"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.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Memories, of art and seasons

"Memories," today's 5 x 7 #watercolor card
Coast down the "hill" on the High Road to Taos in New Mexico and you enter Ranchos de Taos. Turn north to the iconic architecture of sacred Native American Taos Pueblo.
Turn south and you come to another icon of sacred architecture at the Spanish mission of San Francisco de Asis, centered in what was the town's plaza.
Built between 1772 and 1816, about 120 feet long, its picturesque adobe buttresses at the rear include the distinctive beehive shapes. 
The church has captured artists' and photographers' attention for years, perhaps most famously, Georgia O'Keefe, but also mine, and my father's, almost 80 years ago.
Memory goes deep inside in such a place, and the church draws you there, as a pilgrimage almost, even if you are not a Catholic.
Memory so deep, so tactile from many drawings and paintings,  that this watercolor comes quickly, without even looking at a photo or other work.
And below, are two of Terrence Miller Clark's (Dad's) 12 x 18 plus frames drawings from 1940. And my most recent photo, in September. 
All art comes from memories, just as this season does.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Homelands and immigrants at "Christmas"

"Homeland," today's 5 x 7 #watercolor card
We are children of geography...the pull of place grows deep inside, especially at this time of year.
I cannot imagine the desperation that forces thousands of immigrants to leave "home," to seek asylum, salvation, someplace else. 
As a so-called "Christian" people celebrating the birth of Christ who taught people to love and not be afraid, can we not in this time calling for love and peace, have compassion, and not hate or fear, for  those uprooted from their homelands? 
Or maybe we're not. Maybe Christmas should be renamed Materialismmas, judging by our selfish reactions in this time of turmoil for  people voluntarily who eave homelands because of poverty and hunger, or because of war and persecution and disease, are forced from them.
Maybe Christmas should be renamed Materialismmas
It's not new, of course, as our "Christian" ancestors did their best at genocide of native people. That included uprooting them from their homelands as with the Trail of Tears in Oklahoma, where the pull of place was and is sacred, and trying to "convert" them.
Fortunately they have survived, primarily because of the strength of their cultures, anchored in their religions, and as with the Pueblo people and other tribes, their sacred geographies. Perhaps their god is more powerful than ours?
All of this is spontaneous as I write about geography in my life. I am a part of every place I've lived, and one of the strongest is New Mexico.
One of the most powerful places on earth spiritually, and symbols of New Mexico to me,  is Taos Pueblo...a civilization and "religion" that is older than America. That is because of the people and places that are an essential part of who they are. Most of us in Western religions cannot fathom the depth of their beliefs.
This was not supposed to be political, and perhaps it is not...but it is religious. Spontaneous thoughts,  spiritual emotions, erupted about what Christmas is supposed to be as I viewed and wrote about my annual watercolor cards featuring Taos Pueblo. 
Have we forgotten that all of us are immigrants, and even the Oklahoma nickname honors desperate illegal immigrants--"Sooners"?
How would Christ react to desperate immigrants? Aren't we all desperate immigrants, hungry for a sacred homeland?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The silence of snow and stars

A silent stroll, today's 5 x 7 #watercolor card
The world of noise  needs to fade away this time of year. Peace is a universal yearning, but so rare in our hurried up lives and cultures...noise, cacophony, chaos seems to prevail.
It's time to slow down, to consider the silence of snow, of the stars, to stroll together in wonder, of how small we are in this universe, a universe in every snowflake, and overhead....

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Metaphors for hope and happiness

"Hope," 5 x 7 #watercolor card
Hope and happiness in this world of woe? There are metaphors everywhere, as people seek peace, and follow traditions.
Christmas decorations are appearing as November winds down, hoping for happiness in reunions and giving, warmth in a time of cold.
Gates hold special attraction to me, beckoning for a trek down a path, or toward some once-visited place in memory, hope for a  journey yet to come.
The lights and decorations and gates in our lives bespeak our need for hope and happiness as we travel through another year.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Beacons beyond just a barn

