"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.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Season of changes

"A walk in the park," 8 x 10 acrylic on canvas panel, palette knife
"Make the world go away
and get it off my shoulders."
       --Eddy Arnold
In a  world  and our lives buffeted by constant changes and uncertainties, there's no more obvious  and encouraging symbol to me than autumn leaves and light.

I need this season as reassurance that despite troubles and tragedies, from personal to global. I've often said that painting is my therapy, because the rest of the world goes away when I'm work on art. 

Brooding and stuck, I found that therapy today from autumn's lessons on change and the inspiration to use change itself. 

"Get outside and paint," I told myself on this beautiful autumn afternoon. Most of the colors are fading or gone from the trees, but I had to try something different. I packed up my painting gear, got my tripod and pochad box (a portable palette that fits on top of the tripod) I'd never used before, and went to Hafter Park to paint en plein air--something I've avoided.

Finding a favorite section of the winding trail through trees, I set up on the side of the trail, trying to figure out what to do with the earthy, largely brown view in front of me. That added to the challenge for a too-detailed former journalist like me.

But there was still the inspiration of fall. Out came largely earth colors, mostly warm, and my palette knife.  Friendly walkers stopped to chat every once in a while.  I don't know what happened, but the results were change indeed--abstract, outdoors, palette knife.The world went away. Autumn's lessons are therapy indeed.

I should have taken a photo of my set up to go with this, but will go back tomorrow to add that. At any rate,  here's today's therapy.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

"Thanksgiving when we need it," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches cold press

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving on your journeys.

While the roads are not always smooth and straight, the bumps and curves help us be thankful, for what we've endured, and for what matters most, for the gift and giving of love. 1 Corinthians 13

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

But we can still dream

"We Can Still Dream," 5 x 7 acrylic on card

weather? We have no idea any more, after the weather disasters of last year and climate out of control.

But we can still dream, and warm fall days with lots of sunshine and brilliant foliage.

And, as December approaches,  of cold winter nights, with snow and a full moon, and a cozy cabin in the country.

Thus today's little painting,  wanting to be there, with a loved one, dogs and cats, a wood burning fire, homemade chili or stew. No matter the weather and the world, we can still dream.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Holiday Hope

"Holiday Hope," 5 x 7 acrylic on card

little painting  appeared in the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame December newsletter as a Happy Holidays piece. Thanks to Joe Hight for the request, and I decided to try something new, on deadline.

 Sometimes a title just appears at the very end. Mailbox, sure. Snow, definitely. Cabin, naturally. What to call it? 'Tis the season, so there's a little double meaning here that also appeared.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Sacred Spirit

"Sacred Spirit," 8 x 10 acrylic on canvas panel

What is "sacred"?

Historically from the Middle Ages, it's linked in Latin and other languages with sanctification, saint; it implies connection with the divine. The meaning has changed over the years, its application broadening. 

A better question is "What is sacred to you?" It belongs to no one religious or cultural belief, and symbolizes many things. It probably varies with every person, even without religious or spiritual meanings.

The more I read of Native American beliefs and cultures, the more impressed I am. If there is a symbol of the heritage of those people, to me it is the bison, the American buffalo.

Foremost in their spiritual heritage is the white buffalo, and their beliefs hold meaning we need today in this chaotic time. Only about one in ten million buffalo will be born white, according to science.

What is more impressive to me is what the Lakota and others believe, from stories almost 2,000 years old. I found this on the American Indian College Fund blog:

"The Lakota and other tribes believed that a white buffalo is the most sacred living thing on earth... .

"The American buffalo or bison is a symbol of abundance and manifestation... The birth of a sacred white buffalo is a sign of hope and an indication of good times to come. For many American Indians, the birth of a white buffalo calf is the most significant of prophetic signs... ."

The Lakota term for the white buffalo is "tatanka," and sacred or divine-- "Wakan Tanka."

That's the spirit and inspiration behind today's acrylic painting. In the middle of these political, biological and environmental turmoil, we need some good omens of good times to come.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

A Willa Cather sky

"Willa Cather Sky," 8 x 10 acrylic on canvas panel

"The sky was as full of motion and change as the desert beneath it was monotonous and still, — and there was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world."

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

            --Willa Cather, Death Comes for The Archbishop

"Out here there's the sky," is my mantra as I paint. It's no wonder, when you grow up in the Southwest or live in Oklahoma,  Texas,  or elsewhere on the Great Plains.
Thus this painting today.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

When art makes people happy

"Taos home," 8 x 10 watercolor 300 lb. rough press paper

is therapy in so many ways for an artist, but one of the best is when your work makes other people happy, lifts their spirits.

Such is the case today when my watercolor commission of a home in Taos, by Tracey Zeeck, was presented as an early Christmas present to her sister.

Grateful for the opportunity to give, and to paint adobe and New Mexico skies and light.


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Journeys--from "dust" to "dust"

"Journeys," 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

"From dust to dust," seems mortal to us earthly beings, especially as we age, and when we lose loved ones and friends.

But just maybe, considering science, since our bodies are made from the atoms of the universe, stardust, then was we grow older, thinking about eternity, the phrase takes on a completely different connotation, from stardust to stardust.

