"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.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

In the Autumns of our Days

"In the Autumn of Our Days," 8 x 10 140 lb d'Arches cold press paper 

Favorite season? 

For me autumn, and as get older, there are more intense reasons than before.

In earlier years, the cooler temperatures, the changing light, the colorful foliage, the end of summer, and more. 

These days, I identify, and notice,  more with the brilliant colors, the crisp air, the shorter days, the inherent necessity and promise of change, the coming of death. Metaphors and more.

Thus today's watercolor.

Friday, September 18, 2020

September birthdays


"September Arrivals," 8 x 10 140 lb Fabriano Artstico cold press paper

The leaves rattle. The light  crisps. The skies change.

Geese, all wildlife and nature know it. We do, deep down, especially in a walk in the park, on a drive on the backroads.

September. Birthdays of new seasons.

Autumn nears. Birthdays pass. Memories fade.

Thus today's watercolor

Thursday, September 17, 2020

When buyng art



Shared on Instagram by fantastic artist friend Kasie Sallee

Watercolor watershed

"Santuario in the Snow," 13 3/4 by 17 3/4 (framed), watercolor, 140 lb d'Arches cold press paper

Watersheds. Sources of life downstream. Watercolors do that for me sometimes, after the failures and frustrations at least, when they all come together.

Today's success story is such a watershed, the Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico, which I've painted many times. This one is also special, as it was commissioned. 

I've featured it before, but today I picked it up framed, ready to deliver on Saturday.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

An Oklahoma painting gets a new home


Sold! Thanks to one of my former students, Lindsay Brady Laird , graduate of UCO - Department of Mass Communication , for purchasing "Land Run Relic," at In Your Eye Studio & Gallery in Paseo Arts District on first Friday.

Half sheet #watercolor, 300 lb d'Arches. This actual barn is on a county road in eastern Oklahoma county.

Plus...This painting will be in an upcoming movie, "Stillwater" starring Matt Damon, rented earlier this year for the set in Coyle!

This makes me smile in so many ways, especially Lindsay's love of old barns and purchase. Proud it's got a great home.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Autumn journey

"Autumn Journey," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper 
Every painting is a journey...of challenges, of learning, of imagination, of planning, of problem solving, of technique, of frustrations, and of failures.
This one, a version of today's earlier greeting card, came from today's earlier failures. So I had to try again, on a larger format than the greeting card. Learned more. Another journey.
Cabins? Yes. Autumn? Yes. Aging? Yes. Journeys? Too many to count.

A cabin kind of day

"Mountain Sanctuary," 5 x 7 watercolor card, 80 lb. stock

Beware looking at maps on days like this. When I feel "cooped up," even if I can get out of the house, these days of pandemic give me "cabin fever."

But that cabin fever feeds my imagination for another kind of cabin fever , one I've written and painted about many times.

I long for being able to travel, anywhere these days, especially after viewing a map of Italy,  but I'd settle for a cabin in the West. 

It's a cabin kind of day. So today, suffering from double cabin fever, thinking about the travels of our years and age, here's a watercolor card for a friend.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Camping weather

"Camping Weather, 5 x 7 watercolor card
How long since you've camped out?

For me, too long, and this cool weather brings back the memories...and the urge.

A couple of weeks ago, I rummaged through my camping gear stored in one of those plastic lock top bins in the garage.

Sleeping bag, Coleman stove, tent, hatchet, utensils, instant oatmeal, coffee, a few pots and pans..all with histories of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico or other places.

Then I drove through a park  near Arcadia Lake, looking for prospective campsites. 

Thus today's watercolor, another birthday card for someone special this month, done quickly from the heart. 

Thankful for the childhood memories of sitting around a campfire, huddled against the night chill, as the full moon rises  over the Manzano Mountains, a big tent nearby, enjoying camping weather.  

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The years go by

"Great Plains skies," 5 x 7 watercolor card

"Great Plains Skies," 5 x 7 watercolor card
Birthdays. Special days.

One of my salvations as an artist has been the developing habit as the years go by of painting greeting cards for special people on special days.

It started out simply, for family, and still continues, as family and friends have increased.

