"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.

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...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Freedom, in the skies

Freedom, Taos sky, 9 by 12 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico
"Out here there's the sky"
                                                                                                 --Clark
Readings, of freedom...as an introvert, or as a falcon (Quiet, the Power of Introverts, by Cain, or Falcon, by Macdonald)...
Dreams of New Mexico, where, as Willa Cather wrote, the sky is, it determines all. 
Back after a drought of writing and painting, the call of freedom, found only in the spirit of the skies.
Thanks to Susan Clark and Mary Carver for prodding, when yhou didn't know you were.