"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, June 6, 2021

Don't take my Kodachrome away

"Kodachrome," 8 x 10ish watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches rough press paper

When
there are blahs, or whatever other names there are, we need bright colors

That was certainly true during this past year and a half of  pandemics  of violence, disease, death and dangers to democracy.

It still is now for many thousands around the world for nations. And as the search for "normal" weighs down the days, also for individuals trying to cope with untold emotions

A favorite song comes to my mind, harking back to the turmoil of the Vietnam years.

"They give us those nice bright colors,

Give us the greens of summers

Makes you  think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah...

So mama, don't take my Kodachrome away."

--Simon and Garfunkel

Thus today's watercolor, the first in a while, trying to escape the blahs.


 

Monday, May 31, 2021

Untold Memorial Day stories

 
One of my favorite cemeteries is Oakwood, at the end of 15th Street in Edmond, just before you get to Arcadia Lake.

It's a Territorial cemetery, with graves from the 1890s, and families still care for it, with burials continuing today.

I go out there often to think, to imagine the stories, many untold for three  main reasons. There are numerous veterans' graves, dating from Civil War vets to the present. There are numerous infant graves, attesting to the harsh life of early days. In addition, there are many other unique stones. I've written and photographed and painted there many times. You can search Oakwood on this blog and seem some of those earlier efforts.

I went out there today, in the rain, for the mood, and took this photo...a marker of untold stories.

I took this photo today because it caught my mood. J.J. Henager, who served in Company F, in the 39th Iowa Infantry, fighting to preserve the Union in the Civil War.

Surviving, he somehow, at some time, came to Oklahoma Territory probably to homestead. I wish there were dates, and I knew more. I'm thankful the cemetery  volunteers put flags on all the veteran graves today.

Earlier stories on Oakwood:

https://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2014/05/stories-of-memorial-day-flag-on-his.html

https://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2017/07/independence-day-challenge-watercolor.html

https://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2013/07/infant-graves-and-hard-life.html

His Infantry record, from Wikipedia:

Service

The 39th Iowa Infantry was organized at Des Moines and DavenportIowa and mustered in for three years of Federal service on November 24, 1862.

Attached to 3rd Brigade, District of Corinth, 17th Army Corps, Dept. of Tennessee, to January, 1863. 3rd Brigade, District of Corinth, 16th Army Corps, to March, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 16th Army Corps, to September, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 4th Division, 15th Army Corps, to August, 1865.

Moved to Cairo, Ill., December 12–14, 1862; thence to Columbus, Ky., December 16. Defense of Jackson, Tenn., and pursuit of Forrest December 18, 1862, to January 3, 1863. Parker's Cross Roads December 30–31, 1862.

Moved to Corinth, Miss., January 6, 1863, and duty there until November, 1863. Dodge's Expedition into Northern Alabama April 15-May 8. Great Bear Creek and Cherokee Station April 17. Tuscumbia April 22–23. Town Creek April 28.

March to Pulaski, Tenn., November 2–12, 1963. Guard duty at Reynolds Station and along railroad until January 21, 1864, and at Pulaski until March 12.

Moved to Athens, Ala., March 12, and to Chattanooga, Tenn., April 30, 1864.

Atlanta (Ga.) Campaign May 1 to September 8, 1864. Demonstration on Resaca May 8–13. Snake Creek Gap and Sugar Valley May 9–10. Battle of Resaca May 13–14. Ley's Ferry, Oostenaula River, May 14–15. Rome Cross Roads May 16. Kingston May 19. Moved to Rome May 22 and duty there until August 15. Expeditions after Wheeler August 15-September 16. Moved to Allatoona October 4. Battle of Allatoona October 5.

Moved to Rome October 9, 1864. Reconnaissance and skirmishes on Gave Springs Road October 12–13. Etowah River October 13.

March to the Sea November 15-December 10, 1864. Ogeechee Canal December 9. Siege of Savannah December 10–21.

Campaign of the Carolinas January to April, 1865. Salkehatchie Swamps, S.C. February 3–5. South Edisto River February 9. North Edisto River February 12–13. Columbia February 15–17. Lynch's Creek February 25–26. Battle of Bentonville N. C., March 20–21. Occupation of Goldsboro March 24 Advance on Raleigh April 9–13. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army.

