"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Cold Comfort

"Cold Comfort," 5 x y watercolor holiday greeting card

The full moon always pulls me, especially late in the year. Tonight November's full moon rises. Strong tides.

How much? All you have to do is type the word "moon" into the search box on this page, and you'll see how many times I've written about, and painted, full moons through the past 11 years.

Why? Just does. Memories and more.

Today's watercolor, for one of November's moon name, Cold. Yes, but there's comfort there too.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Full Moon Greeting

"Greetings," 5 x 7 watercolor greeting card

November's full moon is almost here, bringing beauty and memories into the sky.

Also known as the cold or frosty moon, and the beaver moon, it's the last full moon before the winter solstice.

All I know is that, regardless of names, I look forward to full moons...they light up the night, my memories and my moods. When shining on snow, they're almost magic.

Today's greeting card,  the almost full moon rising, the last light of the sun perhaps, with a warm yellow. However, the next two days will indeed be "cold" moons.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Rugged beauty

"Brazos Beauty," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

 
As this rugged year nears an end, we need to remember that out of ruggedness, in nature and humanity often comes beauty.

For me, some of the most rugged beauty I know are the Brazos Cliffs in Northern New Mexico.  I've seen them in summer, fall and winter, usually driving from the east from Taos  and Tres Piedres on remote scenic US 64. Coming up on them from the east, you can stop and wonder at the dramatic overlook, as they tower about 2,000 feet above the Chama River valley. 

Once you descend the winding highway down, they loom over you as you head north to Chama and Colorado. At their base are lodges and cabins, hiking trails, and towering Ponderosa forests and trout streams. The granite cliffs are the oldest rocks in New Mexico, at 1.8 million years.

From the top or bottom, in all kinds of weather and especially late in the afternoon, they are simply awesome. 

Today's watercolor, for a New Mexico friend, because I need to remember, beauty is everywhere--Brazos Cliffs, after a snow storm, a memory of what I saw one late fall evening.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Harvest's home, Thanksgiving

"Harvest's Home," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

"Lay
by in store," wrote the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian Christians long ago, urging them to save their gifts for those in need.

That phrase has an agrarian  basis, as rural people always took their harvests and prepared for the coming winter--whether canning garden  fruit and vegetables, or putting up feed in barns.

I suspect the Pilgrims did the same 401 years ago when they celebrated harvest with the first Thanksgiving.

Barns always catch my attention, and become painting subjects, even though I'm more urban and rural. Why? Don't know one reason, but perhaps one is that they are home to harvests...laying by in store during hard times.


Monday, November 23, 2020

Winter haiku

"Winter 2020," today's 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

Winter looms, as we

Hope holidays bring warmth back

In a bitter year


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Gloom, and Hope

'Gloom, and Hope," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches rough press paper

The gloom of late November has set in, yet...

My mood deepened as the gray skies and weather ended beautiful sunlit days, seeming to fit the deepening gloom of  personal issues, the out-of-control pandemics of disease, racism, threats of violence and a petulant president.

Having completed my annual Christmas card projects, gloom found me unable to pick up a paintbrush, because I couldn't think of what I wanted to paint what I felt. 

Two desperation attempts were disasters--they were not how I felt, or had a story to tell.

"What do you feel," asked Susan, and I responded gloomy, to match the weather, the times. "Then paint gloomy weather," she answered. 

Once I would have blamed the muse for leaving, but I know better now. If you want the muse  to help, just start work.

As this idea came together from an early try at "happy" colors, the rainy, gloomy November day became a journey. There is gloom indeed, but there is also hope as the holidays come, as change comes to the nation.

I have also been experimenting with rough press paper, rather than cold, and found the extra texture intimidating to begin with. But today, it worked, adding impressionist touches, the first larger watercolor I've been satisfied with in quite a while.

Which means, in spite of the gloom, there is also hope. I think the painting tells that story, rain, gloom, but hope in the window.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Brushing up, or branching out

 

Our front yard

The ice storm was probably my fault. 

