"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.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

December drama

"December Drama," 5 by 7 watercolor card
"Out here there's the sky," I say, describing the influences on my painting. 
December brings its own aerial drama to the Great Plains, different from the thunderheads and storms of spring and summer.
Whether is cold clear night air, or cloudy skies with a hint of snow, or dawn and sunset though, when light is at the extremes, moods reflect the beauty overhead.
While mountains are in my soul, I find myself attracted in art more and more to the color and drama
of those wide-open spaces and places underneath that vast sky.
(Day 13 of daily December watercolors)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December Nights

"December Nights," 5 by 7 watercolor card
Starlight on snow in clear, mountain air... December nights are cold and crisp, but the stars seem closer, and bright enough to illuminate memories and love,  quiet enough to inspire worship,  calm enough to awaken creation and songs.

"Silent night! holy night!
All is calm all is bright....

Glories stream from heaven afar"

(Day 12 of 31 December watercolors)

Monday, December 11, 2017

December sanctuary

"December Santuary," 5 by 7 watercolor card
Barns grab  my attention and interest, wherever I go, wherever I live, though I'm not sure why.
The old weathered ones, whether huge wooden structures typical in the Midwest, or small ones, barely more than sheds in the West, beckon my imagination with untold stories.
They're symbols, icons of rural life, with a distinctive odors of livestock, hay, dust, and old equipment. 
But they're also sanctuaries for rural life, especially in cold winter weather in December and later. They hold hope for the future, as in the words of the poet, "If winter comes, can spring be far behind?"
And long ago, a sanctuary for a newborn baby.
(Day 11 of 31 December watercolors)


Sunday, December 10, 2017

December seasoning

Season of seasoning, 5 by 7 watercolor card
Season of seasoning...December means making a big pot of chili, where I come from, New Mexico.
But to make it with the right seasoning, you need chile peppers. The state question is "Red or green," and when eating out there, I always ask for "Christmas" (both), on the side, never knowing which one will be so hot I only use it sparingly.
Now we buy red chile powder in New Mexico, and green chiles for roasting. Both go into the frig or freezer until time for making chili, or green chile stew, or posole. Other ingredients come from the store, but never include canned chili.
The results, including how much "bite" there is,  vary with every batch as there are no set measurements for the red powder or green chiles added to the big simmering pot. There's always enough to freeze to bring out with the next cold snap, and I've found the "bite" tends to increase with time.
Every time I visit New Mexico, I think of chili and chiles, especially seeing the red chili pod ristras hanging from adobe walls, more than decorations, but part of the seasoning of the season.
(Day 10 of 31 December watercolors)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

December Dust

"Adobe Dreams," 5 by 7 watercolor card
December ends another year as days and lives grow shorter. 
The old saying, "From dust to dust" may have lost its relevancy in a society surrounded by artificial materials, where we live in air-conditioned cocoon world of plastic and metal and brick. 
But when you live in the West, dust is alive, andI think when you live in an adobe dwelling, always surrounded by mother earth, dust is always a part of you. 
I love the color of adobes in New Mexico reflecting the infinite colors of the ever-changing skies, just as our lives do, on this celestial journey. Are we not stardust, traveling dust unto dust?
(Day 9 of 31 December watercolors)

Friday, December 8, 2017

December cabin weather

"Cabin Weather," 5 by 7 watercolor card
Cold weather arrives the deeper  into December's calendar the days go. Sooner or later there will be wind and snow and ice perhaps, and then it will be good to be warm in a cabin, with a fireplace, books, loved ones.
(Day 8 of 31 December watercolors.)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

December lights

December Lights, 5 by 7 watercolor card
December, a month of more darkness than daylight, in northern latitudes, when people decorate with holiday lights, in celebration, but also warding off the gloom of winter.
But there's a bigger light show in the far north. I've been fortunate to be Alaska, but not in the winter, and  have not seen the spectacular light shows of the Northern lights. 
Maybe some day. The only time I've seen those lights was long ago in Iowa, but they were just a red glow on the horizon. 
I'm thankful for the Instagram account @CabinLife for the light shows and the inspiration for this card.
(Daily Watercolor  7 of 31)

