Saturday, February 17, 2018

Sketchbook Highlights & Lessons Learned

February 17, 2018
   Finished another sketchbook today and went back to the beginning (Nov. 28, 2017) and culled out the highlights to see if I learned anything.

Daily Whip Out: "Four Hats On The Horizon"

Tribal Furies
   We are all circled around separate campfires grumbling about all the people out in the darkness we can't see. They are doing the same thing, about us.

Daily Whip Out: "Campfire Hatreds"

"Prejudices are cliches. They are second hand hatreds."

—Martin Amis

   The Whipple Expedition (1853-54) needed guides to take them from the Mojave villages on the Colorado River to Los Angeles. Irataba and another Mojave, Cairook, volunteered. This is rough, arid country and if you've ever driven from Needles to Barstow to San Bernadino,  you know exactly what I'm talking about. When the expedition reached the settlements, many of Whipple's men literally gave the shirts off their backs to their Mojave guides. Three or four men gave their hats in a token of appreciation for a job well done. The artist on the expedition,  H.B. Mollhausen,  described the scene this way: "Every one had been eager to bestow on the guides who had served us so faithfully whatever article he could spare from his wardrobe, and they had immediately donned it with stoical composure, so that they now look like wandering bundles of old clothes." The two Mojaves then walked back to the Colorado River, which inspired the above painting. I believe this would make a great opening scene in a movie, with four hats, stacked high, rippling in the heatwaves of the Mojave Desert. Slowly, a head and shoulders appear and then we see two In-dins walking towards us, loaded down with layers of clothes. 

  And here's the page where I got the inspiration:

Hats On Horizon inspiration: November 28, 2017

First Page of Sketchbook Painted Upside Down

Random Notes Along The Way

"The burial site of Maryanne is next to a golf course in Needles."
—Jeff Cuneo

Daily Whip Out: "Olive's Sister, Maryanne"

"There is no truth, no history—there is only the way in which the story is told."
—Richard Avedon

Daily Whip Out: "Midnight On The Colorado"

"Nothing dead is buried, and what we thought was dead lives on."
—Jelani Cobb

Random Note to Self:
   I used to regret not being born into more affluence but now I realize, when you are denied the gifts of privilege, you are granted other gifts, just as powerful, if you recognize them and take advantage of them. Nobody has it better. Just different circumstances with different opportunities and obstacles.

Daily Whip Out: "The Oatmans Stranded
In The Middle of The Gila River"

"Mere archives are not enough. You must go to all the places where the subject had ever lived, or worked, traveled or dreamed."
—Richard Holmes

"Biography is a handshake across time, across cultures, across beliefs and across ways of life. . . What was this human life REALLY like, and what does it mean NOW?"
—Richard Holmes (emphasis mine)

The moon is central to all poetry, as it is to the Mojaves!

"Moon Mooned for his true love"

   Full disclosure: I went to school with a huge Mojave kid named Moon.

   It's not going to be good unless there's good dialogue. Telling phrases make the difference:

"His idealism and empty obstinance got him and his family killed."
—Note on the character of Roys Oatman

"I want you to do what's best for your families."
—Francisco shrewdly coercing the Mojaves to release Olive (not from the record, but my invention, for the graphic novel, to capture his wily ways)

"A fool and his money are soon parted, but you never call him a fool til the money is gone."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Every event has an echo from the past.

Daily Whip Out: "Twilight of The Apaches"

  The Mojaves hate the Cocopahs and the Quechans hate the Yavapais, and the Yavapais hate the Maricopas, but they all have one thing in common—they all hate the Apaches. The Apaches return the favor, by hating everyone except fellow Apaches and a couple Navajos.

"I get paid to worry, and I intend to earn my keep."
—Major Seth Adams, "Wagon Train" 1957

The shock of the cold was gone. She felt a warmth spread throughout her body. She relaxed and frolicked, she splashed and she dove deep and touched the bottom. Time passed. She didn't want to get out.