A few weeks before it hit, wreaking havoc with our trees, our properties, our power, I bought Wendell Berry's new book, "The Art of Loading Brush, New Agrarian Writings," from our local bookstore Best of Books.

There is non-fiction, fiction and poetry in this book. The last chapters are a short story about rural life, where the book gets its name.

In the two weeks since the ice storm, we've been doing a lot of loading brush. In fact, every day, some splinter branch falls to the ground in our wonderful Oklahoma winds. I get up in the mornings, go cut it up into no more than six-foot lengths, and drag it to the curb. Brush piles line streets all over the city. 

The city is working its way here in cleanup, but my guess is that it'll be another month before ours, along with our many neighbors' brush piles are gone.

The irony is that we bought this house because we liked the trees. We still do--less in fallen leaves season, and certainly less now.

And there's more damage in the trees that needs professional work; tree guys are so swamped  that they're not taking new customers and that ours has just shown up.

In the meantime, I'm getting good at loading--well piling--brush.

Our curb appeal




Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Decoration Season

"Decoration Season," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting cardAdd caption

A
week from today, Thanksgiving, if not sooner, people will be putting up Christmas decorations, burning on lights, putting up trees, adding color to the days and nights. It's already happening in stores and malls of course.

This year, we're ready for some decoration in our world, some brightness...the pandemics of disease, deaths, racism, intolerance, hatred and political sickness have made it a dark year.

While most sane people will limit the number of guests, there will still be welcome signs out...much needed decorations of normality in an abnormal year..

Today's watercolor.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Warm Window

 

"Warm Window," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

'
Tis the year, the season when we crave warmth these days as the days grow shorter, the nights colder.

In a year of pandemic disease, isolation, racism, hatred, violence and political sickness, we need it more than ever--a pet on our laps, a cozy fire in the fireplace, snuggling with a loved one, enjoying warm holiday lights.

I dream of being inside thick adobe walls catching  the evening sun in the deep blue sky of New Mexico, fresh snow outside, a Christmas tree, a window of warmth on the world.

Today's watercolor.

Monday, November 16, 2020

A Season for Starlight

"Starlight Season," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

"Only in the darkness can you see the stars." 

                                                                 --Martin Luther King Jr.

It's been a dark year, but there have been stars to help lighten the world. We don't know most of their names, but they're still there when we need them the most...health workers, poll workers, protesters against racism and hatred, comforters of those who are mourning, spiritual leaders, loved ones. The list doesn't end.

We're approaching a season when the light of one star will fill hearts and images. And you can look up at night, travel back in time to the ages when the light of those stars first headed this way, across the galaxies.

Especially on cold, clear winter nights, as in a dark year, when fresh snow reflects their crisp light, you can look up in awe, thankful for the beauty and peace they shed into your spirit in the darkness.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

After the storm

"After the storm," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

Colors seems brighter, almost glow,  when they follow the darkness and danger of a storm.

"The light shines in the darkness," to quote the Apostle John, forever true since God created colors in the Beginning.

We've been through, are still enduring, plenty of storms this year in addition to nature's storms--pandemics of disease, racism, violence, intolerance, and political sickness and turmoil.

But that is also why the beauty of nature, the kindness and goodness of most unselfish people shine so much. Color, shining, after the storms.

Thus today's watercolor, evening sun on an adobe, after a snow storm. 

We all need more color in our lives these days.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Magic Metro Art

"Magic Metro," 4 x 4 acrylic

 
I've donated paintings to two art organizations for fund raising this year, one has been purchased and here's your chance to buy "Metro Magic, at a bargain price.

Now you have an opportunity to buy an original, and help the Paseo Arts Association, with the annual 4 x 4 auction, also entitled "Magic Metro," also acrylic on canvas, bids starting at $25, or buy-it-now for $75 on line. Dec. 1 and 2.

