"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.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Check mate, on the death of my friend

"Check mate," in this world only, 5 X 8 watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
"Shah mat," in Persian for "The king is dead," where chess began, "Check mate," signals the end of the game, and the loser lays the king on its side.
Today my long time friend and more than 20-year chess partner, John Lawton, age 88, died after suffering strokes beginning Friday.
John Lawton, my friend
He had virtually no family, and lots of friends. A retired optometrist, he was a poet, a writer, an abstract painter, a volunteer at Edmond pet rescue, a senior citizens domino player, and a student of chess.
When we first started playing years ago at what was Borders, I couldn't stay on the board with him. Since then, we've both been through turmoil, and repeated health issues. And in recent years we'd meet at Steve's Rib for lunch and chess. We played for fun, no clock, and often explored alternative endings.
Eventually, I got to where I could occasionally beat him, but he'd astound me with his knowledge of the chess greats, often quoting them, with humor and insight. I'd never heard of most of them, but he knew them and most of the classic moves.
His bookshelves were full  of books on chess. From him I learned the intricacies of the pawn game, and got better, and could outlast him some. But in the last two games we played, he would say "Check mate" as I tipped my king on its side.
Today's watercolor is for him, as this life forces him to say "Check mate," and tip his king on its side. But the edge of the board fades into a new game.
But now he'll be able to play chess eternally with all those great masters he often quoted. I think they're in for a challenge, including the words "Check mate."

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Blast from the UCO Journalism past--when we were young.

Twenty something years ago, probably 1993 to 1996--the faculty of the University of Central Oklahoma Journalism Department.
Date is based on who is in the photo, and there was no ugly land run mural on the wall behind us outside in the sunshine at the Communications building--President George Nigh had it painting when he became president. 
I started in 1990, as chair. There were no women on the faculty, and a vacant advertising position, all of which I had to fight for to hire. Five of these great people were my hires (*). Three of those in this photo, have died.
Back row, from left, Sherry Sump*, who became my right arm as administrative assistant; Mark Zimmerman*, former student, now photo prof, friend, then running the photo lab;  Dennie Hall, journalism professor former Vista advisor; Jill Kelsey*, our PR maven; Woody Gaddis, photographer, (RIP); my dear friend Bob Illidge*, advertising, (RIP), who we still toast at every gathering; Charles Simmons, RIP).
Front row, Nancy Brown, Vista secretary; Sherry Johnston*, our first woman faculty member, friend,  and professor of everything; Mark Hanebutt, journalism professor and former Vista advisor, friend, and now longest serving member of the department that's become Mass Communication after we merged; and me.
Photo was found by Patty Gass, now administrative assistant for the Mass Comm department.

Monday, June 24, 2019

All mixed up--Learning the hard way with oil

When you paint, you mix colors. I learned that in watercolor long ago--a few colors give you a varied spectrum.
But undertaking--or trying to undertake--oils has been learning the hard way all over again. At the recent oil painting workshop at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, landscape artist G. Russell Case told us he'd prefer to have us spend most of our time just mixing paint.
After today, trying to take the next steps in an 8 x 10 painting of the church of St. Francis in Ranchos de Taos, N. M.,  I wish he had done it.
Last week I managed to sketch in the outline of the building. Piece of cake--red oxide faintly applied. 
Today, I undertook the next phases. Color triad for harmony in mixing and results: Red-Orange, Blue Green, Red.
1. Start with the darkest. Done. Junipers.
2. Move to the next darkest.
I was pleased with one part of the process today--painting the low wall in the foreground. The shadow by the door was too dark.
3. Since then, darker to lighter and scrumbling a rough in the sky to get rid of the whites, I ended up a little pleased, but seeing all kinds of problems for later corrections.
4. The further I went, missing colors, trying to get the light right, the more eventual adjustments I saw. Translated--I was making too many brush strokes, and the near wall is way too dark.
5. Now the paint is wet, so it must dry as I nurse my frustration, and think about it.
6. All mixed up indeed. Learned--new respect for my artist Dad, Terrence Miller Clark, and his talent in oil painting.
7. More paint to mix--later this week.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The miracle of life from death on a walk in the park

Life, and beauty, from death, Hafer Park
Everywhere you turn, on a walk in Hafer Park on a cool morning after a rain, if you look and listen, you can be almost overwhelmed by the beauty, and sacredness of life...and death.
A walk in the park
Those are the times as I age and become more aware of life and death, when I talk to myself--which if you believe in an omnipresent god--is talking to eternity.
It helps you to see, to look, to enjoy...and to know as Native Americans and many other non-Western materialistic cultures know, that all life is connected, and so is what we call "death," which isn't an ending, but a beginning of new life.
No death. No life.
Which also inspires art.
Whew. Deep stuff for a walk in the park. Thus these photos.

