Friday, July 30, 2010

July 30, 2010
Drove from Albuquerque to Zuni yesterday, taking the cutoff at Grants and down through El Moro Rock. Rained off an on most of the way. Beautiful clouds, land looked watered and green most of the way. Landed in Eagar, south of Sringerville, at about six last night. Got a motel room on the second floor with a balcony bench and sat outside and sipped homemade margaritas and watched the rain.

Leaving this morning to drive back to Cave Creek. Been on the road for three weeks and am ready to get back in harness.

"I don't know about you but when I drink tequila I have a tendency to break out in handcuffs."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28, 2010
Been on the road for the past three weeks. In New Mexico at the moment, heading back towards Cave Creek on Friday.

Kind of interesting being out of email or cell phone range for most of the time. In the Mogollon, Reserve area of New Mexico you will not get a signal AND when you hit scan on your radio it will spin endlessly on FM and on AM. No cell phone coverage and no radio stations. Ah, now that is somehow comforting in this plugged in age.

Heard a a great quote from a professor last week: "successful people fail more than people who are considered failures."

Put another way:

"Success is getting knocked down six times, and getting up seven."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 13, 2010
Here's a scene I have wanted to illustrate since 1989. I talk about it all the time in my speeches and this is what I say: "I wish we had a time machine and we could set it for Bonita, Arizona, July 1876. . .[sound effects of time machine taking off and heading over the Graham Mountains, and landing on the edge of the Camp Grant reservation.] As we walk into the Hotel de Luna dining room, I point out the kid in the kitchen washing dishes. Then I would ask the assembled people eating who they think is going to be remembered from this area a hundred years from now. I venture that someone will nominate General Wilcox since he's in the newspaper almost every day leading the U.S. Army after the Apaches. So, do we remember Mr. Wilcox? No? Five people at the Wilcox Historical Society remember Mr. Wilcox. Someone else would probably nominate William Zeckendorf, or Johnny Barnes. Do we remember them? And then I would say, Ladies and Gentleman, you see that buck-toothed bus boy in the kitchen? He's going to change his name to William Bonney and he's going to be remembered in a thousand books and 48 movies and none of you are going to be remembered.

Anyway, I have had great reference, shot out at Pioneer in the mid-nineties (and I used the photo in my Billy book) and I finally, this afternoon took a whack at it:

Shakespeare Dishwasher: "Out damned spot!"

Not too shabby. Dig the muttonchops on the guy, went with an English maid outfit for the waitress (probably the cook as well) and the woman drinking tea is a tad pretentious but then, I suppose that is about right for the time and place.

"Henry was the only kid who ever worked there who never stole anything."
—Del Truesdale, operator of the Star Hotel in Silver City where Billy also washed dishes
July 13, 2010
We're finishing up our big Classic Rodeo issue. Dan The Man has outdone himself once more, designing a wonderful retro cover that speaks to tradition but yells excitement. Thanks Dan!

Went for a walk at six (too hot by 6:30). Met Joe Y. on the road. He just got back from a tractor tour of the midwest. Went up and down the Mississippi, visited the John Deere plant at Moline and a gun museum on Armory Island, I think he said.

Craig Schepp came out yesterday and bought the cover scratchboard for Blazing Pols, our January cover story and it also ran in the Arizona Republic last Sunday illustrating a True West Moment on the Mesilla Republicans vs. Democrats shootout that left 15 dead and perhaps 500 wounded.

Speaking of scratchboards, I got back from my walk with the Peachtree and pulled two scratchboards out of the failure pile. This first scratchboard had been in the pile for about two years and I would see it from time to time and it would say to me, "Finish me. I know you had high hopes for me, I'm sorry you tubed it." Amazingly it fell together in about fifteen minutes:

The rider is in the sliver of light, left-center. Meanwhile, feeling recharged I grabbed another canyon piece. this is how it looked before:

So I tweaked it and added a couple runners, tweaked the water, toned back the rear canyon wall and it came out rather nice:

This is for the Mickey Free sequence where the Apache kids have to run to the top of a mountain with a mouth full of water and bring back a pinecone. By the way, I posted it about a year ago, but it wasn't working. This is much stronger.

I'm reading "Listen To The Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews" by Sam Weller. I always find Bradbury inspiring.

"Action is hope. There is no hope without action."

—Ray Bradbury

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12, 2010
Our newest contributor, Celeste Sotola has created a slide show to go along with her visual two-page Short Stories of American West feature. Check it out and give us a comment. Thanks.

