TEXAS. USA. janUARY 11, 2021.
My name is Ty Nathan Clark. I was born in 1974, which makes me a young 46 years old! I currently live and work from my studio in Waco, Texas with my wife Mande and our records and books.
Tell us your story, how did you come to painting?
I grew up in and around art. My uncle Conway Pierson was a world renown raku artists and potter. Art was something my grandparents introduced to me at a young age, it was in my DNA. I always drew, colored, sculpted when I was a child. In fact, I won my first award at the California State fair at 4 years old. My mom created a quilt out of drawings I made on napkins and won best of show in a quilting competition. I still have the quilt today! My high school art teachers Mario, Toby and Kim (my hero’s) pushed me and encouraged me in ways that still speak to me today.
I accepted a basketball scholarship to Azusa Pacific University, where I studied Drawing and Painting and studied under American Sculptor William Catling. From there I worked multiple jobs, started businesses, worked in fashion and film, took part in business accelerators from SF to NY always painting in my spare time until I could transition to full time in my studio. I still consult businesses, build websites, and take on design projects now and then to supplement income. This year, 2021, I started an Artist Mentorship Program and will mentor a group of artists from around the world for three months throughout the year. I currently have artists from Texas, California, Poland, Estonia, Germany and Canada in my first group. I truly hope 2021 brings a fresh taste of happiness and joy to all of us.
How would you define your current painting?
It is hard to to define. Similar to the year we all had in 2020. My painting has been all over the place this past year. I experimented with several mediums, ending the year out with several large-scale watercolor paintings on paper. After losing a family member to Covid-19, I needed to find some joy in the studio. So I played with bright washes and large swirling brush strokes to represent dancing like movements. This past year I have migrated between my studio and my keyboard as I am currently in the first round of manuscript edits with my editor for my first novel. As paint dries I edit, since my book is about a young artist, I believe it has brought a freshness to my work as well.
Tell us about your style and technique. Any secret that can be told?
I would 100% fall into the abstract-expressionist/neo-expressionist movements. I try to create poetry on the canvas through texture, color and brush strokes. I use several tools and I am always experimenting with long brushes, oil sticks, ink brayers, squeegees, pallet knives, screwdrivers, steel wool, brooms, sticks, cardboard and looking for alternative ways to apply medium to the canvas. I don’t have many secrets, I usually create videos of my work and post to Instagram and YouTube so I can create a dialogue with younger artists and instruct from afar.
How do you usually start your paintings? With a sketch, a draft or is it just an improvisation?
I just prep my tools, create a playlist of music and begin. I work in bodies of work with a theme/idea. Once I have an idea for a body of work that I have written about in one of my many journals, I get to work. I enjoy working in a body of 14-20+ paintings with a specific theme. I am a storyteller, a poet, and I feel that with a focus on telling a story through painting I can say what I need to through multiple pieces. I also feel like I grow immensely from the first painting to the last piece. Working on multiple pieces allows me freedom and risk-taking opportunities within that body to change and develop growth within my work. I am very serious and calculated, even though I create in abstracts. I am always thinking through balance, depth and color throughout my entire process. As an artist, we get to choose what art the world sees; we don’t have to show everything we create. Maybe 10% of our work is really strong, and that is the work we should lead with.
What are your motivation forces? And the artists who have been and are an influence for you?
I have a lot of motivational forces. They mostly come from books, music, film and my contemporaries. I read and study constantly. I study art history, take art history classes online to further my education and read, read, read about those I look up too or have been successful in my field. I constantly listen to music and create specific playlists for the studio; anything from classical, jazz, synth wave, shoegaze, rock-and-roll, punk, folk, etc. I love film. It inspires me beyond belief, specific writers, directors push me in my thought process about art: Charlie Kaufman, Sophia Coppola, Wes Anderson, Julian Schnabel, Jean Pierre-Jeunet, Michel Gondry, Noah Baumbach, Spike Jonze, Julie Taymor, Andrei Tarkovsky, Terrence Malick. I could go on for days. Artists of influence, there are too many to name. I spend an enormous amount of time not only researching artists in the past but also my contemporaries.
What can you tell us about your studio, what kind of place is it?
Well, I sold my dream studio that we built from scratch this year. It was on our property behind the house, when the pandemic hit my wife and I didn’t know what the future would hold, we are both “self-employed” and sold it. We moved into a small condo and my studio transformed from 14 foot walls in a large white box to a small garage (half of it is art storage for my paintings). I know have one wall to work from rather than two gigantic walls. It took me a while to work once we moved. I was really depressed. Not only was I not able to be with people during the pandemic, I gave up my dream studio. I finally had to fight the “resistance” as Stephen Pressfield writes about in the War of Art and get to work. It has been a challenge, and I have had to adapt to the space, lighting and create a new energy in it. My studio is my cathedral, a place to worship and create it is a very spiritual place and I count myself blessed to even have the space I have. I know a lot of artists who are much worse off than myself. A space doest not make an artist. The work does. No complaints!
What is art for you?
Art is life. Art is breath. Art is story. Art is observation. Art is saying the things that others can not say. Art is voice. Live. Breathe. Create. Mary Oliver wrote. “ What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I want to curate my memories, my thoughts, my observations, the world’s story’s and speak through my work with a hope that it touches someones soul.