Friday, October 31, 2008

As Clouds Go By 24x30

Absence of blogging usually means that some kind of purification is going on in the life of the blogger. "Purification" is code for trials and tribulations, which seem to abound in this strange terrestial existence we're all tied to (for the time being). Yes, it's a life infused with all kinds of wonderful and glorious little moments, to be sure, but there is always something looming, foreboding, it seems, just ahead. Well, germane to this life of endless streams of sorrow are good comforts and a few peaceful night's sleep brought on by hard work and...ear plugs. Have you ever been kept awake all night by inebriated revellers and their distorted strains of "music" blaring at high volumes through inadequate (or much too "adequate") speakers punctuated by whoops and hollers? Well, I have and that's where the ear plugs would have come in handy. Speaking of excessive festivating, my friends and family south of the border have had their share of rain and deluge this season and not a lot of reason to celebrate. Lots of flooding and loss of stuff, mostly personal belongings...but one young man, Cornelio, swept away by a flooded wash cannot be replaced. He was the youngest brother of one of my bosom buddies and a sometime companion on our many and varied ventures into the wilderness of the Sonoran desert. I've seen him on more than one occasion pluck a Tootsie-Roll colored iguana off the bark of a gnarled mesquite limb (of the same color) with a sling-shot at thirty paces. A dead aim with both a rifle and a now gone. He will be sorely missed. This painting is an ode to "El Conejo" as we called him. Being offered on auction here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Skyliners 24x30

As I see my paintings prices fall with the markets and peoples fears of the future increase I can't help but wonder where all this will end up. I've considered listing my kids on eBay. After all, I am pretty savvy about selling stuff there and but for fear of having to deal with Child Protective Services I think I could make some serious bank off one or two of them. Truth be told, I feel pretty calm in the midst of this little storm of media hyped fearsomeness and I'm fully set to follow my own counsel. So, here's my latest stock market advice. Buy...truth and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction and understanding . This is from the proverbs of Solomon (23:23) I am reminded today of the huge contrast between news media information and the reading of scripture. Wow, what a refreshing bath in cool, comforting and clear water it is, especially when compared to reading the days headlines. The old saying is as true as the day is long - No news is good news! ...and even more so the older saying that refers to the washing of water by the Word of God- A cleanse of this sort should be highly recommended in these times. This painting is being offered on auction here. Just like Chicago voters I would like you to bid high and to bid often!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Two Cows 18x24

In the previous entry I talked a bit about lawnmowers. Here we have pictured a couple of nature's best. Cows were invented to mow the lawn..or to make milk, uh, I mean for eating(?!?) Anyway, they are quite useful and as ubiquitous as they may be it seems we can never get enough of them. Truly one of my favorite animal shapes...they just come off my brush or pencil with hardly any effort. Kind of like how firing up the lawnmower is second nature to those of us who grew up taking care of giant yards of crab grass and dandelion-plagued blue fescue. I would've given just about anything to have one back in the day. I'd pull out of the closet my pair of handy Holsteins whenever mom yelled at me to go out and cut the grass. But wait, where would all the clippings end up? I hated cleaning up after the dog more than mowing...What have I gotten myself into? The picture above is of a Midwest field...not far from Chicago. A fellow artist gave me the photo a few years back and I've built a couple of cool paintings from it. This is the coolest so far. Being offered for sale here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Iris Dream 24x30

