Thursday, March 31, 2011

Billy In Bonita

March 31, 2011

In meetings all morning, working on our mercantile online store. Lots of new product and cool stuff to buy going up soon. Then shifted gears and went over the Billy the Kid package for June. Going to be stellar stuff. I'm thinking about flying to Denver for the auction of the Kid photo in June.

Meanwhile, our office copies of the May issue came in. Very strong issue. One of the best Mickey Free episodes. May be the last one for a while. Need to move on to other characters. Have a cowgirl super hero I may spring on you. Working up the roughs even as you read this.

Went home for lunch and finished three pieces. Actually four, but one of them, I finished last night. First up is "First Light On Morning Mist":

Then grabbed a study out of my failure pile and tweaked it where it wanted to go and ended up with "Verdant Valley":

Although this one is totally out of my head (no reference, just hand on auto-pilot), it sure looks like the San Tan Mountains southeast of Chandler, Arizona. The irrigation ditch, or natural canyon (take your pick), happened very organically. Some sweet passages in this one.

Also, decided to do a black and white version of "The Country Jake" to feature in an upcoming True West Moment and got this scratchboard down on board:

That's the Hog Ranch at Bonita in the background, where Henry Antrim stole army saddles and horses, and also, where he killed his first man.

Heading for Santa Fe tomorrow and the big art opening at Due West Gallery just off the plaza. Got nine pieces in the show, all Billy the Kid related. Looking forward to the trip, but I must heed ol' Benjamin:

"One today is worth two tomorrows."
—Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Running Late (Roger French's Stagecoach painting)

March 30, 2011

Went home for lunch and whipped out a study of twilight dust.

Going to plop a hell-bent-for-leather stagecoach careening towards us, and call it "Running Late". This is a painting I promised to Roger French and I aim to repay him for the great hatbands he has created for me.

"Doing nothing's a dangerous occupation."
—Robert Bolt

Billy the Kid, Street Fighting Man?

March 30, 2011

Pulled a portrait of Billy the Kid out of my failure pille this morning and gave it a go. Kind of overworked it, especially around the mouth, but it has some potential. I was aiming at a cross between the All-American Boy and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

It's a tough line to capture. The Kid obviously had a mean streak and he was closer to Keith Richards, in style and demeaner, than say, Paul McCartney or Bruce Springsteen (see Beatle Billy below, bottom row, middle; or The Boss, top row, fifth from left):

The reason I am comparing Billy to bad boy Keith Richards is probably because a neighbor lent me her copy of "Life" the new autobiography of the Rolling Stone lead guitarist and I have been amazed by his candor, honesty and humor. One of the things I learned is that, according to Keith, the Stones didn't make any money until 1967. "There was no money in any of the American tours. Everybody was rooming with everybody. We did the T.A.M.I. show in America late in 1964—the show where we came on after James Brown—to get us back home. We earned $25,000." Keith goes into detail about how many of the promoters either ripped them off, or simply didn't pay them. They did make some cash but Keith claims they spent all their money on traveling expenses (which obviously included illegal substances). Keith claims he never made "real money" until he wrote the song "As Tears Go By" which is way into the game.

I remember playing Stones songs in our high school band, the Exits, in the sixties and imagining what it would be like to be in the bigtime like the Beatles, The Stones and the Dave Clark Five. Ha.

Little did I know that we were making, on average, $30 a night, per man, in the Exits, during the 1964-65-66 tours (of the American Legion and the Elks Club and the Girl's Gym in Kingman). Plus, we were all living with our parents, so that $30 was pure fun money! I guess it's safe to say, we were way ahead of the Stones in terms of actually making money for at least three years.

Here is an illustration of that rivalry, Mick Jagger vs. Bob Boze Bell:

Which one is the real Street Fightin' Man?

"But I try, and I try, and i try and i try—I can't get no, no satisfaction."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Origins of The Ten Gallon Hat

March 29, 2011

Working on a new True West Moment on the origins of the term "ten gallon hat." Most people think it came from the idea that the crowns of big hats were so huge they could hold ten gallons of water (see famous Stetson ad of a cowboy holding his fat full of water so his horse can drink).

Actually, the term appears to come from the Spanish, "tan galan," which means "so gallant." Also, galone is a term for fancy braids on a sombrero and if a hat has ten galones it is indeed so gallant. English speakers mangled the term tan galan, or, perhaps were being sarcastic (knowing Texans, I suspect the latter) and mangled it to a ten gallon hat.

"With lots of exceptions, killing yourself is a bad idea."
—Benjamin Alsup

Monday, March 28, 2011

Honkytonk Sue & The History Channel

March 28, 2011

Back in the office, working hard on the next issue, before I fly to Santa Fe this coming Friday evening for the Bang Gang art opening at Due West Gallery, just off the plaza.

