A sea of portraits that vibrate with color and lend insight into characters portrayed are featured in the current exhibit at Pendleton Center for the Arts.

More than 40 paintings by Hermiston artist Arlen Clark are on display through Friday, April 26.

Clark, who has been painting for the past 35 years, is mostly self-taught. When he first became interested in painting he took a class from northwest painter Sandra Campbell, who previously served with the Eastern Oregon Regional Arts Council.

“She didn’t teach us how to paint, she just told us we could paint anything we wanted, any way we wanted,” Clark said. “I spent the next several years trying to figure out what I did want to paint, and how I wanted to paint it.”

He began his exploration of painting by making copies of works by the old masters.

During a trip to Hawaii, he was inspired by the vibrant colors and lush foliage. He also became interested in painting portraits of his wife, Linda, from old photographs.

He studied art history and the works of the icons of modern art. This exploration gives his work a rich collection of associations — with everything from Picasso and Gauguin to Australian aboriginal work.

Art is foremost in Clark’s mind most of the day. With the repetitive nature of his daily janitorial job, he often thinks about his compositions while working.

During a recent Free for All class at the Arts Center, more than a dozen student artists got an opportunity to enjoy Clark’s art, copying his works in the same way that he used to copy the masters. Each participant picked their favorite piece and went about drawing and coloring their own renditions.

There’s no admission charge to the Arts Center. It’s open Tuesday through Fridays from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.

For more information, go to www.pendletonarts.org or call 541-278-9201.

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