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?