Getting from a rough draft pencil sketch to the final image

It is fascinating to observe a master fine artist as he moves from a conceptual idea to the final painting.  

PSdraftThe Pink Slipper






I have had the extraordinary pleasure to be present while my late husband, Bernard S. Clendenin brought life into the beautiful image of four very exhausted ballerinas back stage as they relax and stretch their muscles. I was accustomed to finding sketches of Bernard’s ideas on all sorts of paper, scraps, on envelopes and even on napkins. In this case, I found a rather nice sketch of what became one of his masterpieces from the early 1990’s; “The Pink Slipper.”

Finding the (8″ x 10″) sketch brought back memories of the days he spent painstaking preparing the paper. First it was a trip to the art store to purchase a large roll of paper with a nice texture and feel to it. Then, where and how was he going to paint this large painting? We lived in a small one bedroom apartment in Venice, CA. He didn’t own an easel at the time and as he looked around the apartment, he decided the kitchen wall was the best place to hang the paper. That way he could paint daily and step back to review it as it dried overnight. Soon he taped the top of the roll of paper to the top of the wall near the ceiling and draped it to the floor where he cut it from the roll and taped the bottom to the wall. Thus, the Kitchen wall became his easel, sandwiched between the refrigerator on the right and the kitchen cabinets on the left.

Yes, it was a bit crowded but he was not deterred. He worked feverishly day in and day out until finally it was finished, or so I thought. Each day when I came home from work it was pure joy to see the dancers come to life. One afternoon I came home early, the sounds of classical music could be heard through the door and into the hallway; he loved classical music and in this case he was listening to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Bernard turned to me as I entered the room and with his warmest Clendenin smile he announced,

bernard clendenin


“This is my Masterpiece!”

A few more days went by and I noticed he hadn’t signed the painting yet.

And I asked, “Bernard, when are you going to sign the painting?” he said, “When it’s finished.”


Well to me it was already a beautiful painting (truly a Masterpiece) and not being an artist myself, I couldn’t imagine what more he needed or wanted to do. A few more days went by and then one more brush stroke of pink (thus, the Pink Slipper) and he proclaimed, “Now it’s finished!” I stood in awe as he signed his signature in red; his traditional signature on the lower right side of the painting.

It’s interesting to note, on the back of the pencil sketch which he signed on August 3, 1990 he wrote the name of his client along with the notation; sketch for large watercolor called “Rehearsal.” As I search my memory for who the client would have been, I believe it was a friend or business acquaintance who Bernard had created some advertising and marketing brochures for his financial investment company located in Santa Monica, CA. This particular individual owned a single engine plane and Bernard loved the idea of flying; they were scheduled to go flying at a future date. As fate would have it Bernard’s friend was involved in a tragic small plane crash and the Pink Slipper has remained a treasure in our Private Collection of Bernard S. Clendenin Fine Art paintings and drawings.


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