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Rebecca Clarke…Inside the Artist’s Studio

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rebecca-clarke-01“Just because I’m into this, does that mean I should live like it and really do I dare?”

By Derrick White

If you are connected to Wi-Fi or happy with your data plan, please take a moment and watch the following short video: (Canadian spoken word poet Tanya Davis’ song “Art,” animation by screenwriter and film director, Andrea Dorfman. Both artists hail from Halifax, Nova Scotia). If you are reading the hardcopy edition of this issue of EGuide Magazine, please take a moment to look it up or, at least, jot it down for later. It is a nice, little pick-me-up. When I watch “Art” by Tanya Davis and Andrea Dorfman, it cheers me up. I feel reassured by its insecurity. I find it optimistic and encouraging with a message to go out in the world and make a positive declaration. It reminds me of the work of local artist, Rebecca Clarke, because of the cartoons and cheerful, appealing inventiveness. Rebecca is a dedicated ‘lifetime’ artist. She works with a constant devotion and rich delight rare among most artists. Her work is intimate, quirky and profound. She is a congenial and sanguine person. The type of person this world needs.

rebecca-clarke-04“I don’t really know what started me on my path as an artist. I loved to draw, write, and doodle. I started doing these activities when I was really little. I know every kid loves to color and draw but I would constantly be drawing stories to show my mom, before I could write down what the stories were about. I think there is something subconscious about sitting down with paper and a pencil and creating scribbles on paper,” reminisces Rebecca. Clarke had her first formal experience with art in sixth grade. She remembered learning the basics from taking classes. She states, “I took an after school art class where the assignments were more creative and open-minded. I started getting more interested in different processes of art beyond drawing or painting. My after school art teacher, Mrs. Woods, opened the door to the creative sides of art by letting me express myself and my thoughts, which is what I instantly became attracted to.” But her high school at the time didn’t offer any art classes, so she didn’t get the chance to expand her artmaking knowledge until college. “I still retained the same love for art, which is what caused me to pursue it in college and I have been taking college level art classes since,” recollects the artist.

rebecca-clarke-09Rebecca Clarke is from Bullard and received an Associate’s degree in Art from Tyler Junior College and then subsequently continued studying Fine Art at the University of North Texas in Denton. She states an important aspect art has brought to her life is the ability to experience different perspectives other than her own. “While making art is an intimate and personal process, learning to appreciate and understand art is rewarding. It is eye-opening to look at someone else’s art and think of all the different factors which go into making it and what it means to you. Art can really be about anything, important or silly, or aesthetically pleasing. There is a feeling one gets when one looks at new pieces and tries to understand them,” urges Rebecca. She states, “Art has definitely brought a sense of enjoyment into my life, as well as satisfaction and freedom. There is a sense of free will in what you are doing, being able to create something however you want, is freeing. And then when you are finished, there is satisfaction. It is therapeutic. You are addressing your own topic and ideas so it makes a statement.”

rebecca-clarke-10Or, as Tanya Davis put it, “I wondered what would be the worth of my words in the world. If I write them and then recite them are they worth being heard? Just because I like them does that mean I should mic them and see what might unfurl? And I think of the significance of my opinions here. Is it significant to be giving them? Does anybody care? Just because I’m into this, does that mean I should live like it, and really do I dare?”

Rebecca Clarke works with the basics; pencil drawing, pen drawing, acrylic and ink but also enjoys pastels and charcoal. “I like to draw digitally as well but it can be challenging at times. Drawing digitally is fun, and the images you get are clean, but when you struggle with line work it makes it difficult. I’m extremely thankful for the online resources. Looking up tutorials or even a new style of drawing is really effective. I’m happy I live in an age where I can use Google,” affirms the artist.

She is inspired by such contemporary artists as Sophie McPike (Melbourne based illustrator) and Erin Hanson (Los Angeles based landscape painter), as well as art history’s Edward Hopper (American realist painter and printmaker), Frida Kahlo (Mexican, Surrealist self-portrait painter), Claude Monet (a founder of French Impressionism) and Edouard Manet (the forefather of French Impressionism).

rebecca-clarke-03Rebecca Clarke advises, “Being an artist, you will struggle with your works repeatedly. While it can be fun, it can also be really challenging and difficult. When the work starts to go in a direction you did not intend, it can be frustrating trying to get it back onto the right path. The biggest struggle I’ve had is trying to meet my art in the middle instead of what my original aim was. Almost all of my professors have told me creating an artwork is having a ‘conversation’ or ‘dialogue’ with the piece, and that is the best way of explaining it. You have to start being okay with losing some control.”

Or, as Tanya Davis put it, “So, I pondered the point of my art in this life. If I make it, will someone take it and think it’s genuine? Will they be glad I did because they got something good out of it? Will they leave me and be any more inspired? I question the outcome of the outpouring of myself. If I tell everyone my stories will this keep me healthy and well? Will it give me purpose, to this world some sort of service, is it worth it, and how can I tell?”

