"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, December 27, 2022

Future tense?--only in your imagination

"Future Tense," 5 x 5 acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas


reading "Why Time Flies," by Alan Burdock, a journalist for The New Yorker, who spent years(by our "time" studying time.

He divides his 280 page book into four chapters, The Hours, The Days, the Present and Why time flies. He actually discovered a 25th hour in a day in the Arctic. His is a "Mostly  Scientific Investigation" of how we measure time, what we think of it, how sunlight affects us and all organisms.

Extremely well-written and readable, the book will boggle your mind at the scientific, the history, the biologic, the physiology, the uninsured questions.

My conclusions so far is that linear tense-drive time as we perceive it is largely in our heads--past present and future.

For instance, what is "now"? We live in present tense, but how do you measure "now"? You can't, because by the time you reach the ed of this sentence, or even the next word, "now" has vanished. 

By the time you read the time on your watch or clock, it's already passed. Indeed, those around the world who coordinate time for this earth, for airlines and  your computers, know this. By the time that is "posted," it's already "past," not "now." Technically, you can't give an answer to "What time is it now?"

 Only Yahweh, who is timeless, couldn't say "I am that I am," not "I was" or "I will be." That is the definition of eternity, by the way. Past is only memories in our minds, and future is indefinite, what we imagine.

The biologic circadian rhythms of life on this earth and a rapidly expanding universe are something else, and we're also affected by that--when we sleep, when we're born, the list goes on.

So today's painting, "after" Christmas," and "before" tomorrow (the future), but not "now, comes out of reading, and my mind on our journey.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

"Light in Darkness," 5 x 7 watercolor

"Jesus spoke to them, saying, ' I am the light of the world. Whoever follows 
me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.'”--John 8:12

     "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
     "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ...
    "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  
     "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
     "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." --John1 1-5, 9-14

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Eve--Faith is a Verb

 En El Principio era El Verbo, y El Verbo era con Dios, y El Verbo era Dios

                                                    --San Juan 1:1

Faith is a verb. As is God, as is eternity.

Short story: When I taught writing at UCO, I'd use John 1:1 to emphasize the critical importance of verbs.

At a state university, I could usually count on a few students to quote John 1:1, in English. Then I'd explain, assuring the class that they didn't have to believe, but I wanted them to understand the theology behind it, that the "Word" was the agent of Creation ("Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life...."),  the pre-existent Christ.

Then I'd ask for the Spanish word of "word," and a few could answer "palabra." Then I'd put the  Spanish version up on the board, which is closer to the original Latin, and thus Greek: "En El Principio, era El Verbo...!"

Lesson: if you want to  "create" writing, sentences, pay attention to the verbs!

As I painted today's Christmas Eve card, I thought of people around the world gathering in churches, and homes, especially the poor, the paisanos and pueblo people of northern New Mexico. They  gather, walking through snow, to their adobe churches, expressing faith in their actions, seeking peace and sustenance in their humble lives.  Their faith is not something fancy or elaborate or have, but who they are and do.

Those were my thoughts last night as I was considering how to write this today. But then...

My mornings start with a reading from the journals of Thomas Merton. Today's selection, from Dec. 15, 1962,  had to be more than coincidence.

Consider these excerpts (italics are his):

  • " The interior surrender of faith... (is)...an act of obedience, ie., self-commitment... (submitting) to God's truth in its power to give life, and to command one to live.
  • "...Faith is not simply an act of choice, and option for a certain solution to the problem of existence, etc....To believe is to consent  to a creative command that raises us from the dead."

Tonight many of the faithful (those full of faith, a verb) gather to celebrate  the Verb who became flesh, "Y el Verbo se hizo carne...." San Juan 1:14 

No wonder faith  is a verb!

(P.S. I know, two sermons in one post today. Also consider that faith is different than belief. )


Friday, December 23, 2022

Reclaiming the Night

"Reclaiming the Night, " 5 x 7 watercolor, acrylic on 140 lb cold press paper

painting “Reclaiming the Night" watercolor and acrylic, soon at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paseo Arts District
for members' black and white January show. 

