Artist Statement

23_BettyClark07_12_-38The act of painting is a way to express the often complicated and multi layered experiences of living, while observing a present and immediate, or  distant event. The process of painting is cathartic, and brings me back to myself. It’s the way I have found to compact into a singular form, what I have observed, thought, and felt about a personal experience or an event in the larger world.

The primary and underlying theme of my work since 1983 has been about loss and mourning. Loss of a loved one, either through death or separation, loss of places, loss of safety, loss of species, loss of hope, are the things I think about. Personal happy or difficult interactions with people can be a theme. Psychological, political, and environmental concerns can enter into a painting. A particular location can be inspirational. On occasion, a painting is made for the uncomplicated pleasure of using the materials.

To conclude a painting, an order must be found within a defined space. At the same time, I stay open to new and unexpected visual, mental and emotional insights.  When new visual discoveries present themselves, they may change an already existing composition or direction.

There is a visceral sense of rightness at the end of a painting. It may not be, what it looked like it would be, somewhere along the way.  Sometimes a struggle occurs between me and a painting, which can take a very long time to resolve. I paint because it is always a new painting, a new learning experience.

My hope is that there is an energetic and intimate connection that happens between a painting, a viewer, and me. Painting continues to be a personal act of spiritual gratitude and wonder.


I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and lived with my parents and sisters, Mary Clark Hollins and Kitty Clark Manson, until I was eighteen. I attended Metairie Park Country Day School, kindergarten through the twelfth grade. I was fortunate to go to this wonderful school because it celebrated the arts and encouraged us to excel in them. I graduated from Country Day in 1962.  The next year I attended Converse College, in Spartanburg, SC. The Cuban Missile Crisis happened that fall. I left Converse after one year, to marry. President John Kennedy was assassinated in the fall of 1963. Twelve years and three incredible children later, I divorced. During those years, the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement happened. I wanted to go back to school. I attended Agnes Scott College for three years, and transferred to Georgia State University to study Art. I graduated with honors in1983 and moved to Black Mountain, NC and began painting professionally. My studio was a small room in a rental house. In 1985 I moved to Asheville, NC and located a studio on Broadway, next to WCQS, and down the hall from John Reid, Architect. I moved again to a studio in the Riverlink building in 1991.  With the leadership of Karen Cragnolian ( Riverlink) and Gayle McCarthy (Highwater Clay) I helped organize the first, soon to be River Arts District, Open Studios. There were five participating artists at that time.  Again, in 2004 I moved with the help of friends to a large and quiet studio on the third floor in a building in the Riverside Business Park in north Asheville. It continues to serve me well. It allows for painting large paintings and the space to view them at a distance.

Asheville continues to be where I live and work. Stockholm, Sweden is a place I often visit, to paint and to be inspired. Part of my family, and grandchildren, live in Stockholm so it is another place where I feel at peace.

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