"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, July 31, 2020

Out of space--Pandemic Page 169, 122 days

Today closes the pages, 169 of them, written over the last 122 days since April 1 when I began this pandemic journal, wondering if I'd survive.
I've never been disciplined enough to maintain a daily diary, though I'm pretty good on journals of trips and so forth.
But this was different. I missed only one day, and obviously wrote more some days, especially earlier, than others. 
It wasn't political, but personal reflections and facts--like the mother Robin nesting outside our window for a while. During the days of self quarantine because of possible exposure, I recorded my temperature every day. 
Later, I started keeping daily temperatures, and my weight, and records of books read and paintings painted. I thought about Star Trek: "Captain's log...."
When I started, I wrote only on one side of the pages, but soon switched to both sides. By yesterday, I'd taken up all the pages, so July 31, page 169, is on the reverse side of the beginning page, April 1.
The value? It gave me a morning routine, and as I go back and read, it brings memories back.
Will I continue? Don't know. It's sort of like doing my daily stretches. I may miss it. We'll see.

A pandemic month of art and writing and procrastinating

Cartoon waiting for editorial blog post
The pandemic of virus, racism and political chaos provoked my writing and art, perhaps more for sanity and spirit, and this blog is evidence, as it set some records, overcoming my procrastinations.
World Watercolor Month's daily prompts  helped rescue the once almost comatose blog, as my paintings provoked writing about each one, something I hadn't anticipated.
As a result, this is post number 150 so far this year, and there have been almost 3,600 hits during the month, the third highest in four years, since July, 2016. 
The 150 posts, compared to last year's total of 112, means the blog will, by the end of the year, rank at least sixth all-time since it began in 2009, and it could rank fifth, depending on my efforts in the next five months.
Today I'm supposed to paint "Do-Over" for watercolor month, marking 31 daily paintings, though there have been more, considering some birthday cards. I hope I get today's done.
The pandemic weighs on our spirits and sometimes I just don't want to paint, but it has kept me going. Writing this post now is another of my procrastinations. 
There are three other blog posts I wanted to do this month that I've not completed. One is about my four-month Pandemic journal that I've written in every day but one since April 1. Another is about poetry from three friends. Still another will be about recent books
The other is an editorial I've written and need to rewrite about Edmond city council's meaningless vote on requiring masks, which I've already posted the  cartoon on social media.
For the record, here are the top years for the blog posts.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Posing a challenge

"North Light," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
I have gained several advantages from the #WorldWatercolorMonth daily prompts that I didn't realize at first.
The first challenge is simply to paint something everyday. But the longer I get involved, there are other challenges...challenges to my imagination to come up with something I want to paint, and then the challenges of being able to paint the subjects to my satisfaction.
But today's prompt pretty well epitomizes my challenges. 
"Pose" was the word, and it is a daunting word to me, full of memories. It's forcing me to try new subjects and techniques, pushing me out of my comfort zone. 
Terrence Miller Clark, artist
It's daunting because my brother and I often posed for my Dad as he drew our portraits over the years. He was a talented portrait artist who could quickly catch a person's likeness, in pencil or oil. 
I am gradually learning to paint the human form as part of a landscape, but to catch a likeness in paint is, to my mind, far beyond my ability. Actually, daunting isn't strong enough. "Intimidating" is the correct word when I think of portraits.
So two days ago, I began thinking of how to respond to "pose," which was indeed posing a challenge.
Finally, and after some value sketches, I decided to try a rough impressionist scene, forgetting the details.
Thus you have today's watercolor.
P.S. In January I did my first portrait, commissioned by a family member. You can see that on the link below.
Watercolor Portrait of TeAta
If you're interested in seeing and reading about my Dad's portraits, here are three more links.
Portraits of an artist
Portraits of an artist-part 2
Portraits of an artist-part 3

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Yesterday's stories

"Yesterday," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Time travel. So many stories on the back roads, if you look and let your imagination run free. 
Every old barn, vacant farm house, decaying one room schools take you back in time, with the stories untold. 
I am always attracted to those, photograph them, and try to capture some of their character when I paint. 
They symbolize vanishing stories of a rural way of life, especially on the Great Plains and the wide open spaces of Oklahoma and other states.
"Yesterday." That was #WorldWatercolorMonth's prompt, and it didn't take long for me to decide what to attempt.
Today's watercolor comes from my imagination, of photos of old school houses I and others have taken. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Navidad, por favor

