Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yes, this is a big fat bad boy of a painting. I know, I make it look easy. Well, if not for the ability to consume mass quantities of diet caffeine free Pepsi mixed with the real hard stuff...regular diet Pepsi, I'm not sure I'd be able to pull this kind of stunt. Oh, I think the speeded-up video feature on the movie making software helps too. The songs that play in the background are made in the same studio as the paintings. If you like 'em I have a bunch left over from our little music project of last year. Just drop me a line and I'll send you one. It's home-grown music and some of it might be a little mushy for your taste- 10 songs of new compositions. I play the instruments and my daughter and I sing. My friend Scott, who is an expert music critic panned this effort. I've said it before but I think he believes that I'm cooler than I really am. He was expecting something worthy of the local alternative rock station I'm sure. Well, what can I say? I love the Lord Jesus and feel so grateful to Him that it just seems to override any aire of coolness I might try to put on. Be that as it may, there are some good grooves on this disc and the next project will be either all Spanish worship style music or a more edgy country rock fusion with subtle jazz overtones and a slight Irish lilt. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tarantula Causes Heartburn

Just so's you don't think I'm blowing' all kinds of smoke....This Toad vs Tarantula video was made by my kids a few nights ago. We caught the fury, eight-legged friend crawling around that morning. Later in the day a giant 2 inch beetle was also captured and thrown in with the tarantula. We thought the toad(s) would love to eat both of them as they sat under the porch light munching on june bugs like popcorn at the movies. Little did we know that Mr. Spidey would take the beetle to be his last meal...fitting, I guess, for what transpired a few hours later. Had I been there (you can see the headlights of my car in the background-the car pulling up right after the deed was done) I would have tried to put some light on the evenings activities. Anyway, you can see it well enough and if it were any clearer we probably would have to offer counseling services due to it's graphic nature. I promise this will be my last entry (for a while) that has anything to do with creepy crawly creatures. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So. Cal Eucalyptus 20x16

Fresh back from the coast. No money in my pockets-just some sand and a few broken shells. Maybe I can use them tonight to make stone soup. Got anything to add? The California "style" is definitely it's own and the coast is a remarkable hodge-podge of seemingly indifferent people who are alternately too busy for their own good (or eye contact) and quite friendly when once engaged. We spent some time in Newport Beach, one of the highest priced places to live in the world... and didn't even try to act like we belonged there. I double park my dirty, kid-filled mini van as much as possible and, as close as possible to the Jaguars and Bentley's that look down their noses at the Mercedes and BMW's that populate the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). No, I didn't even get a chance to look at my favorite galleries in Laguna Beach but I did get some good pics and was able to drink a bit of salt water. So, the trip was a success. Next time we will surf and try to ding a couple of those fancy cars that cost more than the Fanny Mae bale-out is going to cost US tax payers. This painting is being offered for sale here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Here She Comes 9x12

I caught a few minutes worth of a movie the kids were watching the other night. It had something to do with eating worms. The girls (3 of them) thought it was all a bunch of grossness. They could hardly enjoy the story for the guttural gaging sounds the rest of us kept making at the very fun thought of chewing up a mouthful of nightcrawlers. The boys (3 of us) were not distracted in the least by the worms or the thought of eating them. So, it occurred to me that this quaint, familial scene exemplified, albeit in microcosm, the definitive difference between boys and girls. To push the point a bit let me say that I have eaten a nightcrawler or two in my day and probably more than one or two ( dare I say many?) small angle worms have made it into my mouth with nary a gag. To push the point further and to give some real insight into how a boy thinks the following occurred near where the culvert emptied into the river.

After catching a few small northern pike on flies (streamers) I had made using split-shot weights, red thread and hair from my dog's tail, I decided I had had enough rain for one afternoon and headed home. I was pretty jazzed by the success of my dog-hair flies and was trying to figure out just how much of her fur I could cut off before anyone knew. The tip of the tail was the best, I concluded, and it might get to looking a bit ratty before I was finished. The culvert was about five feet in diameter and you could walk up into it...about a mile or two. It is the same drain sewer that played host to our vandalism inspired version(s) of A Towering Inferno (see previous blog)... a few blocks away from where it emptied into the Mississippi. Where it discharged there was a deep hole that held fish...a smallmouth or two from time to time and some northerns. The hole was small and deep, surround mostly by shallow sandbars. As far as I know I was the only one of us fisherkids that ever caught anything in that spot.

