Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

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


Wakened to another snow storm this morning….wind blowing, hints of a blizzard.  Made a great cup of coffee and crawled back into bed.  Yesterday my friend Doug and I went to Orlando’s my favorite New Mexican restaurant – enchiladas with red and green chile!  Perfection!  Back at the studio Doug took the above photo – proof to myself that I am REAL!  Survived another holiday season!  Back at the easel!  Planning to put new paints out on my palette this morning.  Yes, I am still alive!

My first morning thought was a long ago memory which I believe was triggered by that photo above.  I was 19 – on a movie date with a really good looking and very kind law student from Notre Dame.  Standing in front of the Chicago Theatre in the Loop he began to tell me his hopes for our relationship.  Honestly I have thought of him so many times through the years.  He was offering me a “normal” life!!!   That night so long ago I told him I couldn’t be involved with anyone because I was going to be an artist!  Whenever life takes a turn into darkness, I think of his calm and steady presence with a little pang of regret…what could have been.

It has been my habit for many years to “hibernate” through the winter. Around the beginning of November I make a list of the art supplies I will need to carry me through to the following spring.  Oil paints, turpentine, brushes, canvases, frames – everything necessary to make more paintings.  An old habit from when I lived on the ranch in Truchas, I fill up the freezer and the pantry.  Oh, and books!!! I buy lots of books – stacks and stacks!  Art supplies, food and books – what else is there?…..can’t forget Music!!!

So much of me was lost or forgotten when my son died.  Talked to my daughter the other day.  She is still grieving, as am I.  Described myself as a broken clay pot, smashed to pieces.  Even in good hands the repair is not quite the same – the pieces don’t fit together as they did before.  Little by little life is being returned to my body.  In the beginning I wanted everything to go back the way it was before that night John died.  An added burden was trying to appear “okay” for family and friends.  Nothing was okay and life will never be the same ever again!  Acceptance is the key to a new beginning!

So, here I am – still in bed on this beautiful snowy morning.  Finished my coffee.  Enough art supplies to see me through to Easter, stacks of books, food in the pantry and Music.  Time to rise and shine!  Looked at the four small studies on my easel – planning to finish the one of the little shady lane near the church in Arroyo Seco.   More work on my website this afternoon – working on a new store on eBay to sell prints and paintings.  Haven’t paid much attention to the more practical things in life for the past four years.  Getting back on my thread.

Remembering the book I read recently “How I Save My Life – a true story of Finding Everything When you are Willing to Try Anything” by Amy B. Scher.  Her story inspired me to wake up!  As long as there is breath in our bodies, we need to keep moving!!!!  Somehow I have clicked into a cell memory – the paintbrush sets comfortably in my hand again.  The easel no longer looks like an instrument of torture – I am in the process of making friends with my new reality.  Planning to resurface some time around Easter…Life is good!

Digging into the past again (Santa Fe 1968-1972) in future blogs – stay tuned….