March to Washington, D.C. via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 30, 1865. Grand Review May 24. Moved to Louisville, Ky., June.

The regiment was mustered out on August 2, 1865.

Total strength and casualties

A total of 1064 men served in the 39th Iowa at one time or another during its existence.[1] It suffered 6 officers and 58 enlisted men who were killed in action or who died of their wounds and 2 officers and 134 enlisted men who died of disease, for a total of 200 fatalities.[2]


Sunday, May 30, 2021

Real Patriots

"Memories," 8 x 10 watercolor,  300 lb. d'Arches rough press paper

If you know me, you know I love walking through cemeteries, especially attracted to veterans graves, adorned with American flags on days like this.

There are so many untold stories, so many memories in such places. 

Here's a salute to those who served, real patriots who put their lives, not their empty words,  on the line for our freedoms. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The moods of rain

"Rainy Day<' 5 x 7 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico rough press 

Today
I heard Willie Nelson's plaintive voice singing "Blue eyes crying the the rain."

Rain brings many moods, and memories of as many songs to me. And the Bible is full of references to life-giving rain.

As the skies clouded up again today, with more rain promised, several of them ran though my head, some romantic,  some nostalgic, a few happy, and many more sad.

When you grow up in the arid southwest, you always notice rain, and look forward to the building clouds and rain of the early fall monsoon season. Those too bring memories and moods.

Much of the country has had too much or too little rain this year. Here in Oklahoma, on the eastern Great Plains, I'm thankful for the cooler temperatures, and abundant rainfall...and the multiple memories.

Today's little watercolor, out of response to those memories and moods.






Sunday, May 23, 2021

How time slips away

"How time slips away," 5 x 7 watercolor 300 lb d'Arhecs rough press

"Ain't
it funny how time slips away" is one of my favorite songs, especially sung by Willie Nelson.

"It's been a long, long time" pretty well sums up life's journey, more so as I get older, and the emotion of times past, of living, of loss seem to especially fit his voice.

Many things bring it to my mind these days, especially for some reason on Sundays. Today, just sitting on the back porch, slight drizzle, moving clouds, bird song,  changing  greenery..."as time slips away." I also thought of Thomas Wolfe's novel, "Of Time and the River." 

What about today will you remember? Did you enjoy the present moments? 

Today's semi-abstract watercolor has been in my imagination for a while, and it just seemed to pour out, "as time slips away. 


Friday, May 21, 2021

Help from on high

"From on High," watercolor, 8 1/2 x 5, 300 lb d'Arches rough press paper

When
you need inspiration,  "Go to Work!" yell the experts.

The muse shows up when you work, even when you're in the doldrums, when you're in a valley. Don't actually work, just play around, and see what happens. 

"Put butt to chair, pen to paper, and just write" has been an axiom for writers and journalists. I know of many times in writing, I would get the nut graph, and then a lead, and somehow, by the end of the article, the appropriate  conclusion would somehow just show up. I think that's the muse, help from "on high."

Creative people in every area probably have similar experiences. (Aside--I irreverently wonder if that happened when Yahweh created the universe, not knowing exactly how it would go and turn out? Picture the Spirit saying, "Hmmm, let's try this next and see where it goes." No wonder "He" rested on the seventh day.)

I do know it is true in painting, especially watercolor, the medium you want to have some control over, but can't control. And, when you're in the valley, and nothing seems to inspire, or there's no energy, the answer often is, "Just play around," for help from on high.

And for me, I think of the Psalmist, who asked the same question "...where does my help come from?" with

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains...." ---Psalms 121.1

Sort of my mantra too, and even in Oklahoma, as a child of New Mexico and the West, I can remember, dream,  and imagine, the mountains are inside me.

Thus today's playtime watercolor, seeking help from on high, in more ways that one.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Like a tree

"The season of green," 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 watercolor, 140 lb.

While
much of the country is drowned in drought, we're in the midst of the season of green.

Abundant rainfall and cool weather has filled streams and rivers, ponds and lakes.

Though summer is not here yet to remind me of a favorite song, "The Green Leaves of Summer," I find peace in the abundant foliage on bushes, undergrowth, and especially trees.

Reminds me of the words of the prophet and poet in the Old Testament

"...like a tree planted by water," --Jeremiah 17:8

"...like a tree planted by streams of water," --Psalm 1:3

Seems like a call for today's little play-time watercolor.


