Photographs by Bruce McDaniel
By Krista Cascio
Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) has always been a strong proponent of the arts and this Fall is no different. The Higgins Art Gallery, located in the Tilden Arts Center right on the 4Cs campus, welcomes ‘Walk Woods Watch Water’, a special exhibit by artist in residence Lucy Clark. On the night of Tuesday, October 15, the Higgins Gallery held a celebratory reception where Clark was on hand to answer questions.
Clark, a Washington DC native, currently resides in Truro – a smaller town you might not even notice driving through on your way to Provincetown. Clark derives some of her inspiration from the area surrounding her house.
“Where I live in Truro, the house is really surrounded by trees,” said Clark. “It was only natural for me to gravitate towards painting them.”
When asked about the title of the exhibit, ‘Walk Woods Watch Water’, Clark explained that in expanding her creative space, she felt encouraged to take long walks along the marsh in order to change up her focus. She went on in vivid detail about the moment when you’re emerging from a walk in the thick woods of Truro and inevitably you find yourself at a local body of water here on the Cape.
“I think it’s kind of a poetic title,” says Clark. “…The more you start looking, the more you really see.”
Clark began painting at 18 and has since “gone through many phases in painting”, but finds that working on scenes from nature can be both compelling and challenging.
“There is sort of an underlying rhythm and pattern that I respond to, that probably ties into my older work which was abstract,” says Clark. “So, it’s sort of like a continuing language, only the language now is more recognizable realism.”
This exhibit, ‘Walk Woods, Watch Water’, is a compilation of oil on wood pallets plus one canvas piece that stands out from the rest. Each painting encapsulates the mysterious ways of nature, whether it’s the simplicity and the etherealities of the way a tree leans so picturesque, or the psychedelic distorted reflections in a puddle of water. Clark utilizes earth tones on both ends of the spectrum – warm fiery hues convey a humid night, cool blues remind of a chilling splash.
“I’ve been painting for a long, long time – since I was 18,” Clark said. “So, the process of painting has been an education for me. It takes you down all these avenues if you’re curious.”
It’s almost like a puzzle, piecing together an understanding of the way light shrouds a tree or highlights the texture of the bark, creating shadows. It takes a real talent to be able to recreate the ripples of water while creating a beautiful mental image within the reflective fluid. Nature reinterpreted is largely not just lines but organic matter as it is coexisting to create an artistic balance. Thus, Clark does not describe her work as realism, but rather “imagery you can recognize.”
Interpreting real life onto paper, or in this case onto wood pallet, is no easy feat.
“It’s not just looking at what other artists are doing,” said Clark. “You’re saying ‘why does the light do this?’ or ‘what is this pattern that I recognize from something else?’ That’s a privilege to be able to do that.”
In a candid moment, Clark talked openly about the benefits of painting on wood panels and how she is able to sand them down and sort of ‘erase’ a painting she isn’t progressing with.
“What I like most is when a painting surprises me and I haven’t really preconceived it,” Clark said.
‘Walk Woods Watch Water’ will be on display at the Higgins Art Gallery of 4Cs until November 9. Make sure to swing by the Tilden Arts Center and catch it before it’s gone.