I have a personal kinship with the artist Chris D. (C.D.) Clarke that stems from common geographic history—I grew up outside Syracuse, New York, hunting and fishing, and Clarke was born in nearby Rochester, where he had the same outdoors upbringing as me. For example, he mentions hunting Tug Hill Plateau in Central New York during his college years at Syracuse University—that’s the area in which I shot my first ruffed grouse and spent lots of time hunting as a boy.
Clarke studied contemporary art at Syracuse, but by immersing himself in the subjects of the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Chesapeake Bay, where he lived after college, he seized upon the immediate impact of en plein air painting, in watercolors and oils. (The French expression en plein air or “in the open air” is used when artists set up their easels outdoors, in nature, and paint what they see around them—in Clarke’s case a dog on point and a hunter poised to shoot, or an angler casting a fly rod on a stream or a saltwater flat.)
“The Eastern Shore is where I got started with the plein air painting, the on-location work. Which has become my trademark. We lived in this incredible little town called Frenchtown, which had miles of salt marsh behind us and Chesapeake Bay in front of us, with endless subjects for a plein air painter, between all the old work boats, the crab shacks, and the marshes themselves,” Clarke says.
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