"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.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Portrait of the artist as an old man, in the words of a student

This article, by Mervyn Yong Sheng Chua , who is from Maylasia and one of my students, appeared in the student newspaper The Vista, earlier this month along with Garett Fisbeck's photo. He's a good student, and only got one fact wrong, referring to me as a "wise man." He asked some good questions, that got me to thinking...


 "A lot has to do with passion, not a degree," Dr. Terry Clark, the director of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, says.
To many at UCO he is just known as Professor Clark, professor of journalism. However, at Adelante, the arts sale district, Clark is September’s featured artist of the month. The gallery is in the Paseo Arts District in Oklahoma City, between 30th Street and Walker. He exhibits there on a regular basis and has had 34 paintings featured.
Every first Friday of the month, there is a big art show and Clark’s paintings were chosen to be exhibited this past week, on Sept. 3.
Clark writes a monthly column, “Clark’s Critique,” for Oklahoma Publisher, the official monthly publication of the Oklahoma Press Association. This past summer, two of his articles were published in Persimmon Hill, the national magazine of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. , OKC Biz ran his article on the future of newspapers.
This year, he won the Lifetime Achievement Award from  the Oklahoma pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. His award-winning blog, Coffee with Clark, features watercolors, photography and writing. 
Clark grew up in the home of an artist. His father was good at oil and portraits, and Clark grew up loving to draw.  However, he only started watercolor painting 10 to 11 years ago.
“Watercolor painting was more of a hobby,” he said. “It was to divert from journalism, [it was] a place of refuge and rest. When you work on art, you forget everything else. You just focus on creating something or solving a problem”.
Professor’s inspirations comes from New Mexico. Although born in Dallas, Tex., he grew up in Albuquerque, N.M., and lived most of his life on the Great Plains: “the land of far horizons and dramatic skies”, Clark reminisces. Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent also inspired Professor Clark; they are his favorite painters for their great grasp of drama and light, as well as their breaking of the rules.
So why watercolor painting? Why not anything else?
“Watercolor painting humbles me,” Clark said.  “It is a difficult medium, especially if you want to control everything. You have to be creative, break more rules and always be ready to learn.”
Clark feels that watercolor painting applies to his teaching and journalism and gives him perspective on it.
“Things do not always turn out like you want them to,” he said. “You have to adapt and look at things from different angles.  There is not one right way of doing things”.
When it comes to advice on success, the wise man utters, “Just keep trying.”
“The main thing is to try and do what you want to do,” Clark said. “No matter what the art or job is, you have to be willing to take risks and fail. Without risks and failure, you will not grow and achieve different things.  Also, learn to laugh at yourself and not be so serious.
But above all, it is all about passion.”



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