"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.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Freedom, failure--turning pages in January

Freedom--two books this month, about different kinds of freedom.


Hillerman country...if you're from New Mexico, or Oklahoma, I suspect you've read a lot of Tony Hillerman, his mystery novels of the Navajo Nation. I've got lots of first editions and a few signed ones. 
But  I found two I hadn't read, that are broader in interest in case you don't have the passion for New Mexico I have. I've finished them both since ordering them very late late last year.
I've already commented, about his memoirs Seldom Disappointed.



Just finished Finding Moon, set at the very violent end of the Vietnam war about a "mediocre editor at a mediocre newspaper" in Colorado, who goes searching for his death brother's child in SE Asia and finds freedom from self and the past and for others. Hillerman mentioned this novel in Seldom Disappointed. (Lots of terminology and narrative about the rigors of putting out a newspaper to spice it up for you journalists).

 Great line from the master storyteller and descriptor from the book: 

"Beyond her in the clearing skies beyond the skeletons of the murdered trees along the riverbank, the moon was rising."

 BTW, you can find these books on abe.com--an "aggregator" of used book stores and offerings you don't want to miss.



The second book is by Mel Stabin, renowned watercolor artist--Watercolor--Simple, Fast and Focused--about a different kind of freedom, the freedom to create and not control. http://www.melstabin.com/


My watercolors are stuck. I'm not growing as an artist. Most of that is my fault for not painting enough, but I need help--since I didn't go to art school, I've had to improvise my own, and there's not been much lately.


So I started looking at summer workshops to attend. I need to get outside of my comfort zone, so an art trip to New Mexico probably isn't the answer. I started searching, first at Cheap Joe's cheapjoes.com  in North Carolina. Joe is my kind of guy. Quit pharmacy in mid-life and now runs a huge supply store for art, and he's a terrific watercolor artist. But none of the workshops I'm interested in fit my schedule (late July, very early August).


I kept looking and found some up on the coast of Maine, and one in upstate New York, one taught by Stabin. He's also my kind of guy--mixing a career as an advertising art director in NYC with his painting. So I bought his book--also from abe.com, and already have ideas.

I particularly liked one sentence of his book--"If my watercolors are more successful than yours, it is because I have failed more often than you have."


Not quite true, since there are so many degrees of talent--but the lesson I even preach to my writing students. But if there's anything I as  "seasoned" type-AAA Capricorn needs, it's direction into what I love about watercolor...the freedom and lack of control that keeps me humble and allows me to paint great skies.  I've already taken his advice on big brushes trying to paint the picture at the top of this blog of moonset--and failed twice. I will keep trying.


And I'm trying to figure out how to afford the week-long workshop of Stabin's this summer.
The pages keep turning.

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