Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mangas And Drooling Zonies

September 29, 2016
   When my son Thomas Charles was about ten he came under the spell of the Apache chief Mangas Coloradas (Spanish for Red Sleeves). For some reason, Tommy just thought he was the coolest and wanted to know all about him. This morning I was noodling some wet into wet ideas and there he was.

Daily Whip Out: "Mangas"

We've had some crazy clouds the last week or so. Here's a scene of a storm I witnessed on a trip to New Mexico several years ago. As I was motoring eastward, just around the corner from Magdalena, I soon dropped down into the slot canyon that drains into the town of Socorro,  and it was there I witnessed a fast moving storm that went right over my truck like a freight train. It was so magnificent, I had to pull over and get out and watch it. I imagine some of the passing locals muttered, "Oh, look Honey, another damn Zonie looking skyward and drooling." But, I didn't care.

Daily Whip Out: "Freight Train Clouds"

   Speaking of memorable clouds, got a link from a friend, Mort Mortensen, to some pretty spectacular photographs of West Texas. The music is strong, as well. If this doesn't make you proud to be a Westerner, nothing will.

"[Peter Berg's] movies are full of sentiment and akin to Westerns, a noble but defunct form in which life is a parable enacted on a burning plain."
—Rich Cohen, writing about Peter Berg's films in Esquire magazine

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Road Ahead

September 28, 2016
   I didn't want to get up early today.  I wanted to lounge around and wake up on my own, but I forced myself up and out the door at 6:15, and caught this wonderful Monsoon Morning Madness, with a storm rolling in and the sun coming up, creating all sorts of spectacular effects in every direction. Here's the view to the north:

"The Road Ahead"

And to the west:

"View to The West"

and off to the east as well:

"Storm to the East"

As I told Linda Stewart, a fellow desert rat and photographer who lives to the west of me, this could be my life's motto:

"Get up early, go outside and look up. You will often be surprised at what greets you."
—BBB Mantra

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Storm Over Red Mountain

September 27, 2016
   When I went home for lunch today, it was cool and sprinkling out. This inspired me to do one more Monsoon Madness painting. 

Daily Whip Out: "Storm Over Red Mountain."

"Design always depicts the things that matter to us. . .until they don't."
—Michael Rock

Cubist Snake Eyes and Van Gogh Redux

September 27, 2016
   After my marathon sessions to get a credible Romaine Lowdermilk CD cover painting, I needed to air out my brain with a palette cleanser. So this morning, I emulated a Max Papart cubist piece and tried to give it a Triple B spin. 

Daily Whip Out: "Snake Eyes"

   It was a year ago we were on the trail of van Gogh in the south of France. Great trip, very inspiring for an artist. I was especially impressed with his work ethic. He got up before dawn and hiked out to various locations to paint, arriving home after dark.

Daily Whip Out: "Van Gogh Hiking Out to Paint"

   It was also on this trip I saw where the pistol that killed van Gogh was buried, on the east end of Auvers Sur Oise, which is about 20 miles north of Paris. Thanks to a tour guide I got to see a photograph of the rusted out pistol that was discovered in the 1950s. I drew this from an iPhone image I took of it:

Daily Whip Out: "The Buried Pistol That Killed Van Gogh"

Someone sent me an annual event in Holland that I would love to see. Check this out:

Van Gogh Floats

"Figures don't lie, but liars can figure."
—Mark Twain

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Dude Wrangler CD Cover

September 26, 2016
   Our in-house designer, Rebecca Edwards took a crack at the Romaine Lowdermilk CD cover, utilizing the painting Johnny D likes the best:

Daily Whip Out: "The Dude Wrangler CD layout"

Johnny asked me how long it took me to do this and I said, most of the weekend. I think I took about ten runs at this, including this rough sketch:

Daily Whip Out: "Lowdermilk Rough Sketch"

Not to mention a couple other approaches:

Daily Whip Out: "Lowdermilk Arizona Cowboy"

And, of course, I did an early scratchboard:

Daily Whip Out: "Romaine Lowdermilk"

So, all told I probably did a dozen passes at this and if that seems excessive, or, overcompensating, I must remind you that Maynard Dixon often did 85 drawings and sketches before he got what he wanted. So, I've got a ways to go before catch up to the master. Finding the time, is another matter.

