"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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Spiritual magnetism--paintings and a story

Magnetism. It's more than a physical property of the scientific and natural world.
There are places and people that can attract, or less often, repel you for that matter, in sometimes unexplainable ways. You know who they have been, who and what they are. You can feel the pull.
Rainwater reflection
me, one of those places has been the remote east faces of the Manzano Mountains in New Mexico, along with its back roads and isolated villages. And one very old little Catholic church building. 
The force of that magnetic field increased this last month, and I succumbed a week ago, headed especially to see the church of San Antonio at the village of Tajique, population 148,  in the Estancia Valley Catholic Parish. I'm guessing it was originally built in the 1830s when this territory was part of Mexico. 
My watercolor, Dad's oil
I know some of the reasons, having spent part of my childhood in those mountains, and because of the pull of back roads, and in this case, because both my Dad and I have painted that church. Two of those paintings hang in our living room, as well as my Dad's sunflower and Manzano peaks painting over our mantel. I see them every day, traveling in my imagination and memories.
You can see I've exaggerated the nearness of the Manzano Mountains in the background, including the pointed Mosca Peak, over 9,000 feet high--the church is at 6,700 feet. I try to paint what I feel, and the magnetism of those mountains is strong.
Most recent, 8 x 10, for friend M.J. VanDeventer
My new photo above is in early morning, 65 degrees, after a thunderstorm captured the place. The parishioners have added a rock exterior and changed the bell tower since I last visited.  But I'm still drawn to the place, and to the fascinating variety of tombstones in the surrounding Campo Santo.
My photo from years ago
I've painted it at least three times, based on memory and photos and its magnetic attraction. One time when I drove by, a wedding was in process, with the newlyweds coming out the front door. 
The last time I took a photo of it, in black and white on a gray day some 30 years ago, it was much plainer. There's nothing plain about it magnetically.
My largest, 22 x 30

The Manzano magnetism of Mosca peak

A month of watercolor painting

Here they are, 32 paintings from July, surpassing the 31 daily challenge from #worldwatercolormonth. 
Some favorites, near the bottom, and some not so favorites. There are 32 because I failed one day's challenge--mountain climbing no less. But, I did two roadrunners and two mermaids, and two unicorns. And atoned for the failure by painting the Truchas peaks on Day 30.
For the record, here are the daily challenges. Can you pick them out?
  • Sunny Days--July sunrise walker
  • Delicious Food--Cezanne apples
  • Primary Colors--brushes
  • Family Moments--fieworkds
  • Shades of blue--ocean
  • Simple things--red wagon
  • Playing games--abstract chess
  • Flying things--witch
  • Climbing mountains--oops
  • Light and luminous--morning light at house
  • Beautiful blooms--not shown, for sale at gallery (Purple creation)
  • Forest animals--Unicorn
  • Fast and loose--Roadrunner
  • Sweet treats--snowcone
  • On the beach--Red bikini
  • Casting shadows--Trump's swastika
  • City life--OKC dawn runner
  • In the jungle—Conrad's Heart of Darnkness
  • Rainy Days--cabin
  • Wet & Dry--Martini
  • Glorious golds--unicorn
  • Under the sea—mermaid
  • Furry creatures—cats
  • Mono mood--blue station
  • Farm life—panhandle elevators
  • Splashing around—sunset surf
  • Clouds in sky--thunderhead
  • Nature hike—man with cane
  • Childhood memory—streetcar
  • Exotic location--Truchas, cabin
  • Celebration of color--creation

"And God created...Color!"--Creation!

"Creation," 8 x 10, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
"Celebration of Color," concluded the #watercolor prompts for the 31 days of July, #Worldwatercolormonth.
Color, the spectrum, light. Genesis. The Big Bang. What you see in a rainbow. No light, no life. Science, faith.
Art is creativity, a child of creation, regardless of beliefs. Do they not all merge together?
Here is what brewed in my head and heart and the primordial soup of creation, for today's #watercolor: The spectrum of color, the spectrum of light, the spectrum of life. 
Celebration, appropriate ending and beginning to 31 days of watercolor.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Red head Magic of mermaids

Red headed magic, 5 x 7 140 lb. Farbriano Artistico cold press paper
Magic? Of course. If you can imagine it, who can say it's not real? One of Neptune's twin daughters, #watercolor, but she needs a name.

