A North Carolina native, Clayton Bass has shown his artworks professionally for 30 years. During this time he has been affiliated with galleries in Huntsville and Birmingham, Alabama, Atlanta, Georgia, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, New York, New York, Chattanooga, Tennessee and Santa Fe, New Mexico. His work is included in private, corporate, university, and museum collections in nine states. In June 2016 the solo exhibition, Spirit Moves, featuring seventeen works premiered at Studio Central in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Five works are on permanent display at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel. The Energen Corporation in 2010 purchased a major work for its Birmingham headquarters. In 2000 a New York solo exhibition, New Works, was featured at Space 504 Gallery on Broadway. 

A graduate of East Carolina University with a painting major and drawing minor, he completed the Empire State College (SUNY) Studio Program in New York City and apprenticed with abstract expressionist painter Michael Goldberg. 

When relocating to Santa Fe in early 2013, his initial creative efforts focused upon photography and oil pastels. These explorations expanded into the series of mixed media paintings, Harmonic Light, inspired by the vistas, plants and sky of New Mexico. A new sculpture series, Terrains Re-Imagined, incorporates botanical specimens and other found objects from nature, into landscapes of archetypal symbols. A new black and white photographic series, New Mexico Strata, was produced in 2016. Prior to relocating to New Mexico, he produced the series Being On Earth, Nature’s Gifts, Sanctuary, Dawn and Dusk, and Flint River, inspired by the landscapes of the southeastern U.S., Gulf Coast, and Hudson River Valley. In November 2011, River Gallery in Chattanooga Tennessee presented sixteen paintings in the solo exhibition, Eternal. A series of black and white photography, Passages, was released and exhibited in 2011. Throughout his career, nature has informed his paintings, photography, and sculptural works. The dramatic interplay of light and shadow is a recurring theme.

In 2010, his solo traveling exhibition, The Poetry of Wildness, was presented at two Alabama venues. In 2009, he co-founded the Sanctuary Artists, an interdisciplinary group whose traveling exhibition, The Art of Nature, presented artworks in various media, plus literary works, and scientific observations inspired by the Goldsmith Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary in Huntsville. The exhibition, presented at seven museums and art centers across Alabama from 2010 through 2012, was nominated for the Governor's Award by the Alabama State Council on the Arts. 

Parallel with art making, Bass enjoys leading the Santa Fe Botanical Garden as its chief executive officer during a period of dynamic growth culminating with its Museum Hill site which opened in July 2013. The Garden's second phase, Ojos y Manos, is scheduled to open in mid-summer 2016. A visitors center is planned for 2017 and and phase three, the Courtyard Gardens in 2018. Prior to the Botanical Garden position, he was a fundraising consultant with the firm Alexander Haas preceded by a 21-year museum career beginning at the Carlos Museum at Emory University followed by seven years as Executive Director of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Mississippi. In 2002 he accepted the position of President and CEO of the Huntsville Museum of Art where he directed a major fundraising campaign and expansion program to create the Davidson Center For The Arts, which opened in November 2010.

Bass loves to travel and enjoys exploring the inspiring landscapes of New Mexico and the southwest with his wife Hester, a children’s author, and their two young adult children.