"When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself."
—Karen Blixen 

Triple B And Johnny D Present "The Dude Wrangler"

September 24, 2016
   Some time back I was contacted by the legendary music-history archivist, John Dixon, better known around here as —Johnny D—who, as it turns out, wants to give a gift of old time, authentic Arizona cowboy music to our True West readers. Johnny asked me if I would do the CD cover and so this past weekend I whipped out four different versions.

Daily Whip Out: "Lowdermilk—The Dude Wrangler, No. 1"

   Here, let me have the man behind the project himself, tell you the story:

Romaine Lowdermilk: The Dude Wrangler
    As a long time fan of Arizona music, it's songs, singers and musicians, I'm always looking for ways to expose this wonderful music to new ears that will appreciate it for the great music that it is.  I own many recordings and tapes of Arizona singers and bands and have managed over the years to get these songs, and stories released on vinyl and records.  Romaine Lowdermilk was a most interesting character to me as I had heard about his rare acetates floating around the country (I don't even have a copy), however Floyd Ramsey's son Tim had the original Romaine tapes that were used to make these one of a kind acetates.  He was kind enough to donate them to my Arizona Music Archive, that includes all of the Audio Recorders of Arizona tape masters.

Daily Whip Out: "Lowdermilk, The Dude Wrangler, No. 2"
(ironically, this looks more like Marshall Trimble, The Ashfork Wrangler!)

   Most singers, another local cowboy singer George Gillespie comes to mind, would make vinyl records of their singing to sell locally to friends and fans.  Romaine on the other hand made his own recordings of classic cowboy songs that he had honed while working on dude ranches and singing for winter visitors to The Valley.  There were two sessions, 1951 and again in 1955, done at Ramsey's Recording Studio on the corner of 7th Street and Weldon in Phoenix.  If anyone asked if he had any records he would tell them to stop by Ramsey's and there they would cut a 10" or 12" acetate on a recording lathe, in real time, type the song titles on a label, and the disc inserted into a blank record cover.  The 10" disc had 6 songs and the 12" had 12 songs.  I don't know if Romaine got any money directly for his albums, but Ramsey's charged $3.75 for a two sided disc.

Daily Whip Out: "Campfire Jammin' #5"

   Romiane Lowdermilk had a large following here as  a solo artist and as a member of The Arizona Wranglers in the early 30's.  The Wranglers had a radio show on KOY and they sang at The Arizona Biltmore before moving on to fame and fortune in L.A.,without Romaine, who (happily) remained in Phoenix.  

Daily Whip Out: "Lowdermilk (unfinished)"
(I like it that we have female campfire listeners, but I killed the campfire glow with too much orange)

   Most of these cowboy singers are never heard beyond the cow punchers sitting around the campfire or the cattle that are in ear shot.  Some of them made it out of the saddle and onto a stage or the radio waves across America and a select few sang on the big screen.   Who knows what would have happened if Lowdermilk had traveled to the West Coast in 1931 with The Arizona Wranglers.  After all these years I am thrilled to help bring Romaine's music and his story to the readers of True West. 

No one is better qualified to tell it than my friend Marshall Trimble, who has written a feature story about this talented singer that will run in the December issue.  Enjoy the memories and tales of the working cowboy in these 18 songs, performed by this one of a kind entertainer, Romaine Lowdermilk.
—Johnny D

As soon as the CDs are pressed, we will begin offering a free CD to anyone who subscribes to True West for a year ($29.95). it's going to make for a great Christmas present to our readers and to your friends who appreciate authentic cowboy music. And it's all because of the generosity of Johnny D.

Thanks Johnny!

"Work is more fun than fun."
—Noel Coward

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Croquet Photo Virus Hits France

September 23, 2016
   Yesterday I got news of a newly discovered photo that shows Vincent van Gogh at a table, drinking, along with his Arles roommate Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard, among others. Very few known photos of the adult van Gogh are known to exist, although I have seen one, in a book, that allegedly shows his back. The subject is sitting at an outdoor table (I'll post that photo tomorrow). This is all very exciting because the troubled painter left behind so few photos. This new photo was supposedly taken in Paris by Jules Antoine, an architect and amateur photographer, in December of 1887.