This morning I discovered a couple images in my black and white files. One of them, is a sweet little pen and ink of Honkytonk Sue:

This dates from about 1985 and illustrates that even the Queen of Country Swing can have her heart broken.

Yesterday, Kathy and I met the kids downtown at the Matador for breakfast and I picked up a New Times. Inside, an article castigating Yuma, with the headline "A Sense of Yuma," caught my eye. In the article, George Carlin is credited with coining the phrase A Sense of Yuma. Excuse me, but here's a cartoon doubletruck a certain Kingman cartoonist did in the early eighties, in the same newspaper!:

And here's the second page:

Funny, how the Gateway to San Luis one still stands almost 30 years later. Ouch. And, unless someone can site a George Carlin reference to Yuma's "Sense of Yuma," before 1983, I think this textploitation is totally mine.

Going down tonight for a taping of a History Channel doc. Details tomorrow.

"There's many ways to be wrong, and no single way to be right."
—A.O. Scott

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Last Ride of Bonnie McCarroll

March 26, 2011

Had a big-outdoor cowboy breakfast this morning with Jackie Autry, Nege Bogert and Juni Fisher, along with 40 other shooters and Palm Springs locals at Elaine Hill's and her husband John's magnificent casa in Palm Springs. Sat next to and really enjoyed talking with the Western singer Juni Fisher and we made plans to do a feature with her in True West magazine on The Last Ride of Bonnie McCarroll. If you know your rodeo history, you know what we are talking about. Juni did extensive research on the fatal ride and wrote a song about the incident, "Bonnie McCarroll" which is on her classic "Let 'er Go, Let 'er Buck, Let 'er Fly" CD, celebrating 100 years of the Pendleton Round-up. Check her out. She is the real deal.

After a stop back at the Westfest grounds to pick up a dolly, Ken Amorosano and I drove back to Arizona, stopping for burritos at La Paloma in Blythe, one of my family's fave hole-in-the-wall Mexican food restaurants. Had the chicken burrito and a horchata (medium) and got back on the road. Had lots of time to plan big for the magazine. Arrived home at five. Lots of art to catch up on.

Great trip. I had never spent time in Palm Springs. Really pretty canyons and high desert oasis living. New country for me. Great people, lots of history. Glad I made the trip and attended Westfest. Gee I wonder what ol' Tennessee has to say about this?

"Make voyages. Attempt them. There's nothing else."

—Tennessee Williams

Friday, March 25, 2011

Johnny Crawford

March 25, 2011

Went to the Westfest's Frank Bogert Rodeo here in Palm Springs tonight. Ran into Johnny Crawford (the son on "Rifleman"). He raved about the success of the new "True Grit," and how it should encourage more stories about females in the Old West.

Having breakfast with Gene Autry's widow tomorrow.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Palm Springs Westfest Rodeo

March 24, 2011

Ate lunch today at Sherman's Deli in downtown Palm Springs. Had the turkey pastrami sando and vegetable soup. Sat outside. Beautiful day, high sixties. Gave a speech in the Mohave Room at the Renaissance Hotel at one. Ken and I are on the way to a cocktail party for Michael Martin Murphy. Staying at a private residence in Smoke Tree Ranch (Walt Disney used to live in here).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bob Cook Hates My Magazine

March 23, 2011

Going to treat the staff to lunch today at Cafe Bink in Carefree. We've had two record issues and we are going to celebrate by eating great food and telling big lies.

I promised to tell the story of the old cowboy who confronted me at Orme Ranch last week and Pat Dunn reminded me I haven't told it yet. Here tis:

A week ago I drove up to Orme Ranch to sketch the different buildings on campus for an aerial map illustration I have been hired to complete. Jeb Rosebrook and his son Stuart drove onto campus about five and invited me to join them in Old Main for cocktails and a barbecue ribs dinner. While having a glass of wine I introduced myself to some very nice people from New Mexico and New Hampshire who were there for the annual vaquero ride. Must have been about 50 people in the room. They asked what I did and I told them. A few minutes later, one of the wranglers for the ride, an old, grizzled cowboy stumbled by (old cowboys always walk like they've just broken both legs) and someone said, "Hello, Bob Cook. Have you met Bob Boze Bell. He runs True West magazine?"

Mr. Cook looked me straight in the eye and said, "I know who you are. You ruined my favorite magazine." Everyone kind of froze. Bob Cook, in typical cowboy fashion, was very direct, adding, "I used to collect this magazine, but I hated what you did with it when you moved to Cave Creek." He walked away. Everyone kind of cringed, but I laughed and said, "You've got to love cowboys, they tell it to you straight, without ducking, or pretending to be nice."

