"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, March 29, 2015

Compost and watercolor journeys--part III

These are the most irregularly sized paintings. I notice that they're all about journeys alone or with partners, telling stories with unfinished conclusions, something increasingly on my mind, growing out of the compost of years and experiments in painting. 
The top one, painted a year ago,  is the largest, and wouldn't fit on the scanner at almost 6" by 14", so a little of the left side is cropped off.
Autumn of the years
The man with the dog is the largest and  close to standard size, a little bigger than 5" by 7". Notice a similar one at 5" by 5", both inspired by a man with a cane I saw walking in Hafer Park last year, once with a dog. 
Partners in travel become increasingly more important and "Sunday Communion" at about 5" by 7" and "Down the Beach" at 4" by 4 1/2" reflect that mood. 
Finally, the blurry background  of "Soul Mates"  is another experiment in impressionism about 5" by 8", and  the blurred foreground of "Homestead" at about 4" by 7"but then, the entire future is blurry
Irregular sizes and subjects that I all hope to get framed if I can find approximate sizes. An artists' journey. 

Sunday Communion

Down the Beach

Soul Mates

Compost and small frames.--II

Rain on the Sangre de Cristos--I painted this on the port of my late uncle's porch in Santae Fe, a few years ago
Pueblo Universe, 4" by 10"
Much of my compost pile of unframed work involves New Mexico obviously. These are also smaller, freer, more impressionistic. The largest is 7" by 10"  but all are non-standard sizes. I still need to have these framed.
The one at top I painted from my uncle Mike's front porch in Santa Fe five years ago, watching rain obscure the mountains. "Pueblo Universe" is a favorite and I have no idea how I did that, and "Taos Spirits" is another favorite impressionist, a small one of a large version I sold a few years ago at Paseo in Oklahoma City. At the bottom and a traditional landscape, "Cabezon" is a volcanic neck in northwest New Mexico, and this is the view I saw heading home from camping at Chaco Canyon. All of thee are personal.
Taos spirits--6" by 9"

Going to church--5" by 5"

Cabezon--on the road back from Chaco Canyon--7" by 10"

Artist's compost--Seeking small frames -- I

Gate to High Lonesome, the largest of these random watercolors at 8 1/2" by 9"
My "compost" file
Many of my paintings are smaller, and of random sizes on left over paper from bigger paintings. Usually, they're experiments, and never framed. Many are rejects, with flaws. But I rarely throw them away, as they suggest something I'd like to do again someday in a larger format.
That produces quite a portfolio of work--large and small--that I keep in a rack in the closet and from time to time I go though it, cleaning it out, discarding the worse work and reorganizing. It also serves as almost a compost pile as an inspiration to pick up the brushes again. They also mark how much more looser I work, and thus better, when I'm piddling, rather than "painting." Such were the two small paintings of Redbuds in the previous post.
Most recently I noticed several small works that I think should be framed. I'm looking for some small read-made frames  for some of these--relatively cheap ones. It's harder since most of these paintings don't fit standard sizes. In other words, these would be nice small works whenever I get back into a gallery.
Cottonwood--about 4 1/2" square

Tree in Paseo, about 7" by 8"

Friday, March 27, 2015

Redbud Impressions

Eastern Redbud, 6 by 8 watercolor
Hey, we don't have mountains here, but Eastern Oklahoma does, and besides, I can dream. It's a difficult tree to paint because you can't get all the colors or blooms or leaves, so you go for an impression. Here's another attempt at capturing the beauty of our state tree, the Eastern Redbud, with a few Indian Paintbrush, the state flower, starting to bloom.