"Navidad, por favor," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano artistico extra white cold press
Not the holiday. New Mexicans know this.
Today's #WorldWatercolorMonth prompt was "Complementary." At first, I was stumped, and then...
The color wheel, that all visual artists know came to mind and other folks just know that red and green are somehow the colors of Christmas.  Complementary, opposites on the color wheel, adding contrast in  colors...but then that's too detailed...
But, the red and green chiles of  New Mexico...opposites, but together...the tastes and colors of the Southwest. Red ristras hanging from vigas against an adobe wall,  red chili powder ready for cooking, the singular smell of roasting Hatch green chilis, and salsas and posole.
Go into a restaurant and you have the option of having red or green chili on your meals. In fact, red or green is New Mexico's state question. 
But if you're brave, or undecided, just say "Christmas, please."
Thus today's watercolor of complementary colors, and a metaphor for more.
My tattered color while, primaries red blue, yellow, all the mixes and their opposites, complementaries

Monday, July 27, 2020

Study in blues

"Winter Blues," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press
Today's #WorldWatercolorMonth prompt brought several ideas, images and possibilities, but...
Some of them, like the shine off a metal cup or crystal glass, I'm just not capable of rendering  in watercolor, like some artists I know of who do incredible detailed work.
I thought about painting a black eye, a "shiner," but I've tried that before. Fun, but sorta ugly. We've got enough ugly in the world and country right now with the pandemics of virus, hatred and political chaos.
Then I thought about the moon, reflecting on snow and a creek. It would have been easier perhaps to paint a porcelain jug with a cork in it for "Moonshine," but...it just didn't appeal.
Back to the moon, thinking of the song "Shine on Harvest Moon," but a winter moon in today's July heat is better. Rings around the moon in icy sky, reflected  on mountain snow and a creek, reminiscent of Christmas cards I've done, is easier, and more fun.
So here's a study in blues: Peacock, Prussian, Royal and Ultramarine. (The white is the paper).

Sunday, July 26, 2020

"Red River near Waurika," 5 x 7 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
The Red River is not a particularly striking  nor deep  river, nor is its valley, especially the farther west you go in its 1,306 miles before it empties into the Mississippi in Louisiana. 
Its history and stories are deep however, going back before Europeans invaded, and the valley upstream is more of a flood plain than river. 
There are days, especially late in summer or drought when you can walk across those stretches, or camp out on the sand banks, run trot lines and watch time flow by. But in rainy seasons, it can, and has, taken out highway bridges.
Downstream the bluffs get taller and greener, and Texoma Dam forms a huge lake, a testament to the power of the uncontrolled river.  Before it trickles away in the Llano Estacado of Texas, it gets redder--and its name, from the red soil it carries during  flood time. 
I've lived near it in southern Oklahoma for 12 years, and seen its seasons--fond memories, and there is beauty in its moods and scenery.
Why all this? Today's #WorldWatercolorMonth  prompt was "Favorite Song." I get kidded a lot by friends because one of my favorite songs is "Red River Valley." It's so Western, so nostalgic, so about lost love. The fiddle music, the western yearning echo with me, taking me back  years.
First recorded in 1925, "Red River Valley," about the border between Texas and Oklahoma, was first title as "Cowboy Love Song" in 1925 by Carl T. Sprague, one of the first cowboy singers from Texas. 
Many have sung it, and my favorites are Marty Robbins, Michael Martin Murphey or Connie Francis. 
So today's watercolor, Red River near Waurika, Oklahoma.
From this valley they say you are leaving
We shall miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
For you take with you all of the sunshine
That has brightened our pathway a while
Then come sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
Just remember the Red River Valley
And the cowboy that's loved you so true
For a long time, my darlin', I've waited
For the sweet words you never would say
Now at last all my fond hopes have vanished
For they say that you're going away
Then come sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
Just remember the Red River Valley
And the cowboy that's loved you so true
Come go with me. Here's Michael Martin Murphey:

