Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Real Budge Ruffner

July 30, 2012

   Trying to finish all the coverage for Outrageous Arizona this week. Knocked out four this weekend, including this one "The Vigilantes":

Hard to imagine being part of a vigilante group and hanging someone. I'm sure the emotions ran the gamut from glee to remorse.

Also finished Pearl Hart getting a one-way ticket out of Arizona:

And I finally finished the Tucson mob that threw rotten fruit and a dead cat at the returning legislators in 1886:

And I finished a scene of Sheriff Budge Ruffner collaring outlaw Sandy King:

Nice fade there if I don't say so myself. Got about five more scenes to do this week. Been fun. I'm on a roll.

Someone asked me why I named a recent painting "The Mother of All Whores". The essence was why would I ruin a "beautiful painting" with such an ugly title?

Here's how I got there: I wanted to do something cave painting symbolic regarding the Southwest. What one symbol would encapsulate the last 100 years. I've been working on Kissing Jennie and Pearl Hart (allegedly paid to leave the state because she got pregnant in the Yuma Pen!) and so that was on my mind. Then there's Tules in Santa Fe and from there I went to a certain talking head on Cable and especially the History Channel (he's been featured on history docs more than 250 times) and I kid him about being a "media whore," but then I have no room to talk, and believe me, he gives it right back to me. And then I thought about how both New Mexico and Arizona had to compromise and clean up their act in order to get statehood and it all came together as "The Mother of All Whores." And, by the way, the above mentioned media whore hates the title. Ha.

"You must begin to trust yourself sometime."

—Old Vaquero Saying

PG Pearl Hart

July 30, 2012

   Got some big rain last night. Very humid out this morning. Tommy and Pattarapan are back from their world globe trotting tour. Had a 24-hour flight from Bangkok. Picked them up at Terminal 3 on Saturday at 2 then sped over to La Frontera for street tacos, then out to Grandma Betty's where Debbie had made homemade green chile. Now THAT'S The way to return from a world tour my son beamed.

   Painted all weekend, plus created a safe haven for Peckasso in the chicken coop. He got out during the rain storm and I went out this morning to see him running for his life from the big, fat bitches. Finally got tired of the chicken shit. Took me half a day to clean out his mess.

   Between mopping and disinfecting, I did manage to paint a few pictures, including this one of a very pregnant Pearl Hart being paid off with a one-way ticket out of Arizona.

This was not known until the 1950s when, I believe, a secretary to the governor confessed the truth about Pearl's mysterious pardon from the Yuma Pen.

"Man who go through turnstile sideways is going to Bangkok."

—Old Confucius saying

Friday, July 27, 2012

How Rabid Are Tucsonians?

July 27, 2012

Spent most of the day wrestling with a set piece for Outrageous Arizona. This is a scene of the returning state legislators to the Old Pueblo (1885). Legend says they were pelted with rotten fruit and a dead cat. Rounded up my reference materials and laid in part of the figures at about eight this morning:

I had some stills I shot off a silent German movie (that's the blue pics at top). The sketches are from Google ("mobs throwing rocks"). The only problem being I had to change them from Arabs to Victorian old West types.

Had fun penciling in Tucson types (isn't that old man Ronstadt?) and got it done in about 30 minutes. Then put in a light sky wash:

And then added a sepia wash on the main characters:

Added more foreground definition:

And then pushed everything together, adding rotten fruit (went over and cleaned out the refrigerator):

Got a solid rotten tomato and a slice of bad watermelon, even got the gutted cat (way back, just above skyline). Went a little crazy on the rabid guy's mustache at right (should have stopped at first pass), but it's getting there. Need to finish train, Tucson sign and building. Hope to finish in the morning. Have ten more to do. Going to be tight.

Came into the office at 1:30 just in time to meet Captain Jim McClary a law officer from Columbia, South Carolina and he bought a hardbound of my Wyatt Earp book and I signed it to him.

Going out to dinner tonight to celebrate 33 years of marriage. Pretty amazing. Not sure exactly how I accomplished this. Ha.

