"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, 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

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..



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

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


"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," 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

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

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.

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

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

Friday, February 12, 2021

Summer dreams and valentines

"Talking All Morning," 8 x 10 140 lb d'Arches rough press paper


Pandemic one. Quarantine two. Bitter winter storm, three. I don't want to know what four is.

So, thoughts of the good old summer time--warm sunny days, green grass, lush leaves, lazy river, good friends outdoors.

Today's little painting is a "study" because I'm trying something different, something to learn, to push myself, because I feel in a rut.

This is inspired by a little black and white photo, "Talking all morning," taken alongside a river in Ireland by poet David Whyte, that I found in his book "Essentials," given to me for Valentine's Day by Susan. I won't show you the photo, and I'm not trying to duplicate it. It's pretty rough and I'm not exactly happy with this, but enough to share.  If the next one is better, I'll post it.

I saw it and my imagination started adding color. Remember wanting to talk all morning with someone, pre social media, when everything just "clicks," one thought leading to another, no time-table, only the gentle rush of a river, grassy slopes, maybe a picnic lunch?

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Mountain Spirits

"Mountain spirits," 22 x 30 watercolor, 300 lb d'Arches cold press paper

Many of my recent books, which I didn't pick because they seemed related, deal with spirituality, in humanity, in nature, in eternity.

Some one is telling me something, and I guess it's no accident, thought I didn't get the connection until today,  that I exhibited by large watercolor, "Mountain Spirits," at our gallery, In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in the Paseo Arts District yesterday.

So, for the record, here it is, the largest I've ever attempted, of one of my favorite places, where memories and spirits collide.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Another step to the red round barn

I've never made prints of my paintings, but this changed this month after the response to my watercolor of the Round Barn at Arcadia.

The original is part of our red-themed February show at our gallery, In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paseo Arts District.

So I now have 8 x 10 giclee prints of the original on art paper, ready to frame as 11 x 14s. On sale at the gallery, beginning tomorrow for First Friday art walk. Come see. The original is also famed and ready for sale.

My original red -themed watercolors for In Your eye's February show

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Golden Hour

"Golden Hour on the Great Plains," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb d'Arches rough press paper

think more and more about how small we are as humans, on this planet, in creation.

The more I read, the more I learn, the more I experience spiritually, I'm awed by our existence. I've had this urge to paint the feeling of the word "small."

Whether you consider the landscape--mountains or prairies or oceans, it's all a bit overwhelming. But I do no how it fees to be on the back roads on the Great Plains. I first thought of the title, "Life on the Llano," but that will wait for another day. And it was worth another experiment with complementary colors--oranges and purples.

Today's watercolor comes close...Golden Hour on the Great Plains

Monday, February 1, 2021

The Open Road beckons

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

"Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose."
            --Walt Whitman

The open road beckons these  winter days, especially this year.

Cooped up not just because of the weather but hunkered down trying to avoid the pandemic makes travel all the more enticing, whenever  and if ever we can take to the open road.

We spent time this weekend in conversation about hoped for road trips later this year--Maine, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, seashores, mountains--and also looking at maps. The roads beckon.

I couldn't help but think of Walt Whitman's "Song of the Open Road"  as I struggled to find inspiration to paint during the dark last days of January.

"What's the story?""What do you feel?" I didn't want to just paint a "pretty picture, " but something from inside,  where inspiration lives. 

Whitman provided it, though it took several efforts at composition sketches and color experiments to answer.

Thus today's watercolor, "The Open Road," where I'm traveling in my imagination.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

The many pages of January

January was a two-book month for me, not counting the one I'm halfway through now.

The first was Stephen Harrigan's monumental history of Texas, "big wonderful thing," titled with a quote from Georgia O'Keefe when she taught at the university in Canyon. A Christmas gift from my daughter Dallas, I began it on Dec. 27 and finished it Jan. 19... all 850 plus pages of it, not counting footnotes, etc. 

Plusses--You learn plenty about what most history books don't include. He devotes plenty of space to the darker sides of Texas history, treatment of Native Americans and racism against African Americans and the Spanish and Mexicans. And he makes sure to detail their contributions, including womens' roles. It begins  before the Spanish arrived and ends with the presidency of George W. Bush. And he's not afraid to be honest, wondering if the Alamo had become an unintended "death trap," and covering abuses by the Texas Rangers, for instance.

