Clare Olivares, known for her narrative landscape paintings, was born and raised in California's San Joaquin Valley. Reaching into the hidden corners of nature and the secret places of her own dark romantic imagination, Olivares' paintings charge the landscape with saturated color and an atmosphere that can be quiet and contemplative but also eerily disturbing. Her symbolic imagery is firmly rooted in the American tradition of spiritual landscape painting seen in the works of visionary artists like Agnes Pelton, Ralph Albert Blakelock and Charles Burchfield. Olivares' paintings, reaching for transcendental atmospherics, convey a world of dark mysticism. Her paintings make one feel as if you're walking through an altered landscape in the company of a mystical naturalist.
Olivares earned her undergraduate degrees in studio art and art history at the University of California at Berkeley studying with Elmer Bischoff and Joan Brown. Receiving her M.F.A. from Mills College, Olivares studied with Jay DeFeo and continued art history coursework in East Asian art. These studies led to a trip to India and proved pivotal in her artistic development as she began exploring the symbolic and spiritual nature of color. Her current landscape paintings are an expression of her spiritual longings, her travels (exterior and interior) and her personal reverie.
For many years Olivares was employed in scientific research labs – analyzing bubble chamber film, organizing international science conferences, working with biologists studying species adaptation to climate change. She also worked in religious settings where spiritual belief was strongly held by her colleagues. These experiences shaped the way Olivares views the world and her artwork. With a nod to both scientific knowledge and universal mysteries, her art straddles the line between the known and the unknown. Olivares states, "Astronomers have a saying to describe their discoveries – pulling back the curtain. Artists, scientists and believers all seek to pull back the curtain to gain a better understanding of universal truths. We're not different in our desires we just use different tools.”