Blog - Michele Clamp Art



Life Class Drawings

Figure Drawing at  Post Road Art

Figure Drawing at Post Road Art

Some good and bad this week. And, boy, does 3 hours of drawing take it out of you. As is common the later drawings were more successful and the final 30 minute one above actually has hands and feet that are recognisable. No real tricks here - just improvement based on practice and observation.

So let’s have a run through. First the quick 2 minute sketches.


It’s surprising how much you can get down in two minutes. A lot of these have the general pose captured which is good to see. However if it starts out wrong all is lost and two minutes is too short to recover.

Next the 5 minuters:


Apparently there was only one of these which may mean I misannotated the drawings but anyway - I had trouble from the outset here and didn’t manage to get much down. Never say I only show the good stuff.

Now the 10 and 15 minuters :


Not too bad. A little stilted and I’m struggling with proportions still but I’m fairly pleased.

And the final 30 minute one.


All in all a good night’s work and some time after for some wine.

Mon, 29 Apr 2019 15:49:50 +0000

Tulips Revisited

Tulips.  Watercolor.  Michele Clamp.  14”x11”

Tulips. Watercolor. Michele Clamp. 14”x11”

Another go at the tulips. Greens are always tricky so I calmed them down quite a bit on this one.

Wed, 24 Apr 2019 20:23:55 +0000


Tulips.   Michele Clamp.  Watercolor.  14”x11”

Tulips. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 14”x11”

Somehow this one got away from me. All went well until I tried to beef up the background to make the flowers pop and it lost something. Lots I like in here though - the lushness of the foliage and the delicate yellows of the flowers. And especially that wonderful blue on the vase.

This was intended for a show and I think I’ll have to give it another shot. Many thanks to Elizabeth Leake for her kind permission to use her photo.

Some intermediates :


Mon, 22 Apr 2019 21:41:50 +0000


Robin.  Michele Clamp.  Watercolor 14”x11”

Robin. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 14”x11”

After the stress of completing and submitting a show piece with only hours to go I relaxed with a robin. Actually it was quite stressful. Birds like robins with oval bodies and stumpy beaks can be tricky to paint with character. Half way through it was almost a bust but managed to salvage something in the end.

Tue, 16 Apr 2019 21:43:38 +0000

Cambridge in Fall

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

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.

Mon, 15 Apr 2019 22:41:08 +0000

Life Class - The Cold Light of Day

Life Class Drawing.  Michele Clamp.  Conte pencil on newsprint.

Life Class Drawing. Michele Clamp. Conte pencil on newsprint.

The last life class was a little frustrating. The pencil didn’t move quite how I wanted and the outcome wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped. This time was different and I felt everything was going really well. When I came to look again at the results this morning, however, I had a bit of a shock. Someone had come in overnight and replaced my beautifully nuanced gestural drawing with a set of badly proportioned, overworked, scribbles. So it goes. Sometimes it happens. Let’s see some evidence.

First some 2 minuters.


Just loosening up really. Our model was really great. Some really good poses and the way she varied her head angle really added interest.

Next some fives and 10s. this one I think was the best page of the night even though they’re only a 5 and a 10 minute pose.

Life drawing.  Michele Clamp.  Conte pencil on newsprint.

Life drawing. Michele Clamp. Conte pencil on newsprint.

There’s some nice nuance in the lines here and flow to the poses. Even the hands and feet aren’t too shabby.

Some more 5 and 10s.


Next a couple of 15s.


Ok I suppose. As you can see I’m failing completely to capture any sense of a likeness in the face. They all look like completely different people.

Next the best one of the longer poses :

Life drawing.  Michele Clamp.  Conte pencil on newsprint.

Life drawing. Michele Clamp. Conte pencil on newsprint.

This one has the best sense of the balance of the pose and the light. The hands are dealt with sparsely but descriptively. Yes - happy with this one.

And the final, long pose of the night. At the time I was very pleased with this but sadly disappointed when I came back to it.


And finally our glorious leader Andrew Cefalu. Terrible likeness again but the drawing has some life to it.


Sat, 06 Apr 2019 16:24:06 +0000


Magpie.  Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

Magpie. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

Something sleek with dramatic darks and whites. I’m finding it less satisfying to paint small these days. I’m feeling the need for larger areas with broader brushstrokes and interesting color variations. But this small one is pretty good nonetheless.

Thu, 04 Apr 2019 21:06:58 +0000

Harvard Yard Study


A test run of a Harvard Yard scene I’ve had on the list for a while.   Not bad but not there yet.

Wed, 03 Apr 2019 21:39:43 +0000

Owl Perching in the Wind

Owl perching in the wind. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

Owl perching in the wind. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

Today somehow was owl day. I wanted to try something a little different and see if I could introduce a background successfully. I wanted to put color in but have a lot of interest in the largely uniform grass region. I think I’m pretty happy. The owl itself came out well and the whole thing has a liveliness and sense of the windy day it was. The gloved arm is James - we were in England and had a great time flying owls at Leeds Castle.

Mon, 01 Apr 2019 21:26:13 +0000

Portland Head Lighthouse

Portland head lighthouse.   Michele Clamp. Watercolor.  13”x19”.

Portland head lighthouse.   Michele Clamp. Watercolor.  13”x19”.

Fri, 29 Mar 2019 17:37:18 +0000

Life Class Drawing

Figure Drawing.  Michele Clamp

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.

Sat, 23 Mar 2019 17:31:41 +0000

Portsmouth NH

Portsmouth, NH. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 19”x13”

Portsmouth, NH. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 19”x13”

Another Portsmouth, NH painting. Enjoyed doing this one and it is a bit of a departure for me. Not quite sure what to make of it yet but I hope I don’t hate it tomorrow as I’ve just entered it into the Newton Watercolor Society annual show.

Edit: Took another look at this piece this morning and am happy with it. The photo doesn’t really do it justice. It’ll do.

Wed, 20 Mar 2019 19:13:21 +0000

Hawk in Flight

Hawk. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 16”x20”

Hawk. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 16”x20”

Not sure whether this one is quite done yet but I’m getting painting blindness. Time to leave it on the easel for tomorrow to see if more needs to be done. Many thanks to Jonathan Eisen (phylogenomics) for the photo taken at Yolo Bypass.

Mon, 18 Mar 2019 23:04:48 +0000

Arlington Center Sketch

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

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.

Wed, 13 Mar 2019 21:46:23 +0000

Oystercatchers Take 2


Oystercatchers.  Michele Clamp.  Watercolor.  11”x14” 

Tue, 12 Mar 2019 17:47:04 +0000

More Sketches - Boats, Castles, Boston


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”

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

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

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.

Sun, 10 Mar 2019 22:07:40 +0000

Boston Common Sketches


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.

Sat, 09 Mar 2019 22:51:31 +0000

Sketchbook Time


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.


Fri, 08 Mar 2019 23:03:25 +0000

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

Page created: Fri, May 24, 2019 - 09:05 PM GMT