Friday, December 28, 2012

River Crossing

Treacherous River Crossing

It wasn't a raging torrent that swept me under, nor was the deep flow completely unexpected. It's just that I remembered the crossing to be a bit shallower.  Quite a bit it turns out. The week before we had crossed the rain-swelled river in a friends truck.  It was a big ol' Ford diesel, the kind that requires a small ladder to crawl into.  We chugged through the waist deep current, about 40 yards across, with nary a care. This week, I was alone and in my somewhat smaller Chevy Blazer 4x4.  I thought the water had receded since last we met and dove in where it looked like a ranch truck or two had crossed earlier.  Chugging and gulping about half way through with water coming up over the hood I realized I might be in a bit over my head (didn't have to search too hard for a metaphor here) I made the crossing with the motor coughing and sputtering and wiped my brow in temporary relief...I had to come back this way again. The second crossing was more eventful.

If I threw up a prayer or two the first time, at the new approach I was burning through the clouds with a ferocious fervency usually reserved for, well, times like this. I was even  imploring the help of angels (something I never do) and hoping for a divine stroke of  insight as to the condition of the river bed and the water depth etc.  Well, I decided to cross a little further to the right, upstream from the first attempt.  In hindsight I don't know why I just didn't use the gps /map on the smart phone to see that there was indeed another way home from the other side.  Also, I had chest waders in the truck (I was pursuing ducks that morning) and could have easily probed for the shallower crossing point.  As it was I hit the water's edge with a tight grip on the wheel, locked in the 4x4 and gently eased her into the green/brown flow hoping for the best and thinking that the worst scenario would be to stall in the very middle and deepest part of the stream.  About a third of the way through I had water coming up over the hood again and the tailpipe, fully submerged, gurgled its disapproval.  The water then was up to the windshield and flowing up to eye level. I could feel that the rig wanted to float and as I got to midstream the flagging, churning engine with its compartment fully flooded decided it had had enough.  In the dead truck all was still save for the beautiful bubbling and trickling sounds as water filled every crevice of the engine's house and started to leak in to the cab itself. As I sat, water was up to my driver's side window, about shoulder's height. My last and seemingly futile desperate cries for help to an ever-hearing (albeit invisible) God mumbled through clenched teeth were exhaled as I turned the key in foolish hope.  On the seventh try the engine sputtered to life, I threw it in gear and lugged it out of the abyss hardly able to believe my Christmas miracle.  The car chugged and coughed for the first ten miles or so and then was fine and purred like a six cylinder kitten.  When once at the ranch and in the safe confines of our little desert studio I got down on my titanium knee and gave thanks...and painted the picture above. (The top one Titled River Crossing...the others are available for purchase on eBay)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Light Rise, Serendipitious Sunfish, Oasis Pond

Christmas eve greetings to our blogfriends. Now, about Christmas cookies. I was rebuked for my backhanded comments yesterday by my daughter.  Christmas cookies ain't what they used to be and I'm gonna stick by my guns on this one. 7 dozen, moderately decorated supposed holiday delectables arrived this week.  They were the result of a cookie exchange.  I just need to say that, peanut butter, ginger snap and chocolate chip are NOT Christmas cookies.  Neither are a number of other no-account pretzel and Hershey-kiss festooned treats that glibly try to pass themselves off as bearers of holiday cheer.  As tasty as these wanna-bees might be they have no business horning their way in to the time-honored assortment of sugary seasonal victuals. Chalk it up to the high standards of my glorious Swedish and Polish ancestry or to the frigid northland kitchens where a baking oven served dual purpose but somehow and for some reason I have noticed a definite decline in quality and appearance in recent years. It might just be that the desert southwest, being the cultural hodge-podge that it is, is responsible for this watering down of the most sacred of holiday customs. I have determined, however, that I will not let this dampen my cheerfulness...just hoping someone will see the bar being raised a bit so posterity can continue to experience what this season is really about. Oh, wait a minute, it's about getting presents. I almost forgot.

