Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

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


LLANO QUEMADO, NEW MEXICO – 13 October 2019  

The studios in Tesuque and Victor Court were not open to the sky and they were very claustrophobic.  Had talked with a friend and discussed a field trip north to Cimarron or the San Luis Valley.  Almost gasping for space – clouds, sunsets – mountains….views!  Saw some of George Carlson’s new paintings of  the Channeled Scablands in Washington State.  They are at once powerful and meditative – space and geological time.   Love his work.  He is my favorite living artist and has inspired me ever since he was a young painter in Taos.  His pastels of the Tarahumara in Copper Canyon prompted me to travel to Guatemala in 1991.  It is a long story…. Again I am inspired greatly by his current work.

A short field trip at sunset to explore my new neighborhood called Llano Quemado this past Tuesday.  My first impression was somewhat disappointing.  These three photos were the best from that evening.  Am not yet “attached” to this place.  Acres and acres of sagebrush, very old and abandoned adobes hidden behind heavily wired fences and gates. The grand view across the fields and small farms below is Taos Mountain at sunset.  The light is constantly changing….every second of every day.

An epiphany this morning – my prayers for light and open spaces have been answered!  This place is not about history or nostalgia – it is more ethereal, heavenly.  Would love to explain what I am feeling, but understanding eludes me.  The dramatic clouds of the monsoon are gone.  Skies are blue and cloudless this afternoon as they were earlier this week.  News of huge winter storms in Colorado.  Am patient – anticipating all the changes  this winter will bring.  Mountain snows tend to accentuate the geometry of the landscape….winter colors always surprise me in their soft beauty.  

Adapting – another cord of wood from Costilla on Sunday.  Paints and brushes at the ready! Here is my blank canvas…just waiting.  In a way I am a stranger to this time and place.  I have never been 80 and I don’t know how to navigate my way through this uncertainty. One day at a time, one step at a time.  There are no accidents.  This new place feels like a gift – something I didn’t earn.  Perhaps all that brought me here is just plain Grace…