"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, September 27, 2020

Pandemic paintings, positively

as the pandemic is, and has been for six months, it has also spurred creativity around the world, in poetry, writing, in music, in all kinds of art including painting--reactions to quarantines and hard times. 

These are times when art is needed more than ever, to be antidotes of humanity to gloom, doom, and insanity.

 For me, it was a personal challenge, a fight against depression, against powerlessness, against being cooped up. Thus in these months, I've found solace and meaning in trying to paint consistently, rarely negatively, but positively, bringing color and light into these dark times.

this Friday, and through October, at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery, where I am one of 10 member artists,  in the Paseo Arts District, you can see, enjoy, and perhaps purchase, 28 of my watercolors and three oils, of my beloved New Mexico. But it's free to look. They're not all new, but many of the most colorful are, landscapes of Oklahoma and the southwest, and some whimsical ones of cats, birds, barns and more. There's a special corner where framed 5 x 7's are priced from $69 to $89.

I'm sharing the monthly show with Jim Reznicek, terrific photographer, and the back part of the gallery.

gallery is open from 5 to 9 Friday Oct. 2 , and from 5-9 Saturdays. If you want a personal appointment, you can contact me starting Oct. 5 at tmclark@gmail.com. View much of my art also on my webpage: www.tmclarkart.com.

Here are some photos of the show, hopefully to  whet your appetite. Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

An Okie in the family

Derrick Clark, with Liberty and Barrett, with the Mississippi River in the background

He waited till press day.

It was pre-press day at the Waurika News Democrat 45 years ago, which means we worked late Tuesday night getting the paper ready to go to bed.

I was fretting because my wife Neysa was  more than ready to give birth to our fourth child, and if you've never worked on a weekly newspaper, with a small staff, the day before is a constant barrage of deadlines and duties to be met. 

But Derrick Rogers Clark, the first native Okie in the Clark family since his granddad and granduncles, waited till Wednesday for us to drive 25 miles north to Duncan.

There he was born, 10 pounds and four ounces, gaining the early nickname of "Tank."

He hasn't waited on much since then, a joy of blessings to his brothers and sister, his Mom and Dad, his grandparents and many more

And now, for his children Liberty Faye and Barrett Bryderick, in Iowa, where ironically, his siblings were born.

He's a musician, a psychologist, a passionate papa and politically involved independent-thinking man of courage and strong beliefs.  

Happy Birthday, my Son.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


"Alone," 6 by 10, watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press 

"You gotta walk that lonesome valley,
You gotta walk it by yourself,
Nobody here can walk it for you,
You gotta walk it by yourself."

        --Woody Guthrie

In these days of pandemic, racism and political tyranny, I feel more and more alone.

Woody's songs don't seem to help, but that he felt the same  in other bad times, when the future of the country he loved was teetering.

This time not because of economics, but because of the twin pandemics of virus and tyranny in the open-door closet.

I won't get out of this alive, but I always knew I need to paint what "I feel," and this is what I feel.

Today's watercolor says all of that. I am so alone.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

In the Autumns of our Days

"In the Autumn of Our Days," 8 x 10 140 lb d'Arches cold press paper 

Favorite season? 

For me autumn, and as get older, there are more intense reasons than before.

In earlier years, the cooler temperatures, the changing light, the colorful foliage, the end of summer, and more. 

These days, I identify, and notice,  more with the brilliant colors, the crisp air, the shorter days, the inherent necessity and promise of change, the coming of death. Metaphors and more.

Thus today's watercolor.

Friday, September 18, 2020

September birthdays


"September Arrivals," 8 x 10 140 lb Fabriano Artstico cold press paper

The leaves rattle. The light  crisps. The skies change.

Geese, all wildlife and nature know it. We do, deep down, especially in a walk in the park, on a drive on the backroads.

September. Birthdays of new seasons.

Autumn nears. Birthdays pass. Memories fade.

Thus today's watercolor

Thursday, September 17, 2020

When buyng art



Shared on Instagram by fantastic artist friend Kasie Sallee

Watercolor watershed

"Santuario in the Snow," 13 3/4 by 17 3/4 (framed), watercolor, 140 lb d'Arches cold press paper

Watersheds. Sources of life downstream. Watercolors do that for me sometimes, after the failures and frustrations at least, when they all come together.

Today's success story is such a watershed, the Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico, which I've painted many times. This one is also special, as it was commissioned. 

I've featured it before, but today I picked it up framed, ready to deliver on Saturday.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

An Oklahoma painting gets a new home


Sold! Thanks to one of my former students, Lindsay Brady Laird , graduate of UCO - Department of Mass Communication , for purchasing "Land Run Relic," at In Your Eye Studio & Gallery in Paseo Arts District on first Friday.

Half sheet #watercolor, 300 lb d'Arches. This actual barn is on a county road in eastern Oklahoma county.

Plus...This painting will be in an upcoming movie, "Stillwater" starring Matt Damon, rented earlier this year for the set in Coyle!

This makes me smile in so many ways, especially Lindsay's love of old barns and purchase. Proud it's got a great home.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Autumn journey

"Autumn Journey," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper 
Every painting is a journey...of challenges, of learning, of imagination, of planning, of problem solving, of technique, of frustrations, and of failures.
This one, a version of today's earlier greeting card, came from today's earlier failures. So I had to try again, on a larger format than the greeting card. Learned more. Another journey.
Cabins? Yes. Autumn? Yes. Aging? Yes. Journeys? Too many to count.

A cabin kind of day

"Mountain Sanctuary," 5 x 7 watercolor card, 80 lb. stock

Beware looking at maps on days like this. When I feel "cooped up," even if I can get out of the house, these days of pandemic give me "cabin fever."

