Why do you paint horses?
…was the question Bob has tried to answer since he was a kid. Until recently the answer was a jumble of stuff that sounded good. Then, finally he figured it out; but he still can’t answer the question.
“I realized that the people who ask me the question can never understand any answer I give them; however, the people who would understand the answer, never have to ask the question.” And it’s the
reality of that talents and his chosen subject matter that makes him a non-stop 24/7/365 thoroughbred painter . . . and he wouldn’t have it any other way. In one way or another, I have painted horses all my
life. At high school reunion a few years ago, someone pointed out that I was always sitting around drawing horses and then asked what I do today . . . with a bit of chuckle, there’s only one answer “Still
around and draw horses”.
Early artistic talents are academically polished.
Young Bobby left high school with several scholarships in hand including a scholarship for art from the local artist guild. He attended the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., on a Wilkens Scholarship, the highest academic honor awarded to incoming students. The prerequisite art courses were waived due to the level of work he demonstrated upon entry into the college. His earliest artistic influences were Royal Academy professor, William Turner; the Dutch School (Rembrandt); Delacroix, Geracault, David, Ingres, along with the French Impressionists (most notably Monet). Sewanee was an old school approach that incorporated intensive drawing from models along frequent trips through the countryside to do live plein aire painting in the fashion of the Impressionists. The student artist acquired his first artist mentor in Dr. Edward Carlos. Carlos retired a couple years ago after more than 35 years at the University and said that during his tenure as a professor at Sewanee that Clark was the best artist the university produced during that time.
Clark finished his Bachelor’s of Fine Art degree at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton where the curriculum was completely different from the old school approach of Sewanee. FAU’s emphasis was on contemporary art forms of abstract expressionism and its opposite,
photo realism. While at FAU, Clark became versed in the works of abstract artists like Robert Raushenberg and photorealists like Chuck Close.
The ability to draw free hand is the foundation that his lifelike paintings are built upon.
The way Bob blends these historical styles, techniques, and training results in his own unique look; one that strives for a realistic image by utilizing a wide variety of methods of painting techniques in a methodical process. “My nature is to be spontaneous when painting similar to the way the Impressionists would paint on location, but I have applied a discipline that is very deliberate and theoretical. The process begins almost like being in a laboratory sticking to strict
formulas, then as the painting develops my trust in my experience takes over and allows me to use all my sharpened skills as the situation dictates.
“Sometimes being an artist is like a cook in a kitchen using a pinch of this and a dash of that to flavor it. Any one can follow a recipe,
but the best chefs can creatively enhance the experience by following their instincts once the basic ingredients are put in the fire . . .
or on the canvas.”
After graduation, Clark spent more than 20 years with a major Wall Street firm and the world’s largest executive recruiting firm. During those years, he served on the board of a local museum, hosted FOCUS, a PBS-TV talk show about the arts, wrote a column for over 40 publications, and taught drawing & painting workshops at the Foosner Museum. The decision to finally pursue his career as an artist was made more than a decade ago when he decided to start applying the same business approach that had worked for him behind a desk to his own talents behind the easel.
The influence of Richard Stone Reeves Bob has an impressive resume as an artist and an impressive network of clients in the thoroughbred industry and is fortunate to be called
upon regularly to paint many of the best horses of this generation. Bob grew up a lifelong fan of Richard Stone Reeves artwork. Reeves impact was much more than just as a painter of horses, but also as a historian for the sport of horse racing. Reeves and Clark has a few long conversations before the elder statesman of racing art passed away. They compared notes of their Fine Arts background before settling into careers as equine artists. “We completely agreed how on our Fine Art education gave a solid foundation as painters. We also
agreed on how great on an honor it is to paint so many great horses. From 1945 until his death in 2006, he was the man that you called to paint your horse when you won the biggest races. Today, I am thrilled every time I am asked to paint a horse that I have watched race over the years. From Herring, Troye, Stubbs, Voss, Reeves: Artists have a long legacy in the sport of kings and hopefully as long as there is horse racing, we will continue to add color to its history.”
The paintings.Click here to see & read
more about Bob’s process.