Went home for lunch and finished another panel for the Mickey & The Mules for an upcoming sequence of Cinema Scenarios. This one I call "Mules Mull 900 Foot Drop":

Nice drop, eh?

Who Says Blogs Don't Pay?
I mentioned here that I couldn't find any good photos of Dyke & The Blazers and Dan Nowicki sent me a packet of soul by Dyke & The Blazers ("the complete two and a half hours of steaming funk from the master tapes"), plus a CD of The Servicemen (Classic Soul from Phoenix, Arizona) and Numero 011, Eccentric Soul: Mighty Mike Lenaburg (17 tracks of sun-baked Arizona soul). Thanks Dan!

"My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it."
—Mark Twain
July 12, 2010
Cave Creek actor and all around handyman, Roy Hunt, came out to my house on Saturday morning and replaced a pine pole on our back porch that has been decimated by wood termites. Roy and his helper Paul did a seamless job and the pole fits right in (he aged it) with the other five poles.

Since I'm bachin' it, I got in some good work over the weekend. Started with shadowing William R. Leigh's pen work:

Leigh does great line work build outs, fades and blends. The Mexican with the big sombrero is from a photo I found. I tried to apply Leigh's line to that image. Not bad. Dig the posture. A cocky little rooster. Kind of reminds me of a kid I grew up with whose name rhymes with Mickey Campa.

From there I worked on the cinematic scenario of the mule drop in the Sierra Madres. Shadowed Remington here, especially the hind hocks of the mule:

That's a study for Tom Horn at top. I see him as being a packer on the expedition, but still dressing as a cow-boy. This doesn't set well with his fellow packers and one of them gives him grief about it: "You know what your problem is Horn? You dress like a God damn cow-boy." Horn, ever the smart-ass, replies, "You say that like it's a bad thing."

Took this sketch of Horn and refined it into a scratchboard:

He's in the process of giving Al Sieber some grief over the mule sliding towards the cliff ("Relax Al, the drop will air out the stink.") Here's Al reacting to that drama:

Need to work on Sieber's face a bit. He looks too much like Hitler! Ha.

Anyway, that was my weekend. Did watch Akira Kurosawa's "Stray Dog" and enjoyed it immensely.

Got some sprinkles on Friday night, otherwise humid and muggy out. Woke up today slightly discouraged. It's taking me way too long on this mule sequence. I've got maybe three usable images and I need at least ten more to launch this sequence. Gee, I wonder what ol' Thomas Paine has to say about this?

"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value."
—Thomas Paine

Friday, July 09, 2010

July 9, 2010
Sally and Carole ride herd on our phones here at the True West World Headquarters. I ask them to give me feedback, both good and bad. Carole is always good about getting me thought provoking and honest inquiries. Here is an example from this afternoon:

Praise For New Feature: Short Stories of American West
Tom Zielinski from Waterloo, NE called today looking for articles on Liver Eating Johnson, Grizzly Adams, Jim Bridger, Mad Trapper and Soapy Smith. He is not a subscriber, but buys issues at Walmart in his area.

Tom told me that he also wanted to mention that he liked the Short Stories of the American West in the July issue. I asked what he liked and he said that he liked that the photos seemed to be in a ghost town and the people were current day – he said he just liked it.

Old Guys Watching Out For Other Old Guys
Richard Montag from Albuquerque, NM called to renew. He is 82, I think he said. Before hanging up, he asked how you are doing and asked me to tell you that a subscriber asked about you and wishes you continuing good health. He said you are a valuable commodity.

Meanwhile, some readers, like Janice Lanke, often send me photos they think I might like for art reference. This is a sketch I made of an online photo from eBay of a Billings Co. Sheriff that Janice sent me today. Really liked the way he sits a horse:

I also give the okay for new members on the website and sometimes, when I see that they used to be subscribers, or, have lapsed, I ask them what it is going to take to get them back. Here is a reply from a new member:

bob, you must have read what remains of my mind. i told she-who-must-be-obeyed only this afternoon, that i would like to take out a two year subscription again, with TW. so, as soon as she can locate her credit card, i will indeed, be signing up for a two year hitch, probably come the 'morrow. been a manhunt over here, up in cumbria, which is wild country. a gunman called raoul moet, has been dodging masses of heavily armed police, right up until two hours ago. he's now cornered between a river, and a few hundred guns. so he's now sitting down, with holding a gun to his head.
for some reason, i'm reminded of kid curry, and of the day they caught up with bonnie and buck barrow. this could end the same way. the days of mr. miller's 'bobbies on bicycles two by two', armed only with a stick, seem to be at an end.
and i'm a'blabbering. now have to continue researching the events of one day in northern ireland, in 1972. a day called bloody sunday. my son, tim pilcher, is in the graphic novel industry, and wants to do one about that day. could be a few problems along that route, i think.
may your day go well, sir.
—david Pilcher