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Lookin' sharp

"Lookin' Sharp," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
What comes to mind when you hear the word "Sharp"?
Lookin' sharp...well dressed? A music note? A new razor? A knife blade? A sudden turn? 
No long-winded scree today about the #WorldWatercolorMonth prompt of "sharp."
Just a simple image came from a memory, of a teenager chopping wood  with an axe in the Manzano Mountains of New Mexico for our iron stove in the cabin.
Talk about hard work. Not for me. Any person using a axe will build back and arm muscles like none other. Using a cross cut saw was hard enough.  But the image of mountain forests was enough for today's watercolor.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Less is more

"Less is more," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Our materialistic culture values things, and the means to acquire more things. 
If there's one lesson that stands out during this pandemic of viruses, racism and political chaos, it is that America values things and money more than health and humanity. 
How can you tell? Listen to all the talk about the "economy," a short word for things and money. It has exposed the greatest weakness of capitalism...what happens when people can't work and earn money and acquire things? That's why there's so much pressure to "re-open" businesses, including schools and universities. 
Money is being lost, and that is more important culturally than lives. We equate lots of things, abundance, with success and quality of life.
People are suffering economically when they can't work to afford  even a house payment because our society, our government, is not prepared  nor equipped to care for those in dire need. Only look at the long lines and unemployment benefits disaster just in Oklahoma.
I'm not a communist, a socialist, nor a minimalist, but the lessons are clear...getting more things, a system built on that principle, is a disaster waiting to happen. It's happening
The last time this happened, in the Depression, it took 10 years to come to grips with, revolutionizing American society. Another depression is setting in, fueled by something more deadly than a Stock Market crash. 
This pandemic is changing American society  as we find we don't need to got to the store...it can be delivered. It's already bankrupted many smaller businesses, and laid off thousands of food service workers. Big retail is next. 
I read the other day that malls, those monuments and temples to materialism (euphemistically called "consumerism") will be the next victims --within a few years--of what this pandemic has wrought...death of retail stores. Think of all the people who will be out of work. 
And as I get older, I'm working on "divesting" myself of things and not getting more of them. I go to a store for something specific, and look at all those "things" I don't need.
Spiritual leaders like Jesus and Buddha,  revolutionaries like Gandhi, mystics throughout the ages, have warned and taught that material abundance won't make you happy. 
All these thoughts ran through my head as I tried to find something to paint in response to #WorldWatercolorMonth's prompt, "Abundance."
I started with the idea from Jesus saying he had come so we could have "life more abundantly," but couldn't figure out what to paint. In Psalms, "My cup runneth over" but that didn't sound fun, and sort of bland. 
Doing a little surfing the web on words and more, photos of people meditating or doing yoga on the beach showed up.
I'm not a practitioner, though I should be, and I know friends and relatives who are. 
Irony: this is an "abundance" of thoughts and words for a simple painting. Abundance? Less is more.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Alone, with art

"Alone," 5 x 7 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Feeling alone and being alone are not the same.
"I feel so alone," I said recently. I'm sure others are, quarantined, or worse, having health or financial or more ruined. 
In these pandemic virus days of plague, racism and political chaos, it's easy to feel alone, cooped up, estranged. 
But there is another alone, being alone, which you can also treasure, actually an escape from feeling alone, or overwhelmed, or suffocated.
Today's #WorldWatercolorMonth prompt "Alone" started these thoughts.
And as I thought about painting, I remembered how solitude, being alone,  is essential for creativity...no matter what kind. 
Being alone is essential just for thinking within, for imagining. And then when you begin work on some form of art, I find, and others agree, that the world and its problems goes away...I am alone with what's before me.
Today's image game gradually, while I had some alone time. Then it was influenced by recent reading of n astounding watercolor artist's work and book, which was also alone time. Branching out alone,  I decided to take some risks with the way I paint. (There is very little color here--complementaries contrasting and emphasis on light.) And yes, some of the risks worked, others did not, so there are more risks to take to improve.
This afternoon, as I began work, and continued, I was alone. Thus the painting of "Alone."

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

What's "valuable"?

