ x 30″, watercolor … Toss


Daily Painting, “Quarry Hills,” contemporary landscape painting

contemporary landscape painting by Carolee Clark

© Carolee Clark, "Quarry Hills," 10" x 10", acrylic

“Quarry Hills”   sold
by Carolee Clark
10″ x 10″
acrylic on wrapped canvas

Since I had a minute to take an extra photograph, I thought I’d show you my sketch for this painting.  I always sketch to determine how I’m going to compose the painting and get a feel for my subject.   It is done in black ink so I can get dark, medium and light values (the pen I used for this was a Faber-Castell Pitt pen which uses India Ink).  I don’t spend a lot of time on the sketch, this one took only a few minutes.

sketch for "Quarry Hills" by Carolee Clark

Sketch for "Quarry Hills" by Carolee Clark, ink

This is a submission for the Virtual Paint Out blog. Their area of concentration this month is New Zealand.

Painting “Riverside Drive” contemporary landscape

contemporary landscape painting by Carolee Clark

© Carolee Clark, "Riverside Drive," 18" x 24", acrylic

“Riverside Drive”
by Carolee Clark
18″ x 24″


Boy did I mess up this one. I feel sick about it ….

I was busy working on this painting and have been for some time.  It was started about 5 years ago on site on Riverside Drive in Albany, OR.  I continued working on it yesterday and ran out of “Sap Green” so grabbed my large new tube.  I squeezed a good size dollop on my palete and tried mixing it.  It was awful!  It was sticky and didn’t mix well.  I knew that I wouldn’t buy that brand again … I didn’t even like the color as much as my old jar, plus it smelled really funny.   I pushed through … I can make it work!

This morning when I went back to continue working on the painting, I noticed that that pile of paint was still wet!!  Acrylic doesn’t stay wet over night. 

Oh no … it was oil paint!! 

You can paint oil over acrylic but not the other way around.  You can’t mix them in the same layer.  Acrylic paint is plastic based and dries right away.  Oil can take a very, very, very long time to dry properly.  With the different drying times, the paint will crack.

This means that even if I wasn’t finished with the painting (and I wasn’t) … I am now.  I will throw this ruined canvas out.  At least I got to share this story with you!

Daily Painting, “Pear Essentials,” abstracted pear painting

abstracted pear painting by Carolee Clark

© Carolee Clark, "Pear Essentials," 10" x 10", acrylic

“Pear Essentials”    sold
by Carolee Clark
10″ x 10″
acrylic on wrapped canvas

A friend emailed me the other day saying that I “might have been a master quilter in a previous life.”  I agreed with her and began to wonder where my interest in patterns began.  What we are doing with our art today will have an impact on what we will be doing in the future.  We take what we like and learn and apply it to what we do tomorrow.

With this in mind I thought of my collages where I took my old watercolor paintings, cut them up into tiny pieces and puzzled them together into a new image.  I managed to get all sorts of wonderful surprises and patterns. 

I stopped doing these collages because they were extremely time consuming and hard on the neck because I had to work flat.  Below is one of those collages.  Here is another collage “Good Humor” that I posted a couple of years ago.

collage by Carolee Clark

© Carolee Clark, "Jennifer," 4" x 4", collage

by Carolee Clark
4″ x 4″
collage on watercolor paper (2005)

“Pear Essentials” was done for the RP challenge.