Monday, December 28, 2009

Robert In Korea

You might remember an entry I made here about a year ago...maybe a little more. It was a request to pray for the people of North Korea. Our friend Robert marched across the frozen Tumen river the other day (from China) demanding / pleading for relief for the people who suffer incredible deprivations there. (We have seen videos of streets strewn with orphaned kids...) Well, regardless of the guidance or misguidance of his actions please pray to the God of heaven that He take care for Robert...and especially for the people (millions?) that are starving and being tortured in north Korea. What's happening there is on the scale of the holocaust, it's not a few aberrant political dissidents on some obscure mountain top somewhere far's a whole country being oppressed like you and I can hardly imagine. Here's an article about Robert

Have Yourself a merry Little...

Here's a little Christmas cheer...Ellie is learning this tune and Marissa pretty much just plays what we tell her to. Maybe I'll upload some of her blues piano playing soon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Salmon Bench 1998

The salmon bench was an idea whose time had not yet come. I carved these fishies out of a conglomerate called cantera stone. Two inches thick, this is the balsa wood of rocks. I perforated the piscatorial silhouettes with a hammer drill and broke them free of the stone. Before they swam away I took chisels and grinders to 'em and magically made dirt come to life. Don't laugh, a lot of really smart people believe that happened once before. Anyway, I inlaid them into a big slab of cottonwood which is one of the worst kinds of wood you ever want to work with. It can be pretty but it is twisty and punky and tears and rips and continues to warp and cup long after you think it's dried. Why use it? 'Cause it's cheap and available and you're in Mexico living off of dirt, (that has yet to come to life) that's why. The frame is made of iron which we heated in a hand-cranked forge and pounded and made into very cool split feet that looked like leafs and added some other hand-forged details. All this spells a lot of work...not to mention the magic that went into it. I made a series of benches and rocking chairs with elaborate, fancy appointments that were either way ahead of their time or...a little too out of fashion . A few of them sold and a couple ended up in various rooms of my house. I gave this one away to a friend with a house full of unruly kids with too many crayons, scissors and not enough dirt out in the back yard to play in. The last time I saw it, it was hard to even recognize through all the scratches and dings and graffiti. It should outlast most of us though. Maybe that says something about wood and steel....the main ingredients in dirt. Or maybe it says something about flaky artists with too much time on their hands...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Boys With Guns Rooster Repose 12x16

My friend is a bit of a gun nut. And he is also a serious art collector. What? You don't think the two can go co-exist? Well, he has some of the biggest and best artists of the west in his collection and was on the board of the prestigious Rocky Mountain Oyster Club art show for many years. The rooster pictured above can attest to his keen sense of quality and good taste(huh?) hangs on a wall somewhere not far from a large Burt Proctor of my western heroes. I could rattle off a list of artistical whose who (whose work hangs next to mine, lucky them) but, the real collection was the pile of armament we unloaded from a few humble vehicles the other day. We had a very fun afternoon throwing lead around the desert, shooting clay pigeons, plinking targets and enjoying the sunset within view of the Tortolita mountains. To be honest, I'm a little skittish around guys with firearms that don't have a hunting background. It seems there's something different about the way a person handles a gun if they were taught by a dad or uncle or grandpa out in a corn field or a duck blind when they were almost too small to hold up a .410. ...and almost sunk the canoe by putting a couple of shots through the hull. Anyways, these were good ol' boys and everyone was safe and very helpful with the kids. Eli took the sporting clays honors (again) and all of us (except Scott, who is a distant relative of Tiger Wood's wife) could place a nice grouping with a variety of caliber of handguns. Scott is good at golf though...he almost beat me the last time we played.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sierra Vista 24x30 Mill Pond Blues 12x24

The bot fly larva are large and undulating and particularly gruesome when coupled with images of the Star Trek movie where Kan dropped one in Chekov's ear. Black to creamy white in coloration they start out as little eggs under the skin and grow to finger-sized worms usually found between the skin and muscle. I've wanted to learn the song Mule Skinner Blues for a while now but truth be told, rabbit skinning, although relatively quick and easy, has the potential to send you into a psychological downward spiral that even a last-minute-change-of-heart Kamikaze couldn't pull out of. Yes, your dreams of tasty, mouth-watering rabbit fricassee can be quickly dashed when you encounter one of these little beauties wriggling around your food while preparing breakfast. So was my experience the other day after a lovely morning hunt bagged some wild game for the family larder. Well, according to the Arizona Game & Fish web site there is no harm in using meat that has been host to these dainty little parasites. I guess the upside is that they have a distinct nutty flavor and are a good source of protein. I have encountered bot fly larvae many times and, in fact, so common it's become that I am probably an unwitting host to several colonies at this moment. Don't worry for me though, I should be just fine...just don't skin me alive. These are my Christmas week images (above) least for now. There's been a pile of visitors here lately and with all the running around and bot flies invading it's a wonder I can even keep painting.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Move Out 24x36

This painting should be titled The Generation Gap. Why? 'Cause when I was a kid all it took to spark my imagination was a field like this. It bespoke endless possibilities for adventure and mischief. Yes, hiding behind every crook of this creek, just waiting for discovery and for me to prove my mastery over God's unwitting and innocent creation were bugs and creatures and fish and fowl...that's what I see. My kids, on the other hand, if dropped off in the middle of this big meadow would scan the horizon for any sign of civilization and make a bee-line for the nearest seven-eleven with the wild hope of scoring a Slim Jim and a Slurpee. Hmm, that sounds good. Maybe there isn't as much of a gap as I thought.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Whispering Winds 30x24