These are blessings for me, as I paint more free and loose and imaginative than my usual uptight self.


Monday, September 7, 2020

September Country

"September Sunset," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
You can almost feel it, with autumn only a couple of weeks away. 
In the northern latitudes or the mountains, it's already here. But where ever, you can see the light changing, hear the leaves cluttering, see the seed time ripening.
Ray Bradbury wrote a book called October Country, and as I watched the season change, I thought there is also a September Country.
There's metaphor there too, especially as you age. Every day is shorter, every sunset is more valuable. 
Today's quick watercolor took me on that journey.   I find it interesting that I'm painting more and more in orange, the complementary of my favorite blues. Not sure why, but orange is also a color of September.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Mountain refuge

Stormy Refuge, 5 x 1 1/2 watercolor, 300 lb d'Arches
Where do you go for refuge, for sanctuary,  in these times of turmoil?
For the religious, Psalm 46 has an answer, and for the writer, his personal turmoil and danger  would have matched ours.
And I suppose, for believers and spiritual in an omnipresent Creativity, that means we are all part of God.
Thus I can seek refuge in my imagination, in my creativity, and in my memories, when we seemingly have no other choice.
We are desperate for  refuge and sanctuary to maintain our mental health in these stormy days of pandemic viruses, racism, hatred and political chaos that attack our every well-being.
Refuges I've always counted on are the mountains, and cabins of New Mexico and Colorado--and we just postponed a journey there for solace because of incoming weather.
I have no choice, shaking off disappointment, to journey into my memories, and spontaneously spread paint from those thoughts and experience.
Thus you have today's watercolor, an abstract expression of stormy refuge from my imagination.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Faith and power in the New Mexico earth

"Santuario in the snow," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Have you been to El Santuario de Chimayo in northern New Mexico? Have you touched the Holy dirt?
Though a relatively short drive from Santa Fe, in many ways it's a trek  back in time where you can witness, and experience a faith that defies modern science. It is a place of power.
Hundreds of pilgrims trek there every holy week, seeking forgiveness and healing, and more than 300,000 visit the shrine every year. 
You don't have to believe, but you will be stunned into hushed silence by the evidence of crutches and rosaries and more hanging on the walls in the little prayer room next to the little "pocido" room. 
Holy dirt from Chimayo, and a bear fetish from a Jemez Pueblo artist
There you can scoop the holy dirt out of the small hole in the floor. The chapel was built in 1814-1816 after a local farmer witnessed a miracle there. 
I have some in an antique bottle right in front of my computer from a trip years ago. We go every time we're in New Mexico, also to buy the excellent red chili powder from a local farmer.
All of that is just to give perspective  to today's watercolor, of the Santuario in the snow. This isn't the first time I've painted it, or written about it. But today's was commissioned after a person saw an earlier version and said,"That speaks to me."
It speaks to me too, so here it is, watercolor, with a touch of white acrylic for snow flakes.
Here are two previous blog posts on the Shrine 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Six month watercolor journey begins in March

March watercolors--turn on the sound
(The third slide is my impression of the virus)
In early March, there was a storm on the horizon.
"It's coming," said my doctor during a visit, referring to the COVID virus infecting the world.
We didn't understand how serious it would be, in middle America, where we feel relatively secure or isolated.
We celebrated St. Pat's day a week early, and during the first two weeks of March, I only did two watercolors...ironically one of a thunderstorm on March 4, and another of a lone canoe paddler on March 7.
March 15 changed that with quarantine, and I began painting daily watercolors, thanks in part to Doodlewash, which provided daily prompts. I didn't always follow them, but when I look at those from six months ago, I can almost tell you their stories, the prompts, what was happening. They are in effect, the beginning of a six month journey, a watercolor history.
I decided to try to paint something to lift spirits, light  against the darkness of disease.
Since then, in the next four months of daily challenges, I painted 98 watercolors, and completed 15 more in August.
I won't bother you with comments or captions on these, though you can easily guess the one for St. Pat's Day as I reflect in this slide show. If you want daily comments and captions, you can click on the blog posts of March and scroll forward, beginning with the March 4 post, Beauties and Beasts.
One other one  included in the show is of my beloved Sandias, in New Mexico...it was a birthday card for my brother.

