Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

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



5 December 2019 – Llano Quemado, New Mexico    Snowstorm predicted for today – all hunkered down and ready to hibernate.  The pantry and freezer are all filled up.  You would think I live a thousand miles from the nearest store…got caught in that great Chicago blizzard (’67 ?) with 3 hungry babies – have never been the same!  Taboret is jammed full of new paint tubes; the last canvas order arrived today – six 20″x20″ all ready for a couple coats of gesso this weekend.  Delightful surprise in my big red box of photos and source material gathered through the past few years.  At least ten images just hiding in plain sight. Sometimes they have to sit a while – waiting to “become” paintings.  A bunch of new Audible books on my iPad – going to reread Graham Hancock’s AMERICA BEFORE – love his work. Finish the 24″x12″ “Acequia” painting and two or three small auction pieces before the 15th and then shut down for two weeks of quiet preparation for the new work….sketches and underpaintings.  Let it snow!!!

Moving forward….just whisperings to my Art Gods about what I would like to accomplish in this coming New Year.  My living situation inspires me to work everyday.  Still organizing from the move, but plan to make the time at the easel a top priority.  Hoping to share more stories on this blog – next I want to write about my all-time favorite living artist, George Carlson. Made some important creative choices because of his work.  He lived in Taos as a young painter.  Did the most amazing pastels of the Tarahumara in Copper Canyon, Mexico.  Moved on to become an award-winning bronze sculptor – still painting large beautiful landscapes of the Channeled Scablands in Washington State.

George’s pastels made me want to try something new.  Bought my first set of Rowney pastels from England and spent quite a few happy years covered in multi-colored dust!  Ramon Kelly’s portraits, Carlson’s pastels and stories of the Tarahumara inspired my trip to Guatemala in 1991.  This was the height of the “civil war” in that country.  I heard a radio ad for an anthropological experience. Had just sold a big painting – I signed up and was on my way to the Mayan ruins in Central America!  Considering the fact that I have been agoraphobic all my life, there are a few more interesting stories to tell….machine guns everywhere and a scary Sunday morning at the Chinese money changer’s abode in Antigua!

Looking into my big red box of source materials brings back so many great memories of the places I have loved all these years.  Going into my stories of that life-changing time in Guatemala will be interesting especially in light of America’s current immigration policies.  The other day I heard that some of the asylum seekers are being turned away not to their own home countries, but to villages deep in the jungles of Guatemala! I thought this was a joke. The information sounded so insane – but I trusted the reporter enough to believe it could be true.
Looking forward to spending some snowy winter afternoons painting and storytelling – might be full of surprises!