  When I accessed the photo, my heart sank.


The alleged photo of van Gogh (third from left) and Paul Gauguin (far right).

An auction house with the unlikely name of Romantic Agony offered the photo for sale with an estimate of $136,000-$170,000. However, the photo failed to sell. It didn't help that Bob McCubbin deemed the photo a hoax. I'm sorry, Bob had nothing to do with it, but a photo expert from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam said it was not the famous Dutch painter.

Sound familiar?

"Art is anything you can get away with."
—Some artist who damn well knew what he was talking about

Campfire Jammin'

September 23, 2016
   For some time now I have been jammin' on campfire light.  Not easy to do and I'm still struggling with the dynamic.

Daily Whip Out: "Campfire Jammin' #1"

Daily Whip Out: "Campfire Jammin' #2"

   My good friend Johnny D, is doing a CD of a little known Arizona cowboy singer named Romaine "Romy" Loudermilk who sang around the Southwest in the twenties and thirties. Johnny found some of his early performances on tape and has preserved them for posterity. He offered True West the opportunity to give them as gifts to new subscribers and we jumped at the chance. This morning I took another swing at the concept. 

Daily Whip Out: "Campfire Sketch for Johnny D's Romy Project"

But, of course, as I'm working on the final, I came up with an entirely different name for the painting:

Daily Whip Out: 
"The Boys Were Not Quite Sure What to Make of Ernie's
Letter Perfect Intro to Led Zeppelin's 'Communication Breakdown.'"

   I doubt that Johnny will use this, but I do know he will appreciate the humor.

"In the days of my youth I was told what it's like to be a man. . ."
—Led Zeppelin, "Communication Breakdown"

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Help Us Choose A Cover

September 22, 2016
   We've got a December issue shaping up that is going to be chocked full of some solid history features. In fact, we have so many cover-worthy subjects, we are trying to figure out which cover story should get the big front-page-treatment. Take a look at these four proposed covers and tell us which one would get your attention on the newsstand.

#1: Gary Zaboly's art and compelling story about Daniel Boone's last hunt at age 81.

#2: Mark Boardman's insightful piece on the lasting influence of Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson with a sidebar on how he influenced Jeff Bridges in the new hit movie, "Hell Or High Water."

#3: A companion piece to Zaboly's Daniel Boone article, on how Boone influenced the second generation of Mountain Men, like Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, Kit Carson and Joseph Walker.

#4: An homage to the life And Legend of Hugh O'Brian featuring his long and worthy career and his indelible impact on 64 million Baby Boomers.


"One cool image can make or break a magazine."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Prostate Lubrication Issues

September 21, 2016
   Went to the doctor this morning for a check-up. The nurse drew blood and I had to fill out some silly forms ("Do you ever think life isn't worth living?"), then the doctor came in and asked me what specifically I was there for and I told him my wife, Kathy, is concerned about how many times I get up in the night to go to the bathroom and she'd like my prostate checked. The doctor who knows Kathy professionally (he often recommends her to patients who need family therapy) looked at me very seriously and said, "Couldn't Kathy check this at home?" When I burst out laughing, he added, "I would be happy to send a glove home." I was still laughing when I dropped my pants and bent over the examining table. It was then he informed me Medicare is complaining about how much lubrication his office is using so he may go in dry. I think he was kidding.

   And yes, I have an enlarged prostate, but what else is new? These sketches were done before the exam, but I think you can spot some synergy:

Daily Whip Out: "Sketches In Seattle"

I've been noodling stuff from a batch of graphic novels I bought at this comic book store in Seattle, actually Bellevue:

Business Trip Write Off: "Mighty Moose Comics Store"

This inspired me to do the following sketches and ideas based on a list of what "to draw":

Daily Whip Out: "To Draw"

      Working on several features for the December issue, and also a couple new True West Moments.

"The crisis of yesterday is the joke of tomorrow."
—H.G. Wells