Rural Beacon, today's 5 x 7 #watercolor
Why my fascination with barns, especially old ones?
I don't know where that comes from, except they're picturesque. 
But they always grab my attention, and that of many other artists as well. It's not from close personal contact or memories, because I grew up in the city. Still, I've lived a while in rural areas, and spent a summer long ago as part of a crew painting them in Iowa. Oh, the stories.
There's something else too...beyond the architecture with unlimited variations all over the country. They're beacons beyond just wood and metal and paint, symbols and stories of hard work, of rural life and death, of building and decay.
In this holiday season, they're more than that too, culminating in celebration of the birth of a child long ago, in a kind of barn, not much more than a shed really.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Season and smells of spice...and color

Season of Ristras, #watercolor, 5 x 7
Every region has traditions and icons for special seasons...that's the nature of humans deep in touch with their homelands.
In New Mexico, it's the season of red chili ristras, spice of tastes and colors.  For me, nothing much captures my attention as they do, hanging against  multi-hued colors of adobe, turquoise doors and windows...along with the smell of pinon fires crackling in a fireplace, accented with fresh snowfall against deep blue skies. 
I'm a long way from New Mexico in miles and years, but not in memories and enchantment that seem to grow closer in the passing years.
It's a blustery, drab day outside my window as I paint, but thinking about those colors my life with the real spice of this season.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

"Home"--more than just a word

"Home," today's 5 x 7 watercolor card
'Tis the time of year that "home" grows in feeling beyond its ancient history as just a word.
Listening to holiday music, decorating a tree, enjoying the present of family brings back memories and emotions deep within.
Mere definitions do not come close to the meanings, which is perhaps why it is such an old word with so many variations and levels of meaning.
First spoken at least 4,500 years ago in the Caspian steps as a Proto-Indo-European root word *tkei, it meant something like "to settle, dwell, be home." 
From there as humans spread out and became isolated by geography, its descendants are found in hundreds of languages  as diverse as Kurdish and Sanskrit, Bengali and Nepali, besides most of the western world.
It forms all or part of words such as amphictyonic, hamlet, hangar, haunt, site, situation and much more.
More than you want to know. "Words have meanings," I used to preach to students. They and we often have no idea how deep the meanings are. 
But wanting to be "home" for the holidays, or any other time, is deep within us. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Moon tide voyage

"Full Moon tide," #watercolor card,  5 x 7
The moon pulls tides more than on the oceans, perhaps as powerful, but in different ways. Living organisms, including humans, react to its power, its presence, scientifically and emotionally.
I do, especially the full moon, from deep memories, some not even conscious. The moon always beckons, beckons to travel physically and especially mentally. If you type in "moon" on this blog search post, you'll see the multitude of writings, and some art, through the almost 10 years the blog has existed.
Most art, and writing, and music about the moon reflect (that's the appropriate word)  its power and influence romantically, wistfully, and even scientifically, there is more metaphor and symbol to consider.
In this season of materialism and social unrest, the words of the great Catholic seer and monk Thomas Merton, written in the 1960s as mankind reached for the moon, also uncannily fit our times.
   "What can we gain by sailing if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it all the rest are not only useless but disastrous."
   --Thomas Merton, "The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century"

Thursday, November 22, 2018

"Time is gone before you are aware"--another day

"Winter Dawn," today's 5 x 7 #watercolor card
November dawn. Cold yielding to light. 
Thanksgiving for another "sunrise," for warmth, for beauty. For another gift of another day of light and life, from the long nights of November, of  a world of misery in the forms of war, greed, and hatred.
Time slips away...a day to savor each moment.

    "It was the end of November. All the days were short and dark. ...
   "Day unto day uttereth speech. The clouds change. The seasons pass over our woods and fields in their slow and regular procession, and time is gone before you are aware of it."
--Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Reflections of thanksgiving

Reflections of Thanksgiving, 5 x 7 #watercolor card
Shorter days and bare branches of this season can be gloomy as the year nears its end and the season of death approaches.
But, not always, especially at this time of thanksgiving. Nature still provides glorious times to enjoy, especially in the more raw, intense light, giver of life.
'Tis a time for reflections, for remembering, for rejoicing, because brilliance and color are more intense against the contrast of perceived gloom.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Starlight dreams of peace

Starlight Dreams, today's 5 x 7 #watercolor card
Peace. Quiet. Starlight. The road home.
'Tis the season when we need that most, in our world, in our country, in our families, in our dreams, in our hearts.