Monday, August 31, 2020

The paintings of August...slide show

Time slips away as August fades into September

"Time slips away, August to September," 5 1/2 by 8 1/2, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Another month slips away in a tumultuous year of pandemics in virus, racism, political chaos.
I started thinking about the country song as I tried to paint my last watercolor of August, "Funny how time slips away."
This was a slower month painting for me, as the times took their toll mentally, spiritually and creatively. In previous months, I'd averaged almost one a day, but not this month. I think today's is number 15, but I've been painting some larger ones.
If you scroll back in the blog, there seems to be a theme in most of them, a common connection though the subject varies. Can you spot it...linked to the toll of the times?
Back to that plaintive country song, written by Willie Nelson for Patsy Cline,  that haunts me:
"Hello there, my it's been a long time
How am I doin'? Well, I guess that I'm doin' fine
It's been so long now but it seems now it was only yesterday
It ain't it funny how time slips away...."

Funny how those words, that mood seems to fit these days, isn't it?
How do you paint August slipping into September in a year like this.
I've tried to paint color and subjects as a "balm in Gilead," without being trite, because we certainly need that.

But what came out of my brush today was decidedly abstract for the second time this month.
What's the story here? Just my reaction to time slipping away, where there is no certainty, no firm answers, where color and meaning bleed into each other.
(Yes, this one has been digitally enhanced, a little.)

Saturday, August 29, 2020

When the days get shorter

"Remains of the Day," 8 x 10 watercolor, 300 lb d'Arches cold press paper
Another month slides by and the days get shorter.
Nowhere do you notice that more than in the country, on the Great Plains of Oklahoma or New Mexico, watching the landscape and buildings weather another passing season, unprotected by air conditioning or urban concrete and plastic.
We need those reminders more than ever in these seasons of pandemics of virus, racism, urban sterility and political chaos. There is another world, a world of wide open spaces, of less population, of nature.
Thus today's watercolor, a decaying barn on the Great Plains, wildlife coming home to roost.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

"Out here there's the sky"

"Oklahoma Sky," 6 x 10, 140 lb d'Arches cold press paper
The clouds are moving constantly across our skies today, weather probably affected by Hurricane Laura.
Out of that destruction, we here on the Great Plains get benefits...rain in places, varying temperatures, and the play of the colors of clouds and landscapes, always changing, in infinite forms.
"Out here is the sky," is my adage, describing the country I've grown up in and lived in most of my life. I thought of that after reading Willa Cather's novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop. There she describes the immense New Mexico sky and affect on the landscape. Hers was more poetic than mine, but it still fits much of what I'm drawn to, find magic in, write and paint about.
So as the light and colors and clouds shift outside my window today, the muse found me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

