"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, October 31, 2020

Seasons of change

"Seasonal symbols," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

month ends, winter is coming, 2020 has been a year of change, and it's not over yet with pandemic, pandemonium and politics.

But we need change, if not of the kind and magnitude of this year, or we stagnate, as individuals, groups, organizations, countries. 

So today's watercolor greeting card is an attempt at something a  little different, an effort not to get in a rut, to face a challenge. October's end and November's beginning are seasons of change...time for something new.

Nightmare day, and year

"Nightmare," 5 x 8, watercolor 300 lb d'Arches cold press

seen some compelling, and frightening  artwork for Halloween, and had to try something different. 

So here is today's watercolor, digitally enhanced, not exactly scary, but just use your imagination.

It's also a reaction to this year, which has been, and is a nightmare, of pandemic, violent racism and intolerance, and political extremism and chaos. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Season of Magic

"Season of Magic," 5 x 7 watercolor greeting card

world needs 
some magic these days. 

Even Halloween, the day of fun for all ages, is falling victim to the pandemic. Next will be  the holiday season when a traditional time of togetherness will not be the same.

In America we're also under attack by blatant racism and violence, threats to our voting, and a political chaos that has everyone on edge, to say the least.

I can't help but yearn for the years as a youngster when it was a season of magic, of fun, of discovery, of family and love and peace and good will toward all people.

Today's watercolor is just that, a reaction to the insanity, some magic while playing with color, to lift my and your spirits in our journeys.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Missing the starry nights

"Starry Nights," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

of the beauties of winter  are the clear cold nights when you can really see the stars.
I miss that the most about living in urban America. You really need to be someplace rural, far away from the light and noise and other pollution of too many people.
It's not just my emotion, but those of many through the years...consider the words of the Christmas carol, "Silent Night"--"Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright...."
It's gotten worse through the years as population has exploded. I can remember growing up in Albuquerque, when you could step outside at night and actually see with the naked eye the Milky Way. Now you can find a trace of it in the city, using binoculars.
It's not just nostalgia either, but a yearning, an awareness of the grandeur and vastness of creation.
So, today's watercolor card---postponed by two days because of winter's ice storm, as we've fretted the sounds of tree limbs cracking and collapsing around us. At  least the sun came out today, so tonight, at least I'll be able to see a few stars.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Warm Memories on a cold day--a milestone


"Warm Memories," 5 x 7 watercolor greeting card

When winter arrives  early, it's good to cuddle up with warm memories.

Today's cold front, rain, freezing rain, ice, snow sweeping across Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico makes my imagination wander...to bundled up walks in the snow, to rural countrysides, or to cozy cabins or farmhouses, the smells of cooking being prepared, a fireplace perhaps, a cat or dog on your lap.

Another journey...today's watercolor, tracks in the snow, and a discovery...this is one of the best I've done.

P.S. And a record, a milestone,  for this blog, thanks to watercolors. After this blog's life dwindled in the past few years, it then seemed to rescue itself  from journalism through seasonal watercolors. Thus post marks the second highest in October since the blog began back in 2009. And the total posts this year now have made this the fifth highest year since then.

A journey indeed. Now back to the palette and paint brushes.


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Colorful medicine for a gloomy pandemic

"October medicine," 5 x 7 watercolor card

a a gloomy day, in a gloomy year. Today's cold seems to seep in, mirroring a year and a season  of disease, violent racism and the politics of intolerance.

My mood, our mood, our spirits, our mental health, need more than a medical vaccine. So while this late October day is gloomy, I'm so thankful for what October does best. 

Brilliant foliage brings  color and brightness into the world, at least in the upper northern latitudes. It's no wonder the month is a favorite, of scenery, of memories, of fun.

So today's watercolor greeting card is just that, a vaccine for my moping mood. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

A fireplace kind of day


"Fireplace weather," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday cardn

Winter arrived today, on a cold front...or at least late fall....temps on the 40s, wind chill, gray skies.

"Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains," is almost trite in Oklahoma, but especially on the Great Plains, and especially in the Texas Panhandle, the Llano Estacado.

From yesterday's 70s and 80s, it's suddenly "Fire place weather." Normal out here, isn't it?\

So here's today watercolor holiday greeting card, especially for my friend Catherine Wardlow, Literati master,  of near Shamrock.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Let there be color


"Let there be color," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday card

need light more than ever, especially as the country suffers a year, a season of darkness of pandemic, racism, political chaos--and the physical season of darkness  approaches.

It dawned on me this year--no pun intended--as I continue to try to learn watercolors, that the command "Let there be light" in Genesis can be translated, "Let there be color." No light, no life...yes. But no light, no color either.

