Michele Clamp Art


Life Class Drawing

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Figure Drawing. Michele Clamp

Life class yesterday with Andrew Cefalu.  Always a good time even though I find it exhausting.  We also had home made cookies which I shall remember to stay a long distance from next time.

I took the watercolors along but didn’t use them in the end.  I didn’t really get into the flow and everything was a little stodgy.  Adding watercolor to the mix would have ended in tears and nobody wants that.

We started with some 2 minute gestures.


I felt pretty good at this stage. The pencil was moving well and my arm felt free. Also our model was superb and did some wonderfully interesting poses.

Next onto 10 minute sketches.

These were ok apart from two disastrous attempts at the foreshortened pose.

And finally a set of 15 minute poses :

Looking back at these this morning they don’t seem too bad but I had come away disatisified at the end of the session. Too much focus on the face in most cases and some frankly embarrassing feet were in evidence. I will definitely be back in two weeks hopefully with some serious hand and foot practice under my belt.

Arlington Center Sketch

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Sketch of Arlington Center. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 5”x8”

Just the one sketch today as taxes needed to be done and that took priority. Again this was fun to do and it wasn’t a great scene at first sight. Not as successful as some of the previous ones but it keeps my hand in.

More Sketches - Boats, Castles, Boston

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There’s something quite liberating about these small sketches. They’re quick to do and because of the small size brushwork and edges don’t need to be sweated over. And if one doesn’t work out - just do another one and it’s forgotten.

Corfe Castle sketch. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 5x8”

Boston Common sketch. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 5”x8”

Only 3 sketches today. The people in this one were the trickiest bit. A lot of watercolor artists tend towards what I call ‘stock' figures’ in their paintings. I feel that spoils things so I wanted to get more of a sense of real people walking towards me. I think it succeeded.

Boston Common Sketches

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More sketches today. These were all from photos taken in Boston common a few years ago. These were all fun to do and it surprised me how well they turned out. All done quickly in a 5x8” moleskine sketchbook with a quick preliminary pencil sketch and then straight in with colored washes.

Another view of the George Washington statue. This I was pleased with too.


This photo I almost skipped over which would have been a shame as it’s my favorite of the day. The swan boats came out surprisingly well.


Final one of the day. Again another view through Boston Common to the buildings beyond. Not my favorite.

Sketchbook Time

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Still trying to get out of my painting funk. New strategy is to get away from the pressure of producing SERIOUS PAINTINGS and do a series of small things in sketchbooks. These are all in a 5”x8” moleskine which isn’t the most forgiving of papers but suits quick paintings. These were quickly done and much more fun.

Also while tidying I found this sketch which I wasn’t pleased with at the time but has quite a lot of charm now I have some distance from it.

Vermont Thumbnail

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A quick thumbnail sketch for a painting. Tried this at a larger size and failed miserably. If I try again with better results maybe I’ll post the failure but for now - just the sketch.

Subtlety and Restraint

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Coming back to painting after a break is tricky. Normally when painting every day (or almost) . new ideas come quickly out of recent paintings. Sitting down at the easel cold after a couple of weeks away and there’s a period of indecision where you’re asking ‘So what shall I paint?’ Normally a quick bird can get the brushes flowing again but I did one yesterday and wasn’t feeling the pull today.

The outcome was a couple of quick(ish) sketches on cheap paper. The first came out a little garish so in the second I tried for more restraint in color and value but without making things insipid. I’m actually quite pleased and the cheap paper didn’t give me too much grief either.

Rocky Neck Sketch

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It's a couple of years since I was painting at Rocky Neck in Gloucester MA.   I did a painting on site which I wasn't particularly happy with but still wanted to revisit the scene.  Before starting on the main painting of the day I tried out a quick monochrome sketch which has something worth building on.   I'll keep this one in my back pocket for a rainy day.

The Zbukvic Emulation Experience - Multiple Sketch Day

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After the french village post-mortem I was musing about how to go about simplifying my buildings paintings.    Going smaller was my first thought and all of these are done in a 5"x7" Strathmore sketchbook.    The paper isn't my favorite by a long chalk but it dries very quickly and forces me to work fast.    I wanted to do multiple copies of a fairly simple Joseph Zbukvic painting and see if I could get better at seeing the big shapes and get the values.

So 4 small paintings done in a couple of hours.  You can see how things changed over the 4 paintings.   The first one is a little bitty.   I'm not getting the big value areas well and the colors are a little slapdash.  Paintings 2,3, and 4 are much better in both regards.   It was a really worthwhile exercise to do.   Seeing them all together shows a big difference to me.  Strangely I didn't notice any difference as I was painting them.

Here's the original Zbukvic image  - lovely isn't it?

Badger Sketches

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Trying some badger poses for a possible larger painting.  This is done with a water brush in a Stillman and Birn Alpha series sketchbook.    Some people love these books but I’m still getting used to it with color.   I really like the colors in the dark areas and the characteristic badger shape.

Also did a couple with soluble graphite and a water brush.    I found this pencil recently during my ‘brush audit’ and remembered how much I like using it.   I don’t think it’s graphite at all - it feels plasticky - but it goes on well and a bit of water creates good light grays.    Best of all you can keep it in your bag and not end up with everything grubby with the graphite.    Even keeping things in a ziploc bag doesn’t keep things clean with a normal pencil.