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inside pebble hill

Pebble Hill Plantation’s New Exhibit, A Sportsman en plein air:  C. D. Clarke

By Whitney White, Main House Museum Manager

Featured in the Thomasville Scene magazine. 

Covey in the Pum ThicketPebble Hill Plantation’s last owner, Elisabeth Ireland Poe, expressed her love of the sporting life through various collections that can be seen throughout the Main House.  The upstairs gallery that bears her name houses a wonderful collection of sporting art.  Therefore, Mrs. Poe would no doubt be very pleased that the traveling exhibition, A Sportsman en plein air: C. D. Clarke, is currently displayed there.  Two of the gallery rooms have been transformed to showcase the twenty-one sporting scene pieces – a combination of watercolors and oils.  The artwork can be viewed until the end of April.  Prior to coming to Pebble Hill, this exhibit was on display at the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg, Virginia.

Pebble Hill Foundation Board President, Warren Bicknell, said, “We are so pleased to have the exhibition of C.D.’s work at Pebble Hill.  His sporting art paintings are a natural fit with the permanent collection of pieces in the gallery.  We hope that this show gives people yet another reason to visit.”

A reception was held on January 8th to celebrate the opening of the show at Pebble Hill.  Guests from Thomasville, the Red Hills region, and from as far away as New York enjoyed viewing the exhibition while sampling wonderful foods provided by jb crumbs.  They also had the opportunity to talk with Clarke at length about his artwork and to hear about his latest hunting and fishing trips.

C. D. Clarke was born in Rochester, New York and received his BFA in painting from Syracuse University in 1981.  His love of the outdoors started at a very early age and has only gotten stronger over time. 

Clarke experiences what he paints – he is an avid fisherman and hunter.  He prefers to paint in the field, en plein air, when possible.  Clarke states, “All of my knowledge of light and how things are recorded and responded to came from years of working outdoors on location.  That’s the most important thing an artist can do.  What an artist learns about light and color in the field is indispensable.”  His art supplies are never far from him when he travels, so that he can capture on the spot what catches his eye.  Clarke has worked in watercolors much longer than oils, but oils can be used in certain weather conditions that are not as conducive to watercolors.  When he plans to work on a piece in his studio, to correctly record the people, animals, and equipment, he takes photographs.  These images are coupled with the field studies and sketches he does on location to allow him to then accurately portray the scene in the final painting. 

He takes four to six major trips each year to sporting destinations, and clients can join him on these excursions.  Or, he can be commissioned to join their planned sporting trips.  He has traveled extensively, painting in the Caribbean, Russia, Scotland, England, Hawaii, The Bahamas, Canada, Alaska, Montana, and South America. 

His work has been exhibited and published widely including:  Adirondack National Watercolor Exhibition, American Museum of Fly Fishing, Gold Room at the Easton Waterfowl Festival, Holland & Holland London, Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, The Book of the Tarpon, Sporting Classics, Fly Rod & Reel, Shooting Sportsman, Wildlife Art News, Gray’s Sporting Journal, U. S. Art Magazine, and Field and Stream.

Maggie's WorldThe May/June 2014 issue of Gray’s Sporting Journal featured an article by Brooke Chilvers on Clarke and his work.  In that piece, he is described, “…as comfortable being an old-fashioned all-around sportsman as he is an artist of watercolors and oils.”  He is at once the sportsman and the artist, and the two cannot be separated.  His success comes from this unique combination.

Clarke was first introduced to Thomasville and the Red Hills region by Mr. and Mrs. Charles M. Chapin.  Since then, he has visited the region regularly and has gotten to know many of the residents.  Clarke says he has, “enjoyed a long association with the Thomasville area and has great feelings for the community.”  He has been an exhibitor at the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival every year since its inception in 1996 and was the featured artist in 2000.  When asked about this exhibition, Clarke remarked, “I am so excited to have a one-man show in Thomasville and particularly pleased to have it housed at Pebble Hill.” 

Visitors can view the exhibition anytime during Pebble Hill’s normal museum hours with regular Main House admission tickets.  Regular museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. and Sunday from 1 P.M. to 5 P.M.  Appointments for other times can be scheduled in advance.  Please note that children must be 6 years of age or older to tour the Main House.Riders on the Storm


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