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The lure of islands

"Peaceful Reflections," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press

 
When you see an island, what is the reaction?

Probably, a question, a lure, to somehow get there and find what is on it, to explore, discover.

Why?

I think of Hemingway's Islands in the Stream, or Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers'  song, by the same title. Then there is William James' quote about we being islands in the sea separate on the surface but connected deep, along with John Donne's poem, "No Man is an Island."

Don't forget Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, spending the nights on an island in the Mississippi River so they could hide. Or Robert Graves canoeing down the Brazos in Goodbye to a River, camping on one overnight. And, do we not all dream of the magic islands of the South Pacific or getting away to a secluded beach in the Caribbean?


Those
thoughts came to me yesterday, walking in Martin Park, seeing this little island in the middle of the lake. 

Thus today's little watercolor. It's been a long month of little creative activity for me, and that walk and this island, brought peace and an urge. It's a little rough but what I felt viewing it. Part of an island's lure.


Monday, May 10, 2021

After the rain

"After the Rain," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico rough press paper

When
it rains on the Great Plains, you can see it coming, hear and feel it when it hits, and smell it as the clouds recede across the far horizons, leaving the landscape soaked.

The storms usually build in the afternoon and evenings, when the atmosphere and light and color is most dramatic.

On the plains in Oklahoma and Texas and elsewhere, except when the weather turns violent, rain is always welcome. Clouds on the horizon bring hope and action to a sometimes monotonous landscape. 

Today's watercolor comes from a memory of those times, and a study in complementary colors.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Drama on the caprock

"Dawn on the Caprock," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press

When you drive across the Texas panhandle the sweeping horizons of the Llano Estacado may seem flat, but there is always drama, either in the skies or in the changing landscapes.

Especially in the morning or evening when you approach the caprock  and canyons from any direction, there is beauty and a sense of space, a sense of being alone.

The word "caprock" describes a geological feature of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico at the edge of the plains. You have to live in out there to really know the word and what it means, a caliche cap on underlying the Llano. The same feature shows up along the canyons and gullies throughout those plains. To me, they're always inspiring, something I hope to capture the essence of. Beauty and variety in a landscape many ignore.

Today's little watercolor is a study for a larger painting, I hope. I've been struggling with composition on this one, after several pencil value sketches that have constantly changed. I am not sure I'm there yet, but a small study gives me freedom and ideas for possibilities.



Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Favorite tree

 


If I have a favorite tree, it is the cottonwood.


No,
I don't have to put up with its cottonwood in the springtime, or the allergies, but to me, it bespeaks the color and abundance of water in New Mexico.

My favorite, tree, which I've tried to paint many times, is at the corner of Alameda and Paseo de Peralta, in Santa Fe.

So to, pushing and hoping for the muse, here is my Cottonwood series... 5 x 7 watercolors. 

Spring, early fall at its most brilliant, before the snow falls, and in January plus a painting of my favorite tree.




https://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2016/12/tree-rings-el-alamo-viejo.html






Friday, April 30, 2021

A "dormant" month comes to an end

"Time flies," for a birthday card

 
It's been a dormant month for me in blogging and painting after a year of consistent painting, writing, blogging and even reading. And the year is one third gone.

I wouldn't have used that word until I read Austin Kleon's weekly post today: Not languishing, I'm dormant-not-languishing-im-dormant/

It's been a month of lots of personal stress and distractions that seemed to sap me of energy or the will to pick up paint brushes or sit down and write, and my reading has withered.. The month was rescued for me by two trips, to San Antonio and to Canyon, Texas to see my children and families, Vance Clark and Dallas Bell.

"Alone, when shadows grow long"

But
there were few paintings, and even fewer inspirations. Every thing I tried seemed to flop. Lethargy, avoidance and procrastination set in. I kept thinking it had been four years since I retired from UCO. That and the passage of time also weighed in. 

Change brings beauty
Today I read Kleon's articles, after rereading his book Keep Going earlier. His metaphor of gardening helped put the month in perspective. We don't always have to flourish. Having been dormant, even in the spring as the world comes back to life,  I'm hoping the visits with my kids and grandkids will help boost my moods.

