In-Sight: The Artists and Writers of San Quentin Prison – Royal Clarke (#J-51100)

Water Lily
Water Lily by Royal Clarke

Founded in 2015 by London-based artist Nicola White, Art Reach is a charity which gives purpose and hope to death row inmates in the US, providing art materials, regular meaningful contact, and the opportunity to exhibit their work here in the UK. To support the valuable work that Nicola is doing to support some of America’s most ostracised citizens, and to recognise the human rights of death row inmates in the US and beyond, we will be dedicating the next few weeks to the artwork and writing of the men she supports at San Quentin Prison, California.


Royal Clarke
Royal Clarke was sentenced to death in 1995.

Royal Clark paints with acrylics and loves to paint vibrant and colourful scenes of wildlife. He has created a vast portfolio of birds, animals and aquatic subjects and he has also discovered a talent for pet portraits. Royal actually learned to paint from watching tutorials in his cell on the television. He continues to watch them as he fully intends to keep learning and improving. He makes greetings cards and writes poetry too. His paints out of love, with the aim of bringing happiness to others. He feels relaxed and joyful when painting, and now aims to pass on this happiness to others. This is particularly important to him, as he has experienced deep depression himself, and so therefore through his paintings, he hopes to encourage others to stand strong through the most difficult of times and to know that they are never alone. Expression through creativity and painting has been and continues to be an essential part of Royal’s life.

In his own words:

“Greetings! My name is Roy Clark and I’m somewhat of a new artist to the painting realm. My previous work was in pencil art, and mainly in black and white because I was always afraid of using colour because I never learned how to, and I really had no understanding of it. I felt I had always been somewhat of a decent artist with a pencil, but I wanted to learn something new, so I began my quest into venturing into the painting world. I chose the acrylic medium of painting because per the advice of other painters it was a good medium for a beginner. Once my decision was made to become a painter, I turned into a sponge in regards to absorbing all the information I could about painting.

“I asked many questions, I had books ordered for me, and my main source for learning, and obtaining information about painting was from ritually watching the painting programs that came on television. In the beginning stages things were very difficult, and tough in getting started as a painter because I did not have my own personal art supplies, but I did not allow that to interfere with my desire to learn, so I asked around and I was able to get some materials to help me get started. I received my own personal art supplies in 2013 and ever since then, I’ve been painting, painting and painting some more.

“Everyone is so amazed at how quickly I learned to paint, and even myself because I never knew I could paint until I tried it, and I am no longer afraid to use colour. I am enjoying every single moment of it. Even at times when I feel frustrated I turn it into a positive by telling myself that it was a learning experience of what not to do when something doesn’t turn out how I would like it to.

“I love painting animals, birds and nature in general. I am very thankful to everyone who has given me advice, and who has assisted me in any type of way with my painting adventure because without them I would not be able to bring happiness to others with my paintings, and especially with the “Wow” factor. I say that because usually when I show someone a finished painting their first reaction is “Wow”. Did you say “Wow?!” Yeah, I think you did.

Thank you for your company. Most sincerely.”

Be sure to pop along to THE ART OF TRANSFORMATION: Redemption versus Death at the Old Deptford Cinema before the end of April to witness in full effect the many talents of San Quentin’s death row artists.


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Tickled Inc. joins together a unique pool of writers and artists from diverse backgrounds, bringing into focus through their work and personal experiences the issues that affect us in the contemporary world.