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Marston Clough’s big skies on the horizon

by Gwyn McAllister, The MV Times

Marston Clough paints big, paints small, and paints all sizes in between, but most who are familiar with the artist’s works, generally think of his moderate-size paintings. This month, in a special exhibit, some of Clough’s larger works will be on display at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse. (The Playhouse’s ArtSpace will be open while the upstairs theater is dark, until further notice.) “It’s a treat to be able to hang them all at once,” says Clough. “There are some that I don’t get many opportunities to show at all.”

The larger format works very well for Clough’s work. He tends to focus on expansive vistas and dramatic skies, using color very effectively in his loosely executed landscapes. “My theme lately has been skies and horizons,” says the artist. “I’ve always loved Vineyard skies. I go for a walk with my wife every day. My wife will ask me where I want to go, and I almost always say that I want to walk by the ocean.”

Clough’s paintings don’t depict any specific scene. Although he’ll generally snap a few pictures during his walks and drives around the Island, he mostly works from his imagination. “Sometimes I have an idea or a certain place in mind when I start a new painting, but mostly my work is just a reaction to what I’m seeing on the canvas as I paint. I usually start with a sky and then see what happens.”

Still, the paintings capture the unmistakable quality of the sweeping Vineyard landscapes and seascapes .

As for his preferred subjects, Clough says, “Some of my favorite views are looking east. I love the view anywhere from East Chop to Edgartown, anywhere I can get open views. I love walking in Katama, where you get open field as well as sky.” Clough often drives up-Island as well. “We usually go by which way the wind is blowing,” he says.

Born and raised on the Vineyard, Clough left the Island after high school to pursue a career in the sciences. He worked as a bacteriologist with the Boston University Medical Center, and then went on to teach high school science for 34 years in a small town just west of the Boston area. In 2003, he and his wife Louise relocated full-time to the Vineyard, and Clough embarked on his second career as an artist.

Before moving back to the Island, Clough took some courses at the Worcester Art Museum, and he had already developed a passion for art by the time he landed here. With newfound time on his hands, he began painting in earnest. Clough, a very prolific painter, has shown his work at numerous galleries and other venues, around the Island and elsewhere. Currently he is represented by the Old Sculpin Gallery as one of the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association members, and is also a member of the Galaxy Gallery cooperative. During June and July, Clough and photographer Linda Cuccurullo are the featured artists in a two-person show titled “Martha’s Vineyard Summer” at Gallery Sitka in Shirley.

The Island continues to inspire Clough. As he writes in his artist’s statement, “Most of the art that I make has a lot to do with color and atmosphere, and reflects being on the Island year-round.”

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