Michele Clamp Art

New England

Sketch of a Victorian House, Hudson, MA

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Victorian House, Hudson, MA

I had a real stinker of a painting day earlier this week. I wanted to work up one of the Naval Shipyard scenes from our plein air session a couple of weeks ago. Failed so badly I’m too ashamed to post it. So it was back to the drawing board to work out what went wrong.

This was an attempt to work on capturing shadows on buildings in a more subtle way. I wanted to capture the effect of sunlight on the building - especially the roof areas that had just enough value change but no more. I’m fairly happy with this. I could maybe have gone a little darker in the shadow sides (or may be a little lighter on the sunlit sides) but it has a sense of strong sunlight which I like. I’ll probably revisit this and push it slightly to see what happens.



Memorial Church, Harvard Yard

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Memorial Church, Harvard Yard. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 14”x11”

Memorial Church, Harvard Yard
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I started this yesterday and was in two minds as to which way it would go. As it turned out it wasn’t a disaster but not a triumph either. I had quite a lot of trouble with the trees and in hindsight I should have cropped closer. Not a bad effort though.

A couple of intermediate shots :

Mystic Bridge

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Mystic Bridge. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 19”x13”

Redbones in Davis Square

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Redbone, Davis Square. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 14”x11”

Stylistically something different. Much tighter than usual and it gave me all sorts of trouble. I had one of those - ‘it’s ruined so I can’t make it any worse’ moments yesterday. But I soldiered on and it came together quite well.

James and I have spent many evenings in the basement of Redbones. Brisket and enormous beers - happy days.

Just one intermediate today: This was at the end of the first session and I was somewhat glum

Motif #1, Rockport

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Motif #1, Rockport. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

Motif #1, Rockport
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This scene is almost too familiar to paint and I’ve avoided it until now. Apart from the familiarity of the subject I’ve also avoided it because it didn’t really grab me compositionally. It is just a big red shed after all.

Yesterday, however I thought ‘why not?’ and set to work from a shot I took about 5 years ago. After much cropping I settled on what I thought was a simple arrangement. In practice, however, this turned out to be pretty complicated and ended up being a two day affair.

I started with hot press paper which had worked out so well with the Orchard Beach painting. The drawing went well - kept things pretty loose and undefined :

Next comes the hard bit - initial washes. I’m keeping away from the darks right now and wanted to keep the values close together. I especially didn’t want to overdo the shadow on the red building. Just dark enough to show it’s in sunlight but not so dark it ruins the effect. I was also trying hard to get some texture and variation into the broad areas of color. Spraying with water and some judicious light glazing kept these areas interesting.

Putting the windows in is always tricky. It never ceases to amaze me how little detail you need for an area to say ‘I’m a window’. In fact if you get too accurate it looks odd and pasted on. Pretty happy all round at this point.

Next was going in with the darker areas around the waterline. This is always tricky and it could go horribly wrong at this point.

Phew. Got away with it. It’s starting to come together now. There was a sticky moment when the boat wasn’t tied into the water and had that painted on look. Some carefully placed darks and blending of color between boat and water saved the day.

At this point as long as I don’t do anything really stupid I should be ok.

Almost home here. The boat is in with just enough detail and contrast to be interesting but not overdefined. The stone wall is suggested with a few lines. Just some touching up and we’re done.

The final thing. I think I’m ok with it. As always it’ll take a couple of days to reveal the stuff I really like and also the stuff I hate. Fingers crossed.

The original photo (heavily cropped).

The Pier at Old Orchard Beach, Maine

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Pier at Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 14”x11”

Old Orchard Beach, Maine
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I treated myself to some hot press paper and this is its first outing. We spent the New Year at Old Orchard Beach a couple of years ago and I snapped the pier which turned out to be a pretty nice composition.


For a first outing I’m pretty happy. No blending on the paper with hot press and with the fans and the heat the paint dries pretty much immediately. Some nice effects though.


Shelburne from the Flower Bridge

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Shelburne from the flower bridge. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 14”x11”

I’m getting behind with the blogs. There’s some stuff I need to put on that I’ve been procrastinating over but that can wait.

I painted this before. We’d visited Shelburne which is well worth a visit - especially for the flower bridge. This is a view from there which I’d always liked the composition of so why not give it another go?

As usual I’m in two minds about this. It was a bit of a struggle and I think the first version shown below was better. Darn.

Morgan Point Take Two

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Morgan Point Light.   Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11“X14”

Morgan Point Light.   Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11“X14”

Another go at this with a different composition and more muted colors.

Morgan Point Lighthouse, Noank, CT

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Morgan Point Lighthouse, Noank, CT. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

I can’t usually resist painting a lighthouse and this is from our recent trip to Mystic, CT with some friends. We tried to walk down to see the lighthouse but couldn’t quite get there so this is from a photo taken by the ever lovely Heather Longden from the water.

Lots to like here. Great sense of sun and light and some nice subtle shadows. There will probably be more to come in this vein.

Cambridge in Fall

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Cambridge in Fall. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 19”x14”

This year is the year of entering into shows. I’ve got 3 submissions in already and one has already been accepted. The deadline for the New England Watercolor Society was today and I’ve been procrastinating. Part of the reason is that this is one of the more prestigious shows and I’ve been in two minds about submitting anything. I’ve also been undecided as to what kind of picture to submit. Having visited some shows over the past 6 months the pieces that get accepted have a certain ‘showiness’ to them. This isn’t something that comes easy to me as I either prefer the quiet subtle scenes or the very loose moment in time scenes. But in the end I plumped for this scene of Mt Auburn St in Cambridge. I’ve had a few goes at this before with varying results but have never quite nailed it.

This one is almost there and I bit the bullet and submitted. We will see how it does.