Solo Show of All New Works from Martha’s Vineyard Seascape Painter
to Premiere at Gallery Sitka in Fitchburg
FITCHBURG, Mass. — Marston Clough loves the ocean and loves to paint it. But the other the side of the coin in every seascape is the sky. Mr. Clough is fascinated by the sea, the sky, and their continual interaction. The light changes, the color changes, and a change in the sea is reflected in the sky, and vice versa. His upcoming solo exhibition at Gallery Sitka in Fitchburg is appropriately entitled, “I Went to the Ocean to Look at the Sky.”
The artist, a native of the little town of Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard, couldn’t have chosen a better place from which to observe the sea and the sky and their meeting at the horizon. The sometimes foggy sky pressing down on the ocean obscures that horizon and intensifies that feeling of the two areas melding into each other.
The colors Mr. Clough uses are sometimes very familiar to all of us, as in a stormy sky he represents as a sort of struggle between an “angry” dark grey and a somewhat surprising purple. Also familiar in an almost comforting way is a sky of bright pink.
Yet then there are other pictures in which the lower plane is an impossible eggshell white — unless that area is the sandy beach. But how can that be, when there seems to be no ocean intervening between it and the boiling, wine-colored sky above? More startling still is a sky that is mostly magenta. This is a color that really could never occur in nature — not this brightly and intensely, at any rate — and yet somehow communicates a feeling that seems very genuine and may remind any one of us of a sky we’ve seen sometime in our lives.
A longtime devotee of oils, Mr. Clough paints occasionally in acrylic. He loves to experiment in many media and explore the challenges they represent.
Mr. Clough often paints “en plein air” (in the open air), but ordinarily does most of his work at his studio at home. He works on several paintings at a time, often allowing each one to “take its own direction.” He lets himself experiment and occasionally makes major changes in a painting, perhaps setting it aside many times before he is satisfied with the results. He maintains very high standards and sometimes abandons a picture altogether. “My wife gives me a critique,” he says, providing the well-trusted extra pair of eyes that helps him decide what the final fate of a painting will be. He has a rather stark way of expressing how he might choose to continue with a picture — or not: “I need to kill a lot of ’em.”
Not long ago, Marston’s brother asked him why he paints. No pat answer came to mind. Not surprisingly for a person working in a visual medium, Mr. Clough often finds, regarding his thoughts and feelings about his art, that he “can’t put it into words.” He is often working on impulse rather than from formal plans, but continually makes sketches as he travels on the ferry. He seeks out subject matter and methods that intrigue him and does not intellectualize the process too much. He has found that many other artists have the same difficulty expressing their ideas about their art in words. That impression is confirmed by reading the attempts of other artists to write about their own artwork, which Mr. Clough often finds incomprehensible!
Mr. Clough began studying art at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, and later took printmaking classes at the Worcester Art Museum.