Inspired by Chickasaw elder and Episcopal priest Steven Charleston's daily devotional.:

“Like a silhouette against the sun I see you standing on the horizon, looking out into the shadowy expanse of time, arms outstretched as if in prayer or greeting. How long you have stood there I do not know, but I imagine it has been for a very long time, so deep is the desire of your heart, the longing for an answer to your appeal. Who are you waiting for? What are you waiting for? Only the Spirit knows. All I understand is that you will still be there when the moon reclaims the night, for I will be standing beside you.” 

Stardust dreams--Two days 'til Christmas

"Stardust Dreams," 5 x 7 watercolor Christmas card 

"This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through..."
                          --Old Gospel Song

Stardust...home for eternity, lest we forget two days to Christmas what it was all about.

Physically, in present tense, our earthly bodies are indeed composed of the chemistry of the stars. But they're  not home.

Though the eons, earthbound,  time-bound and death-bound humans have tried to  seek safe homes in a troubled and world--witness stone-age caves, castles, walled cities  or today's "gated" communities.  But they have apparently  also gazed at the stars seeking  (worshiping)  lasting homes, hoping for security and timeless life beyond. 

Is not the real Christmas not a celebration of that seeking, of that hope, of that belief, that promise, in eternity as home, that there is more to life than this physical world and physical bodies?

Those are the stardust dreams, two days 'til Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Seeking warmth in a cold world, three days 'til Christmas

"Promise of Warmth," 5 x 7 watercolor Christmas card

It's a cold, bitter world this week, these days, this year. 

Weather, war, hatred, hunger, poverty, violence, disease, sickness, suffering, intolerance, injustice, crime, corruption, homelessness, bloated and uncaring institutions--the list grows day by day, around the world, knowing no boundaries or borders.

Nothing has really changed since 2,000 years ago , except the extent and volume of an exploding population and decaying planet.

Yet, in the midst of all those insurmountable odds,  there came warmth and hope, hope for the sufferers, for the needy,  for those who were journeying, seeking real warmth, trying to survive the cold, bitter world.

With three days 'til Christmas read the warmth of the Beatitudes, thinking of  He who brought warmth to the world, and who they were spoken for:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the Earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called the Sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Four days until light from the darkest night

"Star of Solstice and Hope," 5 x 7 watercolor Christmas card

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” --John 8:12

Winter solstice, celebrated the world around through the ages because the sun and life-giving light  will begin its return from the darkest night.

We know not  what day Jesus was actually born, and the official days have varied, But Christmas Day, Dec. 25,   was eventually selected  to coincide,   to adopt and convert,  those popular pagan and other religious celebrations .

On clear nights, no matter how cold, especially in arid, desert  and rural areas, the stars provide light brighter than we urban dwellers can even imagine, and it is no accident that a bright star pointed the way to  another kind of light for the world.

Four days to Christmas, and the star beckons on the darkest nights of the years.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

A bridge to a manger--five days travel 'til Christmas

"Seeking a Manger," 5 x 7 acrylic Christmas card

“The bridge will only take you halfway there, to those mysterious lands you long to see. Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fair, and moonlit woods where unicorns run free. So come and walk awhile with me and share the twisting trails and wondrous worlds I've known. But this bridge will only take you halfway there." --Shel Silverstein

"The Precepts of Jesus and A Guide to Peace and Happiness." --Raja Ram Roy, 1772-1833. Hindu scholar, philosopher, reformer, speaker of seven languages, "father of modern India."

This painting didn't start out about a bridge, but a story about seeking a manger, a feeding trough, located in a stable, (barn). But I've often used bridges in my cards, metaphors of journeys and more, and this man I've never heard of considered bridges the link between the past and the future.

For those who are seekers, for change, for something better, nothing is truer, and what is the Christmas season all about but seeking the source of its promise? Crossing a bridge of time from darkness and turmoil, seeking light and peace. Ram Roy's reforms overcame Imperial England for changes, just as Jesus overcame Imperial Rome and the subsequent empires of materialism for changes.