Earlier this week, I tried three 5 x 7  watercolors, and here they are. They're all about passing time, in its beauty and beastliness, but at least I painted. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Road Less Traveled

"Alone," 8 x 10 140 lb Fabriano Artistico rough press paper

 
Art (as a verb)  is a solitary journey.

The deeper you get into it, you keep looking for the road less traveled.

The pandemic has helped us focus  in many ways, and while I have sorely missed interaction and support with friends and family, it has increased solitude, time to think, to brood, the try to bring something creative out of being...alone.

In the early days I found art my therapy, home for my thoughts, my imagination, a fortress against the tragedy. As it has lessened for me, I've notice my art has also been muted.

Today's watercolor, the first larger one in a while, that took a long time to come about in my head and heart,  tells that story.

Redbud season

"Redbud Season," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artisitico cold press


Everywhere
you go these days in Oklahoma, one color stands out. S
tands out against the greening trees, other bare branches, the coming spring.

Redbuds.

We've lost six trees to ice and cold this past year, and it's time to plant a redbud.

April has not been a good month for me, in painting, or in blogging. No excuses, but driving around, and shopping in a nursery does help. In the meantime, here's today's little impressionistic watercolor.

Friday, April 2, 2021

368 pages in a plague year

Yesterday marked a year since I started a daily journal of the plague year--not knowing if I'd survive the pandemic, or if I could keep up a routine. 368 pages later, the answer is "Yes."

I've never been disciplined enough to keep a diary, but the uncertainty of these times, I wanted to start keeping a personal record of our ordeals.

Perhaps the model was Samuel Pepys' 1660 personal diary which also covered the plague in London. It was certainly the idea for this old repentant English major.

When the pandemic first hit us in mid-March, I determined to start almost daily watercolors, hoping to bring some color into a darkening year. My slide shows of those watercolors are complete on this blog, through February, and March has slacked off. But the idea for the journal began in March a year ago.

Here's the record of the pages. April 1 to July 31--168 pages; August 1 to December 31--127 pages; January 1 to April 1--73 pages.

Obviously, I wrote more earlier than I have of late, especially after vaccination. Some pages have only a fraction of a page, others run for two to three pages. What is remarkable is that I've only missed about five or six days in the entire year.

It's changed over the year as well, as I keep track of temperatures, weather, my weight, and the books I've read and paintings. Early writing included the multiple pandemics--biologic, the political nightmare and racism, as well as the ice storm and other worries..

I've started  going back and reading a few pages at a time, and it's like going back in time to what we've endured and survived. 

How long will I continue? Don't know. This morning's notes were brief. I may add some later...it's almost a compulsion now, like this blog, because there are books to read, and paintings waiting to emerge. And Like Pepys' diary, its personal, not meant to be shared. His was discovered and has become a classic. Mine won't--besides, nobody can read my scrawl..


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Country Store

"Country Store," 5 x 7 watercolor, Fabriano Artistico cold press paper

I
love traveling the back roads because you discover all sorts of unexpected treasures.

Here I find real Americana, not the plastic chain stores of the cities.

So it was last week, in rural Texas, not too far from an expanding metropolis, where there's an old general store.

Today's little quick watercolor is not an exact replication, but a rough impression stuck in my memory. It had a flag pole, but I had to add a Texas flag.


Monday, March 22, 2021

Save hafer Park

 Developers are trying to damage Hafer Park, and harm our neighboroods at the expense of developers with no concern for quality of life in Edmond.

They propose a monstrous apartment complex with just one outlet on 15th street. This has been turned down before. The city meets today.

Here was my email to city officials.

Edmond  mayor, councilmen, officials:

     


Saturday, March 20, 2021

Story of blessings in a box

Blessings come in many forms and shapes, and for me, the past several days, they've been in a box.

Friends at Dayspring church of Christ in Edmond asked me to decorate their new Blessings Box, a gift to community people who may need help in these difficult times.

These generous people built the box, painted it blue and yellow and erected it in early March on their property on Chowning Ave., northeast of UCO.

They, and others, stock it with food, free to whoever need it. Member Scott Hale did the lettering.

"Paint something whimsical,"--not a landscape--was my only direction from members David Lowry and Cary Williams.