The online only portion of the auction for two days the week before the in-person event. It will open Tuesday, December 1 and close Wednesday, December 2. Bidding will begin at $25 as usual, and if pieces are purchased at the Buy It Now $75 price, they will not be available for bidding at the in person event. If, for example, a piece gets up to $45 during the online auction, then the starting bid will be $45 at the in person event.

The in-person action will be First Friday, Dec. 4, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Paseo's new art and creativity center. 

The 
first fundraiser at Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition's 12 x 12 was held earlier this fall and successful. My 12 x 12 acrylic "Metro Magic", at left, sold  to an OKC resident.

It's been a tough year for the arts, everywhere, and these fund raisers are more crucial than ever. Support the arts. 

Welcome season

"Welcome," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

Isn't
it time for some "welcome" news? How long since you've felt "welcome" in this pandemic and political sickness? Have you been "welcomed" recently?  Is the "welcome mat," still out?

This should be a season of welcoming, of pleasantries, of genuine friendliness and acceptance, more than ever this year. 

Consider the word's etymology. It derives from Ole English, in the 1300s, "wilcuma," which meant "a desired guest, a person whose coming is pleasing," from the roots willa, "pleasure, desire, choice," and cuma, "guest." It changed to the wel, influenced by Old Norse velkominn and Old French bien venu. (You can see that relationship in modern Spanish bienvenida.)

The first citation of “you’re welcome” in the Oxford English Dictionary dates from 1907, but others say it can be found as far back as 1603, in “Othello”, Act 4, Scene 1:

"Cassio shall have my place. And, sir, tonight

I do entreat that we may sup together.
You are welcome, sir, to Cyprus. Goats and monkeys!" 

"You're welcome "as a routine response to "Thank You"  is attested from 1907. "Welcome mat" is from 1908; welcome wagon is attested from 1940, from the OED.

That may be more than you wanted to know in this season when we need some welcoming. You're welcome, thank you.

Today's watercolor, the colors of welcome in New Mexico--turquoise, adobe, red and green.


Friday, November 13, 2020

Where the heart lives, as Thanksgiving nears

"Home," 5 x 7 watercolor greeting card

Thanksgiving
Day, 13 days from now, will be different than any other as the pandemic has ravaged the country--except perhaps the first one.

Yesterday, 400 years ago, the Mayflower arrived in what is now Massachusetts Nov. 11, 1620, with 102 passengers. A year later, only 51 were alive to celebrate their first harvest and survival. Think about that...celebration mixed with sadness for all those loved ones they'd buried.

I always think of Thanksgiving as a family holiday, and as an adult, have enjoyed it more than Christmas.  It has been a time of gathering, of home--where the heart lives--even when traveling.

The gatherings will be smaller this year as a result of the disease, but like those first survivors 399 years ago, in this horrible year of disease, death, racism, violence and political chaos, we can still celebrate survival while mourning the tragedies and turmoil that  have saddened  and disrupted so many lives. 





Thursday, November 12, 2020

Holiday hope

"Decoration Dawn," today's 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

 
I won't gripe about people putting up holiday decorations early this year. I don't think there can be an "early."

I'm not talking about the holiday music already playing in stores, trying to sell more merchandise. "Black Friday" has already become a month-long endurance tests for unending ads, which does make sense as merchants also struggle to survive.

But I wouldn't be surprised if some people are more than ready to hang some wreaths, get out holiday lights, and more. In the biologic and political disease ridden year of 2020, we need some holiday hope.

I saw these fence posts in the Texas Panhandle a few years ago, and  thought it would be appropriate to hang some holiday hope on them. It would brighten my day to see them, no matter how early, this year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Peaceful Power

"Peace at Pecos," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

As
we witness a violent power struggle in our country's politics, it is worth remembering that there is a different kind of power that transcends human greed.

There are simply places around the world of peaceful power, where where you can feel the connections between mortality and eternity, where the line between physical and spiritual is very, very thin or overlap.

