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Pat Clarke says she and her husband Mark looked for some time to find the right Highlands Ranch home with a bright, airy walk-out basement that is her studio today. The couple had been living in Park Hill, but moved south to help with grandchildren when needed. Here, she sets up her easel when home — and pulls out a large round white palette, filled with dabs of bright color. A bulletin board in a back corner is filled with award ribbons accumulated through a career as a watercolorist.
Clarke grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, where her engineer father was a professor. She lived at home, attended KU and was able to travel abroad in the summers — in Spain the summer following her freshman year — the first of many trips there. (She earned a bachelor’s debree in social work.)
The spacious studio is filled with artists’ supplies large and small and many en plein air paintings that tell stories about numerous locations in Spain and elsewhere. And upstairs, the Clarkes’ home resembles a gallery — with Pat’s paintings and some by other artists.
The Clarkes met in Costa Rica on their respective junior year abroad programs—both teaching English as a second language. They married and looked for opportunities to teach abroad, joined by a baby daughter. “We were living in Boulder and Mark had graduated, but we couldn’t do Peace Corps with a child.”
The best opportunity was in Egypt, and they went there in 1969 — still both teaching English as a second language. Baby Julia joined the family while they lived in Egypt. Blond baby Julia, in a back pack carrier, was really popular with Egyptians, Clarke recalls. (The family went back for a pleasant visit with friends when the girls were teens.)
Next stop was Saudi Arabia. “It was more liberal in the ‘70s,” she said. (It depends on the king). Son Benjamin, now also an artist, was born there. Both parents taught English (separately to men and women) at Arabian Oil Co. (Aramco).
For a year later on, 2009-2010, they lived in picturesque Sitges, on the coast of Catalonia, while Mark, a Fulbright Scholar, commuted by train to teach and research in Barcelona on a cooperative project regarding immigrant youths. (Mark, fluent in Arabic and Spanish, taught people how to teach languages.) Pat took social work classes in Spanish. It was a perfect place to paint. Mark now teaches at CU-Denver.
Pat Clarke, a member of Heritage Fine Arts Guild and of the Colorado Watercolor Society, teaches through Park Hill’s Art Garage, a community organization housed in an old service station. She has taught plein air painting and is currently involved with teaching teens to paint and exhibit their works. On Oct. 14-15, she exhibited paintings at her son’s home, as part of the large annual Park Hill Open Studio Tour. She recently taught a daylong workshop for the Heritage Fine Arts Guild, as well.
Look for her work in the local area. She currently has a painting in Heritage Fine Arts Guild’s “This is Colorado” exhibit in the Colorado Gallery of the Arts at Arapahoe Community College.
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