Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

How I Came to New Mexico and learned about Art and Life


Looking back on all my years at the easel, I have only met two or three artists as generous as Jan Herring.  She poured information into us – new words, new methods, technique.  No question went unanswered.  Our class came together as strangers and when Friday came around we had shared some very precious hours – no bitching, no gossip – just five days of colorful discussions about painting!  We became Soul Sisters in Spirit.  Time to pack up my brushes and wet paintings and go home to my babies.   My roomate’s mother gave me a lift back to the little house on Alegre Street.
Return to the Real World!  The house was filled with moving boxes!  We were at the very end of Alegre Street and much of the neighborhood’s effluent had backed up into our bathtub while I was away.  My husband had been negotiating with a fellow who “flipped” houses and we were moving to Sombrio Drive in a fairly new subdivision called Casa Solana.  Heaven awaited us. The home was newer, lighter, brighter – no floor furnaces! My spirits lifted.  The washer and dryer was in the family room and I found an old worktable in the backyard, just perfect for paints and brushes.   I mentally marked my my new painting territory near a back window. A closed backyard for the babies!  If we stood tippy-toe at the front window, we could see the mountain known as Old Baldy.  One of the realtor’s selling points – a house with a view.   Life was moving swiftly and while my little ones napped, I packed up their clothes and toys and hoped this move would bring us all to a better place.
There was still a coldness in my marriage.  So much had happened – the forced move from Chicago, the workshop and now another move.   I still felt wounded, betrayed and very tired. All the changes and chaos didn’t give us time to even discuss how to move forward as a couple.   I would look across the dinner table and know that this man was a stranger to me.  I didn’t know it then, but the workshop had altered my little world – nothing would ever be the same.  I had changed profoundly.  It was still my intention to try to be a good partner – keep the children happy, keep a good home – and paint when there was time.  In the back of my mind I had an idea that perhaps I could improve enough to be able to sell some work and bring in some extra income.  It was also my hope that we might slowly come together – become a real family.  Right now we were like new roomates trying to get acquainted with one another.  Mountains to climb….