I suspect different people find different such places, though there seem to be some that are almost universal....such as Jerusalem.

One of my places are the ruins of the old Franciscan mission church at what was Pecos Pueblo in New Mexico. I've been there many times, and am always drawn to it. It, and the ruins of the pueblo have an ancient history and always calls me. 

There is more here than just adobe and rocks--not exactly ghosts, but somehow still inhabited. It is a place of power, of peace, especially in the silence of a winter snow.

I've tried to photograph and paint its essence many times and am not happy yet. I may have to try it abstractly. But for now, here's an attempt in watercolor, catching the evening sun that turns its southern adobe face  red, appropriately at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo (blood of Christ) mountains. 



Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Pandemic prose and poetry, part two

One way to help keep your sanity in these pandemic days is to travel on guided tours...in your mind and imagination at least, through the pages of books you've meant to read, that you discovered, that discovered you.

My fiction reading
This week, I finished the 19th book--Ray Bradbury's October Country eerie short stories-- in the 19 weeks since the end of June, bringing to 43 a total this year--all part of my do it yourself schooling, and art school.

You can tell I like essays and shorter works where I can skip around and choose which stories I want to read first--though I mark them off and eventually get them all--I know, attention deficit disorder. I also read by keeping track of the pages  and the amount read--I know, anal. But hey, it works.

I also like books where there are words I have to look up...it's part of learning and discovery. I circle them and come back, finding new words and meanings. 

You can also tell that I prefer non-fiction, and the vast majority of these were purchased at my local independent bookstore, Best of Books in Edmond. 

Art--I crave learning from other artists of all kinds, especially how they create, their ideas. I'm old, have so much to learn in a short time.

  • Living Color, Natalie Goldberg--about writing and art. I've had this book for a while, but never read it all. New Mexican, writing teacher whose books, especially Writing Down the Bones, I've used in teaching.
  • Watercolor with O'Hara, Elliot O'Hara--an old classic--part of my DIY art school curriculum.
  • Color Theory for Watercolor--Ditto.
  • Architect of Light, Thomas W. Schaller--The most influential art book so far, by a current master, who has answered my e-mail questions. Read three times, one to read, two to mark up, three to take chapter by chapter notes.
  • The View from the Studio Door, by Ted Orland--Inspiration by co-author of Art and Fear.
  • Keep Going, Creativity in Bad Times, Austin Kleon, of Austin--One of the most creative people I know. I  have all his books and read his weekly newsletter for ideas and inspiration.

Poetry--I'm fortunate to know local poets and then discover others, whose sparse language and fresh images open  my imagination and widen my world. When possible, I buy direct from the poets.

  • Sunlight & Cedar, Ken Hada of Ada--Oklahoma awakenings, and more.
  • Dunce, Mary Ruefle--Someone I'd never heard of, an "erasure" artist (I had to look that up), recommended by Kleon in his newsletter. Esoteric, mind opening
  • In the Days of Our Seclusion, Nathan Brown, formerly of Norman, daily surviving pandemic poems also broadcast on his Firepit sessions, from prompts sent by viewers.

Fiction

  • Next to Last Stand, Craig Johnson's latest Longmire book...a quick, fun and educational novel about a relic of the Custer saga. Johnson gets better and better. A real Western.
  • October Country, Ray Bradbury, short stories read long ago and forgot about it, perfect for Halloween month. One so scary I almost couldn't finish it. Last book read so far.


Non-Fiction
--Obviously my preference, because again, there is so much to learn, so far to travel, so much of the craft of good writing to enjoy.

