Friday, August 16, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #70 - DANCING WITH MY EASEL

Llano Quemado, New Mexico - 8/16/19 - My synapses are firing again!!! It has been such a long time since I felt connected to my easel.  It is almost human - stares at me accusingly if I am not working, laughs at my avoidance routines, makes me feel guilty for taking a nap when I should be painting!!

Moving to this new house makes all the difference - I can feel the FLOW!!! CREATIVITY!!!  Watching the monsoon clouds build all around me every afternoon is opening my heart.  Time stopped for me when my son died five years ago and the grief took its toll.  Living in two houses where I was unable to see clouds, no changing skies; every sunset was blocked from view - there  was little color.   Perhaps I needed that containment - a closed in place to hold my grief....a time to look inward.

It is wild, but I know I dreamed this house into being. WAKE UP!  feel the earth around me.  Made the initial sketch on the 48"x36" canvas now on my big studio easel.  Reviving my old habit of posting progress notes to my Art Journal - http://donnaclair.blogspot.com/


Time to open up and share - give it all I got!!  This painting is called Don Gregorio's Winter Field - the view across from my little adobe studio in Truchas so long ago.  Did a small 10"x8" sketch of it last year - and the image became real to me again demanding a larger canvas - more space - meditation on a winter's morning.  Some places will stay in my heart forever.

Now that my big easel has had its wounds from the moving van healed, it is ready to go to work again, and so am I!  Dancing with my easel will begin every morning - do the laundry, pay the bills, do the dishes, make some phone calls. PAINT! -  dance, dance, dance.  Oh, Donna!  Just sit down - that easel is not a rack, it is your oldest friend - there is an adventure in that blank canvas and just DO IT!!!  At the end of the day, like a health nut doing a thousand push ups, relief; a sense of accomplishment....hard won achievement.

Eyes Wide Open....

Sunday, August 11, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #69 - HEAVEN, I'M IN HEAVEN!


Llano Quemado, New Mexico 8/11/2019 - Moved into this new studio/home exactly three weeks ago.  Most of the moving boxes are gone - now it is down to sorting and putting things where they belong.  Windows everywhere -  360 deg. views - monsoon clouds and spectacular sunsets.  Last night hellacious thunder and lightning.  Three easels are standing at attention by the large front window and ready to go...setting up my new palette  first thing tomorrow morning.  Camera is out and at the ready for these amazing cloud formations.  "Inspiration" is the word of the day.  In the meantime I've decided to revive auctions for my small paintings - my intention is to post one or two every week - enjoy!  Hug an artist today!

Best regards, Donna
www.donnaclairart.com
(575)758-1580
 


5 DAY AUCTION - PILAR, NEW MEXICO - NEW 8"X6" ORIGINAL OIL ON LINEN PANEL, UNFRAMED  - Sold
 


NEW 5-DAY AUCTION - ROVIN' RIVER, 8"X6" Original Oil on Panel, unframed - Sold 

Friday, August 9, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #68 - THE SHAMAN'S BLESSING

9 August 2019 - Llano Quemado, New Mexico.....Back in the day I had close connections in El Paso.  And today I am thinking of the people who live there.  Some of my best days were spent selling paintings, having lunch at Juliio's in Juarez, grocery shopping at the Pronaf - making new friends on both sides of the border.  Am trying to imagine what it has been like after the detentions, children in cages and now a massacre!  What do these abominations do to a person's heart, a community's soul? How can any parent send their children to school everyday with the fear they might be harmed or killed? What have we become? 

I was born in the midwest and lived both in Chicago and Milwaukee until I was in my late twenties.  My strict German Catholic father was Archie Bunker on steroids -  the only difference was that he wasn't funny.  He went berserk when Cassius Clay became a Muslim and changed his name to Muhammed Ali.  After the WWII many DPs (displaced persons) immigrated from Europe. Tenants in our four flat house on 7th Street were not at all kind to the Polish family who fled Warsaw without a dime to their name.  Never once did they consider the horrors of their life in "the old country".  The man made holes through the wooden coal bins in the basement to steal just enough to keep the furnace going so his wife and children were kept warm.  His neighbors were neither welcoming or kind.   Eventually they were driven off to some other neighborhood - hopefully where everyone spoke their language.