"When one tugs at the single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."
—John Muir
July 9, 2010
My neighbors are worried about me being alone without a certain woman to take care of me. Both Bob and his wife Lynn, my neighbors to the south, came over last night to make sure I am alive. Then at about 8:30 Tom Augherton came up the hill and knocked on the door, looked around and turned on the lights (I didn't hear him). Then he called and I talked to him for a few minutes. Nice to know they care, but glad I wasn't doing anything illegal at that time.

Working on a batch of mule march images:

And a closeup up of a Jack mule saying: "Yo no soy gelding!"

This morning I combined these elements for a big, cinematic scenario set piece:

Not what I had in my mind's eye (it never is), but I had to get over a thousand obstacles to bring this piece together. Gee I wonder what ol' Irving has to say about this?

"Some minds seem almost to create themselves, springing up under every disadvantage and working their solitary but irresistible way through a thousand obstacles."
—Washington Irving

Thursday, July 08, 2010

July 8, 2010
Working on a mashup of illustrations for the next batch of True West Moments. First up is Arlester "Dyke" Christian who was stranded in Phoenix in 1966 and recorded the song, "Funky Broadway-Part I" based on the social scene on Broadway Road. There is a grainy photo of him performing with the Blazers and I created this caricature from that:

Next up, The Wizards of The Colorado: Jack Mellon and Mr. Issac Polhamus:

Went with two different styles. The cross hatching build-out with Mr. Mellon and the bold woodcut style with Mr. Polhamus. These two illustrations will go with different bits. Both guys could pilot a Colorado River steamboat up river loaded with tons of freight and make it through the dry spots as long as they had two inches of water! That's why they were known as "wizards."

"Adversity is another way to measure the greatness of individuals. I never had a crisis that didn't make me stronger."
—Lou Holtz

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

July 7, 2010
Working on a cinema scenario of General Crook in the Sierra Madres with a major pack mule contingency. Climbing into the Divisidero district one of the mules, slides off the trail:

From there, working on attendant sketches, mule skinners cursing at the mules, etc.:

"A man who tells you he's no fool, has his suspicions."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

July 6, 2010
Talked to my Kingman Cowboy Cousin Billy Hamilton this morning. He just shipped a load of cattle and was getting ready to drive into Kingman to deposit a check. He lives on the Turkey Track Ranch which is near Dolan Springs.

After talking about family, I asked him if he remembers a photo taken at the Kingman Junior Rodeo in 1948. He did. Said he was 12 and loved those old rodeos. Here's the photo:

Ten years later, Billy turned pro and here he is with a certain cartoonist-publisher who is going to write up an editorial on how rodeo runs in the family:

This was taken outside our grandmother's house on Jefferson Street on Hilltop. By 1964 Billy was The World Champion Steer Roper. He bought the Turkey Track Ranch with his winnings.

"Rodeo is number one. It just smells like number two."
—Old Vaquero Saying
July 6, 2010
I hate to admit it, but Facebook is an amazing social networking deal. I got this link from a guy, Glenn Alessi, in Italy. It's old 8mm footage of the Wickenburg, Arizona Gold Rush Days.

Check it out. Lots of great old cars and fifties style Western wear. If you love old Western stuff, it doesn't get much better than this. And while you're there, on the right side are videos of even older Gold Rush Days (1958). Brings back a ton of memories. Hard to believe today that 8mm film didn't have sound. With video it's taken for granted that sound would be on it.

"Fear is a forward thinking deal. Nobody is afraid of yesterday."
—Old Vaquero Saying
July 6, 2010
Working on a cinematic sequence of General Crook's Mexico expedition in May of 1883 to bring down Geronimo. Utilizing Dan Thrapp's magnificent book: "Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts." Crook needed an excuse to cross the border (sound familiar?) and a lightning raid by the Apache Chato provided that (he and 26 warriors came across the border into the U.S. travelled 400 miles and killed 26 white-eyes in six days and went back to Mexico). Crook also needed a guide (one of Chato's warriors made a side trip to San Carlos to visit relatives and was captured. His name was Peaches and he volunteered to take Crook to Geronimo's strongholds). Crook's punitive expedition left Benson on April 23 and marched to the border, near Guadalupe Pass. Then on May 1, General Crook crossed into Mexico with three captains, three Lieutenants and 42 enlisted men, a surgeon and one striker, all following 193 In-dins: Chiricahua, White Mountain Apaches, Yuma and Mojaves led by Al Sieber. This force was followed by a massive mule train of supplies. Oh, and Mickey Free. As they climbed into the Sierra Madres they lost four mules in one day and five on another, as the overloaded animals tumbled into the abyss. Three broke their necks, and two had to be shot.