"Cat convention," 5 x 7ish watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press
"Valuable" was today's #WorldWatercolorMonth prompt, which is wide open for interpretation.
You can tell what is valuable to most people by where they spend their money and time, what they "own."
But as you age, your priorities change with perspective and experience. If you're sane, you probably come to realize that what is most valuable in life isn't really in possessions.
Time becomes more valuable indeed, and  frivolous material items become a waste of breath.
That's why family, friends, relationships become more important, thus more valuable.
I can't paint family, but one of my treasures, a small thing really, is my daily cat convention. 
Early morning cup of coffee, quiet house, favorite chair. And here come Sophie and Snoops for some quality lap time, vying for who gets to sit on which leg. Soon they're purring,  soaking up my petting, and I get to sit there, be valued, and spend a few minutes just thinking, meditating, enjoying the present moment. 
It's valuable.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Back to the Dust Bowl image, Oklahoma

Oklahoma can kiss its so called progressive national image and so-called renaissance goodbye,  thanks to  two continuing government debacles. 
It's back to the Dust Bowl images of poor, backward dump Okies.
Infected Gov. Kevin Stitt, the only pandemic infected governor, refuses to issue mask mandates, making Oklahoma an island of disease surrounded by such progressive states as Arkansas (duh).  Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado also require them.
Then the Washington Post, in a front page article on national unemployment woes because of the virus, started with the cases and backload, and tragedy and inhumanity in Oklahoma.
Headline was bad enough...
"'A very dark feeling': Hundreds camp out in Oklahoma unemployment lines."
But this sentence, read around the country and the world, pretty well seals the national image of "Poor little backward Oklahoma":
"In Oklahoma, one of the poorest states, unemployment — which reached a record 14.7 percent in April — has pushed many to the point of desperation, with savings depleted, cars repossessed and homes sold for cash."
Maybe not the Dust Bowl, whose image haunted Oklahoma for decades.
No, but COVID Bowl, pretty much.

Organic magic

"Organic Magic," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
"Organic" was the #WorldWatercolorMonth prompt today, and multiple thoughts came to mind, all of which seemed impossible, or not desirable...from compost heaps to delicate greenery in hanging plants.
Then I thought of mushrooms, toadstools, organic live arising from organic death.  And that's sort of bland, until you decide to have fun, remembering imaginations of enchanted fairies dwelling in and around enchanted mushrooms. 
Organic magic sprouting new imagination, with some fairy dust sprinkled in.
So here you have today's watercolor, "Organic Magic," and from Shakespeare, Titania, queen of the fairies. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Rocking and rolling

"Rocking and rolling," 3 1/2 x 5  watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Today's #WorldWatercolorMonth prompt pushed my imagination, and then my art.
At first all I could think of was a worm, dangling from a fish hook, which didn't sound two appetizing, nor fun to paint for that matter.
Then I thought of the dance, The Twist," which led me to carefree, teenage memories of rock and roll and dancing with a girlfriend.
So this painting is out of my imagination, from long ago, based on a quick sketch this morning, and done hurriedly, one brush, and pretty small. But it was fun trying to capture the gyrations of those wild times.
Use your imagination. I did.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The scent of enchantment

"Enchanted Piñon," 5 x 7, 140 lb, Fabriano artistico extra white cold press paper
How do you paint a representation, an image of a scent?
Today's #WorldWatercolorMonth was "Favorite Scent."
We all have favorite scents, usually bringing instantly to mind special memories  or places of  a person's perfume. Some of mine are new cut hay, pipe tobacco, and the smell of ink and paper in a letterpress print shop.
But one  is more powerful than any other. When I smell that fragrance, I'm instantly transported back to the crisp air and skies of New Mexico.
Piñon. I have to settled these days for a piñon wood fire in the chiminea on the back porch--in fact, I just convinced myself to do that tonight. 
But you also get more than a whiff, in fact saturation, traveling  through the high desert air where the trees abound.
It's the New Mexico state tree, and valued for more than just firewood...by humans and birds and animals. I love the tree also for its gnarly and twisted trunks...by most standards not a tree of beauty...but to me, one of the great textures of the southwest, and age.
New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment, and to me, piñon  is the scent of enchantment.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

"But soft. What light ....?"