Weaknesses--I wish there were more maps. I had to get a highway map out for some of the stories. But I like maps and looking things up, so.  It is also somewhat of a political and economic (oil) history, going from governor to governor, which he calls the "tyranny" of chronology.  One omission I noted was no reference to the Ogallala Aquifer and center point irrigation, the key to the cotton economy of west Texas.

But it's well written, in many cases personal, and  I learned much. Dallas told me I should count it as three books for this year.

second book took me three days, William deBuys' The Walk, 153 pages, three essays about his life and property in northern New Mexico village on a gravel road off the high road to Taos. It's a memoir, a landscape and more that I identified with in many ways, because of the landscape and his experiences. 

I've read his other books about northern New Mexico, and his writing breathes that country. I'd just painted the Truchas Peaks, and his description of them describes my emotions when I see them. It was written in 2007 and I had to find it in a used book store online.

I'll close this with a quote, from the first essay, about a walk he takes every day: "...walking lubricates the connections of thought, loosens the bonds on the subconscious, and allows unexpected ideas and feelings to surface... ."

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Desert drama

"Desert Sunset," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb d'Arches rough press paper

for the drama," I'd tell my writing students of the best way to start a story, to grab the attention of readers. 

In photography and painting, it's also no accident that some of the best scenery or subjects are more interesting early in the morning or late in the day. Noon tends to be rather bland, devoid of long shadows, contrast, texture and color, whether a landscape, still life  or even a portrait.

Thus today's watercolor, a desert sunset from my New Mexico imagination.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Storm a'coming

"Storm a'coming," 8 x 10 140 lb d'Arches rough press paper

know winter is still here and it seems worse this year, not because of the weather, but because we've been cooped up and on edge so long. 
I'm ready for spring  on the Great Plains, when you can enjoy  the wide open spaces, and can see the storm clouds on far horizons.  
Imagination time. Today's watercolor.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Red and Ready

I hung my red-themed watercolors at In your Eye Studio and Gallery, getting ready for our group February show at Paseo Arts District, opening First Friday, Feb.5.

Here's what it looks like. You can also see the paintings up close and in person, and even purchase them, this Friday and Saturday, noon to 5. 

From left, at top, Oklahoma Red, Amazing Grace, Oklahoma Sentinel.

Second row, Attention Getter, End of the Line, Seeing Red, Red Hot.

Last row, Irish Eyes, Passion, Red and Green, Windy Day, Rock and Roll, U.S.S. Arizona.

The watercolors of January--a story

That's the theme of February's show at our gallery, In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paseo Arts District. I'll be hanging mine today, getting ready for First Friday art walk, Feb. 5.

There are 10 of us member artists now, and we meet once a month--via zoom for the past 10 months as the pandemic has disrupted every one's lives and businesses. We've been fortunate that we've not suffered as much of the rest of the world. That's when we chose the red theme for February.

It's been my goal ever since March to try to bring some bright color into the world to offset the darkness,  and it spurred my creativity, with many, many paintings...some good, some, well so-so. But I painted...more a gift to myself than others, I suspect.

I count myself fortunate to be such a member,  but when the theme was suggested, I thought I had nothing red to show. So I got to work.

As I did, and began assembling them, getting them framed at Pirate's Alley in Britton, I also found a few earlier red ones to be included.

And in this process, this appropriate poetry from by readings in Rumi just appeared this week:

Here is the slide show, beginning with my best, the round barn at Arcadia. It ends with the first painting of the new year, the only non-red one of the month, "Manzano Moon Shadows."

Here's the information on those paintings, most are 5 x 7s, unless specified otherwise, size not including mat and frame. Those from earlier than January are included:

"Oklahoma Sentinel" (8 x 10), "Attention Getter," " Everybody needs flowers," "Seeing Red,"  "End of the Line" (8 x 10), Granddaughter's birthday card, "Rock and Roll" (earlier), "Hold on to your hat kind of day" (earlier), "Red Hot," "Redhead," "Irish Eyes" (earlier), "Passion," "Amazing Grace" (8 x 10, earlier), (U.S.S. Arizona" (earlier), "Great Plains Winter" (earlier),  "Manzano Moon" (8 x 10).

Wednesday, January 27, 2021


 Seeing red...A month’s water work, plus a few from earlier, in time for our February red-themed show and sale, at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paseo Arts District.
5 x 7s to 11 x14s, framed sizes, from $59. Slide show on this blog tomorrow

Monday, January 25, 2021

What is the color of God?

"The light that comes from red hair," 5 x 7 watercolor

coincidence, or serendipity or whatever you call it, I found the theme for my recent art last night.