Nasty stuff. Sounds just like Afghanistan, doesn't it? And, by the way, while everyone talks about Afghanistan surpassing Vietnam as our longest war, the Apache conflict lasted for more than 20 years

Had a very nice, quiet Fourth. Stayed home and worked on artwork, like this piece:

Russian Bill Swings In Shakespeare, New Mexico, November 9, 1881, for being "a damned nuisance."

Yes, this is for a True West Moment that will run in the Arizona Republic.

Our production manager, Robert Ray, had a close call last weekend. He was fishing at Woods Canyon Lake up on the Mogollon Rim last Friday when he started cramping. He thought it was food poisoning and he finally decided he'd better drive home. He had to pull over several times from the pain and his wife Bea told me he "willed himself home." Went straight to the emergency room and doctors immediately operated taking out his appendix. He was very lucky.

"To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deepy gives you courage."
—Lao Tzu

Monday, July 05, 2010

July 5, 2010
Yesterday, my son, 27, came out with his girlfriend and grandma Betty and we had homemade tacos (Mexico) and Dos Equis Amber (ditto) to celebrate the Fourth of July. My son, who, like me is a big basketball fan (Suns, U of A Wildcats, hates Duke, Lakers so his prejudices are in order), talked at length about the World Cup and the pros and cons of Germany, Netherlands and Argentina's defense abilities. I enjoyed his interest, even though I'm not a fan of soccer and haven't watched any of it, but i think my son and his generation are finally moving towards futball (Stephen Colbert joked that if the U.S. won we had one condition, that the "rest of the world call it soccer."). I also heard a Country song for the first time, something about "A typical American weekend," and the Delta Chis have ordered pizzas with Canadian bacon, drinking Amstel Light and Coronas, and some girl with a Spanish smile and Greek eyes. Loved it. Anybody know who does that ditty?

Sunday, July 04, 2010

July 4, 2010
On the Fourth I am reminded of what makes this country so great. In the words of Jack Handy: "if you rob a bank, and your pants fall down, it's okay to laugh. And let your hostages laugh too, because, come on, life is funny."

The Americans Who Make This Life Funny

Yes, I really appreciate the humorists this country has produced. So here are a few of the people who really make me laugh: Mark Twain, Teddy Blue Abbott, Will Rogers, Billy the Kid, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Garrison Keillor, The Coen brothers, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Chris Rock, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Gary Shandling, John Belushi, John Candy, Robin Williams, Steve Martin, David Letterman, Paula Poundstone, Jerry Scott (Baby Blues and Zits), Gary Trudeau, Glen Beck, Lewis Black, Rodney Dangerfield, Phil Hartman, Steve Carrell, Wonderful Russ, Wendy Shaw, Ed and Carson Mell, Dan the Man Harshberger, Robert Ray, Charlie Waters, Steven Craig Burford, Wayne Rutschman, Mundo, Paul Andrew Hutton, Kathy Radina and Deena and Thomas Bell. Humor Masters all. Thankyou all for making this planet a lighter and brighter place.

"The Russian spies tried to blend in. They were acting like Americans. As a matter of fact, for two weeks they were pretending they loved soccer."
—David Letterman

Saturday, July 03, 2010

July 3, 2010
Spent a very nice day at home. Did five paintings, mostly desert scenes, and if von Goethe is correct, that a "person with insight enough to admit his limitations comes closest to perfection," then I'd have to say I'm damn near perfect. Ha.

I keep crankin' em out and I keep seeing my limitations, so I must be doing something right. Wish I was better at my attempts. Gee, I wonder what ol' Northcote has to say about this?

"Half the things that people do not succeed in are through fear of making the attempt."
—James Northcote

Friday, July 02, 2010

July 2, 2010
Just got word from Herman Dickson that a micro-brewery in Tucson, Nimbus, is going to revive A-1 Beer. When I was a kid growing up in Arizona A-1 was king. I even have the original A-1 neon sign that hung in front of the Nogales Cafe in downtown Phoenix.