This is a studio rendition of my purple iris' growing out front around our mesquite tree centerpiece in 33 square feet of grass. We mow our grass year 'round with an electric mower. It's a lot like the one the Johnsons owned and preferred me to use when I mowed their grass. Our "lawn" takes about fifteen seconds to mow...the Johnsons yard - about three hours. They lived on Riverdale road about four doors down from the Hawkins' and were smack dab in the middle of the turf of the infamous vandal gang known as the Riverdale Rightfooters (read previous blogs). Theirs was about the only 1/2 acre lot in the whole neighborhood that didn't have huge oak and elm trees. Thus, we were able to mow with the longest extension chord known to man(I think I only mowed over it once). By the mid seventies they had not only already invented the riding lawnmower but a few fortunate ones in the hood even owned them. I don't think I ever even got a chance to ride one till I was eighteen or so. It was a mysterious and wonderful image that I often caught myself lusting after...gliding over seas of green sipping Koolaid with a transistor radio earplug dangling out of my ear leaving a trail of grass clippings in my wake...Alas, it was reserved for the handful of retirees that were interspersed throughout our sphere of lawn care domination. No, they were no threat, just a source of envy and unrequited love. None of us kids had dads that could afford stuff like that anyway...or so they wanted us to think. Here in Az. our grass grows all year long...there are really two types sown in the same ground. In the winter the summer grass dies and the new blades of the perennial winter grass sprout through. Just add water...and the desert blooms. I paint a lot of pictures...and get a lot of comments like "wow, that must be a new "style" for you.", when they see something that looks a bit different from the clouds on the horizon I'm known to make. Well, believe it or not, I have painted all kinds of stuff from costume-clad models to ships to tortoises. Dog portraits, album covers, firearms, dead lions, fish (both fresh and salt water) vases, fruit, partridge, chickens, cars, cabins, pheasants, peasants, queens, castles and, of course, ducks and geese and herons without number have all made it into the pantheon of subjects that I have painted and am familiar with. Yet, the laudable lush and lingering landscape in all it's simple beauty is what mostly makes it into my pictures. This large oil painting sans landscape is available here on auction

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Ganga 15x30

On our way to find some "ganga" deals at the local yard sales we were arrested by this view of the Santa Catalina mountains just north of Tucson. I try to oblige my wife's desire / need to rummage through other peoples discarded junk every week or so. On most occasions I can only take about 2 or three stops before I get to complaining or...I just sit in the car and honk my horn, hoping that she doesn't spend too much of our money that could otherwise be used for important recession-proof purchases like...a new guitar (I only have 5). I've trained my kids with various archaic and twisted sayings and metaphors over the years. One of them regarding garage sales is this- "Just remember kids, one man's junk is...your father's junk too." That has stood me well and I'm sure it has saved a shekel or two in the up-bringing of these my dependants. Somehow, I think the metaphors are lost on my little Desert Flower though. Don't get me wrong, her English is great and she is much more "well read" than I. But, having not grown up on the banks of the venerable Mississippi, I can't expect her to know all the nuanced subtleties of American slang.

Speaking of metaphors, I have to mention Montana. Never have I been to a place where the general populace is so adept at mixing them. As in, "That's all for one and...two for a dollar". Or, "A bird in the hand is worth...a penny earned" I'm not even kidding. Maybe it's the ranch heritage or...heavy metals in the water. Or maybe those Montanans just need to step up to the plate and grab the bull by the horns and quit counting their chickens before putting all their eggs in one basket. So, now you know what inspires me to make paintings like this.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mr. Misty On The Mountain 20x20

If I had a picture of Mrs. Johnson pulling bee stingers and cactus thorns out of my but it would be least to a blackmailer. I'm referring to the most extreme cartoon-moment of my life. ( top ten anyway) I had been called to remove a hive of Africanized bees from the soffit of a ranch style adobe house in Tucson, Arizona. Up under the eves on an aluminum ladder, I was festooned with assorted squirt bottles filled with soapy water. They were my deadly and effective defense against the aggressive killer bees. I had them hanging from belt loops and hooked in my pockets and stationed all around the site just in case there were more of these little zero fighters than expected. They kept swarming as I alternately sprayed them and tried prying loose the fascia and soffit boards to disgorge the house of hundreds of pounds of honey. As the first few stings on my face began to really distract me I realised I might be in a bit of a predicament. Supposedly the pest control team had been by a day earlier and assured us that the hive was dead. A few errant, wandering workers that might fly by to have a look-see at all the commotion and honey smell in the air was not unusual. But here there were hundreds of them and the more I banged on the rafters the more they swarmed. My ladder was now soaked with a slippery, soapy film and I was set up over a large patch of prickly pear cactus. Yes, just like in the movies....Can you see where I'm going with this? Well, I was running out of solution, my face was swelling and sweat and soapy water stung my eyes. I could hardly hold the hammer and flat bar I was using to pry open the boards as honey dripped over the already greasy slick steps of the ladder. The last straw was the last sting on my face...right between the eyes! I turned to make my escape, now about 8 feet above one of the biggest clumps of cactus you ever saw. My head throbbed with the humming of the bees and the high heat of summer mid-day in Arizona. As I turned my foot slipped and I went down, back-first into the deadly foliage. I'm not exaggerating when I say my whole backside, from my neck to my calves were covered with small, medium and large cactus thorns...and bees buzzed around me like the Fear Factor episode when they wore them as beards. When old Mrs. Johnson got to me (after I ran around the house a few times) my wounds were bloody and many. She tried to help but what I really need was some morphine. The next day she called to say that her house was filled with bees...the exterminators came and found another colony, a dual hive, right next to the one they had poisoned. There were thousands more bees in that hive and... I might be the only person you know who has ever escaped a full-on attack of Africanized Killer Bees. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.(as my grandpa Jake used to say) The painting pictured is for sale here...near a place of numerous wild bee hive harvesting adventures and stings too numerous to count.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Green Cows 30x24