Redbud in bloom

Oklahoma Spring--5" by 8" watercolor
Its blooms stand out like shimmering jewels among the gray  and brown of early Oklahoma spring, just as other trees are greening up. Redbud, the state tree. Hard to paint, but worth it, as captivating as its multiple shapes and hues. Here's one try.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A quarter century of memories

Journalism Department 1990 yearbook photo
Woody Gaddis (RIP), Lu Hollander, Vista secretary Nancy Brown, secretary Virginia Dodson, advertising adjunct Susan Gonders, Dennie Hall
Mark Hanebutt, Terry Clark, Charles Simmons
"How many students have you had?" asked a friend and fellow journalist  earlier this year.
I started estimating and I know it's been more than 4,000, probably close to 5,000. 
Part of that hit home this week when the UCO College of Liberal Arts presented me and two other faculty members with 25-year-pens.
A quarter century.
My student numbers include four previous years at OSU, before I came to UCO in 1990 as chairman of the Journalism Department.
Geezer, 2015
So many miles and memories. Tragedies and triumphs. Discoveries and disappointments. Teaching and turmoil. Friends and faculty. Students and survival. Wonder and wrinkles. Administrators  and meetings. Red tape and politics. Change and challenges. Successes and failures. Remarks and regrets. Travels and travail.
I dare not try to mention names of friends and students and experiences. Too many.
But I'm thankful...my students and former students reinforce that every day. My children and grandchildren. The ups and downs of a personal journey.
The campus, technology, the people, Oklahoma, America and the world have all changed in 25 years. My current students were not alive when I started at UCO. No cell phones, no internet, few computers. We started with five faculty members. There are now 22 in merged departments.
So here I am, a "geezer" as one fav ex-student calls me, an "old-dog," a "silver back," but not a "dinosaur." Or, as in the closing words of "Gladiator," "Not yet."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"Out here is the sky..."

So wrote Willa Cather in "Death Comes for the Archbishop." If you live in Oklahoma, on the Great Plains, you gotta be fascinated by the sky.
First storm of the season arriving now...thunder, lightning, threat of hail, wind, threat of tornadoes, and beautiful clouds.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

San Angelo Sojourn

A week ago, in San Angelo, with Vance and Kerin Clark
after the girls were in bed.
 A favorite photo...Sarah, Katherine and Neysa heading for a playground, at San Angelo State Park.

Energy galore.

Smiling Clarks.

 Another favorite photo.

Poetry of eternity and Oklahoma

When you find writers, artists and others  you should have known about but missed out.
I hate the overused word "Awesome," but that's my reaction to the worlds opened by "From the Extinct Volcano A Bird of Paradise" by Oklahoman Carter Revard.
Published by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish's Mongrel Empire Press, this 84-page book of poetry and thought goes beyond my words to tell you about.  
It is deep.
Revard is an nationally-acclaimed Osage scholar, writer and poet. BA, Oxford (That's England). Ph.D., Yale. Why am I now just learning about him? Click the link on him  and you'll be stunned.
Yet he is as Okie as you can be. It's a book of storytelling, and more because it opens you to the Native American view of the universe, existences and spirituality where all life is united.
The poems reflect his  belief that song, speech, poetry and community making are all linked.
This author will put you in touch with eternity and  Oklahoma. This book is a coup for Mongrel Empire Press. Every time I read part of it, I discover something new, about myself, about Oklahoma, about existence. There is science, mythology, literature, and the author's essays all intertwined.
Consider a few titles, author's comments,  and nuggets.
Titles--Dancing with Dinosaurs; In Chigger Heaven; Driving in Oklahoma; Over by Fairfax, Leaving Tracks; Deer Mice Singing Up Parnassus.
Author's comments--
  • "I suspect singing began from weeping and from laughing, turned into choral tragedy and comedy, kept time with rhythms and rhymes of tropical sunlight and starlight...."
  • "Without song, no nesting."
  • "I wished once again that the anthropologists who keep digging in the earth for our bones would listen for our songs in the air. We are extinct as dinosaurs, are are alive as birds."
  • From "Dopplegangers: A Nativity Ode"--
In this dark house there are no
stars but there is song, the hands
have warmed a bottle, there is milk,..."
  • From "In Chigger Heaven"--"We grew up crossing
the bluestem meadow full of flowers
in May, when butterflies were coming out to meet
the flowers at last as equals,...."
  • From "Living in the Holy Land" (at St. Louis for the Lewis and Clark bicentennial)--
"Forty score and seven years ago, 
give or take a few Heavenly Days,
our Osage forebears brought forth
on this continent, a new nation,
conceived in liberty and dedicated to
the proposition that all beings are created equal."
  • From "Over by Fairfax, Leaving Tracks"--
"The storm's left
       this fresh blue sky, over
Salt Creek running brown
and quick and a huge tiger
    swallowtail tasting the brilliant
orange flowers beside our trail....
"Makes me wonder,
 if archaeologists should ever dig these prints
    with possum's here, whether they'll see
the winged beings who moved
         in brightness near us, leaving no tracks except
             in flowers and
      these winged words."

