Stephen R. Clarke


MY ART HISTORY: 1960’S TO PRESENT

My earliest memory of drawing is when I was around seven years old. I received a “How to Draw” book as a gift. I think it was about animals. My first efforts were well received by my family and I was encouraged to keep at it.

Growing up I copied anything that interested me. From Mort Drucker’s caricatures in Mad Magazine to Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings for The Battle of Anghiari and everything in between. National Geographic magazine and photos of rock stars were typical sources of inspiration.

In school I was always known as “the artist” and it was generally accepted that I would become a commercial artist when I grew up. I dreamed of becoming the next Norman Rockwell but I would have settled for simply making a living.

After graduating high school I went to the Art Centre in Toronto with my ultimate goal to attend the Ontario College of Art. It was 1980 and the style at that time was more about “challenging the viewer”. The traditional, figurative work I loved so much was considered old-fashioned. Although I learned to look at different kinds of art with an open mind I knew I wouldn’t be getting the instruction I hoped for. I was disheartened and left the school after one year.

I pursued freelance work wherever I could find it. I drew portraits, buildings, furniture, logos, signs, etc. I quickly found out these jobs were creatively and financially unrewarding.

I ended up taking a full-time job in the publishing industry and married my wonderful wife. Creating art slipped from my thoughts as I focused on raising a family and making a living.

Now my children are grown and I find the creative spark returning and growing stronger. Driving through the country, going for a walk in my neighbourhood or visiting other parts of the world I am sometimes struck by something I see. A certain view at a certain time and everything seems to click.

Up until now I mostly worked in black and white. Pen or pencil. My drawings were judged by how “real” they looked. Now I see light, atmosphere, colour and I want to share my view of the world with others. For the first time in my life I feel like a complete artist. I realize I am just beginning a new journey but I hope it never ends.