Upper atmosphere winds swirling and hurling ionized particles and moisture into the ozone...That's the full working title of this painting. A scene overlooking a ranch where I used to work and where I first caught sight of something that was real easy on my eyes. Her name was Carmen Julia and she carried a beautifully figured guitar as she floated across the school yard, desert wind lightly ruffling her plain cotton dress and gently caressing her dark chestnut hair. I made a prophetic utterance to the effect that someday that guitar would be mine. A couple of years later I dreamed we had a three year old little girl. The guitar is long gone having served me well with happy strains of nylon-stringed flamenco goodness for many years and the little girl that was to be is now grown and in her second year of college. Do you ever have any insight into the future? I don't put too much faith in dreams and visions but if they have to do with correcting one of my many personality flaws I'll take to heart whatever judgement I can incur...before it's too late! This too is being offered on auction and will probably go at a price that will make us shake our heads in disgust and utter disbelief in years to come. See the link at the top right of the page.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
The crows wing was missing feathers. They were the large primary flight feathers and are pretty needful for flight, at least that's what I've been told (yes, they speak to me). I was wondering if they molt in the late winter or early spring...or if they do go through a seasonal molt at all. It varies from specie to specie so one can never be too sure about birds....except of one thing - those of a feather flock together. There were numerous flocks flying over the car as we wended and wound our way up and out of the Salt river canyon amongst crimson cliffs, sage, juniper clumps and patches of iridescent snow. The sun was coming up and the crescent moon was whispering in the ear of the dawn. So began our journey to the Apache Indian reservation in the White Mountains in northern, Arizona. It was about mid-morning when we finally reached the summit of our eagle-quest and ...dropped off the chairlift on to fairly fresh snow and promptly smashed into a pile of snowboarders who were in their normal position...on their behinds fiddling with their boots and bindings. I was tempted to call out to one of them who had the definite look of someone with good prospects at becoming a plumber..."Hey, is your but broken? ...'cause it has a crack in it" Well, we all know I'm not that crass... and even those of us who know better would've seen I was way out-numbered. We burned our faces on highly reflective high desert snow and generally had a good time. Eli learned how to ski, Eddie got even better at snowboarding and I...well, I stared at a lot of pine trees silhouetted against rarefied air and listened to crow chatter. More crows flew around all day and peppered our valley-vista-views with shiny dark contrasts. Next to trees I'd have to say that birds are my favorite muse. I used to draw and paint a lot of birds...in fact I'll add a pic here of a life sized heron made out of solid mahogany. I actually did two of these, identical in every respect except for the trout swimming around their feet at the base. Anyway, I love pine trees...will be doing more in the near future. Here's a painting with a unique size / orientation.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Shy sheep give short shrift to shunned clouds clinging to the horizon. Isn't that just like sheep? I worked a sheep farm in Montana. One season we lost quite a few lambs and a few ewes to a mountain lion. A trapper from the game and fish dept. came to track him down. We all joined in the festivities walking game trails and sheep trails along the Yellowstone river. I found a set of fresh tracks one day the size of a blueberry pancake. We never heard if he got the big cat but only lost a couple of more the rest of that winter. The sheep weren't thankful in the least, in fact I'd describe them as baleful. Surly sheep bent on gentleness and ignorance...needing kind-hearted farmers to stay up late in the lambing season to help pull their little gangly
