Friday, July 31, 2009

July 31, 2009
Last night I finished another sketchbook (the 17th) on the quest to do 10,000 bad drawings. Shifted gears and began a series of studies for a big oil painting I'm planning for our October 15 art show at Overland Gallery in Scottsdale: the theme of the show is Capturing Billy the Kid Country.

Did 12 studies. Here's another page:

Ed Mell, Gary Ernest Smith and myself will be showing artwork gleaned from our plein air painting trip last April. One of the themes I keep coming back to is of Billy, bigger than life, looming over the mountains of eastern New Mexico. I did a couple oils of this theme in 1991-92 (Saint Billy being the most successful, with a zia illuminating the back of his head).

In this new attack I want to show a typical Land of Enchantment landscape and graveyard, with Billy looming over the entire scene, laughing at us:

I call it Biggy Billy because the model for this pose was Bill Glenn and, one of his best friends, my son, Thomas, calls him Biggy Bill.

Meanwhile, thanks to KD Younger (on this site), I ordered a book yesterday on the master inker Heinrich Kley. While looking for the book online I found this description:

"The answer to 'what is art?' is a very personal one. Paintings and artists fall into many categories and, as people, no two are alike. Yet the main function of any artist, in any art form, is to communicate. And when it comes, artistically, to the technical form of graphic art, the artist is at his best as a draftsman. The greater the draftsman, the more the artist can suggest with the least number of pen strokes. He knows beforehand where each line will touch the paper and why. Each line and dot will convey large areas of figure or scene, and the true artist/draftsman can relate his imagination to the viewer. Add to this one other quality the rare attribute of satirical humor and you have one of the greatest draftsman of this century: Heinrich Kley."

—Donald Weeks

This kind of rhetoric always has a confounding effect on me. It tends to inspire me, and yet, it makes me feel kind of small. Gee, I wonder what ol' Hanna has to say about this?

"One kernel is felt in a hogshead; one drop of water helps to swell the ocean; a spark of fire helps to give light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, too poor to be of service. Think of this and act."
—Hannah More

Thursday, July 30, 2009

July 30, 2009
As a kid I always dug Western movie star Tim McCoy. He had a steely gaze, mostly wore black and had the biggest hats in the biz. In the 1970s I met his son Terry McCoy who grew up in Nogales, Arizona on a ranch his father had in his last years.

We met several times at Durant's in downtown Phoenix where Terry held court with others in Phoenix who loved the old Westerns (I think there were five of us). I asked Terry what it was like growing up with a famous father, and he told me the quote below.

Yesterday, in the mail I got a DVD of Col. Tim McCoy's The Silent Language of The Plains, directed by Terry McCoy and shot in 1973. A pamphlet inside gives a short history of Tim McCoy complete with photos of Tim and his beautiful second wife Inga. All of this played into yesterday's sketches:

That's Tim and Inga across the bottom, the others are poached from an 1896 Illustrator's Journal, including the nude.

The 12 sketches a day regimen is exhausting. Worked last night until nine on these twelve.

"They paid me to make 'em, not watch 'em."
—Terry McCoy quoting his father, about invariably being asked to name his favorite Western

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 29, 2009
Yesterday one of my favorite writers came out to Cave Creek and took me to lunch at Tonto Bar & Grill. Afterwards we drove out to my art studio (I apologized for the mess and he said, "If an art studio isn't cluttered, it isn't an art studio."). We spent a good deal of time looking through the 17 sketchbooks I have compiled on my quest to do 10,000 bad drawings. It was quite interesting to hear his take on the progression, or lack thereof of the drawings. He is working up a feature story and I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Meanwhile, here is the first sketches of the first day I started the quest, November 12, 2005:

I had forgotten that barely a month into the quest I had a detached retina eye operation on my birthday (novocaine needle in the eye!) and had to draw with only one eye:

See note at bottom: "Still [drawn] with one eye." Ha. This lasted for about a week. While the consistency is erratic in the early efforts (a point the writer made) I did have some pretty sweet breakthroughs, like this colorful departure, done with felt-tip pens, from the day after Christmas, 2005:

And perhaps the best page of all is from January 7, in the very first sketchbook:

I love the blurred out image of the calf ropers juxtapositioned with the hip hop dude. It's this kind of mash-up I need to embrace more, not less. At the bottom, the note says "accusations of motion." Ha.

