"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Oklahoma Homestead

"Oklahoma Homestead," 16" x 20" acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas

The "home place." "Homestead."

Words that take on more meaning that just "home." They speak of memories, generations, families, hard work, history, roots in the land, landscapes, rural living. And certainly of life in Territorial Oklahoma.

Those were some of my thoughts as I undertook this painting, the largest I've done in a long while, and certainly the largest in acrylics. 

Again, it is a work in complementary colors, blues and yellows, oranges and purples. You will notice that in all my recent work. I don't know why, except it just seems natural. There is also a healthy dose of earth colors--umbers, siennas, and oxides, which is fitting given the subject of homestead.

Soon to be exhibited, beginning in Paseo Arts District's First Friday, November 5, art walk in my November show at In Your Eye Studio & Gallery.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Any "Real" Mail?

"Any Real Mail Today," 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

 Amazing isn't it, that we still wait for the mail in anticipation.

Especially since most of it heads to the trash before even being opened...ads, scams, politics. There is so little "real" mail, besides bills, cards or packages from people you know, with real handwriting on the envelope.

But even now I listen for the drone of the mail truck heading up and down the street. Most of the time I'm disappointed, and pause at the outdoor trash recycling bin to dump most of it, ripping a few articles open to either take inside, or toss as well. 

"Has the mail passed yet?" was a familiar refrain when I was still teaching, faculty coming in to see what might be in their mailboxes.

The only times I dreaded the mail were the years I feared seeing a draft letter from the Selective Service during Vietnam. Though my pulse quickens if I get a letter from the IRS.

And our mail gets thinner, a result of e-mail and changing times. Now instead of writing letters, we pick up a phone and call. E-mail has ceased to be a blessing, flooding our in-boxes with junk, or administrative demands, or computer-generated requests to rate your latest trip to xyz business where you had your oil changed two hours ago.  Only its convenience in personal business offsets the irritation and waste of time.

All this makes "real" mail even more special, more anticipated.

That's why we still look forward to real mail every day. Those who gripe about the U.S. Postal Service, or want it to privatize it,  are short sighted at best. A reliable postal service--which we have--is one of the characteristics of a successful civilization. Try mailing something here from a remote county on another continent and see how long it takes to arrive, if it does.

End of rant. Thus today's acrylic painting, Available first Friday at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paseo Artist District.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Moon magic

"Moon magic," 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

our anniversary this week, we sat on the back porch and watched the full moon rise.

We both told stories of years past when the full moon captivated us, fired inspiration and more.

The moon is indeed magic, pulling tides of memories and emotions as well as affecting the tides of the oceans.

You can read of one of my memories below, in a chapter in an unfinished novel

With that in mind, here's today's 5 x 5 acrylic painting. You can also search "moon" on this blog, and see the many times I've tried to paint the subject. It's no accident.

Time for the Moon 

“Time for the moon.” He rose, poured a last cup of coffee, grabbed his binoculars off the kitchen cabinet, and opened the back door.

The swollen moon inched above the silhouetted house-tops and trees, as he walked out on the wooden deck with the coffee and binoculars.

“The first time I remember seeing Aunt Sissie was when she showed me the moon,” he thought, putting the coffee down on a table, and lifting the 7 x 50 binoculars to his eyes as he twisted the focus ring.

At least, he thought he remembered the dark shadows of summer-thick bushes and trees rising above him on the sidewalk,  the black bulk of nearby buildings framing a few yellow-lit apartment windows, the huge round silver-white face in the dark Dallas sky reflecting its light off her equally round, kind face.

“Maybe it’s just that I heard Mom and Dad tell me about it; how Sissie would take me for a night-time walk and show me the moon; how I’d reach my little hands and stubby fingers for it; and how she’d tell Mom, ‘Well, Faye, get it for him.’”

The full moon always made him talk to himself, he thought.  “I know they told me Aunt Sissie would take me out in a baby carried during that summer of 1944, but seeing the moon seems fresher somehow. Mom and Dad might have told me about it, but they wouldn’t add the details about the shawls and lights.

“But when someone pays you a lot of attention at that age, and in later years you hear your folks talk about it, and then, decades later, when you go back to view the old black and white snapshots crowding family albums, what you remember and what you’ve heard sort of melt together, like the moonlight reflecting on her face that night in Dallas.”

Aunt Sissie was his favorite aunt, and even now, years after she died of cancer, when the moon jogged his memory, his throat thickened, and his eyes would water.

“Let him reach for it, Miss Vera,” was his mother’s reply to the quip about getting the moon for him. That’s what Sissie told him years later.

“Seems like you’ve been reaching every since,” she chuckled. He didn’t know if it was a blessing or a curse, or both. Maybe that was the key. Always reaching, challenged by some remote destination; yet, once attained, never satisfied. Easily bored when the newness wore off and routine set in. A journalist’s life was at once a sop and a sentence.