Bridges carry so much symbolic traffic, especially in this season, five days 'til Christmas. Think of the bridges we've crossed in the past, and which ones lie ahead, that we know not, except for one.

Borrowed thoughts:

  • The bridge is symbolic of communication and union,--whether heaven and earth of different places. Thus a connection between God and mankind, or passage to reality or crossing to  eternity, 
  • Bridges connect one previously isolated place to another, bringing people together. We say "building bridges" when we want unification, not separation. Thus a symbol of hope and connection.
Thus I believe the arts, whether painting , poetry, music, sculpture and more, are bridges, helping people change, see, listen, connecting with emotions and other people. 

Deeper thoughts than I intended when just painting a barn, but I shouldn't be surprised, For I've learned that all paintings, and art, are bridges for stories to tell in their essence, as well as by  the artist or the audience.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Six cold, dark days 'til Christmas

"Toward the light," 5 x 7 acrylic Christmas card

Warmth. Light. Amid the gathering gloom of the longest night of the year, as temperatures plunge, we crave warmth and light. Essentials of time-bound life draw us like moths to flickering flames.

Physical survival has always been so for humans, but with six days 'til Christmas, a different warmth and light, draws us to  essentials to spiritual life. Deep down, there is something that beckons, regardless of religions or cultures, to something beyond time.

We find tastes of that  every Christmas, when we gather in warmth and light and celebrate physical  living, and the incarnation of eternity. 

Sunday, December 18, 2022

"Inside the gate"--seven days 'til Christmas

"Just Inside the Gate," 5 x 7 acrylic Christmas card

"...knock and it shall be opened..."
"...so just step inside the gate...."
"Trust in dreams for in them is the gate to eternity."
"Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate."
"I took the road less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.."
(Jesus, old Gospel song, Kahill Gibran, J.R.R. Tolkein, Robert Frost.)

 While every day, and perhaps every step, opens or shuts metaphorical gates in our lives, as we choose one option or another, perhaps no one season symbolizes that more than the Christmas season and the looming end of the year.
Gates always grab  attention, especially in the rural landscapes where they mark boundaries and journeys, hinting of  mysteries or stories to tell as time passes. 
They beckon, they invite. They welcome, if not in person, in imagination, in spirit.
Definitely seven days 'til Christmas.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Moon Magic...today's painting

"Moon Magic," 8 x 10 acrylic on canvas panel

challenge of black and white! Trying to shift from brilliant color to the beauty of simple black and white requires a different way of seeing.

I've regressed these two weeks, trying to get ready for my gallery's In Your Eye Studio and Gallery, January-themed  member show.

I've written about and painted the moon many times in the past, because it pulls me like the tide, getting stronger as I age. Today's painting is the latest attempt, combined with my iconic cabin in the. mountains.

It'll be available at the gallery beginning January 6, a day after my birthday, at the First Friday Art Walk in Paseo Arts district.

Home...eight days 'til Christmas

"Sanctuary," 5 x 7 watercolor Christmas card

"I'll be home for Christmas...if only in my dreams." 

That 1943 song recorded by Bing Crosby, written by lyricist Kim Gannon and composer Walter Kent, captured the emotion and hopes of all those American servicemen in the anger and violence of remote WWII, so far away from the warmth and safety of loved ones.

It still does for so many people, perhaps even more, scattered  around the world though the years, or threatened by danger and violence of war and homelessness.

Last week on a cold day, I saw a homeless person huddled in a sleeping bag at the corner of Penn and Memorial. Near downtown recently, we saw a homeless camp of tents not far from the sparkling lights of OKC's "Renaissance." In Ukrainians, their homes are being bombed. I wonder what their Christmas dreams are like, what kind of "Holy-day" they are having.

For me, with my children and grandchildren so far away, at least I can see and talk to them through modern technology, and enjoy the love of in-laws. Long ago, returning from a Culp cousin reunion in East Texas, I wrote a poem of my thoughts during this season that  includes these lines:

 "Driving in East Texas is like going back into the womb.

It's warm, and wet, and ... green.