The last time I had seen Daniel we were joking about ending up in a Mexican prison. His was a genuine laughter...mine was nervous. There was an outside possibility, it seemed, that some time in the clink might be in the cards if we (he especially) didn't play the hand right...Or, of course, if God almighty had other plans. If He did, I was hoping they didn't include me. At least not in regards to jail-time purification. We joked again the other night, our first reunion since his release a month or so ago. After five long months in the stir I was expecting to see a hobbled, gaunt figure with sunken eyes and a peaceful aura of benevolent acquiescence...the result of endless days of torture and starvation, scrounging for bugs on a damp cell floor somewhere in the bowels of an old fortress where the moaning souls of tormented men never cease to wail. I had dreamed of Dan as Gandolf the White and was half expecting to see fire fly from his cane. Well, in keeping with the holiday mood and all, he appeared a bit more like a jolly white-bearded, heel-clicking version of the image I had in mind. It seems the only comfort (besides family) he was deprived of was a mirror. And when he finally got a good look at himself, expecting a Tom Hanks look-a-like after Cast Away, he was surprised to see an even healthier Dan - bigger, stronger, faster. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration but he did look good and our reunion was as sweet as it could be considering the circumstances. In some sort of twisted-universe, twilight zone kind of way, we could be considered responsible for how things played out. Not that anybody did anything wrong mind you. Remember, we were dealing with a third-world country whose corruption knows no limits and which treats people and justice like so much garbage thrown out the window of a passing car on highway 15 in southern Sonora. Our adoption of Trini precipitated the forcing of hands that were being sat on, as the saying goes, and, well, it stirred up a few hornets nests besides and as a result, produced the most stress filled three years of our lives. Trials and tribulations always come. Life is full of them. Thankfully there is One, whose name is the Prince of Peace, who gives peace in the midst of turmoil. His words often come to mind "...In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good courage, I have overcome the world." Thanks again to all friends far and wide who offered up prayers, however feeble. The King eternal hears and none of us are any the worse for wear. The net of all this is that Dan has a great war-story to tell, Trini is growing and happy with her new family and Mexico has apologized, actually calling us the "victims" of their internal problems. No, no one feels that justice was served but at least we're not rotting away in a steel drum somewhere on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez...or worse.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunset Blvd. 18x24

This snappy little sunset is available on auction this week before Christmas. See link at top right of page for access.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

El Dorado 24x36

Available on auction here.

Santa's Helpers

That's me in the middle, red boots and all. The snow elves pictured on either side of me are grandmothers now...I seem to be the only one who barely ages. I found an old school chum recently by searching You Tube. We were in a band together...were gonna be bigger than the Beatles. What happened? Well, I am bigger than any beetle I've ever seen and ...I found a video of Mark playing guitar with Janis Joplin's original band. (BBHC still tours!?!) Had Mark moved away from the weather pictured here I'm sure he would have gone straight to the top. FYI northern peoples, your hibernation for 6 months of the year costs you that much more in productivity. Think what you could achieve if you all moved south.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rudy 36x24

I painted this very expressively...lots of paint and large brushes. I made this over several days adding glazes of colors and washes. If I had any sense I would keep this one in my private gallery for secret showings on special occasions. Senseless as a water bug, I have made this available on auction here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Low Field 12x24

It was dark, just after sunset on a cool and cloudy winter evening. The squad car's lights were strobing brilliant blue and red and I was half blinded. I waved the knife back and forth, reminiscent of Sulu when he fought captain Kirk (one of my favorite episodes and one that readily comes to mind whenever I find myself in similar circumstances, wildly waving a knife to stave off my opponents in the narrow hallway of a space ship). The drop point blade glowed and glistened as it arched and weaved and cut deft swaths through the still and emergent desert eve. I was completely oblivious as to how this might look to passing cars or... the video camera pointed at us from the patrol car.
We had just spent the whole day packing and moving a friend's household. We were bone-tired and more than ready to stop at Nico's Tacos on the way home. Our only goal, as we yawningly planned our future was to pick up a couple of fish burritos and spend the rest of the evening, sans girls, burping and rubbing our bellies and leaving a big ol' mess in the kitchen. My cat-like reflexive maneuver to strap on the seat belt at almost the same instant the siren blared and the flashing lights from the lawman's car on my tail filled the interior of our bedraggled mini van, left Eddie and Eli in awe. I'm sure they were wondering how I could move so fast at my age and after such a long and laborious day. Well, as I've proved more than once, a cop on your tail is a sure-fire remedy for vehicular lethargy. A very nice patrolman with a heavy German accent informed me that the translucent red tape had come off my busted tail light and as I braked I was blinding the drivers behind me; much like his spotlight was blinding me at the moment (he really said that) So, as he checked my criminal history I dutifully pulled the red tape out of the glove box (can you tell I've been through this before?) and proceeded to the rear of my car, knife in hand (ostensibly to cut the tape). I was half-way through the job when the officer returned to chat with me. Lucky for me he hadn't checked my background in Mexico and Central America. Anyway, as affable as he was ( and I, of course) my friendly gesticulating left him a bit uncomfortable. He asked if I wouldn't mind putting the knife down on the bumper as we finished our conversation. I was just getting ready to broach another subject (the weather) when I realised my faux pas. I apologized, set the knife down, instinctively stepped away from the vehicle (yes, I've seen COPS) and sprawled, spread-eagle on the pavement. Hey, don't blame me if I'm an animated conversationalist. Plus, it's not every day a cop that sounds like "Arnold" pulls you over in Tucson, Arizona.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By A Stream Near A Lake 14x11

