"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.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Stories to tell

"Stories to tell," 8 x 10 watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches cold press paper
Every painting has at least one story, I've discovered over the years, and today's effort is no exception.
The first story  of this painting is the travail  I've gone through trying to paint it. More on that in a moment.
Another has to do with the declining number of abandoned one room school houses you see across the Great Plains, New Mexico  and Oklahoma. 
They've grabbed my  attention, provoked my  imagination--just think how many ghosts and untold hopes and memories and stories there are from within and around those walls.  They're monuments to a bygone era of simpler, but harder times, of declining rural population and increasing rural poverty. The story I wanted to tell in the painting was of those vanished stories and hopes.
If I was going to be snarky, I'd make this an editorial cartoon, labeled "Republican plan for public education."
But that would be another story, and in this pandemic, we don't need any more snarky, do we? That's why I've tried to paint every day, using bright colors as a salve for all the darkness in the world.
The story of this painting is one of several failures. The last daily prompt of #WorldWatercolorMonth in July was "Do-Overs."
I tried and failed  to painting a larger version of the little one-room school house I painted on July 29, titled "Yesterday." 
Actually I tried and failed (my friend Theresa Hurt who owns Pirates Alley frame shop in Britton calls them "lessons,"  three times that day. I started with the skies and ruined three sheets of paper. I quit.
Thus July 31 was the only day of the month I didn't produce a painting. I sulked and stewed through the weekend and tried again this morning. I had another "lesson." So I switched to better, heavier paper, and instead of painting the sky first, did it last.
My attempts were meant to use only complementary colors--in this case blues and oranges, and to emphasize as much white and light as possible.
So that's one of the stories  of this painting.
July 29th painting, "Yesterday."

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