Where families are born, and grow, and spread out like runners 

from the ivy growing up the trunks of the hardwoods, 

across miles and years."

So as we approach Christmas eight days from now, with our "decorations so bright," let us savor the sanctuary of "home," and be thankful and enjoy every second and loved ones, remembering those who can't. 

This card captures those emotions for me, the warmth and joy of adobe, red chilis and a Christmas wreath on a white Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Moon Memories

"Moon River," 5 x 7 acrylic on canvas panel

songs stick in your should memories, bringing back times and people  before. I grew up when you could understand the words, not just the blaring beat of the music. 

So my wife makes fun of me when we play some of my favorites.  One such song is "Moon River," and for a lover of the moon, and the magic of the Mississippi River, it takes little to bring it to mind.

Now that our gallery, In Your Eye Studio and Gallery has themed our January group show "Black and White," it's no wonder I could almost see this painting before I even started.

Here it is, 5 x 7, "Moon River." Remember those words: "Moon River, wider than a mile....Oh, dream maker..."? In the gallery in Paseo in January. Framed as an 8 x 10 or so.

Mountain Time, nine days 'til Christmas

"Mountain Time," 5 x 7 acrylic Christmas card

"Go tell it on the mountain," one of my favorite songs because of its  energy, joy and my memories, resounds with me during the Christmas season.

As an adult, Jesus went to the mountains, for solitude, prayer, and spiritual strength.  I identify, again especially in this season, where "Mountain Time" is not an earthly time zone, but deeply personal.

Add a cabin for solitude in the presence of the mountains,  you literally feel closer to God, creation and eternity, in so many ways. 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Ten Day Journey to Christmas

"Magic Beckons," 5 x 7 watercolor Christmas card

By now, we're sick and tired of the constant commercial claptrap, noise and traffic that began more than a month ago, ironic opposites of  a season and a day dedicated to supposed peace on earth.

But the journey to that magic day of personal peace in worship, faith, family, friends, goodness, giving and memory beckons, needed  even more as this violent year nears end.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Black and white journeys

"Hunters' Moon"


"Tuxedo Time"


Here they are, 4 x 4 acrylics for the January-tehemded black and white show at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in @Paseo Arts District, OKC.

Everything looks better in black and white

"Call of the  Wild," 4 x 4 acrylic on canvas

 "Everything looks better in black and white." One version of "Kodachrome," by Simon and Garfunkel, is my theme for our members January -themed group show at In Your Eye Studio & Gallery in @PaseoArtsDistrict

"Polar Express"

an old journalist /photographer who took lots of photos using Tri-x film, I learned to look in black and white for the photos that would print well in newspapers. Thus challenged, here are two on, 4 x 4 acrylic on canvas, and  "Polar Express." More and larger coming!

11 days 'til Christmas, as time passes

"Season of changes," 5 x 7 acrylic Christmas card

As winter approaches, and the moon announces another season, and thoughts turn to Christmas, change fills the air, as we pass though gates of time in our lives.
Remembering what is past, valuing thee present, hoping for a future, the season's bright holiday lights symbolize all three moods.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

The blog returns, 12 days 'til Christmas

"Mountain Moonrise," 5 x 7 Christmas card

The blog is back, after almost three months of mishaps and adventures and plenty of painting.

Blame my computer which crashed just after Sept. 18, and was not reparable--after 13 years. I didn't want to replace it immediately because of the cost, and I'm very experienced at procrastinating. Even when I finally indebted myself for a new one, about a month ago, I still couldn't seem to move myself to the keyboard.

But today, as Christmas nears, I made myself return to my tradition of posting my Christmas card countdown. Our family list of cards to send approaches 100, and last year, instead of doing individual paintings for everyone, I bought a good printer, did about a dozen, printed them and mailed away. 

Today's post is one of about 11 originals this year, then printed to cover the lists that I and Susan keep. 

That's the story, the excuse, for bringing the blog back to life out of its hibernation.

The blog has obviously changed over the years as I have, and this will be the year with he fewest posts, although one year also had two months without publishing. 

I'll bring you up to date with photos and paintings before the year ends.