"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, July 24, 2017

Genesis, "Red Shift"--watercolor

Genesis, 5.5 by 7.5 watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches
"The Big Bang," the explosion of a universe out of nothing, constantly expanding, impossible to understand or grasp by earthbound mortals perhaps, yet embodied in the first few lines of the mortal Jewish Torah account of creation --making something from nothing--Genesis.
"Red shift," astronomers and other scientists explain, as the  universe expands at the speed of light. A Doppler effect--the more something goes away, the longer the wave length--shifting to red. (I had to look all that up)
In my past few minuscule mortal "years," I've often commented that I feel I'm about to explode, because so much "new" is happening, as the world moves faster, as I encounter new ideas and energies  in  life, in ideas, in experiences, in people.
I know why. There is red shift every day, not necessarily of people moving away, but in constant, rapid change.
Does that not mean that every moment, every day is a Genesis, an explosion of creation, of new universes? New energies, new ideas, new spiritual and mental and physical encounters--new possibilities? Saddest of all are those live as though creation is over, that there is only daily existence, senseless to the explosions all around them.
"Red Shift"--the infinite new possibilities  in a universe of people in space/time.
Day 24 of WorldWatercolorMonth challenge.
Palette--reds, yellows, blues--the primary colors of creation.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

That Lonesome Road, watercolor

Lonesome Road, watercolor, 5.5 by 7.5 300 ;b. d'Arches
At Trinity Presbyterian Church on 23rd Street in Oklahoma City recently, as the members stood up and asked for prayers and recounted their trials and tribulations, the wonderfully talented and always smiling pianist broke into song, one I hadn't heard before, "You gotta walk that lonesome valley."
It's listed in the African American Heritage Hymnal,  but the congregation didn't need the book. I went because I feel welcome in the small congregation, and journalist and former student Richard Mize is the pastor, full of rural aphorisms and stories.
Their version is a little different than Woodys, adding the lines
"Jesus walked that lonesome valley
He had to walk it by himself
Woodys version includes
You gotta walk that lonesome valley,
You got walk it by yourself,
Nobody here can walk it for you,
You gotta walk it by yourself
Theres a road that leads to glory
Through a valley far away.
These helped inspire todays watercolor effort, as I have been thinking about our journeys in time—a universal theme, and being alone, or lonesome (two different things). Though we are never as alone as we sometimes imagine, "surrounded by "a cloud of witnesses," --the lives we've touched are always with us.
Other songs:
  • "Look down, look down that lonesome road/ Before you travel on."--Gene Austin, Frank Sinatra
  • "Are you lonesome tonight,/Do you miss me tonight?" - Elvis
  • "I'm so lonesome I could cry," -Hank Williams
  • "I fall to pieces."  -Patsy Cline
  • "You were always on my mind" -Willie Nelson

Day 23 of WorldWatercolorMonth challenge

Palette-Quin gold, umbers, siennas, thalo blue, a touch of cad red.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

As time slips away - watercolor

"As time slips away" watercolor, 5.5 ny 7.5, 300 lb. d'Arches
Time. Salvador Dali is a favorite artist of mine. His bizarre, surrealistic paintings, especially The Persistence of Memory  with the melted clocks speaks to me about the artificiality and tyranny of time that we worship and are enslaved by.
I'm reminded of Thomas Wolfe's Of Time and the River, and especially Willie Nelson's song "Gee, ain't it funny how time slips away" as I get older, and read more about Quantum physics, relativity, "time," and eternity.
 It is not important to "live long and prosper," but only to live well, because time only flows past us, as we are mired in present tense. Isn't that the meaning of "I Am that I Am"? Are we not all? Time is surreal. Are we just footprints in the drifting sand of time, our lives fading with each step? Have we enjoyed the feel of sand between our toes?
Time slips away. Memories. Longing. Today's watercolor. 
Day 22 of WorldWatercolorMonth challenge.
Palette--What are thecolorsof time?

"Well, hello there
My, it's been a long, long time
How am I doing?
Oh, I guess that I'm doing fine
It's been so long now,
But it seems now, that it was only yesterday
Gee, ain't it funny, how time slips away."