December silence--Remembering an Okie at Pearl Harbor

My ticket to the Arizona memorial
When you are privileged to visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in
Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i, the loudest sound is silence.
Waves lapping up over the rusting hulk, tomb to hundreds of sailors, breeze rippling the water as oil still seeps up from below--76 years later. 
But silence reigns.
I've found my ticket to the boat ride out to the memorial from a few years ago. 
On the back of each ticket is a short bio of an American military person who fought that day. I find it appropriate that my ticket honored a Army Air Force pilot from Oklahoma.
Here's  my article from last year: A profound silence

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

December moon

"December Moon," 5 by 7 watercolor card
Super moon this week. But isn't every moon super in some way?
   December--The last full moon of the year, marking  time for humans since there have been humans. A time to reflect at year's end about the passing of time, of lives and journeys past and present.
   Tide maker--both in the oceans and in our moods, ebbing and flowing as it swings across the sky. 
   Memory maker--turning night into day as it awakens thoughts and imagination. The opening verses of the song "Memory" from Cats captures that haunting effect so well.
   The moon and I go way back.
 (Following is a snippet from a long-ago unfinished novel.)  


    “Time for the moon.” He rose, poured a last cup of coffee, grabbed his binoculars off the kitchen cabinet, and opened the back door.
    The swollen moon inched above the silhouetted house-tops and cap rock, as he walked out on the wooden deck.
   “The first time I remember seeing Aunt Sissie was when she showed me the moon,” he thought, putting the coffee down on a table, and lifting the 7 x 50 binoculars to his eyes.
   At least, he thought he remembered the dark shadows of summer-thick bushes and trees rising above him on the sidewalk,  the black bulk of nearby buildings framing a few yellow-lit apartment windows, the huge round silver-white face in the dark Dallas sky reflecting its light off her equally round, kind face.
   “Maybe it’s just that I heard Mom and Dad tell me about it; how Sissie would take me for a night-time walk and show me the moon; how I’d reach my little hands and stubby fingers for it; and how she’d tell Mom, ‘Well, Faye, get it for him.’”
   The full moon always made him talk to himself, he thought.     “I know they told me Aunt Sissie would take me out in a baby carriage, but seeing the moon seems fresher somehow. Mom and Dad might have told me about it, but they wouldn’t add the details about the shawls and lights.
   “But when someone pays you a lot of attention at that age, and in later years you hear your folks talk about it, and then, decades later, when you go back to view the old black and white snapshots crowding family albums, what you remember and what you’ve heard sort of melt together, like the moonlight reflecting on her face that night in Dallas.”
   Aunt Sissie was his favorite aunt, and even now, years after she died of cancer, when the moon jogged his memory, his throat thickened, and his eyes would water.
   “Let him reach for it, Miss Vera,” was his mother’s reply to the quip about getting the moon for him. That’s what Sissie told him years later.
   “Seems like you’ve been reaching every since,” she chuckled. He didn’t know if it was a blessing or a curse, or both. Maybe that was the key. Always reaching, challenged by some remote destination; yet, once attained, never satisfied. Easily bored when the newness wore off and routine set in. A journalist’s life was at once a sop and a sentence.
   He treasured the full moon and moonlight, especially shining through the edges of swiftly moving clouds, or circled through the haze of thin high ice-clouds. The Apollo missions  years ago  captivated him. Now he rarely let a month go by without viewing the acne-scarred face through his binoculars. The full moon provoked his imagination, his memories, his fantasies, helping him write.
   The moon seemed to transform everything with a magic glow--landscapes, buildings, plants, mountains, a  woman's smooth skin--things he could never quite get enough of--things he couldn’t seem to quite reach and possess, any more than he could reach the moon. But he kept reaching like the little boy who had vainly reached to touch the strange light in the sky.
   "It pulls me like the tide.” His tight spinal muscles relaxed as he lowered the binoculars and sipped the coffee. 

