"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, April 28, 2023

Where Spirits Dwell, emotionally

"Where Spirits Dwell" -my friends Dr. Mary Carver, Dr. Christy Vincent. Blessed 

"Art is about emotion; if art  needs to be explained it is no longer art." 


Titles for paintings are sometime difficult to come by, and at other times they'are inherent.

So it was when I was commissioned to paint a retirement gift for great friend and spiritual  leader Dr. Christy Vincent, retiring from my dear former University of Central Oklahoma Department of Mass Communication this spring.

Honored and intimidated by the request from my dear friend  Dr. Mary Carver, chair of the department, it took time to find an appropriate subject. Christy and her husband Dr. Don Drew have been generous with my art in the past, and I didn't want to duplicate anything I'd done, especially with our love of New Mexico.

But Ghost Ranch and Georgia O'Keefe was on our mutual agenda  as I approached it. Thinking of my friend and her spirituality, of our love for New Mexico and art, of the Department and students and colleagues, and of Ghost Ranch, the title was in my head before I began. "Where Spirits Dwell."

That was the east part.

Research, my photos, and others, history, multiple angles and lighting and moods and emotions  gelled. Compositions came and went. Formats changed. Two failures consumed paint and canvas. Then spirits spoke, in human voices, about "having fun," and "paint what you feel."

Thus it was, picking colors, choosing a frame ahead of time, that emotion came together, along with editing--tweaking, revising, whatever--that the gift of emotion came together.

I've been doing this long enough to know the every painting has at least one story, multiple versions, and the outcome is often more than planned or expected.

That's more than one of the stories of this painting.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

A week of emotional travel

"Dawn on the Santa Fe Trail,"  New Mexico, 10 x 20 acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas

“Art is about emotion; if art needs to be explained it is no longer art." 


This was a week of emotional travel and rescue for me, thanks to fellow artists, paintings accomplished, a studio opening, compassionate advice, friends.

I don't think you can be an artist, of any type, and not have emotions. I love the quote by  Keith Richards when asked what he felt on stage. He replied, " I don't think, I feel."

A week ago, I was in the doldrums, working on a commission that was not going well, missing out on sales at Edmond Vibes. I was ready to quit, and be a greeter at Walmart. The downside of being open to emotion two-sided. You can't have positive without the other. 

"Sunset Road," loved by Ryan Day

on Friday  it changed. Friend, and wonderful multitalented artist Ryan Day, showed up at Paseo's First Friday at  In Your Eye Gallery for a great conversation. She then purchased my acrylic, "Sunset Road,"  and later bragged on it on social media.

Then her mother, Jennifer Lynn Farrar, a  Henry family friend and glass artist, bragged on it too, calling me a "hard-core artist" for painting in 105-degree heat last year during VIBES.

Stuck on the commission, and with the spark of attitude, and advice from my wife and a friend to "have fun," I revived it and finally finished it this weekend. Emotion.

And Friday, I got a call from Paseo Arts Association director Amanda Bleakley, offering me a studio space in the center. A dream, yes.

Then while studying another artist, I read this quote by Renoir. 

So this afternoon, painting from fun and a fav personal photo of New Mexico that is the header for my 14-year-old blog, I finished today's painting.   Emotion. Thankful.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Predators' eyes from the past

"Dinner Time," Snowy Owl, 6 x 6 acrylic on canvas

million years ago, owls were hunting in what is now Colorado. I learned that this week, searching for painting subjects.

The oldest owl fossil, a leg bone,  was dated from about five million years after the dinosaurs went extinct. An almost complete Skelton has been dated aat about 55 million. It was about five feet tall. The main difference in that bird and today's owls seems to be in its feet. It had an extra large toe talon, like Eagles, which is used to kill prey. Today's owls capture with their talons, but kill with their beaks.

 Throughout history, mankind has been snared by owls in mythology, religion and more. Their calls, their markings, their lives, their zoology, and especially their eyes, are captivating, even haunting.

"Breakfast time," Burrowing Owl, 6 x 6 acrylic, canvas

always caught my attention, hearing them at night, seeing them on back roads or in trees, in zoos, in videos, and especially now that my daughter Dallas has two independent bookstores in Canyon and Amarillo, Burrowing Owl books,, both full of lots of owl images and models. 

 Thus today's two acrylic paintings, available this Thursday at my show as Edmond Vibes at The Vault, and thereafter at In Your Eye Studio and Gallery in Paseo Arts District.

Here's looking at you, but not as well as they do.