Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Ocean Clark is truly one of today's most prolific artists. His vibrant and richly colored paintings capture classic celebrities in a style that is pop and unique. "As an artist I feel it is my duty to bring new insight and inspiration to people by using my talents to demonstrate the beauty and awe of the imagination".
Clark is coming to the Imagine Art Gallery in Port Jefferson, NY on Saturday, September 10th when his show opens up there. I had a great conversation with Ocean from his New Jersey studio...

MICK: I read that you come from an artistic family!
OCEAN: Yes I do! Both of my parents had scholarships to art school but neither of them went because they had kids. They were very artistic. They're both retired now and still doing artistic things. I've got 13 brothers and sisters, all of whom are artists.
MICK: Where were you born?
OCEAN: I was born in Tillamook, Oregon. I live in New Jersey now.
MICK: I also read that you got your start in New Orleans!
OCEAN: I spent five years in Florida going to art school but I really didn't develop my craft until I spent eight years in New Orleans as a street artist. You put yourself out there when you're a street artist because you have a thousand people passing by and looking to see what you're working on. I did my paintings right there on the street. You get insulted if they sucked and you get better real fast!
MICK: It's been written that you paint with both hands. Is that literally or is that with a brush?
OCEAN: I use brushes but I do use both hands. My left hand doesn't really know what it's doing. It's mainly for show but my left hand smears paint around. The right hand does the portrait type stuff and detailed stuff. I was actually left handed when I was born but in third grade, I had a teacher tell me that I should switch to right hand because everything was made for right handed people. I still do some things left handed but most everything is done right handed.
MICK: Do you use photographs when you paint?
OCEAN: Yes, I always have some kind of photo reference I'm looking at.
MICK: I notice that classic rock stars and classic movie stars are favorite subjects of yours to paint. Have you always liked old time movies and classic rock?
: When I was growing up, my parents were pretty strict about wasting time with TV. We never even had a TV when I was growing up. They were very health conscience and focused on raising kids. They were smart with their health too. Even when we had a TV later on when I was a teenager, we weren't allowed to watch regular cable. We watched classic black and white movies. Mainly because they didn't want us sitting in front of a TV for five hours a day. Most families these days use it as a babysitter. We were all smart and creative. We got out in the world and played rather than sit in front of a TV. Because of that, the things I am into today are much older than I am. I do a lot of the classic movie stars because that's what I grew up on. Classic rock too because my parents were always playing it. I wasn't one to rebel against my parents because they were creative types and they let us do what we wanted pretty much. If I were to rebel against them I would have become an accountant!
MICK: Writers often have writers block where it takes time to get in the mood to write. Do you ever get painters block?
OCEAN: Yes I do. I have some tricks for getting past that. One of the tricks I don't do much anymore. I used to set up a canvas beside my bed before I go to sleep. When I woke up in the morning, I'd force myself to finish it before I get out of bed. It's usually a small blank canvas, like 16" x 20", and I would sit there and work on it until it was finished every morning. I wouldn't allow myself to even go to the bathroom, eat breakfast or have coffee. They were usually very crappy paintings because I was in a hurry. Once a month I would show my morning work. I'd show them like they were my best work and never let anyone know that they were your quick sketches that you hate! It encourages you to get better. For the artist block, it encourages you to paint even when you don't feel like it. You wake up and you start painting. It's in the back of your mind and you're constantly thinking about it. I've got canvases in every room, even the bathroom. No matter what I'm doing, I can be working on a painting. I have paints and brushes in every single room in my house. Also, I don't let myself become stunted by that desire for everything to be your best. I don't judge myself. I just try to push a paint brush around for 8-10 hours a day. If I do that, I can pay my bills. Once in a while, the painting will be my best without even trying!
MICK: Do you work on more than one painting at the same time?
OCEAN: Yes, sometimes I will have 100! I have at least a dozen that I'm working on at the same time. Right now, I have around 40 paintings that I'm working on that are not finished yet.
MICK: How long would it take to basically finish a painting?
OCEAN: Some only take a couple hours while some have taken only 15 minutes! On average, I would say around eight hours. One long day! The better ones might take a week but those are rare. I've got 30,000 hours of practice into it! For me to do a painting, I really don't have to think that hard about it. I can splatter paint and cover a canvas in a lot less time than someone who has only a couple thousand hours into it. I've done it so much that it's beyond the conscience thought. It a subconscious thing when I'm moving brushes around!
MICK: Do you use acrylics or oils?
OCEAN: Always acrylics. Acrylics are more permanent. Oils are a fluid and they never completely dry. Dust sticks to them, acid sticks to them, smoke and toxic sticks to them. They start to fade after five to ten years. They are probably 10% more faded than they were when you first painted it. In 100 years, they're practically gone. You look at old paintings and they are all oil paintings. Acrylics weren't invented until 1954. Oil paints are inferior. Comparing oils to acrylics is like comparing a horse and buggy to a Ferrari! You can't do anything with oils that you can do with acrylics. It's arguable but that's how I feel.
MICK: Do you ever use watercolors?
OCEAN: I play with watercolors once in a while. I still do a lot of outdoor shows so if I'm doing watercolors, I mix them with acrylic so that they're more permanent. Watercolors can be lifted up again and if it rains outdoors, the show is in trouble!Even with oils, your paintings can get damaged. For my acrylics, I put a couple layers of glaze over the top that makes it real waterproof. The glaze also has ultraviolet protective layer in it to protect it from the sun. My paintings will still be beautiful in 100 years. When you look at them in a gallery, you will understand and see that they're brighter than other paintings beside them. That's because I use the best quality materials and I'm not worried about the cost of things. I use $400 a gallon paint. It's better and my finished product looks better! I could use $10 a gallon house paint but it won't look as pretty. In ten years, it won't look the same at all.
MICK: Which artists do you admire?
OCEAN: I admire artists like Picasso for the simplicity of his style. It's like going back to childhood and just having fun with it. I loved his work. I admire other artists for their marketability than business sense. Peter Max for example. I don't necessarily love his work. Some of his older 70's stuff was beautiful. I lot of his new stuff is like scribbles on canvas. The way he markets himself is genius! He does 100,000 prints and calls them all original. He sells over 100 million dollars worth of work a year. That's pretty impressive!
MICK: Are you looking forward to your show at the Imagine Gallery in Port Jefferson this coming weekend?
OCEAN: Absolutely! I always have a good time out there. The people in that neighborhood are like family to me. They treat me real good!
MICK: What's ahead for Ocean Clark?
OCEAN: I will continue painting a lot. I'm planning on moving to the beach somewhere but haven't completely decided just where yet. After this show, I have one more show in New Jersey. Then I will be packing up. I have a ranch rented just north of Los Angeles that I'm moving to for the winter. I don't want to have to spend another winter in New Jersey. This ranch is amazing. It has a beach, horses, a stream running through it, deep washtubs in the bathrooms! I'm really looking forward to it! Last winter, my power went out in my studio. It's an old 130 year old factory. I have a really great space but the landlord didn't pay for the problem when a transformer blew in the building. We had no power for two weeks. It was below freezing the whole time. I couldn't stop painting so I painted with gloves on. My fingers were frozen. I actually broke one of my fingers. The paint doesn't dry right and moves to slow because it's too cold. It was ridiculous. This winter, I will be somewhere more tropical!

Come this Saturday to meet OCEAN CLARK and see his amazing work!

Imagine Gallery Presents Ocean Clark
and Laura Bochet
Saturday September 10, 2011
Artist Reception: 6 to 9 PM
Imagine Gallery
35 Chandler Square
Port Jefferson NY 11777


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