"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Desert Dawn--When peace like a river--study in pastel colors

"Desert Dawn," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper
"Desert Dawn rise up early and lift your song,
From the breathe of life that rises...."

        --The String Cheese Incident
Pastel colors time, early morning, late evening, when changes bring soft hues to the desert, a sometimes harsh landscape of rigid lines and colors.
In the words of the old Gospel song, it's "when peace like a river attendeth my soul...."
Softness, beauty in the midst, in the need, of the often harsh deserts of life.
This I find in watercolor, in memories of the far horizons, of never-ending, always varied colors...a place of rescue, of solace when most needed.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

August in Jefferson County, Red River Valley--Study in brown

"August in Jefferson County, Red River Valley." 5 x 7 watercolor, Fabriano Artistico cold press paper
Six months from now...late August, the season of dry heat.
Especially in southwestern Oklahoma, along the banks of the Red River where a month of 100 degree days turn the landscape, even the trees, and the skies, brown.
Called the Red River because it carries so much silt, it's really more brown, like its surroundings.
There's more sand than water, and you can literally walk across the several shallow channels, now just  trickles compared to the force of flood stage that has taken out highway bridges.
Long ago, some. of us, fathers and children from a church in Waurika, camped out on those sandy shores. We ran trot lines to catch catfish, built a campfire, ate hot dogs, joked, watched the stars through the dusty skies, heard the night sounds and the gentle ripple of water. There was sand in everything that night, and the next morning.
Today's watercolor, a study in browns, in earth colors, which are really mixes of red and yellow comes from those memories of that river, those days.
(This is the third of color studies--can you figure out what two characteristics are common to all three?)
Study in green, "When vegetation rioted..."

Study in purple, "Coming home to roost."

Friday, February 21, 2020

"When vegetation rioted..." Conrad and Watercolor study in green

"When vegetation rioted," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper
"I'm captivated by the images, the language, the brooding story in my favorite English literature, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
Thus today's watercolor, a study in greens--"When Vegetation rioted..."

"Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish...."

   --Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Monday, February 17, 2020

Front porch kind of day

"Front porch weather," today's watercolor, 11 x 14 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
Remember when we had front porches?
Many had swings, hanging from chains, where you could sit with a girl friend or boy friend. Or as you got older, just a chance to go out in the cool late afternoon and watch the weather and the birds.
It always seemed to be spring on those days...days of wildflowers, birds chirping, gentle rain falling.
They were neighborhood places too, where people walking in the neighborhood would stop and visit for a "spell."
Now, we've moved into the privacy of fenced back yards, patios and "porches," when we decide to get out of our air-conditioned, privacy-alarmed  cocoons. And nobody comes by to visit. Don't get me wrong...I enjoy our humble back porch, the solitude, occasional gatherings of friends and family, the birds and more, but it's not the same.
But on an almost spring day like today (one month to spring), I think about those swings, the front porches, the fresh air--when it's springtime in your heart.

Monday, February 10, 2020

"Time Zones," watercolor sermon

"Time Zones," 10 1/2 by 13 watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
Obsessed with time? Watching the seconds of life tick away? Hurrying toward eternity when the present, eternity is all we have, and thus miss it.
Think we're important and significant in the brief moments we inhabit the present, divided into "time zones" instead of "life zones"?
Not when you grow up like I did where geology shows you how small and brief humans are amid all of creation, and we dare to think we're in charge, and dominant, and control creation? Arrogance and ignorance of little people, and if you're a believer, blasphemy--that is literally "taking gods' names in vain," not profanity. 
I think that every time I view the magnificent geology, the strata, the raw landscapes of the Southwest and West, open books into "time."
Thus today's watercolor, "Time Zones."
Consider:
"You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes."-- James 4:14
 "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars...what is man that you are mindful of him...."--Psalms 8: 3-4