As you know from this month's paintings, I and my gallery partners have been getting new art ready for the red them of our February show at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paseo Arts District.

Last night, before nodding off, I was reading again from The Big Red Book by Rumi, the Persian poet and seer, who lived from 1207 to 1273.

And there it was, jumping out at me, about the color red. And of course, as someone always attractd to redheads, it was even more pertinent.

So I had to try to paint again, another redhead, to be framed and for sale in February, along with 11 other mostly recent paintings fitting the theme.

But, hey, I couldn't pass up trying today's painting.


Saturday, January 23, 2021


"Passion," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper

do you picture "Passion"?

In teaching, and in work, I've often said, and my colleagues have agreed with me, a person with passion  will stand out, over those perhaps smarter or richer, and certainly those who don't have passion.

I think that is true also in art. "Paint what you feel," "paint the emotion," and other advice basically says, "Paint with passion." I was watching a cellist play during the inauguration, and the little poet recite, as well as the other artists. They excelled because they were creating with passion.

It is no accident that red is a color of passion either, and as I try to get ready for our February red-themed show at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paso Arts District, I've recived lots of comments about my paintings featuring red. 

The best ones have been all exercises in fun, and some frustration and failures, but still, discovery and passion.

While red always catches my attention, scientifically because of the long wavelength, so does an attractive woman wearing some type of hat,  because of emotions. 

Thus today's watercolor, suggested by a recent photo I saw of a beautiful woman wearing a red tam. This isn't good enough to frame and sell, but it was discovery and fun and worth another try. Passion indeed.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

West Texas Red

"West Texas Red," 5 x 7 birthday card

in the Texas Panhandle, or elsewhere on the Great Plains, where the horizons are long, and the land vast, the skies are even more dramatic and colorful in all kinds of weather and seasons, and especially near dawn or sunset.

When I get cooped up on a cloudy day or in urban life, I often think of the freedom of that landscape and skies.

Thus, today's watercolor, keeping with the red theme for February's show. But this is just a birthday card for someone who has grown up out there. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Red head

"Red head," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb d'Arches cold press paper

I just have to keep trying, and so it is with today's watercolor, another attempt at a cowgirl holding on to her hat on a windy day.

The previous one is ok, but turned out to be too large to fit in my 5 x 7 mat, and I wanted to work on the "red" theme again, for the February red-themed show in our Gallery, In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in paseo Arts District.

This one's better, than the one eight days ago, but I might try again, as I keep learning and seeing possible improvements. Besides, it's a treat to paint a pretty woman.

What about her other arm and hand? It's probably clinched on the handle of her .45 revolver in her holster!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

End of the line

"End of the line," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb d'Arches rough press paper

"Paint what you feel, not the subject. " "Paint your inspiration," not what inspired you." "Paint shapes, not things." "Paint values, not colors." Plan long, paint fast."

The list of advice in painting, and watercolor, from my teachers, and readings--my do it yourself art school late in life, keeps growing.

They're also intimidating, but I keep trying to learn, to apply, and to be myself, not others.

Today's watercolor reflects some of all of that, and while I'm not completely happy with it, it is presentable.

It's another in a series paintings for our In Your Eye Studio and Gallery  February-themed "red" show for February, in the Paseo Arts District.

Yes, it'll be framed and for sale.

Oh, what did I feel, what was my inspiration? I've been captivated by cabooses ever since I was in first grade or before. I've painted and blogged about them many times.

This one, titled "The end of the Line," is metaphorical and very personal  now that cabooses are sidelined, and old, in the winter of their years. But there is still beauty, usefulness and memories.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Seeing red

"Seeing red," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches rough press paper

a walk in the woods or parks, almost anytime of the year but especially in drab winter months,  and when you catch a flash of red out of the corner of your eye, you know what it is.
The brightly colored, aptly named male cardinal brings color to a sometimes drab landscape.
Later in the year, in mating season I assume, you can often hear their distinctive  call even if you can't see them in thickening foliage.
We have lots of birds in our yard, especially with feeders in winter. robins have recently arrived. Soon, there will be cardinals, and later in the year still drab young ones.
It's good to be seeing red.
Today's watercolor, soon to be framed and for sale at our galery, In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paseo, for a February show, them: red.

Friday, January 15, 2021

When we need flowers

"When we need flowers," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Canson cold press

Notice how someone's mood changes and smiles spontaneously break out when they get flowers?

This country needs some flowers right now. 

