"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 watercolor, metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

White is valuable real estate, story of a painting

 Finishing touches, Green wheat and red dirt, 8 b y 10, matted for 11 x 14.
Watercolor demands patience and planning, thus my tutor in humility.
"White is valuable real estate, don't squander it," said one teacher of watercolor.
There's only the paper, no white paint. 
In this record, I should have started just showing how I didn't paint the house, but started moving to quickly. 
Center of interest, the white house, positioned from value sketch, and rough outline on paper, but only a hint of it, outlined by trees. Then the back porch. Then the "windows." The the roof of the barn, more trees plus shadows on the house and barn. Then the road.
Next wheat, background, shadows, spaces for poles.

 Then more wheat, more shadows.
Finishing touches at top, sky, fences, poles, more shadows. Notice how roof of house and barn is lighter...not really, it's the contrast in the sky. Add the mat to make the house snap.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

A unicorn kind of day, and "Name the Unicorn."

Name this unicorn to win it, 5 x 7, matted for 8x10
When you need magic, and relief from gloomy weather and a lingering cold...well, you need unicorns. One I'm giving away.
So today I painted five more unicorns for my "Unicorn Universe" section at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery at Paseo Arts District, for my monthly show which began today.
They're all 5 x 7 matted watercolors, ready to frame as 8 x 10s and I figured it was time to add some new members to the herd, though "Herd" is an unworthy word for a group of unicorns. They'll be there in time for First Friday Art Walk, as will I with almost all my framed work from about 5 to 9. (See previous post).
They're all $29, and all have names, except one. Come by and see me, or at least the art work. 
Submit a name for the one above, with your email. At 8:45 pm, I'll have my art colleagues choose the winning name. We'll notify the winner, and you can pick it up when the Gallery is open Saturday or next week.
Can't wait to learn this one's name.
In the meantime, meet its "litter" mates from today: "Magic," "Dreamer," "Courage," and "Freedom." They'll arrive at the gallery about 5 pm tomorrow, ready for "adoption."
(Note, these colors are close, my scanner is not high dollar.) 
We all need unicorns.
"Magic"
"Dreamer"
"Courage"

"Freedom"

"Unicorn Universe" is expanding 




Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Magic hours, street cars, "Colors of the West" show

"The Magic Hour," 8 x 10 ish, one of 50 framed watercolors in "Colors of The West"
I love the magic of color, of light, of the West, of watercolor.
Fifty-one framed paintings. One of them oil.
"The Colors of the West."
From the Western shore to the mountain West, to the desert Southwest, to Texas, New Mexico, to Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City, to the landscapes of my mind.
February is my month for member art show at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in the Paseo Arts District.

  • Including two paintings of OKC street cars.
  • Plus "OKC Streetcar-Ds," copies of above, signed cards suitable for framing or sending.
  • Plus "Unicorn Universe,"  5 x 7 matted watercolors,
  • Plus more 5 x 7 matted watercolors.

Lots of small works, a few large ones. Some old, some new (Hey, I'm old, and I do new stuff.)

  • Framed paintings begin at $49.
  • Framed sizes from 8" x 10" to 24" by 30".

Come see us (11 other artists have great work here too, to meet every taste. Open 12-5, Thursday and Saturday.
Open 12-9 Friday. (I'll be there Friday evening.)
Here's a preview.



 (Photo by my former student, friend, and artist, Sara Cowan, @SaraDeluxe.)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Congratulations, Granddad! 17 years ago

Erin Ann is 17 today, with Abby, left, and Max, on my birthday Jan. 5
"Congratulations, Granddad!"
It was late at night, in a dark period of my life, 17 years ago today.
Then my daughter Dallas Bell called with those words.
Thus I learned of Erin Ann Bell, my first grandchild, born in Durham, North Carolina.
My life changed that night, much of it because of her, and in the years since.
I've held her in almost one arm, babysitting. I travel to see my grandkids (and kids).
Most recently, on perhaps my most memorable birthday ever, talking and joking with her and her brother Max, on the way to eat in Amarillo.
I don't get to spend a lot of time with her and now my other seven grandchildren, but I treasure each moment, wishing there was more, witnessing them growing up, enjoying their individuality.
I can go on and on about Erin's strength of character, talent, intelligence, goodness, interior and exterior beauty, sense of humor, and independent. I'm thankful my genes are partially responsible, knowing that her mother's mother and other grandparents share that influence and pride. I'm most thankful for her parents whose love and character have nurtured and guided her in uncounted ways.
All of that went through my head and heart recently at my birthday. 
Visiting Erin, sister Abby and brother Max (and oh yes, her parents), in Canyon, Texas, this month, I was honored with a birthday dinner, cake and them singing "Happy Birthday," with humor.
I know where the humor comes from. My brother Jerry in Lubbock  says we got our talent from our father, Terrence Miller Clark. We got out dry sense of humor from our mother, Francis Faye Culp Clark. I don't know that it's genetic, but it is certainly passed down, and Erin, and all my grandchildren, have it, from their great-grandmother.
So excuse me while I brag a little more. Her views on the strengths and weaknesses of her education--coaches teaching and ignoring history, and sports getting funding while music and art have to raise funds--show depth of thinking and more.
But academically, she's immersed in high quality, with higher grades than I ever got. Erin is taking pre-calc, chorus, debate, college prep English, Spanish, physics, dual credit world history, and also spends an advance  class period repairing the school's computers.
College? Perhaps Texas or Texas A&M or Michigan, but, having traveled widely, she also is thinking about Germany, where she could get free tuition.
Influence? She has influenced me in ways I don't even understand.
So proud. Happy birthday, Erin.