Here's to almond and chocolate spritz cookies with green sugar and silver balls sprinkled tastefully about. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Goldwater 14x12, Near Red Rock 12x24

Light reflections today. I've been doing a lot of commissioned works lately. These two are up for sale on the bay. Check 'em out and get into a bidding war with someone over them.  That's the only war I believe in...oh, wait, I also believe in my war against the bobcats. There are at least three of them I've seen hanging around and twice they got into my chickens...killed 5 and all my pigeons.  They are on the hit list list and I have declared war!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cloud "A" 18x12, The Old Guard 30x24

How long will I be able to play football?  A question that everyone asks himself from time to time and one that I think, during this season of economic upheaval and gift giving, is on everyone's mind.   I, for one, intend to go on at least another 15 years...maybe 20.   As long as I can keep upping the magnification on the reading glasses, skeet shooting, writing and painting should all be fine...well into my nineties.  But the gridiron does indeed take it's toll and I'm not really sure how many more times the tailbone can take Eli (200 lb 17 yr. old) rushing in on those fourth-down desperation drop-backs. Today, the day after our annual Turkey Bowl, I am walking slowly. Tomorrow I will need to take some aspirin. By next weekend I'm sure I'll be ready for another romp on the playground. Sure it hurts, but you know, it's a good hurt. It's not too unlike the struggle you have with trying to build an oil painting.  It kicks your butt for a while but when you finally come out on top the bruises and contusions you suffered in the heat of battle make the victory all the sweeter. These paintings were savory to me on many levels.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Airplane 1945 18x24, Sundown Seaside 24x30

Another proof of my pettiness. While some people lament the overuse of techno-stuff with kids, materialism at Christmas, bickering between political factions, the high price of gasoline and movie tickets etc.  I hark back to the good old days when you could get a nice fresh apple (only in season) from your friendly neighborhood grocer and not find anything unwashable sticking to the fruit.  I hate having to peel the super-glued, magnetized, RFD chip-implanted atomic tag stuck to every Golden Delicious I want to eat.  Hey, I have a hard enough time just getting myself to consume anything not made of meat and sugar so what's with this obstacle? How am I supposed to get my 2 weekly portions of green stuff? Well, my plan is to start eating the little ID stickers and see if it don't make me sick. I think I've got a lawsuit in the making.  I'll get back to you on this one.  Meanwhile, enjoy the new paintings made for your listening pleasure.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Same Palette two Paintings

People come, seasons go
But we got something that will never grow old
And I don't care if the sun don't shine
And the rain keeps pouring down on me and mine
'Cause our kind of love never seems to get old
It's better than silver and gold
                                        -Neil Young

The good part about being ten times older and wiser and smarter than the pile of teens and twenty-somethings that inhabit my house is that I'm always right.  The downside is that my sagacity is hardly recognized by the ones that need it (and daily rely on it) most. My heretofore diurnal cycle of life has taken a turn this last year or so. For some reason I am needing less sleep prompting wakefulness way before the dawn. I rise a full two hours before the rooster even thinks about crowing (he's doing it right now just outside the study where I write). It's not insomnia, nor stress; I gave those up years ago. My guess is that the extreme narrow mindedness I have developed results in the channeling of all my energies to an acute and finely sharpened point of intellectual astuteness and efficient productivity, thus negating the need for much sleep. Sound reasonable? Or maybe it's just that for some reason I can't see the clock on the dresser anymore.  Or maybe it has to do with going to bed and 8:30 pm. Either way, like I've told the kids a million times..."There's nothing wrong with being narrow minded when you're right".  I painted both of these with the same tube colors.  I use a fairly limited palette of just about 5-7  colors. No sense in muddying things up with too many options. Hope you like these latest offerings.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Three New Paintings

Osa Johnson wrote a book called I Married Adventure.  She and her husband Martin were the first to document with film aboriginal peoples and wildlife in Africa and the tropical islands of Malaysia (in the 1920's).  It was recommended to me by a well meaning fellow who, by force of zeal, was submitted to my eloquent and compelling description of the writings of America's most adventurous and noble president Teddy Roosevelt. The flumsy (clumsy and fumbling) anecdotes that comprise the "adventures" of this couple serve only to throw in stark relief the contrast between the real deal and the fake. It's not always easy to detect the fake but when you come upon the real everything else fades to the background (where it belongs).   Had my book recommender friend ever read Mr. Roosevelt he would have clapped a hand over his mouth before a word ever escaped his gaping verb-hole and simply nodded for me to carry on while secretly shaming himself for even thinking his little novel should be mentioned in the company and light of the true standard-bearer of adventure.   I did, however, listen to his word-in-edgewise and even abased myself to read his book thus, the knowledge I gained to share this with you.
There are a few areas where I think this applies. Politics of course and probably because almost all  politicians seem to equivocate (ignoble trait) when it's convenient; very hard to tell if they're fake.  Art is another area where, if you have access to the real good stuff everything else appears to be student-grade. Honestly, most of us "painters" never develop the eye of the real artist (I include myself here) but, at the very least we can have as our standard the very best.