Gratefully my Road of Life opened and circumstances forced my move to New Mexico in 1967.  Was I afraid of "the Other"?  Definitely, but I also was aware that I was a guest in this place where most of my neighbors and their families - Hispanic and Native American - lived on this land for centuries.  Did I make mistakes? Did I offend sometimes because I was ignorant to the culture and history of my new home?  A Big Yes!!!  I have been a racial minority in Santa Fe, Truchas and Taos.  My life has been greatly enriched by the diversity - and after 52 years in this place, I am still a most Grateful Guest.

Many years ago my beautiful friend Leonila Serna invited me to a special Mass at San Geronimo Church on Taos Pueblo.  A visiting shaman from one of the northern tribes had been invited to speak to the congregants that Sunday,  Leonila is a special friend.  Over 30 years we have shared our stories. On that particular Sunday, she knew I was going through some difficult days.  The Mass was quiet; the atmosphere was otherworldly.  The shaman/priest was a large presence - strong piercing eyes and large beautiful hands.  His Spirit was Peaceful.  As Mass was ending, we were all invited to receive his blessing.  He touched my forehead and spoke a prayer in his native language.  At that moment I felt changed to my core.  I knelt in the pew afterward, and sobbed.   Some deep hurt and pain was healed that morning.  The memory of the holy man lives in me still.  Sometimes I wonder how anyone can live without "The Other"!

Am rambling this morning - trying to understand why people hate so fiercely - how that hatred would call them to  unspeakable violence.  El Paso will never be the same happy place I knew so long ago.  It is forever changed by this recent trauma.  Personally I feel poisoned by the hatred.  Can't call this depression, but I am moving toward a degree of hopelessness over our current politics never before experienced.  I am sad.  Keep thinking of John Lennon's song "Imagine" - 

My imagination takes me to a place of openness....of welcoming The Other.  Seeing the soul in the eyes of anyone we meet.... you will say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #67 - A BLANK PAGE IN MY BOOK OF LIFE




30 July 2019 - Llano Quemado, N.M.   How do you eat an elephant? .....one bite at a time!  Heard this expression years ago.  It is so good to be reminded that whenever Life comes at me in big, unmanageable chunks, I need to stop whatever I thought needed to be done immediately and just sit quietly or take a good, long nap!

Unpacked the carton with all my oil paints yesterday; organized my brushes in their jars - tried to imagine the best ways to arrange the easels and worktables. Updated my eBay Store in preparation to expand the print section.  At 6PM a carpenter-like lady showed up from Wayfair to assemble a dresser and chair - very complicated - she finished her work at 10:30PM. Hot and tired, we were both relieved when those jobs were done.  She was really happy to start her car at head toward home.  All revved up from all the activity, finally fell asleep about 2AM.  Today is Zombie Time!

Okay - some of the cartons can wait.  I really want to charge up my camera with its brand new wide angle zoom lens and photograph my new surroundings.  The other night a truly spectacular sunset which seemed to last for hours.  Low clouds remained from the afternoon rains.  At first the sky turned yellow as the sun began to lower toward the horizon. Pinks, purples, mauve, yellows, blues - blue pink, blue purple, soft yellow - some clouds in shadow, dark blues and purples....every so often my heart would stop and I had to look away!  It has been years and years since sunsets were part of my everyday existence.  The last time was when I lived in Susie Romero's little adobe in the village of Truchas....over 25 years ago.  It hurts to think it took so long to find this place.    Some rare heavenly gifts should not be photographed or painted...just swallow the lump in the throat and say "Thank You!" 
Perhaps the waiting was all part of the Big Plan.
 
How do I begin to write on this completely blank page in my Book of Life?  Have noticed that I brought most of my precious things -  books, art supplies, my work pants and some new flannel shirts.  Am noticing that these new rooms - each one with a view of clouds and mountains, sunrises and sunsets - have blotted out the ever-present darkness of the last few years. Is it possible that some parts of my sadness was left behind?   

Stream of consciousness - a blank page....answers to my questions.  Now is the time to gather my source material for my winter work.  A fireplace in the studio, a cup of coffee - the familiar odors of  linseed oil and turpentine....close the door and start all over one more time.  Yes, some of the cartons can wait.  One bite at a time....small bits and pieces - progress, not perfection!   Just now a phone call to my bestest photo buddy to schedule an afternoon of "roaming" - start small, start over and see what happens.