It was a neat little house with a big red barn; a nice hay field and this pond were part of the deal. The place was for sale. The price was good and it was near the coast...had a big garden spot too. Well, we still talk about greener grass over there somewhere but the dreams of the "perfect" house and the "perfect" life (replete with the perfect fishing hole(s) and plenty of wild game) come careening and crashing to an abrupt halt when once you start to hang your hat on them. Dreams are fickle things you know; not a lot of hat hooks sticking out of them. They come and go and vanish like a slim wisp of smoke from a butane liter at a Ted Nugent concert or...The kinks, The Who, Bob Seeger, Elvis, Yes, The Eagles...I guess any number of settings wherein a liter has faintly flickered in my outstretched hand only to leave the slightest hint of a trail of a foggy, ghost-like memory buried deep within my cortex, would suffice for this imagery. Some of us have learned to content ourselves with more modest "dreams"...of actually waking from them (literal ones) everyday (in the a.m.) and making it through another sun-cycle without offending anyone or kicking the dog. This is the criteria my dreams (figurative) must meet. They are not dependent on circumstances. They are much bigger and much more important (internally) than where I live or how much sweet mula I make. Besides, we all know that character is formed by the shattering of dreams and the beautiful string of disappointments and unmet expectations our lives seem to be made up of. At least that's what I tell my kids at Christmas. They've already started haranguing me about all kinds of very expensive toys they want me to buy them. Haven't they learned anything?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Falling Leaves (Autumn on the Umpqua) 11x14

I stopped on a bridge to take a picture of this scene. Actually, I stopped on both sides, dodged rural traffic and took a series of shots while the gray getaway car idled in the grey early light of a misty morning in Elkton, Oregon. Carmen became the look-out man. And we did get away with a bag full of stolen's the result. I am framing some of these smaller pieces and making them available at what I hope are affordable prices...all ready to hang and cover that fist-sized hole that happens to be at the perfect height for viewing and coincidentally, is the level of a teenager's head! (?) Check them out at our eBay site / store. We're hoping to come up with some more economy-sized pieces for the coming year for all our art-starved friends and the drab barren walls that hem them in. So, keep your eyes peeled (ouch!)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Harmonium 24x18

With callous candor the clandestine cattle cavort carelessly through fields of clover. Do I like the letter C ? Well, not particularly but the cumulus clouds cast cautious shadows covertly while conspiring to conquer the cow's conscience. At least that's my theory. Anyway, enough of that! It's just that there's a blow outside that's bringing in a system
and we're all excited hoping for it to paint the mountain tops white. The trip to Oregon really got my attention and seems all I can think about these days (besides my normal contemplation of things divine) is duck weather and getting wet. This picture is being offered for auction. Feel free to bid it up to the value of a whole side of beef...for conscience' sake. (theirs not ours)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Geese In Grass 14x11

Slighted goose, dismissed gander
Left for naught, forgotten fowl
What ‘ere you wrought on this thy brow
Hath plagued thee now Hath brought thee slander
Little we considered thee
In downy coat so hard to pluck
Nary a thought it’d come to this
Thy rich dark breast Thy taste of duck
Now that which craven palette yearns
For on this day of memories murky
Is not the swamp and eel and frog
It is instead our festive turkey
We pulled off a thanksgiving feat of extraordinary proportions. Four families fully feted, rubbing their turkey-stuffed bellies chortling and cackling like a yard full of happy hens...all them strangers to each other just hours before! No, I didn't even ply them with rum soaked eggnog, though I did consider it. We spent a happy afternoon with new friends around the big ol' table and spilled out onto the porch as the afternoon wore on and pumpkin pies were devoured. What could have been an uncomfortable and awkward gathering of disproportionate personalities turned out to be a most memorable thanksgiving. All this punctuated by an earlier rendezvous where, once again, I proved my sandlot prowess by being on the winning side of an impromptu football game...(I'm feeling it today) A nice prayer of thanksgiving was offered and I think we all sensed a genuine gratitude to our Father in heaven for His constant care for us, His careless kids.
The poem was inspired by the painting of the geese above (Rickreall, Oregon) and our conversation around the table yesterday. I had proposed to Carmen that we add quail and fried rabbit to the pleasant bounty. With a foreign gesture and a sigh she dismissed my salubrious suggestion for wild game . I later proffered the idea to my guests. It met with the same result. I tried to convince them of the succulent and savory attributes of wild no avail. I for one would welcome the return of Christmas goose, tasty turkey notwithstanding.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cloudmeister 18x24

The other night my alter ego met Emiliano. He's a pitcher for the Seattle Mariners from Columbia. His Tex-Mex girlfriend is a friend of Carmen's. The girls meet periodically to celebrate each other's birthdays. They are all Hispanic so you can imagine the riotous good times they have breaking pinatas and eating tons of hot sauce. The men were invited to this last party and since it was Lupita's fiesta and Juan Pablo was going to be there (my ex-neighbor and favorite auto mechanic) I put on my vest and boots and went out as "Paco". It was a great "pachanga" and we passed a food and fun-filled evening remembering good times and taking lots of pictures to commemorate this one. I calculate that 33-55 percent of my average, daily, verbal output is Spanish. That might come as a surprise to some folks but it has been that way for a long time...about half my life. It is as if we have lived a double life. Sure, there is a lot of Chicano mixing up of cultural stuff here in the Southwest. But that aside, we have two distinct circles of friends -- those who speak Spanish and those who speak only English. And since both groups are basically monolingual they really don't mix much. With both of these communities we have a long history...old friendships, adventures and shared heartbreaks and joys. We have pulled this off to such an extent that there are people who have known me for many years that don't even know my real name! I'm actually kind of surprised that Homeland Security hasn't tried to recruit me for some clandestine activity that involves slipping under chain-link fences and inconspicuously posing as El Guapo the trumpet player in a Mariachi band somewhere in Sinaloa. There are secret recipes I know of, and have privileged access to, that not even the most savvy, baja-traveling, Mexican-bullfight-attending, Puerto-Vallarta/Cancun-beach-going gringo has ever laid eyes on. Unlike my mexed-up life, the painting pictured here can be appreciated equally by people of both cultures.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Water & Sky

You value what you do...and do what you value. This handy little maxim is one of the many yokes I've had hung on me. I, in turn, like to put it on unsuspecting passersby whenever I get a chance. The oblivious bovine bask in their ignorance above...or is it that they truly value grass eating over staying dry? Many a man is right in his own eyes declaring himself to value certain virtues and beliefs. But does he do them? That is the question. Do you value money?...then save it. Do you value your religious beliefs? ...Then pursue them with your whole heart. Family?... Spend time with them. How about food?...then hoard and eat as much as possible. Wait, scratch the last one. Anyway, you get the picture.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Muscle Car?