   He heard the phone ringing inside the house, interrupting his thoughts. Resentfully, turning to go in, he glanced at the sky once more. “C’mon, babe, I want you.”

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December destinations

"December Destinatioon," 5 by 7 watercolor card
Gates always beckon, metaphors for traveling, for life, for the closing of a year, the beginning of another.
Heading home, or far away, in miles, or years, or living, or memories--December destinations.
Day five of December watercolors.

Monday, December 4, 2017

December distances

December Distances, 5 by 7 watercolor card
Distances seem to lengthen like late-day shadows during December, as memories of travels and loves and families crowd the holiday seasons. 
Solitude descends with separation, across the miles and years. The song "I'll be home for Christmas" captures that yearning to reunite, in spite of the distances. 
As life, like the days and the year, grows shorter each winter, at least it's easier to stay in touch, to hear voices and see smiles than ever before. 
I dream of a snowbound cabin in the mountains, a wood fire, stew on the stove, books,  and love and memories--warmth in solitude.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December doorways

"December Doorways," 5 by 7 watercolor card
Each December day is a doorway, opening and shutting  to journeys past and future.
Is it any wonder that people decorate  the doors of their houses at this time of a year, welcoming the holiday season, but also remembering traditions from the past? Metaphors.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

December dreams

"December Dreams," 5 by 7 watercolor card
December dreams reflect from memories of journeys and lives past, as another year wanes and the days grow shorter.
With every sunrise and sunset, those memories and reflections fill our mindscapes especially in this season as our lives also grow shorter. 
No wonder we seek to find beauty from the sadness and happiness of all those reflections.

Friday, December 1, 2017

December dawns

"December Dawn," 5 by7 watercolor card
Twelfth month memories--of far away places and people in fleeting times past--December dawns as another year nears its sunset.
This year's journeys have traveled down many roads, emotional and actual, bringing to mind the spacious  loneliness and beauty of the Great Plains. The far horizons remind a person to enjoy life and love with every sunrise.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Last leaves

Last leaves, 8" by 10" watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
A cold front blew through this last week, stripping almost all the leaves off our trees, as Oklahoma winds ripped clouds in steady streams across the skies, whipping fall grasses  with every gust.
Inspiration
Although the yards and fields are blanketed with dead leaves, a few held on to the tops of the now bare branches. More metaphors for the mysteries of life, and inspiration for ideas and painting.  
 

Thanksgiving gate

Traveler's gate, 8" by 10" watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
Thanksgiving makes me think of traveling, even though there's less of that now than in the past. But I still travel in memories of families and friends, many long gone, or scattered through the years and miles. 
Sixteen years ago I spent the holiday in Santa Fe with my Uncle Mike, watching snow fall on the Sangre de Cristos. I've opened and shut, and passed through many gates since then.
Gates beckon even more as a day, a month, a year and life wanes this November. This small watercolor followed the larger one of a week ago. 
This Thanksgiving is happier than that one 16 years ago, but I wouldn't want to forget either one. The last time I saw Mike, seven and a half years ago before he died, he told me, "Terry, enjoy every day you live."
Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Today is another gate.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

'Tis the season

'Tis the Season, 8" x 10" watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press 
Warming up for the season, of Christmas cards and good will and warm homes and families. 
Memories of places and people long gone and far away.
For me, it's adobe and pinion, and mountains and skies and New Mexico. And, other than the adobe,  Oklahoma, and Texas and Iowa. Across the miles and years... .