In those days we nabbed nightcrawlers by the dozens. Many hundreds were sold to fisherman heading "up north" and many thousands more made it into our refrigerators (sorry mom) and if they were lucky, into our gear that accompanied us down to the river. Our lawns were cholk-full of 'em and they worked great for catching fish, as everyone knows. The thing is, we were experts on the use of worms for fishing like you think your doctor is an expert on health care. We were the NASA scientists of wormology and all things that had to do with them that could relate in any way to fishing. Long and hard thought was given over many an hour, pondering and experimenting with what size, shape and presentation the regal and beguiling and, to some, lowly, earthworm ought to be handled to most entice our underwater prey. So it was, that on this rainy Midwestern (why do they call Minnesota the Midwest?...wouldn't Northcentral be more appropriate?) afternoon I came across a very large garter snake fat as a roll of Ritz crackers. It could hardly run away it was so stuffed. Well, it doesn't take much to get a recently feted snake to disgorge it's meal. The seven slim covered, huge nightcrawlers that she coughed up would've been a You Tube sensation in modern times. I remember having two distinct thoughts. The first was that I wished my friends were there to see this. The second- I wondered if these would make good bait...all that slim from the snake's guts probably puts some good odor on them worms that'd make fish bite. That's the difference between boys and girls. Also exemplified in some mysterious and esoteric way in this new, somewhat masculine painting.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fallow Field In Fine Fettle 24x30

Another weather-induced muse has brought with it a subtle memory along with the wind blown leafs and the cool demeanor of this new, evocative and tonalist oil painting original. Wow, that's a real mouthful. The subtle memory might not seem so subtle once I get into it, nevertheless, be that as it may, the cloudy melancholy of this scene works it's magic on several levels, not the least of which is the following.

We called ourselves the Riverdale Rightfooters. There were four of us and we were a gang. We dragged our right foot as we ambled arm in arm down Riverdale road towards the streetlight. It was our adolescent attempt at satire. This was before we knew much of Monty Python and Saturday Night Live on television was yet to come. Even without these prompts (we probably had seen West Side Story) we were quite adept at lampooning the few icons that filtered through the skewed lens of mid-seventies cultural awareness and made it down to our level. We made each other laugh and that was enough...almost. As we feigned toughness and talked about what the gang ought to stand for the silliness of our antics soon gave way to the detrimental effects of idleness, which, as we all know, is the devil's own workshop. Our neighborhood was one of large, heavily treed lots. This meant heaps and heaps of leaves to be raked every fall. Heaps and heaps of leafs translated into many bags at the end of many driveways waiting for trash collection or...re-distribution or...burning? Of course. Why not? They're light and fluffy and after all you can only play just so many games that have to do with jumping in leaf piles. Did you ever play Mummy mummy? I'll digress a bit here to tell you how it's done. One person is buried and the rest march around the leaf pile chanting..."mummy, mummy rise from the dead, if you don't we'll chop off your head." The "mummy" was the person who was "it". At their discretion they would leap out of the pile and catch the first person they could and so an autumn twist on "tag" was played. Ok, back to the Right Footers. Actually, back to the corner where the streetlight burned...directly over the sewer grate. It looked to be about twelve feet down. Hmm, how many leaf bags do you think it would take to fill the drain sewer shaft? I'll tell you; about twenty five. Now, what to do with all those leafs but to douse them in gasoline and really give the Riverdale Right-footers something to drag their feet about! I don't know that I'm proud to say this wasn't a one-time event but the plumes of smoke and fire that we sent into the atmosphere during our reign as the only true gang our neighborhood ever saw is a fitting homage to...the lack of chores, too many leaves and not enough parental oversight.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Texas Black Cows 20x24