"I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July 28, 2009
Woke up to an anniversary. Kathy and I have been married for 30 years. Doesn't even seem possible. As she put it on the way into the kitchen, "It seems like about six years." Yes, if you don't count the teenage years (both Deena's and Tommy's and mine, which is ongoing).

Do Or Die
Harold Roberts asked about The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn. He is a Texas firefighter (and the son of a famous heart surgeon) who developed a 28-Day-Save-Your-Life plan that lowers cholesterol and allegedly burns away the pounds. We started the diet at the end of June. The first week you give up dairy, the second week you cut out oil and fat and basically you avoid anything with a face (this includes fish and poultry). My cholesterol was as high as 260 before my heart attack, so needless to say, this is a big deal trial for me. I'm on several statins so I'm down to below 200 now (I want to say 150), but I have a hunch this diet will lower that number as well. I feel good.

Still banging away on my sketches. Looked up in my daytimer archives yesterday and it appears I started this quest on November 21, 2005:

On my quest to do 10,000 bad drawings, these are bad drawings 9,566 to 9,572, with 428 to go.

Best Name For A New TV Show
Jesse James Is A Dead Man

A couple clarifications on the sneak of Julie & Julia last week. Kathy tells me that the real reason we got in was because two people left (I was over at the door trying to leave and missed this part). Kathy was there to witness this, and confronted the media guy: "Give us the two media seats and we'll take the two seats of the people who just left." The media guy relented. This is even more amazing than the way I told it, because the media guy had offered us the two media seats but we had four people. I was ready to leave, but Kathy hung in there. So the moral is: don't give up just because an event is sold out or full. People often leave at the last minute or get called away. Don't panic, stay present and when you see an opening, ask for the order.

On another front, I realized after I posted that I was describing a contradiction regarding the front row. I was bemoaning that the front row moved in the case of the Coliseum show with Dennis Miller, but I was complaining about being in the front row at the movie theatre. Say what? I didn't explain that this is one of those new stadium seating theatres with the raised balcony and then a group of less desirable floor seats that run right up under the screen, in the front. The undesirable seats were in the first row, but we ended up in the front row of the media seats which is in the middle of the theatre and up about six feet. Hope that makes sense. Most theatres in our area have gone to this mode of seating, but not sure it is universal, yet.

"The period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience is the most difficult period of one's life."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, July 27, 2009

July 27, 2009
Stayed close to home most of the weekend, although on Saturday night we drove down to the new Marriott at Desert Ridge for a surprise graduation party for Frank the Tank. Deena put it all together and some 25 of us had a side room where we yelled out "Surprise!" at about seven.

The restaurant served $17 pizzas and fried calomari (sp?) and I didn't have one bite. I have been on the Engine Two diet for 27 days (they recommend 28 days avoiding anything with a face) and I wasn't going to blow it on the last night. I was tempted though. Man, that melting cheese looked good! Full confession: I did have two La La's flour tortillas on Sunday with a bowl of homemade pinto beans. White flour is a no-no.

Spent most of Saturday, before the party, working on a bad drawing of Curly, the bad Apache scout who is the villain of our piece:

Our Curly had Mojave blood as he was well over six feet tall (Mojave males are prone to be very tall). The soldiers called him Curly because he wasn't, the Mexicans called him "Tall Tree" because of his favored head gear (turkey feathers that made him look look like a tall tree) and Mickey called him "Mangas, Jr." because he felt Curly wanted to be like Mangas Coloradas (Red Sleeves).

Also whipped out some interesting landscapes, framed within a frame:

Finished twelve sketches each day and the current bad drawings quest is at 9,560, with 440 to go.

"Most of the failures in this world are from riders reining in their horses in the middle of a jump."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, July 25, 2009

July 25, 2009
Got an email from The Old Bison earlier this week. He is moving to Scottsdale and selling his spectacular home north of Austin, Texas.