offspring out into the frosty midnight world. "Outside in the distance a wild cat did growl. Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl." I had blueberry pancakes this morning, three of them with lots of Log Cabin syrup...and every bite reminded me of the lions paw track and the sheep pictured above.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I was only slightly disappointed with the electric light post at the end of our drive. You see, in our previous neighborhood (pre 1970) we had gas lamps. They were stationed out in the front yard at the street, had a little valve to turn the natural gas on and off and a net/fiber mantle just like a Coleman lantern. I have some faint memories of fascination and mystery that had to do with lighting the lamp but no real recollections of any mischief related to their misuse. By all rights I should have been greatly disappointed because I was getting to the age where the vandal in me could have come up with all kinds of reckless activities related to their potential abuse. The electric version at 7216 Riverdale road held no fascination and no real potential for fire...it just filled up with bugs and had to be cleaned out periodically. Kind of strange imagery I know but an accurate foreshadowing of what my life was to become -a slow covering of whatever light there might be by a bunch of dead bugs...needing a good cleaning every so often to let the little light shine through small and dirty panes of beveled glass. Still, there abides a soft and warm spot in my heart for the one memorable fixture of the old neighborhood that the Riverdale-Rightfooters didn't try to mangle or destroy. We have no gas lamps... or any lamps for that matter burning a welcome glow into the stark and lonesome night here in the desert. If we did some redneck (my sons?) would just shoot it out or drive over it. So you see, a bug encrusted life is better than no life at all. FYI, I still have half a gallon of chlordane insecticide. It has a 500 year half life and it was outlawed along with DDT back when we are all afraid of hurting eagle eggs...things were so much simpler back then.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
I can hardly sit through a movie anyway and this one would have required super glue...or the fact that I was with friends and it would have been rude to get up and walk out...or lay my head on my chest and start to drool and snore. So began our rendezvous last night with friends Brigid and Brian. It ended at The Lariat, a super club with a large dance floor and two blind men entertaining with a barrage of melodies and volume that seemed pretty improbable considering the source. Corona with lime and a Negro Modelo with burgers is what we ordered. Not ones to stay up too far past our bed-time we sat through a couple of sets and watched the secondary entertainment with an askanced eye. A foursome of way-to-young-for-their-own-good retirees were about three and a half sheets to the wind when we arrived...and should have been in bed an hour before. They kept jamming money into the juke box and dancing and singing to the tunes they picked as the band played on not twenty feet away. Over the discordant strains of music (?) we all made a vow not to look like that in twenty years. In a weird sort of way the eucalyptus trees in this painting kind of remind me of last night....?
Friday, February 13, 2009
Spirit on the water, darkness on the face of the deep. So starts a line from a Bob Dylan song of the same name. It's one of my favorites of late and as I looked at the lyrics the other day they seemed to make no real sense...just a bunch of good lines strung together. Typical of my favorite uncle and his wiley way with words. Words do mean things though...as any argument will tell you. Some of them have great power to encourage and some have devastating ability to destroy. They can be used to heal or to harm. So, beware how you speak and remember that God is watching whether you're ugly or not and...He has exalted and esteemed His own word above or along with His own name. (Psalm 138) There is something about that name...and there's something about those words...sweet to the mouth, music to the ears and joy to heart. That's all I find in the contemplation of the Lord Jesus and His logos. This sunset reminds me of eternal goodness in effigy or something to that effect.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The back lit clouds pose a bit of a problem...But, of course, problem solving is what it's all about. No? I used to work in a wood shop where we often said the only difference between a good carpenter and the rest is that the good one knows how to fix his mistakes. It seems I always had more than my share...maybe it's 'cause I never understood the saying "Measure once cut twice." Seems the more I cut a piece that was too short the worse it got. Hmm, I'll have to think how this relates to painting. Well, I told the kids the other day as we jammed on some groovy tunes in the parlour..."more is less" when it comes to percussion and electric guitar solos. They just play too much of the guitar hero video game and have not made enough three legged chairs... (that were supposed to have four)
