Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

The New Year celebrations were very quiet on Alegre Street that year.  It was a time of adjustment, settling into routines. The babies were growing fast and developing their own personalities.  I loved watching them; every day there was something new.  They were funny little people and I enjoyed being their mother. Although I was excited by the newness of Santa Fe, I did not have a sense of belonging anywhere.  Winter gave way to spring and when the snow melted, the same old weedy yard stared back at me…I was depressed.

We celebrated my son’s third birthday at the end of May.  The following month I would be taking a bus to Cloudcroft for the painting workshop with Jan Herring.  She sent a list of supplies I would need and we headed to Langell’s Art Store in Albuquerque.  The place was huge and the smell of turpentine and oil paints woke me up to life again.  I got out that little wooden box and filled it with the new paint tubes and brushes.  My only reservations were in leaving the babies for a week, but I was assured that their dad and Ernie would take good care of them.

This was an opportunity for me to learn how to paint!  It is one thing to want to be an artist; you can talk about it, dress like an artist, but doing art takes time and dedication.  The “craft of painting” is a life-long learning process.  I recognized this opportunity as my New Beginning.  All kinds of emotions went through me the day I boarded that Greyhound Bus…in the back of my mind I still heard my father’s voice saying “No daughter of mine will be an artist”!  What I realized then is that choosing art as a way of being is the ultimate act of rebellion.  I carried with me a little book of Willa Cather’s short stories The Troll Garden and read “Flavia’s Artist”.  This was definitely my empty-handed leap into the Great Unknown – I had no idea that this was the real beginning of the rest of my life!

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