Armed troops are guarding the capitol with the inauguration next week. The National Guard has been activated in many states as fear of violence rises.  The pandemic is raging as more and more people are dying. Winter weather, and short days   deepens the somber mood.

I wanted to paint flowers, probably to lift my mood, but I'm not a good flower painter, especially if you expect them to be beautiful in detail. But, I've discovered, I can help create an impressionistic approach.

So today's watercolor, just because, we all need some flowers right now.


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Reds, white and blues

"Attention-getter," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb Canson cold press paper

The color with the longest wave length of light. The color that catches your attention before any other, whether a red car, a red flag, a red shirt, red lips. The color, the symbol,  of passion and patriotism, of romance and revolution, of love and lust.

It's not my favorite color, especially in painting...the blues are obvious. But, our gallery of 10 artists in Paseo Arts District, plans "Red" to be February's group show  theme.

One of the beauties of red is that it comes in so many different variations--opening up all kinds of possibilities, through mixing, especially in watercolor.

So I have to go to work. I have a list of subjects: Round barn, red chili ristras, red-headed cowgirl, caboose, apples, an earlier bloody impression of the U.S.S. Arizona, maybe one of the Alamo, perhaps a red sunset at sea, perhaps one of the Sangre de Cristo (blood of Christ) mountains in New Mexico.

Red barn,  ristra and cowgirl accomplished this week--earlier on the blog. And today's, red lips--mixing three distinct hues--Alizarine Crimson, Scarlet Lake, Pyrrole Red, and plus touches of blue peacock and in violet. So--reds, the white of the paper, blues.

Yes, it'll be framed and for sale in the gallery just in time for Valentine's Day, in February.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Hang on to your hat day

"Windy Day," 5 x 7 watercolor, Canson cold press paper

If there's an almost constant  on the Great Plains and in the West, it's wind.

That's the thought behind today's watercolor, a cute cow girl hanging on to her hat.

It's part of my series getting ready for In Your Eye Studio and Gallery's February art show in Paseo Artist District. Theme: "Red."

Yes, it'll be framed and for sale in the gallery Fridays and Saturdays next month.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Red hot!

"Red Hot," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. Canson cold press paper

is a "hot" color, a "warm" color for artists...but not when you grow up in New Mexico.

There, every fall, ristras of drying red chile peppers hang from vigas, from doorways and other places...some functional, all decorative.

If you think I've misspelled any words in that sentence, you simply no comprende.


First, "chile" is a variant of "chil" from the Nahuatl Axtec dealect. The conquering Spanish added an "e," the correct Hispanic spelling. English speakers, gringos, changed it to an "i." 

That word  most often refers to a mismash of beans, meat, no telling what, that is the state dish of Texas. It's a common menu item in many states, including Oklahoma, but...regardless of the degree of heat, it's basically bland, and  not real "chile." 

While some form of "chili" powder is a basic ingredient of such "Mexican"  food, it is not New Mexican food. Most of that food, regardless of degree of heat, including the so-called "Tex-Mex" food essentially is bland and tastes the same, no matter the fancy titled restaurant, including Oklahoma. 

The reason I know is I grew up in New Mexico, and looked this stuff up. New Mexicans consume more chile per capita than any other group in the United States. 

Now, as to ristras, strings of drying chiles.  The word was first recorded in 1895-1900, from the Spanish, meaning literally, "strings," from  old Spanish riestra, rieste, from Latin restis “rope, cord.”

You don't see many ristras here in Oklahoma. I tried bringing one home once, hanging it by a lamp. Soon I smelled something. The chiles were rotting in the humidity, rather than drying. That's why they're such a powerful image to me, hanging on an adobe wall in the dry New Mexican sunshine. 

By the way, you haven't tasted hot, until you've had a meal in New Mexico doused with real red, or green, chile, if you don't ask for milder. Red hot.

Thus today's watercolor, for In Your Eye Studio and Gallery's "Red" themed show in February.

Jesus' example and the mob--from Rumi

"As those with business ideas

were driven from the temple courtyard,

so bitter, self-important people need to be excluded

from the mix being stirred in this day's great wooden bowl."

 Sometimes, truth choose you, or  jumps out at you, when you need it.

In these dangerous times for freedom, as hell-bent thugs and their leader  threaten our  country, even going to sleep can be difficult.

Rather than take a sleeping pill or anxiety medicine, I often turn to soothing wisdom of the Catholic seer Thomas Merton, or to the Persian mystic and poet Rumi.

Their books are by the bed, and I'll just randomly open one of them up and start reading.