That took some time to sink in, think about and search for possibilities. Then I measured the sides,  30" by 29" on the back,  sides about 13" by 14".   Plus a triangle over the doors. Once I decided on flowers, I did rough scaled grid sketches on paper, chose colors--purple, red, orange, blue, green, white, plus the yellow of the box. I also kept a few plastic containers from home for mixing colors like grays, dark green, red orange.

I penciled in a rough grid on the box, and tried to think about sequence of painting. I penciled in the rough shapes of the possible flowers on the box grid from my paper sketches.

March weather didn't cooperate, first with wind, almost constantly, and then with cold or wet weather on alternating days. One bad omen delayed the first day on March 9. On the way to try to start seriously one sunny, but windy morning, I turned the corner and heard something fall over in the back of the car. When I stopped, I found that most of the remaining gallon of yellow paint had spilled onto the vinyl mat in the back of my Subaru. 

I hope God forgives a few expletives that result when you're on a mission. Back home, it took an hour and a half, lots of water, rags, steel brush and scrubbing to clean up the car, and me. 

Since
then, first day was painting the dove over the door. And it's been touch and go with the weather--you have to have at least 50 degrees for the paint, mistakes, editing and thinking along the way.

The first two or three complete days were basics, shapes and so forth. The last complete day was when "whimsy" set in, some fun and real creativity. Yesterday was completion day, touch ups and final details.

While I was painting, some UCO students would come by and comment, smiling, and say "God bless you." One lady with a little dog walked over from her nearby department, praised my work, and said she was so glad to see such a project, noting that there had been a time when she'd needed such help. She  put a few groceries in the box.

So here are the results, a blessing for my spirit in these times.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Homage to Willa

""Stinging air and moving cloud," 9 x 12 watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches rough press paper


"The sky was as full of motion and change as the desert beneath it was monstrous and still,--and there was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world. The plain was there, under one's feet, but what one saw when one looked about was that brilliant blue world of stinging air and moving cloud. Even the mountains were mere ant-hills under it. Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the. world, but here the earth was the floor of the sky. The landscape one longed for when one was away, the thing all about one, the world one actually lived in, was the sky, the sky."

                                  --Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather

"Out here there's the sky," I've told you is an overlying theme of my painting, which I paraphrased from Willa Cather, who says it better than anyone.

So amid today's constant March turmoil in our Oklahoma skies on the Great Plains, here's today's watercolor, homage to Willa, who understands how the sky gets into us.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

A viral year, looking back

"Virus," watercolor from March 13, 2020

A
year ago today, I painted and posted this watercolor, "Virus." Here's the link to that post: "Going Viral."

It hit Oklahoma in public when the Thunder game was abruptly canceled two nights before. 

Since then, a year of uncertainty, of sickness, death, tragedy, of turmoil, chaos, and ignorance in more ways that one, global cultural and economic and political upheaval and violence, and survival.

In many ways, America, the so-called "greatest nation," has been hit the hardest, in all those ways. Of the more than 2.6 million world wide deaths, 20 percent--one person in every five--more than 500,000 have been Americans.  Such an ironic epitaph for American "leadership," "individualism," selfishness and stupidity of the free world.

By comparison, in the 1918 Spanish flu, 675,000 Americans died, out of 50 million world wide.

As I wrote on pages 58 and 59 of this year's journal of the plague, the third journal I've kept every day since last April 1, I reflected on all of that, remembering the uncertainties, the fears, the idiosyncrasies, the changes that dominated our lives.

For my record, I started listing what I was thankful for, what were the positives from this deadly nightmare. Then I listed the negatives. I won't go into that, but there were positives

First, was survival, and getting vaccines.On April 1in the first pandemic journal, I wondered if I, we, would survive. It was iffy indeed. I've had a son and my brother get relatively mild cases. I know of many others who were not so fortunate.

Next--the most watercolor paintings I've ever done, about 244 in 2020. I tried to bring some color into the dark world, for others but also for my own purpose and survival. That also led me into developing summary slide shows of my work on the blog and internet, that continue, month by month

Next--those watercolors boosted my almost daily blog writing to a record year, because they forced m to think and write about them.

Day 1, of Pandemic Journal
Then there was the almost daily journaling, key to introspection, a routine, and hope. Counting today's two pages--page 59 total in the 62 days since Jan 1, I've filled 355 pages. Some entries are brief, others more than one page. I've probably only missed five or six days all together, an accomplishment for one who is not disciplined enough to keep a daily diary. 