Having fun? You must be learning

Refresh Creative--humor and success--part 2.

Bryan and Jenny Grigsby, @RefreshCreate

Quit your jobs, start out on your own, in an area that's not your college major?
"Trail Boss" and "Content Curmudgeon," @RefreshCreate
Why not? @RefreshCreate, Jenny and Bryan Grigsby have done that, running social media for 11-12 clients, mostly restaurants, like Hideaway. It's all been word of mouth references also...they haven't had to advertise. 
They work from home, and their advice to #clarkclass was punctuated with humor and practical advice.
After they left, we debrief, which is apparently turning into a contest, as@Yolexiswade Alexis Wade tweeted a photo--"Clash of the Titans." 
Judging by the smiles, we must be having fun, which means learning.

Debriefing again recorded by@MadisonSturgill
  • The art of this job is bouncing off of each other to create content
  • Human interaction is very important
  • Being a part of a team
  • Must maintain thick skin when receiving criticism
  • Improve is super important to have as a skill
  • Where ever you go, meet people
  • Identify the tone and voice of your clients
  • It’s just one big tangled mess
  • Posting is just barely the tip of the iceberg
  • Humor and personality in the job
  • If you’re not connected to the people, you aren’t connected to their business
  • Don’t take everything on twitter so seriously
  • There’s no such thing as a typical day
  • You can go into your day thinking things will go one thing but they never do
  • They don’t promote themselves
  • They really enjoy their jobs – no matter the money
  • Humor is great but don’t let it go too far
  • You will run into obstacles that you don’t normally see
  • They had to figure out how and what to respond to different posts
  • Develop your social media page like a character

Monday, November 19, 2018

'Tis the seasons

"Holiday Cabin," 5 x 7 #watercolor card
Holidays...time for family and friends and food and memories and dreams.
Like a cabin in the snowy mountains with a good fire, books, company, and...happiness comes in many incarnations.
Every day is a unique and irreplaceable gift, and if we waste it, it's  throwing away our heartbeats.
Which is why we should be mindful of those who have not happiness, and somehow, do something about it. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sporty storyteller, Skype, Holograms next?

Mike Sherman's twitter page
Ask Mike Sherman a question about twitter and @MikeSherman answers by telling stories, stories about people and sports.
Mike, a graduate of our UCO journalism program in the 1980s is now sports editor of the Tampa Bay Times, after holding the same position at our student newspaper, The Vista, and The Oklahoman.
He's an earlier adopter of twitter and considers it essential to covering sports, or anything else for that matter, for a newspaper.
Class member Ryan Dunn's pix and tweet and question.
I bet it won't be 10 years.
He's also an earlier adopter of the twitter for media class when it was first offered in December, 2014...12 versions ago.
Technology met technology as we "Skyped" him in for the second time. He in his newsroom, while watching people in flip flops and shorts outside in Florida, while we shivered with freezing temperatures outside.
The stories he tells are punctuated with specific dates and people of games that long ago, so as a journalist he's a model of how to use twitter professionally.
After the session, we debriefed, and her are some student comments, including a few from four years ago, dutifully recorded by @MadisonSturgill.

