Interview #16
Clinton Yaws
by Daryle Dickens

For interview #16 we take a short trip down to the city that is great from the ground up, Greeley Colorado, to sit down with Clinton Yaws. Clint grew up an artist, surrounded by creative siblings who inspired him from day one. He went on to go to college for art, worked at a bronze foundry, spent time as an art therapist, and now creates sculptors and concept drawings for a sculptor studio. Clinton's house oozes art, from the front lawn to the basement, his work is everywhere. With the help of his wife Stef and, his son Cooper D, Clint constantly finds avenues for his creativity. From fruit crates, to pet portraits, to face painting at the fair, this man stays busy. He made some time for me and I sat down to find out a bit more about the artist Clinton Yaws.

ZAF622: Where are you from?

I grew up in Fort Lupton.

ZAF: What do you do full time?

I work for Designs by Ricker. A pewter sculpture studio in Loveland, I do wax sculptures and concept drawings for them during the day. I also stay busy with commissions and freelance work on the side.

ZAF: Have you always known you wanted to be an artist?

Oh yes. My oldest brother is really talented and can draw anything from his mind. I always wanted to be able to draw like him. I was fortunate to have quality art teachers in Middle and High school. They encouraged me to pursue art.  
ZAF: What is your primary medium?

Watercolor, and a regular old pencil.

ZAF: Would you one day like to work for yourself full time?

Yes that is my goal. Produce my work and promote my name.

ZAF: Where do you find your ideas?

I am inspired by life in general, being outside with my wife Stefanie and my son Cooper. My mom owns a flower shop, so I grew up working with her and learning about flowers. That is where I get my inspiration for floral.

ZAF: Where did you go to college?

I went to the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design and then I transferred to UNC and finished my bachelor's degree. After I graduated college, I worked at Dragon Castings bronze foundry in Eaton.  I learned the fundamentals of investment casting, wax chasing, and metal chasing. While working at the foundry, I started a job at Bonell Good Samaritan Center, a long-term care facility in Greeley.  I worked as an Art Therapist for a little over two years.  During that time, I facilitated the "Memories in the Making" program for the Alzheimer's Association. The groups we worked in ranged from 4 to 10 residents. We also had a "Community Art" program, where any resident from long term care was welcome to come be creative. I organized two art shows for the facility, and the residents and staff were so surprised to see how many artists we had living there.

ZAF: What was that experience like, working with those residents?

It was very rewarding but also very depressing. I would lose friends on a weekly basis. I would get to know the residents and develop strong relationships with them.  When I went to work, it was like going to visit my grandma and grandpa, but I had one hundred of them.  All the special residents I worked with at Bonell touched my life in the most positive way.  I realized you can still make good friends at 95.

ZAF: Where do you find your support?

Stefanie, Cooper, my mom and dad, Stefanie's mom and dad, they are all very supportive of us and my art. My father- in- law checks my Art Wanted site weekly to see what I've uploaded there. It's nice to have that support. My brothers are artistic and it's fun to see how they progress with their art.

ZAF: Do you know what a piece is going to look like when you start it?

I can't see it completed, but when I start something I have to finish it within so many hours, otherwise I lose that initial inspiration. I am kind of an instant gratification painter. So when I start something I have to get done. I have to draw everything out first so I have an idea of what the composition looks like.  A great teacher of mine always said, "Every good painting starts with a good drawing." 

ZAF: Do you finish every piece you start?

Yes I like to try and finish what I start. So I can add the pieces to my collection.

ZAF: Do you ever get stuck?

Stef is my other pair of eyes. If I am working on something and I having trouble with it, she is my fresh pair of eyes and she can give me the right direction.  If I get stuck, I move on to another part of the piece, and revisit the problem area later.

ZAF: Stef is that hard?

You know I don't think it is. I think I have his best interest in mind. I like to look at his work. We both went to school for art so we both have an eye for what looks good. But I can go in and be critical and Clint takes it well, we talk things out. It is nice. We bounce things off each other.

ZAF: Is music a part of your process?

When I am working I have on. So yes, music is a big part of my artwork. I listen to a wide range of music, anything from hip-hop, to jazz, indie rock, pop, alternative, everything but country. That is why I love Pandora, just hit quick mix and it plays all day long.

ZAF: Do you like doing commission work? Is there a certain stress involved with commissions?

Yes, I like taking commissions. Stress is also a great motivator for me, especially around Christmas time. I try to take on as much commission work as I can. Just because it is something that I love doing and I am also able to make money doing it. It is hard for me to say no.

ZAF: Do you stress over the getting them what they want aspect of it?

I do, very much I do. I am always nervous about dropping off a piece. And it is not until they tell me it is great that I can relax. My most memorable is when I did a pet portrait for a lady who works at a clinic in Loveland. She had a dog named 'Bear' that had passed away. I did a watercolor portrait for her. And when she came over here to pick up the painting her tears welled up in her eyes.  It really meant a lot. Because that was one of those paintings that I was like, "are they gonna like it?" And she really did.

ZAF: What else have you done?

While I worked at Bonell, I was commissioned to do a series of watercolors for a hallway. The series is titled "Seasons of Life". It is 18 paintings, all 22"x16", taking the viewer through the four seasons. So, I'm proud to say, I have my own hallway.  After a year of work at the foundry, I had a space at the Loveland Sculpture Invitational, where I showed 13 sculptures.  I have also done illustrations for Lynn Roberts International, a series of fruit crate labels.

Clinton’s work can be found here.
If you would like to contact him go here.

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