"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.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Exploring the universe

"Aurora," 9 x 12, watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistiico cold press
Abstract art increasingly attracts my attention, but I don't seem to be able to think or feel that way very often. I suppose that's because there's too much journalist and type A in my personality.
"Big Brother is Watching," 5 x 7
But every once in a while, when I'm stuck, things happen, perhaps out of desperation, or of just a need to play, to explore possibilities.
I want to be able to do more than just paint pretty pictures. 
Yesterday's watercolors are the result, the large one a creation of nature's nighttime palette.
The small one an unintended big eye, perhaps a reflection of this country's slide toward fascism and dictatorship?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Creative drought relief

"Sunset Storm," 8 x 10, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press
When creativity seems to dry up...drought can be an obscure or ill-defined mood or feeling. And finally, after frustration and dissatisfaction,  relief arrives for different reasons.
To break a drought, you need to get out of your comfort zone, take risks and attempt anything, because what has worked in the past isn't working, hence the drought.
Thus it is for me, today's watercolor, the first I've really been satisfied with in quite a while. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Color in action

"Verb," 5 by 7 #watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper
Perhaps the most moving force in creation and the universe is the verb. Consider this Spanish translation of John 1:1, more accurate than the English, but you have to know your theology to fully comprende:
"En El Principio, era El Verbo, y El Verbo...."
On a gray rainy day, color stands out, the product of light, of light. Thus yesterday's unicorn, full of color and action and creation.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The freedom of color

"Free Spirit," 5 x 7 watercolor 140 lb Farbriano Artistico

Saturday, August 11, 2018

"Out here there's the sky"--adventures in gray

"50 Shades of Gray," 9 x 12 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
How can you not live out here and not be enchanted by the skies? Willa Cather had it correct, and my motto has been "Out here there's the sky."
Today's ever-changing unsettled skies prompted this attempt. For me, it's an adventure in mixing grays--so many ways and tones possible with just a few colors--trying to match some of the tones I see in our clouds, and knowing, somewhere there's a sky like that. 
I'm always trying to figure out ways and colors to obtain some of those wonderful grays. There are about eight different colors used here, and none of them are labeled "Gray." That tube of paint seems dull to what I see overhead.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Desert dreams

"Evening Star," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper

Western icon

"Patriarch of the Prairie," 5 x 7 today's watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico cold press
The almost universal icon of the American West, seen everywhere in sculptures, paintings, highway decorations. Why? For what was and is gone? Or as a symbol of freedom and wildness? Or as a sacred part of the lives of the people who were here first? Or because of majesty and spirit? Don't know.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Watercolor exhibit

My current watercolor exhibit at In Your Eye Studio & Gallery in Paseo.


"Firelight," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper
What is as enchanting as firelight? 
In the coziness of your home near the fireplace at night, or around a campfire in the woods when camping out or in front of a cabin, watching the stars overhead? 
With a loved one, or alone, watching the universes of in each burning log or coals, there's enchantment. Magic.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Adobe and turquoise--magic

Taos Magic, No. 1, 8 x 10, watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
Taos Pueblo...Centuries of spirits under a sacred mountain in Northern New Mexico, even before it was Mexico or New Spain. 
It draws you like a magnet of magic--loved by artists and photographers who sense it not as a curiosity, but as a place of power, of creativity. Power--Always the light, always the colors, always the people, always....
Adobe and turquoise, magic always changing colors of the earth, reflecting the ever-changing light of the sky and the landscape and people.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Spiritual magnetism--paintings and a story