I got an interesting request to paint a picture similar to one I did a while back. Well, they were wishing to see a certain color sky "with cows" so I decided to oblige their desire with this neat, bucolic scene. I was feeling more artistic today than usual and this was really enjoyable to make. Maybe 'cause I watched my boys turn a game of "flag" football, played with a bunch of non-redneck homeschoolers, into a rough and tumble game of tackle football. "I think we should call it flackle football" I said as we grabbed our water bottles and walked over to the truck. I was pretty amused with the new term we invented and that set me in a good mood to make some pretty stuff. Funny how a little smash-mouth can translate so readily into poetic and artistic beauty.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Where Clouds Come From 30x24

The prophet Isaiah has a lot of very good and quotable lines / passages. Some are full of warning (to Israel ...and to those inclined to take to heart what the scripture says) others are very far-reaching, teaching a kind of theology that is real compelling and quite attractive as well as describing future events. Don't let the words "fear" and "dread" in the following scare you. They're meant to put in perspective a view of God as a true and kind refuge, albeit serious, in time of tumult and trial. Kind of like the times we're in now. Anyway, enjoy the following..."Let not your heart be troubled" ( I had this in mind while I painted the picture above which is being offered on auction here.)

For the Lord spoke thus to me with His strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: "Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, Him you shall regard as holy. Let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread. Is. 8:11-13

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Green Green Grass Of Home 20x24