A Geography-- Pandemic poetry-3

Into Autumn--
   "I am falling
    into the whirlpool
     of Time." --Ken Hada
Pick up this book for a journey into a geography of passing time, of living, of aging, of insights from landscapes and wildlife.
It's taken me almost a month to write that sentence about Okie Ken Hada's new book, Sunlight and Cedar, I suppose because it seems so personal. Poetry, and art, are more needed than ever  as an antidote to these chaotic times, to keep us sane, and human. 
  (Before I tell you more, let's get this out of the way to begin with--you can order it on Ken's website, $18.00 including shipping.  https://kenhada.org/ )
I expect most of these 80 poems in 103 pages were written before the pandemic since the book came out in May. But his words, imagery, and ability to transform an everyday topic into something timeless seems more important. 
Landscapes? Where would you like to travel on a new map? A donut shop? The zoo? Lake Eufaula? Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Boundary Waters, Chicago, Milwaukee?
Live Oaks of Texas--
  "They welcome, They invoke.
   A confessional, a shrine,
   they balance a world
   that doesn't always turn just right."
Wildlife? What would you like to see through new eyes? Badgers. bobcat, wolf, coyote, deer, sheep? Birds? Loons, hawks, geese, ducks, juncos, cardinal, pheasant?
Approaching Geese--
   "Clamoring, you hear
   them long before they
They're all here, and more, whether about playing dominos with  his father, or the magic of dawn or memories of a table.
Because I am aging, I think the dominant theme of this book has to do with passing time and aging, which I'm aware of every day. But that doesn't mean it's depressing. It's far more about living, surviving.
A review should entice readers, not bore them with long paragraphs and fancy words, especially when writing about the sparse language of poetry. The best way to do this is to offer you some snippets from Ken's poems. (By the way, all these lines and poems are copyrighted).
Chicory in the Ditches--
"We are made for the morning.
Starting over is something
we should get right."
(driving to play dominoes with his father on Christmas eve)
"Thoughts of holidays past
will come and go, fleetingly,
like birds at the feeder 
hanging just a few feet
from our game...."
"Tomorrow is a pensive word.
Both restless and hopeful."
Passing Solstice--
"...when you have passed the point of no return
you can tell yourself new lies,
making up new truths 
to keep the calendar moving."
Leafless Trees--
"Each winter
seems a bit longer." 
Peshtigo River--
(This is one of the most lyrical in the book)
"Slow me down, Peshtigo
Slow me down.
Let the current flow
past undisturbed."
Black Badgers--
"Everywhere I look, fall confronts me
The human scar-tainting this work,
this place I try to lease destiny"
"We are headed for that time
when color abandons us....
"Sepia is for memories--
a time before."
A Table--
"A table tells so much:
"...A table keeps the secrets of Time."
And if He is Lucky--
"...the rust of life..."
Other images:
Allegory in Blue--
"...like sausage sizzling
in a skillet on a sunny morning."
Frosty Morning--
"Without sun
      there is no shadow;
Without shadows,
     we are never whole." 
"From where I sit
a jet flies through the Big Dipper
but nothing spills."
Donut Shop--
kneaded like dough
just enough to hold
some flavor."
Morning Hawk--
"...she stalks death in the shadow of morning."
That's enough. Ray Bradbury wrote that poetry exercises muscles we don't use. It also helps us see. Ken Hada's poetry does that.
P.S. To read more of his poetry, click on my review of The River White , his book with his watercolor artist brother,  Duane. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

On the Llano Estacado

"Llano Estacado," 6 1/2 by 10" watercolor, 140 lb d'Arches cold press pape
"This jagged landscape filled
with harsh formations
rising in rugged
abrupt relief
is beautiful."
     --From "Llano Estacado," in Sunlight & Cedar, --Ken Hada

Llano Estacado. The "Staked Plains" of the Texas Panhandle and Eastern New Mexico...where flat is deceiving.
A place of magic, of history, unless you had to walk the interminable flat land  like Coronado and the Spaniards looking for gold, or rode horses across them like the U.S Army looking for Comanches 300 years later, instead of speeding along at 75 mph on an Interstate today.
Even today, people seem to think they're boring, featureless, something to get across as quickly as possible. And they're not all flat. They're a land of extremes, of weather, and of geology.
You haven't looked? Or dodged huge thunderstorms, survived ice storms and hai, and blizzards, weathered continual winds, watched for tornadoes, experienced the dust storms, or discovered the canyons and caprock. 
(I've driven them often, especially these recent years when my daughter and son-in-law and grandchildren have moved outside Canyon, 10 miles south of Amarillo. Todd is an MD in the Texas Tech system in Amarillo, and Dallas, besides being a full-time mommy, operates two indie bookstores, Burrowing Owl Books in Canyon and Amarillo.)
That is an aside to the story of today's painting. As with anyplace that still has wild in it, and wide open spaces, there is to me always poetry.
And Ken's poem inspired today's painting. Those verses above are just the opening. If you want the rest, buy his book, or wait for me to review it.
I've had his new book since it came out in July, intending to review it, and that is coming soon. But it takes me time to stew on choosing paints and words especially in dealing with poetry. Ken lives in Ada, and is nationally recognized. Sunlight & Cedar is his eighth poetry collection. The cover carries a photo I expect was taken somewhere along the edges of the Llano in West Texas. 
Today's painting is more impressionistic than two dimensional  as fits the poem and the spirit of the Llano, and I've found that poets think in several dimensions. 
By the way, don't expect the rest of Ken's poem to be flat as the llano. Like the landscape, there are always twists and surprises.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Hoping for rain