As he put it, "We designed it for two working historians, with more built-in book shelves than most people want. It’s all on one floor and (the big selling point) overlooks Lake Georgetown and the adjacent park greenbelt. In normal economic times, we could have got more than $700,000 for it. Now, we are about to bring it down to $599,000. We can’t go much lower without losing our financial backup.

"I’m attaching a link that may or may not work that Harlan Hague is hanging on his web site.

A Fantastic Historian's Home

"Our realtor, Prudential, also has a virtual tour online. We would value your opinion."

—The Old Bison

Of course, the Old Bison is Robert Utley. This is a historian's dream home with amazing provinance, as they say in the biz. Talk about owning a piece of history. Spread the word. Let's keep this one in the family, if we can. Thanks.

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 24, 2009
Big rain last night. Very cool and wet out this morning. In the old days, before air conditioning, a morning like this must have seemed like heaven sent.

Got a comment on yesterday's blog regarding my quest to do 10,000 bad drawings:

"If you slip up and do a good sketch, do you count it or not?"
—Hugh Howard

I've done so many bad ones, when I slip and do a good one, I give myself the benefit of the doubt and count it as a bad one. Unfortunately, I did six really good ones last night. Probably the best I've ever done. They are really pushing the boundaries of my bad art experiment, but then, maybe that is the point of the entire experience:

Actually, I feel somewhat goofy talking about how good they are ("He thinks those chicken scratchings are good?!"), but remember, the main purpose for my quest to do 10,000 bad drawings was to find out how much I would improve over the course of the experiment. And my holy grail of rendering is the classic drawings of the masters I admire most: Rembrandt, Ludvig Holwein, Freddy Remington, Louis Moeller, Burne Hogarth and Charles Dana Gibson. These are The Guys, in my opinion, who really had it going on.

So, in that vein, these six bad drawings capture the style I most admire. Full disclosure: I sent a query letter to the New York Times and although it was merely an email that probably never made it beyond their firewall, I found myself repeating this mantra yesterday: draw as if the New York Times is watching. So, I worked on this page from the time I got home last night at six until nine P.M. Ha.

Speaking of overproducing, a photographer friend, Chet Provorse, sent me the following anecdote:

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Pots And Pans?
A photographer is invited to a friends dinner party. He brings along some new images to show his host. The host looks at the photos and exclaims, "These are wonderful! You must have a very good camera." The photographer says thank you and the evening continues. After dinner, the photographer turns to his host and remarks, "The food was wonderful, you must own some very good pots and pans."

"First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”

Thursday, July 23, 2009

July 23, 2009
Meghan Saar and I had a conference call with Mark Boardman this morning to go over ideas for 2010. Mark came up with an added value concept to add to Classic Gunfights. I can't tell you how many people have contacted me to ask how they can get into Cottonwood Springs or Mattie Earp's gravesite, or Mickey Free's home (both of them). Mark wondered if we might give all that info when we run the gunfight. You want to see where Curly Bill Brocius bought the farm? No problem. Here's who you call, here's his website, here's where to stay, here's where to eat and here's where you can buy the best books on the subject. Pretty cool. Thanks Mark!

And speaking of Classic Gunfights, we certainly do our due diligence when we create these. For example, we finished the Lt. George Patton gunfight in Mexico yesterday afternoon. But not before we tracked down a questionable photo. Here's how it happened. Robert Ray and I were looking online for some added images and we found a website that had a photo of a burning building, labeled as a scene of Columbus, New Mexico during the Pancho Villa raid of 1916. I commented that I had never seen that photo and it was certainly dramatic. We earmarked it and moved on. After we noticed the same burning building photo on three different websites I thought we were probably safe to run the image on Gus Walker's map, kind of small, but a nice, dramatic addition.

