Monday, June 30, 2008

The Mississippi Floods When She's Had Enough

It allergy season here in the desert, has been for a couple of months. The swollen river I just painted reminds me of my swollen left eye, which in turn reminds me of the itching and sneezing and all around irritation I feel all because of a few micro-grains of pollen floating aimlessly in the air. Actually, they do have an aim and I'm sure it's straight for my eyes and throat and lungs. So, as a sort of resignation the following poem is what I come up with. I know, I ain't no poet but I do crank out little ditties like this from time to time without having much control over it. Kind of like automatic writing. Try to guess what it's about before you reach the end.

twitching, tingling, taunting tempting
unseen forces unrelenting
always near yet never reaching
to a sudden stop come screeching
twisting, tickling now you feel it
waiting for something to heal it
running, dripping, squeezing, leaching
unseen juices whisper wheezing
desperate hope relief and pleasure
face contorts as distant treasure
lures & haunts & tricks & teases
unfulfilled ...aborted sneezes

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

April The Angel

I spent the night in a hotel in a town known for it's dust and heat. Not a mile from this place and about ten years distant the following occured. The summer swelter and familar surroundings brought up the memory and somehow this melancholy, tonalist painting helped seal the muse.

April came to us a wandering waif blown in by the winds of fate and providence. I think that might be a contradiction of terms but the imagery is flowery so in this case, appropriate. She was a beautiful girl with a beautiful smile and a big black dog for a traveling companion. She had lost her left leg below the knee…cut off by the wheels of a rolling boxcar while trying to hop a train going west. Turns out the accident happened in the same rail yards where I first climbed aboard a moving locomotive with no ticket,… albeit many years apart and now, thousands of miles away. Paulo told me about her. Said there was a girl, a gringa, who was hitching a ride on the outskirts of our little town in the middle of nowhere, Mexico. He had bought her a couple of tacos and tried all the English he knew on her. She in turn, used all the little Spanish she knew to tell him she was hungry and might need a place to stay. So we set out to look for her as the hot summer sun was setting over the coastal plain of southern Sonora.
April’s beautiful name gave way to the beautiful person within. Her story was anything but beautiful and her scarred body which was almost completely covered with tattoos, including her face, tried very hard to hide the secret within. She was an angel in disguise who stayed with us for four days. Carmen and the kids loved her. We hated to see her leave. Hopping trains with hobos and their kind, she had traveled all around the states in an unsettled life of broken hearts and bodies…told us she had lost many friends to heroin, aids, others just disappeared. This was her last “journey”. To hitch-hike the whole country of Mexico and maybe, finally settle down. Nothing about her exterior spoke of the person we came to know in that short time. April the angel sent from above, maybe to show us that books can’t be known by their covers… or just to remind us of the Infinite Love of the Man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief. A shout out to April and a good thought sent her way. I dedicate this picture to her wherever she roams…Available here on auction.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Puff The Magic Dragon Breathed Out His Last

This painting is large and luminous, 30x24 inches...and has a great name. (see above) I am in a clandestine location 500 miles south of the US/Mexico border as I write this and the summer monsoons are already brewing down here... thus, the inspiration for this cool and ominous sky. I spent the morning with some of my wife's family. We had goat stew (birria) over at aunt Esther's. Uncle Miguel, who looks to be old enough to know, told me stories of back in the old days when gypsies would come through and heal people by rubbing them down...kind of a cross between a witch doctor and a chiropractor. Secret incantations and a lot of rubbing and pulling on limbs and joints seemed to cure you of whatever ailed you. The two stories that took the longest to tell were of the hunch-back that was cured and the healing of small girl who couldn't walk. They say that there aren't any as good as there used to be. On our way down here we stopped at a hospital where another dear old uncle is interred. He is in the ICU / emergency ward with about 20-30 other patients and bright fluorescent lights that are on 24-7 and several manual typewriters pecking out doctor's orders at all hours of the day. It was a scene as chaotic as a world war II army hospital replete with armed guards that escorted us in to see him for 3 minutes and ushered us out when our time was up. He has advanced cancer. We're hoping they let him go home today to be with his family since there is nothing they can do for him there. This man has been very good to me...known him for over 20 years. I think it was the last time I'll get see him. A fond and sad goodbye to tio Castulo. May you have a great reward in the afterlife! It's fitting that our girl Trinity will have a new name this week along with a new birth certificate that names her new parents. Pretty cool stuff for a little 12 year old who has dreamed of having a family for a long time and, if we indeed get the papers, (we've been week to week with this for a while) it brings our year-plus long odyssey almost to a close. Tonight we take the kids to a movie to see Indiana Jones use his best archeological Spanish. I'll leave a review here later.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cloud Mesa Arrive In Time

Mesas are overshadowed by the big thunderhead...That's how I often feel...I won't say who I think the thunderheads represent but they make a big show ...and leave little rain. And us rocky crags, though not altogether beautiful, make up the firm foundation for the rest of the critters to crawl around on. The following story is as true as the day is long. The Mississippi is the water referred to. Billy and JK were the witnesses, faithful and trustworthy as the rocky crags mentioned above. To buy this great little slice of Americana click here.