Magnetism. It's more than a physical property of the scientific and natural world.
There are places and people that can attract, or less often, repel you for that matter, in sometimes unexplainable ways. You know who they have been, who and what they are. You can feel the pull.
Rainwater reflection
me, one of those places has been the remote east faces of the Manzano Mountains in New Mexico, along with its back roads and isolated villages. And one very old little Catholic church building. 
The force of that magnetic field increased this last month, and I succumbed a week ago, headed especially to see the church of San Antonio at the village of Tajique, population 148,  in the Estancia Valley Catholic Parish. I'm guessing it was originally built in the 1830s when this territory was part of Mexico. 
My watercolor, Dad's oil
I know some of the reasons, having spent part of my childhood in those mountains, and because of the pull of back roads, and in this case, because both my Dad and I have painted that church. Two of those paintings hang in our living room, as well as my Dad's sunflower and Manzano peaks painting over our mantel. I see them every day, traveling in my imagination and memories.
You can see I've exaggerated the nearness of the Manzano Mountains in the background, including the pointed Mosca Peak, over 9,000 feet high--the church is at 6,700 feet. I try to paint what I feel, and the magnetism of those mountains is strong.
Most recent, 8 x 10, for friend M.J. VanDeventer
My new photo above is in early morning, 65 degrees, after a thunderstorm captured the place. The parishioners have added a rock exterior and changed the bell tower since I last visited.  But I'm still drawn to the place, and to the fascinating variety of tombstones in the surrounding Campo Santo.
My photo from years ago
I've painted it at least three times, based on memory and photos and its magnetic attraction. One time when I drove by, a wedding was in process, with the newlyweds coming out the front door. 
The last time I took a photo of it, in black and white on a gray day some 30 years ago, it was much plainer. There's nothing plain about it magnetically.
My largest, 22 x 30

The Manzano magnetism of Mosca peak

A month of watercolor painting

Here they are, 32 paintings from July, surpassing the 31 daily challenge from #worldwatercolormonth. 
Some favorites, near the bottom, and some not so favorites. There are 32 because I failed one day's challenge--mountain climbing no less. But, I did two roadrunners and two mermaids, and two unicorns. And atoned for the failure by painting the Truchas peaks on Day 30.
For the record, here are the daily challenges. Can you pick them out?
  • Sunny Days--July sunrise walker
  • Delicious Food--Cezanne apples
  • Primary Colors--brushes
  • Family Moments--fieworkds
  • Shades of blue--ocean
  • Simple things--red wagon
  • Playing games--abstract chess
  • Flying things--witch
  • Climbing mountains--oops
  • Light and luminous--morning light at house
  • Beautiful blooms--not shown, for sale at gallery (Purple creation)
  • Forest animals--Unicorn
  • Fast and loose--Roadrunner
  • Sweet treats--snowcone
  • On the beach--Red bikini
  • Casting shadows--Trump's swastika
  • City life--OKC dawn runner
  • In the jungle—Conrad's Heart of Darnkness
  • Rainy Days--cabin
  • Wet & Dry--Martini
  • Glorious golds--unicorn
  • Under the sea—mermaid
  • Furry creatures—cats
  • Mono mood--blue station
  • Farm life—panhandle elevators
  • Splashing around—sunset surf
  • Clouds in sky--thunderhead
  • Nature hike—man with cane
  • Childhood memory—streetcar
  • Exotic location--Truchas, cabin
  • Celebration of color--creation

"And God created...Color!"--Creation!

"Creation," 8 x 10, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
"Celebration of Color," concluded the #watercolor prompts for the 31 days of July, #Worldwatercolormonth.
Color, the spectrum, light. Genesis. The Big Bang. What you see in a rainbow. No light, no life. Science, faith.
Art is creativity, a child of creation, regardless of beliefs. Do they not all merge together?
Here is what brewed in my head and heart and the primordial soup of creation, for today's #watercolor: The spectrum of color, the spectrum of light, the spectrum of life. 
Celebration, appropriate ending and beginning to 31 days of watercolor.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Red head Magic of mermaids

Red headed magic, 5 x 7 140 lb. Farbriano Artistico cold press paper
Magic? Of course. If you can imagine it, who can say it's not real? One of Neptune's twin daughters, #watercolor, but she needs a name.