Meghan came in and said, "No way, am I going to okay a photo just because it's on three websites. They all could be wrong." So she goes into her office and does her Google magic and within five minutes she comes into my office with a report that the photo was not taken in Columbus, but was taken in Juarez, south of El Paso, and it's of Ketelsen and Degetau, a bank-turned-weapons facility that was periphally involved in the events that led up to the Columbus Raid:

Also, one of the sites altered the photo, taking out the Spanish store signs:

Evidently, whoever altered the photo thought it would look more like Columbus, New Mexico, even though Columbus, as a border town would have Spanish signs as well.

So, we used the photo but we gave the correct information. As Trish Brink put it when she heard about this: "Nobody does this much verifying."

Case in point: Mark Boardman just sent a letter to American Cowboy who wrote a piece in the current issue on gunfights in the Old West. Mark found fifty mistakes. Part of it was written by someone named Ken Amorosano.

Oh, wait! Ken is one of our partners. What the hell is he doing over there?

Went home for lunch today and whipped out six more bad drawings:

I collect old journals like Punch and American Illustrator and from time to time I peruse them looking for studies to, well, study. At lunch today I picked up The Quarterly Illustrator, October, November and December, 1894 and there was a review of Louis Mueller's art complete with his sketches. All of the middle images are poached from these studies, although I have modified them for my purposes (the trial of The Apache Kid). Meanwhile, the top sketch is for a vignette feature I'm developing for Old Vaquero Sayings, utilizing Posada's skeleton woodcuts as a starting point. And the bottom dust storm is inspired by a photo in today's Arizona Republic.

9, 518 sketches down, and 482 to go. I have sacrificed many an idle hour to get here. Gee, I wonder what the Old Vaqueros have to say about this?

"Judge your success by what you had to give up to get it."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

July 22, 2009
Today I hit another milestone: the 9,500th bad drawing on my quest to do 10,000 bad drawings. Here 'tis:

Tabulated that, at the rate I'm currently going, I will hit the magic number of 10,000 sometime in September, but since we are going to Buenos Aires on the first of September, to celebrate our anniversary, and to meet up with the kids, I have some urgency to finish before we leave. Tabulated my odds and determined I need to do 12 sketches a day to finish by September 1. Also made a vow to do the best sketches I can in the time I have left. Continuing with the above campfire images, here is a series of campfire lit characters I poached from a photo Robert Ray and I found yesterday while looking for General Pershing and Lt. Patton photos of their Mexican incursion looking for Pancho Villa in 1916:

Learning quite a bit about campfire light Going to nail this before it's over. Still a bit fuzzy on effects. Need to sharpen it up a bit. Gee, I wonder what ol' Ansel has to say about this?

"There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept."
—Ansel Adams
July 22, 2009
Being in the media has its perks and one of them is that we often get preferential seats at concerts, clubs, movies and sometimes even restaurants. However, it's not always as choice as it may sound. Case in point: when I was in morning drive at KSLX FM radio in Scottsdale, our station sponsored comedian Dennis Miller at the State Fair. Miller was a big deal at the time and this was a big deal for the station. We got an interview (actually a phoner) with Dennis and the promise of front row-center seats for me and my morning show partners, David K. Jones and Jeanne Sedello. Believe it or not, I had never sat in the front row in my life, so I was kind of excited about this.

The night of the concert we walked proudly into the Coliseum and I led Kathy past all the peons, and right up to the very front row. But I noticed something was not quite right. After conferring with an usher it became apparent that someone had added three more rows in front of the front row (I'm not making this up), and there sat our general manager and the sales manager, with their wives, girlfriends, parents and friends. They turned and smiled and waved like the superior Bastards they thought they were, and, no doubt, still think they are.

Media Truth No. 1: Sometimes the front row, isn't the front row.

The best preferential treatment I have ever gotten was at the media screening for Hidalgo. written by John Fusco (who also wrote Young Guns I and II) and starring Viggo Mortenson about a questionable long distance horse race in the Middle East. When we got inside the theatre it was packed. And, although they had two prime rows roped off and maybe five people sitting in there, I hadn't called ahead, so I found a seat for Kathy and I in the second row and we waited for the show to begin. A young woman with a clipboard came up to the front of the theatre and said, "Is there a Bob Boze Bell in the house?" I sheepishly raised my hand and she said, "Follow me." In front of everyone we went up to the roped off seats and they raised the ropes and we waltzed into the center and plopped our fat asses right down. I could just feel the stares and the mutterings of, "Who the hell is that?" Ha.