The Treble Hook
A big ,slow moving river, twilight, some worms and lots of mosquitoes were all the ingredients needed to fire a million synapses in the fertile fields of imagination that populated our adolescent brains. There were monsters in that water. We knew it like Texas ranch hands know that Chupacabras roam the western night. There were two or three places where we spied, on occasion, inexplicably large and long predatory underwater creatures. They made giant waves and left a wake as big as any bass boat. These were the kind of things that made tabloid headlines and, if we could catch one, would make us famous. I tied a fist-sized treble hook to a weathered dead-head that had impaled itself on the up-river side of a deep hole. A good three feet of it stuck up in the air almost vertical from the little island and made a secure anchor for the steel cable “fishing line“. I can’t remember where we got the steak meat. I think John kyped it from his (mom’s) refrigerator. We threaded a nice fresh cut of beef on those three hooks, probably ½ lb’s worth, chucked it out in the hole and swam back across the river channel before the last light left us too close to the lurking lunker at feeding time. Early the next morning we found the bait gone, one hook completely straightened and one hook broke off. Many times I tried to touch the bottom of that deep pool and never succeeded. It had to be at least 20 feet deep or…maybe 100.

Monday, June 16, 2008

California Oak Studded Hills Call 2 Me & U

I've had a number of non-spiritual epiphanies in my or two of which have been real genuine life-changers. Maybe not on par with the spiritual ones but real and lasting nonetheless. When I was 17, just before the spirit of Bob Dylan entered me, I had a life altering revelation that came in the form of a simple sentence. The little phrase formed itself in my mind like this. It would be a terrible waste if I lived my life without learning to play a musical instrument. That's all. I had no particular predilection to music nor showed any special aptitude. I could sing on pitch but there was nothing really in my background that belied hidden talent or "gifting". (other than the foggy memory of myself at 5 years old in 1967 and my little neighbor Greg sitting on our front porch trying to write a song "just like the Beatles"!) I started to seek out and learn to play music right then and there...figured I had my whole life ahead to do it and it was worthwhile. Not long afterward I had almost the same experience with the same sentence with just a slight twist. Instead of music I interchanged the word language. As in, a foreign language. Today I can play many instruments in many strange dialects...just goes to show when one puts ones mind to something. Now, if I could claim something similar about art and painting... Anyway, I highly recommend the epiphanal experience... both spiritual and non. The above picture has some deep and hidden esoteric message that when revealed gives great insight into the psyche of the artist buried within all of us...I'm sure! It's being offered on auction right here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Painting In A Day In The Life Of A Raconteur & Artistical Expeditionary

I finally got around to uploading this latest video...Thanks for your patience. I get requests from time to time to add new videos of my patented speed painting technique. No caffeine laced beverages are consumed in the making of these... but you might be interested to know that I do swallow copious amounts of vitamin B-12 and drink green tea every morning. FYI. Anyway, they are kind of fun aren't they? (videos) Especially the ones where things catch fire and unexpectedly explode or a large snake coughs up a baby hippo. (yes, there is one out there) Speaking of snakes, I have a few memoiresque stories that I will be adding to the blawg soon so stay tuned. They are not for the faint of heart either so be forewarned. If indeed you find your heart in a faint here's a beautiful little remedy. Let your eyes look longingly and lovingly on these words that Jesus said, ..."In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good courage, I have overcome the world." "Let not your heart be troubled...I go to prepare a place 4 U, that you may be with me where I am"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

From Russia with love

Курс по изобразительному искусству
Санкт-Петербург 2008
Art Course for 2008
in St. Petersburg

I've been slackin'...should've posted this a long time ago. Actually, I've been waiting on this interminable adoption. For the last 13 months we have been dedicating every spare ounce of energy (not to mention blood, sweat, tears, fastings and prayers) to get our little girl Trinity Elizabeth home with us from Mexico. We seem to be very close but the timing has coincided with the Art Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia...Still hoping to make it. They are counting on me for a week of workshops, have already processed my "invitation" and now need my passport. Well, guess what? I need it too. Check out the link. This is a prestigious honor and a very cool opportunity...hoping to have plenty of blog fodder when I get back. Please pray to the One above for us...and Trinity. I will do the same 4 U if you ask.

