Blog - Michele Clamp Art



Hawk in Flight

Hawk.  Michele Clamp.  Watercolor 18”x24”

Hawk. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 18”x24”

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

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

Page created: Tue, Mar 19, 2019 - 09:05 PM GMT