             (For sale, matted, $150--also perfect to scan for Christmas cards) 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Gate to High Lonesome

"Gate to High Lonesome," 15" by 22" watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches cold press
Our lives are journeys and we pass through many gates, sometimes aware and others without even realizing it at the time. 
While others may be part of us, we pass through those gates alone really, a present tense individual traveling. 
I've wondered why gates of all kinds are a recurring theme for me, why they beckon. As I grow older, I'm more aware of those gates, those people and events and decisions that shape my life.
For me, "Gate to High Lonesome" is that metaphor in a life, in a country where solitude reigns, and the future is obscured around the next bend, or through the next gate.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Parable of the caves, New Mexico


The old man and the cave
These "caves" are much older than Plato's "cave parable," and while many people will think of Carlsbad Caverns when you mention caves and New Mexico, others dominate my memories. We go way back too.
Actually, they're not so much caves as hollows in volcanic cliffs left from the Jemez Caldera explosions millions of years ago, and humans have populated this area in Northern New Mexico for more than 1,000 years. 
Today, it's known as Bandelier National Monument, in Frijoles Canyon, and  we visited there last month, both of us returning after many years.
With my son Vance, 1960s.
Lots of change in improvements and regulations since I was last back, as there have been with me, but it was good to walk again in that canyon, and think about the people who have gone before, including myself. To me, it is a canyon of memories. Somewhere there's a photo of me peering from inside one of those cavities, but I can't find it.To me, the meanings of theseparables of these caves are about change, aging and eternity.
That's the background for these photos, marking the years and eons.
Mom, Jerry and I, 1950s
Uncle Mike and I, 1950s

Ray Lokey's smile and footprints

Ray and I at the 2016 OPA convention
He was always smiling, like he'd just heard the greatest joke in the world.
Ray Lokey, publisher on one of the best newspapers in Oklahoma, The Johnston County Capital-Democrat in Tishomingo, died yesterday after a year long battle with lung cancer.
He will be so missed by his family, his multitude of friends, his town, the innumerable people he influenced and helped by his leadership in the community, and many more. 
This week's paper, and Ray's column
Ray set the standard for excellence in newspaper journalism, with solid news coverage, editorial guts and leadership, in community commitment, in the state press association.
He was always friendly, and glad to see you, and full of stories, and compliments. He brightened the room where he was. Even recently after chemo had taken his hair, he was smiling and positive.
In this week's issue of the paper, a reprint of his front page column "Footprints," appeared, a testament to his mastery in storytelling, but also his illness.
Ray's smile and footprints will not fade from my memory, nor from many others. 
--30--

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans' day memories

The Flag at Santa Fe Cemetery
Six years ago today, I spoke the eulogy at the funeral for my fav uncle, Michael Henry Clark, at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, with full military honors for this WWII and Korean Navy combat veteran. 
He and I go way back, and it only occurred to me in recent years that the reason my middle name comes from him is that he was my Dad's favorite brother, the middle of five boys from dirt poor Depression Oklahoma, all of whom escaped. 
Rest in peace sailor, thank you, and salute.

From six years ago:
Reflections on a Final Port of Call 
A Sailor's Final Port

Many years ago at the Grand Canyon, Mom, Jerry, Mike and I
A few years ago, with Susan and Mike in the bar at La Fonda, Santa Fe, and Cuba Libres

Friday, October 27, 2017

Desert dreams

Desert Sunset, 11" by 14" watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches coldpress
When you grow up in an arid country, a land of dry air, the light and land can overpower your senses. 
Your world is full of vast skies and sharp-edged landscapes, undiluted by humidity. Scarce moisture arrives only in spurts, from clouds as dramatic as the land  underneath, quickly changing its rugged contours. Then the intense sun and wind return to the work of ages, sculpting the desert.
Many consider the desert as "god-forsaken," but when you live there, it becomes part of you, just like the weathered wrinkles on your face and hands.
In studying watercolor, I find many books and teachers come from humidity-rich locales, and they are souls of those worlds as I am of the Southwest and Great Plains. As a lover of skies, I still learn from them in painting atmosphere, but I'm more at home, in life and with a palette, with my desert dreams. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Greeting card kind of day