The Other Shore 24x30 Impressionist Oil Painting

Another coastal scene for your culinary enjoyment! I really dig these pictures...more than that, I dig these places. The only drawback is that they serve to remind me of the big trade-off we've made living here in the desert. Great mountains, great biking, great hiking and year-round cookouts yet, water! I think, had I played my cards right, I could have been the Mississippi river version of Jacques Cousteau. I don't know how the underwater filmography would have turned out with all that murky runoff but you can bet your sweet Calypso I would have been at the fore of all kinds of freshwater adventure documentaries. Just think, John Denver would have written a song about me, no, wait, we'd get Muddy Waters to do that... I would have my own research vessel made of cottonwood logs lashed together and I would have invented the aqua, uh, I mean the mud-lung. Well, no sense in dreaming about what might've been. Better to be content sucking in the dry air and counting the sunny days. (We've had over 300 so far this year and it's only June!)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Oregon Coast Pines 24x36

This painting has sold
I will have this cool Oregon Coast painting available in the studio (and maybe my eBay store) for $2400... OBO. Speaking of OBO...I'm reminded of the cars I've owned and the ones I've tried to get rid of. There is one in particular that is lodged in my memory banks...So much so I think the following story will make it into a forthcoming book (that might never get written...Don't hold your breath) in an unabridged version.

We lived on a dirt road way back when. There were lots of single-wide trailers and abandoned shopping carts and there was a lot of wildcat dumping that went on in the area. A shady character and one-time acquaintance of my neighbor Doyle, left an old broken-down Cadillac parked in front of our property. The sheriff's dept. wouldn't tow it 'cause the street was an easement (private property). The private tow companies wouldn't take it either 'cause it (the car) was private property & we didn't have the title. I caught Doyle breaking the windows one day and said "Hey Doyle, why don't we try your keys to open this Caddy and see if we can't start 'er up?" I thought that at the least we could push it down the road a ways and donate it to a friendly curb somewhere. He owned an El Dorado with a peeling vinyl roof and faded burgundy paint...not too different from the one we were about to jack. Lo and behold, his keys fit the ignition and the familiar sound of a busted rod and heavy streams of oil pouring out the bottom of the engine meant only one thing; We would have to drive this car that very night to the local police station and leave it in their front lot so they could get to the bottom of this crime. I drove the getaway car...accompanying the perp-mobile so as to give Doyle a ride back to the safe haven of his trailer. You could hear the clanking, thumping noise of an engine-gone-bad three blocks away. Streaming oil and smoke and leaving a carbon footprint large enough to track by satellite, we made the delivery at 9:25 pm. It's such a cathartic thing to clear one's conscience and having done our part to help the neighborhood in this way, albeit seemingly insignificant, makes one proud to be an American. I highly recommend it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Clouds Amass Over The Unwitting Hills of Alamos 20x24

Another bit of reminiscing today. Just over the hill from the place pictured I have witnessed things that should never be mentioned in mixed company. The clouds were my real muse in this scene. They were witnesses too but are normally silent on the matter anyway. I have been pouring over my Edgar Payne books of late for inspiration and came upon a recent photo that lent itself to painting the dramatic skies of the desert southwest. The skies have been cooperative lately too in lending their hand to help inspire the artist hiding deep within. I am the proverbial onion with all the layers...heaps and heaps of them. Sometimes we get right down to the real artist in me. Most of the time I stop at the painter and let well enough alone. I made a video of this too. I'll try to get it up thinking about writing / recording a new tune to go with it so it might take a little while. Don't forget to subscribe to the blawg...That way you won't miss nothin' new. This cool mountain / cloud landscape is being offered on auction right here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

California Coast Vagabond

Is this is why people like us go to visit California? This a young guy on Venice Beach...with nothing better to do. I could think of about, say, 7 million or so right off the top of my head.

I went to fill my gas tank not far from there. There was graffiti everywhere. They held my debit card as I pumped the gas, said it was so I wouldn't run off. It was then that I realised I wasn't in Kansas anymore. We saw some very cool art... Edgar Payne, William Wendt...a bunch of the early Calif. plein air favorites. I also got to hold and caress a very unique candle holder once owned by mine and Edgar's favorite singer. Bob, when you read this ring me up. I know where your candle sticks from LA are.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Rose Colored Glass (Corona) 30x40

This is how I prefer to see the world...through rose colored glasses! Well, who wouldn't if it always looked like this? This great big ol' monster is full of great color...lots of saturation and very expressively painted with thick paint. I am in California as I write this. We just got off Venice beach, got some good skating in (I'll upload the pics later) and bought a trinket or 2. One young, scraggly pan-handler held up a sign that said "Why lie? I need $ for weed." In small print it said to give a "tip" if you wanted to take his picture. Well, I took the little beggar's picture and for a tip...I told him to get a job and work hard! My dear little wife said in her best foreign accent and kind voice..."There sure are a lot of vagabonds here. I think I would like this place better if there weren't so many". Well, now she knows what Venice, Ca. is all about. The kids thought the weather, surf and skating were real fine. This picture is being auctioned here.