"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons 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 personal column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in more than 140 countries.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The books of July

I just reserved the latest Harry Potter book from Best of Books in Edmond.
Not for my grandkids, but for me is J.K. Rowling's, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
I'll drive over to the book store about midnight Saturday to see the kids dressed up to get theirs, since it is released at 12:01 July 31. I've done this for all the others through the years, and I'm excited.
It's not a novel though, but a play. Ah creativity. And when I'm through, the grandchildren can have it. But I won't finish it before the end of the month, like I have four other books this month.
Most recently completed was by Mitch Albom of Tuesday's With Morey. It's the time keeper, a fable about the man who cursed us by inventing time, and how we're controlled by time in everything we do. Think about it, and more on that later. We listened to the four CD set on our way to and from New Mexico.
On that trip to New Mexico, in our favorite town at the base of our favorite mountains, the Truchas, we found a little book, another fable, by a Truchas artist, in the High Raod Marketplace.
 It's all about art--Mauve Sky, Yellow House by artist Judith Hert, with paintings by "Morris Mouse." This book also stretches your mind with her/his paintings and fable.
Before that, browsing Best of Books, I picked up my first book by well known western writer C.J. Box. Shots Fired, short stories set in Wyoming, some featuring his main character Joe Picket.
And earlier in the month, I found there  another book, by the super creative Austin Kleon of Steal Like an Artist, titled Show your Work. 

Two fables, two about art and creativity, and some fiction. All inspirational and idea-spurring--a good month, with Harry Potter coming up.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The colors of enchantment

Ghost Ranch in New Mexico--Georgia O'Keefe country. The colors and landscapes of enchantment. 
Everywhere you turn there are dramatic landscapes and colors to spur the imagination. Ancient geology of millions of years on full display, always changing under the ever-fluid light of the vast sky.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Out here there's the sky--New Mexico

Storm building over the Jemez
"The sky was as full of motion and change as the desert beneath it was monotonous and still, — and there was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world. The plain was there, under one’s feet, but what one saw when one looked about was that brilliant blue world of stinging air and moving cloud. Even the mountains were mere ant-hills under it. Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky. The landscape one longed for when one was away, the thing all about one, the world one actually lived in, was the sky, the sky!" --Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop

New Mexico gets in your soul. Called the "Land of Enchantment," I find it more the land of the Spirit.
This last trip after a long absence made me more aware than ever, especially the skies, as the monsoon season arrives and the clouds build over the mountains.
Thunderheads building over the Sangre de Cristos.
I wrote, "As dramatic and sometimes "tortured" the vast raw landscape is, the sky and clouds exaggerate, multiply and dwarf it. The mountains are but the blue pedestals upon which they grow."
Three years ago I wrote about not wanting to live in a land of "cloudless day" as in the words of the old Gospel song, "Today's clouds and living in texture." 
Penitente morada at Abiquiu
As a child of the Great Plains and the Southwest, I can think of nothing more boring. Sure, it's a metaphor, but peace and beauty only come from dramatic contrasts, not uniform sameness. Actually, the clouds and skies of New Mexico accent the ancient land and its religions.
Georgia O'Keefe's Perdenal
New Mexico is the land of the sky. There's even a 1948 book, Sky Determines by Ross Calvin, in my New Mexico collection.
For years and many articles I have attributed a quote to Willa Cather, and discovered I'd made it up, and nobody had challenged me. She didn't write it, so I guess it's mine if someone else hasn't already written it, though it summarizes her great writing in Death Comes for the Archbishop.
"Out here there's the sky." 
 This multitude of photos on different roads from last week gives only a small idea of  how and why the New Mexico sky is so powerful in the physical and spiritual world, creating wonder. 
Evening sky looking north from the Rio Chama bosque, Abiquiu

Friday, July 22, 2016

Portrait of the artist, old and young

Portrait of the artist as an old man, New Mexico
--Photo at Abiquiu, 2016, Susan Henry Clark
For many years, I ignored my heritage...art.
My father was an accomplished, if unknown, portrait and landscape artist, and he let us boys dabble in art when we were young. 
Art seemed natural. We grew up around it every day of  our lives...paintings and portraits on the walls, his drive to have a studio, no matter where we lived.
I inherited that, and ignored it, till about 20 years ago, urged by my first wonderful wife to take watercolor lessons. Since then I've continued, with ups and downs, and successes and failures and encouragements from my second wonderful wife and others. 
Plein aire subject, Aibquiu
And for my grandchildren wanting to paint when they come to our house, unaware of the genetic talent they have from their great grandfather.
Thank you, Dad, for getting us to New Mexico, for putting art around us all the time, and for my loved ones for knowing what I didn't know.
Early morning work, watercolor
Portrait of the artist as a young man--Terrence M. Clark photo, 1947

The Russians are here

Coffee with Clark page hits this week
I have no idea why, but the number of hits on this blog in the past two days has skyrocketed, because of good people in Russia.
I haven't even written about Russia, that country that lost 9 million people defending their country from Hitler. Even though this is is a non-political blog, I wonder if they wonder what's happening in this country, when the great Russian chess master Kasperov, compares Trump to Putin and Hitler.
Don't know, but welcome Russians, and a toast to freedom loving people everywhere who fear the iron fist of ego-driven authoritarian government.