Friday, July 21, 2017

From dust to stardust--watercolor

"Stardust," watercolor, 5 by 7, 300 lb. d'Arches
Colors. Creation, the universe, life, not dull dirt dust under our feet, of the grave, but the exploding, glowing dust of the cosmos, of the stars, of living, of eternity.
"From dust to dust." Sure, but consider the dust of the infinite, of eternity. 
Stardust--origins and destinations.
No wonder colors exist, metaphors for creation itself. On drab days in nature, in living, in emotions, consider colors. Enlivening spirits, imaginations, souls from the ordinary, spurred by the extraordinary  every moment in the universe, the world and especially the people we encounter.  
Day 21 of WorldWatercolorMonth challenge.
Palette--yellows, rreds, oranges, blues.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sunset Sail, watercolor

Sunset sail, watercolor, 5 by 7, 3-- lb. d'Arches
"Use more color" is becoming my mantra the more I paint for several reasons.
Reading about J.M.W.Turner's great work, he confounded and astounded the world as he increasingly used more color, more yellow, more reds, more oranges. I'll never be on a par with his talent and genious, but from my reading and study of him, I learn.
As I tell my students, take risks, experiment, dare to fail. I need to follow my own advice. That's what today's painting, and yesterday's are about. Color in my life, and work, is inspired by the landscape, by people, by the sky, and by what happens every day. We don't live in a gray, dull world. More color.
Why not? Let's go sailing at sunset.
Day 20 of WorldWatercolorMonth
Palette--Cad Orange, Quin Scarlet,  Prurssian, Cobalt, Thalo blues, a green, raw sienna.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

After the storm, watercolor

Morning of freedom, 5 1/2 by 8 watercolor, 300 lb. Lanquarelle
Earthbound no longer, in a beautiful morning after a storm, birds take flight in the joy of freedom, of living and companionship.
Metaphors for freedom and excitement every day. Are we listening? Are we seeing? Or are we stuck on the ground in the Great Plains, missing opportunities to take flight?
Day 19 of WorldWatercolorMonth challenge
Palette--Cobalt blue, Cad orange, Permanent rose, raw and burnt sienna, Ultamarine blue.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Summer showers, Oklahoma watercolor

Summer showers, Oklahoma, watercolor, 11 by 14, 300 lb. d'ArchesAdd caption
Okies  yearn for rain these hot, muggy days.
Vegetation runs riot, takes over, as the years pass. My small Oklahoma summer painting inspired this larger vision, yearning for cool showers on weathering metaphorical structures.
"Paint what you feel"-- I yearn for rain, any rain.
Day 18 of WorldWatercolorMonth daily challenge.
Palette--Aureolin Yellow, real green, Prussian blue, Cobal blue, Quin and many siennas and umbers

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mythic morning watercolor--Santa Fe Trail

Dawn on the Santa Fe Trail, 9 by 12 watercolor, 140# d'Arches
Trails loom large in our history and culture, and especially mine.
The photo at the top of this blog I took a few years ago, as the first crack of dawn colored the landscape east of Cimarron, New Mexico, as I headed back to Oklahoma. I crossed the ruts of the old Santa Fe Trail, in this view looking north.
The end of the great Plains, the land of mesas and the Sangre De Cristo Rocky Mountain front.
It's a place for color, and history, and imagination. Other trails--Route 66, El Camino Real, the Mormon Trail, the Oregon Trail, Natchez Trace, Trail of Tears, Chisholm Trail, and so many more help define in spirit what we are as Americans.
So today's watercolor is a spiritual journey for me.
Day 17 of WorldWatercolorMonth challenge
Palette--Thalo Blue, Cobalt Blue, Alizerine Crimson, Cad orange, real green

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A devil of a time--watercolor

Dawn at The Lighthouse, 5 by 7 watercolor, 140# greeting cardAdd caption
"The Lighthouse," in Palo Duro Canyon. This is the third attempt of this view, and while I can now paint it from memory almost, and have the colors figured out, I still can't seem to get it where it's clean and as graceful as the colors and geology.
But, since I failed twice yesterday, this is a makeup. I can blame it on the lighter, cheaper greeting card stock, and that's a little, but I'm having a devil of a time with this icon...hoping for greeting cards good enough to sell in my daughter's bookstore, Burrowing Owl Books in Canyon, Texas.
So forgive the crudeness, but by the time I ruin another dozen of these, maybe I'll get it.
This counts to make up for missing yesterday's WorldWatercolorMonth daily challenge.