The next day I reported on this blog that the film had some problems but part of it was "a wild ride." When the movie came out, some of the print ads had this blurb:

"A wild ride!"—True West magazine

No wonder they wanted me to have a good seat.

But enough of my whore stories, let's get to last night's media screening of Julie & Julia. For starters this was Kathy's choice. Although I admire Nora Ephron and Meryl Streep, I wasn't all that interested in a French cooking movie (nobody gets blown up? Sorry.). So I didn't contact my movie screening media reps (I know two) to request being "on the list."

Sidebar: Is This Seat Taken?
You know how when a theatre is quite full and the movie is almost ready to start and some woman walks up and down the aisle saying, "Are those seats taken?" And: "Would you mind moving down so we can have these two seats?" Well, that is my wife. She is very assertive and not afraid to ask for the order. I would never do this on a bet (Well, okay for a bet, maybe, but it just makes me real uncomfortable. This is, no doubt, my small town training: "Who do you think you are? Get to the back of the line and don't make a fuss!").

We took our seats in the second row (it was so packed, Deena Bean and Frank the Tank were forced into the front row). I finally looked at Kathy and said, "Let's go. I don't want to sit through the entire movie looking up Meryl Streep's nose.") We got up, Deena said she wanted to go as well and I thought we had a quorum, but no—Kathy wants to talk to the media rep. I don't know him (he's not one of the two I know). She asks if I'm on the list. The young girl with the clipboard (different girl but they all look and act the same) looks down the list and searches for my name. It isn't on there. Everyone is looking at us. My head is as big as a pea and throbbing. I just want to go eat and forget about all this, but Kathy asks if we can sit in the media section one more time (there are a couple empty seats there). The media rep looks at me and says, "Who did you say you are?" I tell him, but it's obvious he has no clue who I am. He says, "I can give you the two seats in the media section, but not four seats." I say under my breath, "Let's go," and so, finally, we go out the tunnel into the lobby, but Kathy says, "Wait a minute, I'm going to give this one more shot." The movie has already started when the media guy comes out the door. I've gone down to the door and I'm leaning on it. Kathy laughs and says, "You know you have those media seats and they are just going to waste. Why not give them to us?" She smiles and he finally shrugs and totally caves! He says, "Okay. Follow me." And he takes us with a flash light inside the theatre and lifts the rope and we get four empty media seats.

Now, this may gross you out, and it may be disgusting to you, but this is how media works and Kathy knows it and she plays the game to the hilt, and I sometimes just look on amazed at what she can do when she sets her mind to it.

"If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I'd say Flippy, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong, though. It's Hambone."
—Jack Handey

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 21, 2009
Kathy and I met Deena Bean and Frank the Tank down at The Harkins 101 last night to see the second sneak of Julie & Julia, a new film—and the alleged first movie ever about a blog—by Nora Ephron. We missed the first one last week because we got there too late and didn't make the cut. This time Kathy went down at 6:15 to get a good place in line and we still almost didn't make the cut. Unfortunately we were in the front row and I wanted to leave, but Kathy kept bugging the media rep and after the movie started (we had gone out in the lobby) he finally relented and gave us four prime seats in the media section! Actually, the best seats in the house, first row, stadium seating section.

Big City Lesson: small town boys give up too easily and too early and big city girls know how to be persistent and charming and get their way almost every time. Which, ironically, is what the movie is about. A big city girl, Julie, who lived in Queens and started a blog in 2002 about making every recipe in Julia Child's French cookbook. That's pretty much it. When the New York Times did an article on her she got a big city book deal and a movie. Ditto for Julia Childs, although she had to settle for a TV show (and, yes, they played the Dan Aykroyd SNL parody of Julia slicing herself and bleeding like a stuck pig). Julia's book I believe is in it's 49th printing and I imagine this movie will drive it into another half dozen.

