Art in Color

A St. Louis artist creates beautiful works of art complete with customized color.


By Michelle Mastro

Portrait photography by Colin Miller/Strauss


Great art can do a lot of things. It can help relieve stress or anxiety, move a viewer to feel or see the world differently or even remind others of something from their past. Artist Samantha Clarke creates abstract art that can deliver all these and more. “Though my art never really follows a theme or central idea, sometimes a person will tell me that my art reminds them of something or a past memory,” says Clarke. “I’m glad my art sparked that for them.”

Rather than follow a preconceived theme or topic, Clarke focuses on color and the variances between different shapes, designs or compositions. “I go very deep into these approaches,” she says. “But sometimes I wonder if I am subconsciously trying to relay a message with my art. Maybe I am. I do not know,” she muses. 

Either way, Clarke is meticulous with her color choices. She customizes all her own hues, mixing paint colors so that nothing is ever just straight from the bottle. “Even the basic colors of white or black are never just that,” she explains, “I make my own shades and every color has a touch of some other hue in it.” Clarke says this impacts the viewer’s experience of the painting too. “There’s nuanced detail to be seen there,” she says. 

For Clarke, creating her art is meditative. “I can shut my brain down and create an escape for myself through art.” But slipping into art-making hadn’t always been so easy in the past. In 2020 Clarke had been pregnant with her second child, lost her job due to the pandemic and found herself at a crossroads. Unsure if she could return to making art after a long hiatus (she had studied printmaking at the University of Tennessee), she reached out to other St Louis creatives and nearby artists. 

In doing so, she formed Mother Art STL, a website where she shared her journey and interviews with other makers. Her work at Mother Art STL laid the groundwork for her segue back into art. But Clarke doesn’t think being a mom and an artist are mutually exclusive. “Being a mom is a fiber of who I am as an artist, but it isn’t the sole focus,” she says. “Just like how I am a painter, but I don’t limit myself to just that.” 

Eager to explore other mediums, Clarke has tried mixed media, collages and print, all the while adding in glitter wherever she can. “I’ve also done some live art events, where guests can watch me make my art,” she says. “My art isn’t for everyone—it’s strong, colorful, impactful—but there are people that appreciate a chaotic use of color. And if that’s you, then I’m your artist,” she laughs.