"You can tell the character of every man when you see how he gives and receives praise."


Don't Mess With Zuni Girls

July 26, 2012

   Whipped out another scratchboard this morning of Esteban, the former slave who was such a big hit with the In-din women of the Southwest (this was the Swinging 1500s) until he got out ahead of himself and hit on some Zuni girls and the Zuni men hit back, killing him. Esteban was part of the Marcos de Niza expedition of 1539. I'm dong this for a new True West Moment that will run in the Arizona Republic.

 I wanted to illustrate Esteban with some accuracy in terms of dress. So for that I referenced the master Spanish painter Diego Velazquez who was painting not long after Esteban's demise and since both are from Spain, I thought the clothing styles might be applicable (although I have to admit the stretch from 1539 to 1609 is possibly similar to the difference between the styles of 1939 and 2009). Still, I thought it was a better reference than twentieth century artistic interpretations. Anyway, that led me to "Juan de Pareja" a Valasquez painting of the artist's mulatto servant and friend.

Love the afro and the white collar as a contrast to the dark, skin tones. Another Velasquez shows a Spanish dude in a wide hat, so I borrowed that as well and gave it to our Southwestern Lothario.

And I realize the facial tattoo is more Mojave than Zuni, but I wanted to give her a little attitude, or menace ("Hey, you shouldn't be messing with those girls, ese.")

Speaking of The Conquest Of Women. . .

For what it's worth, I just read that Mick Jagger has allegedly bedded 4,000 women and counting. Among his conquests, Farrah Fawcett, Angelina Jolie and Ruth Buzzi. At one point I thought I would give him a run for his money but I kind of stalled out at a baker's dozen.

"Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings."

—Samuel Johnson

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Marylin Monroe Is Huge

July 25, 2012

    My aunt and uncle Claudia and Glenn Bell drove over to Palm Springs this morning to take a gander at the new Marylin Monroe statue. Big puppy, no?

   Switched gears this morning and whipped out a scratchboard of Kissing Jennie before I went into work. Sorry to say, I'm a little rusty.

Yes, she's holding a glass eye (if you read True West you know why).

Spent the afternoon in the Beast, going over video of our new TV show Outrageous Arizona. So far, looks very good but I need to finish a bunch of ambitious paintings in the next two weeks. We're expecting big crowds at the premiere. Gee, I wonder what old Bach has to say about this?

"You don't tell the quality of a master by the size of his crowds."

—Richard Bach

Anton Chico Stage

July 24, 2012

   Thomas Charles and Pattarapan have been traveling extensively, first to Peru, visiting Yanque (where he was in the Peace Corp) and now to Thailand to visit her grandparents. They return this weekend for Mexican food. Looking forward to seeing them again.

   Tweaking my editorial this morning for the October issue. Featuring my two grandmothers as the inspiration for my painting and sculpture "Not-So-Gentle Tamer." Here is what my To The Point looks like when the proofers get through with it:

I have to thank my cousin Tap Lou Weir for the photo of Louise Guess and my aunt and uncle Glenn and Claudia Bell of Palm Desert for the Minnie photo.

Found this study of Not-So-Gentle Tamer (#3) yesterday and tweaked it and sent it down to Michael Feldman for framing. Going to feature it in the Due West Gallery Art Show on August 11:

A little more perky than the final, but I like the mood of it. And here's a piece I tweaked yesterday as well. It's The Anton Chico Stage and was used in an episode of El Kid about a year ago, but I like the mood here as well:

Pushed it a little more and brought out the foreground. Has an early morning light effect that is kind of nice. Need to get this down to Michael for framing as well.

"It seems to me that the primary job of the artist is to paint the gray, to capture the texture of this life without moralizing or pontificating."

 —Andre Dubus III

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Skull Valley Cowgirl

July 22, 2012

Working today to finish final artwork for our Arizona-New Mexico Centennial Art Show at Due West Gallery in Santa Fe on August 11. Finished this little painting of a Skull Valley Cowgirl:


Statehood Metaphor

July 22, 2012
   We got a big storm last night and bunch of rain, blew boxes in the pool and ripped off the sun screen from the chicken coop.

