"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 17, 2019

Saint Patrick's Day tears, and watercolor, for Bob

"To Bob," 6 x 14, St. Pat's Day tears
We toasted my and our dear friend Bob Illidge this week, at an early Saint Patrick's Day  gathering of the old Journalism Department (now the Mass Comm department at the University of Central Oklahoma).
We always do that at every gathering, even after all these years since he died April 1, 2005. The new, "young whippersnappers" as he would call them,  join in, even though they don't know the story of Illidge and "The Booth," which is still reverently observed with humor and good cheer.
But this morning for me, there were tears as "Danny Boy" played on the St. Patrick's Day TV show. We played that at his retirement long ago.
I teared up, and then asked Alexa to play Irish Music.
More good spirits, and more tears, and memories.
Thus today's watercolor, painting what I feel inside, what the story is, of a unique friend, who brings laughs as we quote him, and tears as well.
The story of "The Booth" and Bob runs throughout this blog in series and photos and more. Just search "Bob" and "The Booth," and you'll see. Here's a link to letter to him: https://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2014/05/letter-to-bob-from-old-world-booth-redux.html
His legacy lives on. As we were leaving Sean Cummings Irish pub after toasting Bob one more time, someone stopped me at an adjacent table, and asked what Bob's last name was. I told him, and he knew who I was talking about.
"To Bob," and his "little sweet pea," Liz who died just this past year, in their Wichita hometown.
"Come ye back when summer's on the meadow," my friend.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Real education, from the past, especially for today

Somehow I found this 1925 book, a reject from Oklahoma City libraries, "Sonata and Other Poems" by John Erskine, especially applicable today when this state and everybody else emphasizes training for a job.
   I didn't know he was an English professor and more at Amherst College and at Columbia--responsible for the Great Books movement. Most influential was his "Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent."
   You probably knew all this. My education is still continuing.

Here's the poem: "Modern Ode to the Modern School." Enjoy

 Just after the Board had brought the schools up to date
To prepare you for your Life Work
Without teaching you one superfluous thing,
Jim Reilly presented himself to be education.
He wanted to be a bricklayer.
They taught him to be a perfect bricklayer.
And nothing more.

He knew so much about bricklaying
That the contractor made him a foreman.
But he knew nothing about being a foreman.
He spoke to the School Board about it,
And they put in a night course
On how to be a foreman
And nothing more.

He became so excellent a foreman
that the contractor made him a partner.
But he knew nothing about figuring costs
Nor about bookkeeping
Nor about real estate,
And he was too proud to go back to school.
So he hired a tutor
Who taught him these things
And nothing more.

Prospering at last
And meeting other men as prosperous,
Whenever the conversation started, he'd say to himself
"Just wait till it comes my way--
Then I'll show them!"
But they never mentioned bricklaying
Nor the art of being a foreman
Nor the whole duty of contractors,
Not even real estate.
So Jim never said anything.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Why Blue? Stories of color

"Why Blue?" Today's #watercolor, 5 x 7 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
I couldn't paint without blue.
"What's your favorite color?" my wife asked this weekend. She knew the answer.
"Blue," I blurted.
"Why blue?" She has the habit asking unanticipated questions, I don't know the answer to.
"Come here," I said, and we went down the hall to where I paint.
"Look," I said, as I proceeded to pull out all the different blues I use in watercolor, putting them down on paper one-by-one, side by side.
That's when I realized, more than ever, I couldn't paint without a blue.
My standby is Ultramarine Blue, using more of it than any other color; but there are others, and all have stories.
Artists I study with usually mention one or two they use often. Some I try, and then rarely or never use. Others become, as one teacher said, "friends."
Others, like Ultramarine, are essential.
This afternoon's watercolor has nine different blues melded together. Stories.

  • Ultramarine. Strong. Deep skies. Mixed for great grays for clouds, and greens.
  • Cobalt. Weaker skies. Mixed for far away skies, certain grays, and strong shadows. Also for shades for chimisa plants. (New Mexico, get it?)
  • Thalo (Phalo). A stainer. Great for adding distance over backgrounds, adding evening moods.
  • Turquoise. I'm from New Mexico. Any questions?
  • Royal. Most recent. Strong, dark. Great for contrast.
  • Prussian. Dark. Makes dark greens.
  • Indigo. Darkest of the darkest. Less is more. Mix with Prussian for dark forests, more. Overdone becomes muddy.
  • Peacock. Almost thalo, less stain, brilliant. A "juice" color, according to one teacher, Tom Lynch. Grabs eye.
  • Antwerp. One teacher used it. Not sure of difference. Maybe more subdued for English countryside.
Yes, blue is a primary color--can be used in many mixes for other colors. Don't need many. So of those above about three are the most common on my palette.
But they all express emotions, stories, that may fit my mood when I'm trying to paint.
Interestingly, I never say "I'm feeling blue," when I'm sad or depressed.  
Blue is a color of life and art and experience. For me, it is indeed "primary."
--Next, the colors I can make with blue.