Exotic Enchantment

"Enchantment," 5 x 7 140 lb Fabriano Artisitico cold press paer
What do you think of when you hear the term exotic places? Probably a beach on a south Pacific Island?  Me too, but not just there. I could choose the moors of Scotland, or almost anyplace with tall mountains and few people.
There are several definitions to the term exotic, coming from Greek and Latin "exo" meaning "alien, " or "from the outside."
It's used today for plants or anything introduced from another country, or not indigenous; anything strange, different, mysterious, exciting, romantic (how it's meant for this prompt); or having to do with strip tease.
I guess I could have tried to paint an exotic pole dancer, but...
Every person probably has different exotic places in their imaginations and memories, and the Truchas Peaks in northern New Mexico, towering over 13,000 rugged feet into the sky, captivate me. I wish I had the youth and lung capacity to get to the remote top, but that probably isn't going to happen. I  photograph them often as their mood and light always changes. No wonder they're exotic, exceeding all those descriptions.
Then add a cabin near those mountains, a metaphor for exotic to me anytime.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

All aboard for streetcar rides and memories

"Memories," 5 x 7 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper
It's ironic that downtown Oklahoma City is all abuzz with the coming of new streetcars, and the end to months of torn up streets, as with many cities today.
Those thoughts helped spur today's #watercolor, in response to #worldwatercolormonth daily challenge prompt No. 29: "Childhood Memories."
I can remember being excited to travel to Dallas from Fort Worth to see Aunt Sissie and ride the Dallas streetcars. The fascination of watching the intersecting wires, and the fun waiting to pull the cord and ring a bell to signal a stop came to mind as I considered  this painting. And the "ding-ding-ding of the bells that served as horns for people and cars. It helps that at the end of the ride, we'd manage to find an ice cream shop where I could get lime sherbet.
I had to look up photos of street cars, and I couldn't find a color scheme, though this is from an actual Dallas street car. Service stopped in about 1956.
Since then I've ridden older street cars in New Orleans and cable cars in San Francisco; and new ones in Seattle and Portland.  Yes, I'll ride the new ones here too, just for the fun of it.
But the local lines pale in comparison to what was "The Interurban" about 100 years ago which stretched from Norman to Edmond.  The streetcar played a significant role in the expansion of this city and elsewhere. 
The automobile killed street car service here and elsewhere after WWII, and today the insanity of traffic jams and commuting shows how short-sighted that was. Consider the race track of Broadway Extension. How so advanced it would be if we had rail going down the median, saving gas, time, the environment and more. 
Not going to happen in a state addicted economically, politically and culturally to petroleum.
But at least we'll have  downtown street cars, more as a tourist attraction than anything else, bypassing some of the old street car rails you can see in a few places downtown if you look. Somehow though, it won't measure up to the excitement of this kid, many years ago, getting on a trolly in Dallas.
What street cars have you ridden?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Watercolor journey

"Early Autumn," 5 x 7 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press pape
Every painting is a story of a journey, a lesson, a composite of what has been experienced, of what you have encountered.
Today's #worldwatercolormonth challenge, "Nature Hike," prompted this, "Early "Autumn," from  views I've seen walking in nearby Hafer Park in Edmond.
Here's the painting and two related photos. 
Tomorrow's prompt? "Childhood memory." I've been thinking about this, another journey, another story. What is  one of your outstanding childhood memories?

Friday, July 27, 2018

Road trip inspiration

"Out here the's the sky," New Mexico evening
Summer can stifle more than physical energy. Creativity to meet the daily #worldwatercolormonth daily prompt challenges was faltering. 
For me, a road trip is a sure cure for feeling cooped up as inspiration seems to be drained. Even the back roads of Oklahoma will do, but not like New Mexico. 
This week I savored the skies, the mountains, the sights and smells and tastes of the back roads, especially along the remote east face of the Manzano Mountains. I took lots of photos, breathed and imagined stories and sights and art.
The cloud  at top was one of a multitude of welcomes for me at the end of the first day. 
Here are this week's paintings, all 5 by 7, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico cold press.
This means I have only four more paintings to have completed one a day this month. 
Before I left, I answered the daily prompt of "Furry Creatures" with "Bird Watchers," of Sophie and Snoops looking longingly out the window.(Metaphorically as cooped up as I felt.)
Next, Tuesday night in Moriarity, N.M. I did "Blue Memories," in plain air inspired by old Rte. 66, to the prompt "Monochrome Moods." All ultamarine blue, watching the clouds and sunset.
The next three prompts:
"Farm Life," "Splashing  Around," and "Clouds in the Sky." Only "Splashing Around" isn't inspired by the road trip. These are rough and quick, but they catch the moods I want, what I felt, rather than saw.
Tuesday-"Blue Memories," Monochrome