I stand at the easel almost daily. Once in a while I'll sit but to tell you the truth, there's an energy and a certain adrenaline rush that you get from standing while painting. If you've ever had to "white knuckle" it through a snowstorm you'll have an idea what it's like to stand at the canvas building a painting. The concentrating of all your faculties on the constant analysis of shapes and color and coordinating that between your hand and eye can be pretty tiring. Thankfully I've only crashed into another car once while driving through a snowstorm and never have I smashed into another artist while at the easel...though I do believe they should make a law about drinking and painting. No, my wrecks are more of the metaphysical sort. I have put a few cars in ditches though but never to the detriment of any living creature. However, I am reminded of a blustery day of almost 30 years hence.
While traveling across the barren waste of wheat-field stubble and snowdrifts I lost control of a jelly bean-sized car on I-90. We were on our way home to Minnesota after a successful deer hunt in south central Montana. Dan and Jody were asleep and I was driving. They looked so cozy and comfy and the heater kept whispering love and comfort into my extremities as well. The three deer carcasses on the roof were tied with twine. After all, we weren't planning on doing any off-roading. The last day of the week-long hunt had started early and cold but we were each able to put our tag on a critter that same morning. Yes, we were bone-tired and being the amicable sort that I am, I proposed that I drive first and let my companions doze. The only problem was that after about an hour of listening to those guys snore and the fading country music station broadcasting from Miles City my eyes started to enjoy the momentary rest I'd give them. I called it an extended "blink". No harm in that I thought. My very next thought...Why is Dan's hand on the steering wheel? And why are we driving at highway speed through four inches of fresh snow in the median? A moment later and we were in a spin, the wheels catching the pavement peeled a tire off and the jolt sent the deer flying through the air into a gory pile about twenty yards from the highway. It looked as though we had hit and killed a herd of white tails. At least that's what the highway patrolman thought as he approached our tire changing operation. I told him what happened and he basically gutted me like the young fork-horned buck I was, ...asked me how I'd a felt if those were people laying in the snow that I hit? Well, I don't quite go through all that every time I paint ...but it does take out of me more than my construction workin' buddies will ever give me credit for. This nice little oil painting has all of my forty plus years of artistic endeavors embedded into it like so many journalists hangin' with the troops in Iraq.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Along The Way I Followed A Star That Led Me On That Led Me Far 24x30

A note from a fellow artist from Alaska has got me thinking... The end of August spells the on-set of autumn in my a-little-larger-than-walnut sized brain. All the instincts evolved and distilled over endless generations and eons of ancestral hunter-gatherer heritage come to the surface and seek expression precisely at this time of year. It's an all-consuming passion- a profound and unsettling desire that transforms even the most mild-mannered of us Vikings into stick wielding, glove throwing barbarians. As sure as the wild goose must fly I must begin my search for... ice...to play hockey! But wait, we have another month and a half of high heat to deal with before even a hint of cooler, fresh, Nordic air deigns to visit us this far south. Alas, for such is my dilemma. No water to fish in and especially no frozen water to skate on. What have I done to my children? Well, for one thing they'll never (at least in childhood) have to worry about frostbite...or falling through the ice during a spring thaw. Nor will they have to endure the countless and usually pointless warnings about snow and ice, and tongues and flagpoles etc. But their loss is far greater I fear than any slight gain of safety and comfort they might enjoy. Since when did playing it safe ever get anybody anywhere? Plus, the exhilaration of perfecting that wrist shot and raising the puck high enough to make a goal above the goalie's shoulder (or hit your friend Adam in the temple and knock him out cold) will never be experienced by this, my poor deprived progeny. So, once again, my longings are thwarted as I learn to "settle" for circumstances beyond my control and to see that old cup as half full. Oh how I would love to shatter that blasted cup with a slap shot from center ice! ..."and the gloves go off!"

Monday, September 1, 2008

Underneath This Sky Of Blue 18x24

No, I have not licked one of the large Colorado River Toads that hang out under the porch light. There are several of them, the largest being about the size of a softball or a bit larger, like an over-sized grapefruit. Their skin exudes a hallucinogenic toxin that when ingested is said to produce an effect similar to that of the more common psychotropic drugs. Well, we do live in an area notorious for meth labs and the like so I wouldn't put it by one or more of my neighbors. In fact, truth be told, I just got done calling one of my own kids trailer trash. As in "You know we can't afford that...we're trailer trash and don't you forget it!" So, you might be tempted to say "If the shoe fits" ...and in all honesty, save for the outrageous appetites these critters have and the things I've seen them eat, I might be tempted myself. I'm always looking for ways to keep the creative juices flowing but have stopped short of licking frogs or ingesting (knowingly) dangerous mind-altering chemicals. It is trippy enough just to watch one of these big fat toads mow down a tarantula or palo verde beetle in one, lip lickin' chomp. I've seen it on more than one occasion and it creeps me out every time. This here is another ode to the summer monsoons which have been over active this year...makes for great skies and lots of green and lots and lots of bugs and... toads that leave stools as big as your thumb filled with all kinds of iridescent beetle parts.