Artist Richard Clark thrives despite degenerative eye disease
Painter Richard Clark with his work Homeward Bound
The Message by Richard Clark
Clinton St. Barns by Robert Larsen
Stephen Colbert arrives at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre on Sunday Sept. 22, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Richard Clark has been creating art his entire life, but the style of his art is changing. The Loudon artist is losing his eyesight.
Clark’s work, along with that of four other local artists (Mike Hanson, Barbara Carr, Amaranthia Gittens-Jones and Maryrose George), is on display at the Merrimack Savings Bank on Main Street in Concord through May 9.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic condition that causes retinal degeneration and eventual vision loss. It comes from his father’s side of the family, said Clark, whose sister and two brothers are already blind.
His sight began to deteriorate in 1995. He has no sight in one eye and limited vision in the other, but he feels lucky that he was able to drive for 36 years.
“I will be just as blind as my brothers and sister in time,” he said.
His condition hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his passion. Like Monet, whose paintings became more abstract as his sight worsened, Clark paints what he sees. He dismisses the occasional critic who says his work needs more detail.
“My concept of creating the artwork,” Clark said, “is to get the general visualization from light to dark, from the viewpoint of the blind and visually impaired as opposed to somebody sighted.”
His recent painting, “Homeward Bound” is a study in darks and lights, deep indigo against brilliant yellow and orange.
Clark has been using a closed-circuit TV, which magnifies what he is painting and displays it on a monitor, but it’s becoming less and less helpful as his sight worsens.
“Eventually, I say jokingly, it might get to the point where I’ll do abstracts,” he said. “It is what it is. I do what I do, and continue on the best that I can.”
He isn’t on his own, though.
“I would not be able to accomplish and do what I do without the help of my wife, Linda,” he said.
Since he can no longer drive, Clark said, Linda provides all of his transportation and accompanies him to his exhibits.
He is a photographer as well as an artist. His photograph of a team of horses, part of the current display, was used for Christmas cards several years ago.
He also has a business, Inland Prints, which sells his prints, note cards, cards for all occasions and gift tags.
Clark remains positive about his changing eyesight, and expressed his excitement about his new note cards, with a new subject: the blind and their guide dogs.
In conjunction with the Friends Program’s 15th Annual Art Auction, the Merrimack will host a reception and open house tomorrow at 6 p.m. with the featured artists in attendance. Light refreshments will be served. Artwork that has been donated for the auction is on display at the bank until May 1.