My inspiration came from Samuel Pepys who kept his famous Journal of the Plague Year in England during the black death of the Middle Ages.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

"Out here there's the sky."

"The sky, the sky, the sky," 9 x 12, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico rough press paper

"Out here's there's the sky."

That phrase has become the mantra for much of my art work. 

When you grow up in New Mexico and on the Great Plains, the sky, the sky, the sky.

At first, I thought I stole it from Willa Cather's great phrase about the sky in Death Comes for the Archbishop, but no, hers is much more descriptive and better written.

“Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky.”

But she inspired me, as do the skies out here.  I remember my first watercolor teacher Cletus Smith telling me about one of my early paintings that had a sky I questioned: "Somewhere there is a sky that looks like that." 

Still have that painting, hanging in the house...a constant reminder.

Today's watercolor is  testament to those comments. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Country Road Springtime

"Country Road Springtime," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico rough press paper

When it's springtime on the Great Plains in Oklahoma and other states, warm days bring clear skies with a few clouds and shadows over the gentle hills. Wheat and alfalfa begin greening, hawks ride the thermals.

Trees fill out, silhouetting small towns straddling country roads, leading from one horizon to the other.

It's a time to travel, at least in your imagination, in your memories, to the wide open spaces, free of the hustle and bustle and noise and traffic of urban life.

Today's watercolor.


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Wrinkled but 'peppery'

"Peppery," 5 x 7 watercolor birthday card

A friend once quipped that the wine I liked, red Zinfindel, matched my personality..."peppery." Now that was a compliment, worth a smile.

It fits, and I thought of that working on a watercolor birthday card today.

The more years, the more wrinkles, drier skin...and I thought of those iconic New Mexico red chile ristras, hanging from a viga on an adobe wall.

Now as an aging  person you might not be as hot as once, depending on the climate and years and personality, but you definitely will be spicier, peppery. Plenty of taste and character from living and memories...depending on the years and experiences.

Today's watercolor greeting card, some of my favorite colors--adobe, azure New Mexico sky, bright sunlight, and...something spicy.


Sunday, March 7, 2021

Traveling Santa Fe Dreams

El Catedral Basilica de San Francisco de Asis, 5 x 7 watercolor card

In these confined times, travel of any kind is more than welcome, whether via TV travel videos, books, old photos, or even dreams and memories.

Watching one travel video of New England last night, hoping to plan a trip there, it made two factual errors. Second one was this phrase, "Harvard, one of the oldest universities in America." WRONG: The Oldest, 1636.

But the one that first caught my attention, and helped spur today's watercolor, was the comment  that the Pilgrims established the first European settlement in America in 1620. WRONG on three counts. Vikings, about 1000. Jamestown, 1607. And Santa Fe, the capital of Spanish New Mexico, 1610.

Ok, I'm a nerd, but it matters. 

Thus my imagination traveled today, from memories, and thus today's little watercolor greeting card, done quickly from memory, blurred by memories, even if I can't visit again in person yet.

El Catedral Basilica de San Francisco de Asis en El Villa Real de Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis, en Nuevo Mexico.

Friday, March 5, 2021

That Lonesome road

"Look down that lonesome road," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper

Long
ago I heard a song that seemed to draw me to faraway places, "Look Down that Lonesome Road."

 Years later, it's no wonder I love back roads, less traveled roads, sparsely settled, free of traffic, roads that beckon you, speak of discovery around the next bend or over the hill, especially in New Mexico, Oklahoma or Texas where there are plenty of wide-open spaces

I looked up the song and found it is a 1927  with music by Nathaniel Shilkret and lyrics by Gene Austin, written in the style of an African-American spiritual. 

Thus today's little watercolor, the first of March, after an earlier failure where I was too uptight to be traveling that road. 