Two minutes later, Bob came back and we both laughed. I told him I understood his opinion, since I have more than a few friends who agree with him. I told him I loved the old magazine as well but couldn't make it pay the old way. Mr. Cook loosened up and started to tell me stories about running a trading post on the Navajo res in the 1950s and early 1960s. Said he had delivered babies and buried bodies. I asked him to give me an example and he said one day a very pregnant Navajo woman staggered in to his trading post and asked for a ride to the hospital in Gallup. Bob told her his truck was out on deliveries and wouldn't be back for a couple hours. She collapsed. He took her in the back, and in the Navajo tradition, hung her from her armpits, up off the floor, caught the baby, cut the cord, gave her a new blanket and she then proceeded to walk six miles home!

He also told me how he sold the last Studebaker wagon in 1964. Sold it for $600. I remember seeing those wagons up and down the highway, when our family drove through the res in the early 1960s on our way to Iowa. They were all gone in a decade, and today you don't see any.

I told Bob Cook I was going to sic a writer on him and get some of these great stories and run it in the magazine he hates so much. He laughed and gave me his card.

I love these old guys, even the ones who hate my magazine.

Found an intriguing page of sketches in one of my 10,000 Bad Drawings Sketchooks from a couple years ago:

Nice colors and the guy at bottom, is, of course, a favorite outlaw of ours.

"On the Plains of Hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of Victory, sat down to wait, and waiting—died!"
—George W. Cecil

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Billy the Jake

March 22, 2010

To give you an idea just how deep my failure pile is, I dug deep this morning and found this failed painting, "Billy the Jake" from 1991. The painting was inspired by Gus Gildea's line about seeing young Henry in Bonita, Arizona (1876): "He came to town dressed like a country jake with shoes instead of boots. He wore his six-shooter stuck in his trousers."

As you can see it has a frustrated splat of paint at the bottom, which signifies my anger at ruining this piece. However, when I pulled it out this morning, I thought it had some potential and added a wash to see if I could perhaps redeem it. Not bad. Going to work on it some more.

I also found myself rooting around in my 10,000 Bad Drawings Sketchbooks where I found this amazing page from almost two years ago:

The drawings were studies for a Classic Gunfight we did on the Jeff Kidder shooting in Naco, Mexico. Kidder was an Arizona Ranger. Incredibly, these sketches are much livelier than anything I ended up using in the article.

Here's another page of sketches from the same sketchbook:

Yes, that's Col. Tim McCoy and his lovely wife (she "dated" JFK). I think this page of sketches summarizes my life passions almost better than anything I have ever attempted, right down to the amber glow.

Froggy Hauan and his wife Frogette, I mean Trudy, came out last night and after buying one of my paintings to take to the Gun Bank in Thompson, Iowa, they treated me to dinner at El Encanto. Had the fish tacos, trying to eat healthy (see next item). Fun talking about old times. I mentioned that, growing up in Kingman, my father got me a Ford pickup to drive to school in and Froggy said, "That's child abuse."

Even my father, a lifelong Ford man, would have had a good laugh over that one.

It was three years ago today, I was playing "Wipeout" at the old Elks Lodge in Kingman, Arizona. Three guys, Wayne and Cody Rutschman and Terry Mitchell saved my life. Oh, and Dr. Michael Ward of Kingman Regional. Thanks guys.

"In life, night comes. In literature, the sun always rises."
—Jill Lepore

Monday, March 21, 2011

Wyatt's First Ride vs. John Ringo's Last Ride

March 21, 2011

Ran into Greg Worley at Festival of the West last weekend and he told me about a new indie Western on Wyatt Earp that just wrapped (Greg plays a cowboy in the film). It will star Val Kilmer as an aged Wyatt Earp telling the story of the shooting of Dora Hand in Dodge City, which in turn led to one of the most intrepid posses ever to saddle up in the history of the west. Val will allegedly bookend the movie, but in the actual ride down, Wyatt will be played by Shawn Roberts, Bat Masterson will be played by Matt Dallas, Bill Tilghman will be played by Levi Siehler, Scott White plays Charlie Bassett and Trace Atkins plays old man Kennedy (the Texas cattle baron who got his son off scott free). Michael Feifer is the producer and director. The film was shot at the Paramount Movie Ranch and Caravan West Ranch. Since it's an indie, they are looking for a distributor, so spread the word.

From Wyatt's First Ride to John Ringo's Last Ride

Worked all four days of the festival, but did manage to do a study I call "John Ringo's Last Ride," portraying the outlaw cowboy of Cochise County on his last bender (see empty whiskey bottle at bottom, left). Kind of blew it on the final push. Overworked the horse and rider adding too much detail. Ruined the dust effect. Need to be more careful on final.

