Lil Clinard delights in exploring through art
If Lil Clinard faces a new challenge, get out of the way. She’ll jump in with both feet. Though she spent her career in technology, her retirement has been absorbed in art.
“The advice they give to artists is to focus on a particular style or medium and stick to it. I’d be bored stiff,” she says. “I can’t remain focused on one area, but I focus intently on what I’m working on at the time.”
Artistic as a child growing up in Greeneville, Tennessee, Clinard relied on painting skills to earn spending money while attending UT. But she never considered art as a career. “Math and science were easy for me, so that’s the way I went.” She went all the way to a doctorate in engineering and a career at Oak Ridge National Laboratories and Science Applications International Corporation in Oak Ridge. Her work took her around the world, and she snapped thousands of photos along the way.
About the time she retired, she and her husband John moved to Tellico Village and a new phase of life. Clinard decided to take up watercolors. She knew it was a challenging medium, and she was up for the experience.
She learned the techniques, starting with traditional, representational pieces. Then she began experimenting. She moved from small canvases to Yupo paper that stretched five feet tall and 100 feet long. She began painting large abstract depictions of waves. “I probably have 5,000 photos of water and waves. I take elements from three or four pictures usually. They’re very different from traditional watercolor painting. The paint is wet all at one time; there’s paint running all around.”
During the pandemic, stuck at home, she moved onto acrylics. “I needed to cheer myself up, so I tried to do cheery things — flowers and sunlight — some representational and some abstract.”
Eventually she moved on to encaustics — painting with hot wax — though watercolor remains her favorite.
“I like to try new things — approaches, materials, paint. I like the joy of learning something new and experimenting. I just have a big time.”
Clinard participates in ArtXtravaganza and Artsclamation shows every year and in the Knoxville Museum of Art’s plein air event. Her work is at Art Market Gallery downtown and on her website, www.watercolorsbylil.com.