The Mayans believe the most sacred places on earth are at the feet of great mountains.   Today I am surrounded by mountains.  This is now my special place.  I try to be as honest as possible in my work and paint what I believe - being close to nature heals, that silence heals and that art has the capacity to uplift our spirits and bring us to a better place.  All essential to our "immense journey" - Peace......

Photo: Donna Clair Original Oil - LISTENING TO MOUNTAINS

Saturday, July 27, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #66 - FIFTY-TWO MONSOONS


Llano Quemado, N.M. - 27 July 2019 - This year's monsoon season seems to be happening all around me, only one brief storm Thursday afternoon.  No reason for complaint - have lived in this new studio for about ten days. Surrounded by mountains, I sit on an old railroad bench under the portal and watch the rain clouds build for the afternoon storms. At dinnertime I can sit at the dining room table and watch the sun set.  One more time I am convinced that there are gifts hidden behind life's darkest times!

Still unpacking boxes.  Setting up my work area today - putting out my brushes and paints.  Plenty of room for my large easel which can now be raised about three more feet to accommodate large canvases.  Hoping to set up a new palette to start work early next week.  Also planning to restart my print business again - a bright sunny room for the computer and print bins.  Another room has been converted to workspace for framing and storage.  And....wait for it....a dishwasher!!!  My Art Gods have outdone themselves this time!

Arrived at the tail end of our first monsoon season - August, 1967.  My grandmother's greatest concern as we left Chicago was that I wouldn't be able to speak the language in this foreign land!  My twin daughters were six months old and their brother, John, was a year and a half!  Was so tired those first days....as the kidlets napped, I would sit on the front steps of that old adobe house on Alegre Street and wonder how the hell I landed on this alien planet called Santa Fe, New Mexico!  The altitude required adjustment and my body just did not want to keep up with the change.  Cold weather in the morning, warm and sunny until the dark clouds built up in the early afternoon and the heavy rains began.  Cold evenings.  Bought my first cord of mixed pinon and cedar logs for $50.00!  It was not apparent to me then that this strange place was where my Real Life would happen!

Here I am on the edge of my 52nd year of New Beginnings. Now what?  Well, this new place is so full of promise.  Just a little south of Taos proper and Ranchos de Taos, Llano Quemado is on a rim road; there is one spot on the drive to the house where I can look out the car window and my view encompasses the great big New Mexico sky, Taos Mountain, the fields and farms in the valley below. Yes, I have already visualized this painting in my head - making the sketches, mixing the colors! Imagining that little valley as the colors change in a few weeks.....gives me palpitations!

A true Virgo, I do not enjoy sudden changes, and once again I am continually surprised.  These past three months have left me breathless! A life and death rescue surgery in April, an unexpected  eviction from the house on Victor Court  and SURPRISE, SURPRISE!!!!  I AM STILL VERY MUCH ALIVE in this dream house with views that stir my soul every day!  Remembering the message in that wonderful book by Amy Sher, This is How I Save My Life - be courageous and as long as there is breath in this body, keep moving - KEEP PAINTING!  Beyond grateful!


Sunday, July 14, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS # 65 - LEAVING SANTISTEVAN LANE


Taos, New Mezico - Sunday morning, 14 July 2019.  Have tried not to think too much about my departure from this place - this move was not planned - it was harsh and sudden.    Two months after my surgery, I was basically evicted.  AAAArgh!  Santistevan Lane has been my home for 25 years - 23 years at 313 and two at this little place just down the street. It is said, and I am a firm believer, that you create your own reality!  In my heart I knew this was not was not my forever place - it has been a half-way house where I could heal.  It has gently protected and contained me for the past two years and I will always be grateful for its safety and comfort.  However the clouds and the mountains have been hiding - I know they are there, but my view has literally been blocked.  So again, what appears to be another speed bump on the road of life, turns out to be a blessing in disguise!  

I need to see and feel open space in order to do my work. Still missing my kitchen window at 313 - looking across the backyard to the mountains leading into the Pecos Wilderness.  Many paintings were made from that view - all seasons and all times, it was ever changing.... morning light, sunset glow.  I still carry it with me....

Surrounded by moving boxes this morning....a wonderful cup of coffee.  Had a good night's sleep.  Not really tired.  Wakened yesterday to a feeling of deep gratitude for just being alive. On that emergency plane ride to the hospital in Colorado, I totally surrendered to whatever my Art Gods were planning - the Big Easel in the Sky, or more time to make more paintings.  It is obvious now that I have more time - what a GIFT!!!

