"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.

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. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Light and life--lessons

"Early Risers," 8 x 10, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
Light and life. Two days' watercolor prompts spring from somewhere inside, after a  failure Sunday.
"Light and Luminous" was yesterday, and today was "Beautiful Blooms." 
Lessons? Tried painting "Mountain Climbing" Sunday and turned out a soulless piece with a person standing on a peak, but it had no feeling, no Terry Clark who loves mountains deep in his soul.  Depressing.
Yesterday's was a challenge, but with Susan's suggestion, I found humanity and some success in "Early Risers," the first decent 8 x 10 I've done in a while. It helps that it was on good d'Arches paper. Maybe it should be titled "Can you smell the coffee?"
"Happiness," 5 x 7 Fabriano Artistico cp
I dreaded today's subject, because while I love flowers, I hate painting them. Never been good at them because I'm too detail oriented.
After two failed attempts, I remembered from my DIY art school readings and more, "Paint shapes, not lines," and "paint what you feel, not see."
So here came "Happiness," sunflowers, the face and symbol of happiness, and life from the sun--and it's impressionistic too.
Tomorrow? Forest Animals. Can I do a decent Grizz?  Hope so. Maybe the roadrunner I saw today will help.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Flights of imagination: Chess and humor askew

"Shah Matta," 8 by 8 140 lb d'Arches cold press paper
Daily prompts for #worldwatercolormonth push my imagination and watercolors, as with "Playing Games," and "Things that Fly" this weekend.
Chess was the obvious choice yesterday, having played actual games with a long time friend, and also because I just didn't want to paint a knight. Thus "Shah Matta," (Persian for "The King is Dead," hence "Check mate"). So with apologies and homage to Picasso and Dali, I tried something new.
More abstract is on the month's horizon.
"Smiley," 5 x 7 140 lb. Fabriano Artisitco cold press paper
And today, after considering kites, and owls and pterodactyls,  let's just bend it a little more. Thus a real flight of the imagination. 
Tomorrow? "Climbing Mountains."

Friday, July 6, 2018

Shades of Blue, and Simple things

Blue Moon rising on a Storm-Tossed Sea, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press pape
Daily prompts from Worldwatercolor --yesterday, Shades of Blue, and today, Simple Things.
I probably use more blue pigment that any other. I don't know why, but it works that way.
The challenge of daily painting leads me to abstract thinking and eventually painting. So here is "Blue Moon Rising on a Storm-Tossed Sea"--eight different blues, 8 x 10. Metaphor?
And today, much simpler. "Remember When," that little red wagon you had when life and fun was so much simpler? 5 x 7.
Tomorrow's prompt? "Playing Games."

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Family moments

Family Moments," 5 x 7
Today's #watercolor month daily challenge topic was "Family Moments."
Here it is, pretty rough, lots of texture, something I'm not happy with, but it fits the day.
But I can't help but think about those poor children locked up in Trumpfuhrer's concentration camps, without the families, and without freedom. Freedom to them is a tragic joke.

Oklahoma ghost stories

One of my favorite places in Oklahoma is the former State Capital Publishing Museum in Guthrie. 
Owned by the State Historical Society  and closed because of lack of repair money for six years now, my interest was reawakened when it made the news recently when my friend Richard Mize reported on a local group trying to raise money and save it.
We drove up to Guthrie today on the back roads, savoring the lush and peaceful countryside, before driving around town. 
Four years ago, from inside the historic Blue Belle Bar
Long ago, I took groups of university students there when it was open, because you could go in and the staff would use old printing equipment to set type and actual print handbills, the way it was done when Guthrie was Oklahoma Territory's actual capital.
So many stories and ghosts there, for the state, and for me, an old newspaperman who started in hot metal printing and is still in love with it.
To me, the condition of the building speaks as  a depressing metaphor for the condition of our state, dreams gone bust and broke except for funding high paid coaches and athletes. 
I remember the excitement of touring the place, of soaking up Oklahoma and publishing history, and haunted by its closing and the loss to generations to come. I hope Guthrie can make this happen.
Here are links to Richard's story, and the story of the building.
Group forms to save Museum
Group announcement
Museum Closing

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Watercolor Pushing, Cezanne and Color

"Delicious Food" and "Primary Colors." Push yourself, said my wife Susan of the #WorldWatercolorMonth daily challenges for July 2 and 3.
Homage to Cezanne, 5 x 7
Aware of my limitations, cornbread came to mind, but then I thought about apples. But one apple isn't enough and doesn't push. Colored balloons was my other first thought, but that wouldn't push me either.
Don't Brush Me Off, 5 x 7
Apples. Then I thought of my favorite artist, Paul Cezanne, and his revolutionary still lifes. Searching those paintings, I tried to approach his vision and technique. Not quite, but I learned.
Primarily colors--Susan suggested paint brushes. They didn't take long to paint, though I mulled composition and ideas for several disjointed hours yesterday and this morning. 
Tomorrow's prompt is "Family Moments." Gotta think about that. We'll see.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

July Sunrise, 2018 fading

"July Sunrise," 5 x 7
July 1. Since January 1, we've traveled 292 million miles on earth's orbit. And I thought my car had lots of miles on it.
I've entered the #Doodlewash #WorldWatercolorMonth daily challenge for the second straight year, and woke up today realizing the year is half over. Sunrise, and the days and year gets shorter on our journey.
Much has happened to our world in those six months, as we've covered more than a million miles with every sunrise, and to each of us, good, bad and blah.
No need to recount my milestones here, but to focus on watercolor. More about books and people and events later.
Today's challenge was "Sunny Days." Last year I didn't follow the prompts but I'm committed to that this year to push myself on this journey.
So today's "July Sunrise," 5 x 7 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper follows the suggestion, "Sunny Days." We sure need more of them don't we? Aside: I think Whitman would like this open road, metaphor for our lives.
Oh, and here are the prompts for the rest of the month's challenge. We'll see how I do.