    Working today on a controversial image. I was inspired by our Anasazi cave petroglyphs and Egyptian pyramid motiffs. Wanted to do something that would sum up both New Mexico and Arizona's statehood efforts. What activity, or specialty had more to do with statehood than any other? I think I know:

The title: "The Mother of All Whores."

"You could have talked all day and not said that."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Capturing the Legend of Red Ghost

July 21, 2012

   Rarely do I capture the concept in my head on paper, but this morning I came close. Worked on a set piece for The Legend of Red Ghost. Wanted something stark and simple. Had good reference. Here is a shot of my desk with the reference materials (basically, a silhouette of a camel, a glowing X-Ray of bones and a Germanic poster of a cougar set against a moon).

At the top you can see my next painting, of a cowgirl on horseback. Hope to finish that this afternoon. Meanwhile, here is a cell phone shot of the finished piece:

Not too shabby. Might add a saguaro, or two to the foreground to establish an Arizona setting, or maybe not.

"He's getting better."

—The director of a certain Art Museum describing my artwork

Friday, July 20, 2012

Minnie Bell Lives Large

July 20, 2012

  Last night, Kathy and I had four ears of Froggy Hauan corn which Froggy himself drove out to Arizona with. Man, there is nothing like fresh corn on the cob from Thompson, Iowa.

   Spent all morning working on a painting for Outrageous Arizona. Wanted to do a Mexican Chiquita with an eye catching peasant dress.

Got the dress from a show the Autry put on a couple years ago. Of course, I put a sugarloaf sombrero on her head just because I love the damn things.

"Corn sex is complicated."

—Elizabeth Kolbert, in the New Yorker explaining how difficult it is for corn to duplicate ("Corn's female organs are sheathed in a sort of vegetable chastity belt—surrounded by a tough, virtually impenetrable husk.")

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pim-wah High In The Sierra Madres and Rachel High on Billy the Kid

July 19, 2012

   Had a history dinner speech last night at Cartwrights next door to the True West World Headquarters. A full house and a great dinner from Chef Montez. Sold four pieces of art, had a great meal and met Ken The Pilot who I hadn't seen in 12 years. He used to come by the Mineshaft when we did our radio show there in the late 90s. His pretty wife surprised him and brought him to the dinner. In fact, Ken bought one of my paintings of Billy. Also met Rachel, who, by her own admission was a Wild Child. Her mother thought she was going to hell because of this tattoo:

My next history dinner will be on October 25 when I do the O.K. Corral fight.

Doing a series of pioneer women for our centennial show Outrageous Arizona. Want to honor all the gutsy gals. Whipped this out this morning before I came into work:

This is Pim-wah: High In The Sierra Madres.

"If you can see 'em, they ain't Apaches."

—John Wayne in one of those John Ford cavalry movies

Cut Throat Trout and Billy the Kid

July 18, 2012

Going over to Cartwrights (it's next door to the TW World Headquarters) to set up the silent auction for tonight's history talk:

Reservations: 480-488-8031

Subject: Life and legend of Billy the Kid

Subject Appropriate Menu: Cut Throat Trout, Stolen Butter Sauce, Soft Grits, 21-Day Bread & Butter Pickles and plenty of laughs


Advise persons never to engage in overeating."

—Billy the Kid

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Climax Jim Part II

July 18, 2012

   Without further ado, here's the climax of Climax Jim segment:

The Big Climax

   Meanwhile, tweaked another painting this morning of Changing Woman With Child:

Sweetened the baby, the background and sky. According to In-dins I know, Changing Woman shows up at pre-dawn and changes the night into day. I don't know who knocked up Changing Woman, but I have a hunch it was a night owl.

"Be careful, Kimo Sabe, you are close to stepping in it."

—Tonto warning another white guy about messing with Native American beliefs

Climax Jim vs. Austin Powers

July 17, 2012

   How do you film the Climax Jim story of him riding through two Arizona towns in the nude?