But that cabin fever feeds my imagination for another kind of cabin fever , one I've written and painted about many times.

I long for being able to travel, anywhere these days, especially after viewing a map of Italy,  but I'd settle for a cabin in the West. 

It's a cabin kind of day. So today, suffering from double cabin fever, thinking about the travels of our years and age, here's a watercolor card for a friend.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Camping weather

"Camping Weather, 5 x 7 watercolor card
How long since you've camped out?

For me, too long, and this cool weather brings back the memories...and the urge.

A couple of weeks ago, I rummaged through my camping gear stored in one of those plastic lock top bins in the garage.

Sleeping bag, Coleman stove, tent, hatchet, utensils, instant oatmeal, coffee, a few pots and pans..all with histories of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico or other places.

Then I drove through a park  near Arcadia Lake, looking for prospective campsites. 

Thus today's watercolor, another birthday card for someone special this month, done quickly from the heart. 

Thankful for the childhood memories of sitting around a campfire, huddled against the night chill, as the full moon rises  over the Manzano Mountains, a big tent nearby, enjoying camping weather.  

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The years go by

"Great Plains skies," 5 x 7 watercolor card

"Great Plains Skies," 5 x 7 watercolor card
Birthdays. Special days.

One of my salvations as an artist has been the developing habit as the years go by of painting greeting cards for special people on special days.

It started out simply, for family, and still continues, as family and friends have increased.

These are blessings for me, as I paint more free and loose and imaginative than my usual uptight self.


Monday, September 7, 2020

September Country

"September Sunset," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
You can almost feel it, with autumn only a couple of weeks away. 
In the northern latitudes or the mountains, it's already here. But where ever, you can see the light changing, hear the leaves cluttering, see the seed time ripening.
Ray Bradbury wrote a book called October Country, and as I watched the season change, I thought there is also a September Country.
There's metaphor there too, especially as you age. Every day is shorter, every sunset is more valuable. 
Today's quick watercolor took me on that journey.   I find it interesting that I'm painting more and more in orange, the complementary of my favorite blues. Not sure why, but orange is also a color of September.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Mountain refuge

Stormy Refuge, 5 x 1 1/2 watercolor, 300 lb d'Arches
Where do you go for refuge, for sanctuary,  in these times of turmoil?
For the religious, Psalm 46 has an answer, and for the writer, his personal turmoil and danger  would have matched ours.
And I suppose, for believers and spiritual in an omnipresent Creativity, that means we are all part of God.
Thus I can seek refuge in my imagination, in my creativity, and in my memories, when we seemingly have no other choice.
We are desperate for  refuge and sanctuary to maintain our mental health in these stormy days of pandemic viruses, racism, hatred and political chaos that attack our every well-being.
Refuges I've always counted on are the mountains, and cabins of New Mexico and Colorado--and we just postponed a journey there for solace because of incoming weather.
I have no choice, shaking off disappointment, to journey into my memories, and spontaneously spread paint from those thoughts and experience.
Thus you have today's watercolor, an abstract expression of stormy refuge from my imagination.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Faith and power in the New Mexico earth

"Santuario in the snow," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white cold press paper
Have you been to El Santuario de Chimayo in northern New Mexico? Have you touched the Holy dirt?
Though a relatively short drive from Santa Fe, in many ways it's a trek  back in time where you can witness, and experience a faith that defies modern science. It is a place of power.
Hundreds of pilgrims trek there every holy week, seeking forgiveness and healing, and more than 300,000 visit the shrine every year. 
You don't have to believe, but you will be stunned into hushed silence by the evidence of crutches and rosaries and more hanging on the walls in the little prayer room next to the little "pocido" room. 
Holy dirt from Chimayo, and a bear fetish from a Jemez Pueblo artist
There you can scoop the holy dirt out of the small hole in the floor. The chapel was built in 1814-1816 after a local farmer witnessed a miracle there. 
I have some in an antique bottle right in front of my computer from a trip years ago. We go every time we're in New Mexico, also to buy the excellent red chili powder from a local farmer.
All of that is just to give perspective  to today's watercolor, of the Santuario in the snow. This isn't the first time I've painted it, or written about it. But today's was commissioned after a person saw an earlier version and said,"That speaks to me."
It speaks to me too, so here it is, watercolor, with a touch of white acrylic for snow flakes.
Here are two previous blog posts on the Shrine 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Six month watercolor journey begins in March

March watercolors--turn on the sound
(The third slide is my impression of the virus)
In early March, there was a storm on the horizon.
"It's coming," said my doctor during a visit, referring to the COVID virus infecting the world.
We didn't understand how serious it would be, in middle America, where we feel relatively secure or isolated.
We celebrated St. Pat's day a week early, and during the first two weeks of March, I only did two watercolors...ironically one of a thunderstorm on March 4, and another of a lone canoe paddler on March 7.
March 15 changed that with quarantine, and I began painting daily watercolors, thanks in part to Doodlewash, which provided daily prompts. I didn't always follow them, but when I look at those from six months ago, I can almost tell you their stories, the prompts, what was happening. They are in effect, the beginning of a six month journey, a watercolor history.
I decided to try to paint something to lift spirits, light  against the darkness of disease.
Since then, in the next four months of daily challenges, I painted 98 watercolors, and completed 15 more in August.
I won't bother you with comments or captions on these, though you can easily guess the one for St. Pat's Day as I reflect in this slide show. If you want daily comments and captions, you can click on the blog posts of March and scroll forward, beginning with the March 4 post, Beauties and Beasts.
One other one  included in the show is of my beloved Sandias, in New Mexico...it was a birthday card for my brother.