And maybe, considering the spiritual, for those who are spiritual and think there is more than earthly dust, as we complete more journeys, the phrase speaks of eternity, from whence we came to which we go.

Thus today's painting, a turquoise ladder,  journeys from "dust"  to "dust."

I've been familiar with the actual and spiritual ladders of New Mexico Native Americans for a long time, in the pueblos and kivas.They are practical, and icons of the Southwest, and much more.  But a special gratitude for some of the inspiration of this painting goes to Steven Charleston.

 A Choctaw elder from Oklahoma and  retired Episcopal bishop, he is the author of "Journey to the Light," adopting the symbols of the kiva and ladders for our spiritual lives in these tumultuous times. I recommend you read it for your journeys, regardless of beliefs. He also posts a brief meditation every day on his Facebook page. It begins my daily journey with wisdom and hope.

The painting will soon be available at In Your Eye Studio & Gallery in The Paseo Arts District.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

A decade ago--a sailor's final port of call

Ten years ago on this day before Veterans' Day, I officiated at the funeral of my uncle, Michael Henry Clark in the Santa Fe national Cemetery. A U.S. Navy color guard provided the ceremony for this combat veteran of WWII and Korea.
Mike and my Dad, the war years

was the last of the five living "Clark boys" from Comanche, OK, (Terrence, Louis, Rex, Mike and Champ)   my favorite uncle, and perhaps the closest brother to my father Terrence, the oldest. I took me a while to figure that out, since my middle name comes from him. "Llamarse como," he would say.

Mike and I, Bandelier, years ago
written about him many times, and will not repeat, except to note this day and how many memories I have of him from when I was a kid, a teenager, and then in later years as adults, especially in the last 30 years. He died Oct. 24 in the Veterans' Home in Walsenburg, Colorado, and it took a few weeks to get things organized. 
Mike, Susan and I in the bar at La Fonda, a few years ago

And the last photo is my sketch of the Manzano Mountains, southeast of Albuquerque, the day after the funeral on a somber Veterans' Day, as I looked out the window from the airport, waiting on a flight home.

Rest in Peace, Sailor.

If you wish to see more photos and comments, just search "Mike" in search box above.


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Meditation on the Colors of the Futures

"The Future," 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

As another year nears past tenses, we'll be spending more time thinking about futures.

While we dwell much on the past, or pondering the future, most of the wisdom writing of humans urges us to live in the present.

For that, we have the examples of the rest of living beings, who exist only in the present, we think. And then there's that mysterious saying in the Old Testament from Yahweh, "I am that I am." In Eternity, another name I have for God, or the Spirit, there is no past nor future, only present.

And if you believe we're created in the spiritual images of the Spirit (there are no other), and if you believe the Spirit is omni-present, that means we are part of that eternity.

Yet, we forget and rue the past and worry about the future. Those are lessons I've learned many hard ways.

So today's little painting almost mocks the idea of futures, with a gate opening on multiple paths and colors, and a grainy (textured) universe. 

Soon available @Inyoureyestudio&gallery at @PaseoArtsDistrict.

Monday, November 8, 2021

The Colors of Chili Season

"The Colors of Chili Season," 5 x 5 acrylic on canvas

 Autumn and winter are chili seasons.

But for me, not the much ballyhooed Tex-Mex varieties. While my children take part in various chili cook offs, I've only done that a couple of times...and lost.

Because, mine isn't complicated, but different.

No chili powder from the grocery store here. Yes, I'll use ground beef, or chili meat, and other ingredients fairly common, some others of which I won't mention.

But there is always chili powder from New Mexico...primarily from red chili ristras, drying in the sun on an adobe wall. We have a special place in Chimayo where we buy ours--mild, medium and hot.

So as chili season approaches, depending on our roller coaster temps these days, be sure that our stash will fill the house with unique aroma, along with some cornbread and tortillas, and maybe some posole.

So this little acrylic can't capture the taste or aroma, but it does the spirit and colors of chili season.

Soon available at @InYourEyeStudio&Gallery in @PaseoArtsDistrict.


Thursday, November 4, 2021

Season of Change--November and my art

Acrylics and oils

My November art show at @Inyoureyestudio&gallery in @PaseoArtsDictrict in OKC opens tomorrow, and the title is no accident. November is a season of change, but I'm in the midst of change too.

I've been experimenting, teaching myself, learning, and having fun with acrylics, branching out from watercolors, where, according to my wife Susan and god friend don Drew, I was stuck. Time to try something new.

Mini-Acrylics--5 x 5
 I've learned much in the  past couple of months, most of it fun and challenging, but also daunting and sometimes frustrating because I'm not sure what I'm doing. Advice from other artists has helped but mostly, it's been trial and lots of errors. 

Watercolors ....from Oklahoma and the Great Plains
I will not forsake watercolor, because acrylics have added to my appreciation of them and taught me much about letting go, trying new things. And watercolors have taught and influenced my work in acrylics. The differences are many, in techniques and properties, but composition and light and color apply.

Watercolors...To New Mexico and beyond
the show at the gallery, where I'm one of 11 member artists, features more than 50 paintings, most of them watercolors, but also several recent acrylics and a few oils. Season of change indeed.