When I started doing individual watercolor Christmas cards a few years ago, I had not idea what they would teach me about painting.
But I'm a slow learner and have trouble translating the brilliant colors and loose  freedom of these cards to larger works. I'm an impatient,  first-born Capricorn, Type AAA detail-oriented journalist after all.
Watercolor tests and humbles me, but that's another reason I love the 5" by 7" cards that I buy in bulk. And they're fun.
And today was a day to paint these greeting cards for special people.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

First snow on the Truchas

First snow on the Truchas peaks, 9 by 12 watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches cold press

The 13,000 foot-high peaks of Truchas disappear when dark snow clouds move in from the north over a deep cobalt blue sky. Winter's first snow obscures the knife-sharp contours of New Mexico's most rugged mountains, softening the  surrounding timbered ridges and foothills. 

Palette--Ultamarine blue, cobalt blue, Prussian blue, indigo, burnt sienna

Monday, October 9, 2017

On the road up to Santa Fe

Sunset on the road to Santa Fe, 11 by 15 watercolor, 300 lb. de'Arches bold press
New Mexico beckons this time of year, and the first stop will be La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis.
We go not a tourists but in pilgrimage for food, art, memories, friends, and of course the landscape and skies.
From there, farther north into the Sangre de Cristos mountains and backroads and towns of northern New Mexico. Aspen, cottonwoods, juniper, pinon, red and green chile, the people and the land and the vistas.
You always go up to Santa Fe from the Great Plains, usually late in the day. Leaving the flatlands,  the mountains begin rising in blue shadows and the skies mirror the land, always changing, always dramatic. This watercolor is inspired by a photo I took years ago, on the road to Santa Fe. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

We will walk the sidelines again, my friend, just not yet

A version of my comments at Steve Booher's funeral celebration yesterday.