Here are two you tube. links to the song, if you wish to add some music to the watercolor..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzgKyDLSUdc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMbNkyTCTG8


Sunday, February 28, 2021

February slideshow--story of a year of watercolors


February Slide Show--turn on volume
This month's 12 watercolors close out a year of paintings during the pandemic pandemonium that descended on us in mid-March, a year ago. 
Trying to learn and survive the unknown, wondering in a daily journal of the plague year, I turned to trying to bring some color into my life and by sharing, to others with art to offset the gloom.
So this month's watercolors --I just noticed that most of them reflect my yearning to start traveling again--bring to 270 completed in this past 12 months. I'm amazed, and thankful, and blessed. 
Some are pretty good, a few are very good, many are just so-so, and others, not so much. But, I pushed myself, took on ideas and subjects I hadn't attempted, and had fun, and therapy. 
When working on art, the rest of the world goes away, and I, and we needed that between the viruses of pandemic, political insanity, racism, hatred and everything else, including violent weather.
I also learned how to put together slide shows of my work, for this blog, and on social media, such as this one today.
The total number of watercolors rescued and  changed my 2020 blog to a record number of posts, the third highest in its eleven years. They also pushed my imagination for subjects, and my writing, as I attempted to pair each painting with almost thoughtful mini-essays.
My annual holiday greeting card tradition boosted the total, with 38 posts in December. Most of last year's watercolors were 5 x 7s, especially in December and in April through July when I was attempting a painting a day, requiring quick work. But many are 8 x 10s as in February--all 8 x 10s except one greeting card, which is dated,  and a few larger.
The first slide show, of 18 March paintings, didn't get online until September. Here's that link if you wish to look back a year. March, 2020 Watercolors, as I caught up. 
Here are the other totals and links, if you wish to travel back in time

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Remembering When

"Remembering When," 8 x 10 watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches rough press paper

Special
places bring back special times, special people, even as the years pass.

"You can't go home again," except in your memory, but sometimes you can visit them, as you age. They can resurrect smiles and tears, and memories long shelved away. As autumn approaches, you're not the same person as then, but then again, you still are. 

That's the story behind today's second watercolor, thinking of those times, places, people, memories. 

Looking for Green

"Looking for Green," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico fough press paper

                          
The snow has melted. The temperatures rise and fall. The skies change from cloudy to sunny or in between. The ground thaws, with patches of green amid the browns. 

We're among all creatures  looking for spring, especially this year, after a year-long winter of pandemic.

Today's watercolor, with at least visions of trees with green foliage on the prairies of Oklahoma.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Memory


"I remember," 9 x 12 watercolor, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico rough press

"Time stutters and reverses and it is always yesterday and today. Maybe the greatest miracle is memory."

            --One Long River of Song, Brian Doyle, 1956-2017

His essays are among the finest writing I've ever read. I always wonder why it took me so long to hear about him and be inspired and in wonder at his creativity, his wisdom, his spirituality. .

Novelist, essayist, novelist,  editor  in Portland, Oregon, he writes like I wish I could. I ordered the book at Best of Books in Edmond.




Monday, February 22, 2021

Wanderlust

"Wanderlust," 9 x 12 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico rough press paper

"All my bags are packed

    I'm ready to go...."

        --John Denver

My bags aren't packed but I'm sure ready to go...anywhere.

Pandemic prisons, winter weather woes--it's been so long since we've traveled the open road.

It is indeed "Wanderlust" these days. Thus today's watercolor, something different. Two brushes, random color, spur of the moment emotions.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

When it's time for Green

"Green," 8 x 10ish, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico rough press paper

It's
time for some green.

Long ago, when we lived in Iowa and headed south in a lime green VW bug in the spring to visit family, we could see the landscape gradually turn green, the farther south we came.

It was warming. Even when we lived in Central Oklahoma, and drove south in springtime to visit fam in Texas, by the time we got to southern Oklahoma and Ardmore, the greenery, the flowers were remarkable.

After what we've been through this year, with pandemic, politics, ice storm, snow and cold storm, what we need now is some green.

I know, spring is officially three weeks off...but this year, we need some green, the color of renewal, of life, of warmth.

Today's watercolor.


The colors of God--a sad story


I
buried a bluebird today.

It died on our back porch three days ago during the 10 degree cold of our February snow storm. Robins and other birds including bluebirds, swarmed in the yard, around our feeders. When I first saw it, it sat there, fluffed up, barely moving. It's mate huddled against it, twitched, fluttering try to keep it warm.

When I came back, the mate was gone, i thought to eat. A few minutes later, so was it, so I felt better. In another 15 minutes, it was back, still alive, but alone. In another 15 minutes,  it was lying on its side, and I knew.