"Hoping for rain," 11 x 14 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Today's watercolor went places I didn't intend, attempting too much, I now realize.
Old barns inspire me, and I paint them often, because I can imagine the stories. 
I like the basic idea here, and the story of a farmer watching rain clouds in the heat of summer. 
But, after a slow start, at least I painted, not one for framing with too much I'm not proud of, but definitely one for learning. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Greeting card kind of day

"Time to Roost," 5 x 7 Strathmore 80 lb card
When the muse seems to snooze, I make myself paint greeting cards.
For some reason I loosen up, let my imagination and colors run, and have fun, seeing what will happen. 
Two of today's four--all had similar colors--
complementary oranges and blues, with some violet and red.
Titles? How about, "Time to Roost"?
Who gets them? Don't know yet. But I'm at least ahead of any deadline.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Watercolor lessons in humility and story telling

"Memories, after the storm," 8" x 10" watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
A week ago, I began trying to paint the chapel at Fort Reno. The results have been multiple lessons in humility, watercolor, and story telling. 
After several unfinished attempts ending in frustration, I managed to at least complete one I'm at least not disappointed in.  The first attempt I wrote about last week. See "A painting begins".
The painting changed from horizontal to vertical format this week, a lesson in composition. A lesson in complementary colors and contrast gave the front a slight orange glow to help tell the story, reflecting the morning sun after a storm. A lesson in figures and contrast added to the story possibilities. 
I wanted to paint more than just a building...buildings are basically boxes, not that hard. But historic ones deserve more than just a rendition, a photographic replica.
I hoped to catch some of the power and history of that chapel built by German and Italian POWs the year I was born.
there have to be so many memories in that building, past and present. I wanted to try to paint what inspired me--the thoughts of those memories, plus the metaphor of a morning "after the storm."
That's the story of this lesson in watercolors...I learned much, about watercolors, and myself.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Refuge in times of distress from pandemics and "Patriots"

"Refuge," 9 x 12 watercolor, 140 Lb. d'Arches cold press paper
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalms 46:1
Where are your refuges?
We all need them these days, as we strive to survive the pandemics of biologic virus, "patriotic" racism and political chaos.
One of mine is watercolor painting, though I'd prefer a cabin in the New Mexico mountains, but that's not possible at the moment.
We're used to reading about the thousands of unfortunate refugees around the world fleeing from oppression, from war and violence.
Needing refuge is nothing new, witness the words of David, who also needed refuge, in Psalms 46:1.
I never thought I'd apply the term "refugee"  to myself.  Though not in as dire conditions as those homeless hundreds, I am a daily refugee, spiritually and mentally,  in these times, from the constant anger and idiocy and sickness that constantly attacks us.
This started me thinking about scripture and the word refuge.It was first used by -Anglo-French Middle English in the 1300s from the 
 Latin refugiuma noun that meant “the act of taking refuge” or “a place of refuge or asylum.” Refuge  can mean both a literal “shelter” and a figurative “sanctuary.” Refugium came from the verb refugere (“to run away” or “to escape”), itself formed from fugere (“to flee” or “to avoid”).
All those meanings fit me, and I suspect, most Americans today.
The first use of refugee was to describe more than 400,000 Protestants who fled France following the revocation in 1685 of the Edict of Nantes, the law that granted religious liberty and civil rights to the Protestant Huguenots.
As I view the insanity of our times and the so-called "patriot" anti-maskers defending their "liberties," and threatening open violence against minorities or those who disagree, symbolized by the yellow flag "Don't tread on me," I thought of another appropriate use of the word, that applies today. 
In the 1700s, the figurative use of refuge was  used by the  English lexicographer Samuel Johnson, who famously quipped: 
“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
Thus today's watercolor, a metaphor for the stormy times in which we live.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