We want to celebrate the wonderfully rich life of Steve Booher, one of Oklahoma’s giants, a giant of family, journalism and community service. The two words that come to mind about Steve are “devoted servant.” I don’t mean a namby-pamby devotion, but a strong dedication that you can see in his life. 
For you, the family in your grief, Sonya, Shannan Booher, Mike Booher, Alan Clepper, and Amanda Barrett and families, and brothers Kent and Scott and grandchildren and nieces and nephews, you have our deepest sympathy and admiration. Family was first with Steve. I think his last Facebook posts were bragging about his grandchildren. I’ve witnessed his and Sonya’s great love and care for each other over the years, and I thank Shannan and Mike for their confidence. I’m just an old weekly newspaper man who has been blessed, like you, to have known and worked with Steve.
Steve’s even referenced in the Bible. In Genesis, it is written:
“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” There are Steve’s ancestors, giants.
I’ve known him, of course, as a journalist and friend for more than 40 years, and I so admire how he well balanced his family with the demands of weekly newspapering, a career of long hours and hard work.
He and Sonya were married in February. 1985 and they spent the next three days at the OPA midwinter convention, and every anniversary there too. Steve would joke, “Nothing like being able to write off your honeymoon and anniversary as business expenses.” Sonya has stars in her crown for putting up with that.
Steve telling another story at my retirement
Steve was always a storyteller, a craftsman with the written word, and a natural oral story teller of people, politics and everything else. What one story about Steve do you remember now about how Steve could make you smile, something that happened, some story he’d tell? There are many, aren’t they?
He worked with some giants in newspapers, and became one himself, especially Larry Hammer, graduating with pride from the Hammer School of Journalism. “Never stop learning,” Steve said, and he never did, going from hot metal to computers and beyond, always trying to learn more in trying to put out an excellent newspaper for his town, his readers.
He looked and sounded gruff, was stubborn and strong, and earned it all those years putting out a paper, but he seasoned that with a sense of humor and inside he was generous and gentle to those who knew him.
Mike told me how as a boy he had wanted some expensive athletic shoes, but knew his Dad couldn’t afford them. One day Steve came in and told Mike he had some shoes for him. Expecting the cheaper ones—that I would have bought—Mike found his wish—which was a lot for a small-town journalist to dig for.
 I met Steve when he was at Duncan and I at Waurika, and then got to know him covering Friday night high school football, walking the sidelines, cameras and heavy flash equipment and notepads. We have stories, especially on the nights when the weather turned bad. I think one was at the Ringling Waurika rivalry, and Steve disagrees Comanche-Marlow but he’s the better storyteller. 
    Now Steve would embellish stories, and they’d grow like our waistlines as our hairlines and memories receded. Eventually that game went from light rain to a downpour, and then sleet, and so cold they light blazing fires in oil barrels along the sidelines to keep the players from freezing. I expect the next version to include a blizzard moving in with 10 feet of snow, but he probably never thought of it.
Meanwhile he and I would be out there, plastic draped over the flash heads, trying to take photos, getting soaked. We talked about doing it again this fall, for old time’s sake. What a story that would have been. "Geezers on the gridiron."
In his 37 years at the Cherokee Messenger and Republican, he developed into a giant of journalism and community service, always humble, but always an advocate for the people. His gruffness served him well when standing up for what was right, including his strong opinions and editorials. He earned the respect and admiration of most-–even a few preachers and Republicans--because of his service to the town in the newspaper and personally as a volunteer. It’s no accident Cherokee named him a citizen of the year and awarded him a lifetime achievement award.
His papers were, as my wife commented the other night, thick with news.” His front-page column “From This Corner” told more stories the human side, the humor of living in a small town.
As newspapers , especially big ones are facing troubling times, he and I would joke about the buzz word being used by the big boys.  They used to look down their noses at us, saying we covered “chicken dinner news” Now they want “Hyper-local.” "We were hyper local before they were born,” he’d snort.
In addition to his community and family, he served the state press association for years in various roles, all the way to the top as president, always respected for his experience, his humor and hard work. His awards and honors for quality journalism and service piled up, higher than that blizzard that was about to hit. Most recent this spring was induction into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.   You could count on Steve.
To me he was what every journalist is supposed to be, but despite the long hours he never forgot his family.
When he visited Mike in the Coast Guard at Corpus Cristi a few years ago, we had is camera at his side and Mike told him they wouldn’t let him aboard.  He kept it. When they came up to the XO to look at the bridge, the officer said you can’t take that in. Steve asked the officer for his name, because he was a member of the press. He wanted to he able to tell about the officer who didn’t want people to know how great a job the Coast Guard was doing. Mike said Steve got a tour of the ship.
The story of Steve's retirement cake
His good-natured humor and jibes among friends and colleagues was legendary. I remember going to his retirement reception a few years ago, and when I walked in, he smiled, scowled and said something like, “I thought I told the police to keep you out of town.” “I bribed them” I shot back.
There’s just one thing about Steve I resent. He looked so handsome and distinguished dressed impeccably and with that neatly trimmed beard. As an old guy with ink still under his fingernails, I was jealous. I tried to grow a beard a few years back, and well, I said something to Steve about not measuring up. “I look like a mangy dog,” I said. Steve replied, “Well, shaving might not help either.…”
If I’ve embellished this, I learned from the best.
I do know this, right now, there’s a new hospitality suite in heaven, Michael Martin Murphy music blaring, and Steve and Hammer are telling stories and God is in stitches
“Wrap it up Clark, wrap it up,” Steve is growling. “These people have deadlines.”
  “Ok, Steve. We will walk the sidelines again, my friend, just not yet.”

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

October arrives, somberly

October Arrives, 9 by 12 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches
Driving through the Oklahoma countryside early this morning to attend and speak at the funeral of my long time friend and fellow weekly newspaperman Steve Booher, we witnessed early autumn. Clouds started building on the horizons and rain is promised tonight.
I love fall and the country and the vistas, death hangs over it all. Coming home, I knew there were clouds and grief, but the bright colors of life, his and his family. This one is for you Steve.
Steve Booher telling me another story at OPA last year.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sangre de Cristo