You can friend and possibly commission art from Rebecca Clarke through Facebook at @beckstertwosocks.




“David Bates: Selected Works from Texas Collections” on Exhibit

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This Month at Tyler Museum of Art:

The Tyler Museum of Art (TMA) is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave. on the Tyler Junior College main campus. Regular TMA hours are 10am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday, and 1-5pm Sunday. The Museum is closed Mondays and most major holidays. The Museum is supported by its members, Tyler Junior College, and the City of Tyler. For more info call the museum at (903)595-1001,, or email

David Bates, one of the most acclaimed artists in Dallas, is the focus of Tyler Museum of Art’s summer exhibition, “David Bates: Selected Works from Texas Collections” on view through September 9th.

Curated by the museum’s Caleb Bell, the exhibition features close to 30 works surveying the prolific career of Bates, one of the most versatile and widely collected contemporary Texas artists. Spanning art from 1982 to 2016, works in the show highlight several of Bates’ most celebrated series and include a wide array of media: oil painting, lithographs, woodcuts, screenprints and bronze sculpture. The show was assembled from art in public and private collections throughout the state, including the museum’s own permanent collection. Bates’ work is widely exhibited and included in several museum and corporate art collections.

Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for seniors. Museum members, students, TJC faculty/staff and city of Tyler employees are admitted free. Support for exhibit is provided by The Byars Foundation.

Creativity Camps

Through August, close to 70 kids ages 7-13 and older dive into hands-on art experiences in a series of half-day and full-day camps. Each session is supervised by degreed artists and educators, and culminates with a small exhibition of campers’ work and a community reception.

Camps are held Monday-Friday (9am-4pm) for ages 6-12. Cost is $40 per day or $175 per week. To register online, fill out a form available at

  • July 9th-13th: Upside-down and Backward – Everything looks different from a fresh perspective. Drawing underwater, painting with spaghetti, there’s no telling what will happen when you change the way you make art. This camp is all about real creativity, and young artists will help brainstorm up new, exciting projects all week long.

  • July 16th-20th: Beachcombers’ Paradise – Love the seashore but hate sunburns and foot-scorching sand? Come explore marine environments through art. Biology, art, and fun merge into one great experience as you learn about the weird, wonderful world of sea life and environments, and express new knowledge through art.

  • July 23rd-27th: 5 Days Away from Rose City – Some of the country’s greatest artists call the Lone Star State home. At this camp, you will explore the geographical regions of Texas and the artists who gain inspiration in them, ending up right here in East Texas.

Family Days

Free admission, interactive art projects, light snacks and a festive atmosphere for all ages are on the menu from 2-4pm the second Saturday of each month with the Tyler Museum of Art’s Family Day. This popular program focuses on fostering a deeper understanding of the Museum’s spotlight exhibitions – and, above all, having fun! To RSVP for groups of 10 or more, please call (903)595-1001 or e-mail

First Friday

The first Friday of each month, the TMA offers a full day of free admission plus guided tours of its spotlight exhibitions at 11am. From contemporary Texas art to Hudson River School to Andy Warhol, each tour is unique.

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Art Events Warming Up For Summer


Events & Classes

Every Wednesday (6-8pm) and Sunday (1-3pm) – Acrylic Painting Classes will be held at Michael’s, 5839 S. Broadway, Tyler. Cost is $15. Topics include landscapes, life, and floral. To RSVP go to and select the Tyler location. This class features master classic painting techniques while completing an image selected by the Instructor. Supplies are not included.

First Saturday of every Month (10am-2pm) – Eastside Fiber ARTist Meeting – The monthly meeting will be held at the Tyler Public Library, 301 S. College Ave, Downtown Tyler on July 7th. Please join the monthly meetings and participate in a variety of fiber arts from quilting, weaving, embroidery, knitting, crocheting, jewelry making, and mixed media and tons more. Guests and visitors are always welcomed. For more info go to It is free to attend.

July 10th and 24th (both days 3-5pm and 6-8pm) – Painting on the Patio at Rotolo’s – Lauren O Neill has created a one of a kind painting and is hosting a painting session at Rotolo’s! Invite your friends, sip your favorite beverage, and enjoy step-by-step instruction with Lauren an experienced and enthusiastic local artist. You’ll leave with a one-of-a-kind creation and a new found talent you’ll want to explore. All painting supplies are included. Tickets are $35. Rotolo’s is located at 8970 S. Broadway, Tyler. For more info go to

July 12th (10am-1pm) – John Randall York Watercolor Workshop – Come out for this fun workshop! Bring your paper, brushes, paint and ambition to capture some downtown, iconic scenes in watercolor. To register, email or call (903)593-6905.