A shout out to Hondo Ray, a New Yorker, who attends the Festival of the West every year. Saw plenty of old friends. Talked to Peter Brown (Lawman) who is doing a new show "Shootin' The Breeze". Interviewed Lynn Anderson ("I Never Promised You A Rose Garden") for an upcoming What History Has Taught Me. Ken A. and I had breakfast with my producer at the Westerns Channel, Jeff Hildebrandt this morning, to talk about a few ideas we have.

We framed one of our True Grit covers and brought it along to Festival of the West. Could have sold a dozen of the puppies. Everyone raving about the image. Credit where credit is due: It was our art director Dan "The Man" Harshberger who came up with the design and the tag line, "Wrong eye, Pilgrim!" Everyone cracks up when they see it.

Going to be doing an art show in Santa Fe, New Mexico on April 1. Artist and gang member Thom Ross has sprung for new gallery digs just off the plaza. Thom asked me and Davy Powell, Buckeye Blake and a couple other guys to join him in the venture. He wants only outlaw artists, so we threw around names for the group. I told Thom we needed a name somewhere between The Taos Seven and The Chicago Eight. That led us to jokingly come up with The Gang of Bang! and then Thom said, 'What about The Bang Gang?" I said, "That is perfect! That's exactly who we are and I would love to be part of an outlaw group with the name—The Bang Gang. Count me in."

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Mexicali Stud

March 18, 2011

Went out to the first day of Festival of the West yesterday and met some great people. Always fun to see the fanatic and the faithful. Ran into Jeff Hildebrandt of the Westerns Channel. Here's an inside peek at the Starz-Encore empire. I believe they have some 17 cable channels and the Westerns Channel pulls 31 million views, which is about three million more than their other, more heavily promoted channels. I run into people almost every day who tell me they watch the Westerns Channel more than any other station (and their wives usually roll their eyes as they say this, verifying their dedicated infatuation).

Got up this morning and grabbed a study out of my Failure Pile, adding a vaquero rider on a stallion strutting across the tundra:

This is going to be a sequence for a new Graphic Cinema story to be called "The Mexicali Stud."

Failure Pile Examples
When I say I grabbed a study out of the Failure Pile, I'm referring to scenes like this, which I did last night when I got home from work:

What I try to do, is stay loose, push wet brushes around, adding complimentary colors and not try to make it into something. This is very relaxing and I very much enjoy the exercise. The goal: no expectation of any kind.

Here's an example of a Failure Pile piece that is in the second phase of development:

This started as a blob of shapes, similar to the first piece. In the second phase of my attack, i started to see the clouds and land mass and bent the paint in that direction. The dust in the right, center area was an afterthought, created by swabbing a water soaked brush into that area and rubbing it with a paper towel (one swipe, not two). Very dynamic, but now I am stuck at phase two: what will I put in that space? Two riders? A column of troopers? Apaches with stolen horses? A dune buggy? Sarah Palin chasing a liberal on foot in Mexico?

It may be a couple years before I get the inspiration or courage to take this to the finish line.

I'm on my way to Palm Springs next Thursday for the big West Fest & Rodeo. Going to be speaking on Thursday and Friday at the event. More details as we get closer.

As you know, I often go home for lunch and whip out one of these studies. A friend of mine on Facebook posted this today:

"Went home for lunch, ate a green burrito, then had a nap. where did i go wrong?"
—Mike Hutchinson

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nine Doomed Riders

March 17, 2011

Got up this morning and grabbed a painting out of my failure pile. Quickly added nine riders and three Yavapai warriors (checking them out from behind the boulders in foreground). Went to yoga and during a warrior pose, started bleeding out of my nose. This turned out to be a reaction to the dental procedure I had yesterday.

Came into work, scanned the painting and realized it was supposed to be five riders and three pack horses, so eight horses, not nine. So, in the final, you will notice that one of them has been magically removed. My favorite thing about this painting is the boulder in the foreground and the bushes on the Yavapai's head, bottom, center. This was actually practiced by all the Indian tribes but I don't recall ever seeing it in a movie. Am I wrong? I must be wrong, it's just too prevalent in the literature. Apaches are seen in photographs wearing bushes on their heads, or turkey feathers, which simulated wild turkeys, so they could peek over a rock or ridge and blend in, while on the scout for game or enemies.

Of course, these Yavapais (and 147 others) attacked the five prospectors at a place in the Silver Mountains (later named The Bradshaws) at a place that became known as Battle Flat. Although the Indians paid a high price (the rescuers of the besieged prospectors claimed to have found 13 dead warriors after the battle) the Yavapais got most of their supplies and ate the prospector's horses.