Went home for lunch today and worked on the Mickey Free segment where The Apache Kid rescues Beauty. Unfortunately, they have their first spat: she can't keep up with him on the run back to Mexico and she gets kind of whiny (for an Apache):

They exchange unpleasantries. She tells him she has been at school and is out of shape. He asks what she actually learned in the White Man school, which is a dig, of course. You might call this a 10K marathon bitchfest.

Or not.

Our big vaquero issue is going out the door tomorrow. Everyone here is working hard on it. One of the things I'm most proud of is the fact that everyone here cares about every page of the magazine. I went into production this morning and Robert, Meghan and Abby were going around and around about the virtues and lack thereof, of particular photos on the Contents Page. They were passionate about it, each making their case as to which image serves the reader best? (an argument over the Contents Page!). Amazing.

Oh, and Frank the Tank graduates today. Congrats Frankie Boy!

"It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception is composed of others."
—Andrew J. Holmes

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20, 2009
Coyotes continue to try and snatch our old dog Peaches. I was standing at the kitchen sink yesterday when a mangy blur caught my eye out in the yard. Saw a lean and mean coyote cut between our crumbling adobe wall and my Ranger (which meant he was brazenly sweeping right up to our front door). Did my patented, "Hey! Hey! HEY!" which, of course, always does the trick. Ha.

Went home for lunch and whipped out a sweet page of Mexico scenes (yes, still trying to capture the Jeff Kidder gunfight vibe). It's actually two different efforts, as I noodled in the backgrounds and the vaquero in smoke at bottom right, on Saturday, then came back to this page today and whipped out the rest. And by "whipped" I mean that I worked very fast and had intentions of adding much more detail, but I had to get back to the office so I capped it much sooner than I would have preferred:

Note to self: do more of this!

While I've never been a fan of his artwork, Gary Trudeau is one of the best and brightest humor writers of our generation. Case in point:

Man, does that nail it, or what? Gee, I wonder what ol' Sam has to say about most of us not getting paid for our efforts online?

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money."
—Samuel Johnson (almost two centuries before the internet)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July 19, 2009
Stayed home yesterday and worked on a variety of scenes for Classic Gunfights and Mickey Free. Speaking of Mickey Free, I was invited to Fieda Ethelbah's 91st birthday last week but I couldn't make it. Scott Stone sent this photo of Frieda and Lutheran Pastor Arthur Alchesay Guenther at the party. Frieda is the granddaughter of Mickey Free:

Check out that face, Man. She's got Mick's features, eh?:

"Remember cousins, we are living in a time when even right is wrong."
—Mickey Free

Friday, July 17, 2009

July 17, 2009
Really nasty out. 112 in The Beast today, and probably 101 here in Cave Creek. We're usually 8-10 degrees cooler than Phoenix, but after the century mark it just gets pretty oppressive.

Everyone else has left for the weekend but I'm here waiting to do a radio interview on a wild show called Ralph's Back Porch. They're calling at six our time. Thought I'd post another blog and show you what I'm working on today.

Still working on gunshots in a darkened cantina:

Also, I think I forgot to post a couple pages of sketches last week:

And this page:

Got some pretty sweet tattered clouds effects on this one. Just got this from The Top Secret Writer:

This is a publicity shot of the old TV show 26 Men starring Tris Coffin (above) as Arizona Ranger Tom Rynning. Dan Harshberger and I were absolutely smitten with this show and when we played "guns" we tried to dress just like the rangers did on the show. Dan's mom took a photo of us dressed in our best 26 Men outfits out at White Hills ghost town, north of Dolan Springs. We went out there for a Sunday picnic with Dan's family and we had a blast playing in the actual old buildings, pretending we were two of the 26 Men, "who lived to ride again."

That's the future True West Art Director, at left, and the future executive editor of True West at right. And, yes, we are armed with Fanner Fifties and some pretty amazing 1873 Winchester replicas. You couldn't sell those today!