Mostly from the back. We spent our last day shooting this morning out a Pioneer Living History Museum and shot a couple segments, including the Climax Jim nude ride through Springerville and Eager back in 1901. The impromptu ride began when the arrested Rufus Nephews (Climax Jim's real name) was forced to take a bath in a horse trough by his jailers (they thought he stank to high heaven). As two jail guards watched, Climax walked to the horse trough and spotted a horse tied to a hitching rail nearby. The guards were lax because, hey, what was he going to do, run off nude? Well, Rufus did JUST that, and ended up riding nude through Springerville and Eager, Arizona on his way to freedom.

Cameraman Scott devised a devious tracking shot where he utilized a railing to cover the climax area of Climax. Here's how the line up of the shot looked from my angle:

Before you get too excited, he's wearing flesh colored undies. Utilizing the dolly tracker at left, the finished shot is quite funny and, of course, the convenient coverage angle was parodied to great effect in Austin Powers.

"It's the angle of the dangle, not the heat of the meat."


Old Phoenix Cruiser Saying


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sneak Peek at Red Ghost Set Piece

July 15, 2012

Spent most of yesterday and this morning working on a set piece for the Red Ghost segment of our forthcoming TV show "Outrageous Arizona." This is a scene of the legendary explanation of how the skeleton ended up on the camel's back. Will probably tweak in the morning, but wanted you to see a sneak peek:

The trapper, or mountain man, at left is modeled after a very early photograph of John Moss at Fort Mojave (1863). Irritated with the barrel in foreground which looks like a barbeque grill. A couple of the shirts are spectacular and the makeshift camp is accurate (had good reference) but the flag pole sucks and the commander with the switch is too central casting. Had a very good photo, also of a Fort Mojave commander but couldn't get it to work.

"If I could actually paint I'd be dangerous."



Saturday, July 14, 2012

How Did Red Ghost Come to Have A Skeleton On His Back?

July 14, 2012

Working today on a very ambitious scene illustrating how the legendary Red Ghost came to have a skeleton on it's back.

Allegedly, at a remote Arizona camp, a raw recruit was having trouble staying on his camel and an officer lashed him to the beast then quirted the camel and sent the two on their way. Of course, the story is full of holes (the recruit couldn't untie himself?) Very hard to believe, but this is how myths and legends begin. I picture this as being Fort Mojave, Camp Beale or Camp Hualapai, but the distant mountains kind of look like Four Peaks, so maybe Fort McDowell. Need to finish it tomorrow. Off to a dinner party.

"If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised."

—Dorothy Parker

Friday, July 13, 2012

Red Ghost Part III

July 13, 2012

   I enjoy doing Victorian style portraits. Worked this morning on one of those and two more Red Ghost scenes.

This is a typical early day Arizona legislator, buttoned up and serious as all get out:

This is for coverage for our Outrageous Arizona segment on The Thieving 13th Legislature. Meanwhile, in the 1890s a woman on Eagle Creek, in southeastern Arizona was attacked and killed by a mysterious, red beast. At first no one knew what it was. This is based on descriptions of the monster who would later become known as Red Ghost:

At first, everyone thought it was a demonic beast and all sorts of descriptions circulated. Eventually, a cowboy actually got a better look at it, and although he still described it as a big red beast:

And, finally, it was revealed to be a rogue, red camel with a human skeleton on its back:

"If given the opportunity, the camel will drink water every three to five days, then, depending on weather and land conditions, he may take in fifteen or twenty gallons."

—Forrest Bryant Johnson, in his new book "The Last Camel Charge"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

George Warren, Outrageous Arizona and Jumbo Camels

July 12, 2012

   George Warren led a tragic life.