He treasured the full moon and moonlight, especially shining through the edges of swiftly moving clouds, or circled through the haze of thin high ice-clouds. The Apollo missions years ago had captivated him. Now he rarely let a month go by without viewing the acne-scarred face through his binoculars. The full moon provoked his imagination, his memories, his fantasies, helping him write.

The moon seemed to transform everything with a magic glow--landscapes, buildings, plants, smooth human skin--things he could never quite get enough of--things he couldn’t seem to quite reach and possess, any more than he could reach the moon. But he kept reaching like the little boy who had vainly reached to touch the strange light in the sky.

“It pulls me like the tide.” His tight spinal muscles relaxed as he lowered the binoculars and sipped the coffee. “People would think I’m crazy if they knew how I anticipate the full moon. I deserve the moon.”

He heard the phone ringing inside the house, interrupting his thoughts, demanding his attention and time and no telling what else. Resentfully, turning to go in, he glanced at the sky once more. “C’mon, babe, I want you.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Intriguing simplicity

"Red Wheelbarrow," 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

the simple things in life are the most profound. 

So it was several years ago when a student gave me a card of appreciation, quoting a simple poem, and adding her profound thoughts.

As a former English major, I'd somehow forgotten the poem, but it jarred my thoughts with its intriguing images and words.

Now as I look back, and read more, it is amazing how many different interpretations there are by "experts" over such few, simple words.

So here is today's little acrylic painting. Soon to be available at In Your Eye Studio & Gallery in Paseo Arts District.

Oh, the poem: 

so much depends


a red wheel


glazed with rain


beside the white 


--William Carlos Williams, 1932 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Wild spirit

"Wild spirit," 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

hear a lot these days of people who are "spiritual" but not "religious."

Given the turmoil and politicalization with many organized religions, it's no wonder, and the more I read and study of different cultures, a question comes to mind.

What is spiritual? Depends on you you are, your culture, your beliefs and much more.

I can't help think again of Native American cultures and the way they, and others, hold certain parts of creation as sacred. 

Thus, today's little acrylic, another sacred icon. I believe it is also important, in these over-regulated and political correct times,  that such a creation is also a symbol, a beckoning,  of wildness, of freedom. This is my second of the subject. There will be more.

Soon available at In Your Eye Studio & Gallery in Paseo Arts District.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Autumn colors

"Autumn winds," 11 x 14 acrylic on canvas board

The favorite season is here, even with mixed up weather in Oklahoma and elsewhere Depending on where you live, the colors of Nature in change add texture and memories as every day grows shorter.

Today's painting captures that season, I hope. The largest I've attempted in acrylics, taking chances, learning, having fun painting on the back porch. Study in complementary colors, and a barn, again. Brushes and palette knives. A little tinkering left tomorrow (that road is just too straight).

Soon to be framed, and available at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paseo Arts District.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Season of colors

"Sunflower Season," 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

...season of colors, nature's paintbrush, the most beautiful time of year.

We think of our lives differently, of aging, of approaching death, and rarely of the color of our lives. Perhaps we instead should draw inspiration from nature, that these times should also be our most vivid, most full of the beauty of life.

I especially love the colors of Aspen and Cottonwoods in New Mexico, in the strata of the Southwest, and of the brilliant hardwoods changing in the upper Midwest and New England.

Yet I only have to glimpse the roadsides of Oklahoma for more of the colors. 

Thus today's acrylic painting, sunflowers. My lesson to my autumn self. Available soon at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paseo Arts District.


Sunday, October 3, 2021

Spiritual Encounter

"Spiritual Encounter," 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

There are times when you come "face-to-face," for an earth-bound lack of a more appropriate word, with something beyond physical reality.

You just feel it, or know it, or wonder, whenever that "eye-contact" happens. It might be a butterfly, a bird hovering too close, or something else you just can't explain. For me, I always get a sense of it when I see the eyes of a what, or a bison, though you can't get too close. 

Given our heritage, I don't think that's surprising. I don't question the native American reverence for the spiritual strength of a rare white buffalo. Thus, this painting, finished today. Soon at In Your Eye Studio  in Paseo Arts District

Saturday, October 2, 2021

When the Spirit Moves you

Getting started, 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas board

you need magic, something beyond the ordinary to move you to breathe, to think, to live, to create.

Trying to come up with a composition for an Oklahoma landscape today lead down empty roads on the Great Plains, and into my imagination.

I, and countless others have painted bison, the iconic symbol of the American West. I will do so again, on a larger canvas. But today I ran across photos and articles about the Native American spirit bison, the White Buffalo.

So here's the start. Much more to come, out of the mist of snow and the past and spirits.