Exotic Enchantment

"Enchantment," 5 x 7 140 lb Fabriano Artisitico cold press paer
What do you think of when you hear the term exotic places? Probably a beach on a south Pacific Island?  Me too, but not just there. I could choose the moors of Scotland, or almost anyplace with tall mountains and few people.
There are several definitions to the term exotic, coming from Greek and Latin "exo" meaning "alien, " or "from the outside."
It's used today for plants or anything introduced from another country, or not indigenous; anything strange, different, mysterious, exciting, romantic (how it's meant for this prompt); or having to do with strip tease.
I guess I could have tried to paint an exotic pole dancer, but...
Every person probably has different exotic places in their imaginations and memories, and the Truchas Peaks in northern New Mexico, towering over 13,000 rugged feet into the sky, captivate me. I wish I had the youth and lung capacity to get to the remote top, but that probably isn't going to happen. I  photograph them often as their mood and light always changes. No wonder they're exotic, exceeding all those descriptions.
Then add a cabin near those mountains, a metaphor for exotic to me anytime.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

All aboard for streetcar rides and memories

"Memories," 5 x 7 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper
It's ironic that downtown Oklahoma City is all abuzz with the coming of new streetcars, and the end to months of torn up streets, as with many cities today.
Those thoughts helped spur today's #watercolor, in response to #worldwatercolormonth daily challenge prompt No. 29: "Childhood Memories."
I can remember being excited to travel to Dallas from Fort Worth to see Aunt Sissie and ride the Dallas streetcars. The fascination of watching the intersecting wires, and the fun waiting to pull the cord and ring a bell to signal a stop came to mind as I considered  this painting. And the "ding-ding-ding of the bells that served as horns for people and cars. It helps that at the end of the ride, we'd manage to find an ice cream shop where I could get lime sherbet.
I had to look up photos of street cars, and I couldn't find a color scheme, though this is from an actual Dallas street car. Service stopped in about 1956.
Since then I've ridden older street cars in New Orleans and cable cars in San Francisco; and new ones in Seattle and Portland.  Yes, I'll ride the new ones here too, just for the fun of it.
But the local lines pale in comparison to what was "The Interurban" about 100 years ago which stretched from Norman to Edmond.  The streetcar played a significant role in the expansion of this city and elsewhere. 
The automobile killed street car service here and elsewhere after WWII, and today the insanity of traffic jams and commuting shows how short-sighted that was. Consider the race track of Broadway Extension. How so advanced it would be if we had rail going down the median, saving gas, time, the environment and more. 
Not going to happen in a state addicted economically, politically and culturally to petroleum.
But at least we'll have  downtown street cars, more as a tourist attraction than anything else, bypassing some of the old street car rails you can see in a few places downtown if you look. Somehow though, it won't measure up to the excitement of this kid, many years ago, getting on a trolly in Dallas.
What street cars have you ridden?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Watercolor journey

"Early Autumn," 5 x 7 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press pape
Every painting is a story of a journey, a lesson, a composite of what has been experienced, of what you have encountered.
Today's #worldwatercolormonth challenge, "Nature Hike," prompted this, "Early "Autumn," from  views I've seen walking in nearby Hafer Park in Edmond.
Here's the painting and two related photos. 
Tomorrow's prompt? "Childhood memory." I've been thinking about this, another journey, another story. What is  one of your outstanding childhood memories?

Friday, July 27, 2018

Road trip inspiration

"Out here the's the sky," New Mexico evening
Summer can stifle more than physical energy. Creativity to meet the daily #worldwatercolormonth daily prompt challenges was faltering. 
For me, a road trip is a sure cure for feeling cooped up as inspiration seems to be drained. Even the back roads of Oklahoma will do, but not like New Mexico. 
This week I savored the skies, the mountains, the sights and smells and tastes of the back roads, especially along the remote east face of the Manzano Mountains. I took lots of photos, breathed and imagined stories and sights and art.
The cloud  at top was one of a multitude of welcomes for me at the end of the first day. 
Here are this week's paintings, all 5 by 7, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico cold press.
This means I have only four more paintings to have completed one a day this month. 
Before I left, I answered the daily prompt of "Furry Creatures" with "Bird Watchers," of Sophie and Snoops looking longingly out the window.(Metaphorically as cooped up as I felt.)
Next, Tuesday night in Moriarity, N.M. I did "Blue Memories," in plain air inspired by old Rte. 66, to the prompt "Monochrome Moods." All ultamarine blue, watching the clouds and sunset.
The next three prompts:
"Farm Life," "Splashing  Around," and "Clouds in the Sky." Only "Splashing Around" isn't inspired by the road trip. These are rough and quick, but they catch the moods I want, what I felt, rather than saw.
Tuesday-"Blue Memories," Monochrome