Daily Whip Out: "Olive Treads Water"

"The next white person I see, I'm going to kill."
—In-din who is about to meet Olive Oatman on the trail

Observation: If you were beaten for not understanding a language you had never spoken, what kind of defenses would you create?

"His cornbread ain't done in the middle."
—Old Pioneer Putdown

Observation: The thing that makes it strong, will bring it down.

"Where doubt is, there truth is—it is her shadow."
—Gamaliel Bailey

Dueling Jackasses
"American democracy is the worship of jackals by jackasses."
—H.L. Mencken

"Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one."
—Sam Rayburn

Friday, February 16, 2018

Arizona Charlie Meadows Deserves A Cover

February 16, 2018
   Went home for lunch and worked on a portrait of an Old West character who should be a lot more famous than he is. Marshall Trimble wrote a great feature on him which will appear in the next issue of True West. 

Daily Whip Out: "Arizona Charlie Meadows"

"You can't hate someone whose story you know."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Virgil Stands Tall

February 16, 2018
   When asked what she thought of her brother-in-law, Wyatt Earp, being portrayed as a hero in "Frontier Marshal" and the movies, Allie Earp pronounced it all as "Gingerbread." In her mind, her husband stood the tallest. 

Daily Whip Out: "Virgil Stands Tall"

"Never mind, I've got one arm left to hug you with."

—Virgil, to Allie, after his left elbow joint was sawed off after being ambushed by Ike Clanton and his cowardly friends.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The True West Class of 2018, Part V

February 15, 2018
   Here's two more classmates of mine that deserve to be included in the:

Lynda A. Sánchez: age 6, 1951, with her father, Joe Carithers (one of the last members of the horse cavalry trained at Fort Riley, Kansas in 1944)). The two are working on corrals near Tucson Mountain Park where he was the Superintendent. He instilled in his children a love of history and the wild outdoors. "I always loved history but I became interested in writing history when I worked with Eve Ball in 1973. I published my first article in True West in 1978 with an article on Geronomo's wives. Since then I have published 6 books and more than 350 articles." Lynda lives on a small ranch along the Rio Bonito in historic Lincoln, New Mexico.

Linda Wommack: Photo taken in my backyard in Littleton, Colorado approximately 1965. I am 7 years old. My late brother, Stephen is the boy in the middle. He was killed in a Marine Corp accident in 1983. I have been interested in history since my mother told me stories of Clear Creek Annie as we drove through the Colorado rock canyons of Clear Creek Canon. In third grade I did my first book report on a book about Baby Doe Tabor of Leadville, Colorado. I began reading True West in college and my first article was published in the magazine in 1994. Today I am a contributing editor for True West. I have been a staff writer for Tombstone Epitaph since 1995 and a staff writer for Wild West magazine since 2003. I have published ten books on Colorado history with the latest being a first ever biography of "Ann Bassett, Colorado's Cattle Queen."

"In This world truth can wait. She's used to it."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tattered Clouds In Cave Creek

February 15, 2018
   We've had a bunch of rain, which we needed. Got up this morning and witnessed tattered clouds shredding the mountains all around us. Check it out:

Elephant Butte and Sugarload shrouded in clouds

Continental Mountain Enveloped

Ratcliff Ridge In The Rain

"I can show you that when it starts to rain everything's the same
I can show you, I can…"
—"Rain" by The Beatles

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Vendetta Riders vs. An Overworked Complete Piece of Crap

February 13, 2018
   I signed off on all the proofs for the April issue this morning, at about 11:45 and walked into Robert Ray's office and said, "I can't stand this 'Vendetta Riders' splash page. My painting sucks!" And Robert said, "So go home and paint a new one."

   So I did. In fact I painted three different versions, counting the big, ambitious piece of crap I did over the weekend. In fact, I finally, went back to the original study and added a half-dozen riders to it.

