Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

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



20 May 2020 – Llano Quemado, New Mexico – Turned off the heat, opened the windows, changed the bed – did the laundry.  Washed my summer painting clothes – linen pants, blue jeans.  Doing simple tasks for the past two weeks, trying to gain some equilibrium in what is being called our “new normal”. Adjustments – adapting…patience.  Quietly listening, observing. 

Finished my Book of Last Wishes – a seven year coming to Jesus admission that I will not live forever.  A big relief – feeling lighter – it is done.  Now I can move onto this next phase of my life without leaving a mess behind when I go to that Big Easel in the Sky.  At peace.

The news is still dark and disturbing.  Much parsing of our Very Stable Genius’ every word.  I sometimes stare in awe at the twisting and turning of the hosts of news programs and pundits trying so hard to make sense of insanity. Wonder how many people believe this craziness is normal.  Remembering an old Alan Bates movie The King of Hearts – at the end he knocked on the door of the insane asylum and begged to be taken in -obviously the people in that building were saner than the world he was leaving behind!  I got that feeling when I watched the gun-toting yahoos in the Michigan State House.  Could all this chaos and anger over a pandemic eventually morph into a civil war?  Sadly this time is rich in opportunity for those who want their own version of America the Beautiful!

Still clearing up little piles of Life around the house – odds and ends left over from the move last year.  So strange to be doing this alone.  Have had helpers for over five years ever since John died.  Long time friends and special people are Doug and Hope; it is unusual now to just meet them at the door avoiding our easy routine of chores and sharing lunches and good conversation.  Told them we will go back to our old routine the middle of June – wearing masks and keeping our physical distance.  In the meantime it has been very good for me to mop floors and do laundry – put my house in order.  I am so much stronger – my learned helplessness has been replaced by a new and healthy sense of independence – I love it!

What I know for sure is that life will never go back to “normal” after this.  Feeling that every person, every family will need to find their own path through this unfamiliar forest – no trail of breadcrumbs! Our old ways have come to an end.  Strangely this is a very hopeful time….this New Beginning hasn’t taken shape.  Everything is happening so fast that we are still in a state of shock.  Mandatory hibernation gives us all the opportunity to assess our values – a time for physical and moral housecleaning.  What to keep – what to leave behind….

Personally I plan to leave behind the image of myself at the age of 40.  My mind still makes plans every morning for that younger version of myself.  Wishful thinking.  Those days of being Superwoman – I could go to the grocery store in the morning, clean the whole house, bake four loaves of bread before the children came home from school.  I worked at the law office and painted at night after the kids were in bed.  Art shows, galleries – How the hell did I do it?  I was a Human Doing!

Don’t laugh – when all this started, panic took over.  All the talk of food shortages, scarcity.  I decided to make a victory garden.  Bought many envelopes and bags of seeds – grow bags.  Just as I was on the verge of making an order for soil and compost at Ace Hardware, I watched a video made by a local man who has a one acre “farm” which took him seven years to build!  Faced with the choice of filling up the blank canvases stacked up all over my studio space, or becoming Mrs. Greenjeans, I gave the grow bags and seed potatoes to my friend Hope and sent the seeds to my friends in Albuquerque.  They are thrilled and I am free to mix up some new painting medium today and get on with my real work, the paintings.  “FOCUS” is my word of the day. It is entirely possible that I still have some surprises to offer!

Stay healthy, my friends – imagine this Brave New World….oh, the Wonder of it All!!!!