The magic of framing

"Lonely," 12 x 26 watercolor, framed  and for sale
Completing a painting you're satisfied with is a relief as well as a sense of accomplishment, even when you can see room for improvements, which is almost always in unpredictable watercolor.
But to really lift your spirits, it's necessary to take the ones you consider sufficiently acceptable and have them framed.
Selection of a frame and matting is as much a choice as your palette colors, except more restrictive because you're dealing with the painting. A frame and mat can kill a work of art, or make it jump off the wall.
Generally, a cheap frame will cheapen the painting. When you're starting out, you probably don't have a choice but a chain store, with limited choices of mats and frames. My early work was no different.
But as I've kept at this, I've found  even taking some of those earlier paintings, and having them professionally reframed has rescued the paintings and led to sales.
The problem with watercolors on the art market, is that if you invest in the framing, matting, glass and all, the prices go up to where the paintings may not be competitive with other art, especially acrylics and oils that don't require glass, and sometimes even frames.
But, still, there is a joy of discovery and satisfaction when work you consider worth quality framing is completed. Good framers have the experience to help you with mat choices and frames. You drop a painting off, and a few days later get a phone call saying it is ready.
That happened today when I walked in Pirate's Alley on Britton to pick up a painting.
"Wow, Terry Clark," I said out loud, to laughter,  when I saw what happened to my painting.  Owner Theresa Hurt is also an artist, but has an uncanny eye and experience for just what a painting needs. to set it off.

"Prairie Rorschach," 13 x 16, ready for the gallery
So that's the story of my painting "Lonely," 23" by 26" framed. I also bought one of her ready made frames, used my stock white mat and board, and has Pirate's Alley put backing and hanger on it. See what a difference that makes to "Prairie Rorschach," 13" x 16" framed.
The magic of framing.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

A painting begins

A beginning
The Fort Reno chapel seems a simple subject for a painting, brilliant white walls, straight angles, blue shadows, lots of  stories, considering it was built by German POWs in 1944, the year of my birth.
But simple it isn't I discovered as I began trying to do a watercolor, remembering that "I'm not a camera, I'm an artist," as the terrific painter Thomas W. Schaller writes in his book, "Architect of Light."
Final value study
First steps are value sketches, from an earlier one on site this week. Even that's not simple as you try to get perspectives and proportions correct. It took several attempts and views, while deciding on composition, and paints.
Then there was choosing the colors, looking for complementary and thus contrasting colors (in this case, blues and oranges).  a few experiments mixing paints, and at least three attempts of the skies on watercolor paper.
There was more "stewing," considering the composition, another value sketch, and more mixing of colors. And, underneath it all, figuring out what really inspired me, and what story I'm trying to tell. More on that later. 
And then I put the photograph away and don't look at it when painting, as advised by one of my workshop teachers Tom Lynch. I'm not painting the chapel, but what inspired me, again from Schaller.
Today, first stages in what I hope will be a work of art, not the  photograph I took Tuesday.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Peace in the valley

"Peace in the Valley," 8 x 10, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
"There will be peace in the valley for me, some day
there will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray...."
A walk in the woods brings peace these pandemic days of virus, racism and political idiocy, I discovered in Martin Park Sunday.
Suddenly some of the verses of an old spiritual came to mind, and I found my self saying, "There'll be peace in the valley." 
That overcame the Bible verse that seems to fit the days as well: "They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace."--Jeremiah 6:14
The lyrics vary, but here is a version that inspired today's watercolor, for our journeys. This is another study in complementary color contrast--yellow oranges and blue violets greens. 
And while you're at it, if you look at my last five watercolors, do you see a common theme?

"Oh well, I'm tired and so weary
But I must go alone
Till the Lord comes and calls
Calls me away, oh yes
Well the morning's so bright
And the lamp is alight
And the night, night is as black
As the sea, oh yes
"There will be peace in the valley for me, some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray
There'll be no sadness, no sorrow
No trouble, trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me, for me."

