"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Southwestern sunset, watercolor

Southwestern Sunset, watercolor, 6" by 11.5", 140 lb. d'Arches 
Inspiration, like love, comes you seek it, when you work, most of all, I think, when you need.
Today's watercolor, the first of the month after July's daily challenge, comes on a rainy day, when I knew I needed to paint, for me. After a week of "vacation"--minimal writing, no blogging, no painting, but drinking in love and family and landscapes on a 2,500 mile road trip, it was time. 
Inspiration is internal. I find it many places, including the broad vistas of my beloved Southwest of rich colors and dry air, in travels, in love, and from my father.
I'd found this old pencil sketch of my Dad's, Terrence Miller Clark, done no telling how many years ago, of something he saw in his road trip travels. He saw beauty everywhere, and he could capture that beauty, in landscape, in portraits, with a talent that stuns me. I'm thankful I have a smidgen of his spirit and soul. 
This one's for you, Dad. Thanks. May we one day paint together again.
Pencil sketch, 3" by 9.5"--Terrence Miller Clark

Monday, July 31, 2017

31 days of color--watercolor thoughts

Colors of July, with Sophie and Snoops as art critics
Thirty-one paintings in 31 days. 
I almost made it. One day was a complete failure, but I made up for it the next day with two. And toward the end of the month, including today, I painted ahead--three birthday cards.
Last night, I felt withdrawal for not picking up a paintbrush. Maybe today?
But the WorldWatercolorMonth challenge paid off in several ways. Every artist, athlete, and professional knows you get better if you're consistently producing, or trying to produce. The days you don't, your craft, your work, suffers. 
This blog, which has been suffering, improved. My painting actually inspired by writing, rather than the other way around.
The challenge gave me direction amid all the business of everyday life. It also gave joy to people.
There are four missing before I took this photo--one was a birthday gift, two were sold and one a birthday card.  I've inserted two--one a mountain snow scene done  one day but not posted because I wasn't happy about it. The other the red-headed cowgirl, actually done in late June, but hey, why not.
What I learned-

  • I need more color, more vibrant color, in my paintings, and you saw some of this as the month advanced.
  • I started off slowly, searching. Some days were difficult, others almost magic.
  • Like writing, painting leads you places you hadn't expected--thus the abstracts.
  • I started every day with "Paint what you feel," and sometimes that was the most difficult.
  • I'm most pleased with some of the abstracts, and also the series of the Oklahoma barn--perhaps even the Dust Bowl, a cross between representational and abstract.
  • I have paired poetry and writing before, but it helped to have poetry and writing in mind to focus on what I feel. Thus Frost, Whitman and Conrad.
  • Conversations with friends help provoke paintings and feelings.
  • The more you paint, the more you experiment--with color, composition and form.
  • Painting small is easier than large, in some ways, but sometimes more difficult.
  • I have favorites and disappointments. The Santa Fe Trail painting was a disappointment.
  • There will be failures--some paintings required two or three attempts. You didn't see the failures.
  • Disappointments, failures, can lead to successes. I will repaint some of them.
Favorites? Dust Bowl, Bluebonnet Dreams, Cosmos, As Time Slips Away, Choices in a Yellow Wood, Heart of Darknewss. You'll have to scroll back onthe blog to see those.

Sunday, July 30, 2017


"Balance," 5.5 by 7.5 watercolor, 300 lb. d-Arches

"Green," 5 by 7 watercolorcard
The last three paintings for #Worldwatercolormonth's daily challenge, were three  painted ahead of time--birthdays of special people. 
Yesterday's was mailed to my son the day before, and for days 30 and 31, there were two cards painted for a party last night, to in-laws Jennifer and Jim Henry.
Every card, every painting, is a story. I'm not a golfer, but Jim certainly is, and I'm not into yoga either, but Jennifer lives yoga.
Jennifer's already put these up on Facebook and Instagram, but here they are. 
Tomorrow, a look at 31 paintings, thughts, and what I've learned.
Days 30 and  31 of WorldWatercolorMonth

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Golden Morning, 50 years ago today--watercolor

"Golden Morning," 5 by 7 watercolor birthday card
For Vance Conrad Clark
We headed east on the rural Iowa highway out of Hawarden, Iowa,  50 years ago, before the sun was even up. The hospital was 35 miles away.
The ripening corn fills the fields and valleys between the rolling hills with mist, and the dawn sky turns the mist golden. The highway dipped down into the mist and back up again as the little Volkswagen plugged along, pushed as fast as I could go. I don't remember our conversation, but I remember that scene and morning forever.
Once my wife was in the delivery room in LeMars, the redheaded Irish doctor told me to put on a white robe and mask: "Come in here, you're responsible for this," he said.
I went in and sat down as the birth neared. I don't remember much, except praying for my wife and for my first born.
Then, in an instant, the cries of our new baby replaced his mother's cries of pain. I knew then that every birth is a miracle.
That was before ultrasound and knowing what gender the baby was, and before they let fathers in the delivery rom. The Catholic doctor said letting me in was his method of birth control. In our case it didn't work, because the baby would by joined by two brothers and a sister.
Today our firstborn celebrates his "golden" birthday, and his life has been golden for us every one of his years. Happy birthday, Son.
Day 29, Worldwatercolormonth challenge
Palette--greens, Aureolin yellow, Cad orange, Quin gold, &scarlet