"But soft," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
If I'd have thought of those lines from Romeo and Juliet earlier, I'd have painted a window, but alas.
I also thought of the line from the Gospel song, "Whispering Hope": "Soft as the voice of an angel...."
But soft light is ideal for watercolor, and given today's @WorldWatercolorMonth prompt of "Soft," i had several options.
Most of which I'm probably not skilled enough to attempt...a baby's bottom, a lover's caress, the list goes on.
Then for some reason, I thought about freshly laundered sheets and towels, hanging from a clothes line, brushed by the afternoon breeze and warmed by the summer sun. Dryers are convenient, and easier, but for you have to add fabric softener, and then, so mechanical.
Remember when? I do.  Soft indeed.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Kid stuff

"Kid stuff," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Today's #WorldWatercolorMonth prompt made me think of kid stuff...the things young people say and do when they're not afraid of, or don't know, the rules and expectations that rob adults of their own childhoods.
Not all adults are like that, but as an uptight triple type A Capricorn, I  do know.
Except now that I'm getting older, I'm loosening up. That's been a continuing journey for me in watercolor, and if some of my art is getting better, that's probably because I'm loosening up there too.
Picasso said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when he grows up." You have to somehow stay in touch with the play, the freedom, the spontaneity of childhood.
Today's watercolor is an attempt at a figure, which makes me uptight, but it is also a version of a birthday card for someone, and these cards I do for special people help me loosen up, to enjoy just acting like a kid again. 
Seems to me, a kid playing on a skateboard is about as spontaneous as you can get. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Essential machines, a story

"Emotive power," 5 x 7 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
I wouldn't be here, if it weren't for trains.
Today's #WorldWatercolorMonth prompt was "Machine," and at first I was baffled for a subject.
But not for long, as I walked down the hall and saw my Dad's scratchboard of a Rock Island steam locomotive at the Fort Worth roundtable in the snow.
Dad's scratchboard of a locomotive at Fort Worth
As a kid, I was there when he made the first sketch in the summer. But I didn't know the emotions going through his head when we went there. He later turned it into the scratchboard
I do now. It's no wonder I've been attracted to trains, especially steam locomotives, for so long. And I've painted several, usually greeting cards for good friends Roy and Jill Kelsey. Roy is also a train buff.
Why are trains so important to me? Because they led to my birth.
See, when Dad was 18, newly graduated from high school, in the midst of the Depression, he and a friend from red clay Oklahoma town of Comanche, hopped Rock Island freights to go to Juarez to celebrate.
Coming back, as they "changed trains" in Tucumcari, Dad slipped while trying to board a moving boxcar. It sliced off his right leg beneath the knee and one small finger.
Had that not happened, he probably would have gone to war with three of his brothers. He might not have come home--they did. But even if he did, I would not have been born 12 years later.
So to me, steam locomotives are essential machines. Thus today's quick little watercolor, out of my imagination, "E-motive Power."

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Forgotten stories

"Forgotten stories," 5 x 7 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press watercolor paper
I'm always drawn to abandoned farmhouse, barns, sheds, vacant windows. 
They fire my imagination, thinking about the stories that are now forgotten, the dreams that are lost. They always beckon to be photographed, to eventually be painted.
Today's #WorldWatercolorMonth prompt "Forgotten," cried out for a reaction, though I'm trying something new, prodded by a renowned watercolor artist's work and book I'm reading as part of my continuing DIY art school.  More on that later.
This abandoned farmhouse is out of my imagination, an experiment in two complementary (opposite) colors, blues and oranges and emphasizing the light. By the way, all the white is the paper.
Learned a bunch, and has a bunch of flaws, but I will do a version of this again. I can already tell how to make it better. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Magic motivation

"Magic Metro," 12 x 12 acrylics
The OVAC 12 x 12 fund raiser, to be virtual this year, is not far off. Here's my experimental entry, as I don't work in acrylic much, and need to push myself into abstract impressionism to not get in a rut. Always learning.
Acrylic, on canvas, and no brushes--sponges