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Soul's journey

"Soul's Journey," 8 by 10, 140 lb d'Arches cold press paper
Watercolor is a journey, a journey of learning, of experimenting, of trial, of error, of frustration, of color, of discovery, of magic, of a soul searching.
In these desperate days of pandemics of virus, racism and political chaos, we need peace, focus, beauty more than ever.
This morning I had no idea what to paint, but then I remembered my canoe.
I miss my canoe, especially at being out on Arcadia Lake at "First Crack," of dawn, when there is stillness and beauty and ...peace, as the natural world wakes up.
A recent program on the river Shannon in Ireland jarred my memory of solitary canoe trips, where I, alone in the universe, journeyed beyond my imagination.
It's a big step for me, because as a child of the arid Southwest in New Mexico, I'm basically not comfortable with  of lots of water. Bad things happen there. But we need water to live. Journeys.
So today's watercolor, near the end of the day, metaphorically, another study of complementary colors--red/oranges and violets, "Soul's Journey."

Friday, August 7, 2020

Four Months of Pandemic Paintings!

"Catnap," 5 x 7, in the slide show below
Here is my slide show of four months--April through July--of my almost daily watercolors, trying to be an antidote of color and hope and peace to the pandemics of virus, racism and political bigotry in America.
Enjoy. Pandemic Peace

Prairie Psychology

"Prairie Rorschach," 8 x 10, 140 lb, d'Arches cold press paper
Ideas for art come from everywhere, if you just look, especially at nature,
Today's watercolor, another antidote, and a fitting one by title and inspiration,  to the pandemics of virus, racism and political bigotry affecting us all come from a twitter post.
I'm indebted to Dr. Jim Bohn of Milwaukee for a photo and comment he posted earlier this year, "Rorschach in the Sky." 
He's an author and "organizational contrarian" and a watcher of skies. His website: BlueCollarScholar. It's neat who you can meet in social media.
This painting has been brewing for a while and the time arrived after my studies in using complementary colors, and this one works because of yellow orange and purple/violet.
"Prairie Rorschach." What do you see? I see wide open spaces and peace. (BTW, this is on d'Arches paper because Fabriano couldn't handle the water and give me the graded washes for the sky.)
Jim Bohn's  photo "Rorschach in the Sky"

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Poetry for Pandemic Paralysis-2

"Poetry in Pandemic Darkness," 7 x 9 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
"And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." 
     --John 1:5, New Living translation. Others use "comprehend," or "overcome," adding  meaning.
Reading poetry, listening to poetry reading, listening to music, playing music, painting, viewing art, working in glass, reading and writing literature, sculpting...the kaleidoscopes of art shine the light of humanity into the world. 
In  these dark days of pandemics of virus, racism and political chaos, they're needed more than ever...salve for the soul, beacons of hope and beauty amid all the ugliness and tragedy.
It's no wonder tyrants and sociopaths and politicians try to squelch or defeat art--art is an expression of freedom, and of humanity.
These were my thoughts as I read some friends poetry, listened to another's poetry reading sessions, and even before that, when I determined to pick up paint brushes and try to create paintings with bright colors to tell stories of hope and life.
And Bradbury's comment also spurred my ideas:
“Read poetry every day of your life. Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don't use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition. It keeps you aware of your nose, your eye, your ear, your tongue, your hand.

     --Ray Bradbury, Zen and the Art of Writing
Thinking of the arts  inspired today's abstract watercolor--Poetry in Pandemic Darkness.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Poetry for Pandemic Paralysis-1

“Read poetry every day of your life. Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don't use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition. It keeps you aware of your nose, your eye, your ear, your tongue, your hand.
     --Ray Bradbury, Zen and the Art of Writing
These are days when we need poetry more than ever, as our mental muscles and spirit atrophy from the isolation of the pandemics of virus, racism and political mayhem.
I'm fortunate to know several poets, and their words and images stretch my spirit. As certain books choose you when you need them, so do certain poets arrive at just the right time. The three most recent have been Kay Lawson Gilbert of Pennsylvania, Ken Hada of Ada, and Nathan Brown, former Oklahoma poet laureate, now of Texas.
My friend, poet and blogger, Kay Lawson Gilbert  posted two poems this spring that so jogged my mind, pulled me deeper with her images. By the way, an earlier poem of hers paired with one of my watercolors, is in the right sidebar of this blog. With her permission they follow, and remember, they are copyrighted.
The Dual
"Something's at me today--
a tearing of form,
a stitching of words,
a definition of hours,
like a quiet folding
or unfolding
of the thinnest paper.
"It's like sitting with my back
against my own back and
trying to wrest something
from the sweat of my skin,
and the salt of my bones."