Daily Whip Out: "Vendetta Riders Final"

   Here for your viewing displeasure are the failures (warning: looking at these is like viewing a slow-motion trainwreck):

"Piece of Crap, In Progress"

Not a bad start, some decent rendering here and there. . .

Piece of Crap Overworked

   It's at this stage that I typically go into panic mode and start trying to lock down the elements.

"Piece of Crap Overpainted And Ruined Completely"

   What is that, a laser gun?! Smothered the dust completely, broke the front legs on Wyatt's horse and made mud out of his face. If it's mud you want, I'm your Man!

"Every artist needs another artist to stand behind him with a mallet and at the appropriate moment, start bashing the artist on the back of the head, yelling out, 'Stop! Stop! You're ruining it!!'"
—Walter Henn, the late, great Lincoln, New Mexico artist and friend.

The Ross Rant

February 13, 2018
   I know a couple ranters and as long as they are not talking about me, or to me, I love it when they go off. Professor Paul Hutton is an excellent ranter and when he goes off, he really goes off. We're talking foam-at-the-mouth ranting. One time we were driving back from Tombstone and he started off on someone who had crossed him in academia and I thought he just might kick out the windshield.

   Ironically, a good friend of Hutton's is also a terrific ranter. Two weeks ago I merely asked him to go see the new Western "Hostiles" and give me a comment, and, here, is just a snippet of what he sent me:

"Thank god the white guy and the white BLONDE woman survived....along with the little Indian boy with the perfectly braided hair who probably wound up being a crack-head on the Crow rez." 

Ranting Ross On The Crow Res

For the full dose of the Ross Rant go here:

Ross Rant

"Also, the pretentious music kept reminding me that this movie was 'heavy' otherwise I would have thought it was a Monty Python skit."

—Artist Thom Ross

Monday, February 12, 2018

Hans Olson And The Standing O at Fountain Hills

February 12, 2018
   My good friend Carole Compton Glenn knows how much I dig great hats, so she stopped in Rio Verde on her drive home to Fountain Hills from the True West World Headquarters to take this great photo of a landscaper and his magnificent sugarloaf sombrero. 

AY Yi Yi, do I ever dig this look. Muy magnifico!

    Of course, I have been known to sport a wide brim myself:

The Razz Band, circa 1986

   That's Jack Alves, at left, BBB, Hans Olson and Rick Unger (from Cosmo Topper fame). Hans, is by far, the best stylist I have ever had the pleasure of performing with. Besides his own original tunes, he's just amazing at taking someone else's tune and making it his own.

  And so last Friday I motored out to Fountain Hills to see my old friend Hans Olson perform at the Community Center. Thanks to Carole Glenn and Allen Fossenkemper, he had a full house and True West sponsored the event.

Hans had a full house at the Community Center

Hans Olson singing the song he sang for Kathy and I
on July 28, 1979.

Hans gets the standing O

The name of the song is "Arizona—What Are You Doin' Tonight." Chokes me up whenever I hear it: a.) because it's a damn, beautiful tune, and b.) it reminds me of this:

July 28, 1979, Pioneer, Arizona

"The bride who takes a man for better or worse often finds him much worse than she took him for."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Pulling Iron And Flagpole Climbing

February 11, 2018
   One of the byproducts of painting is that stories—and titles—often develop and appear, as I lay in washes. For me, it's kind of magical and therapeutic at the same time.

Daily Whip Out: "Pulling Iron"

   That was not the title I started out with. I was pursuing the theme "Blood On The Badge" and in the process of painting the above, this better, or, at least, more accurate, title showed itself. So I went with it.

   Even when I was just starting out, at age four or five, my parents told me I would draw pictures and then tell them what the story was that led to the scene. Often the scenes did not live up to the crude renderings, but the main thing is the act of drawing has always led me to a story.

   So I have been thinking quite a bit about storytelling lately. Here are a few thoughts on writing stories that I have benefited from:

   Writing is easy: choose the right words and put them in the right order.