A blog a day keeps the doctor away...keep that in mind as you read this. I have been throwing a lot of paint around lately and it shows. The floor is stained in multi-hued oil splotches and my hands are too. One thing that always amazes me though...I almost never get paint on my clothes. From time to time I'll wear an apron but for the most part I don't even worry about it anymore...(until I get some on that new designer silk shirt I was saving for my sons bar-mitzvah.) One would think oil paint is like tar. Have you ever tried to use tar to patch a roof? I would bet you half of my kingdom that you could not even drop the smallest dollop in the tiniest of cracks without getting the blasted stuff all over everything within shotgun range. The painting pictured is a real nice little ode to a Midwest field. The cows are content and just like all of God's little creatures, they couldn't care less about economic meltdowns and the like. Wish I was more like them in every way...except for the cud chewing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On Graves & Grave Robbing
From the very beginning of my expeditionary ramblings I’ve had a desire, small at first, but always niggling, to discover and pilfer an ancient grave. Nothing morbid mind you. It’s just that I figure, once they’re gone well, they’re gone. No sense fussing over the sensibilities of someone who’s not there. Right? Nevertheless, with due respect for the living I’ve refrained from overt body snatching and even though I’ve developed a keen interest in digging up stuff that’s not mine, I’ve held back…for the most part. You see, I’m really not afraid of ghosts and the like and since I swore off curses and cursing (for the most part) a long time ago I always assumed that I would be a good candidate for entering the tomb and bringing to light the treasures long hid with the mummy. The exposed above-ground sepulchers common in the little mountain village that was my haunt for a few years were tempting. There I found myself torn between the potential for the proverbial hot tamales hitting the fan (If I got caught) and, the easy pickins’ these weathered adobe / brick ruins offered. I did broach the subject a time or two with some native confidants and was met with withering stares and disbelief . So, this desire was put on the back burner, until...
We arrived on a large island not far from the Honduran mainland. It was a diver’s paradise and a smuggler’s haven. Stories of pirates, old and new, abound and surrounding the big island there are dozens of small atolls that lie just north of the infamous Mosquito Coast region of central America. The natives are descendants of slaves and their speech is seasoned with old English expressions like "smoke" and "thunder" and a distinct Caribbean accent. The pigeon English spoken there can be understood when it’s directed at you but as soon as one islander addresses another it’s almost completely unintelligible, man.
Dan was an Anglo transplant that had helped develop a champion soccer team and a medical clinic on one of the populated islands near Roatan. He was a local legend of sorts and had garnered the respect of most people on the island…on both sides of the law. As a favor to him and his buddy “Paco”, two men invited us to explore some caves that had never been entered by expeditionaries like ourselves …not to mention lesser explorers like anthropologists and archeologists. These two non Spanish speaking citizens of Honduras owned plots of land on a remote hillside where they grew bananas and harvested wild-grown fruit and …yabba ding dings. The ancient peoples that populated these islands left lots of ruins- pottery, jade, shell and coral stuff. Figurines and pots and all kinds of neat artifacts lay exposed to the sun and free for the taking. Every passing hurricane unearths more. It really is a gold mine for the local government and their associated museums, archeologists etc. They call the findings yabba ding ding.
Hot jungle. Need I say more? If you haven’t been in one you can imagine the fourth of July in southern Missouri. We slashed through vines, large-leafed undergrowth and side-stepped tar pits and quicksand while slipping down steep hillsides and losing our footing for slapping at the ever-present flying, biting, stinging bugs. Finally we came to a small opening in the ground at the base of an old gnarled tree. It looked to be little more than a rodent hole but as we pushed away thick foliage the entrance grew and beckoned us to enter with the distinct smell of bat guano and the cool moist aroma of a deep cave. I could tell our native guides were frightened. They had been speaking rapidly and excitedly as we neared the burial cave but now as we were about to enter they were all but silent. A few grunts, a few nods that gestured toward the opening and a reticent acquiescence to us non-superstitious expeditionaries. To understand their reluctance at this point it would be good to remember just how big a role folklore and beliefs in spirits and superstitions play in most non western cultures. This place was no different. A typical islander would hardly dare to walk a path where a ghost had been spied five months earlier, let alone disturb his ancestor’s rest by violating a sacred tomb like we were about to. Well, I always figured Indiana Jones to be somewhat of a roll model and so, superstitions be danged, we went on in.
Crawling on our bellies at first, we were finally able to stand, albeit crouched over, and fight off a few stray bats angry that the midday ruckus had interrupted their upside-down sleep . Light from both our flashlights and a long vertical shaft that let in the sun at just the right hour illuminated ancient burial piers. The bones were bleached white and if they were indeed what they appeared to be, these were 3000 years old remains of Paya Indians. Surrounding the skeletons were lots of little clay figures and some more elaborate ones made of stone and what appeared to be jade. We dug a little and unearthed more bones and stuff apparently burried by wild dogs or foxes. No gold or silver to be found in this cave nor in another further up the hill where we found similarly undisturbed bones and figurines of an ancient people. With nothing to take as real loot that could get me some serious jail-time in a third-world prison, I decided I had only one choice. I grabbed the smallest skull and made for the entrance, my mind already replaying and recounting the day’s events to an imaginary future audience sitting at my hearth being regaled by my first-hand accounts of Caribbean adventure, the jewel encrusted (I would do that later for effect) cranium looking down approvingly from the mantle. My little reverie was broken by squeals of fear. “Paco man, what you be doin’ ,man? Put ‘im back! Please put ‘im back man. We don’t want to be wakin’ ‘im up, man. My companions trembling as they implored me to return the remains. Something about curses and headless corpses and ghosts and well,… I put ‘im back, man.