By the way, I'm fast closing in on 9,500 drawings. Gee, I wonder if ol' Awa has a quote that goes with my quest to do 10,000 bad drawings:

"Do your best at each and everything. That is the key to success. Learn one thing well and you will learn how to understand ten thousand things. Ten thousand things are one; this is the secret place of understanding you must find."
—Awa Kenzo
July 17, 2009
Went into the Beast last night and met Kathy at Fashion Square to see a sneak of the new movie Julie & Julia. Even though we arrived fifteen minutes early, the line snaked all the way down the second story of the mall and we didn't make the cut to get in. Drove over to Bombay Spice for a dinner of hummus and veggie curry dishes ($35, includes tip, house account) and then drove home. Speaking of veggies, I am in the third week of my plant diet. Goal is 28 days not eating anything with a face. Ha. So far, so faceless.

Excellent comments on yesterday's questions about the type of Naco policemen who shot it out with Jeff Kidder in 1908. Here is a recreation by Robert Ray of the New York Times article that ran before Kidder died:

And here is Kidder's deathbed statement: "I had not had a chance to move when two Mexican police came through the doorway with their six-shooters drawn, and one fired hitting me."

After Kidder's death, Captain Harry Wheeler went across the border to investigate the shooting. He interviewed eyewitnesses and the three wounded officers directly (one of them allegedly died of his wounds). The stories conflicted wildly and many put Kidder in a bad light. A bartender testified Jeff "had taken at least fifty drinks." Wheeler had to go to Cananea to recover Kidder's revolver and badge, the latter found in a pawn shop. Because of the political fallout, there were some fifteen cantinas in Naco and they were ordered closed and 20 Naco policemen and line riders were dismissed, including the wounded chief. Of course, as is often the case on both sides of the border, some of the discharged officers were soon reinstated.

"I can die with the knowledge that I did my best in a hard situation."
—Jeff Kidder

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July 16, 2009
Drove into the Beast at 11 this morning to pick up my Big Billy oil, but it was too hot to transport via my pickup. Ed Mell and I went to the Heard Museum for lunch again. I needed to check out their gallery for an art issue we're doing this fall. Found a couple pieces I liked and drove back out to Cave Creek.

Decided to back up on the Naco gunfight and get some good types for the Naco policia who shot it out with Arizona Ranger Jeff Kidder in 1908.

I have great reference of Mexican Revolution soldiers and I started my search there. Always a bit dicey because the revolution is at least ten years later and any style you put on them may be a later fashion, sort of like putting a Nehru jacket on General Eisenhour, instead of a vaquero inspired short jacket which he actually wore.

But I digress. Here's my first five sketches, or audition, for my Naco Policia fighters:

An educated guess is that the police in Naco were not wearing uniforms but I could be wrong. The two guys who answered Chia's call were working the night shift, although in a border town that could be prime time. I really want to give one of them a big sugarloaf sombrero and for that inspiration I have some historic reference: the feared Rurales, who roamed Sonora and ruled with an iron fist, all wore sugarloafs, so, like modern day police in border towns who emulate SWAT team uniforms (black T-shirts with the word POLICIA on the back) I kind of think one of them would be wearing one:

The other consideration is, they may not have been the bad guys. There is some evidence that Kidder was drunk and may have pulled his gun. The New York Times reported as much in the next day's edition (April 5, 1908) so I don't want to necessarily portray them as nefarious, mordida type lawmen. I have a hunch they were typical local guys doing a distasteful job in a whore house infested town. Anyway, that's my speculation. I'd love to hear what others here have to say.

"A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way."
—Caroline Gordon

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July 15, 2009
Nothing kills a painting faster, for me, than serious intention. As soon as I grip my wrist and say to myself, "This is going to be good," I start to strangle everything in my path.

I did some decent color studies last night, warming up for the Jeff Kidder, Naco fight illustration:

But when it came time to do a serious intention study, this afternoon, I flat out killed it:

In fact I'm so disgusted with this I may pull this Classic Gunfight and put in another fight for this issue and hold the Kidder shootout for another day.

Very discouraged. Feel like giving up. Gee, I wonder what ol' Waldo has to say about this?

