"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.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Last leaves

Last leaves, 8" by 10" watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
A cold front blew through this last week, stripping almost all the leaves off our trees, as Oklahoma winds ripped clouds in steady streams across the skies, whipping fall grasses  with every gust.
Although the yards and fields are blanketed with dead leaves, a few held on to the tops of the now bare branches. More metaphors for the mysteries of life, and inspiration for ideas and painting.  

Thanksgiving gate

Traveler's gate, 8" by 10" watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
Thanksgiving makes me think of traveling, even though there's less of that now than in the past. But I still travel in memories of families and friends, many long gone, or scattered through the years and miles. 
Sixteen years ago I spent the holiday in Santa Fe with my Uncle Mike, watching snow fall on the Sangre de Cristos. I've opened and shut, and passed through many gates since then.
Gates beckon even more as a day, a month, a year and life wanes this November. This small watercolor followed the larger one of a week ago. 
This Thanksgiving is happier than that one 16 years ago, but I wouldn't want to forget either one. The last time I saw Mike, seven and a half years ago before he died, he told me, "Terry, enjoy every day you live."
Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Today is another gate.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

'Tis the season

'Tis the Season, 8" x 10" watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press 
Warming up for the season, of Christmas cards and good will and warm homes and families. 
Memories of places and people long gone and far away.
For me, it's adobe and pinion, and mountains and skies and New Mexico. And, other than the adobe,  Oklahoma, and Texas and Iowa. Across the miles and years... .

             (For sale, matted, $150--also perfect to scan for Christmas cards) 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Gate to High Lonesome

"Gate to High Lonesome," 15" by 22" watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches cold press
Our lives are journeys and we pass through many gates, sometimes aware and others without even realizing it at the time. 
While others may be part of us, we pass through those gates alone really, a present tense individual traveling. 
I've wondered why gates of all kinds are a recurring theme for me, why they beckon. As I grow older, I'm more aware of those gates, those people and events and decisions that shape my life.
For me, "Gate to High Lonesome" is that metaphor in a life, in a country where solitude reigns, and the future is obscured around the next bend, or through the next gate.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Parable of the caves, New Mexico

The old man and the cave
These "caves" are much older than Plato's "cave parable," and while many people will think of Carlsbad Caverns when you mention caves and New Mexico, others dominate my memories. We go way back too.
Actually, they're not so much caves as hollows in volcanic cliffs left from the Jemez Caldera explosions millions of years ago, and humans have populated this area in Northern New Mexico for more than 1,000 years. 
Today, it's known as Bandelier National Monument, in Frijoles Canyon, and  we visited there last month, both of us returning after many years.
With my son Vance, 1960s.
Lots of change in improvements and regulations since I was last back, as there have been with me, but it was good to walk again in that canyon, and think about the people who have gone before, including myself. To me, it is a canyon of memories. Somewhere there's a photo of me peering from inside one of those cavities, but I can't find it.To me, the meanings of theseparables of these caves are about change, aging and eternity.
That's the background for these photos, marking the years and eons.
Mom, Jerry and I, 1950s
Uncle Mike and I, 1950s

Ray Lokey's smile and footprints

Ray and I at the 2016 OPA convention
He was always smiling, like he'd just heard the greatest joke in the world.
Ray Lokey, publisher on one of the best newspapers in Oklahoma, The Johnston County Capital-Democrat in Tishomingo, died yesterday after a year long battle with lung cancer.
He will be so missed by his family, his multitude of friends, his town, the innumerable people he influenced and helped by his leadership in the community, and many more. 
This week's paper, and Ray's column
Ray set the standard for excellence in newspaper journalism, with solid news coverage, editorial guts and leadership, in community commitment, in the state press association.
He was always friendly, and glad to see you, and full of stories, and compliments. He brightened the room where he was. Even recently after chemo had taken his hair, he was smiling and positive.
In this week's issue of the paper, a reprint of his front page column "Footprints," appeared, a testament to his mastery in storytelling, but also his illness.
Ray's smile and footprints will not fade from my memory, nor from many others. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans' day memories

The Flag at Santa Fe Cemetery
Six years ago today, I spoke the eulogy at the funeral for my fav uncle, Michael Henry Clark, at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, with full military honors for this WWII and Korean Navy combat veteran. 
He and I go way back, and it only occurred to me in recent years that the reason my middle name comes from him is that he was my Dad's favorite brother, the middle of five boys from dirt poor Depression Oklahoma, all of whom escaped. 
Rest in peace sailor, thank you, and salute.

From six years ago:
Reflections on a Final Port of Call 
A Sailor's Final Port

Many years ago at the Grand Canyon, Mom, Jerry, Mike and I
A few years ago, with Susan and Mike in the bar at La Fonda, Santa Fe, and Cuba Libres