I really didn't expect them to put the super-charged V8 HEMI in the rental car but I was still disappointed. It was used to crash the bachelor party on Friday night in Salem and as gutless as the "economic" six cylinder was the important effect was the cool and sinister profile we struck while cruising around in the charger. Greg and I kidnapped his son (the groom to be) and held him for ransom. I never knew if anyone paid it but we had a good laugh and goofed on them young guys pretty good. I stood up during the dinner and began a solemn discourse about the wiles of women and how difficult and important it was to get them figured out before it was too late. I went on to say that my vast experience, gleaned over many years of marital bliss had been deftly expressed and condensed into a nice little book that I was gifting to the groom. It was titled Everything I know About Women and had all kinds of glowing recommendations printed on both covers. The eager up-turned faces of the twelve or so young single men nodded in reverent anticipation as I expounded the book's attributes...all of them agreeing that they needed and wanted to read it too. As you might have guessed, as soon as I handed it to them they realized...the pages were blank. Yes, the book contained all of man's cumulative knowledge of womenfolk and Greg and I were joyfully accepted into the fraternal order of mindless young bucks who know next to nothing about the most important things. The next day the charcoal grey dodge was designated the "limo" and Carmen and I got to drive the happy newlyweds honkingly through the streets of Salem late into the misty northwest night.

'Tis The Season

If this video (link below) doesn't capture the Chistmas spirit I don't know what does...well, actually, this is the matter/anti-matter version of Christmas cheer-something I will play from time to time over the next few weeks to keep us merry and thankful for all the creepy things that aren't in our lives.

Happy Birds In Oregon

Here we are in Newport. Can you tell we've just had our fill of a seafood medley? Sorry Oregon but as multitudinous and melodious as your scrumptious culinary offerings are, they don't hold a candle to Sonoran coast fare. The incorrigible, non-PC side of me had a serious hankerin' for a good sea-turtle stew. All the while, our eyes and ears told us that we were being feted with the West Coast's best from the should have been enough. Craven hearts (and taste buds) are never are satisfied but, short of selling my kids to swing the deal, my eyes had me convinced that the splendiferous beauty of western Oregon should be the site of our next homestead. I hope to post some pics in the next few weeks that depict it's land as I see it. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Big Mountain River 36x24

The supply of left-over Halloween candy is getting low. You know what that means. Correct, our favorite holiday is just around the corner and it's time to start putting on the weight in earnest. If we're to make it through the winter we'll need as much extra insulation as possible. With that in mind we have began preparations painting large. I use large brushes and a very large palette. It is placed directly in front of the easel-makes for efficient stand-up painting. I rarely sit to paint. Sometimes I get pretty wore out and just to rest weary legs I'll sit and paint but I find I dabble way too much when seated. Dabbling at paint is not good...kind of like running out of Halloween candy. The trick is to stay decisive, think hard about each stroke and its placement. This is best done (for me) while standing...especially at a large painting. The simple landscapes I make lend themselves to large presentations. I hope to make some more wildlife / figure paintings soon. They will be smaller and more intimate pieces. This great Alaska mountain near Homer is available in the studio. See link at top right of page for link to available work.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Montana Moonrise 24x48

The Y2K thing for me was a real yawner. As much as I would have loved to have glomed on to the hype and horded all kinds of stuff I never really gave it much thought. Plus, I really wasn't too keen on the idea of having to kill off my neighbors to save a few months rations of oats and lentils. But now I'm ready. The extreme multiplication of rabbits in our neighborhood has me thinking that we'll be set come hell or high water. I don't know how long we can live on Hasenpfeffer but I definitely have warmed to the idea. The friend that built a silencer for his Kalashnikov has moved away so I'll not be tempted to borrow that to fend off scavenging stragglers wandering through after the next Y2K. No, there should be enough to go around and if/when they run out there are always plenty of pigeons ...and we all know how good I am at catching pigeons. This great Montana landscape comes courtesy of photography by Mike Mahoney-artist and writer. It is available for sale in the studio.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sheep Cow Bear

The sheep and cow are from Oregon, the bear hails from Alaska. A friend's son is getting married this week in Oregon. Carmen and I plan to attend...and had planned on sight-seeing, fishing and hiking and photographing every beautiful sun-drenched vista we could find. We were warned that it would probably be rainy and bring slickers and galoshes. To which warning we scoffed and guffawed and cackled and giggled amongst ourselves. You see, to us rain is only a rare and valuable event-something to be savored, measured, photographed, written about and passed down as legend from one generation to another. Imagine greed-crazed starving Texans dancing in the spray of "black gold" around an oil gusher after they struck it rich. Well, that's us when it rains in our little world. To think of days on end with no sun or moon in sight...they forecasted this for us months ago!...makes one shiver with fear for the end must be near. So, I have looked at the weather channel predictions for the coming week...Oregon, you're in for more of the same. The good news is that all this precipitation portents well for the upcoming ski season...and might just make for some unique inspiration this week. If we make it back alive. These paintings are all available in the studio here...can be seen on-line at our eBay store.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Glowering 30x24

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." - Thomas Jefferson.

