Friday, May 13, 2011

Britton Davis and Gail Gardner

May 13, 2011

Friday the thirteenth. Never have been superstitious about this, have you?

I was inspired this morning by an Arizona Republic camping photo a week or so ago which showed a light blue and purple sky. Grabbed the image out of my clip file this morning and whipped this study out before I came into work: I call it "Rocky Trail Rider."

Plenty of country like this in my home country. Slippery shale and volcanic, black rocks strewn for miles. Which reminds me, on assignment for Arizona Highways in 1986, I illustrated legendary cowboy Gail Gardner in his Prescott home. He thought I was interviewing him and kept telling me all these juicy stories. His wife finally leaned out from the kitchen and yelled, "He's drawing you, Gail, not interviewing you!" But, Gail, chain-smoking by the way and in his mid-nineties, just kept going. In one of his stories he told about chasing a stray up on "Fart Knocker Flats". I stopped drawing and asked him how a place could end up with an outrageous name like that. He laughed. "Well, there's so many rocks up there, when you try and ride through there it knocks the farts right out of ya'."

Also whipped this out yesterday at lunchtime (actually finished it). This is "Britton Davis Returns," a scene of the popular U.S. Army officer who the Apaches loved for his honesty and compassion. He is returning from patrol, coming along the sandy buttes along the Gila.

Doing the shootout between Joaquin Murrieta and Harry Love for the next Classic Gunfights. I was talking to author John Boessenecker on the phone yesterday about where the shootout took place and he told me it's right off I-5, north of LA on the way to San Francisco, about 7 or 8 miles north of Harris Ranch. I was just through there last summer and stopped at Harris Ranch. Had no idea. See, this is why we need to have an Old West book and app that calls up these facts, and warns you when you are close. Amazing. Drove right through there and didn't have a clue. I wonder how many other sites I've blindly passed? Probably thousands.

Cooking up a trip to Colorado next month. Going to attend a festival in Montrose, and going to do a book signing in Durango. Also stopping at Ridgeway to visit Frontier Doc, Ridgeway at the True Grit Cafe and Ouray and Silverton. Oh, and don't forget Dolores, Telluride and Bayfield (where Paul Andy lives).

"He who never leaves his country is full of prejudices."
—Carlo Goldone

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