This is a painting of him. If it looks familiar it's because five years ago it was Mickey Free. Ha. Found it in my art morgue this morning and tweaked it to be a young George. Found some other images to use as bumpers like this Rain Riders painting done earlier this year:

Here's a painting I found in my art morgue which I did for Bad Men book. Tweaked it to add some clouds and this will be coverage for the George Warren segment on his gravestone (or, lack thereof):

Ken Amorosano and I spent yesterday afternoon in an editing bay at Channel 8 going over needed coverage for our Outrageous Arizona TV show. Here we are sitting in the dark looking at a Jana Bommersbach segment on Pearl Hart:


his morning I bailed into another Camel Corp concept. Want to show the size disparity between a big camel and horses and mules. One of the big camels shipped over from Africa was so large they had to cut a hole in the deck for his hump AND he was strapped down on his knees for the entire journey. Some of these suckers stood eight feet and with a rider, well, that had to be intimidating to a horse.

Okay, perhaps this is too big a size difference, but you get the idea.

"The camel's mobile lips and long neck aid in gathering food in difficult places without using the tongue (which could cause loss of valuable moisture). He can manipulate two flaps of his lips like fingers (camels have been known to untie a line or rope attached to a post with their lips)."

—Forrest Bryant Johnson, in his new book "The Last Camel Charge"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Camel Corp Crazy

July 11, 2012

   Got up at 4:30 this morning and got some work done while it's still cool. Supposed to be 109 today, 111 yesterday. Speaking of hot, I'm in the groove on camels. Finished this panorama set piece this morning before I came into work:

The lead camel and hat doffing Lt. is poached from Hawmps!, the 1976 "comedy" Western which I ordered off of Netflix. Got some decent reference, but what a weak movie. The punchline to the entire movie is a pun off of the Camel ad slogan "I'd walk a mile for a camel."

Thanks to Facebook and one of my "friends" there, Doug Baum contacted me from the Texas Camel Corp and he steered me straight on whether Lt. Beale led the camels on foot, or did he ride a mule? There are no surviving photos of the expedition (they had a camera with them, but it was touchy—this is 1857 and photography was in its infancy—nobody on the crew knew how to use it and it was bulky so they discarded the equipment at Albuquerque)  Doug sent me this drawing by a German artist in Texas who actually sketched the caravan as it came by. Check this out:

As you can not so clearly see, members of the expedition are leading camels astride a mule, or donkey.

Keep in mind I started to do due diligence on this and was merely trying to illustrate the pack train correctly, but upon this discovery, I went into Meghan Saar's office and said, "I want to do a major cover story on Lt. Beale and the Camel Corp." She smiled and said, "Have you seen the newest book on it? It's right over there on top of the books we are reviewing in the next issue."

The name of the new book is "The Last Camel Charge: The Untold Story of America's Desert Military Experiment," by Forrest Bryant Johnson. Took it home last night and found out, among other incredible things, that Beale rode a mule, walked and sometimes rode out front on a white camel. Amazing.

There's more, but I am hooked on camels in the Wild West!

"The camel represents the go-aheadness of the American character, which subdues even nature by its energy and perseverance."

—May Humphreys Stacey's Journal entry, 1857

Bob Paul Hero

July 10, 2012

   Went home for lunch and finished a painting that I thought was finished, but of course, it wasn't. This is a painting of shotgun messenger Bob Paul just after he had jumped down on the wagon tongue of a careening stage being pulled by runaway horses in the middle of the night after robbers killed the driver and a passenger. Paul was able to retrieve one rein dragging in the dirt (think about that!) and managed to stop the stage with that one ribbon, probably saving the lives of all the other passengers, including himself. This event, known as the Benson stage robbery (even thought the robbers didn't get the loot) led indirectly to the O.K. Corral fight.

This illustration accompanies an excerpt we are running of John Boessenecker's new biography of the unsung lawman. I got the uncorrected proof of the book and dug into it yesterday. Going to be a classic.

"Bob Paul, as fearless a man and as fast a friend as I ever knew."

—Wyatt Earp

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beale On The Move

July 10, 2012

Worked this morning on a set piece for Outrageous Arizona. This is Mr. Beale leading his camels across Texas. Fort Defiance is next.

I have sixteen more scenes to go. Need to finish in two weeks.