I ran into this quote the other day. It amazes me how your perspective changes with age. Add a few kids to your life, several years (decades) of marriage, a failed business or two (or three or four or five) the attempted conversion of a couple of countries full of infidels and you have the makings for a closet capitalist. The lofty ideals of youth love to point at the "rich" and curse. Little did we know that a house full of hungry mouths would lead us down the path of hard work and (not pointing). And not to the government but rather to others...out of the little bit of goodness that hides deep inside every craven heart. To volunteer and give, ...yes, just like your parents did. That's the soothing salve that can cure a lot of wounds. The Lord Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. He is actually quoted by Paul the apostle as saying this...It's not found in the gospels. Interesting, huh? A lot of our well sounding arguments about making the wealthy pay their fair share have turned out to be nothing but mean-spirited vengeance...the same thing most third-world countries' constitutions are based on. And what does it get us? A mouthful of bitterness and cursing and an entitlement mentality that leaves little room for giving. It is so easy to aim stones at the giant on the hill and claim how "unfair" it is for him to have more than me. Well, we are learning...the true high road is to give rather than to receive. And the real and startling and counterculture inconvenient truth of the day is that Americans give a higher percentage of their wealth to help others than anyone else in the world. (Check out this article) This ain't no bragging. It's just that we realize more and more that Uncle Sam doesn't exist to take care of me...or anybody. That's not its purpose. But that's not what we're often lead to believe. Redistribution of wealth-taking by force from the productive(capitalists?) and giving it to the unaccountable (government) is called...socialism-responsible for millions of uncomfortable deaths in the last 60 years or so. Well, this wasn't supposed to be a rant about isms...rather an encouragement for us to look to give rather than to get. I'll end this with another famous quote..."He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Jim Elliot, martyred missionary

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tail of The Monsoon 24x36

Sometimes I mix too much color. The sky here is a good example. This was left over from another painting, added to and ultimately helped inspire the late-sky feel that this painting went for. Turns out my vision (and photos) jibed with the previous color just fine but that ain't always the case. It's a sad day when the palette is piled high with unusable colors. One of the disadvantages of painting large is that generous amounts of pricey cobalts and cadmiums get squeezed out at regular intervals. I've been tempted to find some use for them before they skin over but have left off the practise in recent years. No, they don't make for good frosting...or eye shadow. This semi-magnificent cloud getting winked at by a flirtatious moon is available here at auction.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cloudy Day 36x48

I'm back to painting on Masonite and it's a real pleasure. Just like a good old friend the rigid panel of wood fiber coated with gesso (black) greeted me with a smile and a warm embrace...luckily the gesso was dry. I've really missed the slickery surface and as much as I enjoy the springy feel of a nice canvas these boards are like butter...two sticks of butter! I think I will reserve them for extra large paintings... And the black gesso? Well, it's my new secret weapon, been wanting to try it for a while. I finally broke down and took the cutting torch to my wallet (it was welded shut) and splurged on this and a few new brushes. I was exhausted the day I finished this painting and even though there was a succulent roast in the oven I coerced Carmelita and a couple of friends to join me for egg-foo-young. Upon our return a sheriff patrol car was exiting the driveway. Ah, the joys of raising kids in rural America. I asked the young deputy what the matter was. She asked me if I knew about a dune-buggy-kind-of-thing, yellow with a couple of crazy young drivers. I told her while shaking my head in disgust that "It must be them neighbor kids again...parents just need to keep a tighter reign on their charges." Well, it seems the boys were throwing up a little too much dust with their hybrid go-carts and a disgruntled neighbor or two got a bead on where the rednecks lived. Just as the cops were leaving Eddie came flying through the doggy door, (I didn't think he could fit through that anymore) rushed to the phone and frantically threw out the signal to his buddies to lay low till the coast was clear. We never knew if Angel and Fernie got the message but the next morning the dirt lane in front of our place was the stake-out for two squad cars. Seems it paid off 'cause they did catch Taylor in the act ...only to warn him about making dust and... to wear a helmet. Maybe their time could be better spent shutting down a meth lab or two in the area ...or checking into that rumored illegal horeshoeing operation that we've all been so concerned about. This giant work of splendiferous cloudage is available for sale here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Green Roof 20x20 -- Thunderin' Lightening 24x30

The land of no rain. That's where I live. So, I find myself drawn to scenes that have lots of it. Of course I'm not completely unfamiliar with dark, dank skies and overcast, socked-in-for-three-weeks-at-a-time places of wetness and wonder. In fact, I grew up appreciating the few sunny days afforded us in our Midwest Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, less than most. As a child I moped around all summer anxiously awaiting the happy arrival of inclement weather. To me it was anything but inclement. Fall and winter signified the donning of foul-weather gear and the frivolous frolicking through marsh and mud in pursuit of fugacious fowl and other creatures. Duck weather it was called. The Mississippi Flyway is a popular route for migrating waterfowl. Except for your salt water-inhabiting ducks and geese(Eiders and Brants etc.) and the few strange species that cross the southern borders (illegally) from Mexico (tree ducks) I have handled (alive) most of the common North American varieties ducks. I made a lot of drawings and not a few paintings of these birds and the wetlands they frequent when my artistic learnings were still nascent . Now, thin blooded and feeble, I cast shy glances to the north when the mercury drops and long tendrils of V-shaped silhouettes honk their wild goose calls to the wind. Here in AZ. the temperature dipped to about 60 degrees with this recent cold snap. I think we're pretty much holed-up for the winter. Soon as the sun peaks out again and warms things back up to 80 we'll come out of hibernation...I can hardly wait. Oh, I guess that would be tomorrow!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Calm Sea Oregon Coast 20x24

