The Roy Mason Effect on Sporting Art

"Three Mallards" by Roy Mason

He describes Mason’s “trademark super loose wet on wet watercolor technique” as being “right on the edge of out of control, with bleeds, and even a water spot from a flying water droplet!  The colors are vibrant: purples and turquoise and ochre—who would think those colors belong in a gray sky?—but it all works.”  Although boiled down to their simplest elements, the hunter and ducks, says Clarke, are “accurately rendered, with great knowledge of the forms and colors.”  

What he loves most about Roy Mason is that the artist so often worked outside the norm.  “His compositions and colors are always unique. His work is always the opposite of stereotypical.  Nothing looks like a Roy Mason, except another Mason.”

Spirit Lake by Roy Mason

Clarke thinks Mason’s loose style of watercolor, “along with his attitude of trying to show the sporting scene in a unique way” has greatly influenced his own work.  Take Clarke’s basically representational painting, Upsalquitch Canoes: “The trees, the rock outcrop, the dock, the canoes, even the outboard motors are all recognizable and accurately rendered.  Yet the paint is applied very broadly. The washes flow in an extremely loose manner. The same is true of the colors. They are vibrant, pushed to the limits of saturation. A photo of this scene would not look anything like this, but it all works in a way that is convincing.”

Clarke admits that lots of folks prefer more conventional art. “But if you believe that the art in sporting art is as important as the subject matter, originality is the only way to keep the genre from becoming kitsch and unsophisticated. You have to keep pushing the envelope and looking for new ways to capture the drama and excitement and beauty of the sporting world we love so much.”

Wings of the Morning by Roy Mason

Mason is still a little bit everywhere for Clarke these days, even while visiting his mother in her adult-care facility.  There he found an original fly fishing scene by Mason hanging on the wall.  “I always look forward to seeing it—and my mother—again.”  

Brooke Chilvers found another first edition color lithograph of Three Mallards, by Philadelphia publishing house Ketterlinus, circa 1920s. “For only $75, the stranger who buys it might inadvertently inspire a future sporting artist.”