"There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities."
—John Edward Dalberg

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Albert Bierstadt & Dental Tools Get My Goat

March 16, 2011

Had a major dental appointment this morning at 8:30. While in the dental chair listening to the soothing tones of a suction tube (I won't bore you with the procedure, but here's a two-word hint: sinus infill), I got the inspiration for a painting to be called "Before The Flash," which will be what it looked like in old Fort Sumner, in the winter of 1880, just outside Beaver Smith's Saloon as the photographer set up and the Kid's pals milled around, kicking their boots against the back steps and kidding each other about the weather and the finer attributes of the law. Laughing, the boy outlaw steps into position as the photographer's assistant readjusts the neck brace (that's what gave me the flash of inspiration) and then the flash that exposes the inner camera to the most famous image in the history of the Old West.

Sketches and studies to follow.

The dental procedure cost about $3,600, plus $115 for pain prescriptions. My dental insurance ($81 a month) will probably pay about 1/100th of that. What a country! What a system!

Went home for lunch and pulled a painting out of my Failure Pile. This was a ruined, muddy attempt at emulating Albert Bierstadt's "Storm in the Rock Mountains" (1866). Tried to rectify several problems, saving one patch and making another worse (sound vaguely familiar?) I call this "She Stood In The Clearing—Bitching About The Weather."

You can blame the cynical tone of the title on my mouth condition at the moment. Bierdstadt was such a monster painter. His transitions are so bold and yet subtle and his expansive views of the west in the 1860s made him a superstar. Unfortunately, his style and fame faded rather quickly, making him, by the 1880s, sort of the Three Dog Night of the art world (huge in their day, tiny a decade or two later).

Yesterday afternoon I drove up to Orme Ranch School, north of Cordes Junction on the Dugas Road exit off of I-17, and did some more due diligence sketches of the campus for the illustrated aerial map I have been commissioned to do.

On the way up the Black Canyon, I looked over at the Bradshaw Mountains and imagined what it must have been like to be the five prospectors who were attacked by 150 Yavapais in June of 1864 (we are doing the battle in the next Classic Gunfights in True West). Very rough country.

After sketching the campus, at 5:30 I joined a Vaquero riding group for cocktails in Old Main and was ambushed and attacked by an old timer (a wrangler on the ride) who accused me of ruining True West. His story in the next post.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
—Teddy Roosevelt

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Deep In The O.K. Corral

March 15, 2011

Grabbed a painting out of my failure pile this morning and tweaked the whispy, ghost-like nature of the figure. Lost it, found it again, worried about overworking (ironic because I gave up on it the first time because it was, ahem, overworked). Anyway, that led to this scnenario.

Mickey's Dreamgirl Is In The House
She came to Mickey Free in a dream, walking through the abandoned adobe, her feet barely touching the cold, packed earth.

Not too shabby. Got some ghost-like attributes. She's a little bit too much Vegas stripper, but then I would imagine Mickey would have responded well to that style of muse.

Today is the anniversary of the Benson Stage Robbery, that led indirectly to the O.K. Corral fight. Yesterday, I went home for lunch and whipped out a little study I call "Deep In The Lot."

This is based on an actual photograph of Fly's side yard (most likely taken by Fly himself). The photo belongs to Steve Elliott of Tombstone and shows a burro standing in the space between Fly's boarding house and the small house west of there. Take out the burro and put in the frenzied figures of eight men and two horses, in an 18 feet space, and you have a ground view seat at the most famous gunfight in Old West history.

Of course this portrays the event more as an side-yard, alley shootout, rather than an open field epic showdown, but then that is the reality of the historical scene, not the myth. Gee, I wonder what ol' JFK has to say about this?

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
—John F. Kennedy

Monday, March 14, 2011

Checking The Back Trail, II

March 14, 2011

Worked all weekend on several fronts. Working up an aerial illustrated map of Orme School and spent some time doing due diligence on perspective drawings of complicated buildings from the air. Not an easy thing to do.

Finally executed a key scene in the next installment of Mickey Free. After the fire fight in the mountains, Mickey and his trusty mammoth jack made it safely past the blazing inferno, and on to a river where the two bed down for the night. In the morning, Mick led Tu into the water and rubbed his sore sides, burnt and blackened from the fire. inspecting the big mule's face, Mick laughs, seeing that Tu's eyelashes are gone, not realizing that his look the same way:

Nice effects on the sides of the mule. Not easy to do, but I had good reference, and even a blind dog finds an acorn from time to time.

Meanwhile, took another crack at "Checking Out The Back Trail" and may use this scene to begin the Fire Fighter episode of Graphic Cinema:

Yes, those are Frank Tenney Johnson inspired boulders. Also, took another crack at Last Light On Morningstar and got some decent effects going.

Like the shape of Sugarloaf Butte better in this one. This makes the ninth attempt at this particular scene. I need to develop the foreground, adding saguaros, etc. Should about have it, with ten attempts, although I have been told that Maynard Dixon sometimes did 85 studies before he went to a final.