Green is for fun, and frogs

"Froggie went a'courtin' "...5 by 7 watercolor 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white
What do you think of when you hear the word "Green."
Many things in my case most of which is warm, especially in summer time.
It's also brings memories of fun back. I didn't post yesterday's watercolor, because it was mean. The word "Twisted," made me think of vines wrapped around a tree, or the DNA helix, but most of all it made me think of the twisted person who is president. All you have to do is look at his angry face, and it's indeed twisted, like the pandemic we live in these days.
I may share that later as an editorial, but I'm trying to paint pleasant things to offset the twisted people and times we live in.
So, today's #WorldWatercolorMonth prompt. "Green," was just the right  word, and of course I thought of Kermit, who is always fun, but then the lyrics of an old childhood song came to mind. 
Lots of fun:
"Froggy went a-courtin'..." Actually I found out it is really old, from the 1500's in Scotland. 
I had to look it up, and the lyrics sung and tunes played have a variety of lyrics different than I remember. But the image of a green frog wouldn't go out of my  mind.
The lyrics I learned began
"Froggie went a-courtin' and he did go,
un huh,
"To ask Miss Mary to the picture show..."
So much fun. 
Other lyrics, and the image, still are all about fun. 
Here's Doc Watson:
Bob Dylan's lyrics:
Frog went a-courtin', and he did ride, uh-huh
Frog went a-courtin', and he did ride, uh-huh
Frog went a-courtin', and he did ride
With a sword and a pistol by his side, uh-huh
Well he rode up to Miss Mousey's door, uh-huh
He rode up to Miss Mousey's door, uh-huh
He rode up to Miss Mousey's door
Gave three loud raps and a very big roar, uh-huh
Said, "Miss Mouse, are you within?" uh-huh
Said he, "Miss Mouse, are you within?" uh-huh
Said, "Miss Mouse, are you within?"
"Yes, kind sir, I sit and spin, " uh-huh
He took Miss Mousey on his knee, uh-huh
Took Miss Mousey on his knee, uh-huh
Took Miss Mousey on his knee.
Said, "Miss Mousey, will you marry me?" uh-huh
"Without my uncle Rat's consent, uh-huh
"Without my uncle Rat's consent, uh-huh
"Without my uncle Rat's

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Favorite "Place"?

"Bluebonnet Dawn," 5 x 7 140 lb. watercolor
No fair with today's #WorldWatercolorMonth daily prompt, "Favorite Place."
I have favorite places, as should anyone who has traveled even a bit. Where are yours?
Most of them have to do with  some solitude, some dear  memories, some dramatic scenery, some spiritual and emotional strength and calm.
That's especially true in these days of the pandemic chaos  of viruses, racism and political disaster.
To get away from it all, to savor what is important and beautiful, salve for the soul and mental health...that's what we all need.
A favorite place of mine, though it's not just one place, would be on the backroads, especially in spring, wandering through the fields of Texas bluebonnets. I don't get to see them often, but such places fill all my considerations for being favorite, including inspiring my imagination and stories..
Thus today's watercolor.
Other favorite places, in no particular order:

  • Glacier National Park
  • Monument Hill, Jefferson County, Oklahoma
  • Black Mesa, Cimarron County, Oklahoma
  • New Mexico--several, including the Truchas peaks, Pecos ruins, Jacks Creek campground, the Santa Fe Plaza
  • The Great Plains
  • Back roads
  • Gettysburg
  • Cemeteries
  • Florence, Italy
  • Scotland
  • The Lake District, England
  • Iowa--several
  • Burrowing Owl Bookstore, Canyon, Texas
  • The Flint Hills, Kansas
  • In a canoe

Saturday, July 11, 2020

A round oak table

"Stability," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Nothing symbolizes family and stability and kindness and love for me like a round oak table. 
They are the exact opposites of American life in these days of crazy pandemics viruses of COVID, racism, hatred and political chaos.
I obviously have many memories of sitting around such a table, where the entire fam says grace, dines, or plays games, or reads,  or works, or gathers just because, and where friends are welcome guests--there's a unity not disrupted by people's egos or prejudices. 
Today's WorldWatercolorMonth by Doodlewash  prompt was "Round," and it stumped me for a little, until I walked through the house and saw our round oak table.
Most round oak tables are solid, antique pieces of furniture that anchor a room, a family--a magnet of refuge from a busy, worrisome world. 
Wouldn't the entire country be better if we could just get everyone to sit down at a round oak table?

Friday, July 10, 2020

Life's a blurrrrr

"Life's a Blurrrr..." 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
How to capture today's #WorldWatercolorMonth's daily prompt? 
We know what 'fast" is, but it's relative, as is "slow," as an adjective (food, cars), or as a creature (humans, cheetas), or as time--whatever that is. We all have different images.
The first that comes to my mind is the roadrunner, state bird of New Mexico, though we have them here  too. I always think seeing one is a good omen, and I've had some two-roadrunner kinds of days driving the back roads here in central Oklahoma.
I've painted them before, but this called for a different approach....