  • He’s hired people he found on twitter, checking their work
  • A storyteller, one for every point
  • Talked about “Mr. Unreliable”
  • Worked for The Oklahoman for almost 30 years
  • He’s not going to hire someone without a twitter presence
  • Twitter isn’t the only place to use but it’s a heck of a start
  • Can’t live without twitter
  • All news is “breaking” these days
  • Views himself as a friend of the readers
  • Our classes have changed the curriculum at UCO
  • Even though everyone wants to get paid it’s a compliment when someone is interested in your work
  • Goes to different writers to increase his traffic
  • How you conduct yourself on twitter shows how you are as a person
  • Try not to use absolutes on twitter
  • He uses twitter as a phonebook (found a vet for his old yellow lab)
  • Finding out what’s important. That’s how you use twitter
  • Watches the game while using twitter at work
  • Cautioned us about the negative side of twitter and to be careful
  • Be an early adopter. It opens up new ideas
  • Twitter can be “all bad and a bag of chips” but it can also be good
  •  You have to distribute your own content
  • You're your own paperboy
  • Liked the “What’s the Headline” and the use of reader involvement
  • Staying connected and getting connected is important
  • Conversation is the most important technological medium
  • Twitter is one of the greatest listening devices of all time and one of the greatest search engines
  • After "Mr. Unreliable," he went on twitter and asked the public what ideas were for headlines, admitting they were wrong to lighten the mood about the situation
  • The paper is a way of answering questions for the people that can’t ask them themselves

My students' role model

Jill Castilla and her UCO fan club
 There's not much you can write about Jill Castilla, @JillCastilla,  CEO of Edmond's Citizens Bank that hasn't already been written. 
I'm thankful she takes time from her busy schedule to speak to my unique in Oklahoma twitter for media students at the UCO Mass Comm Department, time and again. 
 She is such a role model in many ways, not just in the use of social media, but in a time of much negativity, of positive living and influence and character. 
Jill and our other guests have made this class into something I never imagined...it's not really about twitter and social media...it's about life. Thank you, Jill. 

She shares how she's overcome numerous obstacles throughout life and business to become a national figure of leadership in success in business, and in life. Google her and you'll find the articles and awards. 
 For me and my students, she brings inspiration and advice illustrated with a contagious smile, personal stories about herself and the bank, and a vibrant, dynamic personality.After she left, we debrief, and my students' reactions show how important she is to them, dutifully recorded by @MadisonSturgill 

  • I want Jill Castilla and Scott Williams as my mentors. 
  • Be an early adopter.
  •  GAP--Stay genuine accurate and positive, quoting @ScottWilliams as a mentor. 
  • The great thing about social media is you have everyone at your fingertips. 
  • You can find anything you want through social media. 
  •  It's not about the numbers, it's about the engagements. 
  • She took 33 hours in one semester! I'll not complain about my 12 hours ever again. 
  • I was inspired that no matter how many obstacles came her way she embraced them and moved forward, not letting those things stop her. I relate to that personally because I have had some obstacles throughout my life and I have managed to get through some of them and am still working on others. 
  • I think she has an amazing way of speaking and changing things for the better.
  •  How Jill used Twitter to create a better bond with people. She saw Twitter as a place where people would be able to see her as a different version of herself. A mother, a wife, etc. not just Jill from Citizens Bank(the scary lady). 
  • She was able to network with others through this and in a way also helped Citizens Bank improve.
  •  Never deviate from who you are.
  •   Take trips and opportunities while you’re still young. It only gets harder the older you get.
  • When you change something, you will always have haters. 
  • GAP...Stay genuine, accurate and positive.
  •  Surround yourself with people who can elevate you to another level. 
  • Also I didn’t know the best way to estimate how many portapottys to put out there was to count the trash lmao. 
  •  One thing that resonated with me and gave me insight was when she began to talk about McGiver, “He has so little resources that’s why he’s so creative.” WOW! something we should all follow. 
  •  Always be able to adjust to your circumstances.
  •  Started Heard on Hurd, turned Citizens Bank around..

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Light from darkness

Light from Darkness, today's #watercolor, 5 x 7

"Light from darkness."
This is for those who fought against tyranny and hatred and lies in this week's election, and who won, and especially those who lost--but you did not fail.
You bring light into the world when it is needed most. Thank you for your courage and hope and integrity, against all odds. Light always defeats darkness.
From Rumi-
  • "In a night full of pain and darkness, be a candle spreading light until dawn."
  • "Life's waters flow from darkness, Search the darkness, don't run from it."
  • "The wound is the place where light enters you."

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Living lessons in staying up to date in rapid change

From twitter for media class, #clarkclass, at UCO Mass Comm Dept.