What are flowers but beautiful death producing seeds for more life
Death amid life...I want to paint this tree

Miracles of life, if you look

Life, death..this always make me think of Poe's "...dark tarn of Auber," in Ulalume.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Reflections on a missed 10th birthday a month ago, alas

missed decade's birthday--I knew it was coming and meant to celebrate, and then simply forgot, until the middle  of this month.
That emphasizes to me something not about my memory, but about change in life, in evolution, or identity.
started this blog May 3, 2009, when I was ending a 19-year stint as department chair at UCO, changing to being "just" a professor, and going through the stress of identity change. But I was still a journalist, a journalism teacher, a writer, and that identity was the focus of the blog.
Why did I forget?  Because my life has again changed (that is so naive--our lives change every second) with retirement two years ago. I've steadily written less in the blog and switched it more to of a forum for my art. 
At  one time, it continued because I was still teaching the blogging class--a necessity for success. Then I considered trying to make the blog into a commercial effort, but art changes that, and besides, writing well takes lots of time and effort...which, as I have less time ahead, I'd rather spend doing art.
Most recently, including this month, I have a resistance to the keyboard--Not writer's block, because I see stories, and photos everywhere--but just repulsion to sitting down here.
I've  written several times that the blog has become almost comatose...in 10 years, there have been only two months, last year, when I didn't write at all--a far cry from earlier months when I'd post every day, sometimes in multiples.
So why now? Maybe the hunger is back. Maybe also as my art web page is almost ready to go, with a link to this blog, I see a purpose--telling the stories of the paintings and art. 
And there's still this obligation, this self-competition inside to keep it going, since most blogs don't last very long, as noted in the first post.
For the record, the blog has attracted readers in more than 150 countries, and with more than 280,000 page views. This post is number 2,117.
Most active year was the first, 339 posts in eight months. Most posts, 70 in August that year.
So as the blog continues--telling stories of art, nothing shows more how it, and I have changed in 10 years than that first article.
Here is is, typos and all:

May 3.

The death of journalism? Or new life? Who knows...having conducted my last faculty meeting Friday in 19 years as chair, I show a pix of me at with faculty in fall 1990...now I'm old "seasoned" as they say). We viewed Did you Know from You Tube, and a section from TED on creativity. Our meetings, curse them all, are always about red tape and paperwork and regulations and policies, and never about what we're supposed to do best...teaching. The highlights of my career...my students and friends. Great article about me in last issue of Vista by Kory Oswald....look it up at Vista online. His descirption of me is dead on. "Clark looks like he could be your grandfather, or drinking buddy, or both." I'll drink to that.

Sunday is church with the New York Times. sitting on a leather couch with Crystal the cat in my lap, reading, sipping coffee, eating oatmeal, watching the rain come down outside. and facebook with friends like Farsooth Razak in NYC, or listing to Richard Mize's redneck rantings.

Aug. 1 I will be out as chair, and heading for just teaching, and running Journalism Hall of Fame, and watercolor painting, and writing and research....long suppressed by the red tape of administrative duties.

I'm keeping a journal of "The last Time" of this year, the last time I'll do a schedule, I'll attend meetings, etc.

None of this may seem interesting, unless you're itnerested in the insides of higher education, yet, but I assure you it will.

I ceased my Coffee with Clark radio program years ago, but this is the successor....It'll be worth your reading please.

So this is all off the cuff...let me hear from you.

Ursa the professa

Monday, June 17, 2019

On the "theology" of painting-I

"Sunrise at Fajada Butte," Chaco Canyon, N.M., 8 x 10 oil
A week ago I plunged into the world of attempting oil painting, a new "theology" in approaching landscape art.
What you see above is my  somewhat crude result of the intense four day workshop,  "Painting the Canyons of the West," taught by Prix de West artist G. Russell Case, (click to see his web page) at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
It's taken me this long to just sit down and try to write about the experience, far beyond anything I could have imagined.
Russell Case discussing painting with his "Fading Tradition."
Russell used the term "theology" in explaining the processes of  oil and landscape painting, including his painting demonstrations, general talks, helpful one-on-one advice with each of us students, and walks through the brand new Prix De West art show in the museum, using selected works as examples.
I'm not sure why I'm exploring oil painting at this stage of my life and art, but something is pushing me. I'm not ready to give up watercolors, as Russell did, but I need to try to grow. (One unintended side lesson, for me at least--I don't agree watercolor is more difficult than oil...I'm so swamped and intimidated with new ideas and information that watercolor seems comfortable.)
Much more to share as my late in life, do-it-yourself art school continues--I've got almost two note books to digest and try to share this journey of mine.
For the record--I'll probably continue to fine tune the above painting...which is my burden, because it is overworked. Every day I seem something else.
By the way, you have to camp at Chaco (20 miles of gravel road off the highway) to get this morning view--which I did 10 years ago.
Below is the group photo of the class, courtesy of  Gretchen Jeane, director of education at the Museum. People from as far away as San Diego, also Kansas City, Little Rock, near Fort Worth, Sayre, and lots of locals. 