Another empty-handed leap into the void!  Moving into a real studio space -large, light, airy, open!  360 degree views of the sky - a few mountains in the distance, the rim road, below a valley of lush green fields - just waiting to be painted!   Excited to start using my new wide angle zoom lens.  The fall colors are fast approaching.  Gabe Abrums at Chimayo Trading is expanding his wall space by five rooms and wants some larger work!   Visions of clouds on canvas - just big floaty clouds, dark blowy storms, rosy sunsets!   Yes, it is so good to be alive!

Some of my best work has been done here on Santistevan Lane - touch the walls, say "thank you" for sheltering me - I am truly grateful.  In a few days life will move on for me one more time.  Planning to leave behind the "old me".  Taking my paints and brushes to a whole New Beginning.... a delicious mystery!!  Never a dull moment.... 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

WORD PAINTINGS #64 - LIFE IS FULL OF SURPRISES!




Seven days in the hospital and finally I was told I could go home.  Said goodbye to all the wonderful nurses and aides on the Trauma Ward.  Wheelchair to the parking lot and reintroduced to brilliant sunshine - clouds, fresh air.  A friend drove the shortest route back to Taos.  To my great surprise, I was alive!!!! The nurses told me I was strong - recovery would take  a full six months - but I was otherwise quite healthy.

The landscape revived me.  Several deep, deep breaths, a few quiet tears and my heart was back in my body!  As we neared the Colorado/New Mexico border, the landscape opened to miles and miles of fields and tall mountains.  Just past Walsenburg to the left of the highway loomed Spanish Peaks!!!    Patches of snow still clung to the side of the mountains....dark clouds hovered over the top of the them like a  crown!  "Spanish Peaks. The Spanish Peaks are a pair of prominent mountains located in southwestern Huerfano County, Colorado. The Ute Indians named them Huajatolla (pronounced Wa-ha-toy-a), meaning "two breasts" or "breasts of the Earth".  I felt Mother Earth - the feminine - so strongly as we drove past.  When I researched the history, I was not surprised!

So many changes! Mountain Home Health nurses visited three times a week. Made new women friends.  Felicia, Jenny, Keely; as in the hospital, I was in the arms of angels!  Felicia kept telling me that I was strong and that God had saved me for a purpose.  God and I had not been on friendly terms since the death of my son - I had lost my faith and the magic of believing and trusting the ground beneath my feet.       

These past six years have been tumultuous. Arriving back home to this little house on Victor Court there was a feeling of peace that I hadn't felt for a very long time.  The early evening sun glowed on my two easels, the paintings on the walls welcomed me as old friends.  Many posts ago I wrote "Just tell God your plans and He laughs!"  The 12th of May was quite an amazing day - my whole life changed again in a matter of hours.  Felicia and Megs, her nurse in training, visited for the last time to have me sign discharge papers - they brought lunch.  We had some great laughs and  even better hugs.

Right after the nurses left the phone rang and I was informed this little nest of mine was being sold - my fourth move in six years.  During that phone call there was a beep - another call.  Gabe Abrums from Chimayo Trading in Ranchos de Taos Plaza and asked if I could do some oils of Ranchos de Taos - my answer was "yes"!    In the meantime my new 30"x40" RAIN OF GOLD (see above) was completed last week and sits on my big easel as it dries - it is a winner!  Gabe will pick it up on Monday  as soon as it is varnished and signed.

Next day I went on Craig's list, there were two houses for rent .  One house sits above the Ranchos Valley  (there are no accidents) - all I have to do is walk to the end of the driveway - summer, spring or fall and there are fields just waiting to be painted! 

My friends Dan and Doug were here today.  Dan fixed the computer - iCloud blackmailed me into buying 2 more Terrabytes of computer storage space for $9.99 a month.  Doug packed 14 boxes from my studio workroom - frames and canvases.  I packed up the brushes and some packets of flower seeds - am told it is okay for me to have a garden in this new place - now I can watch things grow and watch sunset clouds float by.....stay tuned.  As long as there is breath in your body, keep moving! That Big Easel in the Sky will have to wait.

WORD PAINTINGS #70 - DANCING WITH MY EASEL

Llano Quemado, New Mexico - 8/16/19 - My synapses are firing again!!! It has been such a long time since I felt connected to my easel.  It...