Donna Clair

Southwest Contemporary Artist

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


           WORD PAINTINGS #122 (How I Came to New Mexico and Learned About Art and Life)


            A MAN IS RICH AS HIS WOODPILE (From the High Road, Northern New Mexico)


WORD PAINTINGS #122 (How I Came to New Mexico and Learned About Art and Life)

5 June 2022 (Llano Quemado, New Mexico) – A perfectly beautiful Sunday morning!  Finally the sky is clear of smoke!  Two days ago storm clouds began to form, but alas no rain.  There are still 2843 people fighting the blaze which has now spread to 317,571 acres.  Thanks to all the firefighters and fire personnel here from all over the country the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak Fire is 65% contained.  Saw the first plumes of smoke from my kitchen window on April 5th – and here we are now.  Many days of heavy smoke and fear of being the next town to be evacuated.  

Sadly large parts of  the northern New Mexico way of life going back to the earliest days will never be replaced…gone forever.  With it goes part of my heart.  One Sunday about three weeks ago the losses took their toll and I broke down.  These places have been my life for the past 55 years. Even more than the landscape it has been the culture of these villages that has healed and sustained me.  Yes, a man truly is as rich as the size of his woodpile in this little part of the world and large parts of fields and forest are now gone.  Homes that have withstood the elements for 100 or 200 years no longer exist and many have to find a new place to live – a new way of living. The transition might be impossible for some families.  So far the communities surrounding the fires have all pitched in with food and clothing – there is hope out there!  We have come together for our neighbors!

Finally accepting that the pandemic will be with us for a long time.  On to the next crisis – the war in Ukraine.  This morning Putin warned the west (meaning the U.S.) not to send long range missles or else!  Or else what?  Nuclear retaliation?  The NRA Convention met the weekend after the Uvalde massacre – a group of men who want you to believe in their “manhood” – more balls than brains.  Can’t image the fear any child feels going into a classroom today. I remember hiding under my desk for fear of an atom bomb attack.  How does any parent drop their child at school in the morning continue on with the rest of their day?  Damn this blood and guts culture of ours!!!!  Damn the stupidity!!!

Haven’t been able to paint for about six weeks.  Wracking my brain to find hope for this world of ours.  There are no real solutions out there.  Politicians and religious leaders don’t have the answers, they are too busy fighting with each other.  Instead of uniting in strength in order to make things better, they allow differences to tear them apart.  The outlook is definitely dark and gloomy.  Born on 3 September 1939 the first part of my life was all about war – now I realize that it isn’t peace that some of our world leaders seek, but profit.  There is big money in war and the guns that kill.  How many wars have there been since 1939??? – too many to remember.

“The images of peace are ephemeral. The language of peace is
subtle. The reasons for peace, the definitions of peace, the very idea
of peace have to be invented, and invented again.

Children, everybody, here’s what to do during war: In a time of
destruction, create something. A poem. A parade. A community. A school. A
vow. A moral principle. One peaceful moment.”

—From THE FIFTH BOOK OF PEACE, Maxine Hong Kingston

Time to acknowledge the peace that surrounds me at this moment on this beautiful Sunday morning.  My Art Gods are standing at attention, just waiting for me to go to work again.  On my easel is the beginning of a new painting…”Late Winter Storm” (Truchas, New Mexico).  Will work on it today. Am grateful for all those years of roaming the mountain roads and photographing the villages – I still have the images and can fix my mind to relive every bit of those times.  Thinking it might be too painful to roam some of those old roads now –  it is best to wait a while. In the meantime I will sit at my easel and just paint.