Another moon is on the wane...Pictured here is a crescent moon over the sunset mountains west of here. I looked out this am, still dark at six o'clock, and the waning gibbous moon shining bright aiming at the western horizon seemed to wink at me. What could that mean? A sign? A portent? A harbinger of some future cataclysma? Or, maybe...just a little poetic license on behalf of an indulgent artist on his way to wet his brushes in pursuit of the elusive Lost Chord. Speaking of chords...I have been learning new ones on the piano. For any of you old dogs who have worn out your bag of tricks I recommend taking up the piano. It is as enjoyable and therapeutic as any instrument and as far as learning, well, let's just say it's all there in front of you in black and white. Pretty easy huh? This painting is being offered on auction...just go to the link on the top right of the page to see all my available work.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I don't suppose too many people doubt the 2nd law of thermodynamics but just in case...I have proof. Entropy is observable in my family from a variety of viewpoints. One of the most interesting is the devolution of housekeeping. Some people believe in strict evolution as in the evolution of species...like Darwin etc. Well, I think, could we travel back in time, that we would find my mothers ancestors so highly evolved and so keenly developed in the cleanliness arts that they would make Mr. Clean and Janitor-In -A- Drum look like soot covered street waifs in a Dickens story. Skip ahead a few generations and take a look at one of my kids rooms. There you will find everything imaginable that flies in the face of any theory that there could be a random ordering of chaos. No, the chaos is the only thing that appears to have evolved and it happily defies every encouragement and influence to the contrary. Believe me, nothing has been spared...to inspire order and beauty and cleanliness. And, nothing has resulted in the desired effect. And wherein I was taught nice and tight nurses corners my disciples think the bed is made when the sheets and blankets aren't all on the floor. They say that the only time there is true ordering in nature is the moment of conception....even growth is a degenerative process. So, maybe the conception of the idea is all that is needed and ...
On the other hand, and since we are so enwrapped and tangled in this multi-cultural web of intrigue, maybe the fact that my little desert flower (esposa) grew up with chickens and goats and kids (human) sharing the straw mat on the floor might have something to do with it. Regardless, I entertain no delusions at this point. As long as there's only a few nits to pick out of our hair and the bed bugs don't bite too hard all will be well. This picture of a glorious field after a good soaking is available on auction at our friendly recession-proof, on-line gallery eBay.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Today a hawk flew into our picture window in pursuit of a white winged dove. The dove also hit the window and barely survived. I'll know in the morning if he'll live or not. The Cooper's Hawk perched outside for a while on the gnarled branch of an old mesquite tree waiting for us to leave the poor wounded creature so he could devour it. He finally flew off. I have him (the dove) in a box in the shop...he was out in the grass well hidden but it's going to rain tonight and there are critters out there and, well, there's nothing as innocent and gentle as a cooing dove. They look at you with those big doe(?) eyes that seem to plead for help whether they need it or not. You know doves are really pigeons...At least that's their classification. I have raised both doves and pigeons and have found them to be the most noble and clean birds out there. They keep one mate and both parents sit the nest and bring up the young...regurgitating copious amounts of half digested seed meal-mush into waiting and eager little beaks. For a time we had both chickens and pigeons in the same building. The chickens were layers, Aricanas and Buff Orpintons and... the odd Banty to keep things colorful. They typically wouldn't sit their eggs but since we always had a couple of roosters they were fertile -needing only the typical three weeks of broody warmth to hatch them out. We got the idea to put some chicken eggs in the pigeon nests to see what would happen. Faithful and true as the day is long those beautiful, iridescent and monogamous birds incubated and then hatched giant green and brown eggs as if they knew what they were doing. The fun part was to see them try to feed the young chicks who wanted to be pecking and scratching the ground as soon as possible, all the while the clueless surrogates kept trying to barf their little tidbits into the down-turned faces. We just built a new chicken coop and what with the hardscrabble times we've all fallen on, thought it would be good to raise our own food again. I think it pencils out to be about $10 a dozen (eggs) when everything has been tallied. Is that a good deal?