Wednesday-"Great Plains skyscrapers, "  Farm Life

Thursday-"Sunset Surf," Splashing around

Today-"New Mexico Spirit," Clouds

One of two inspirations for today's painting

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Weekend watercolor magic

Golden Dreams

Neptune's Daughter
Believe in magic? I do, and that includes magical creatures of our imaginations...otherwise why would they exist?
So yesterday and today's watercolors, 5 x 7s, in reaction to the #worldwatercolorprompts "Glorious Golds," and "Under the Sea."
Unicorns? Why not? Mermaids, especially redheaded ones? Of course.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Watercolor journals of a week

Meeting daily prompts for #worldwatercolormonth are challenges, and result in mostly smaller, 5 x 7, works, done fairly quickly. I year now to take longer on a piece, so that is stewing, but without answers.
This week's prompts: Casting Shadows, City Life, In the Jungle, Rainy Days, Wet and Dry. All are 5 x 7, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper.
And I added an additional more abstract one of a roadrunner, actually one of my favorite so far. So, after 20 days in July, I've done at least 21 or 2. Some are good, and cheery and others are not. Life.
Casting Shadows

Shadows--I stay away from politics in my blog and painting, for the most part, but anger and alarm at a president being a lap dog for a Russian dictator provoked the Casting Shadows of fascism across America. Art is supposed to matter, and this was inspired by attending the Woody Guthrie festival Saturday...a fighter of fascism indeed.
OKC dawn

life was difficult because I generally don't like cities, but this version of a card for Susan's nephew fit. 
Heart of Darkness
Jungle took me to who old friends and students know is my favorite novelist and novel, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, a copy always in my office: “Going up that river was like traveling back to the beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on earth.... An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest....The ...waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom....”
Cabin Fever
  • Rainy Days was almost a failure, but I thought about cabin fever. I'm cooped up in the city traffic, but not in my cabin, with books, cats, paint, a fire and company. I am always ready for a cabin, good cabin fever. 
Wet and dry--What is wetter and dryer than a good martini. Dorothy Parker and a martini.-“I’d love a martini, two at the most, three I’m under the table, four, I’m under the host” 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Watercolor stories

Paintings should hint at stories, I've heard, and I'm finding that most paintings have stories.
July's #WorldWatercolorMonth daily challenges are provoking stories of my own as I try to match emotion and craft with the subjects.
The most recent prompts were Forest Animals, Fast & loose, Sweet Treats, and On the Beach. All are 5 by 7, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper.
Here they are, with a second, more impressionistic one of the roadrunner done today, just for fun. I'm perhaps most pleased with this one so far. It makes up for the failure I had on mountains, so there is still one a day.
That is the key, having fun, trying new things. 
I still have a long way to go on figures, but how better to practice than on a long-legged brunette in a bikini? 
"Red Hat"
Stories, I told you--unicorns, roadrunners, snow cones, and beauties. 
Tomorrow may be a little different, more abstract or impressionistic--wonder what the story will be on "Casting Shadows"?
"Beep, beep"


Friday, July 13, 2018


Read, paint, draw, and a little writing, but more reading. These last two weeks have alternated between  these diverse doors of reality.

  • Watercolor--Whitney, a late great painter and teacher helping me in my DIY art school. Daily readings and thinking required.
  • Just finished, Palmer, On the Brink of Everything...deep thinking and truths about getting older.
  • Just started, Thomas Merton's autobiography, since so much I read seems to refer to him these days, about living and eternity (oh, wait, that's redundant).
  • Hopping chapters, Craig Childs travels about out southwestern deserts, and the repeating dyings of our planet, including now.
  • Seabald, Rings of Saturn--here's a story of my summer international twitter bookclub, headed by a professor at Cambridge. Mind blowing.