"Make your ego porous. . .complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, solitude is everything."

—Rainer Maria rilke

Peckasso Paints Second Painting

July 9, 2012

   Worked all weekend on coverage for the Outrageous Arizona project. This is a scan-panorama of George Warren as a 10-year-old boy grieving with his father over the death of his mother:

Also whipped out a portrait of Edward Fitzgerald Beale, the champion of the camel in the Southwest.

Peckasso and I worked hard on a cloud scene, I call Roosters In The Sky (note blood on the mouth of the second cloud rooster (this was Peckasso's idea). Not bad for his second painting.


"Enjoy the successes that you have, and don't be too hard on yourself when you don't do well. Too many times we beat up on ourselves. Just relax and enjoy it."

—Patty Sheehan

Saturday, July 07, 2012

When Artistic Rooster Come Home to Roost

July 7, 2012
This morning I decided to catch up on local news and retired to my reading room. Within seconds I was joined by the little artistic rooster we now call Peckasso, who insisted on roosting on my wrist. Check out that attitude: "You got a problem with this?"

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Prescott Westerners and the man who met Big Nose Kate

July 6, 2012

Drove up to Prescott yesterday at three. Had a speech for the Prescott Westerners Corral, a group dedicated to authentic history. The last time I spoke to the Prescott Westerners I mentioned that a young medical student had interviewed Doc Holliday's girlfriend in 1940. A buzz went through the room. So much so that I asked what the matter was. Several people pointed to an elderly gentleman sitting near the front who was now smiling broadly at me. the entire room said, almost as one, "Dr. William Bork is seated right there." I literally jumped off the stage to shake his hand like some gushy Justin Beiber groupie. I mean, holy guacamole, HE actually talked to Doc Holliday's girlfriend.

After the speech I had a nice talk with him about the encounter, but as happens so often when you get to actually talk to someone who glimpsed history, he didn't really have any earth shattering news to tell about it. She was merely an old woman trying to cash in on her story and she had things mixed up, didn't tell a very good story and had unrealistic ideas about getting paid for it.

Still, it was a thrill to talk to him. When I was about 14 my mother dragged me to an old woman's musty house on Beale Street in downtown Kingman. I remember it was hot and the house was decorated like a museum and she had a big, old-fashioned clock that chimed every half hour. The time dragged by as I sat on an uncomfortable chair and listened to the women gab on and on about people they knew and when they died. I was quickly bored and basically day dreamed the entire time about basketball and a certain girl in civics class I had a thing for. I really couldn't wait to get out of there.

Years later, I found out that Wyatt Earp and Josie had visited this woman and her husband in Kingman about some mines in the area and there was a legend that Wyatt had a secret gold stash that the old woman knew about.

Wish I'd'ah Paid More Attention!

At the speech last night I had a similar encounter. Several people came up to me and introduced themselves. One of them turned out to be the great grandson of John Wetherell, a pioneer of Kayenta and discoverer of Rainbow Bridge and other important treasures of Navajo Land. More on that later.

Afterwards, I walked down to Whiskey Row and had a drink with John Langellier in Tommy Meredith's Jersey Lillie, above the Palace Bar. We were the only people in the bar and it was a hoot to talk history with John in such a historic place.

Two or three weeks ago we filmed a segment in this bar for our upcoming show on Channel 8. Here I am with Tommy behind the bar after we finished taping:

After two drinks ($5!), I walked back across the courthouse lawn where a bunch of kids were lollygagging (a teenaged girl is on a cell phone, and she yells to a nearby boy, "I've got a bug on my foot! Get it off me! Get it off!"), then across Gurley to walk along the shops. When I got to the next corner I spied a familiar image in the lobby of the Prescott National Bank:

These are the smaller versions of my sculpture "Not-So-Gentle Tamer" which is being proposed for the Prescott Valley Courthouse. Limited editions of the statue are available for sale, and proceeds will go toward the cost of the 10-foot, larger-than-life monument.

"Wish I'd Paid More Attention."

—Every history minded person who every lived