"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, February 26, 2017

Reflecting--Eastern Oklahoma sunset and cabin

Reflections, 14 by 21 watercolor, 300 pound paper

Dreams of solitude and quietude away from traffic. Largest painting in a long time. 
Commission completed, once framed. Thankful for the challenge.
It's time to get away. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Media discussion day in International media class

1. Which way is up? Why do we say something "went South?" Upside down world map. How does this effect us?
2. From a year ago, why do Americans distrust the media? Is it just Trump? Gallup poll results.
3. Authoritarian China--the press must serve the party; Any parallels today?
4. America's ethnocentric, eurocentric, xenophobic press--what it chooses to cover and not cover internationally--chart
5. America before illegal immigration--map.

All this and visuals, on the class blog, click here:  Clarkinternational

Monday, February 20, 2017

Oklahoma Sunset

A first attempt, very fast, wet into wet, somewhat sloppy, 9 by 12 study for a larger commission for  a favorite former student.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Red River country

Red River Valley, today's watercolor, 9 by 12 140# Fabriano Artistico
"From this valley they say you are going... ."
The Red River valley, a broad sweep of sometimes desolate dust and mud, sand and scrub growth, rattlesnakes and catfish, and a meandering course of red clay-colored water. In drought you can walk across it and not get your feet wet. In flood stage, it can take out bridges between Oklahoma and Texas.
If you've lived any time in southern Oklahoma or North Texas, the Red River may be taken for granted, but it is more than a boundary, it is a presence you can't ignore. 
Long ago, I wrote this....
My students

flow through my life

like the grains of sand

along the north bank

of the Red River.

They are journalists

who individually

are vital pieces

of type in a long story.

Swept by the current,

the grains are sculpted

into sand bars

or drifts snagged

against old trees.

The river water

submerges most

of the sand,

or dissolves it,

carrying it downstream.

But in the sand bars

on the north bank,

the sun glistens off

the crystals in individual grains.

The students attract attention,

and bring vivid

relief and beauty

to a muddy world.

The sparkling grains

stand out like memories,

before time carries

them down-river.

Lots of memories and years and miles. Always on my mind. Thus this Saturday's watercolor, "Red River Valley."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"What do you teach?"--An itinerary of years and courses--III

1990--Journalism--the late Woody Gaddis, Lu Hollander, Nancy Brown, Ginny Dodson, Susan Gonders, Dennie Hall.
 Front--Mark Hanebutt, me, the late Charles Simmons. 
Journalism Department, Central State University--August, 1990.
Editing, press theory, feature writing. Rooms 212, 210, 214, communications building. From 10 to 15 students each, I think. Those were my first classes.
My office as new chair had a divider for an adjunct, which I tore out with a hammer. I was one of five full-time faculty--one with release time to advise The Vista, with two adjuncts, and two secretaries, one for The Vista and another splitting duties with the yearbook, The Bronze  Book. We had three classrooms and a dingy, moldy darkroom in the basement, plus The Vista offices in 107, and the Bronze Book behind that.  There was one computer in the department.
The rest of the building included the Communication , department (broadcast, speech and debate) which had the same enrollment as ours but more faculty members and more classrooms, the university public relations offices (where our darkroom is now), the university photographer, KCSC, and  the technology/visual offices where offices are now.
Journalism--late 1990s.
I considered my job as chair to teach, and to grow a department so that our students had equal treatment. I'm fortunate to have helped that come to pass over the years.
Other duties which reduced my actual in-class teaching load from three to then two a semester, plus summers, included 19 years as chair of the Journalism Department and then the merged Mass Communication departments--a fight that took me five years; internship director for several years; yearbook director, interim Vista adviser one summer; and directing the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, now my 20th year.
In the early years, I'm relying on memory, but since 2002 the record is on university computers, so I'm guessing there are about 42-45 different courses at what is now UCO. 
My early mainstays were editing(pre-computer)  and feature writing (last taught in 2o14). Since 2010 blogging for journalists is every semester, and since spring 2013 I've taught 10 intersession twitter for media classes.
More important to me in the roughly 80 semesters I've been a professor, are I'm guessing about 4,000-4,500 students I've been privileged to have in class, many of whom have become good friends and professional colleagues.
#clarkclass, most recent twitter class,  me at left,
After 27 years, it's much different, and as I started counting semesters and different courses taught, I realized there are no photographs of me actually teaching. But there are a  few group shots, mug shots reflecting my aging, and photos with award-winning and favorite students or many at graduation--which is more appropriate. I have several of those, but there are too many to single out one or two here.
The different classes, noting that many have been conducted (I like that better than "taught") repeatedly:
  • Fall, 1990-- Editing, press theory, feature writing. 
  • 1991-1999--Basic photography, reporting, editorial writing, advanced editing, introduction to advertising, community journalism, journalism of Will Rogers, photo essay, journalism of Larry McMurtry (trip to Archer City bookstore), victims and the media, journalism ethics, newspaper journalism, advanced feature writing, internships, Bronze Book director.
  • 2000--Oklahoma centennial journalism, New Mexico study tours, cowboy journalism (Fort Worth train trip), senior workshop, media writing, the press in film,  (Co-taught with Dr. James Baker of history--Vietnam and the press, war generations-WWII and 'Nam,  America's 21st Century wars), 21st Century media leadership, photo essay documentary, Vista adviser, blogging and the media, international media, twitter for. media, history of journalism.
Mass Communication, 2016-2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What do you teach?--An itinerary of years and courses-II