   Writing is hard: close yourself in a windowless room and wrack your brain until tiny beads of blood form on your forehead.

   "Omit needless words."

—William Strunk Jr and E. B. White, Rule 17, "The Elements of Style"

   "Let's get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up."

—Stephen King, "On Writing"

   And, as a bonus, sometimes we get credit for things we really had nothing to do with:

Dear Professor Hutton,
   "I observe you on tv where the show is entitled 'Gunslingers,' I believe this to be a misnomer as I think gunslinger is a modern term perpetuated by that phony Bob Booze Bell."
—Jack Meyer

Story Idea: The Exits
   A young transgender cowboy—his friends call him "Booze"— falls in love with a grunge Queen living in a ramshackle house on the edge of the Mojave Desert. After the gas is turned off the two must accompany the aged and ailing landlord for medical help in 29 Palms, but a biker gang has other ideas. After a shootout in a Cum-N-Go parking lot, where several of the bikers are shot dead, the media and the lawyers take over and soon the trans-cowboy finds himself in legal hot water as several former girlfriends accuse him of appropriating the term "gunslingers" and using it for financial gain. This tenderly exuberant metaphor ricochets back and forth between his innocent past, and the "exiting" of his current body.

Daily Whip Out: "The Exits"

"The farther up the flagpole you go, the more people can see your rear end."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Big Time In Wickenburg at the Gold Rush Days Parade

February 10, 2018
   Had a blast at the Wickenburg Gold Rush Days Parade this morning. Big crowds, big horses and one savvy wagon boss:

The Big Boys Make The Turn

   Those big Percherons are actually females and the one on the left, Lucy, was a handful. She kept wanting to go sideways, or bust loose, and I must give a shoutout to our wagon boss, John Augustine, for keeping them both in line.

The True West Wagon Rolls On

“What happened was, they put me and my co-marshal, author Ridley Pearson, into an antique fire truck along with Daisy Duck and Clarabelle the Cow. I have nothing against either of these veteran Disney characters, but let's be honest, their careers are not currently sizzling, especially in the case of Clarabelle, who hasn't had a hit cartoon since roughly the Civil War.” 
― Dave Barry

It's Time for Funnier In-dins

February 10, 2018
   Drove over to Wickenburg last night and rode in the annual Gold Rush Days Parade this morning. Pictures to follow.

   I've been thinking a lot lately about the portrayal of In-dins in movies and how they so rarely are portrayed with a sense of humor. They weren't all stoic-stick-in-the-muds, you know:

Boy Howdy, Yuma Bill Rowdy

   The Hualapais I grew up with are very funny. On this note, I received the following from Kid Raven (Thom Ross):

Hey Triple-B from Ol' AZ -

   How about a funny Indian?  Has there EVER been one or did they ALL wander around talking in a kind of stilted language that would lead one to believe that they ALL read nothing but Kahlil Gibran?

"Jackson Two-Bears" in "Cat Ballou" was funny.

"Nobody" (Gary Farmer) was a riot in "Dead Man"

And as I recall Rodney Grant showed some humor towards Kevin Costner as they recounted the buffalo hunt that night.

Or maybe it is just that when Indians got into the company of white guys they didn't find anything funny.

That "hemaneh" (however you spell that word that means bi-sexual) "Little Horse" in "Little Big Man" was funny in a kind of way that one associates with gay I don't know if that counts.

And "Old Lodge Skins" (Chief Dan George) showed great humor in both "Little Big Man" and "Jose Wales"

but other then that, Indians either WEREN'T funny or, sadly, our stereotypical image of an Indian is now seen as a laconic and world-weary philosopher.

And you can't forget the Hakowee Indians from "F Troop".......they were a riot in a New York/Jewish sort of way!

I want funnier Indians!

—Kid Raven

"There is a limitless supply of white men. There has always been a limited number of human beings."
—Old Lodge Skins (Chief Dan George), in "Little Big Man"