Saw three movies this weekend: "127 Hours," "Inside Job," and "Love And Other Drugs." Really enjoyed "Inside Job" an Academy Award winning doc on how we now have a Wall Street government. "127 Hours" was excrutiating and well done, but it wasn't my idea of fun. Kathy actually enjoyed it more than me. Loved the nudity in "Love and Other Drugs" but thought the story was a little forced towards the end.

"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."
—Charles Mingus

Friday, March 11, 2011

True West Moments at Ranching Heritage Center

March 11, 2011

Just discovered a couple of the True West Moments I recorded in Lubbock, Texas a year ago for the Westerns Channel. Here's the link:

Checking The Back Trail

March 11, 2011

Got up this morning and noodled an idea I've had for some time. I call this "Checking The Back Trail":

When the young Mickey Free was being trained as an Apache warrior, one of the techniques he was taught is to check the back trail often and memorize the landmarks as you leave one valley going into another. This is insurance in new country for the ride back where the landscape looks very different than it did going the other way.

In our story (Paul Andrew Hutton and myself), Mickey is taken under the wing of the White Mountain Apache leader Nayundiie, who takes him out on long walks, pausing here and there to question young Mickey about the back trail. How far back was the bison boulder? Where was the arroyo bend in relation to the side canyon they are in? Which side of the arroyo were the two big cottonwoods? Did the wagon road go south of the trees, or north? These were the mental exercises impressed upon young Apaches that made them so formidable in the field when it came to a running fight.

"If you are idle, be not solitary. If you are solitary, be not idle."
—Samuel Johnson

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cowboy Yummy!

March 10, 2011

At Tuesday's graphic design meeting we decided we need a kitsch illustration for Johnny Boggs' next column on the best cowboy breakfasts in the West. The photographs of food were flat and uninteresting (great writers rarely make good photgraphers). We decided a classic illustration of a retro-cowboy with a bib on, with crazed eyes (Dan Harshberger calls this the "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" look, referring to a sixties album by Frank Zappa that has this dude shaving with a weasel. It's a mocking, or, crazed parody of fifties advertising where enthusiastic eyes look slightly deranged).

None of us could find anything appropriate. Some searches came close but they weren't Western, so we assigned a very cheap artist to whip out a quick knock off of a fities-cowboy-retro-dining art.

Not perfect, but perfectly inexpensive. ha.

"To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth."

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Fort Apache Courier

March 9, 2011

Grabbed a landscape study out of my failure pile and added a rider, tweaked the bushes and overworked the dust before I came into work. It's called "Fort Apache Courier," taken from a reference photo I took on a trip with Paul Andrew Hutton to San Carlos and back to Fort Apache.

Here is the study as it appeared in my failure pile. I must have had it for at least five years. I met Paul Hutton at the Hondah Apache Casino and Resort for an Arizona History Convention to work on Mickey Free. While we walked through the woods and argued about plot points, it came up that Paul had never been to San Carlos. I told him we could fix that in a couple hours, so we got in his car and drove from the White Mountains (where Fort Apache is) down into the Gila River Valley to San Carlos. After lunch at the Apache Gold Casino (ironic because the Apaches allegedly hated gold hunting miners and would kill them on sight, although now that I think about it, perhaps they are still making a killing. Ha.), we drove back to the White Mountains. As we topped out on the Mogollon Rim above the Salt River Canyon, the shadows began to lengthen and I whipped out my new digital camera and started shooting everything I could see (movie folks call this the magic hour). This study, done soon after I got back, is from one of those photos:

It must have resided in my failure pile for at least five years. This morning I was inspired by two things: one, I wanted to post something here and the other works in progress images weren't done, and two, I thought I could finally see a rider in that dust at left, just beyond the dark shadows. Here's how it looks now that I added the rider and tweaked the color:

One of things I've learned in the last year is that color almost always trumps realism. In this case I rendered the big foreground shadow in grays and black (in the first one), but for the second I added turquoise blue which softens the shadow so we can see vegetation in the shadows. So, while the first one is more accurate to the reference photo, the second one in more atmospheric. The background vegetation is the same in both scans, but the first one looks redder and this is a function of scanning (I must have chosen a different "curve" on the first scan). All in all, a successful gamble. I must also note that time was of the essence. I would have loved to have spent more time on this but I was late for work with a ton of things to do here, and that forced me to make decisions on the fly. I'll leave it to you as to the wisdom of the decisions, but the pressure to finish gives it a certain freshness and fluidity. Do you agree?