  • Say Yes to Life, Victor Frankle--Just published from his lectures post-concentration camp after the end of WWII. Author of Man's Search for Meaning which I reread earlier this year. Astounding new book!
  • The Word Pretty, by Elsa Gabbert--Essays by someone else I'd never heard about, recommended also by Kleon.. Interesting thoughts on writing and much more
  • Classic Krakauer, John Krakauer. Excellent journalism stories from 20 years ago about human drama around the world.
  • Bluebird Effect
    , Uncommon Stories about Common Birds, Julie Zickefoose. Narratives about the different birds she's helped in Ohio and northeast, with her great watercolors too.
  • Vesper Lights, Helen MacDonald of Cambridge, author of H is for Hawk and Falcon, essays about birds and nature, first person writing like a newspaper column. Lots of words to look up.
  •  Mentioned below  is the Art of Loading Brush, Leave It As It Is, and Roadside Geology of Oklahoma.
Unfinished--Four I didn't get through, for various reasons
  • Leave It as It Is
    , David Gessner--About Teddy Roosevelt and his conservation efforts. Read the biographical sections, some of the other  pro-environmental parts about the national parks under attack by Trump.
  • The Art of Loading Brush, Wendell Berry--Important, excellent writing of essays, fiction and poetry about agrarian issues for America. I skipped one longer academic piece. Second book of his I've read this year.
  • Moby Dick, Melville--One you're supposed to read, but long and wordy. First movie is much better. I got about half through it.
  • Roadside Geology of Oklahoma, Neil H. Suneson--didn't intend to read all of it, just the areas I've been on or want to travel. Didn't cover Beaver Creek area near Waurika.
Notes

  • The only book I bought that was a waste was a graphic (cartoon)  novel, part 2, of American Gods. My mistake. I thought it was a new book, but no, and I've already read Neil Gaiman's novel. It's out in the garage.
  • The only pre-pandemic book I'm getting back to is John Grisham's The Guardians. I started it, got bogged down, and now that I've finished all these, I'm about half way through it.
  • "Pandemic poetry and prose, part one" : http://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2020/06/pandemic-poetry-and-prose.html






A chill in the air

 

"Chill in the air," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting cardAdd caption

Snow
in the high country of New Mexico. A chill in the air. November days shorten, nights grow longer. Watching the fog of your breath. Bringing in firewood. Time for a fire in the fireplace. Stew. Chili. Blankets. Autumn.


Nine years ago, memories and missing

Uncle Mike, me and Susan in the bar at La Fonda, Santa Fe. Cuba Libre in the glass a few years ago

"Quartermaster
Clark. Shipmate," said the white clad sailor as he concluded and presented a folded flag  nine years ago. Another sailor played taps.


A
few minutes earlier at the Santa Fe National Cemetery,  I had given the eulogy for my favorite uncle, Michael Henry Clark, WWII and Korean War U.S. Navy combat veteran.

I've written about him and this many times as the years go by, and the memories pile up. I have a photograph of him teaching me, then a first grader, how to kick a football in Fort Worth. He was headed Korea. 

Now I miss most the late night stories in his apartment where he lived for years, across the Taos highway from the cemetery. Every night you could hear taps played at 9 p.m. And I miss the laughter and too much Cuba Libre as the night went wore on. I still have one of those glasses sitting on a shelf. 

A photo of he and Susan and I sits on my desk. I may need a Cuba Libre tonight.

Saludos, Sailor. 

+++

My post from nine years ago:

A Sailor's Final Port of Call

Monday, November 9, 2020

Enchanted Season

"Enchantment," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting cardAdd caption

"Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all."
--Vincent Van Gogh

How long since you've been enchanted? 

This year of pandemic, racism, violent storms, and political chaos has seemed almost devoid of  that emotion. But

On social media, have you seen the wedding photos, the photos of parents with new born? Enchantment in wonder, smiles and eyes. Have you viewed nature up close, the aspen, the changing leaves?  Enchantment, in spite of the rest of the world. 

I grew up in New Mexico, aptly named "Land of Enchantment." It still enchants me. especially in the mountains, when I can look up into the night sky and see the stars.

And,  though this year will be different, the holidays approach, a traditional season of enchantment. Thus today's watercolor, plus of course, my cabin in the mountains. Enchanted.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Season of Reflections

"Reflections," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

 '
Tis the season of reflections, more so perhaps this year than previous ones as we look back and forward too.

