speaking to award winning artist Robert Clark, one quickly discovers
he is a man of passion. When you see his paintings you see his energy
in the colorful oils, watercolors and pastels he paints of thoroughbred
horses and nautical sports. He has always written, but it wasn't until
the novel Dream
Race: the Search for the Greatest Thoroughbred Race Horse of All Time
that he first combined the two talents.
Academically trained, Clark first attended University of the South
in Sewanee, Tenn., on a Wilkens Scholarship, the highest academic
honor awarded to incoming students. The prerequisite art courses
were waived due to the level of work he demonstrated upon entry
into the college. Clark managed senior level courses as a freshman
and was into his independent studies at the end of his first year.
He finished his Bachelor's of Fine Art degree at Florida Atlantic
University in Boca Raton.
Since elementary school he drew horses. Clark’s love affair
with horses began at an early age growing up in San Diego. Around
the time Bobby was 10 years old his family moved to a 200-acre cattle
farm in Henry, Tenn. More interested in playing baseball than rural
living, the move proved to be a tough transition for the young Clark,
but once the family picked up a horse, country living improved dramatically.
For an artist who had received awards in every juried gallery show
entered, it was a humbling experience when in 1984 at his first
selling show in Louisville, Kentucky; he took 30 pastels of horses
and brought all but one home. The state tax collector looked at
his one lonely receipt and waived the sales tax saying, “Kentucky
can get by without the $6.”
During the same Kentucky trip, Clark headed to Lexington in hopes
of being able to photograph the champion horses of esteemed Claiborne
Farms. Seabiscuit was born at Claiborne where 6 of the 11 Triple
Crown winners were conceived. Over the phone, Clark was informed
by the farm that they no longer allowed artists to use their horses
as models. He still made the pilgrammage to Lexington. Almost by
accident, he happened upon Claiborne and gathered his portfolio
and some courage; Bob walked in to present his artwork. The farm
manager gave Clark's work a rave review and ordered a private photography
session with the horses including: Secretariat,
Spectacular Bid, Mr. Prospector,
Conquistador Cielo, Tom Rolfe, Riva Ridge, Nijinsky II. Bob was
then directed to the old Spendthrift Farm to photograph Seattle
Slew and Affirmed.