New Mexico sunset--watercolor

"New Mexico Sunset," 10 by 14 watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches
"Land of Enchantment" for sure, but the ever changing light and geology of the vast sky transforms the rugged landscape of New Mexico  every second.
"Sky Determines" wrote Ross Calvin and people in New Mexico, and the Great Plains are children as much of the sky as of the land, as Willa Cather wrote in "Death comes for the Archbishop."
Inspiration for this attempt comes from Santa Fe artist and Art Exchange Gallery owner Jeff Tabor who captured an enchanted sunset sky recently. He commented he saw a painting  and then later that only the Master can paint on air.
I'm earthbound, but in awe, worship on paper.
Day 16, WorldWatercolorMonth challenge
 Palette--Burnt Umber, Ultamarine Blue, Cad Orange, Aureoline Yellow, Quin Sienna and Scarlet, Sepia 
Jeff Tabor's photo

Friday, July 14, 2017

Palo Duro landmark, watercolor

"The Lighthouse," Palo Duro icon, 5 by 7, greeting card watercolor, for Burrowing Owl Books
Palo Duro. Llano Estacado, Comancheria. West Texas. Panhandle.
Where the wildness of the West still pervades every day. Palo Duro Canyon, not far from where my daughter Dallas, her husband Dr. Todd, and my grandchildren Erin, Abby and Max live outside Canyon, on the rim of a canyon.
People who think Amarillo and the Panhandle is flat, haven't traveled. 
Palo Duro, where the musical "Texas" is staged, where tehre is camping, and hiking, and all kinds of critters, is just outside the county seat of Canyon, Texas, a great county seat with a university, West Texas A &M, a place with great schools, and...
Burrowing Owl Books, my daughter's new and used bookstore on the courthouse square, will feature today's watercolor, for cards soon for sale there.
Icon of Palo Duro's fantastic geologic formations, The Lighthouse. More coming.
Biggest challenge for me? Other than all the different angles and light on this icon? Painting vertical. Hey, when you grow up on the Great Plains, horizontal dominates. 
(WorldWatercolor Month, Day 14 challenge).
Palette--all kinds of earthen colors. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Oklahoma autumn--watercolor

Oklahoma autumn, 5 by 7 watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches

                             an autumn sky
                             the color of peaches
                             or perhaps souls
                             departing this world
                            with fond memories

                                                      Tanka poem, Michael McClintock

Autumn, my favorite season. Why?
The colors, the light, the cooler temperatures, sure. But more. Seed time, harvest.  Continual reminders of universal death, shorter days, a dying year, weathering barns and people.
(Day 13, WorldWatercolorMonth challenge.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Green leaves of Oklahoma--watercolor

Oklahoma's Green Leaves of Summer, Watercolor, 5 by 7 300 lb. d'Arches
                        "The green leaves of summer

                        Are calling me home
                        Twas so good to be young then
                        In the season of plenty"

                                                --Green Leaves of Summer
Summertime...and the living is sometimes easy, and almost always hot, in Oklahoma, but the song that catches our lush, verdant  season most more me is the haunting "The Green Leaves of Summer."
I first heard the song long ago, as part of the soundtrack for the movie "The Alamo," and I still have that original 33 1/3 record (now called vinyl).
For me,  a Texas native, watching the glorified, but still poignant movie about the Texas shrine, the song captured the longing of all warriors facing death for the plentiful security of past summers when the world was simpler. 
Ever since, when I hear that song, I get a little teary eyed with the memories of those long ago summers, of youth long gone, and of  men who knew they were going to die against impossible odds.
Here's the summer version of my Oklahoma watercolor series, lush green fields, gentle summer rain, life's promise for the future, even with death always in our presence in the metaphorical old barn.
(Day 12, WorldWatercolorMonth challenge)
(The Brothers Four sang the song, soundtrack by Dimitri Tiomkin, lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. )

Palette--Prussian blue, Cobalt blue, Burnt and Raw umber, Auereolin yellow, Cadmium red, True green, Thalo green


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bluebonnet dreams, Texas watercolor challenge

Bluebonnet Dreams, 8 by 10 watercolor, 300 Lb. d'Arches
Texas on my mind.
  Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys on vinyl, "San Antonio Rose," inspired this. Ah, the singular sound of fiddles and the twangs of Texans.
Other songs, "The Yellow Rose of Texas," "Deep in the Heart of Texas." "Red River Valley."  "The Bonny Blue Flag." 
Just because.
(Day 11 of  #WorldWatercolorMonth challenge.)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Oklahoma Dust Bowl, watercolor challenge