"Out here there's the sky"--today's proof

Beautiful day for a walk in Hafer Park. Perfect for looking up and enjoying the ever changing drama of our skies


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Susan't Porch...watercolor

"Susan's Porch," 8 x 10 watercolor, matted for 11 by 14
"Is that for us?" I hear often from my wife when completing a painting. "No, it's for sale," is the reply.
"When do I get one?" asks Susan again. "I want some Oklahoma red dirt and fluffy clouds."
So here it is, Not for Sale, "Susan's Porch." Yes, there she is on the porch, looking at the clouds.
Unless of course I can do a one she likes better,  with fluffier clouds. Then this will be renamed, and for sale.
My palette
 after the final touches 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

By this time--five months and a day old---75 years ago

"For Them," 5 x 7 watercolor, 
By this time 75 years ago, I was snug in my baby bed, probably taking a nap in Dallas, Texas. Yesterday was my fifth month birthday.
Americans attacking at  Omaha Beach, D-Day
By this time, 75 years ago, about 3,500 young American men had been killed or were missing on Omaha Beach at Normandy. More than 6,000 had been wounded.  Bloodiest day for Americans since Antietam, in 1863.
By this time, 75 years ago,  almost 1,000 Canadian soldiers had been killed and wounded.
By this time, 75 years ago, about 2,500 to 3,000 British soldiers had been killed, wounded or missing.
By this time, 75 years ago, from 4,000 to 9,000 German soldiers had been killed or wounded.
The killing wasn't over, not for another year.
I've written many times on this blog about D-Day. It's personal. My oldest Son, Vance, an Air Force veteran, has visited Normandy and the American cemetery.
My Dad's brothers, my uncle Mike, signalman in the U.S. Navy, was on a ship hunting U-boats in the Caribbean. The reason his ship hadn't been sent for the invasion was that it was outmoded and spare parts weren't available.
My uncle Rex was in the Army in England, and probably dealt with the wounded. My uncle Champ was stationed with the Army in the Aleutians facing Japanese invasion. Today, his son, my cousin, Dan is in Normandy, where his choir took part in the 75th anniversary.  My Mom's brother, E.T. Culp was in the U.S. Navy, as was his son, my cousin, during Vietnam.
My Dad was working for Consolidated Aircraft in the Dallas area. He had lost his right leg jumping a freight train at Tucumcari, 12 years before--something I've written about before. If that hadn't happened, I wouldn't be here, nor my children and grandchildren.
If all those men hadn't died 75 years ago, and D-Day hadn't turned out the way it did, I would probably be writing this in German. Or not allowed to write it at all.
Think on these things. Be grateful.

Related photos, articles on this blog:
D-Day five years ago
D-Day written in blood
D-Day--Snug in my crib
10 years ago--Flying high on D-Day
Happy Birthday, Sailor
My Dad had a wooden leg

Monday, June 3, 2019

"Storm Watchers!"

"Storm Watchers," 11 x 14 watercolor, matted for 16 x 20, 300 lb. d'Arches cold press
Here it is, from emotions, telling a story.
First larger painting in a while. Ready to frame.
Can you imagine the conversation?

"Storm watchers," second chapter of a painting's story

"Storm watchers," the story continues. 11 x 14 300 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
There are several steps here, not just the most obvious.
First, modeling in the tree trunk. Planning for the branches with frisket. Adding the rear part of the house for contrast. Mixing several shades of blue and gray. 
Then grabbing the brush and painting the storm clouds quickly. Finally, adding some weak gray to the thunderhead.
Now, let it dry, rest, and think.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

And so it begins... story of a watercolor

Actually it began as an idea. 
Then several pen and ink scribbles and changes. Then yesterday's small quick study. Then sketching it onto a larger piece of quality paper. Then cleaning the palette. Choosing  brushes. Deciding where to start, Mixing some colors. 
And then...So it begins, "Storm Watchers," 300 lb. d'Arches cold press paper.
Now to ponder it some more.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Storm a-coming

can see this story, but not sure I can make it work in larger 11 x 14.  
So, today's quick study, 5 x 7 watercolor, one brush, "Storm watchers," husband and wife on front yard, watching a monster come in,  wind howling, hoping, praying, but with the storm door to the cellar open nearby.  Memories of rural life, and Iowa or Oklahoma.
Much learned. Now to overcome resistance, and try. Tomorrow!