The evangelical fervor I employ to propound the excellencies of the writing and the downright manliness of Theodore Roosevelt and his tempered (some would say skewed) world-view must come in second however, to the fierceness of the burning heart that is experienced by knowing the Lord Jesus. When once His standard is raised in the heart of any person all religiousness fades to the background in the light of His unequaled glory...One of my favorite words.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Crimson Cows, A Red Land 24x18's

Just to clarify regarding my last post.  Yes, I know, my little litany of slight sufferings is a pathetic way to garner sympathy. I did, however, preface it by begging the indulgence "this one last time". So, I thought I'd throw it all out there to impress myself. Well, I'm not impressed (though you gotta admit those pics of  busted bones send "Obama tingles" down your [left] leg) especially since I know we all have had our own physical trials.  Our brains are good at stuffing away memories of grief and pain and if not for that grace from God I think we'd all be in a mental jam. Percocet and Vicodin aside, the third best therapy I have found for restoring your mental equipoise is to break out oil paints and slather them liberally all over a canvas.  That's what I did here. With all the painting therapy I do you must wonder what kind of pain I continually find myself in. And, you must wonder what are the top two remedies I refer to. Read Psalm 119 out loud to yourself and you will see.  To turbo-charge the effect, do it while painting a masterpiece...or something of the sort.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Water's Edge 12x16 Tib,fib, ankle break

I know I've already milked this for all its worth but indulge me this one last time. One year ago today I suffered an injury that rivaled all my previous physical travails.  That includes, hepatitis, malaria, pneumonia, one root canal, amoebic dysentery, 7 other broken bones, concussions (2), stitches, hundreds of bee/wasp stings, scorpion stings and the birth of my children. (vicariously obviously...hey, I did cut an umbilical chord on one occasion and had to stand by and watch them resuscitate one non-breathing kid)  Anyway, I'm very glad to be able to say along with one of the men I most admire in all this life (and the next) that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Moon Water 24x12

Blood splattered all over the shop. It should have tipped me off that something was amiss.  Well, I thought, as long as no one came running in to wake me from my sweet and happy dreamworld it couldn't have been that bad.  Later, in the shop, I saw a whole fingernail...not attatched to a finger! Eli grows them out real long for guitar playing.  I guess they're not that effective at staying clear of the belt sander.  So the studio floor as well as the stairwell sport a new and colorful motif and there are strips of gauze and band aid wrappers strewn all over the house.  They make (the kids) such a big deal out of a little blood loss.  Back in my day we didn't go to the doctor's unless our legs were broke in half by a rampaging atv.  Speaking of that, next week is the one year anniversary of the left-leg titanium implant.  The new leg works great for painting.  It's real easy to chain to the easel and there I stand most days building masterpieces while casting pitiful glances out the window at all the other children who are able to run and free to play.  Such is the life I lead. I only thank God for odorless mineral spirits...helps keep me sane and... keeps the ghosts (of ducks) away.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Puffer Fish 36x24, Solitary 24x24, The Wind & The Lion 12x24

One of the great benefits of 3am rising is that I get a chance to listen to Coast To Coast AM with George Noory while driving the duck truck. This early bird habit is brought on by the autumnal urge to be knee deep in swamp water to watch the sunrise and listen to mallard chatter. So the other morning the guest was a parapsychologist who also happened to be a professional chocolatier and excelled in a number of other completely unrelated and equally wackadoodle pursuits. Well, to quote my uncle Bob Dylan, "You ever seen a ghost? No, but you have heard of them"  After reciting a long list of pseudo accomplishments the ghost whisperer, who takes himself way too serious, offered to mentor would-be ghost chasers. I say if you don't want to stay up all night listening to the radio but still would like to experience some first-hand conjuring... just watch what I can do with a duck call and some oil paint.  These paintings were all made with a lanyard of calls around my neck and 7 ducks (Black East Indies) just outside the studio door. Ghosts can fly but they can't quack.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Aviary, Bull Sleep, Waterdown

