Jean Clark’s environmental portraits of animals are engagingly intuitive. A goat munching dandelions peers placidly at the viewer in a colorful monoprint, while in another, a great ape savors a ripe banana. The coy gaze of a hippo by a riverbank seems nearly human, while a squirrel ‘s delight at a trove of acorns is almost palpable.
Then there is the small black dog with foxy ears, a frequent figure in Clark’s work. Whether shown exploring the wider world or homeward bound, Clark’s depiction of the little canine nails the specie’s characteristic curiosity—and loyalty. “We’ve always had dogs,” she explains their lure as subject matter. “I simply observe them at home.” In fact, her 12-year-old rescued black Labrador retriever, Tucker, is her occasional muse.
Viewers have often remarked on the whimsy and sense of wonder in Clark’s work. Joy is implicit.
Another frequent subject in Clark’s art is houses. In bright, warm colors, she captures their allure as a place of respite, of home. In “Reflections,” she shows how their images ripple into the peaceful void of a lake. “Houses are my portraiture,” Clark explains.
Another favorite subject is weather’s many moods, as in the monoprint “Stormy,” which captures the swirling drama of thunderstorm clouds.
Clark grew up in the suburbs of Westchester NY, one of eight girls and five boys. She recalls “being serious about art” from an early age. There in the Greater New York area, she remembers that “my inspiration was graffiti. I lived on a small island in the Bronx and loved the daily commute into the city, with pop art by Keith Haring all over the sidewalks and on the subway walls. It got me excited about fine art and the Neo-Expressionism movement that was emerging in the late 1970s and into the ‘80s.”
In high school, she studied commercial art and a teacher’s mentoring led her to get a scholarship right after graduation to the Art Students League. Subsequently she enjoyed a career designing stained glass reproductions for museum gift shops and the gift trade.
After years of downstate life, she and her husband relocated about thirty years ago to the outskirts of Greenwich, NY, where she finds the rural lifestyle congenial to her creativity. Long a perennial gardener, she’s nurtured Lenten roses (Hellebores), yellow irises, and the tree -climbing hydrangea. Perhaps not surprisingly, flowers occasionally show up in her art, such as a lush bouquet of blush roses in a blue checked vase.
Clark’s work has been exhibited in many local venues, among them the Saratoga Arts Center, the Troy Arts Center, Lake George Arts Project and the Agricultural Stewardship Association’s “Landscapes for Landsake” show. An important influence has been taking printmaking classes with Sunghee Park, an instructor at the Troy Arts Center. “She was so inspirational,” Clark says. “Having such a wonderful teacher just drew me to printmaking. I found that it’s an exciting process with a whole series of steps involved that I immediately took to. I really do enjoy the whole process of printmaking, step by step.”