The boys were supposed to sleep under the stars. They heard a lion scream, threw the roasting chicken to the woods as an offering/distraction and came running home tail between their legs. Had it been my adolescent companions and I we'd be braggin' still about how we killed, skinned and ate that mangy cat with our bare hands, raw...and danced naked in the firelight draped in it's bloody hide till the break of dawn. They just don't make kids like they used to. I'm gonna have to start them on some Louis L'Amour westerns....or maybe get some counseling for myself. My therapy? Painting tranquil scenes like the one above.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Toro 24x24

Let sleeping dogs lie. The same should be said for bulls. Here's a picture of a dozing pile o' beef. He's enjoying the sunset vista while the last shards of cloud-filtered light illuminate his domain. Have you ever been chased by a bull? It is exhilarating, something I highly recommend. Maybe you should add it to your "to do" list a la adventurer John Goddard. Thankfully I never got wind of John's famous list when I was young and impressionable. I'm sure it would have inspired the compiling of my own version...and I probably wouldn't be here now if that were the case. Nevertheless, to make a list of goals, adventurous and difficult ones, is a good thing to recommend to all children great and small. Aiming high is necessary when taking long shots...just don't get caught by the bull! If you're interested in purchasing this new painting it is available on auction here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lego Guitar (My favorite telecaster) by Eli

Freedom never sounded so good. I just erased 99% of this (previous) daughter told me it was a too long rant that had nothing to do with art, my paintings or travel or the general goodwill and cheer I'm known for spreading....Enjoy the photo of one of Eli's many and varied works of art.

Mar Y Sol 30x24

Do you want proof that I'm an early riser? Well, for starters I can bost a familiarity with early morning test pattern that most people have only dreamed about. Pre-dawn transmissions were rare in the mid sixties (my first recollections) and apart from Jack Lallane (check out this link if you want a little flashback!) I've really had no one to share the rising of the sun with. From time immemorial I have been of the first to muster for Reveille in any place I've dwelt and save for the odd great-grandparent waking up at 3 am only to take his morning nap at 6, I have greeted the dawn alone on most occasions. That all said, I regret not having a keener eye and a more disciplined approach to capturing the break of day on canvas. I've been remiss and will try to mend my ways. This here is a sunset over the Pacific. I have no excuse to not offer a few happy early mornings and, as I said, will try to make one or two before the end of the year. Both dawn and dusk have dramatic light and as much as the charged particles of atmosphere make for warmth and glow at sunset, the sunrise produces a coolness and crispness to colors and shadows that are extraordinary in their own right. This is offered on auction here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Plenitude 24x20

Several times a day I walk through the family room, stop, grab the remote, turn on the helevision and cruise through my few favorite channels. If Tony Bourdain isn't making a snarky comment about a steaming dish of rice mixed with indiscernible and questionable contents or someone's not pulling a 50 pound, saber-toothed fish out of the Amazon I'm generally not interested. My typical cumulative total viewing for the week probably hovers around seven minutes. I don't think I'm displaying any real virtue in not watching the tube. It's just that I have the attention span of a four year old. Maybe you can get me to sit through a movie...lots of action, some blood and the bad guy gets his due is the best-chance formula. If you can get me to view a modern TV show you might as well go out and buy a few lotto tickets 'cause your luck is running real high. The images that dance through my head, like the one above, are about all I can take these days. Mix and mash them up with strains of half forgotten songs I've learned over the years and this is what comes out...a ramblin' blog and a veritable Play-Doh Fun Factory of multi-hued paintings made available at a couple of galleries... and on ebay of all places. Check out this blog for another awesome review of the BD concert.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall Color 20x24

Middle of October, 102 degrees and the Arizona state fair is in the air. A milieu of beer sloshing and corn dog chomping was the venue for our rendezvous with Mr. Dylan. I know, it isn't exactly the kind of place you'd think to bring the kids to expose them to high culture but we did listen to A Prairie Home on the way up to Phoenix from Tucson if that's any consolation. Besides, if a life-long exposure to dear old uncle Bob's singing hasn't annealed them to the sharp edges of reality nothing will. Yes, Bob is like a creepy old spider who's just been sprayed with something...he's always been like that. But he has a certain magnetism and attractiveness that, at the very least, causes an irresistible curiosity. Liken it to a morbid curiosity if you will but a curiosity nonetheless. It was thirty years ago this summer that the spirit of Bob entered me. I was seventeen years old, had my first road bike (Suzuki 550 GT Ram Air), wore an old army jacket wherever I went and played harmonica. At first I was most interested in what kind of cigarettes he smoked and which of the two main styles of harmonic racks he preferred. I was living near his home town at the time and all his songs seemed to make perfect sense to a wayward kid up on the Iron Range of northern Minnesota. Well, that interest has waxed and waned over the years and other things have long since replaced the passions of my youth. No longer do I care what brand of smokes my favorite star might or might not like to puff. Gone (almost) are the visions of uncle Bob ringing me up and inviting me to join him on tour. I don't drag a guitar along every place I go and when I do sing I don't try to sound like Woody Guthrie. After the concert we were discussing the show and I observed how not one member of the band sang any back-up to Bob. Eddie said that Bob's voice cracked so much it was like two need for any other singers. The autumn scene above is available on auction here. Feel free to bid...if you win this it will be sure to remind you of those crisp days of fall...and the Arizona state fair.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Old Pier 20x24