"A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 14, 2009
Working on the cantina shooting between Arizona Ranger Jeff Kidder and two Naco, Mexico policemen, Tomas Amador and Dolores Quias. As mentioned, I believe I have a good idea what this bordertown cantina must have looked like even though my exposure to them was some sixty years later:

This is a patina painting of a small room filled with blackpowder gunsmoke. Also, whipped out another gaggle of patina studies, like this:

A canyon nocturne in the Chiricuahuas. Meanwhile, here's another take on the choking smoke of a cantina patina:

Has potential, but then so does this one:

And this one:

Need to combine the patina background with the action of the actual fight. Here are the sketches of that:

Results tomorrow.

"The secret of success is constancy to purpose."
—Benjamin Disraeli

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 13, 2009
Kathy and I drove to Kingman on Saturday morning. She dropped me off at the Power House Route 66 Museum, while she drove on to Vegas to attend a memorial service for an old friend. Tom Erickson was setting up his camera equipment in the back of the museum when I arrived. He told me to meet him at the "Al Bell Memorial." I laughed and assumed it was some humorous reference to a gas station display to celebrate Route 66. But when I got back there, on a big mural that runs for ten or twenty yards, there, in a six foot tall cartoon was a smiling gas station attendant giving the thumbs up with the name tag proclaiming, "Al Bell" And on his cap is the slogan "Al Bell's Flying A". And, although it's emblazened on a Texaco logo, I won't complain. As I stood there all alone I said out loud, "Well, Allen P. Bell, would you take a gander at THAT!" I was as proud as the son of a proud Norwegian can be.

We taped several voice overs for the Exits Exit video and then Tom, Charlie Waters and I went over to Calico's for lunch (I bought: $29, includes tip, house account). Charlie and I had a nice visit and got caught up on world and family news, and then Kathy picked me up at four, and we drove home, getting home 13 hours after we left (and 557 miles of driving).

On Sunday I worked quite a bit on patina washes:

And here's something I call "Teenage Mutant Kachinas":

Could be a funny piece with a tweak or two. Also spent quite a bit of time on patina borders, like this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

Which is from my sketchbook (sketch #9,400 by the way). And this:

And, I know this is getting ridiculous, but this too:

Believe it or not, all of these border experiments are leading somewhere. Where? Well, to this month's Classic Gunfights, wherein an Arizona Ranger, Jeff Kidder, shot it out in a cantina in the border town of Naco, Mexico with two of the local policia. The fight started over a woman named Chia, who Kidder "spent time" with at about midnight on April 3 of 1908. As he was leaving the bar he noticed a silver dollar he kept in his vest pocket was missing. Jeff grabbed Chia by the arm and accused her of stealing it. She slapped him and started screaming "Policia!" It all went south from there. As for Chia chiquita, there are no known photos of her, but having spent time, while a student at "Nogo U" in Tucson, we were, during our freshmam and sophomore years, required to attend border relation classes on Canal Street in Nogales, Mexico. And, although I didn't meet the real Chia in the B-29 Club on Canal Street, I do believe I can somewhat accurately illustrate her:

Chia: Una Puta Suprema de Naco

She is pliant but defiant. She is comely but tough, she has been abused and she can do her own abusing. Not a pleasant memory for me, or one that I'm proud of, but sometimes the artist needs to see the world, or at least see around the world. And, on this particular subject, I can safely say I have done my due diligence.

"Believe in fate, but lean forward where fate can see you."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 10, 2009
Well, I believe this is a record for the number of cover designs we have gone through before going to press. Dan The Man just sent up covers 20 and 21 for our consideration. Here's a sneak peek:

Cover Contender #20:

And Cover Contender #21:

I like elements in both. I think the closer horse and rider in version #20 is stronger, but I also like the air in #21 (this cover seems to breath more). I also prefer the headline style in the second (500 Years Before The Cowboy). Trish Brink and several others up here prefer the closer rider because they believe it pops more and I think that is a valid consideration, especially on the newsstand. The ground seems richer in the first one, but Dan is concerned this cover may end up a mudbath, since the values are quite close in density. All good points and worth talking about.

So, don't just sit there, tell us what you think?