Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

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



Llano Quemado, N.M. – 27 July 2019This year’s monsoon season seems to be happening all around me, only one brief
storm Thursday afternoon.  No reason for complaint – have lived in this
new studio for about ten days. Surrounded by mountains, I sit on an
old railroad bench under the portal and watch the rain clouds build for
the afternoon storms. At dinnertime I can sit at the dining room table and watch the sun set.  One more time I am convinced that there
are gifts hidden behind life’s darkest times!

unpacking boxes.  Setting up my work area today – putting out my brushes
and paints.  Plenty of room for my large easel which can now be raised
about three more feet to accommodate large canvases.  Hoping to set up a
new palette to start work early next week.  Also planning to restart my
print business again – a bright sunny room for the computer and print
bins.  Another
room has been converted to workspace for framing and storage.
And….wait for it….a dishwasher!!!  My Art Gods have outdone
themselves this time!

Arrived at the tail end of our
first monsoon season – August, 1967.  My grandmother’s greatest concern
as we left Chicago was that I wouldn’t be able to speak the language in
this foreign land!  My twin daughters were six months old and their
brother, John, was a year and a half!  Was so tired those first
days….as the kidlets napped, I would sit on the front steps of that
old adobe house on Alegre Street and wonder how the hell I landed on
this alien planet called Santa Fe, New Mexico!  The altitude required
adjustment and my body just did not want to keep up with the change.
Cold weather in the morning, warm and sunny until the dark clouds built
up in the early afternoon and the heavy rains began.  Cold evenings.
Bought my first cord of mixed pinon and cedar logs for $50.00!  It was
not apparent to me then that this strange place was where my Real Life
would happen!

Here I am on the edge of my 52nd year of
New Beginnings. Now what?  Well, this new place is so full of promise.
Just a little south of Taos proper and Ranchos de Taos, Llano Quemado
is on a rim road; there is one spot on the drive to the house where I
can look out the car window and my view encompasses the great big New
Mexico sky, Taos Mountain, the fields and farms in the valley below.
Yes, I have already visualized this painting in my head – making the
sketches, mixing the colors! Imagining that little valley as the
colors change in a few weeks… me palpitations!

true Virgo, I do not enjoy sudden changes, and once again I am
continually surprised.  These past three months have left me breathless!
A life and death rescue surgery in April, an unexpected  eviction from
the house on Victor Court  and SURPRISE, SURPRISE!!!!  I AM STILL VERY
MUCH ALIVE in this dream house with views that stir my soul every day!
Remembering the message in that wonderful book by Amy Sher, This is How I Save My Life – be courageous and as long as there is breath in this body, keep moving – KEEP PAINTING!  Beyond grateful!