Thursday, March 5, 2015

135 countries!

This blog has reached readers in 135 total countries today, when someone from the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts and Nevis clicked on. Wow. May will be the seventh birthday of  Coffee with Clark...I had no idea.
Here's the record of countries with new readers in the last 10 months:
5-14--El Salvador
1-23-15--Netherlands Antilles
3-5-15--St. Kitts and Nevis
I was  trying to do a short post about each country and its flag for a while, and I'm way behind.
Here are the three countries' flags from this year:

Netherlands Antilles

St. Kitts & Nevis

I note on this cold March day that they're all from wonderful warm areas of the world, with beaches and great scenery. Sigh.

Consider these stats of where the blog readers come from:
Europe--47 countries
Africa--29 countries
Asia--18 countries
South America--10 countries
Caribbean--9 countries
Central America--8 countries
Oceana--8 countries
North America--3 countries
Indian Ocean--2 countries

Footnote: Notice the flag counter gadget on the blog doesn't include that many countries. I only added it this year.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Of dreams and Okies, a deep mapscape

I feel like I'm reading dreams when I thumb through "Streets as Elsewhere" by J.L. Jacobs, a new book out by Mongrel Empire Press.
Like dreams that you write down afterward and may not necessarily make conscious sense at first, a jumble of thoughts and images, these 56 poems in 74 pages will jar your traditional map of Oklahoma.
You have to read them more  than once as they captivate your imagination.
"History, story, thought, place, space, objects all woven together and meshing/messing with time," wrote publisher/poet  Jeanetta Calhoun Mish  when I asked her about the poetry and poet.
The cover is a photograph of her grandmother on an old map of far southeast Oklahoma, a woman who lived to be 100 and was a midwife, and who inhabits many of the poems.
"Ancient maps stir the coals of our memories, letting us see  from whence we came," writes Jacobs in an afterword.  The title and title poem travel those kinds of maps, a unique feminine view of life here.
Poet J.L. Jacobs
This is Oklahoma storytelling of a different sort, sometimes strange, sometimes mentioning dreams. They are the stories of people with rough-hewn lives shaped by Oklahoma's timber country. How else to explain poems like "A Theology of Soil," "Indian Head Applique," or "Of wash rooms"?
When I read a book of poetry, or anything else for that matter, my habit is to mark those lines that jump at me, that make me wonder at the language, that catch the spirit of the book.
One line, in the poem "Call it sky" caught my eye immediately, capturing the spirit of the book:
"This empty house listens to the landscape ."
Mish says Jacobs writes in an inward, lyrical style. I think that style transports me inside her head, as though I was looking at her dreams.
There is also lyricism that is Whitmanesque: From "Are there only avenues in the Holy Land?" for instance--
"(Far off among the trees a night fisherman wades upstream.)
He crosses under the moon   and sees
a girl standing by ferry rail."
Portions of other favorites:

"A stream of dead water and a silk hankerchief"
"Slow over stones.
to know your noise    as a moth beating a curtain.
You wrap yourself at night
until you happen to dream...."

"Small upon the Sill"
"I wanted strewn rooms.    A delicacy of words.
Doorway to follow the road. One by one....
"Rain against the sills
in liquid arrows   pierce
our many partings...."

"Of wash rooms"
To see your own gray hands wrapping...warping.  Light
veers under fingernails. She sensed a direction
of washrooms      years ago."

"Are we far to the forest?"
"Imagine where landscape begins.  Beyond deserted walls
faces behind chimneys...."