I live in an old house. It's not a dilapidated old house but it's definitely not new. The previous owners gussied it up quite nice and we've added a bit o' shine too. But beneath the glowing exterior there are things that would make any self-respecting craftsman snort through flared nostrils and spit generous amounts of Copenhagen-infused juices through stained and chipped teeth. Lucky for me, my life as a remodeler had little to do with book followin' ...or Copenhagen. I did, however, as a licenced contractor, learn to do most things the right way if not altogether "by the book" and as happy as I was to cut corners when possible there are just some things you don't do. Yesterday I tore into what should have been a minor remodel project. We now have no water in the kitchen and the wall, counter top, floor and plumbing are all in need of serious repair or replacement. Arizona is a Right to Work state. That means that unions don't run (or scare) anybody here. Sure they exist but they're hardly recognized in the trades. This seems to fit the do-it-yourself thinking that built the west. Now, if you've ever worked on a union job site as a non-union self-employed tradesman the first and most remarkable thing you'll notice is how slow everybody moves. No, efficiency, thrift and coming in under budget and ahead of schedule are not what these builders are known for. But aside from the molasses-in-January pace and the destructive "entitlement" mentality, I think you can count on most things being done right if not altogether promptly and with a good attitude. Unfortunately that can't always be said for the variegated rabble that passes for construction workers out here in the wild west. To be sure, there are many good ol' boys that know how to throw up a nice, sturdy deck in a weekend but those ain't necessarily the fellas you want building your dream home. So, now that I've conveniently laid the blame for my own ineptitude on unions and the lack of unions maybe I should just keep the rest of my opines to myself. I guess we really didn't need running water in the house anyway. What a wanton, indulgent luxury! Besides, Carmelita grew up ferrying five-gallon buckets of water from the well to the house, two miles... uphill both ways, on her head. So you see, she's used to it ...and the kids are getting a little long in the neck.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shyly 12x24

Raising kids ain't rocket science, we agreed. This after an exchange with the man behind the counter at the local battery store. For years I have wanted to build a comedic collage of pictures of all the improbable businesses that exist in Tucson. There's the Battery Factory (here mentioned), Nails R Us, Ed's Screens, Rubber Hoses Inc., The Map Store, and a bunch of others that can have no logical reason for existing other than the tickling of my funny bone. Any of these things can be purchased separately or in bulk at your local, ubiquitous convenience store or friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart. They are either fronts for money laundering or...? Anyway, I digress. Grandpa and I (at the Battery factory) were discussing and lamenting the poor quality of Chinese products (batteries) and American child rearing. He wanted to shake my hand after meeting my 16 year old son Fast Eddie. I ain't bragging when I say that not one of my kids has ever talked back to me. Neither am I exaggerating. This is what precipitated the vigorous handshaking from Mr. Battery Acid. Kids love parameters and it's a dark day for little Timmy (and his hapless parent) to be asked what's the matter while he's throwin' a fit. The "matter" is that dad ain't got the kahunas to let lightening strike on the little tike's ass and so bring peace to the household. No, you don't need to do it out of anger and you won't have to do it often if you start early enough, you just need to raise the bar a bit. Anger and discipline don't mix. This is where the very wise and cool-headed injuncture comes in..."Fathers, do not exasperate your children"...discipline them out of love for their own good is the idea. As soon as you start to reason with a little head full of mush you've all but lost the great opportunity to be exactly what that kid needs...a parent. They don't need you to be their friend...that will come later after they realise that you are the most secure person they will ever know. So, parents, grandparents, don't unwittingly turn your kids into a curse on humanity by giving them too much attention or credit. (or trophies just for showing up) Don't reason with them. Make clear rules...and don't discipline out of anger or when undefined lines are crossed. Apart from missing a few teeth and the nervous twitching and cowering every time I raise my hands my kids seem to be alright... (?!?!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Seaview In June (Newport) 24x36

How is it that a tasty rabbit stew makes its way onto the table of Carmelita the wonder-cook? Known for her fantastic seafood and some of the best south-of-the-border chili pepper-infused recipes, she is a true journeyman of culinary expertise able to fill kin and ken at a moment's notice with the most mouth-watering, tantalizing goodness the human tongue should be allowed to experience. If that weren't enough, even her baking would be unrivalled fare in the kitchens of Midwest mothers who deftly channel the trickle-down from generations of Dutch, German and Swedish pantries. Contrary to popular belief, Mexico's bakeries and baking is stuck somewhere back in the 1800's with a one recipe-one flavor fits all kind of thing and although there are a lot of shapes and colors, they serve only to deceive the unlearned palate. No, what comes out of the local bakery on the corner next to the blacksmith shop/oil change/barber shop, beyond the Rio Grande is nothing short of sawdust biscuits when compared to the pie crust mom used to make...and Carmen's pastries! That said, the wonder-cook in our midst is the reason my spoilt kids wince at invitations to dine anywhere but home...and McDonald's. If you'd like to bid on this glorious sunset over the Pacific you can do so here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Amanezco Colti Por Tanto Mirar Hacia El Cielo(I wake Up With A Stiff Neck For All My Gazing Towards The Heavens) 30x24

Jim & Jesse, a great bluegrass duo and long time members of the Nashville music elite can now count me as an integral part of their fan base. Jesse has a new album coming out and I got a preview...a personal copy of the final studio mix-down. Aside from hanging out with Elvis (just on one occasion) and having an uncle (albeit estranged) that is arguably the best songwriter who ever lived...(I will be seeing him next Saturday afternoon), this is just another of my many brushes with fame. They've asked me to paint an album cover for Jesse's new project- a compilation of Jerry Garcia's (Grateful Dead) tunes, all done with Mr. Mandolin's distinctive styling and wonderful voice. I'm telling you, when I heard this new record it made me want to be the leader of a cowboy band all over again. On the first listen-through I pulled out my Roy Rogers owned (got it from one of his old friends) guitar and just had to play along. This record has some real sweet grooves and is as easy on the ears as this painting is on the eyes. This little beauty (the painting) is slated for sale in one of our galleries in California.

