Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

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


Una Senda Desconocido – A Path Unknown

Taos, 2/2019 – Last night I had a death dream.  I was with a group of people who knew they didn’t have long to live.  One girl stood out and we ended up having a short conversation.  She asked only one question.  “Are you afraid to die?”  My simple answer was an emphatic “No”!  After waking I stayed in bed – the house was cold and I pulled the covers around me.  Time to ponder my mortality.  Gradually I have been waking up out of the cloud of grief that has been my daily companion since the death of my son four years ago.  Four years seems like a long time, but it is only a nanosecond in “Mother Time”!

My conclusion is that I am not ready for that Big Easel in the Sky!  There are about twelve new oil studies all sketched and underpainted and ready to be completed.  From those I have strong feelings that several large pieces will emerge.  There is still so much I need to do!  What if it is all over?  The phone rang and Gabe Abrums from Chimayo Trading called to say that he had just sold a $2500 painting – the previous month he sold one of my major pieces called “Bearers of Light”.  Wake up!  Wake up!  And then there was an email from a lady named Valeria Teles who wrote a book called Fit for Joy.  She wants me to do a podcast with her.  Think about it – life came roaring back at me.  Time for a shower!

Death dreams don’t scare me.  They are more about the death of an old way of life, old ideas, old habits – CHANGE!  If you really live your life, take chances – take those empty-handed leaps into the Void, you experience a thousand deaths both large and small.  Many times those endings lead to a completely unimagined new way of being – a new life. 

Coincidentally 50 years ago this week I received my final divorce papers from the father of my children.  The divorce was definitely not something I wanted.   I actually grieved my girlish dreams of a happy marriage, happy children…a happy, uneventful life.   Again – tell God your plans and He just has a big belly laugh! Naively that Polish/Catholic guilt and shame would haunt me for years!  My friend Dan told me that writing this blog would lead me to forgiveness of others, but mostly I might learn to forgive myself!  Truth is there is so much more – a deeper understanding of events.  Most of all that my husband’s questionable choices eventually led me to New Mexico and the life I was meant to live in the first place – there are no accidents!

Am smiling – life has certainly turned around once again since moving back to Taos!  Am back at the easel with more ideas for new paintings –  head is full of new canvases and colors.   Such a gift!  My Art Gods have shaken me awake one more time!   Thinking about “Fit for Joy” – and all the times I ambled down that dark road looking desperately for Joy and Happiness!  That was then.  Now my philosophy is more “one day chicken, the next day feathers”.  Whatever I do, as long as there is breath in my old body (and I can still hold a paintbrush), it’s not over….live to paint and blog my adventures another day!

Note: Santa Fe, 1969 – My marriage was over and I was a single mother with three small children.  The old judgements of being a divorced mother threatened to hold me back.   All the more reason to focus on becoming an artist – put the blinders on, look straight ahead.  It was obvious that my secretarial skills would never be enough – art was the open door.  The Great Unknown….I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Sometimes just daily life is all the education one needs – the next three years were my crash course in Art and Life 101 – my New Beginning!!!