Of course, in their heyday in the 1950s, A-1 commissioned Arizona artist Lon Magargee to do a series of Old West paintings, the most famous being Cowboy's Dream.

The news hits the press tomorrow, but I wanted you to know first.
July 2, 2010
Kathy is on assignment in another state for the entire month so I am baching it and have plenty of time to work on my painting skills. One of the little goals I set for myself is to shadow the masters: copy the design and technique of a particular painting I like, and try to learn what gives it power, but, at the same time try and make it my own.

Yesterday I was in Editor Meghan Saar's office talking about a couple submissions we have and while we were talking I noticed a new catalogue on her in box: The Coeur D'Alene Art Auction: Reno, Nevada—July 24, 2010. As we continued to decide the fate of a specific writer, I flipped through the book and landed on a Maynard Dixon painting I had never seen: Lone Rider, oil on board en grisaille ($10,000-$15,000). I asked Meghan if I could borrow the book and she said, "Yes, as long as I get it back in time to review it."

Last night, when I got home it was too hot in the house so I went out to the studio and did a small study of the Dixon clouds in the Lone Rider. Shadowing the technique, I got some very striking effects:

This morning, I changed the bottom and added the Apache Kid with a stolen horse traversing the flats east of Naco, Sonora on July 2, 1888. Not that I'm getting too specific, or anything. But you will notice that stolen horse is fighting the Kid a bit (happy accident).

"Failure really isn't terrible if you can say to yourself, 'Hey, I know I'm gonna be successful at what I want to do someday.' Failure doesn't become a big hangup then because it's only temporary."
—Jerry Della Femina

Thursday, July 01, 2010

July 1, 2010
We got our office copies of the Digging Up Billy the Kid issue late this morning. It is a tour de force package, with the cover story by Mark Boardman to the new theories on how Billy actually was shot and killed. Great maps (and floorplan) by Gus "The Mapinator" Walker. Steve Sederwall's theories, plus Fred Nolan's insights, plus a wing ding take on what Gale Cooper actually looks like. Here is a sneak peek at the cover:

Recognize anyone? Yes, inside, Baxter Black and Waddie Mitchell are also featured in this collector's edition.

"The best part of being a cowboy poet is ya getta talk a whole lot about work without having to do any of it!"
—Waddie Mitchell, in What History Has Taught Me
July 1, 2010
Yesterday, Robert Ray and I drove to Prescott Valley to scan some of the best rodeo programs I have ever seen. Charlie Carpenter has been collecting them all his life and he has virtually the entire history of rodeo in his home. I met him on the set of "Queens of Country" the movie that filmed in Cave Creek two months ago. I'll post a few images later to give you a sneak peek.

Teenagers Ruin Everything
I was walking with Peaches this morning (waited too late, it was already too hot at 7, need to go earlier) and ran into my neighbor Mike Barro (of Barro's Pizza fame) out feeding his horses and I asked him why he stopped doing his Fourth of July hot dog get together every year. The whole neighborhood attended and after burgers and dogs everyone sat out on the Barro's big lawn and watched the Cave Creek fireworks. It was a ton of fun and we all got to catch up on the neighborhood families. Mike said certain teenagers ruined it by drinking, and I assume, although I can't prove it, that the teenagers in question were his own.

I told him I feel his pain. Every summer we used to go to Mission Beach in San Diego, until our first teenager (that would be the girl) begged us to let her go to a party two houses down, on the boardwalk. We sat outside, closest to the wall nearest the party (it was probably fifty feet away) to keep tabs on her and a friend, but sure enough the "guys" who were renting the beach house put beer— or was it vodka?—in the girl's empty coke cans and they got trashed right under our noses. That ruined San Diego for us and we didn't go back for about six years and even then, when we did try it again the bitter taste of the incident killed our desire to go. We've never been back.

The Face of The Old Vaquero?
I've been using the title "Old Vaquero Saying" for about 18 years now and have thought for some time it would make a very cool booklet, or at the very least, a T-shirt design. This morning, I finally did a sketch of a face to go with that title:

From this I started a scratchboard and here is the first pass:

I wanted him to be a little demonic, or Posada-ish, and I think I got it. No?

"History is a cruel trick, played on the dead by the living."
—The very first Old Vaquero Saying I ever used in 1991, when I had the quote but couldn't find out who said it. This was, of course, long before Google. I used it in one of my first first Old West books and finally, as the book was going to press I punted and said it was an Old Vaquero Saying. I have been collecting them and using the term ever since.