"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.

Friday, January 28, 2022

The Colors of Western Skies

"Western Skies, " 8 x 10 acrylic on canvas panel, palette knives, brushes

"I love mixing paint," I told a friend recently.

Long ago in my first watercolor class, one of the first lessons was that you don't need many colors, that you can mix the ones you need.

Then an artist in an oil painting workshop I attended said he could have entire lessons on mixing colors.

When I started trying to teach myself acrylics, mixing colors became essential, but there was a difference--palette knives.

I've always admired palette knife paintings, but picking one up and mixing colors became a new tactile experience. You can get lost in trying to get the colors you want, and feel for a painting, even before touching the canvas..

Just as when you're painting, the rest of the world goes away. These are problems to be solved, to my satisfaction.

Those a some of the stories behind this painting, trying to capture the mood of the skies in my beloved Southwest. And then, something else happened  that I didn't intend, but came from mixing colors because you never know exactly what you'll get. . As with previous paintings, I ended up using complementary colors, emphasizing opposites--yellows and purples, blues and oranges.

This has resulted in brighter colors and contrasts, and will also influence my future watercolors as well. No wonder I love mixing colors.  

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Cimarron Sunset

"Cimarron Sunset," 9 x 12 acrylic on canvas panel

"Out here is the sky," has become my motto the longer I paint. Growing up in New Mexico  and living most of my life on the Great Plains, I've always noticed the skies, but art has intensified that interest.

At first, I thought the saying was Willa Cather's comment about the skies in "Death Comes for The Archbishop." It's not, and hers also resounds with me in painting as I study and try to capture the vastness and beauty of wide open skies in wide open landscapes.

"Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky. The landscape one longed for when one was away, the thing all about one, the world one actually lived in, was the sky, the sky!--Willa Cather

Long ago I canoed down a stretch of the Cimarron River during daylight, captivated by the silence, the moods, the solitude of the river--where human time doesn't apply. I hope this painting captures some of those impressions, reflecting the ever-changing colors of those skies at the end of day.

Soon available at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery where I'm a member artist in Paseo Arts District.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

When Nature Speaks

"Sunset on ice," 8 x 10 acrylic on canvas panel

Sometimes Nature speaks to you if you listen. Not in words, but in impulses, in sights and sounds and moods.

So it was when I saw  a dramatic photo by my blog friend Alan Bates on one of his hikes in the Turkey Mountain urban wilderness at Tulsa this week.

Alan's photo
and I met online several years ago when our blogs caught each other's attention. Some of that was because we both have memories of New Mexico,  and a love for the outdoors and photography. 
He's also an avid geocacher, and spends more time outdoors than I do, hiking and bicycling. On this photo he added drama with a Snapseed filter and the iphone's ArtCard app.

We follow each other on Facebook, that's the story of the photo of sunset on a partially frozen pond. I'd been searching for something different to paint, and Nature spoke.

 I also tried to add drama, taking artistic license with it to flip it horizontally for composition purposes. Then I just started painting, using palette knives for texture, not sure where it was going. Before I was through I discovered I'd gone back to favorite complementary colors, oranges and blues. Brushwork added a few finishing touches. 

I discovered more about myself here too. I was not tied down to reality--my usual fault. Instead  I painted looser, ending up more impressionistic, with  more texture and more vibrant color (the colors you see are actual). It just seemed to happen.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Against the odds

"Against the Odds," 11 x 14 acrylic on canvas panel

 "Time's A'wasting," was oft repeated by one of my childhood comic strip heroes, Snuffy Smith. If you remember that, you're as old as I am. And aware that time is passing, and we're wasting it.

I am more aware of that sentiment in all phases of my life than ever these days as a new year and a birthday have passed recently.

My previous painting on this blog, a watercolor entitled "Time Was," was spontaneous, and fluid, like time. I'm fortunate and honored that Andrea Byers, Hawk's Landing, and  The Hideout, of Canyon, Texas, loved it and bought it.

As time has passed this year, I've been experimenting, learning acrylics, and that scene demanded another attempt, for the same reasons.

This painting is the result, while of the same subjects, vastly different. The watercolor was fresher, more fluid, proof to me of its beauty and originality.

This one is not a copy, but done with different emotions, palette knives and brushes for the textures of the subjects, different effects, capturing the essence of time past on the Great Plains.

I had trouble with the title to this one, but they embody survival, against the odds.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Time was

"Time was," 5 x 7 watercolor, 140 lb. d'Arches. Reference photo, Tailyr Irvine, N, Y. Times

 “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; and the grass withers and the flowers fall,..." 1 Peter 1:24

'Tis the time of year when perhaps we think about our invention, time, time passing and time coming, though the Jewish and Christian God is only present tense, "I am that I am."

Another year, a human invention,  fades with memories, a new one is now, and looms, as does another birthday.

Thus today's watercolor, the first of the year, on the Great Plains, as I think of  times, seasons, grass and the rest of creations unaware of time, just now.