Sangre de Cristo, 11 by 14 watercolor, 300  lb. d''Arches paper
They marched up the Rio Grande valley almost 500 years ago on foot, on horseback, on oxcarts, exploring soldiers and priests, conquering and converting, for glory, gold and God.
As the conquistadors came, they conquered also with language, naming the landscape and villages and people as they came. Today that language and names remain, and you can glimpse and imagine what they saw and thought so long ago.
Homesick and thirsty in a dry land, they named mountains for the apples nearby (Manzanos), or because some looked like a watermelon and rind (Sandias) when the sun set. And farther north when clouds turned red when the sun set, the green and blue mountains would reflect the red glow. Those Franciscan friars could only think of the Sangre de Cristo.
They built their mission churches out of adobe, and those also reflected the colors of the dominant sky, usually an always varied earthen color. But not always. At Ranchos de Taos one relative new church built in the 1700s carries the name of their saint--San Francisco de Asis. 
It seems every artist has painted that church, Georgia O'Keeffe the most famous. My Dad drew and painted it. I've done so three times.
But something was missing. Thus the latest attempt, trying to paint what I feel when I enter New Mexico, not just see. This watercolor is the result of at least six attempts over the past week, full of failures and experiments, and a little blood. I guess that is fitting. I'm not finished and will try again.
Colors--3 blues, 3 reds, 2 siennas

Friday, September 22, 2017

Dust vewing stars---equinox


Mystical Equinox, 9 by 12 watercolor, 140# Fabriano Artistico
Equinox. For us today,  it is just a day on the calendar, when day and night are the same length, our "official" change of seasons.
But it is also mystical,  humanity's feeble attempt to measure time, as though existence on earth, and our so brief lives, were the center of a wheeling  universe where time and space are so vast.
For ancients, measuring "man-made" time became mystic, requiring stone temples and barbaric rites. 
Perhaps we shouldn't forget, and take time to ponder how small we are, mere dust viewing stars, part of a celestial creation.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Real Native American...watercolor

"Big Ears," 5 by 7 watercolor
Today's watercolor is in spite of the fact that I'm not a wildlife artist. Wildlife artists study their subjects, know anatomy, behavior and so much more.
But this coyote is inspired by a photo my son Vance took of one of his new neighbors near their house in the hill country west of San Antonio.

Got me to thinking about two books I read last year, by Dan Flores, "Coyote America," and "American Serengeti."
I like coyotes, but of course I don't raise sheep or cattle, and they can be scourges of newborns.
But in spite of the best efforts of ranchers with the help of your money financing the federal government trying exterminate them you can't.
As a result of the attempted ethnic cleansing, coyotes have flourished and spread from the West and Great Plains, across the Mississippi and now inhabit every major metropolitan area, including Central Park in NYC.
Read Flores' books. He grew up in the Texas Panhandle and lives in New Mexico, and is a master storyteller, blending history, science, myth and so much more in telling the story of what American Indians, Native Americans, call "the trickster." 
To me, this native American is "Big Ears."
One of the new neighbors for the Vance Clark family


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Celestial journeys--Autumn Meadows

Autumn Meadows, 8 by 10 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico
Autumn meadows are journeys that awaken me, reminding me of more than just  a peaceful view tucked in between trees and hills. 
They are not just earthly, but testaments to the wheeling cosmos of the universe. Life and death and eternity churn together in a celestial mix of lives, souls and creation. 
Take a walk or drive the back roads, and every meadow tells a story of another year--Seed time and harvest, shorter days and years and lives, falling leaves and brilliant colors.
That's why a lane winding through an autumn meadow always beckons me to follow it, bringing to mind the people and places I've journeyed with this year, as I wonder what's around the next bend.
Today's watercolor, a meadow, a lane, a cabin, a journey.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

September sunset

September Sunset, Great Plains, 9 by 12 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico
Great Plains, home of my soul, along with the mountains and autumn...where else to go when you need solitude, and memories and treasures of those who have molded your life?
September...
 Horizons
Roads untraveled
Skies beckoning of places and people
Shadows full of color
And wanting...