Blog - Michele Clamp Art



For completeness - the bad and the ugly


After a relatively successful bird this morning I did a couple extra this afternoon. One was yet another stab at the Ponte Vecchio scene and the final one was the tower of Dunster House at Harvard. No comment really but it’s getting harder to see a way forward.


This is a previous version done in Jan 2016. Frankly I like this more - it has life and is looser. Pffft!

Wed, 06 Mar 2019 22:10:51 +0000

Gang-Gang Cockatoo

Gang-Gang Cockatoo.  Michele Clamp.  Watercolor. 10”x8”.

Gang-Gang Cockatoo. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 10”x8”.

I really wasn’t sure how this was going to come out. Bushy feathers like this are very easy to overwork but I ended up with a good balance of loose brushwork and detail. Not bad.

Wed, 06 Mar 2019 17:12:51 +0000

The struggle continues...


Two versions of the March wetcanvas watercolor challenge. And boy was it a challenge. One step forward and then two back.

Wed, 06 Mar 2019 17:09:27 +0000

Bee Too

Bee Too.  Michele Clamp.  Watercolor.  11”x14”

Bee Too. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

I didn’t feel I’d done bees justice yesterday so I had another go today. Chose a different angle and made sure the composition wasn’t too regular. The placement of the legs in particular was a little stilted in the previous one.

Sat, 02 Mar 2019 18:59:28 +0000

Bee Happy


Going with the flow this week.   Today bees!    

Thu, 28 Feb 2019 22:51:55 +0000

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

portsmouth_new_hampshire_watercolor_painting Portsmouth, New Hampshire 250.00

11”x14”/16”x20” matted. One of my favorite places - Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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Definitely on a roll today. A very complicated scene but with good bones. Very enjoyable and came out really well. Love the blues and oranges.

Tue, 26 Feb 2019 22:50:41 +0000

St John's College, Cambridge

St John’s College, Cambridge. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

St John’s College, Cambridge. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

When I’m in a bit of a painting funk like I have been for the past couple of months I find it easier to just pick a reference at random from my collection and just paint it. Every now and again I trawl through free-to-use photos, select a bunch that catch my eye and put them in a folder ready for situations like this.

So this is why I’m painting St John’s College, Cambridge. We lived in Cambridge for a number of years which was fab so this has a personal connection even though I didn’t actually take the photo. I love the intricate shadows on the lovely golden stone and also the way the building stretches horizontally across the canvas, leaving large areas above and below. But can I do it justice this time?

Anyway off we go.

Lately I’ve started doing digital notans of pictures. These are reducing an image to just black and white regions. Even more than a value study I find that if you can’t make a well-designed notan it’s highly unlikely to produce a good painting once you’ve got all the values and color in.


So this came out pretty well. The bushes and the left and right trees frame the building well. The shadows on the building also serve to create a good design. One thing I did change was to darken the roofs of the building. This framed the building and allowed some continuity between the left and right hand sides.


The drawing went well. I didn’t put in too much detail as it gets fussy but lightly marked where the windows and shadows went. The first washes I kept varied but warm with a little lavender dropped in here and there to cool things off and provide interest.

The next bit was the crucial bit. Putting in the shadows I had to be careful of keeping them dark but not so dark they look jarring. Too light everything looks wishy-washy. Too dark and it looks like you’ve gone over it with a sharpie.

the photo has actually darkened things up a bit here. The shadows were looking pretty good and had slight variations in color from warm to cool.

One other thing I finally remembered to do - work from left to right. As I’m right handed I’m constantly drawing or painting from right to left and messing things up as I go. Maybe I’ll put up a sign above my easel. Next to the one saying ‘tea is not painting water’.

So the final thing :

St John’s College, Cambridge. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 11”x14”

St John’s College, Cambridge. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 11”x14”

So this is the best result I’ve had in a while. The foreground and background were a bit nervewracking. You get one shot at these and I wanted to keep them smooth and not too fussy. Basically a deep breath and dive in with the brushes and stand back. This time I got away with it.

Happy day.

Tue, 26 Feb 2019 17:45:46 +0000

Boston Skyline

Boston skyline.  Michele Clamp.  Watercolor.  11”x14”

Boston skyline. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

Two tries today. Both of the Boston skyline. The intention was to keep the colors muted and the values subtle. Not too much detail but enough to suggest buildings. The first one above was definitely the most successful but even this one suffered from some bad brushwork in the water. Nice in parts though.

Here’s the second:

Mon, 25 Feb 2019 20:32:16 +0000


It’s still a struggle closing the gap between vision and reality.  Keeping the palette very muted and the values as close together as I can.    I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.


Michele Clamp. Watercolor.  14x11”.

This was my previous attempt. 



Sat, 23 Feb 2019 18:44:34 +0000



Trying different things and hoping the mojo returns.  Today - cats! 

Tue, 19 Feb 2019 20:59:11 +0000

And something different again

Michele Clamp. Watercolor 11x14

Michele Clamp. Watercolor 11x14

Still blundering around with the brushes awaiting some direction.   Today - planes! 



