Christopher Clark – Painter of Memories

Afternoon Light on a Girl – Christopher Clark

In search of a new oil painting for the office, we happened upon Christopher Clark’s artwork while perusing through the multitude of paintings on Etsy.  We came across a painting titled “Afternoon Light on a Girl” and immediately needed to know who created it.

The artist is Christopher Clark, a very passionate artist working out of Huntington Beach.  Having participated in several OC based exhibits, he is very active in our arts community. Just by viewing the plentitude of artwork on his website,, you can tell that he is constantly working on his craft. Luckily, Chris was nice enough to take the time out of his busy day to be interviewed by us here at Art in the OC. So, I present to you our very first OC based artist interview!


Art in the OC: I absolutely love your paintings of women on your website. Some of my favorites are Afternoon Light on a Girl, A Quiet Moment, and Evening at the Beach. What inspired you to create these pieces?

Christopher Clark: Two of these pieces, “Afternoon Light on a Girl” and “Evening at the Beach” are actually images of friends of mine. I think a girl is the most beautiful when lit behind by the sun. It creates halos of light in their hair, the sunlight passes through fabric in a fun way, and creates a really dramatic effect. So I love to create that kind of lighting in my paintings. “A Quiet Moment” is actually from someone else’s photo, but I was again playing with how I could change the light to make it a more backlit, afternoon effect.

Evening at the Beach – Christopher Clark

Art in the OC: I noticed the subjects of the paintings in your portfolio vary from still lifes to portraits to landscapes and everything in between.  What is your favorite subject to paint and why?
Christopher Clark: I really love to paint everything. I haven’t yet decided if this is to my benefit or detriment. It makes me a versatile painter, but I’m afraid that sometimes it might confuse my buyers. Most artists have their one subject or style that they do, so people know to come to them for that one thing, or they can recognize their work anywhere. It’s so hard for me to stick to one subject, because life is my subject, and living life every day I get ideas that are all over the map, but I know they’ll make beautiful paintings.

Ice Cream Sandwich Bite – Christopher Clark

Art in the OC: Do you mostly paint from memory, photographs, or do you prefer to have a subject sit for you?

Christopher Clark: Many things I’ve painted from photographs that I’ll embellish in fun ways. People laugh because I’ll be walking along with some friends, and I’ll just stop and pull out my phone and take pictures of some flowers in a bush somewhere because they caught my eye, and my companions won’t notice I’ve stopped till they turn around 100 feet later and see me crouching down to get just the right angle. Or I’ll whip out my phone on the freeway and take some probably life-threatening photos of a beautiful sunset behind me. These random photos of every day life very often become the inspiration for the most beautiful paintings. I have done a few scheduled photo shoots for very specific paintings I’ve had in mind. And recently I’ve been really trying to paint from memory or just a quick sketch. I do some watercolor studies on location when I’m traveling (that’s like my home-made souvenir: on-location paintings of places I’ve visited).

A Quiet Moment – Christopher Clark

Art in the OC: Where are some of your favorite places in Orange County to draw inspiration from? Do you frequent any of the artwalks in Orange County?
Christopher Clark: Frankly, I don’t get out enough to get inspiration, because I do work a day job currently, and I’m sitting in an office during all the beautiful daylight hours of the day! It’s usually when I’m out and about in random places that I fine inspiration, so no specific location. And I really love going to art walks and galleries and admiring other artist’s work. It can be very educational to stand 3 inches from a painting for 20 minutes, studying brushwork and such (though it can be kind of annoying to the people I came with). I have shown and painted live at the art walks in Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Fullerton.

Old Town Alexandria – Christopher Clark

Art in the OC: Do you have formal training or are you self-taught?
Christopher Clark:  I’ve had a class here and there, but no formal training. So I am self taught in many ways, but I do make every effort to receive education from any artist I know, and I read books, take seminars, and watch/rent instructional videos. So I am always pursuing actual art education in different forms. I think raw talent can only take an artist so far. There are certain things that will never occur to you unless you’ve been shown by a more experienced artist. Have you seen an Olympic Gold medalist without a whole team of coaches?  Plus, they figured all this art stuff out centuries ago, why not take advantage of our cummulative knowledge about how to make things beautiful?

The Red Umbrella – Christopher Clark

Art in the OC: Tell me a bit about your creative process.  Do you work at night or during the day?  Do you like to play music when you work? Do you have a studio space? Do you have a daily creative routine?
Christopher Clark: Considering I work full time as a graphic designer, I am a member of a national champion swing dance team, I have a girlfriend, and I (every once in a while) need to sleep, I pretty much paint whenever I have time. It’s usually at night, or on weekend days. I have a home studio, which I love. I would hate having to drive to some other location just to work on my art. The first thing in the morning and the last thing I do at night is stare and contemplate the latest unfinished painting on my art table. Sometimes I listen to music (Pandora shuffle or something), sometimes I’ll put movies on in the other room and listen to them while I paint, sometimes I like it quiet so I can hear the breeze in the trees outside.
Art in the OC: What artists do you admire?
Christopher Clark:   Zhaoming Wu – a classically trained Chinese impressionist who does the most stunning paintings of women. His lighting makes everything have this translucent glow.
N.C. Wyeth – A late 1880s illustrator.  He did phenomenal illustrations for adventure novels of the time such as Treasure Island, pretty much anything by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Harvey Dunn – Another late 1880s painter, more impressionism. So much movement in his paintings of rural America.
Jan Optebeek – World famous caricature artist. I’ve done my share of caricatures just because I love them, and he pretty much sets the bar for the perfect caricature.
I admire any artist who paints for a living and isn’t starving! That’s my goal currently as I move from graphic design into the fine arts as my main source of income.

A Moment Together – Christopher Clark

Art in the OC:  Do you think being active in social media is important for young artists? Christopher Clark:  Social media is the most accessible way for anyone to reach the whole world. So yes absolutely.

Lucca at Sunset – Christopher Clark

Art in the OC: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Christopher Clark: Study art for real, because a trained eye can see refinement and technique even in the most bizarre concepts or painting style. Find a happy medium between painting what you love to paint, and what people want to buy (that is, if you actually want to make money doing this). Paint a lot and tell everyone that you paint, and show everyone your stuff. In an endless ocean of artists, there is always room for your art if you’re persistent enough.

Malibu Doggies – Christopher Clark

Art in the OC:  Do you have any artistic plans for the future?  Any exhibits or group shows coming up?
Christopher Clark: I can’t say I’ve had great results by showing in galleries, doing exhibits, art walks, even live painting shows. It’s a ton of work, I meet lots of people, but rarely make any sales from it. I know it’s still good to get in front of people, but I’ve been mainly focusing my efforts on my online presence, where the vast majority of my sales have come from.The most concrete future plan I have currently is to become a full-time artist. After that it’s just enjoy life by painting it.
For more information about Chrispher Clark, visit his website and his Etsy store.

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