"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons 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, March 27, 2017

Bastion of the First Amendment

Anti-abortion display on campus today
I love a college campus where students and others openly advocate their beliefs.
Marathon Bible reading
Consider these photos from today. 
I don't buy extreme right wingers bashing "liberal-left wing academia" that people gripe about. We have many different groups from all beliefs here. It's great.
I'm especially proud of our editors at the student newspaper The Vista, hosting public forums...this week's by the Muslim student association, We Are America.

Forum by the Vista, Muslim students

Liberal slam poets and more

Native American pow wow

Purple ribbons and posters bemoaning child abuse, children without childcare
 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

When the sun stands still--equinox

Equinox--5 by 7 watercolor study, 300# d'Arches
If you're up at sunrise and heading east this week, the sun seems to stand  still straight east.
Equinox, when the day and night are of equal length, the signal of a new season...yet so much more.
As I pull out of my neighborhood heading west, the glare in my mirrors blinds you. If you're driving home in the evening, the same is true. While the official day is only one 12 hour period this week, the sun barely moves.
The ancients knew and accurately measured it, whether at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, or at Stonehenge or in many other sacred sites. Why? More in touch with the seasons and nature than us, they took years to be able to mark these days, days critical to their livelihoods and religions.
Those are my thoughts this week--having camped at Chaco on equinox, and having pulled out of my subdivision heading to work. The sun seems to just sit on the middle of the road on the horizon, not moving north or south for a few days.
Today's watercolor, what I saw, in fact, and in imagination, this morning.

Don't be a sucker for "fake" news--guidelines

    Are you skeptical? I hope so.
So I tell my students. Challenge everything you hear or read—including this sentence. Don’t take anything without checking it out.
An old copy editor’s maxim—“If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.”
Maybe not that extreme, but with all the talk of “fake news” these days and trust in the news media at a low, intelligent citizens need to be more vigilant about their news sources.
With the current occupant of the White House labeling everything he disagrees with as “fake,” and the verbal vomit of “social” media,  this is more critical than ever.
So here are my thoughts that appeared in my column in this month’s Oklahoma Publisher.
A reader’s guide to getting factual news

(Don’t be a sucker for fake news)
  • Be skeptical. Check it out.
  • Seek multiple sources. Any person who relies on just one source of information these days is shallow, and lazy.
  • Be skeptical of anything on “social” media, especially from individuals who seem to have personal or political agendas.
  • If “social” or other media quote another news source, especially a newspaper, look it up to make sure it’s a real newspaper, not a fake one.
  • If some “news” sounds outrageous or extreme, always find more than one source to look it up (If it sounds too good to be true…). Ask “Why” something sounds extreme.
  • If the source always presents just one viewpoint with loaded political or other claims, regardless of the viewpoint, be skeptical.
  • Beware of loaded propaganda language in “news” items like “right –wing,” “liberal,” “fake news.” Such terms are dead giveaways of slanted or false facts.
  • If you’ve never heard of the source of the “news” before, or if you can’t identify the source, if it anonymous, why believe it?
  • A source of information that presents more than one viewpoint is more trustworthy.
  • Verifying real news is easier than ever with Internet searches, or by calling or emailing your newspaper editor.
  • Unlike other media (broadcast and digital), most newspapers clearly label opinions as editorials and columns, separated from the main news pages.
  • Just because you disagree with some news, or don’t like it, doesn’t mean it is ‘fake.”  
  • Has the news source earned your trust with factual information in the past?
  • Who really owns the news media source—Do other interests affect the news?
  • Use the Internet to find the ownership—for instance:
  1. CBS is owned by Viacom, a media conglomerate, with interests in cinema and cable TV.
  2. NBC is owned by GE and Comcast, world’s largest broadcast and cable TV company by revenue.
  3. ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company.
  4. Fox News, Wall Street Journal, is owned by Rupert Murdock, of News Corp, including 150 newspapers, magazines and stations around the world.
  5. CNN Is owned by Time Warner, third largest entertainment company by revenue.
  6. New York Times is owned by the Ochs-Sulzberger family since 1896 with 16 newspapers, 8 TV stations, and more.
You can easily look up the ownership of your local newspapers, television and radio stations.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Where fences tell stories

Morning on the Llano, 7 by 12 watercolor, 140# d'Arches
The Llano Estacado of the Texas Panhandle. Big, empty, wide open spaces where the wind never seems to cease. 
Fences are few and far between, and the old ones have the character of the land...rugged and ragged as the land and the posts. The wind rustling and grass on the fence lines and singing through the old rusting barbed wire.
This old one is long gone now, replaced by more efficient steel posts and new wire but it was just up the road from my daughter and son-in- law's house near Canyon, Texas.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Lonesome cabin

Lonesome, 5 by 7 watercolor, 300# d'Arches
Abandoned cabins and farmsteads dot the Great Plains, testaments or tombstones to the people who tried to scratch out a living where only nomads belonged. 
I am always attracted to them, imagining the lives and ghosts that inhabit them, the stories untold, beckoning of love and loss.
The prairie wind and grasses and open skies breathe "lonesome."
Have we  not all been lonesome at one time or another?
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Inspired by a black and white photo by HrSchmitt.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Redbud spring..a painting's story

Redbud Spring--9 by 12 watercolor, 140# d'Arches

Flowering redbud trees stand out like brilliant lace  in early spring against other still leafless trees, even on a cold, gloomy day such as this. 
They hold the promise of even more beauty, when the sun shines  and the humid air and breezes lift clouds through the blue skies, and stir their branches into a melody of motion.
They're difficult to paint, with varying colors and infinite forms, so any attempt is just a representation of shapes and colors. Thus today's painting, an image sealed in my mind from a 20-year-old-story by journalist Rick Bragg, describing dogwood in Alabama.
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Below--the stages of the painting.




Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mountain music

Last Light, First Snow--9 by 12 watercolor, 140# d'Arches
Mountains are music to me, and thoughts turn to cabins and aspen in tn the high country. The first snowfall on the high peaks, the brilliant, if brief, colors of aspen--changing seasons, changing memories and years.
If I can't visit in person, at least I can with my paintbrush...finding people and memories and travels and adventures in imagination as the image takes shape. 
No wonder I love painting mountains and cabins.