"An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail."
—Edwin Land

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Capucine & Froggy Hauan

March 8, 2011

A legendary Iowa relative, Norm Hauan, came out to Cave Creek today. After admiring my grandfather's 1940 John Deere tractor (which is going back to Iowa soon), we drove up to El Encanto for lunch. Caught up on all the Hauan history. My grandmother on my father's side, Minnie Bell, was a Hauan and my daughter Deena is named for Dena Hauan, Minnie's younger sister. Norm mentioned that his sister Googled Norm by his nickname, Froggy, and came up with this BBB blog entry from October 12, 2006:

A Froggy Proposition
“Did you ever see the Aussie Western The Proposition? I liked it. Hard to believe the lead Guy Pearce is the same clean cut cop in L.A. Confidential. I’m quoting USA Today in their review of the movie ‘not much of a date movie unless your steady is Belle Starr’. Froggy Howan-out!”
—Minnesota Mike Melrose, Arizona Republic, Automotive Account Executive

"For the record, the correct spelling is Froggy Hauan (a Norwegian farming legend from Thompson, Iowa, and a distant relative of mine. Melrose loves the name and uses it all the time to rib me)."

End of blog entry. Unfortunately, Minnesota Mike died a couple years ago and we all miss him.

Speaking of untimely deaths and Google, last night I watched the end of "Walk On The Wild Side", a 1962 film starring Laurence Harvey, Jane Fonda, Ann Baxter and a hauntingly beautiful Capucine, who played a lesbian prostitute. I knew the name Capucine was familiar so I Googled it. She was a French model, who made a quasi-splash in Hollywood, but Capucine committed suicide in 1990 walking, or jumping out the eighth floor of her apartment. Yikes!

Working on the newest Mickey Free installment The Fire Fighter. Added this image to the front end of the fire scenes (see yesterday's blog) to set the scene:

"Age is a very high price to pay for maturity."
—Tom Stoppard

Monday, March 07, 2011

Mickey Free: The Fire Fighter

March 7, 2011

Spent the weekend working on the next Graphic Cinema, a sequence I call The Fire Fighter. Did a dozen individual scenes for coverage, as we say. Here are a couple of them:

And here's another couple:

And then, the cool down. . .

And then there's this:

Too bad he's ridin' a Llama. Ha.

"When you're at the top, there's only one way to go."
—Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, to her sister on any follow-up novel

Friday, March 04, 2011

Last Light On Morningstar, Part VI

March 4, 2011

Still working on the design and lighting effects for the Last Light painting. After work last night, I walked up Old Stage Road, looking specifically at the foreground in shadow. Much lighter than it appears in photos and the transition to the sliver of light coming up the ridge is not as harsh, or dramatic, as I thought (it rarely ever is).

Got up this morning and tried a softer approach. Has some potential. Also lightened up the big ridge as it descends into background behind Sugarloaf. Perhaps killed the late light on Sugarloaf. Also redesigned the foreground road, which hopefully will give it a stronger X design:

But the shapes are starting to make sense, especially the dynamics of the background buttes. Still struggling to get all of these elements to work at once, or, in one painting. It's kind of like juggling with each segment of the painting, blending in, or contrasting with the other parts, especially those next to each other.

Need to keep in mind Edwin's profound words:

"An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail."
—Edwin Land

Thursday, March 03, 2011

A Roscoe Willson Moment

March 3, 2011

I'm all fired up by all the Arizona centennial talk (John Booth, Marshall Trimble and I are working on a centennial video project). Yesterday I dug out one of my Arizona Republic's "This Is Arizona," the Fiftieth Anniversary publication celebrating a half century of statehood in 1962.

Leafing through the 560 page book (printed on pulp paper by the way) I was struck by how few of the advertisers have survived the last half century. Many of the big time players of 1962 are long gone, like The Nuclear Corporation of America ("Head in the clouds, feet on the ground, creating for tomorrow, producing for today"),Yellow Front (early day Costco), Korrick's ("Arizona's Leading Department Store"), Hallcraft Homes, Stapley's, Guaranty Bank ("Fastest Growing Bank In Arizona"), Goldwater's Department Stores (yes, owned by Barry Goldwater's family), The Feed Bag Dining Room in Mesa, Sunbeam Bread, Bonanza Airlines, Kamera Corner, Neptune's Table, The Red Dog in Scottsdale, Superstition Ho (not a prostitute but a hotel), Blakely's Gas Stations (featuring "Free! Blakely Arizona Cactus Tumblers!") Chic Meyers (The House of Television), The Safari Resort (featuring Paul Shank's French Quarter), Guy Isley's Refrigeration in Mesa, Southern Arizona Bank, Mountain States Telephone (a division of Bell which features a "Picture Phone for the house of tomorrow"), Put & Take Markets ("5 Locations In Phoenix"), Western Savings, Valley National Bank and every other bank that ever existed before the shakeout and buyout fever of the new millennium), and last but not least, Inspiration Consolidated Copper Company. How inspiring, eh?