Wednesday-"Great Plains skyscrapers, "  Farm Life

Thursday-"Sunset Surf," Splashing around

Today-"New Mexico Spirit," Clouds

One of two inspirations for today's painting

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Weekend watercolor magic

Golden Dreams

Neptune's Daughter
Believe in magic? I do, and that includes magical creatures of our imaginations...otherwise why would they exist?
So yesterday and today's watercolors, 5 x 7s, in reaction to the #worldwatercolorprompts "Glorious Golds," and "Under the Sea."
Unicorns? Why not? Mermaids, especially redheaded ones? Of course.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Watercolor journals of a week

Meeting daily prompts for #worldwatercolormonth are challenges, and result in mostly smaller, 5 x 7, works, done fairly quickly. I year now to take longer on a piece, so that is stewing, but without answers.
This week's prompts: Casting Shadows, City Life, In the Jungle, Rainy Days, Wet and Dry. All are 5 x 7, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper.
And I added an additional more abstract one of a roadrunner, actually one of my favorite so far. So, after 20 days in July, I've done at least 21 or 2. Some are good, and cheery and others are not. Life.
Casting Shadows

Shadows--I stay away from politics in my blog and painting, for the most part, but anger and alarm at a president being a lap dog for a Russian dictator provoked the Casting Shadows of fascism across America. Art is supposed to matter, and this was inspired by attending the Woody Guthrie festival Saturday...a fighter of fascism indeed.
OKC dawn

life was difficult because I generally don't like cities, but this version of a card for Susan's nephew fit. 
Heart of Darkness
Jungle took me to who old friends and students know is my favorite novelist and novel, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, a copy always in my office: “Going up that river was like traveling back to the beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on earth.... An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest....The ...waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom....”
Cabin Fever
  • Rainy Days was almost a failure, but I thought about cabin fever. I'm cooped up in the city traffic, but not in my cabin, with books, cats, paint, a fire and company. I am always ready for a cabin, good cabin fever. 
Wet and dry--What is wetter and dryer than a good martini. Dorothy Parker and a martini.-“I’d love a martini, two at the most, three I’m under the table, four, I’m under the host” 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Watercolor stories

Paintings should hint at stories, I've heard, and I'm finding that most paintings have stories.
July's #WorldWatercolorMonth daily challenges are provoking stories of my own as I try to match emotion and craft with the subjects.
The most recent prompts were Forest Animals, Fast & loose, Sweet Treats, and On the Beach. All are 5 by 7, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper.
Here they are, with a second, more impressionistic one of the roadrunner done today, just for fun. I'm perhaps most pleased with this one so far. It makes up for the failure I had on mountains, so there is still one a day.
That is the key, having fun, trying new things. 
I still have a long way to go on figures, but how better to practice than on a long-legged brunette in a bikini? 
"Red Hat"
Stories, I told you--unicorns, roadrunners, snow cones, and beauties. 
Tomorrow may be a little different, more abstract or impressionistic--wonder what the story will be on "Casting Shadows"?
"Beep, beep"


Friday, July 13, 2018


Read, paint, draw, and a little writing, but more reading. These last two weeks have alternated between  these diverse doors of reality.

  • Watercolor--Whitney, a late great painter and teacher helping me in my DIY art school. Daily readings and thinking required.
  • Just finished, Palmer, On the Brink of Everything...deep thinking and truths about getting older.
  • Just started, Thomas Merton's autobiography, since so much I read seems to refer to him these days, about living and eternity (oh, wait, that's redundant).
  • Hopping chapters, Craig Childs travels about out southwestern deserts, and the repeating dyings of our planet, including now.
  • Seabald, Rings of Saturn--here's a story of my summer international twitter bookclub, headed by a professor at Cambridge. Mind blowing. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Light and life--lessons

"Early Risers," 8 x 10, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
Light and life. Two days' watercolor prompts spring from somewhere inside, after a  failure Sunday.
"Light and Luminous" was yesterday, and today was "Beautiful Blooms." 
Lessons? Tried painting "Mountain Climbing" Sunday and turned out a soulless piece with a person standing on a peak, but it had no feeling, no Terry Clark who loves mountains deep in his soul.  Depressing.
Yesterday's was a challenge, but with Susan's suggestion, I found humanity and some success in "Early Risers," the first decent 8 x 10 I've done in a while. It helps that it was on good d'Arches paper. Maybe it should be titled "Can you smell the coffee?"
"Happiness," 5 x 7 Fabriano Artistico cp
I dreaded today's subject, because while I love flowers, I hate painting them. Never been good at them because I'm too detail oriented.
After two failed attempts, I remembered from my DIY art school readings and more, "Paint shapes, not lines," and "paint what you feel, not see."
So here came "Happiness," sunflowers, the face and symbol of happiness, and life from the sun--and it's impressionistic too.
Tomorrow? Forest Animals. Can I do a decent Grizz?  Hope so. Maybe the roadrunner I saw today will help.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Flights of imagination: Chess and humor askew