"Dust Bowl Oklahoma," 5 by 7 watercolor, 300 Lb. d'Arches
"I got them dust bowl blues..."
                                                                                          --Woody Guthrie

"...a red sun appeared, a dim red circle that gave a little light, like dusk..."
                                           --Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck
Today's painting, and my thoughts, in the Oklahoma series probably won't be the favorite of any one, except me, but the watercolor crosses into what I think art should be ... more than a pretty picture, something that tells a story, that "means" and is relevant.
Oklahomans today seem to  forget and ignore what our families went through in the Great Depression, when greed and abuse of the land caused a national and international crisis for everyone, especially working people.
Only Depression art in photography, fiction, music and painting captured the truth of that suffering. Steinbeck, Guthrie, Lange, WPA artists, they all told stories. Out of crisis comes art.
Europeans invading this continent have abused the land and its residents--human and animal,  forever, spurred by greed and committing genocide in God's name--thinking the land was meant to be plundered for profit until worn out. Whether cotton and slavery in the South, coal in Appalachia, mining in the West, water on the llano Estacado, or exterminating the buffalo or plowing up the sod in the Great Plains, the results have been the same.  
It's pathetically ironic that these "God-fearing" people despised  Native Americans' respect for the natural world as part of something sacred, to be respected because all are part of one creation. Instead those who believed their god was everywhere saw no sin in harming the natural world, even though that was harming themselves. This is more than Transcendentalism, though Emerson, et. al., had it right. 
Science has proved that we're all connected, even though the current president and his "environment" leader--an Okie who should know better--reject science and the health of our country and planet.  Again, their view is the planet is there for  selfish use and profit, nothing more--no respect for the land, or care for the future. Nothing has changed since the Conquistadors were the first to arrive 525 years ago.
Abuse the land, abuse nature--refusing to accept the world's peril of climate change, of rising temperatures because of greed--you abuse "god," and therefore every creature and the future. This isn't politics, it's history and science, and real religion.
What will happen when the oil and the water is gone, when you abuse "god"? The Dust Bowl will happen again.
"Paint what you feel," wrote one artist. This is what I feel. It started deep inside, and welled up, the image, the thoughts, the art, then the painting, and finally these words. They won't be favorites--but they're mine.
Day 10, #WorldWatercolorMonth challenge.
Palette--Burnt and Raw Umber, Sepia, Alizarine Crimson

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Oklahoma moonrise, watercolor challenge

Oklahoma Moonrise, 5 by 7 watercolor, 300 Lb. d'Arches
"There's a full moon risin'"
             --"Harvest Moon, " Neil Young
Moonrise on the Great Plains turns the ordinary into magic.
What causes tides at sea, brings tides of emotions on land, marking not just months, but  memories, back as far as you can remember.
No wonder we find so mucnh to wonder about in moonlight.
"Many moons ago" in Indian country gets you back to when people were more connected to the land and nature, marking more than just time, but lives.
Today's #WorldWatercolorMonth, Day 9 challenge.
It's no accident that I've written about and painted moon scenes many times on this blog (Type in "moon" and you'll see years of posts). And then there's this short obviously biographical chapter in an unfinished novel.
"Time for the Moon"

 “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 trees, as he walked out on the wooden deck with the coffee and binoculars.

“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 as he twisted the focus ring.

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 carried during that summer of 1944, 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 had 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, smooth human 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. “People would think I’m crazy if they knew how I anticipate the full moon. I deserve the moon.”

He heard the phone ringing inside the house, interrupting his thoughts, demanding his attention and time and no telling what else. Resentfully, turning to go in, he glanced at the sky once more. “C’mon, babe, I want you.”

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Oklahoma springtime challenge--watercolor

"Wildflower morning," 5 by 7 watercolor, 300 Lb. d'Arches
"It might as well be spring."
                                                                  --Rodgers and Hammerstein
Where there is aging and death, there is also life, bursting forth  in every season if you look, but especially in spring.
Nothing captures that truth for me like a field full of wildflowers, especially around metaphorical old farm buildings--Bluebonnets in Texas or Indian Paintbrush and many others in Oklahoma.
Morning of a new year, of new life--Springtime in Oklahoma--WorldWatercolorMonth day 8 challenge.