"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, July 31, 2021

Grapes of Wrath weather

"Grapes of Wrath weather," 5 x 7 watercolor

August bears down on Oklahoma tomorrow like the glaring sun and 100 degree heat do have done for several days, with more to come.

Water and air conditioning consumption soars with the heat, and yet, we're soft and comfortable compared to...

Weather like this reminds me of the classic opening chapter of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. I used that to teach descriptive writing a few years ago, because it is not fiction, but specific, sensuous fact, garnered from detailed observation.

You're supposed to paint what you feel, your reaction to what you experience, not what you see, and today, the heat, the sun all made me think of those lines in Steinbeck's novel.

So here is the last watercolor of the month, my feelings, inspired by the heat and those lines.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Birthday wishes

"Rainbow trout," 5 x 7 watercolor card

"Lady Roadrunner," 5 x 7 watercolor card

get lots of attention these days with social media, and that's great.

For me, for a few people, especially children, a small watercolor card of special interest has become a tradition. From these, I've discovered I can probably paint anything, if I can draw it.

Here are two of three of them this month.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Drought dreams

"Drought Dreams," 11 x 14 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper

clouds are building here again, in the humidity and heat. We've been getting more rain than usual this year, but August is near and our greens may turn brown if the heat settles in.

For the folks in the Pacific Northwest, and in much of the West, the country is literally burning up, from extensive drought and high temperatures and wildfires leading to deaths and economic collapse.

Given what's happening around the world, in flooding Europe and other weather disasters, happening all at once, earth may have already passed the tipping point toward irreversible warming. Anyone who doubts the climate is changing is ignoring the evidence and science.

What spurred this watercolor was not those negative thoughts, though they followed as I dreamed of towering clouds. My recent trip to New Mexico confirmed the extra high temperatures and burnt dry landscape for me. The eastern Texas panhandle was green, but then past Amarillo, the land turned brown--everywhere.

Having lived out there, and in rural Oklahoma, where  weather determines livelihood, I know how welcome thunderheads are.

So this watercolor, the first in a long while, was inspired by the building clouds that always catch my attention. See, rain brings more than green, it waters ideas and creativity too.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

The play of light

"The Play of Light," 9 x 6 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press paper

little watercolor is an experiment, playing with color and light, the idea from one of my do it yourself art school projects.

It's an idea from on of watercolor artist Don Andrews' zoom workshops today. So I was really playing around, seeing what would happen. This will happen again in more experiments.

But you know the canyon country, the geology of the Southwest had to grab my attention. That is long overdue this month, where my creativity has been dryer than the country depicted here. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Turquoise Power

"Turquoise Hope," 12 x 12 acrylic on canvas

It's no secret that I love New Mexico, including the infinity of shades of color you see in the Southwest, especially the multi-hued adobes and turquoise.

In a summer when my creative will seems to have evaporated in doldrums, I've struggled to paint, and whatever I tried I considered failures, though they're really lessons.

Again asked to participate in the OVAC 12 x 12 fundraiser this fall, I struggled both from those moods, and having to switch to acrylics, in which I have little practice and knowledge. In fact, as I started two paintings, I quickly got discouraged with my results, and quit.

That's when I tried again, breathing in the spirit of New Mexico, thinking of earthen adobe and the power of turquoise. That stone of the Southwest has traditional powers of healing and balance. In addition I read that it promotes  hope, self-realization and assists creative problem solving.

Finally today, after at least two weeks of planning, experimenting, learning and correcting, I've finished this 12 x 12 acrylic on canvas, to donate to OVAC. I think this is the first significant thing I've painted in at least a month or so.

Three dimensional result
Surely some of that is because I know the subjects, but turquoise must have helped me overcome acrylics and inspire me. I'm also indebted to my friend Zina Hogan, for the painting pays homage to on of her unique watercolor paintings featured on her business card.

While I'm ready to go back to watercolor, you can see some of the inspiration that came, as along the way the painting took on a three-dimensional work, thanks to the structure of the canvas.

You can see this and many more in person at the OVAC fundraiser Sept. 24. Here's the link: OVAC 12 x 12 Fundraiser.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Words and Actions of Real Patriots

 In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
 When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Friday, July 2, 2021

A half year is in the books, 27 of them.

The year 2021 is half gone...and that somber fact caused me to stop and reflect on time passing, and accounting for those hours.
Fortunately there have been some travels, several paintings, two vaccinations, reunions, and more events as I look back on gradual recovery from pandemics of biology and politics.
A favorite from childhood

of the accounting can be   measured in the 27 books I've been  reading. Some were discoveries of people I wish I'd known earlier. Some were old friends, a couple were rereads, most pressed my imagination and boundaries as an artist, a writer, as a spiritual person. 
 One was happening upon  a favorite book of childhood, A Tree in the Trail, brilliantly illustrated novel of a cottonwood on the old Santa Fe Trail. I had a first edition of it, and this was a paperback. I sat and read it in a couple of hours one afternoon in a Santa Fe Home. And I've since ordered a copy--the power of books and memories.
 Of the 27, I'm half way through one, a novel,  Stargazer, by Anne Hillerman.
Four others I didn't finish, and won't. The Complete Essays of Montaigne was monumental, and a mistake, as I just didn't get into it after just a few. Another, A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by Sanders, analyzed several great Russian short stories for their writing. Enjoyable, but deep. A third, Wonderworld, I bought by mistake thinking it might have to do with art. It was all about creative writing, and I just don't have time nor the inclination for that. The fourth, from the library, Dreamscapes, was neat and about painting mermaids, fairies, etc. Detail and good for scanning the art, but I'm not that patient.
Here's how the others counted: Non-fiction--nine; art--three; poetry--six; fiction--three.
Non-fiction, in reverse chronological order:
Remembering Santa Fe, William Clark; How To Do Nothing, Jenny Odell; The Bomber Mafia, Malcolm Gladwell; The Lost Spells, Robert Macfarlane; Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiesson; Winter's Hawk, (Oklahoma Redtails), Jim Lish; One Long River of Song, Brian Doyle; Four Churches of Pecos, National Park Service; Ladder to the Light, Steven Charleston; The Walk, William deBuys; The Big Wonderful Thing (Texas), Stephen Harrigan.
Art: At Home on the Great Plains of Texas, Laura Lewis; Powerful Watercolor Landscapes, Catherine Gill.
Poetry: The Big Red Book of Rumi, Colman Barks; Illuminated Rumi, Barks; Essentials, David Whyte;  Leaf and Cloud, Mary Oliver; Whispers from a Bench, Sara Sarna; In the Days of Our Undoing, Nathan Brown.
Fiction: Fungi, Greg Garcia editor; Siddhartha, Herman Hess; Tree in the Trail, Holling Holling.