The pandemic has changed all our lives and habits, as has an election unlike any other. There is a lot of reflecting going on right now...politically, and personally, and the holiday season is almost upon us, a traditional time of refection spiritually and socially. We have lots to time to think, and lots to think about.

Thus today's watercolor...a bridge , a journey, in a world that, in spite of turmoils and trials,   still has beauty in it...also worth reflecting on.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Real mail season

""Hoping for mail," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

Remember
the expectation of going to the mail box, the joy of getting real mail?

Not the deluge of campaign ads, nor the constant barrage of other advertising that arrives every day. My first stop from the mail box is the outdoor trash receptacle.

The same is true of the flood of email messages that show up in my in-box every day. A daily chore. Scan and delete most of them. Since retirement, thankfully the flood of mundane, often unnecessary work-related stuff has ended. But still, rarely is there anything significant...certainly not exciting--remember how we were excited when email first started? No "You've-got-mail" anticipation. Not now.

But what is still exciting--as in can't-wait-to-open-it, are the rare times when real mail, handwritten from friends and family, shows up.

The walk to the mail box, a real mail box, was worth it.

If there is a season when more of that happens it is the holiday season. Thus today's watercolor.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Missing the Mountains

"Mountain Memories," 5 x 7 watercolor greeting card

 
I miss the mountains, even though it's only been a month since we were in Colorado.

I remember autumn and holiday trips there years ago, in Northern New Mexico, when early snow mixed with the golden colors of Aspen and Cottonwoods.

Alas, there won't be such a trip the rest of this year, but I can go there every time I pick up a paint brush, especially as I take my traditional journey with holiday greeting cards.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A day for comfort

"Home," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

It's
a day when we all need some comfort, some security, some goodness, some beauty.

Already withering under the demands and dangers of a pandemic and racism,  we endure the aftermath of a bitter election bringing more anxiety and turmoil as vote counting, lies and threats continue.

Crossing a metaphorical bridge to we're not sure where, I hope today's watercolor holiday greeting card brings some comfort, thinking of the security of home.

.


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

An hour in my life as an American, voting

6:44, Election Day at Edmond church of Christ

6:40
--When I parked the car across the street from the Edmond church of Christ this morning, I couldn’t see the end of the line of voters wrapped around the building. 

But in contrast to the early voting crowds last week, there were still cars pulling into the parking lots, no traffic jams on the streets, and people walking to the rear of the building. 

   I took a last sip of coffee, got my mask, my cap, my notepad and pen, and started walking. 48 degrees, sun not up yet. I leave my coffee…don’t want to have to “drain my radiator” as Mom would say, not knowing how long this wait would be. 
6:45—As I got to the rear of the church I could see the end of the line before it reached the church school playground. There are two precincts that vote here. 

6:46
--I start scribbling in my notebook and taking a few photos.
6:54—There are now about 20 people in line behind me, cars and people still arriving. 
   Almost all voters are maintaining five to six feet apart, most are wearing masks of every style, except a few close friends or family chatting away. Some are sipping coffee, looking at phones, a few with chairs. Coats, sweatshirts, caps. There has been no harassment or signs of intimidation. After all, Oklahoma, and most of Edmond, is “safe” in the national election. 
6:59—Line behind me is now around the playground and out of sight behind me. Cars still arriving, but still plenty of parking. 

7:00
–Sunrise, and the line is moving! About 10 feet at a time, in batches. Chatting with the guy in front of me, sharing stories of early voting taking four or five hours. He like me drove by last week and kept going. We discuss only two early voting places for the entire OKC metro being inadequate. 

    “It’s supposed to be easy to vote,” he said. “Yep. Americans will vote, regardless,” I said. 
   “Do the math,” he said. Me too…fewer people in two precincts, faster lines. Nicer weather. No mention of politics anywhere that I can hear. 
7:08—Sun hitting the tops of the trees, beautiful orange and yellow foliage not damaged by the ice storm glow in morning light. 
7:12—Line round first corner, heading south, moving well. 

