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Life is a work of art

Created date

January 22nd, 2013

Not all of us aspire to be a great artist, but sometimes a great artist can t help but inspire us. A walk down the main hall of the Cardinal Clubhouse at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., provides such inspiration. Recently, community member Dale Clark shared his life s work, a collection of charcoal drawings, oil paintings, and brilliantly crafted cartoons, with his fellow neighbors. Transforming the hall into an art gallery, Dale humbly accepted praise from his neighbors and friends. Art is just something I have always enjoyed, says Dale. It s a gift that enables me to capture the beauty of a single person or a fleeting moment. It wasn t until I put all my pieces together for this display at Ashby Ponds that I realized that this art is the story of my life.

Personal connections

If Dale s display is the story of his life, then it quite fittingly begins with a charcoal drawing of his beautiful wife Jacqueline. This is a drawing of Jacqueline in 1949 when she was a freshman at the College of William and Mary, says Dale. I had just returned to school after serving in the Marines during World War II. I could no longer play football because of an injury, so friends encouraged me to join the choir. I was skeptical until I saw Jacqueline rehearsing. Then I quickly changed my mind. Sixty-four years and four children later, the love story continues. Drawings of Dale s parents Alan and Elise Clark follow the one of Jacqueline. Dale credits them both for his artistic talents and deep appreciation for the arts. My father was an opera singer who passed on his love of music to me, says Dale. And as the only child, my mother doted on me. She encouraged me as my love of drawing grew. She dealt out criticism when it was needed but always stressed the importance of drawing from my heart. Various faces that played a role in his life appear throughout Dale s display. As expected, he included thoughtful illustrations of his children and grandchildren. But alongside his family members are those who left their mark on Dale including a choir leader, a sick child, a college friend, and the men who sang alongside him during his years as a member of The Forefathers Quartet. There was something about each of these people that has stayed with me, says Dale. I not only remember them when I look at these drawings, but I remember fondly why it was that I made the drawing in the first place.

Inspiration everywhere

In addition to the people who have touched his life, Dale s stunning collection includes moments in time that compelled him to stop what he was doing and create a memory. A drive through the Virginia countryside inspired a beautiful piece entitledThe Barn. I always had my art supplies in the car, says Dale. For this particular drawing, I pulled over alongside the road and began to draw. I like to sit down and draw when the spirit moves me. I draw what comes to me in that moment. Sometimes, it is something I see. Other times, it is something that I remember. Dale created his pieceA Machine Gun Nestfrom memories of his service in World War II. I knew that one day I would be inclined to put those memories into my art, he says. This was the result. I love the Marines, and I am glad I served our country.

The story s not over

Dale continues to enjoy creating new art. Living at Ashby Ponds since 2008, he constructed a small art room in his apartment home. That way I can zip in and do something whenever I feel inspired, he says. I have always had the urge to draw and paint. It still keeps me very busy. The bottom line is that it s fun. If I see someone or something I want to remember, I put it on paper. Dale also keeps busy creating art by request for friends and family members. If someone asks me to draw something for them I am happy to do it, he says. Art is such an important part of my life, and I thoroughly enjoy sharing that love with others.