"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.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Just a simple signature

Road to Taos, 8" x 10", oil
It's been more than 40 years since the signature of "TMClark" has been applied to an oil painting,
This was my first oil, and when I finally signed it, I had many different feelings.
"I hope Dad likes it." "I wish I could have studied art with him."  "There's so much to learn." "I'm just learning as I'm going, and have no idea what I'm doing." "In a couple of years, I'll consider this crude and be embarrassed by it."
Dad was the real artist. Art was as essential as breathing. He could draw almost before he could walk. For the record, Dad died in December, 1973. His finished and unfinished work hangs in our house and my studio room. He never got a degree, but was always learning. I'm fortunate to have many of his notebooks and books, with his graceful handwriting (something I didn't inherit) to study from.
I'm thus intimidated by oils, having tried  20 years ago, but never pursuing them. I took up watercolor years ago at the prodding of my first wife, Neysa Barnes Clark, because my Dad, Terrence Miller Clark, hadn't done much of it. His work with pencil portraits and oil landscapes dominated. His son, Terry Michael Clark sure won't try portraits, but he's become comfortable with watercolor.
Thanks to the prodding of my wife Susan, and others, I finally ordered oils, and sat down--no stood up, as I always do to paint--through the past week to paint. First order was to find something that spoke to me, not something that others wanted painted. I found a photograph taken when we were heading to Los Alamos a year ago, although digitally altered for contrast and color. 
So I went back to what I know...landscapes, composition, and a passion for New Mexico.
Lots of experimentation here that accomplished artists would laugh at I'm sure. Techniques that are sloppy. Amateur use of color. And so forth. But I finally got to something that is close to my vision, not a recreation of one of my Dad's compositions, or techniques. 
Do I like oils? Not sure. I love the smell of oil paints, but I'm comfortable with watercolor. Oils are harder work, even if they're more forgiving. I'm not comfortable, yet.
When I finally started to sign it, putting that "TMClark" on it brought back more memories and experiences than you can ever know. 
It's just a simple signature. But there's nothing simple about it.

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