Friday, October 9, 2009

River Bottom 24x30

Ear splitting pain
Tooth splitting crash
Splitting headache moans
Wood splitting bones

Crashing waves alight
Smashing pumpkins delight
Cracking crabs at night
Crushing cans for spite

Breaking hearts in love
Broken wing of dove
Skier breaks a leg
Humpty Dumpty’s egg

These are a few of my favorite things...along with the picture above they make a great ode to October. The painting is of an area I visited near New Hope, Pennsylvania. Available on auction here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Summer Vines 36x24

Joseph is the friend of a friend. I met him a couple of days ago. His body guards didn't smile. I tried to engage them a couple of times but they just looked through me. The shorter one wore a dark blue blazer but his green cargo pants with multiple bulging pockets (loaded I'm sure with all kinds of deadly accouterments) gave him away. I kept waiting for him to talk into his cuff but that little piece of drama never materialized. There were however several other guards stationed around (apart from the two that are continually at Joseph's side) and some of these had either conspicuous chunks of arsenal falling out of their pockets or less conspicuous bulges protruding from waistbands and ankles. There was a flurry of action and activity right before we met. Kurt and I planned how we would throw Carmen to the floor under the chairs and hit the deck on either side of her when / if the terrorists came blasting their way into the room. We were to meet in a large and somewhat stuffy old church and the "flurry" of activity, it turns out, was Joseph on his way to the bathroom under armed escort. Yes, it was the same one we entered with profound peace of mind a few minutes later knowing that the security detail had swept the room and made sure those old-fashioned 1960's era urinal cakes weren't really chunks of c-4 plastic explosive. We were to spend the evening with Joe and Scott (Joseph's erstwhile companion and roommate) but, as is often the case with friends involved in international intrigue, plans change. I told Joseph we would get together again and go surfing in San Diego. He said he didn't surf. I said I didn't either. (this might have been code-talk) His father is one of the founders of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Joseph is now an outspoken follower of the Lord Jesus. Needless to say this doesn't sit well with a number of people. There has not been an official fatwa condemning him but there have been threats. He has suffered torture and imprisonment but the separation from family and friends he's now experiencing I'm sure causes some serious loneliness. Remember to pray for Joseph...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Jet Stream 24x36

It seems there are two types of people in this world; those who like fruit trees, and those who prefer shade trees. I used to be fond of saying that the two main classes of people were -givers and takers. This statement, of course, was charged with all kinds of negative invective. I think I have mellowed with age. No longer do I delight in demeaning the weak and faithless stand-in-line-for-a-hand-out generation. No, there is no joy in that, and since there appears to be so many of them these days and since I'd have to include myself in this ignoble grouping if I were at all honest, I've decided to take a different tack. There are those of us who like to sit and wait...Wait for the shade to cool us, wait for the soft breezes to blow and... wait for the fruit-tree keepers to walk by with a basketful of their hard-earned delectable delights, stop to refresh under the shadowy goodness of our cool canopy and share their bounty. We, in turn, will be glad to let them use all the shade they can handle. Yes, shade is necessary and fruit trees aren't that cool...looking or feeling. Truth be told, most fruit trees are rather scraggly and not all that pleasant to look at when compared to a majestic elm or cottonwood or giant oak tree. And lest you believe that the shade tree enjoyers are all apt to be slackers let me say that there is such a thing as to be gainfully occupied with actively waiting. Yes, you can participate in the process of biding your time, purposefully luxuriating in the peaceful security of anxious expectation that the harder you wait the slower time passes...and the better you get at it.

A Cow In The Field Is Worth 2 In The Bush 24x30

I've been reading To Kill A Mockingbird to my kids. My favorite line in the book is..."In Maycomb (Alabama), if one went for a walk with no definite purpose in mind, it was correct to believe one's mind incapable of definite purpose." Here in Arizona people seem to walk all over the place with no definite purpose in mind. What does that say about us? Well, you be the judge. All I can say is, you can bet your bottom dollar that if I had a field like the one pictured above I'd be caught walkin' around that thing just about every evening ...with some serious purpose in mind...shotgun in hand.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dan The Man 1982

That's me in the plaid shirt, circa 1982. Dan was tuning up and I was ...? I don't remember but there was probably a guitar somewhere up there on the stage that had my name on it.
Dan and I played together a good bit back then. We had a few gigs and even recorded some stuff (his) in a high-priced studio in south Minneapolis. They charged by the hour, I think it was sixty bucks. We hurried through every take and it was pretty stressful. I kept wanting to kick the big reverb box that was part of the studio's effects station. You know that sound when you drop a guitar amp? Well, they have a small box of coils and magnets and steel plates that make up that echoey, auditorium sound. The one in the studio was as big as a furnace. I figured if the recording wasn't a hit at least the studio people would have something to remember us by. Dan died in 1991. Way too early and way too young. If only the good die young what does that make the rest of us?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rocky Mountain Way 24x24

I was only joking about bagging the desert "big five". Someone misunderstood me 'cause the four foot venom-fanged devil was coiled at my front door shaking his tail with such gusto that Carmen nearly knocked me over as we both instinctively leaped out of striking range.
He would have been a trophy specimen to me about 30 years ago (pre-desert dwelling) but Sunday night as we approached the "safety" of our cottage at 8 pm, peacefully strolling arm in arm, he was a menace and a diabolical sign of the evil that comes too close for comfort in these modern times. He was literally right on the stoop waiting to slaughter us there where we stood, or stepped, as it were. And but for our "spidey sense" and quick reflexes this would just be a post-mortem report. A deftly placed .17 cal. pellet was all it took to dispatch the serpent and send him into the lake of fire. Eddie is a good shot and the multi-rattled tail is proudly displayed in the girl's room. My friend Warren asked me the other day if he could send me some pics from Montana to paint. I obliged him with this cool mountain view (above) ...being offered on auction this week here.