"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.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cave art


A few years ago, I attended a watercolor workshop at Quartz Mountain art center in southwest Oklahoma. Teacher was nationally renowned Don Nice, and he pushed our limits. I was still discovering watercolor--as I am today.

There is a small cave near the lodge...undoubtedly inhabited by native Americans for hundreds of years in foul weather. It's cool and damp in the summer, and with a small fire would be wonderful in a blizzard, among the ancient granite rocks of  the area. Time seems to stand still.  Today of course, Lake Lugart covers the low areas.

I was a lone journalist and amateur artist among a bevy of art teachers from all over Oklahoma. I was astounded at their talent. single at the time, I was also inspired by the predominately young female teachers. I learned much and made strong friendships. The art spirit was enhanced by evening confabs around the bar, on cold autumn evenings.

How do you paint a cave? This detail of a larger image shows my attempt at something new. Actual painting is 11 by 16, and the scanner won't take it all.

But I hope I catch the mystery and romance and history of the cave, looking out from its mouth to a distant mountain, with the lake in between, in autumn.

I experimented a lot here, and felt linked to ancient cave artists, who painted on the rock walls. I connected with the earth in that cave, and my painting was different. Creativity from mother earth. I learned much about myself. We are small and insignificant and the rocks and the earth will be here long after we are. Is that what Cro-Magnon's cave art was about in pre-historic Europe. How can you not worship life and the earth?

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