7:18
—Around front of church, heading west toward entrance. Can see “Vote Here” signs ahead. 
7:25—Inside the church. Four lines, two for each precinct. People standing six feet apart. 
   “Where do you live?” someone asks in the other line. “Chimney Hill, two of us reply. He replies, “Me too. “Great to meet neighbors we’ve never met.” “Great neighborhood, we agree. We chat briefly about the ice storm, tree damage, Halloween being difference, cleanup. 

   “These poll workers are going to be exhausted by the end of the day,” we agree. 

7:31
—To front of line. I show my ID, learn that Democrats and Republicans are all on the same list. “The way it should be,” I say to the poll worker, and thank him. 
   I get a ballot, a sanitized pen, and go to the booth to vote. Then I walk to the computer doodad that takes the ballot, slip it in. Drop off my pen. 

7:33
—I’m number 84. 
7:34. I’m out the door, just ahead of the guy I visited with earlier. We introduce ourselves and part. I fill out an anonymous exit poll, deposit it and head for the car. One veteran is standing across the street, holding an American flag. My coffee is still hot.
   So thankful for those poll workers, and American freedom.
 8:45—Home. Susan can’t believe it, says, ”Wow.” 
   I’m charged. Voting makes you feel good. Now to transcribe my notes.


In this together

"In this together," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

I'm
a little tired of what has become a rather trite, PR-marketing phrase during this pandemic, "We're all in this together."

(Except of course for the selfish anti-maskers,  anti-vaxxers and  right wing bullies trying to prevent people from voting--they, full of fear and bias and ignorance, all put themselves above the common good.)

But my experience during  standing in line and voting today in Edmond, Oklahoma,  gives me hope....there were no Democrats or Republicans or independents...just Americans, wanting to vote, committed to voting.

So in many ways, most of us know we're in this together, for the good of our country, our freedoms, ourselves.

I hope today's watercolor captures that mood...in the midst of storms, there is still beauty, and the joy and comfort of being "in this together."


Monday, November 2, 2020

Landmark memories

"Landmark memories," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

Landmarks,
before GPS and detailed maps, loomed large in travel and history.

To me, and others, they are still important, and when I travel, I look for those as signals of memories and  of the stages of my trips.  Some are relatively small, but significant to me. 

Others capture my imagination, like the historic Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. It's literally a landmark, made of adobe, and the center of a civilization older than the United States, or the first European invaders. Many landmarks accrue a sense of power, of sacredness, of influence.

You and I can't visit there now, as it is closed to the public because of the quarantine. But that makes it even more precious. And like many landmarks around the world, considered as sacred by the inhabitants or others.

Thus today's watercolor...not architecturally accurate, but painted as an icon and lasting symbol of living, of memories, of landmarks of imagination, of travels, of special people. And I do know there is now there now, and on the sacred mountain, another landmark.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The October Watercolors

October...still a favorite month, in spite of a raging pandemic, raging racism, and a  raging president.

A month for beauty, for hope, and for this blog, a record, thanks to watercolors, more posts than any other since it began in 2009.

Thanks primarily goes also to beginning my holiday greeting card project, something that rescues me from doldrums, and in this year, depressing events.  

While I didn't accomplish a watercolor a day, there have been more than that accomplished. What you see here are the 20 posted on this blog, and the snow scenes are the greeting cards. All of them, except perhaps the Halloween Horror, are part of my effort to bring beauty and color into this negatively charged year.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Seasons of change

"Seasonal symbols," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

A
month ends, winter is coming, 2020 has been a year of change, and it's not over yet with pandemic, pandemonium and politics.

But we need change, if not of the kind and magnitude of this year, or we stagnate, as individuals, groups, organizations, countries. 

So today's watercolor greeting card is an attempt at something a  little different, an effort not to get in a rut, to face a challenge. October's end and November's beginning are seasons of change...time for something new.