In 1986 when I arrived on the OSU campus three weeks after the fall semester began--a favorite professor had quit just weeks before--I was assigned editing. 
OSU Journalism Professor Clark, and high tech
There was no Internet, no computers, and lots of students.
 You'd lecture to 60 students on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then  hold afternoon labs of 15 students each for the rest of the week. 
I relied on a textbook for structure, and then scrounged for editing exercises in the labs--pen and paper work. My grading was tough--it made some sutdents cry who'd never had a "C" before. Visuals were overhead transparencies. Lessons included headline writing and counting, and more. Print journalism had only recently changed to offset printing. Not much else.
When I  began critiquing the sloppy editing in student newspaper, "The O'Colly, by golly," to teach editing, it was much to the chagrin of the staff, who didn't know me and was replacing their fav prof. Today, some of those students are great friends.
Next I taught basic photography--no digital cameras, advanced editing (students redesigned state newspapers--cut and paste, etc. No computers.). I taught reporting, and also a class in journalism management. On the side, after the O'Colly business manager died, I was interim O'Colly manager for a semester. 
What helped me most was my very recent newspaper experience--organizing the courses was most difficult.
Oh, and those were tie and coat era days too. 
During this time I was working on my doctorate on campus. It wasn't complete when the job came open at UCO as chair of the small journalism department, because the former chair, Dr. Ray Tassin, had retired (Tassin had ironically been my reporting teacher even more years ago when  was an English major at then Central State College).  
Then began a long new adventure, including many more favorite students, but I'll not go into detail on those more than 40 courses, next.

"What do you teach?"-an itinerary of years and 40-plus different courses-I

"What do you teach?" is a common question when people learn I'm a professor.
Years go, training to be a professor
If I say "journalism," they get a blank or sorrowful look on their faces, because they think of dying newspapers.
I usually respond with something like, "Well, on good days..." which gets a laugh.
I never say I teach communications, or God and Allah forbid, "Media."
I've been fortunate to be a former weekly newspaper man, because that wide experience has enabled me to teach in many areas, and to always try to meet change, which was constant, even back when I owned the Waurika News-Democrat  with Don Morrison from 1974 to 1986.
So these days I tell them I teach subjects like writing and digital media, without trying to bore them.
I  avoid the snooty remark, "I teach students,"  which is also egotistical. I try to teach students, but that has nothing to do with an obsolete textbook or standing behind a lectern.
As I approach retirement in 10 weeks,  I started making a list of all the courses I've taught since I started at OSU 31 years ago, before coming to UCO 27 years ago.
At OSU we taught two courses a semester, and at UCO, anywhere from four to three to two, depending on the years.
It's interesting to me that what I've taught, and the way I teach has radically changed over the years, especially with the advent of computers and the Internet.
I'm not sure I can remember all the courses, but to my best recollection, there were five or six different classes at OSU.
At UCO, I think it has been a whopping 44 or 45.