Demonic serpents should not play a significant roll in anyone's life. That's what I think.  But hey, it is Halloween season and I guess it's fitting that we narrowly escaped another encounter with the fanged fury of the desert.  I was just about to tell Eli to walk directly behind me and step exactly where I stepped.  I was thinking 'bout rattlers as we hiked over prickly pear fields in search of wild, edible game.  Ankle-high grass with the most annoying and penetrating seeds known to man had infiltrated my boots and socks and a jumping cactus had already been painfully extricated from my left calf. (The titanium does nothing to repel hitchhikers. So what use is the bionic leg anyway?) The sun had set and the light was quickly fading. We were headed for the truck, shotguns over our shoulders but still spread out in battle formation. A few yards behind and off to my right trundled Eli in full hunting regalia. Oh, I guess he was more comfortable in his thin-soled canvas skater shoes. Anyway, he yelled and I turned. There was a fat and venomous mouth of death coiled and ready to strike ...I had just passed to within a moth's whisker of certain pain and amazing blog-fodder. Thanks to my boy's good eyes and my covenant with God against all things vile and sinful we made it home safe and sound. These pictures reflect the sentiment of a grateful heart.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Boom 36x24, Flowers 24x36, The Rocks 18x12

I highly recommend you download the "paperweight" and "hockey puck" apps for your smart phone, they work fantastic.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A MArsh, Serena, Near Mammoth

It's that time of year.  Wetlands are calling and I can't help but answer. There is a certain bifurcated essence to the work I do. On the one hand there is the fantastical and romantic. A lot of trees and billowing clouds mysteriously make their way into the paintings...well, more than just make their way, they are the featured players.  Yes, I know, it's almost a shameless indulgence of color and forms, edited from nature's own God-spun, made to fit the squares and rectangles of canvas and please the simple soul and the weary eye of the painter. The other are the tonalist styled earth-tones of grey and brown, dreary, leaden skies hanging over bleak and sparse land peppered with forlorn cattle, shrouded moons and silhouettes of live and dead vegetation.  The monsoon season is ending.  The season of bog slogging is at hand.  As my dear uncle Bob Dylan said recently "I feel a change commin' on" 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Iris...My favorite flower

These were all special order. It's nice to make something other than landscapes once in a while.  I haven't posted too many pictures of  the great pile of commissioned works I've been doing lately.  Is that by design?  Am I holding back the best for private consumption?  Maybe I am.  Secrecy and sublime subterfuge are my new marketing schemes.  The more unknown I am the more my work will sell. Right?  Well maybe this technique will go the way of "Asparagus on a Stick" and deep fried goat tongue (two of my favorite treats) They didn't really take off (yet) but somewhere in an obscure county fair someone is trying to proffer  these delicate wonders...much how I would describe my paintings.  I probably just have to figure out how to get them  in the deep fryer... and maybe add some bacon.  That usually sells.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Inside The Artist's intimate look

King snakes of southern Az. They are so tame in the wild a child can pick them up and play with them yet, put them in the presence of a rattlesnake and they devour the thing with a crazy ferocity. Immune to the venom and not bothered at all by the fangs (the rattlers strike and bite at will) the king snake wraps a strangle-hold around the heart and begins to eat the viper head first while it's still alive!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Twilight Vines, Wind & Water

Here's a couple of new ones that are/ will be up for auction this week. Hot weather has kept me sluggishly slaving and sweating, tied to the easel with a large cup of ice water or a diet pepsi at the ready. My only indulgence has been to leave the confines of the cool (relatively) shop to check on the ducks, chickens and pigeons out back.  There are only a few things that really should be kept "at the ready" in this life. I'll illustrate here. One very early morning last week a hapless coyote came a bit too close while I had a trusty, lever action repeating rifle across my lap. I was sitting in my favorite outdoor chair, fresh-lit pipe dangling from the corner of my mouth, Bible in my right hand and a cup of tea in my left. The rest is history as they say. This little story serves as a list of things that every desert dwelling, livestock-raising man should have close at hand.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How is it that the one who, after dodging patrol helicopters during a midnight rendezvous with death (clandestine fishing excursion) and who finally lays down to sleep the slumber of a thousand logs at 2 am, is the first to rise in the morning?  So goes the definitive description of our household and my erstwhile early-morning companions who populate it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Adventures too numerous to count have prevailed this summer.  So, here's a few new paintings to let the blog know I ain't been slackin'.  Rattlesnakes, explosives, clandestine midnight fishing, sorties into enemy territory (Mex) and all this with a titanium leg that is really beginning to convince me that my normal x-man powers have been enhanced to a level heretofore unknown in our household.  I just have to be careful not to get angry while playing soccer 'cause those big adamantium spikes come shooting out of my foot and all @#$% breaks loose.
Marissa's birthday is today.  My little baby girl is 23...hmmm, I guess that makes me a little older than her.