Mon, 18 Feb 2019 21:26:29 +0000

Something Different - Alligator

Alligator. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 11”x14”

Alligator. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 11”x14”

Or maybe a crocodile? I’m unclear as to the difference.

But anyway. Something happened today that doesn’t usually happen to me. I couldn’t think what to paint. Nothing was presenting itself as interesting and I almost gave it up as a bad job. But as I was noodling through some pictures of Marco Island I thought - alligators! They have a lot of those in Florida don’t they? So an alligator (or crocodile?) it was.

I wanted this to be quite subtle and to only suggest the bobbly skin they have. This left the definition in the teeth and eyes. I think he’s rather handsome.

Sat, 16 Feb 2019 22:13:35 +0000

New England Street

New England. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 12”x18”

New England. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 12”x18”

This is a mystery scene as I was rooting about on pixabay.com for a New England street scene and this presented itself. This trundled along merrily although I can’t say I enjoyed it and the end result shows a lack of enthusiasm. But this isn’t the time to give up, at least for a while.

Some intermediates:

The drawing and initial washes. Maybe a bit tentative here but the final thing came out fairly punchy so all ended well.

After leaving things overnight I turned to the ipad and doodled a little on the photo. I find this helps identify the big shapes and allows me some practice before committing to paper. Watercolor really doesn’t allow you to do this so this is quite liberating.


Thinking back to my big shapes mantra the ipad doodling made me realize I should keep the big trees on the right dark and also darken up the roof of the tower on the left. Helps keep things together.

Sat, 16 Feb 2019 17:21:30 +0000

New England


Not much to say about this. Going through a bit of a rough patch enthusiasm wise.


Fri, 15 Feb 2019 18:57:48 +0000

Still Life - WetCanvas Wedgewood Tea Set Challenge

Wedgewood tea set.  Michele Clamp.  Watercolor 8”x10”

Wedgewood tea set. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 8”x10”

They’re coming thick and fast today. This is my stab at the wetcanvas February watercolor challenge. A pretty tricky subject with all those ellipses but came out well.

Here’s the original image


Fri, 08 Feb 2019 20:22:18 +0000

Cadgwith Harbor, Cornwall

Cadgwith Harbor, Cornwall. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 12”x18”

Cadgwith Harbor, Cornwall. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 12”x18”

Yesterday I just fancied painting some boats. This is done from a lovely photo by Dottie Best on ‘Paint My Photo’ - https://pmp-art.com/dottie-best/gallery/136333/cadgwith-harbor-cornwall-england .

As always there were struggles but it was fun to do and has a lot of solidity to it.

Value sketch:


And part way through at the end of the day yesterday :


Fri, 08 Feb 2019 16:44:49 +0000


Ostrich.  Michele Clamp.  Watercolor 14”x11”

Ostrich. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 14”x11”

I’m trying to keep up with the facebook page Paint Colorful Birds for Fun and this week (week 5) is the ostrich. I tried to keep some life in the darks but keep the white feathers distinct and fluffy. I think it’s pretty much there.

Mon, 04 Feb 2019 22:44:20 +0000

Unbiased Ram

Ram. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 13”x19”

Ram. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 13”x19”

There’s a sporting event on tonight. This is in no way intended to be a prediction.

Sun, 03 Feb 2019 22:11:30 +0000

Flying Snowy Owl

snowy_owl_watercolor_painting Flying Snowy Owl 350.00 Add To Cart

It’s been about a year since I did a snowy owl. I had the chance to do a live demo at Maine Audubon in January 2018 which was great fun. I didn’t really feel that I’d done the subject justice so I wanted to have another go.

I think he came out very well. The blues and grays define the wings and feathers well without getting too dark and the wings and body have a lovely rhythmic shape to them. Phew!

Sat, 02 Feb 2019 22:15:14 +0000

It’s in the bag 2019


It’s that time of year again.  It’s the Post Road Art “It’s in the bag” competition.   $33 gets you a bag of materials and you have to work your magic to create something.    This year it was a doozy!   This is what we got : 



Prominent in the bag were materials for making poured acrylic paintings.   Now this is something I have absolutely no experience with.   After a bit of googling and YouTubing I worked out that you put a lot of paint in a cup,  pour it onto a board, shoogle it around a bit, drop in some alcohol ink and voila! Painting. 

It’s a lot harder than it looks. 

I got paint everywhere.  On the table,  up my nose (!) on my tea mug, everywhere.  This is what I finally ended up with : 



Kinda cool but I don’t think I’ll be doing a lot more of it.   And what I forgot was that these things take days to dry so I didn’t even get to enter it into the competition. 

So what to do?   Birds of course!   I first thought of a peacock but after trying I wasn’t happy.   I next thought of a toucan which seemed like a better bet but I messed up the beak which blew out into a big purple splodge.   This one ended up being the poured one above.    

After coming back to the peacock I decided I quite liked it so it was one of my entries.    Since I didn’t have anything to lose I tried the toucan again in a more traditional manner and he came out quite well.  Here he is : 



Phew - all framed up and submitted.  Why do I always leave these things to the last minute? 



Thu, 31 Jan 2019 21:57:31 +0000

Page created: Fri, Mar 08, 2019 - 09:00 PM GMT