So as I begin my tradition of painting holiday cards, seeking originality in ideas, subjects and techniques, I'm experimenting more with color. What makes watercolor really sing, and what I struggle with, is its transparency, letting light through. Mine are too often too dark and opaque. 

Winter may be a season of darkness, but there is abundant color there too if you look, and there is abundant color in our world and in people despite the darkness of pandemics and more.

One of the examples I know would be the "Northern Lights," Aurora Borealis, that I've only seen once or twice when we lived in Iowa, but they inspired me today in these seasons of darkness, even though we're too far south to see them.

Today's watercolor may have too much darkness, but the light of colors helps rescue the efford.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Beckoning bridges

"We need bridges," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday card

Bridges seem to beckon, especially in a  year  and autumn and the coming winter like this, of pandemic, racism and political chaos like this.

They bespeak of the unknown, of adventure, of possible change, of hope, of passing time. They beckon you to step onto them, to cross them, to just see. 

Today's watercolor, beckoning to sanctuary, to new life from the midst of seasons of dying and death. We need bridges.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Solitude Season


"Season of Solitude," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday card

October dims in the calendar, and the days get shorter.

In this season of pandemic quarantines, political chaos and hatred, it's easy to feel alone, cut off from the world. It's tough mentally and emotionally on adults, but I can't imagine what this is doing to children. I hope they are more resilient.

My imagination turns to the solitude of the Great Plains, especially in the "Solitude Season" of the coming deep winter.

In contrast to this current season of feeling cooped up, stranded in life during beautiful weather, I usually treasure the coming season, when solitude means loved ones, good books, warm food, fond pets, beckoning fireplaces and time to enjoy them.

Thus today's watercolor, when the season is a gate of memories.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Beckoning the Muse

"El Santuario," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card

a cure for feeling cooped up  as a cold front arrives on a cloudy day. 
Beckon the muse, which includes an early  walk in the park when it's quiet with few people, where you can use your senses to connect with nature.
Then it's easier to let the muse beckon, thinking of other places  you'd rather be, back to memories and favorite places.
Pick up the brush and start painting, and the muse answers.
Thus today's watercolor, of El Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico site of the miraculous curing earth, painted many times. 
But today, for a holiday card, it helped me get started on more cards, curing malaise as I worked out the problems and remembered our great times there. Just wish we were there now. 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Halloween Goodies


going to be a different kind of Halloween this year, but it's still a time of fun amid pandemic...all you have to do is look at the various yard decorations cropping up everywhere.

In that spirit, here are three one of a kind "treats" for the season, 5 x 7 watercolors, matted and in cellophane ready to frame, for gifts, a party  or just fun.

 Now for sale, just $29 each,  beginning tomorrow afternoon at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paseo Arts District. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Holiday card season begins

"Tis the Season," two 5 x 7 watercolor cards

that time of year when I begin painting cards for Christmas holidays.

I learn much from doing these, because they keep me from being uptight, though that is still a problem on larger paintings. And they push my imagination to be different.

Cold front season


"Cold Front Season," 11 x 14 watercolor, 140 lb d'Arches cold press paper

October...a season of changing light and temperatures, sometimes dramatically.

When a cold front pushes down the Great Plains, in Oklahoma or Texas, we  see it coming, we feel it immediately--crisp air, cool breezes, brighter colors, flying leaves So do bird and animal life and the plant life.

It's time to watch the seasons change, and to drag out sweaters or thicker shirts, maybe a hat, perhaps a sweater. Make some soup or stew or chili, get that cup of coffee, light a fire and enjoy the freshness.

Today's watercolor, larger than usual, painted quickly to match the season, with a familiar theme for me...a barn and rural landscape. October! And for me, a study in complementary and contrasting colors, purples and oranges.

Monday, October 12, 2020

October Country Journeys


"October Journey," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb d'Arches rough press paper

When October gets here, I think of Ray Bradbury's The October Country, a collection of Halloweenish  mood short stories.

But there's also a different mood. I  think of changing and brilliant foliage, of gates opening to a new year, of rural landscapes, of back road journey, of footsteps shuffling through fallen leaves, of crisp air and light.

Thus today's watercolor. Let's go into October Country.


Wow! This merited a poem from my friend and poet Kay Lawson Gilbert of Pennysylvania.

"Soft fall colors and shadows/respiration of memory/the passing of air through my lungs/the perfume of dry grasses and leaves/always the procreant push of the earth." 🍂

Friday, October 9, 2020

For the open road

"The Open Road, " 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb d'Arches rough press paper

myth, the mystery, the mythology," of the open road, in the words of poet Nathan Brown, reading my commissioned poem about back roads last night in his Fire Pit Sessions, titled New Mexico 104.

