Emerging Artists | Tobi Clement

Enchanted by the light

Tobi Clement, Father’s Blessing, pastel, 18 x 22.

Tobi Clement, Father’s Blessing, pastel, 18 x 22.

This story was featured in the April 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Tobi Clement’s eye for color has steered her through numerous creative endeavors over the years, from a high-powered fashion-design career in New York to her venture into hairstyling after moving to Santa Fe, NM, in 1989. Her knack for arranging color harmonies has also materialized in her passion for landscape gardening, which requires selecting flora that visually “pull you through the story” with color, says Clement. But when she started painting New Mexico’s landscapes en plein air in 2010, something even more compelling than color caught her eye. “I wanted to paint the light,” she says. “I’ll never forget the first time I came over the crest at Abiquiú. I looked forever at the sky, and I breathed in that expanse. At some point I just wanted to capture what it felt like here.”

As Clement set about training her eye on the Land of Enchantment, she chose pastels as her medium because of their chromatic intensity and irresistible tactility. Indeed, the artist cheerfully admits “it can get dirty” when she paints, especially when using her fists to “smash,” her fingers to blend, and brushes to “push and pull” colors and textures across her surfaces to create depth and movement. “That polarity of pushing and pulling really reflects who I am,” adds Clement, who jokingly compares her energetic makeup to a tornado. “I have all these ideas swirling around,” she laughs. “It’s like the dust devils out here. Yet, I can move into stillness when I paint.”

Clement’s depictions of sweeping, luminous skies have won approval from collectors and fellow artists alike, including a piece titled DAY GREETS NIGHT, which garnered the Artists’ Choice award at the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico’s juried member show last November. But New Mexico’s stunning skyscapes are just one of the many scenic treasures she has portrayed around her home state. The artist routinely paints at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, where thousands of migratory birds take shelter each year among the protected wetlands. “It’s not just the visual stimulation there, but the sounds of the geese and cranes flying overhead,” says Clement. “I feel a connection to the spirit of the place as I paint.” No words can describe the feeling, she adds. For that, she simply lets her paintings do the talking. —Kim Agricola

representation
www.tobiclementartist.com

This story was featured in the April 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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