"Shah Matta," 8 by 8 140 lb d'Arches cold press paper
Daily prompts for #worldwatercolormonth push my imagination and watercolors, as with "Playing Games," and "Things that Fly" this weekend.
Chess was the obvious choice yesterday, having played actual games with a long time friend, and also because I just didn't want to paint a knight. Thus "Shah Matta," (Persian for "The King is Dead," hence "Check mate"). So with apologies and homage to Picasso and Dali, I tried something new.
More abstract is on the month's horizon.
"Smiley," 5 x 7 140 lb. Fabriano Artisitco cold press paper
And today, after considering kites, and owls and pterodactyls,  let's just bend it a little more. Thus a real flight of the imagination. 
Tomorrow? "Climbing Mountains."

Friday, July 6, 2018

Shades of Blue, and Simple things

Blue Moon rising on a Storm-Tossed Sea, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press pape
Daily prompts from Worldwatercolor --yesterday, Shades of Blue, and today, Simple Things.
I probably use more blue pigment that any other. I don't know why, but it works that way.
The challenge of daily painting leads me to abstract thinking and eventually painting. So here is "Blue Moon Rising on a Storm-Tossed Sea"--eight different blues, 8 x 10. Metaphor?
And today, much simpler. "Remember When," that little red wagon you had when life and fun was so much simpler? 5 x 7.
Tomorrow's prompt? "Playing Games."

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Family moments

Family Moments," 5 x 7
Today's #watercolor month daily challenge topic was "Family Moments."
Here it is, pretty rough, lots of texture, something I'm not happy with, but it fits the day.
But I can't help but think about those poor children locked up in Trumpfuhrer's concentration camps, without the families, and without freedom. Freedom to them is a tragic joke.

Oklahoma ghost stories

One of my favorite places in Oklahoma is the former State Capital Publishing Museum in Guthrie. 
Owned by the State Historical Society  and closed because of lack of repair money for six years now, my interest was reawakened when it made the news recently when my friend Richard Mize reported on a local group trying to raise money and save it.
We drove up to Guthrie today on the back roads, savoring the lush and peaceful countryside, before driving around town. 
Four years ago, from inside the historic Blue Belle Bar
Long ago, I took groups of university students there when it was open, because you could go in and the staff would use old printing equipment to set type and actual print handbills, the way it was done when Guthrie was Oklahoma Territory's actual capital.
So many stories and ghosts there, for the state, and for me, an old newspaperman who started in hot metal printing and is still in love with it.
To me, the condition of the building speaks as  a depressing metaphor for the condition of our state, dreams gone bust and broke except for funding high paid coaches and athletes. 
I remember the excitement of touring the place, of soaking up Oklahoma and publishing history, and haunted by its closing and the loss to generations to come. I hope Guthrie can make this happen.
Here are links to Richard's story, and the story of the building.
Group forms to save Museum
Group announcement
Museum Closing

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Watercolor Pushing, Cezanne and Color

"Delicious Food" and "Primary Colors." Push yourself, said my wife Susan of the #WorldWatercolorMonth daily challenges for July 2 and 3.
Homage to Cezanne, 5 x 7
Aware of my limitations, cornbread came to mind, but then I thought about apples. But one apple isn't enough and doesn't push. Colored balloons was my other first thought, but that wouldn't push me either.
Don't Brush Me Off, 5 x 7
Apples. Then I thought of my favorite artist, Paul Cezanne, and his revolutionary still lifes. Searching those paintings, I tried to approach his vision and technique. Not quite, but I learned.
Primarily colors--Susan suggested paint brushes. They didn't take long to paint, though I mulled composition and ideas for several disjointed hours yesterday and this morning. 
Tomorrow's prompt is "Family Moments." Gotta think about that. We'll see.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

July Sunrise, 2018 fading

"July Sunrise," 5 x 7
July 1. Since January 1, we've traveled 292 million miles on earth's orbit. And I thought my car had lots of miles on it.
I've entered the #Doodlewash #WorldWatercolorMonth daily challenge for the second straight year, and woke up today realizing the year is half over. Sunrise, and the days and year gets shorter on our journey.
Much has happened to our world in those six months, as we've covered more than a million miles with every sunrise, and to each of us, good, bad and blah.
No need to recount my milestones here, but to focus on watercolor. More about books and people and events later.
Today's challenge was "Sunny Days." Last year I didn't follow the prompts but I'm committed to that this year to push myself on this journey.
So today's "July Sunrise," 5 x 7 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper follows the suggestion, "Sunny Days." We sure need more of them don't we? Aside: I think Whitman would like this open road, metaphor for our lives.
Oh, and here are the prompts for the rest of the month's challenge. We'll see how I do.