Thursday, July 9, 2020

A taste of color

"The Taste of Color," 5 x 7 no-brush watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
The more I read, the more I study, the more I paint, the less I know.
I finished rereading Austin Kleon's "Keep Going," (10 ways to stay creative in good times and bad) this week. Here is another book that chose me at the right time as his tips prod me to keep going in this pandemic of biologic, racists and tRump viruses sapping our spirits and mental health.
There are times when I need to be prodded into writing and especially painting, until I get under way and just play, experiment, try. 
So it was today with #WorldWatercolorMonth's daily prod of "Fruit." Other obligations consumed most of the day, and afternoons are not kind to me energy. 
But I'd had the day to stew on the subject, first thinking about trying a Cezanne technique.
Then I thought about even more impressionistic, not quiet pointillism, to get to the nature and light of delicious fruit.
So here you have another no-brush (all sponges), watercolor.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The colors of a season

"Western Candles," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cp
"Fall" was today's #WorldWatercolorMonth daily prompt, and the word immediately brings color to me.
To an Easterner and Midwesterner, it probably brings vision of the riot of multi-colored leaves of hardwoods changing as the days get shorter and cooler.
I love those, but as most Westerners, I'll bet the images that comes to mind are  either the lower elevation Cottonwoods, or the quaking high altitude Aspen, every shade of yellow and gold.
Both will "knock your eyes out" with gorgeous, luminous golds, especially against the contrasting, complementary intense blue Western skies.
So here's two paintings today.
Terrence Miller Clark, in the Aspens
Almost every Western artist has attempted painting the Aspen, including me--never to my satisfaction, and a photo of my Dad painting them in oils in Northern New Mexico long ago, hangs in front of me as I type this.
I wondered why we call it "fall," as a synonym for the more elegant word "autumn." Turns out that "autumn" was first used in English in the 1300s, but eventually "fall" came into use 300 years later as poets  used the phrase "the fall of the leaves."
It certainly applies. 
But today, on a whim, I tried again, using just sponges, with a minimum of brushwork. I think it's impossible to capture their real glory on paper, but this was something different, and I undoubtedly will try again.
And for the heck of it...a similar technique for those Eastern hardwoods.
"Hardwood Explosion," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cp

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Free, with Walt

"Song of the Open Road," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press
Paint that, from #WorldWatercolorMonth by Doodlewash, daily prompt.
Lots of choices, symbols and images come to mind for an abstract word.
Then I thought of favorite poet Walt Whitman and his "Song of the Open Road," and it so seemed to timely and fit for  being cooped up because the viruses of pandemic, racism and political chaos.
There's so much we can't safely, freely, do these days, and one of them is to hop in a car, and take a carefree trip across our country, without lots of planning and caution to avoid contagion, to stay healthy. 
Oh, to be free again to just pack the car, head any direction. The open road always beckons me, but now more than ever.
"Afoot and light-hearted I take tot he open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me, ...."
For now, I can take the open road of imagination with Walt.
So today's abstract painting of an abstract word.

Monday, July 6, 2020

A simple word full of energy

"Flow," 5 by 8 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Such a simple word, but full of energy in many contexts.
How to paint it? It was the daily prompt for #WorldWatercolorMonth by Doodlewash.
My first thought was water, flowing down streams, and as I experimented, I realized my brush was flowing also.
Then I looked up the word, which I've used in the past in teaching writing...stories should "flow," meaning they're not choppy, but easily lead the reader along.
More examples "flowed" from the word. One called it the mental state in which a person is busy in an activity and fully immersed in it. (That also applies to painting and the creation of all art, I think, because the world goes away.
Other examples included steady progress on a research paper, even a class session where students are activity involved. There were even tips on how to get flow.
I stuck with the water image, thinking back to my canoeing days. Then when I painted this, determined to use all the blues on my palette, I realized it could also be a representation of a mountain range? Obviously, landscapes flow to.
Anyway, it's a little abstract, and minimalist, letting my imagination flow with the brush. I used six blues, letting the water flowing in them create flow: Cerulean blue, Cobalt blue, Peacock blue, Prussian blue, Royal blue, Turquoise blue and  Ultramarine blue.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Blue symbolism