Surprisingly, there are a few who have survived: Mac Alpine Drug Store (same location at 2303 North 7th St.), Woody's Macayo ("Native Mexican-American Kitchen Supremo!"), Holsum Bakery, Rainbow Baking Co., Hotel Westward Ho (although I don't think it's still a hotel), Arnold Pickles (although they no longer pickle under that name), O'Malley's Lumber, Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service (although it doesn't hurt to be a monopoly), Arizona City, Sun City ("4,000 of the happiest seniors" who are now dead), Hinkley's Lighting (on north Central), Safeway, Bashas', KPHO (featuring "It's Wallace," surprisingly not listed as "Wallace & Ladmo"), KTAR (radio AND tv station, Channel 12), Camelback Inn and Durant's (on Central, which still has the same tuck and roll blood red booths!).

But what really tickled my memory banks was seeing the Roscoe Willson column "Arizona Days" because as a kid growing up, I remember reading his weekly column and laughing because he was so old he would talk about Old West moments like this: "I'm proud to say I was one of those who voted in a pre-statehood election on December 12, 1911 to send Maricopa County Sheriff Carol Hayden to congress." Unlike other historians who wrote for the paper, like Kearney Egerton and Bob Thomas, Roscoe was so ancient, he would say something like, "after the outlaws fled I walked over to the sheriff's office to talk with the head of the rangers."

This was hilarious to a kid growing up in Kingman.

Fast forward to last weekend. My son Thomas Charles and his girlfriend Pattarapan gave Kathy and I a Christmas present of a homemade Thai dinner. The two of them showed up Saturday afternoon and put on matching aprons. Here they are getting set to rumble:

As Pattarapan cooked, Thomas brought along his new record player to spin some tunes for us. He found an old surf record by The Lively Ones playing tunes from South of the Border.

I knew almost every song (Miserlou, Pipeline, Torquay) and on one of them I shouted out "That's 'Telstar' originally done by the Tornados, an English instrumental group from 1962. I remember the first time I heard it, I was dancing with Karen Johnson in the Girl's Gym. . ."

They started laughing. Why?

"I'm Bob Boze Bell and this has been a Roscoe Willson Moment."

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Pimp My Hero

March 2, 2011

Yesterday I drove down into the Beast and landed at Canyon Recorders to tape my part of "Arizona Mosaic," a centennial project. To hear my contribution you can hear the full track, along with the all the other finished tracks, by going to Territorial Brass.

Had lunch today with Larry Winget, best selling author and motivational speaker. Funny, funny guy. When he told me about his mid-life crisis and affair I asked him how he has managed to stay married for 29 years, and he said he sat down and talked to his wife, and "we realized we're both in love with the same guy."

Our office copies of the next issue, April, arrived this morning. Our cover story, "The Three True Grits: Which One Is The True Masterpiece?" by Paul Andrew Hutton is quite strong. Should be dropping into your mailbox by the end of this week.

Finally got a peek at Jeff Guinn's new Tombstone book "The Last Gunfight," and it has some of the newest scholarship on all things Wyatt Earp. For example, we have known for some time that Mr. Brave-Courageous-And-Bold was arrested several times in Peoria, Illinois in 1872, on a floating bagnio (a brothel). A newspaper clipping, which I had not seen, is included in Guinn's book and makes an even stronger case regarding Earp as a pimp: "Some of the women are said to be good looking, but all appear to be terribly depraved. John Walton, the skipper of the boat, and Wyatt Earp, the Peoria bummer, were each fined $43.15. . .Sarah Earp, alias Sally Heckell, calls herself the wife of Wyatt."

Still, some Wyatt worshippers continue to whitewash this damning evidence with the wishful thinking that Earp was merely a bouncer on these boats. Yes, and Charlie Sheen cured himself with his mind.

Have another Last Light On Morning Star study, but we are installing all new computers in the office and the scanner is still loading new software.

"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there."
—L. P. Hartley

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Last Light On Morningstar, Part IV

March 1, 2011

Still noodling studies for Last Light On Morningstar. Did this one on Sunday and captured the magnificence of Sugarloaf a bit better (at least that is the right shape of the butte). Still need to work on foreground and the scale of the saguaro stand. Believe it or not, there are actually more saguaros on the actual ridge than I am showing here.

Started to watch a Charlie Sheen interview last night but had to turn it off. He's so wired it's pathetic and too sad too witness. I may be failing at my efforts, but I'm not that whacked out.

Still, I hate failing at all of these studies. Wish I could just capture what I'm seeing in my mind, but on I struggle. Gee, I wonder what ol' Gordon has to say about this?

"If you're not failing at some things, you're not risking enough."
—Gordon Wilson