Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

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

WORD PAINTINGS #52 – Jan. l, 2019 – Taos, New Mexico


Taos, New Mexico – 1 January 2019 – Snowflakes the size of nickels this morning!  They float silently; I am floating with them.  Thinking of last year at this time – no snow at all! Talk of drought, forest fires….collective panic.  Not this year!!  These little puffs of clouds are landing on what was another seven inches of SNOW!  Amazing Grace!

6 January 2019 – Another snowy Sunday morning – quiet, peaceful – just the friendly neighborhood crows making themselves known.   Trying to convince myself that it is important for me to keep up with this blog and then I block it out for a couple of weeks.  The urge to keep writing returns.  It is a mystery to me….

Yesterday I read a short handwritten note to young women artists by the great abstract painter, Agnes Martin.  I was inspired.  Just now I found this editorial about her on HOW TO BE AN ARTIST.  She talked about living life above the line – finding a level of happiness.  My current word for happiness is “contentment”.  Perhaps that is my struggle with these blog posts.  I am recalling some very sad and painful times.  Strangely the sad times fed the art.  Are these writings a way for me to understand how even the painful times led to a greater commitment to my work?

My beautiful son, John, died on Christmas Eve four years ago. He was 49.  Each holiday season since has been a struggle to keep myself out of that black pit of despair so familiar to any parent who has lost a beloved child.  Perhaps this is where I hit the wall.  I am remembering all the other difficulties, trying to convince myself that I can live through this one, too.  In the holidays since his death I have invited friends over.  I realized that I was trying to prove that tragedy happened, but I was still okay.  It is those desperate, sweaty attempts to still be okay” which end up being my downfall.    It is a distraction and a cover-up.  Finally I knew I had to go it alone and just face my feelings of loss and sadness.  Got my groceries in for the duration, cut off the phone calls and just let myself grieve!  It is indescribable!

It is obvious to me now that this part of my life is the biggest blank canvas I have ever put on my easel.  There is no roadmap.  Will this “thing” – my Art Thing save me one more time?  I don’t know.  I am no longer young and not as resilient as I was before.  In all my years of painting last year was my least productive.   My feelings caught up with me.  Truthfully I gave in to the sorrow.  The short trip I had with my friend Geraint recently wakened a little spark.  200 photographs of my favorite places in and around Truchas resulted in about 15 small underpaintings – studies from that trip.  Am I inspired yet?  I don’t know.

The River of Creation – Years ago whenever I felt stuck for ideas or energy, I imagined this fast moving river that flowed under everything.  In those dark waters were all the thoughts, ideas, inspirations that came to my favorite artists – Degas, Cassatt, Van Gogh, Rodin – too many to count; I was comforted to know that their sparks of creation would always be there every time I needed to feel that fire in my belly.  What I know for sure is that it takes that first step to begin again.  Making art is the way I breathe – it is my wholeness.  My word for this year is “Grace” – I have been lifted up through many difficulties – it is time for me to just allow and trust my Art Gods one more time.

Have no idea where this will take me – my intentions are to be clear and honest.  Since this is another place of profound change, perhaps I need to just move forward for a time….and refer to my past experiences more incidentally….stream of consciousness seems to be working for now.

A new year – my place of New Beginnings – empty-handed leap into the Great Unknown…..