"Turquoise Door," 5 x 7 watercolor, Fabriano Artistico extra white 
Favorite color?
That was easy to answer, but how to paint it? It was today's #WorldWatercolorMonth challenge prompt from Doodlewash.
I have used more hues of blue paint than almost any other, and never thought about it much, until I found something about it being the significant color for the name "Terry" recently. 
Coincidence? Probably, unless you're into New Age stuff, but part of what I read fit me, even subconsciously: "The color blue helps attract mental and physical relaxation as well as relief from negative thoughts." I'll take that as an added antidote to the #pandemics of disease, racism and a divisive president attacking our country and mood.  
But there is  blue  that is my most  favorite--turquoise, though it is has many shades of color in nature.
That's the influence of New Mexico, and turquoise also has a spiritual and historic background of thousands of years. For me, the turquoise doors and window frames and  other trim set against the earthen adobe of New Mexico always beckons.
So today's watercolor is a one-brush, a hake, effort--a minimalist multi-hued turquoise, with a touch of some green,  plus a slash of ultramarine for shadow. 
I'm ready to walk through that door, relaxed, just by painting it.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

A quiet Fourth of July

"Where the Fourth of July is Quiet," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
How do you paint that?  Doodlewash's #WorldWatercolorMonth made that today's  prompt. 
Something abstract? I don't usually think that way, and admire those who can do so, though I've experimented some with it. I've been reading Natalie Goldberg's Living Color-Painting, Writing and the Bones of Seeing, where she talks about moving in that direction.
But I have more reading and looking to do, but one person she tells about told her that all art has some abstraction in it. My greatest hinderance in painting is being too uptight. My best work is where I let myself go, and paint what I feel or think, without worrying about details.
Thus came today's watercolor response to the prompt, and we need some quiet in these days of pandemic, racist and political noise.
Some of the most quiet places I know are cemeteries, and I've often tried to paint the veterans' grave stones at Oakwood not far from our house.
Fourth of July isn't usually quiet, but it is in cemeteries, veterans' graves decorated with the American flag. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

When it's time to play

"Playtime," 5 x 7 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white paper
That was Doodlewash's #WorldWatercolorMonth prompt for today.
So appropriate because of the July 4 holiday, and even more this year as people struggle in social distancing to fight the viruses of pandemic, racism, political chaos and hatred.
Where would you like to be? I've had enough "alone" time these past three months...what I'd like to do is find a secluded beach, warm sunshine, loved ones and a dog, and ...you get the picture.
It's time to play, safely, intelligently, but oh we need to be playful to remind  and bolster ourselves of the basic humanity we're missing, that holds us together.
How do you paint ""Playful?" Perhaps, people having fun together.
Thus today's #watercolor,  "Playful."

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Texture of Life

"Adobe Evening," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
The older you get, the more texture you have in your life...wrinkles, yes, and more.
Consider all of nature for that matter, and creation. Texture means interest. Texture is contrast.
Contrast, texture brings drama to all creation, whether natural or human generated, in music, sculpture, photography, painting--the list goes on. 
That's why the best time for photography is early or late in the day, when slanting rays of the sun emphasize the texture of any subject. And in paintings, changes in light bring out the grain of life.
Today's Doodlewash's #WorldWatercolorMonth July 2 prompt was "texture." 
I was stumped until I thought about adobe in dramatic light, and picked up my sponges to emphasize the grand texture, the infinite grain and colors of those earthly buildings. 
Yes, there are a few brush strokes, but the majority of this painting is brushless. Texture.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

World Watercolor Month--Rejoice

"Rejoice," a happy robin, 5 x 7 140 lb watercolor
For the past two Julys, I've participated in Doodlewash's https://doodlewash.com/World Watercolor Month challenge of a painting a day. #WorldWatercolorMonth
It's been fun, challenging and productive, even if I don't always follow the suggested prompts.
It may not happen this year after looking at the 31 prompts, but at least it's worth a try to start the month off right.
Here's the list of prompts, and the first of which is to paint "Rejoice."
I like the ideas of the prompts because they stretch my imagination.
After sitting on the back porch this afternoon in this heat, I get to watch birds of all kinds seeking shade, coolness and food and water.
A favorite of mine is a large robin who frequents the bird bath only 15 feet from me. He'll come down, perch on the rim, look around, take a sip, and then jump in, giving himself quite a bath. Then he gets back on the rim, fluffs his feathers, looks around, taking his time.
To me, I think he's thankful for the peaceful back yard and cool water. He's rejoicing.