The weather as a mundane topic of idle conversation. Never! I know it's extremely easy to fall into familiar patterns when addressing farmers and their sort as most of us often do. And, it seems that the lone common denominator in vulgar parlance and everyday chit-chat would be that of looking up and commenting. But, I believe I have taken boring conversation to the next level. A higher degree, if you will, of interest and discourse. I find you can make quite good discoveries about people when the talk turns to weather. A lot can be learned from observing the skies and...observing how others observe them...or don't. Anyway, so as to not bore you with any more of the mundane as some would view it...I offer the above painting of great and blustery clouds over tireless trees..always with an eye on the weather, for their very leafs depend on it!
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Do you ever skip through the channels and wonder who really watches those back-water, cross-eyed, unintelligible rednecks with the Copenhagen tin sticking out of their flannel shirt pockets fishing in bass tournaments? Well, there is probably a long list of things that I could confess to that would lower any kind of high estimation someone might have of me. The thing is they were catching huge muskies on the river near my childhood home. How could I resist? I would fit the above description perfectly if it weren't for some aberrant beliefs I hold to. Unlike the hosts of the fishing shows I watch between brush strokes, I don't really believe in catch-and-release fishing. I love fish...alive and swimming. But I especially like them fried and steaming! Conversely, I do believe in catch-and-release hunting which, it seems, has very few adherents and meets with very limited success. (that's the part I'm used to) The activities mentioned here all serve to get me looking at sky and trees and land which, in turn, inspire me to paint...or write. So, I will continue to pursue not shooting game while walking with gun in hand and try my darnedest to not release any fish I might hook up with. This painting is of a scene not far from some of my latest exploits referred to in this post...and the wild and woolly sky that floats above the western US.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Por si no me creian todo lo que les he dicho de mis aventuras y trajedias... y por lo mismo, la pequena capacidad q' nosotros tenemos de expresarnos en multiples idiomas y dialectos, les escribo la siguiente descripcion de esta mas recien pieza de arte que salio del humilde estudio donde trabajo. Se llama "Cliff Hangers" y esta hecho a oleo sobre lienzo fijado en una tabla de tri-play o fibracel. Aqui estara en venta de subasta en eBay durante 10 dias.
The desert moon really is that big coming up over the Catalinas...in fact, right at the horizon it's just flat out huge. Makes one hanker for a big ol' knife and the largest saltine or Ritz cracker you ever saw. I'll let you in on a little confession here. I would love to paint more night views... A number of my favorite works of art are of scenes bathed in marvelous and luminous washes of green glowing warmth with rocks and cow horns glinting in the subtle glow.(Frank Tenney Johnson, Frederic Remington) I regret that the subtle aspect is often hard to detect over the artificial view-box that is the lowly computer monitor. Thus, I am more apt to describe the higher key / better lighted and more dramatic views caused by direct light with my brushes. I will try these night moves from time to time though and I'm almost always pleased with the results. This desert view captures the harshness and beauty of the Sonora Desert just as the sun goes down and makes way for sister moon.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
An otherwise typical Sunday...and but for the impudent upstarts called the Arizona Cardinals we could all relax the afternoon away contemplating the reason for the high price of tea in China and other equally compelling conundrums. As it is, we are set to perform an American ritual that for a true-blooded Viking is and will be, always and eternally, shot through with bitter-sweet strains of what might have been. I will attend a Superbowl party today. And as much as I hate the role of jilted lover, and as much as you want to say to me "get over it !" I and my fellow axe-wielding, skull-cleaving, tundra-blooded aficionados must bare the burden and ignominy of 4 super-game loses with nary a victory to our credit. Yes, I have exorcised the demons on numerous occasions only to submit to their siren call when once again the team seems to surge and I'm jolted out of my fair-weather-fan stupor by the cries of "they really have a chance this year" or, "hey, they're 8-4 just three more wins and we clinch a playoff spot". Fool heart of darkness and deceit, when will you leave me in peace? But for the tasty treats prepared by skillful wives and some men of extraordinary culinary abilities the occasion would be a total wash. The painting above reminds me of the glory of a Superbowl victory. Not the biggest victory on earth by any stretch but a victory nonetheless.