Nightmare day, and year

"Nightmare," 5 x 8, watercolor 300 lb d'Arches cold press

I've
seen some compelling, and frightening  artwork for Halloween, and had to try something different. 

So here is today's watercolor, digitally enhanced, not exactly scary, but just use your imagination.

It's also a reaction to this year, which has been, and is a nightmare, of pandemic, violent racism and intolerance, and political extremism and chaos. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Season of Magic

"Season of Magic," 5 x 7 watercolor greeting card

The
world needs 
some magic these days. 

Even Halloween, the day of fun for all ages, is falling victim to the pandemic. Next will be  the holiday season when a traditional time of togetherness will not be the same.

In America we're also under attack by blatant racism and violence, threats to our voting, and a political chaos that has everyone on edge, to say the least.

I can't help but yearn for the years as a youngster when it was a season of magic, of fun, of discovery, of family and love and peace and good will toward all people.

Today's watercolor is just that, a reaction to the insanity, some magic while playing with color, to lift my and your spirits in our journeys.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Missing the starry nights

"Starry Nights," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

One
of the beauties of winter  are the clear cold nights when you can really see the stars.
I miss that the most about living in urban America. You really need to be someplace rural, far away from the light and noise and other pollution of too many people.
It's not just my emotion, but those of many through the years...consider the words of the Christmas carol, "Silent Night"--"Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright...."
It's gotten worse through the years as population has exploded. I can remember growing up in Albuquerque, when you could step outside at night and actually see with the naked eye the Milky Way. Now you can find a trace of it in the city, using binoculars.
It's not just nostalgia either, but a yearning, an awareness of the grandeur and vastness of creation.
So, today's watercolor card---postponed by two days because of winter's ice storm, as we've fretted the sounds of tree limbs cracking and collapsing around us. At  least the sun came out today, so tonight, at least I'll be able to see a few stars.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Warm Memories on a cold day--a milestone

 

"Warm Memories," 5 x 7 watercolor greeting card

When winter arrives  early, it's good to cuddle up with warm memories.

Today's cold front, rain, freezing rain, ice, snow sweeping across Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico makes my imagination wander...to bundled up walks in the snow, to rural countrysides, or to cozy cabins or farmhouses, the smells of cooking being prepared, a fireplace perhaps, a cat or dog on your lap.

Another journey...today's watercolor, tracks in the snow, and a discovery...this is one of the best I've done.

P.S. And a record, a milestone,  for this blog, thanks to watercolors. After this blog's life dwindled in the past few years, it then seemed to rescue itself  from journalism through seasonal watercolors. Thus post marks the second highest in October since the blog began back in 2009. And the total posts this year now have made this the fifth highest year since then.

A journey indeed. Now back to the palette and paint brushes.


 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Colorful medicine for a gloomy pandemic

"October medicine," 5 x 7 watercolor card

It's
a a gloomy day, in a gloomy year. Today's cold seems to seep in, mirroring a year and a season  of disease, violent racism and the politics of intolerance.

My mood, our mood, our spirits, our mental health, need more than a medical vaccine. So while this late October day is gloomy, I'm so thankful for what October does best. 

Brilliant foliage brings  color and brightness into the world, at least in the upper northern latitudes. It's no wonder the month is a favorite, of scenery, of memories, of fun.

So today's watercolor greeting card is just that, a vaccine for my moping mood. 


Friday, October 23, 2020

A fireplace kind of day

 

"Fireplace weather," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday cardn

Winter arrived today, on a cold front...or at least late fall....temps on the 40s, wind chill, gray skies.

"Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains," is almost trite in Oklahoma, but especially on the Great Plains, and especially in the Texas Panhandle, the Llano Estacado.

From yesterday's 70s and 80s, it's suddenly "Fire place weather." Normal out here, isn't it?\

So here's today watercolor holiday greeting card, especially for my friend Catherine Wardlow, Literati master,  of near Shamrock.