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Inside the Artist’s Studio: I Think I’m Goin’ to Katmandu

The Therapeutic Creations of Stephanie Smith

By Derrick White

“Art as therapy demonstrates the profound healing potential of using the creative process. Art as therapy appears to be as old and continuous as human culture with decorated artifacts existing from prehistoric civilizations to now. It manifests in active form through the artist’s opportunity for self-expression and in receptive form through the response of the viewing audience. The artist’s experience of creating a meaningful work of art and the audience’s capacity for recognizing its meaning can lead to a multitude of healing responses including increased positive influence, relaxation, catharsis, social cohesion, and strengthened spirituality. The creative process can also act as an analgesic for artists who experience a lessening of physical pain while making art. Creating art can be a largely unconscious process providing a window into the mind of the creator. Through an analysis of visual elements such as the placement of an image on the page, the colors, type of lines created, the use of space, the number and integration of drawn items, and the apparent movement of the image, a psychologist, art therapist, or other trained professional can assess the emotional state of a person, provide counseling, and monitor the progress of the person through analyses of subsequent works produced.” – from an article by Tobi Zausner, PhD, on a web site dedicated to the Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.

When I experience the artwork of local artist Stephanie Smith (aka Steph Renea), I physically feel a release of tension, and I am metaphysically transported into her rich and subtle, seemingly simplistic, yet intricately complex, abstract compositions of color, shape, and line with their geometric elements. They are powerful and understated. It is a mental remedy for the chaos of the world. I would encourage you to experience this sensation as well. You can find Stephanie and her art popping up here and there around town at different art and Downtown Tyler community events from True Vine Brewing Company, 903 Handmade, and The Foundry Coffee House.

Stephanie graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Art Studies. “I took a wide range of studio classes such as fibers, screen printing, watercolor, figure drawing, and sculpture. I learned a lot of skills in those studio classes I still use today,” states the artist. Smith works with a variety of different materials from acrylic paints, pens, pencils, watercolors, and occasionally embroidery thread. Most pieces are on watercolor or mixed media paper but the artist enjoys painting on canvas as well. Stephanie says, “The media I use is not always the same for each piece. I typically start with the material I feel will best represent the idea I have in my mind and then I add to the piece from there.”

Some of Stephanie’s artistic inspirations include: Heather Day (California-based artist making abstract interpretations between what is known and how it is felt. This artist seems to have the strongest direct influence on Smith’s own work), Chuck Close (painter, famed as a photorealist through his massive-scale portraits), Ron Mueck (amazing, hyper-realistic, super detailed sculptor), Georgia O’Keeffe (painter of enlarged flowers, skyscrapers, and Southwest landscapes, recognized as the “Mother of American modernism”), and Ben Sasso (hip, photographer and educator who lives with his lady in a van down by the river).

“I have always enjoyed the arts. I grew up dancing and was always interested in photography. I would draw and paint occasionally as well. It was after spending time in Nepal I discovered my love for teaching. So I decided to combine these two loves, art and teaching. After starting at the University of North Texas I learned I really loved exploring in my studio classes and staying late into the night painting or screen printing. After college I took a short break from creating physical pieces and started work as a wedding photographer and started a family. I still painted whenever possible and was asked for a commissioned piece for an album my church was putting out. I had a small art show at a friend’s house. But still at this point, I never really considered myself an artist. I just really enjoyed making art and hoped people liked it. In 2016, my life changed drastically and I moved back to Tyler. It was then I rediscovered my love for making art and really pursued being a full time artist. Since then, I have been in art shows, and artist markets (or pop ups), and I have started selling my work on a professional level,” enlightens Smith.

She continues, “Art has been my therapy. It has easily been the best way for me to decompress and really process my emotions. Since most of my work is repetitive shapes and loose brush strokes it is easy for me to find a rhythm. It is in this rhythm I am able to find clarity and peace of mind. Many times I have broken down crying as I recall certain events in my life during this process. It is in these moments I find myself releasing the pain and replacing it with joy and healing. I am so thankful for art and how it has played a large role in my healing.”

Stephanie has some advice for those daunted by the impulse to pursue a creative, artistic life. “The most frustrating thing about being an artist I think would be with me. I have been working on moving past my own insecurities and doubts when it comes to my art. Working through those things is not always easy but most times it leads to my best work. So although it is frustrating at times it is well worth it,” avows Stephanie. I could not agree more. Find yourself a creative outlet. Use art as therapy and a remedy for all life throws at you. Let your imagination and creative processes allow you to overcome your own insecurities and self-doubt. Enjoy the ride and have some fun or just go spend a little time in Nepal and report back.

To find some original art work, art prints and cards, check out the following:

Stephanie will also take custom orders so if you see something you like and want to personalize it, shoot her a message and collaborate.

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