Thursday, January 10, 2019

There be Owls, and Books, there

Reflecting the county courthouse
How many owls can you count?
If you enter Burrowing Owl Bookstore in Canyon, Texas, I bet you'll lose count.
Not live ones (that's against the law), but models and stuffed toy types.
Why do I know? Because that's the bookstore of my daughter and son-in-law, Dallas and Todd Bell, which just celebrated its second anniversary in business.
With more than 21,000 new and used books on the shelves, it's the only independent bookstore in the Texas Panhandle, and probably the only one between Oklahoma City and Albuquerque and Santa Fe, 
So yes, I'm proud and bragging. 
Lots of local authors, and owls
Owls? I lost count too, and it changes, but not counting the signs, I'd estimate about 40 on my last trip this month, scattered throughout the store.
It's located on the east side of the square across from the stately Randall County county courthouse, about 10 miles south of Amarillo. The courthouse is vacant, after refurbishing funds ran out, but the exterior is in great shape, and every hour the bells chime from the clock tower.
The door is usually open, because Dallas says they get more traffic that way. When I was there Saturday morning,  people of all ages came in, buying books, asking about books, talking, browsing, even reading to their children.
Step inside and you'll find new books and stuff up front, and then used books all the way to the back where the children's section is--fiction on one side, non-fiction on the other. Those wooden bookshelves?--all build by Todd.
The first things you see will be the regional books, new and used, in cooperation with West Texas A & M University's Center for the Study of the American West.New local authors and books and displays of gifts and stuff are next.
Wardrobe entry to children's, plus an owl
In the children's section, you can walk through a wardrobe (also built by Todd), and find seating, toys and, obviously books. This is where "Granny Gray," one of Dallas' employees, comes to read to the children every week. The shop has also hosted local authors and poetry readings.
The square is no longer just the home of antique shops, victim to the strip and Walmart. Canyon bills it as the "Dining District," and there's an Asian restaurant next to the book shop, a Mexican restaurant, a new bar and grill, and a hip 1950's themed soda fountain and cafe, as well as an independent coffee shop, all walkable. The newspaper, the offices of the Palo Duro Canyon  "Texas" musical, a barber shop and other offices are also there.
One of the neatest things in the store are the "Wrapped Books." Dallas and some  employees put duplicate books  in brown wrapping paper. Then her employee Emily Hinds, an English major at West Texas, copies the first line of the book, and draws a simple image on the front. They sell for $6.50 and are in constant demand. I bought one for Susan, and she won't unwrap it, keeping it on a shelf as a work of art.
Dallas actively promotes the shop on social media, has eight employees, including occasional help from her three children who are also super active in school, my grandchildren Erin, Abby and Max. The store is closed Sundays, and early Wednesday for church.
Independent bookstores are coming back, but they are a labor of love and lots of commitment. I don't buy from A...(the name which should not be spoken for books), unless not available from independents. We're fortunate to have four good ones here. I do my best to buy my books at Edmond Best of Books since it is close, but also at Full Circle Books (terrific poetry section), and a few at Commonplace Books. Literati is new  in Paseo. I do buy used art books elsewhere.
You should too. Go browse, discover, touch, read--you can't do that on line.
Owls? More photos.
Children's section


Burrowing Owls and old books

Behind checkout, and yes, my watercolor of Palo Duro's "Lighthouse"


Seasonal owl






Genre Sign
Up to date owl


The door is open

Books, and owls
An owl's eye view
A year ago, Erin, Max, Abby and granddad at Burrowing Owl