clark Mitchell, psa
FEATURE ARTIST MARCH 2018
Growing up in the shadow of the Rockies, Clark Mitchell very early discovered a love of the natural world. Given a set of fine old German pastels by his father when quite young, he quickly embraced the medium for its ease of handling, brilliance of color and portability.
He received a bachelor’s degree in art from Colorado College in the seventies and moved to San Francisco to continue his studies at the Academy of Art College. Through personal exploration as well as study with artists Albert Handell, Skip Whitcomb, Michael Lynch and Bill Hook, Mitchell has developed the talent to create both tightly rendered scenes as well as looser, more abstract suggestions. In order to fully immerse himself in the countryside he loved to portray, Mitchell left San Francisco with his partner over thirty years ago and moved north to the beautiful Sonoma County wine country. Painting expeditions throughout the state as well as across the country continue to provide challenge as well as inspiration.
PSST: We all feel encouraged by your leadership toward our upcoming exhibition. As a juror for Art of the Pastel 2018, do you have advice for participants of this international competition or of competitions in general?
CLARK: Always submit your best work. Something unique: in color, vantage point, subject matter. Albert Handell told me years ago, “Enter the best work you have and the biggest you can afford to frame and ship.”
Don’t be disappointed by rejection. It happens all the time to me and every other artist I know. Keep entering shows, keeping in mind the kind of work the juror(s) and judge do.
PAINTING EN PLEIN AIR
PSST: Do you have tools to recommend or any tips you would like to share on preparing for Plein Air events, where you have experienced a good deal of success? How has competition affected your productivity and personal growth?
CLARK: Have your materials ready. Paper cut to the size of your frames; backing, glass and wiring prepared. I always use non-reflective glass, but don’t go the extreme expense of museum glass. I use Tru-Vue AR. Have a sturdy, wind tolerant easel you can comfortably work in front of many hours a day. Immerse yourself in an unfamiliar region as quickly as possible, and ask local artists to recommend scenic locations.
I seem to do well under the pressure of competition. I’m always aiming to better my own work. I’m doing larger work on location than ever before. 12 x 16 used to be the largest size I did. Now it’s among the smaller.
website and social media
PSST: The fires of 2017 were devastating and many of us are concerned for Sonoma County and other parts of California. Have the recent fires in your area affected your current work or the ways in which you work now?
CLARK: Certainly there was a region wide pain and sadness, which would affect any artist emotionally. We were very fortunate to have no damage.
PSST: Your website is a warm and inviting spot online, and it seems to work well as a place to mentor others. The revision process you describe for the commissioned work Valley Guardians holds a good deal of information for all of us, for example. How long did you work toward your current website, and can you advise pastel artists about key design features of your site? And does social media play a part of your marketing strategy?
CLARK: I’ve worked on the site over several years. We’re always updating, rearranging, polishing. Writing new blogs and newsletters. It’s better maintained than previous sites I’ve had. It was built through FASO, offering an amazing range of choices and levels of complexity. They have a very responsive support team.
I work with a very talented lady, Jennifer King, of ConnectArtistMarketing.com, who assists me on a regular basis, both with my website and with social media, which I feel is becoming more and more important all the time. The most advantageous social media platforms for reaching the art buying and appreciating public keep changing. Jennifer keeps up to date with these. Working in the studio with both pastels and oils, and on location solely with pastels, I ‘m extremely busy and want to devote as much time as possible to creating!
Pastel Workshops and Instruction
Click for complete schedule on Clark Mitchell website.