The magic back roads highway from Tucumcari to Las Vegas, where you can see forever, with little or no traffic, at whatever speed you wish--ahead are mountains, and to the right or left, wide open spaces.

Then of course I think of Walt Whitman and his "Song of the Open Road," which so fits my spirit, especially in these cooped up days of pandemic, racism and political chaos.

Listen to Walt:

"Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road....

"You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here,

I believe that much unseen is also here."

So today's watercolor, much better than yesterday's 4 1/2 by 10 quick study, "Mountains Ahead," from a photograph I took on that highway years ago, heading to my beloved Sangre de Cristos, and La Villa Real de La Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis.

This one will be framed as an 11 x 14 and hopefully sell. Thanks Walt, thanks Nathan. 


Thursday, October 8, 2020

Cottonwood glory


"Cottonwood Glory," 5 x 8, 140 lb d'Arches cold press paper

Aspen claim the high country glory in autumn in New Mexico and the West.

But if there is a tree of the West, it is the low country cottonwood, a landmark of rugged bark, twisted branches and in many cases, giants centuries old, found anywhere there is water in the arid land.

And in fall, their golden color fills the valleys, contrasted brilliantly with the deep blue skies and distant purple mountains and mesas.

 Thus today's second watercolor. 

Back roads painting and poetry

"Mountains Ahead," New Mexico 104, 4 1/2 x 10 watercolor, 300 lb d'Arches cold press

 "Mountains Ahead! It's always great to see the mountains on the distant horizon when headed west.
This watercolor is in anticipation for poet Nathan Brown's Fire Pit Session, reading a poem I commissioned for one of his books during the pandemic, prompt being the "back Roads." We both love NM 104 from Tucumcari to Las Vegas, where the road stretches out forever . Here's his notice and photo, and mine of the same road a few years ago. 
You can catch him, and the poem, on Facebook at 6:15.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Mauve Morning

"Mauve Morning," 5 x 7, 140 lb d'Arches cold press paper

you leave the New Mexico mountains, heading east into the Great Plains for the long drive to Oklahoma, it is best to start early.
Early as in before sun-up, but not before there is some light when the colors of dawn dominate  the horizon. Before that, deer on the road would mean disaster at 70 mph. 
But as the sky brightens, the multi-colored dawn makes the dramatic Southwestern landscape even more enchanted minute by minute, and there is almost no traffic for about 80 miles. 
In another hour, the sun will be up, and the land east of Raton, New Mexico,  will flatten and the trip becomes one of endurance, of the Texan Llano Estacado, of fields of crops and pastures, of almost constant wind and heavy truck traffic.
So it was recently for us, and I wish we would have stopped to take photos of the rugged volcanic landscape, wide open vistas,  and the sky, the sky. But we were hurrying home.
Today's little watercolor comes from my imagination and general impression of those magic moments--"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plains," in the words of the theme song of the old TV show, Wagon Train, quoted  in my blog title. (Incidentally, that photo  at the top of the blog was taken about the same time of day, east of Cimarron a few years ago).
This painting was a discovery for me, as was the drive that morning, trying to mix colors to get "mauve," the overriding colors of dawn. two earlier and largest attempts were unsuccessful

September Watercolors


As the pandemic deepens, moods do too, making art of any kind more important to survival.

But it also slows you down, and this September, I only managed 10 watercolors, three of them 5 x 7 birthday and greeting cards. Still though, there were 16 posts, the most since 2014 for the month, and third highest since 2009.

The best, and largest painting, was the Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico, a commissioned piece. 

Viewing them again, they bring me peace and inspiration for this month. Enjoy and turn on the volume of this my fourth slide show of paintings since March 15. There is an overriding theme though, of an autumn journey. The last one is titled, "Alone."

Aspen to lift October spirits, and the muse


High Country October, 8 x 10 watercolor

Seven days into October, and this is the first blog post and watercolor, following months of consistent writing and watercolors during this pandemic.

I don't know why the muse departed, though the history of this blog shows few October posts every year but the year I started, 2009.

Being out of town the first four days contributed, but after September's splurge of 16 posts (the most since 2014 and third highest overall) and 10 watercolors, the gas tank must have been dry.

one watercolor has been completed so far, though there are three failures you'll never see.

Everybody tries to paint aspen, and I have before. This one inspired by a photograph on our Colorado trip as least got me started. And blogging again, hopefully more than the four each month for the past two years. 

Terrence Miller Clark, at work on a painting long ago

do that to you, and energize the muse. Here also is a photo of my Dad oil painting aspen long ago in New Mexico, which hangs in front of me as I type, and behind me when I paint.