 "I can’t help thinking
that I would feel at home
in the closed off hives
under the pear trees
in amber stillness,
in the warm wax cells –
there to be born again
To a life of sweet daylight.
But – somehow, I survive
in a dim aging cellar,
where the spirits settle
among the oak barrels
that rise in the darkness
like communal hunchbacks,
awaiting clarification."

Kay Lawsona ter=Ken Hada
Nathan Brown

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Back roads blues

"Lonely," 11 x 17 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Back roads beckon me in these deepening, depressing  days of pandemic viruses, racism and political chaos.
But other than short trips in central Oklahoma, they seem almost out of reach. I yearn for the wide open spaces, rural roads with almost no traffic for miles, in Oklahoma, Texas or New Mexico, alas.
Every painting has at least one story, and indeed, instead of painting a subject, I try to paint a story, a hint of a story, as another artist advised. 
Another teacher of mine advised to paint an "art word," not a subject. Not a barn, but "decaying," for instance. That leads what still another artist wrote, to paint what you "feel." My art word for this one was "lonely."
Today's quick painting came out of those back road blues I'm going through. this is out of my imagination, my yearning for the open spaces, trying to capture the mystery, the discovery around the next been, out in the country where you can breathe, see the sky and the far horizons.
Details: another painting of complementary colors--blues and oranges. Only three brushes--two inch and one inch flat, and a small round. 
After a sketched value study--dark, medium and light then wet into wet, paper soaked, largest brush, raw sienna over everything, then orange over most of the top half of the paper, then second brush, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna for clouds.
When almost dry, a little magenta-cobalt blue for most distant landscape. Then overlay next mesa with ultramarine and orange for brownish color. Next closest mesa, ultramarine and burnt sienna with more water for blue color. Finally, foreground of thick ultramarine and burnt sienna. Using same brush, the yucca. Small brush to add detail on distant road, and  sign it.
This is the largest I've attempted in a long while and was done without worrying, loosely in a hurry, on the back of a ruined painting, on the back porch in plein air, an 11" by 17" sheet of Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper. 
This is why painting helps me survive another day of pandemic and back roads bluse. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Stories to tell

"Stories to tell," 8 x 10 watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
Every painting has at least one story, I've discovered over the years, and today's effort is no exception.
The first story  of this painting is the travail  I've gone through trying to paint it. More on that in a moment.
Another has to do with the declining number of abandoned one room school houses you see across the Great Plains, New Mexico  and Oklahoma. 
They've grabbed my  attention, provoked my  imagination--just think how many ghosts and untold hopes and memories and stories there are from within and around those walls.  They're monuments to a bygone era of simpler, but harder times, of declining rural population and increasing rural poverty. The story I wanted to tell in the painting was of those vanished stories and hopes.
If I was going to be snarky, I'd make this an editorial cartoon, labeled "Republican plan for public education."
But that would be another story, and in this pandemic, we don't need any more snarky, do we? That's why I've tried to paint every day, using bright colors as a salve for all the darkness in the world.
The story of this painting is one of several failures. The last daily prompt of #WorldWatercolorMonth in July was "Do-Overs."
I tried and failed  to painting a larger version of the little one-room school house I painted on July 29, titled "Yesterday." 
Actually I tried and failed (my friend Theresa Hurt who owns Pirates Alley frame shop in Britton calls them "lessons,"  three times that day. I started with the skies and ruined three sheets of paper. I quit.
Thus July 31 was the only day of the month I didn't produce a painting. I sulked and stewed through the weekend and tried again this morning. I had another "lesson." So I switched to better, heavier paper, and instead of painting the sky first, did it last.
My attempts were meant to use only complementary colors--in this case blues and oranges, and to emphasize as much white and light as possible.
So that's one of the stories  of this painting.
July 29th painting, "Yesterday."