Legends of Fine Art | Clark Hulings


By Bonnie Gangelhoff

Rustic Italian villages. Bustling Parisian markets. Rural Mexican farmhouses. Clark Hulings’ paintings reflect his love of worldwide travel. On location, the peripatetic artist casts his creative eye on everyday scenes from the lives of ordinary people. Hulings’ long and successful career began in an unlikely fashion. He graduated from college with a degree in physics in 1944, and for a brief time worked on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, NM, before a recurring health problem cut that short. He recuperated in nearby Santa Fe and began supporting himself by painting pastel portraits of children. A year later he had a one-man show of landscape works at the New Mexico Museum of Art. The trajectory of his career has moved steadily forward over the past decades, culminating in regular invitations and top awards from national painting competitions and shows.

Born: Brewster, FL, 1922.
Resides: Santa Fe, NM.
Proudest accomplishment: Winning the top award at the Prix de West really changed my career. My career took off as a result of that exhibition. It all happened in 1973, the first year of the show.
What would you have done differently in your life? I would not have gone to college. I would have continued to go to art school. But the war was on, and my father encouraged me to study something that would provide a substantial means of earning a living. And I thought I should study something that could help the war effort.


Advice to young artists: Stay in school and study as much drawing and basic painting as you can manage.
Motto you have lived by over the years: Do what you enjoy. If you can have your hobby be your work, you are the luckiest person in the world.
Biggest misconception about an artist’s life: People who know me know that I sit here all day and paint. It’s very unglamorous. Most of us artists have a gift. But a gift is an inclination and some small ability to do something along with a great deal of application and hard work.
How has your work changed since starting out? It’s gotten tighter, which I am not happy about. I will look at a painting I did 30 years ago and say, “I wish I could paint like that.” But there are also a lot of things about my work that are much better now.
How has the art market changed? When I first started out as an illustrator, there wasn’t much of a market for easel painting. There were a few good artists but not nearly the fantastic market that there is now. That is a big, big change. I think the efforts of people in groups like the Cowboy Artists of America have expanded the art market by concentrating on certain subject matter. And while doing that they have attracted a lot of people to support realism. Artists like me benefited from it.
Other interests: At the age of 85, I’m a first-time grandfather of Nicholas.

He is represented by Nedra Matteucci Galleries, Santa Fe, NM; Morris & Whiteside Galleries, Hilton Head, SC.

Featured in “Legends of Fine Art” in December 2008