Emerging Artists | Ted Clemens

Stories and impressions

Ted Clemens, The Doctor’s House, oil, 10 x 20.

Ted Clemens, The Doctor’s House, oil, 10 x 20.

This story was featured in the February 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  February 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Ted Clemens finds artistic inspiration just about everywhere he goes, but one key philosophy guides his brush: “Don’t paint what you see—paint what you understand,” he says. “I can look at something and say, ‘I know how that works. I can paint that.’ And you know what colors make it spin.”

Clemens studied graphic design and fine art at duCret School of Art, paving the way for a career in advertising design. Over the years, he painted on occasion, but says he mostly put his fine-art interests on hold until his kids were grown. Today he has more time to paint, and he finds ways to sneak fine art into his schedule even when he’s not painting. On his work commutes by train, for example, he sketches the people and scenes around him in colored pencil, “just keeping the joints oiled,” as he puts it. He also plays the part of correspondent in Living History re-enactments of the Civil War and Texas War of Independence. It’s an apropos role, considering that many artists served as correspondents in the 19th century, illustrating “the news of the day,” says Clemens. During re-enactments, he sketches the historical displays and often brings these sketches back to his studio to serve as inspiration for paintings.

Whether portraying a cactus garden, cloud study, or an old caboose, Clemens relishes recording the details, but he considers his style impressionistic realism. “I don’t duplicate,” he says. “I want to give an impression of a photo without it being a photo.” He also likes his paintings to tell stories, which especially materialize while painting en plein air, he says. A perfect example is THE DOCTOR’S HOUSE, a Best of Show winner in the Plein Air Southwest Salon last year. One day while visiting Wylie, TX, just northeast of his hometown of Sachse, Clemens spotted an old house tucked in the shade of surrounding trees. As he often does when inspired, he set up his easel nearby and got to work. From some passersby he learned that the house was built more than 100 years ago by the town doctor, who, for his services, was paid with local goods. Those types of anecdotes keep the wheels of inspiration turning for Clemens. “There’s more to a pretty picture,” he says. “I thoroughly enjoy the stories.” —Kim Agricola

representation
Adobe Western Art Gallery, Fort Worth, TX; Artists’ Showplace Gallery, Dallas, TX; Davis & Blevins Gallery, Saint Jo, TX; Frame Up & Fine Arts Gallery, Mount Vernon, TX.

This story was featured in the February 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  February 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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