So, what have I taught? List and memories next.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Grapes of Wrath--Dust Bowl Future

Dust Bowl Future, 9 by 12 watercolor, 140# Fabriano Artistico
The Dust Bowl Future looms on humanity's horizon like Black Sunday did in the Dust Bowl Depression.
 Read Mr. Steinbeck's opening lines in "Grapes of Wrath"--
  •     "To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth. The plows crossed and recrossed the rivulet marks. The last rains lifted the corn quickly and scattered weed colonies and grass along the sides of the roads so that the gray country and the dark red country began to disappear under a green cover. In the last part of May the sky grew pale and the clouds that had hung in high puffs for so long in the spring were dissipated. The sun flared down on the growing corn day after day until a line of brown spread along the edge of each green bayonet. The clouds appeared, and went away, and in a while they did not try any more. The weeds grew darker green to protect themselves, and they did not spread any more. The surface of the earth crusted, a thin hard crust, and as the sky became pale, so the earth became pale pink in the red country and white in the gray country....
  •    "The air and the sky darkened and through them the sun shone redly, and there was  a raw sting in the air....
  •    "In the morning the dust hung like fog, and the sun was as red as ripe new blood. All day the dust sifted down from the sky, and the next day it sifted down. An even blanket covered the earth."
"We will see this again," I thought," forgetting the lessons of that man-made disaster," and starting painting, from the gut. 
Humanity is inhumanely writing its obituary, its extinction notice. 
Science, and detailed books about mass extinctions, and politicos ignoring factual science about climate change, spurring contempt for any regard for our planet's health turned my thoughts to the opening paragraphs of Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath."
Just nine years from now--in about 2026--wars will be probably be fought over water and food, not oil, and exploding populations and increasing heat will turn much of the earth brown, with coastlines swamped under rising oxygen-dead oceans.
As the politicos have no concern for  the future, only lining their corporate pockets with more greed, at my age I don't have much to worry about. But my children and grandchildren do.
This is not "dystopian." (I had to look that word up the first time I heard it. It isn't pretty) Facts--2026--Ten billion people, less water, less farmland, less food, less water, fewer jobs. Chinese will be the most spoken language. Islam will be the largest religion. 
Unless there is a pandemic, or a nuclear war, it will happen because the leaders of the world's most powerful country are trying to speed up the process, ignoring science, attacking the environment, to make a quick buck. 
Best single example, of many,  is  Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA...the fox in charge of the hen house. He's a foe of environment because his puppet strings are pulled by big corporations, big energy and others  like the Koch Bros., who want to rape the earth to make more money, screwing the future of the middle class and poor.
 We have passed the tipping point of turning the process around where humans can survive on earth. This isn't politics. This is science.
Don't believe it? It's happened before. Don't agree with it? You didn't live in the Dust Bowl, or study it,  did you?
Thus the vision of this painting...more to come.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Cabin "fever"--Saturday scenery

"Cabin fever"--today's watercolor, 5' by 7"
"Cabin fever" doubles up in February. Though the winter is mild, we're still pretty much stuck inside--inside routine, inside the same scenery, inside the same walls, day in and day out.
I'm ready for the back roads, the mountains, the wide open spaces, and a different kind of cabin, a real one, where solitude and quiet open you up to dreams and memories and adventures with people and places, free from the demands and confines of business and urban dwelling. 
That's my cabin "fever," appropriate for some Saturday scenery and watercolor.