So it was last night, when  opened Rumi's The Big Red Book, and these lines from the section, title "The Majesty," the poem, "This Day's Great Wooden Bowl" leaped out. He lived from 1207 to 1273. Amazing perspective.

Friday, January 8, 2021

How to put someone down with just one word

Remember when we were growing up and our parents taught us manners? Or you wanted to put down a friend or a pest who was acting unbecomingly?

If we "got to big for our britches," or didn't act right, they would tell us, something like, "don't be a spoiled brat," or "don't be a poor loser."

No need for that anymore. One word will suffice for a multitude of pejorative judgments and put downs. "Oh quit being a ---trump."  (lower case please.)

Think of all the instances that will fit. Some version of with, "Don't be a..." or "Quit being so.... " Here are a few that come to mind. Other ideas?

  1. Spoiled brat.
  2. Liar. 
  3. Poor loser.
  4. Cry baby.
  5. Bossy.
  6. Egomaniac.
  7. Racist.
  8. Con man.
  9. Arrogant.
  10. Cruel.
  11. Name-caller.
  12. Deluded.
  13. Sullen.
  14. Selfish.
  15. Self-Centered.
  16. Moody.
  17. Callous.
  18. Impolite.
  19. Pompous.
  20. Inconsiderate.
  21. Dishonest,
  22. Narrow-minded.
  23. Intolerant.
  24. Resentful.
  25. Inflexible.
  26. Deceitful
  27. Machiavellian.
  28. Traitor.
  29. Full of yourself.
  30. Big-headed
  31. Braggart.
  32. Selfish.
  33. Thinking you're entitled.
  34. Cheater.
  35. Freeloader (not paying your taxes).
  36. Defrauder.
  37. Defaulter.
  38. Thief.
  39. Pathetic.

Route 66 Sentinel

"Route 66 Sentinel," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches rough press paper

Oklahoma's historic round barn at Arcadia, built in 1898,  is just a few minutes from our house.

It's a symbol of resilience, of Okie hard work and dedication, and a treat to visit.  It is now a destination for those from around the world who want to travel the equally historic and iconic US 66, which runs by its front door, if a round barn has a "front" door. Of course, it's older than US 66, and US 66 is now history, and now is designated State Highway 66. 

So many stories and memories to tell. You can find out lots more about it at the website: Round Barn . Better yet, go visit.

Every once in a while I just drive that way, and in a few minutes I'm past the suburban strip mails, consumerism and traffic of Edmond and Oklahoma City. There is a two lane highway, trees, other barns, and part of old US 66--Oklahoma has more of that original pavement than any other state. And of course, there is the barn.

I've painted it today, because In Your Eye Gallery in the Paseo Arts District in OKC, of which I'm a member, will designate "Red" as  the theme for our shows in February.   I have some other subjects to be painted, but this was the first.

My second watercolor of 2021, depicted in the early years of US. 66 when it wasn't all paved, but there were some telephone lines.

And yes, it will be framed and for sale, in February.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Manzano moon shadows

"Manzano Moon Shadows," 8 x 10 watercolor, 140 lb d'Arches rough press paper

Study in blue, first painting of 2021...full moon shadows in the Manzano Mountains of New Mexico

Inspired this week by the shadows of bare tree branches on snow outside my window in the middle of the night. 

Palette: Manganese blue, Peacock blue, Ultramarine blue, Royal blue, Prussian blue

Friday, January 1, 2021

December 2020 watercolors--slide show

 My annual Christmas card project comprised most of this month's watercolors, but there were seven larger paintings as well

This slide show begins with six larger ones, and proceeds in no particular order to the Christmas star cards, plus a larger one of pilgrims going to Chimayo, New Mexico,  on Christmas eve,  to the last five, which wrapped up this pandemic year, a record number of paintings (more than 200) and blog posts. 

My goal, way back in March, was to provide some daily color and hope and thought to offset this disaster-filled year of 2020. A side effect, only recently realized, is that my efforts were essential to my own survival. 

I am continuing my habit of a daily journal, started today, but I'm not sure about how often I'll be painting.

So, here's a look back. Turn up the volume, and maximize the images. 

Pandemic paintings, from March

"Virus," 5 x 7 watercolor, March 13, 2020

Remember March? So much has happened since the pandemic arrived. We thought this would be over in summer. We knew so little abut it, and still do. 

But as a new year starts, here are links to  watercolor slide shows, with not quite daily paintings, if you're interested. 

Painting above was my take on the virus, painted March 13 .

Slide shows: