"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.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Texture of Blues from Palette Knives in a Stormy Year

"Blue Tempest," 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

I've always admired painters who deftly use palette knives for texture and impact, but never attempted them until recently. along with acrylics, it's a whole new learning experience

There were always palette knives in our house when we grew up. Dad used them mostly for mixing colors, and I've done plenty of that in oils and acrylics. 

Regina's palette knives, Dad's book
 I didn't know how much they meant   to me until I saw and bought the late   Regina Murphy's knives of Paseo   Arts District and other materials   after  her death. They sit here in my   painting room, icons of creativity.   Then I found an old book of my   Dad's How to Paint with a Knife, and   began studying.

 So this week, I picked up about three   of them, began mixing colors and   applying them to the canvas. Since   my favorite colors are blues, and   we're in the midst of  storms--fires, hurricanes, floods, war, ignorance, worsening pandemic and politics  once again, here's the result.  

This is the last day of August and the year is two-thirds gone.  This semi-abstract sci-fi painting with violent  texture matching the moods of our country and world, roughly applied to the canvas, seems to fit.

Monday, August 30, 2021

New Learning on exhibit

5 x 5 acrylic paintings

I've added something new to my art exhibit at In Your Eye Studio & Gallery in Paseo Arts District today, just in time for the Paseo Arts Festival this Labor Day weekend.

You've seen posts of some of the 5 x 5 acrylics I've attempted in the last two weeks, and four of them are finished and ready to purchase.

So there they are, amid my watercolors. Come by and see my learning. There will be more, and larger ones. But one lesson emerged I didn't count on. I will probably keep at acrylics, but they taught me something surprising--I really love watercolors. 

Part of my exhibit at In Your Eye in Paseo

Monday, August 23, 2021


"Why Worry?" 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

"Peace, peace, there is no peace..."
--Jeremiah 6:11

In stress-filled times like these as a pandemic and politics rage on, we need calm more than ever, for our mental and physical health, yet it can be hard to find.

Medicine, for blood pressure and anxiety, works some, but not always. I've said for quite a while, not really jokingly, that painting is my therapy. When I'm working on art, the rest of the world goes away as every painting is a series of problems to be solved, to be created.

I've also found other sources of daily peace, daily calm as well. Every morning as I sit down with coffee in an easy chair, I have two immediate visitors in my lap, one on each leg, Snoops and Sophie, our rescue cats.  I have an "equal catortunity" lap. Petting or stroking them, while they purr does wonders for enjoying present tense and morning sunlight, preventing doom  scrolling media.

So today's acrylic painting lesson combines calmness, inspired by Sophie, though she's prettier than this.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Earth and Sky

From the Earth, 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

I'm stuck for ideas, I try to go back to what I know, what I've experienced, what brings up emotions  that I don't always understand.

Growing up in New Mexico, I was almost always aware of adobe, changing with the light every second, accented by high altitude blue t skies. Add the colors of turquoise and red chili ristras. Home.

Today's little acrylic lesson, another take on a larger theme for OVAC's fundraiser in September. Turquoise Power

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Magic of Dawn

"Dawn," 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

light. A magic time when colors return to our landscapes. Dawn of a new day for hopes, challenges, learning.

Usually this is a time for parents and children to be excited about the new school year, but this year it is tempered by fears and uncertainty as a lack of leadership in this state and others combines to threaten the lives of our children and grandchildren.

But I still hope for each new day, for some magic of creativity to offset the doom and gloom. That's what my second lesson in acrylics is about today.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Time passes

"Sunset," 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

passes, for all species, as change is constant, whether we want it to be or not, so today I tried something new.

To me, there's nothing quite so symbolic of passing time, of life, of change, of extinction, of survival, of freedom, than the American bison.

Today's painting, an introductory self lesson in painting with acrylics. I found myself playing with art again, experimenting, learning. I will get better.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Colors of Feelings

"Anger," 5 x 7 watercolor, 
"Paint what you feel." "Paint your reaction to what you see, not what you see."

"Peace," 5 x 7 watercolor
Those comments and their kin from many artists underly what is supposed to be, and hardest to apply for an old type A, fact-based journalist like me...though I know my best writing always came from stories I was deeply engaged in.
And now that I think about it, my best paintings have been those where my feelings seemed to guide the brushes.

Then this week, I read this comment from Austin Kleon in his weekly newsletter on Creativity:

"I write to know what I think, and I make art to actually know what I feel."

Kleon lives in Austin, and has written four dynamic and short books on creativity, all of which I've bought at  Best of Books in Edmond. 

"Hope," 5 x 7 watercolor

can check him out on his website austinkleon.com, and even get his weekly email newsletter which brims over with comments and ideas to jog your mind on music "Ear Candy,"  art, writing,  books, multiple links  and much more with 10 tips each time.  That quote was under the section, "What to do with your feelings."

His prompts translated into three watercolors, where I tried to visualize some of my personal feelings. The first was "Anger" and he noted there's plenty to be angry about these days.

Then I thought about  the opposite, "Peace," and then "Hope." For "Peace" thought of my reaction to a gentle rain falling on a forest, probably the Amazon rainforest. "Hope" was not as abstract, the possibility  of rain and life in an arid landscape and time. All are 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Where time ends

"The Shores of eternity," 5 x 7 Watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper

the endless expanse of the universe and eons of time, I can't help but dream of far away places, of roads not taken, of the vastness of oceans to be crossed. 

This travel-deprived year and more has taken its toll in so many ways on our  plans, wishes, physical and mental existence. I resent most missed opportunities to travel, to discover.

Time flows on, though actual survival has been a journey in itself, one I'm thankful for, aware that thousands have not taken it, instead slipping into a different journey to eternity where time ends. 

I think of standing on a beach watching oceans crashing against the shores of eroding lands, how small and insignificant we are in  creation, as we stand on the shores of our lives.

Thus the story of today's watercolor,  where eternal waves drench the sand and seconds cease to exist, the shores of eternity. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

The colors of time and eternity

"Fiery End," 5 x 7 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper

"Twilight of Time," 5 x 7 140 lb, Fabriano Artistico cold press paper

"Genesis of Color," 5 x 7 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper

thoughts form when you watch science shows about the universe and creation, combined with horrifying wildfires scorching the West and much of Europe. Eternal, changing time juxtaposed (I've always wanted to use that word) with present tense.

Though according to Yahweh, there is only present tense, "I am that I am."

How do you paint time? What are the colors of time? Time began with light, either scientifically or spiritually, the source of life. And light is color.

The overpowering image that came to me is the inferno of those fires in this long hot summer, making me think of the end times when Sol  ends the earth, or when eternity begins.

Then I thought of twilight, before it happened, and then  when time and color  began, in creation.

So today's 5 x 7 abstract watercolors, moving backward in time, from the end, to  twilight and decay, to the beginning.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Season of Green

"Season of Green," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper

"Green Leaves of Summer," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico cold press paper

are not my favorite color, but...

Don't know why. Only one room in our house has green walls, a muted green at that.

It's odd, since I grew up in the arid Southwest, in New Mexico, you'd think green would matter more to me.

Yes, green stands out in that landscape, because green occurs where there's moisture, water, source of life. But then, so is green.

I am attracted to all shades of turquoise, including the green, but blues are my favs, as you can tell from most of my paintings. There are five blues on my palette, and I rarely have any greens, because you can mix almost any green with yellows and blues.

But as August deepens, and the heat will soon turn much of our landscapes a brown, I was thinking of that favorite song, them of the movie, The Alamo, "The Green Leaves of Summer."

Another connection especially for us Okies is the song "Green Grow the Lilacs." While on a fellowship in France in the late 1920s, Lynn Riggs wrote the play "Green Grow the Lilacs." It provided the basis from which Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II created the musical "Oklahoma!" Riggs was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1948.

I remember long ago, heading south from Iowa in the spring, we could see the country getting green and greener the further we went. Springtime, then summer, the season of green.

Much of our country, and parts of the world,  is burning up, literally already, and green is disappearing.

It's no wonder that green is a symbol of life, of spring, of rebirth. We should all be concerned too, about deforestation...especially in the Amazon. Green represents the lungs of the planet. No green, no oxygen. The Amazon produces 25 percent of the oxygen on earth, and if it is destroyed, as is happening, which 25 percent of humans will suffocate?

It's another reason I love that passage by Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness, where he is going up the Congo in the middle of the jungle:

"Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the the earth and the big trees were king. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest."

So here are two watercolors for today, color studies in green, one with green colors from five tubes and two yellows, and the other five blues  and two yellows,