I went outside, and its feet were curled up, and hits eyes dull, with eyelids half over them. I started talking to it, telling it I was so sorry. I felt its chest, and while it wasn't frozen yet, there was no warmth at all. I picked it up by its tail and I bet it didn't weigh five ounces. I dug a hole in the snow and covered it up to prevent it from being eaten by crows or jays.

Today as I looked out the window, there it was on the bare ground where the snow had melted.  When I  got my shovel and went to bury it, I found a dead robin a few feet away, also a victim of the cold. 

Before I picked it up to put it in the hole I dug near a tree, I pulled three of its tail feathers out. Then I placed them together, covered them with dirt, and patted it down.

Bluebirds have arrived in our yards this season, and we look for them every day. During the cold snap, they were almost everywhere, near our feeders, their brilliant colors standing out against the drab days.

The feathers are now part of a small planter in our kitchen window, reminding us of the joy and beauty of creation, even in the midst of grief and destruction. I will also remember forever, that dedicated partner forlornly and desperately trying to warm  its mate.

Looking at the miracle of those feathers, their beauty and design, and I think, they are surely the colors of God.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Stormy Solitude

"When skies turn red," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches rough press paper

Skies turn red on the Great Plains, usually at the crack of dawn, or just after sunset.

Add a spring thunderstorm, usually in the evening, and the drama of the landscape, the skies and the colors  speak of the vastness of nature, and the solitude of geography.

Solitude is more rare than ever these days, when we need it most, to think, to create, to breathe, to recover. It's not  being quarantined or sheltered or lonely because of the storm of the pandemic, but because we need the space of the Great Plains and individuality in this culture of conformity, lies and noise to be human. 

Thus today's watercolor.


After the storm

"This weird, colorful journey," 5 x 7 watercolor greeting card
Sunlight, snow melt...spring's not here yet, but our second terrible storm in five months is over.
The way things have gone this year, we'll probably have another, but for now...
I'm thankful for friends and family and fortitude in this weird, yet colorful journey.
So today's little watercolor.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

"The Greens of Summer"

"Survivor," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches rough press paper

"
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers

"Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah ..."

        --Kodachrome, Paul Simon

Surviving the winter, surviving the years, surviving the pandemic...thoughts of summer and bright colors help.

One of my favorite songs is "Kodachrome" sung by Simon and Garfunkel, and I can see those greens of summer when I walk in Hafer Park in spring and especially summer.


One
recent year, I saw the skeleton of this survivor, this old tree, protruding from the lush foliage of nearby trees and took the photo.

It's gone, now, collapsed into the forest, rotting away, forming new life, but it caught my imagination. I've tried to paint it before, without luck, but this storm inspired me, wanting to paint some bright colors and greens.

Even when you're aged and wrinkled  and survival becomes more iffy, there is still beauty, and character. And bright colors.

Today's watercolor, and my photo of the subject.




Sunday, February 14, 2021

Valentine memories--a story

"Your Voice is Springtime," 8 x 10 140 lb d'Arches rough press paper

Today's
a good day, a bitterly cold, snowy day, to return a gift, to think of warm weather and warm hearts.
Today's watercolor is a second attempt in three days at pushing myself toward something I've never done before, stretching, working, learning. 
To tell the complete story, I'd have to post the black  and white photo by David Whyte in his poetry book Essentials, but it's copyright, so I'm not sure I can. No time to ask for permission.
But it, captioned "Talking All Morning," lifted my spirits and memories, bringing inspiration for painting.
The previous one followed his composition, with the challenge of  the foliage, figures, and more, but I was free to imagine the colors.
Yesterday, I sketched a better composition and value drawing, vowing to try to do a watercolor today.
So here it is, with more than one wash, and a step by step learning process. It's pretty good, and  has to be a gift. My wife gave me his book as part of her valentine tradition of giving me poetry books.
This is for her.
Captions could have been, "Talking all morning,'' but also comes to mind, "I could have watched your eyes all day," or "Your Voice is Springtime," or simply, "Us." Memories. Take your pick, or add your own.
So here, a gift from a gift--Happy Valentine's Day, Susan.
(below is the value sketch and first attempt, two days ago http://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2021/02/summer-dreams-and-valentines.html.)

"Talking all morning, 8 x 10