Ok, funny photo of #clarkclass, suggested by Dr. Desiree Hill. Humor helps you stay up to date
by @okieprof
How to you stay up to date?
It takes work, curiosity, and associating with those colleagues who set the example.
In rapidly changing times, one of the easiest pitfalls for professionals who become professors is to be stuck in the past, or not adapt to the present and future, even though we urge our students to be able to adapt, to always learn. Do do that negates our valuable experience.
That's one of the joys for me in teaching the twitter for media class, in bringing in colleagues and professionals who are living sermons in living change, from many different fields.
"...this class isn't about twitter, it's about the future and life."
And for me, an old newspaper guy, one person who sets that example for our students is our broadcast professor Dr. Desiree Hill @dezhill.
It's apparent to me from these guests, and my students, that the class is not about twitter...its about the future and life. 
Dr. Hill's quote sums it up for me, "Twitter isn't what it will be."
Dr. Hill brings a wealth of information to our students, with research, with effective teaching methods, with questions, with hands on passion to involve our students in journalism, and life.
So here are student comments from our debriefing, after she left, dutifully recorded by my student@MadisonSturgill.

  • Social Media is like a relationship (dating, learning, breakup?)
  • For journalists, tweet about everything at least 20 times a day
  • Follow opinion leaders, they will often follow you back
  • Figure out what that specific social media platform needs from you
  • Always protect your credibility
  • Hashtags on twitter – see what others are talking about
  • Journalists are always in the spotlight when it comes to social media
  • Humor is subjective
  • The rules of good writing apply to Twitter
  • Don’t write anything you wouldn’t say in public
  • Journalism is like trying to catch a greased pig
  • You are representing yourself and your employer at all times when using social media
  • Twitter opens a chance for people to get to know each other
  • What is our generation going to look like in 20 years?
  • Twitter isn’t what it will be
  • You can still be a college student and use proper grammar
  • Twitter is a place where you can be a reporter, even if you aren’t one yet
  • YouTube keeps going and growing
And, yes, there is a serious side to the class.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

OKC communication pro-from dead raccoons and beyond

@zachnash with #clarkclass, twitter for media, at UCO Mass Comm this week with @okieprof
Former student and friend Zach Nash @zachnash brought stories, details and humor on Oklahoma City's extensive communication efforts to #clarkclass this week.
A former editor of The Vista, student newspaper for UCO, under the auspices of the Journalism/Mass Comm Department, he traced his background from embarrassing headlines to newspaper work before becoming   communications and marketing manager for the city.
The city has about 71 different social media accounts in various departments, thousands of potholes, and Nash believes social media has helped the city stay in touch with its citizens. But analytics show that most city customers get their information from the monthly water bill newsletter.
(Hint, if you're in an organization and want a comprehensive look at the city's communication efforts, contact Nash.)
You can tell he's still a journalist, inserting comments about government transparency, the first amendment, and serving citizens.
He started his presentation about a viral social media event in Toronto about a dead raccoon that the city took a long time to pick up.
After he left, we debriefed as usual. Here are some of each student's comments, dutifully recorded by @madisonsturgill
  • Have thick skin and be able to take criticism
  • Don’t let people use your photos without paying
  • Don’t forget your first amendment rights
  • Local government touches so many people’s lives
  • Put a face to bureaucracy
  • Be consistent with the voice of what you’re portraying
  • make sure you put your initials after you reply to people
  • Kill them with kindness
  • Water newsletter was important
  • High percentage of crime tips come from social media
  • Respond to negative feedback / don’t delete it
  • Dead raccoon – one post can take off
  • Be aware of what you put online
  • Think about who we're impacting through the decisions we make over the next 20 years
  • Monitor your posts after you post them
  • We turn to social media when regular customer service fails
  • Plan in advance
  • "Pubic" doesn’t auto correct to "public"-spell check
  • Sometimes people just want their voices to be heard
  • Show your followers you’re accessible
  • He would rather talk to someone who is angry with him than talk to someone who is happy with him
Zach at my retirement last year with the Steve Hill @sportstoons caricature he arranged