Friday, June 28, 2013

Kingman Cowboy Wins World On Outlaw Horse

June 28, 2013
   I'm doing a True West Moment for the Arizona Republic on my cousin Billy Hamilton winning the world championship steer roping in 1964 and I interviewed Billy by phone this morning. I couldn't use all of the info, but here are my notes. I love what he said about Aunt Jean.

A Kingman Cowboy Wins World On Outlaw Horse
    In 1940, Billy Hamilton, was so little he had to have help getting up on a horse. But once, the five-year-old was in the saddle, he started roping anything that moved. His grandfather, Bob Guess worked as a cowhand at the Turkey Track Ranch in northern Mohave County, and he supplied Billy with "Ketchum Horses", a string of  mares out of Texas belonging to Barry Ketchum, brother to the infamous outlaw Black Jack Ketchum. Schooled by his father Choc and his grandfather, Billy won the junior team roping at the annual Dig 'N' Dogies Days in 1945 and never looked back. He won the world championship steer roping in 1964 and with his earnings (some $35,000) he paid cash for the Turkey Track Ranch, which he still owns and operates to this day.

 In 1945, Billy and another local Kingman boy, Johnny Neal, won the junior team roping at the annual Dig 'N' Dogie Days in Kingman.

  When he won the world, he got $12,900 from the PRCA and then won another $25,000 in jackpot roping. His grandad, Bob Guess, and his father, Choc Hamilton worked on Bill Bonelli's Turkey Track Ranch.

 Billy Hamilton quotes: "I consider my grandfather the person who got me started in roping. He had goats at his place on Hilltop and would turn 'em loose and they would run back toward the house and me and Jean would rope 'em and turn 'em back. By the end of the day our arms were so tired we could hardly raise our hands. But Jean was better than me. She could rope better and ride better. I could never beat Jean at doin' nothing.

Jean Guess Linn, aboard Sooner, one of the horses out of the outlaw Ketchum line, 1945

"I was five years old at the time. We both were so little we couldn't get on our horses without help. Bob Guess gave us lots of pointers on roping. Bob Guess really helped me, and of course, so did my dad and my mother Mary."

Bob Guess with a baby Billy Hamilton on a Ketchum horse at Tap Duncan's Diamond Bar Ranch, 1936 or '37.

Bob Guess and Donna Duncan, c. 1945

"Bob Guess also raised really good race horses. He had Barry Ketchum mares, got 'em through the Duncans. Famous stud, Durnit, a sorrel mare, my grand dad made good money doing match horse racing with him. We got several great horses out of those Ketchum mares: Scooter Dun (a buckskin stud), and Patchie. That's what really helped me win so consistently. I was always so well mounted."

"Well, congrats to you and the horse you rode in on."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Illegals Infest Mojave Homelands

June 28, 2013
   In the 1850s a Mojave shamam predicted doom if the tribe allowed white people to settle in their ancestral homelands along the Colorado River. By my count, today that area, from Bullhead to Parker is infested with over 50,000 illegal immigrants.

   One of the first intrusions into Mojave territory was the Beale Expedition and the Mojaves were friendly to them because they didn't stay. But when a large wagon train showed up soon after and dallied along the river, the Mojaves attacked, then went face to face with a rag tag supply train led by Samuel Bishop, who was riding a white camel:

Samuel and 23 of his "beardless boys" rode straight into the Mojave lines (an estimated 1,800 warriors) on the last camel charge:

Daily Whipout, "The Last Camel Charge"

Results in the next True West magazine, going to press this weekend.

"If I could give one piece of advice to young people today it's have rich parents."
—Julius Sharpe

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Here's to The New Men of The West

June 27, 2013
Kathy and I stayed at Deena and Mike's bungalow in Pasadena (not far from Bungalow Heaven, an actual historic neighborhood designation).

Kathy stayed to help, but I had to come back to finish The Last Camel Charge, a very ambitious Classic Gunfight which goes to the printer today. Marched into the hospital and told the child's parents they had to tell me the name before I left. They proudly told me his name is going to be Michael Douglas,  (Mike is the father and his father's name is Douglas so I thought, well, it could work, in spite of the actor's name who got throat cancer from, well, you know). But, then they laughed out loud and told me his real name:

Weston Allen Bortscheller, b. June 24, 2013

Weston, as in Man of the West; Allen in honor of my father Allen P. Bell; and Bortscheller, in honor of Mike's family. I couldn't be more honored.

Took off from Pasadena at one and got home late last night. Drove the back way via Palmdale, Victorville, Old Woman Springs Road, Twentynine Palms and out across the Chuckawalla Wilderness. This is a route Wyatt Earp and Josie took every winter from LA to hang out at his Happy Days Mine near the Arizona border. Wanted to see what he saw every winter. This is the Iron Mountain area.

Really rugged and the whole region is mired in soft sand. Must have taken him a week to get out there via a buckboard.

And this is the approach to Vidal Junction, which I have been to many times on my way from Kingman to play sports against Parker and Poston, but I had never come in from the California side and always wondered what that was like, since Earp traveled it every winter. Past Vidal, and about half-way to Parker is the mountain range where Earp's mining claims were located.

Rugged country. I went out to the claim in 1995, and witnessed first hand Earp's camp which was the most historically preserved old west site I have ever visited. I would have a hard time finding it again.

And here is the Earp post office, just across the river from Parker, Arizona, named in Wyatt's honor after his death and his posthumous rise to prominence.

The first time I came by here was in the winter of 1961 when our eighth grade basketball team came down from Kingman to play Parker. Long trip and I remember looking out the window of the bus and seeing this huge wooden statue of Wyatt Earp in front of a curio store and thinking, "Oh, this is so fake. Wyatt Earp was in Tombstone, not out in this crazy desert." I have learned a thing or two since then.

But that old statue is long gone as are the characters who knew Earp. I gave a speech at Parker several years ago and this old guy told about Wyatt Earp walking across the Parker railroad bridge to have pie at his mother's cafe. He must be gone now as well. Even my generation is fading fast and it's time for new blood, and a new breed of Westerner to carry on the tradition of wild and wooly behavior. Here's to the New Men of the West and the kids who will make it happen.

"You come into this world scared, cold, crying and covered with blood. If you know the right people, you can live like that all the time."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Another BBB Is Born

June 25, 2013
  Left Big Bear Lake yesterday marooning about 11. It was quite sunny, but when we got to the edge of the mountain as it careens off into San Bernadino, we saw this:

Drove down into the clouds with 20 foot visibility, got on the 210 and cruised straight into Pasadena to the hospital where Deena Bell had been admitted at 8 in the morning.

The baby was born at about 8:15 last night and his first reaction seemed to be:

Gimme Shelter: "Hey, I didn't bargain for THIS!"

But he did calm down and some of us think he looks like Deena's brother, Thomas Charles:

I know, he's not wearing a cowboy hat, yet. But I whispered to him the tale of Billy the Kid and he seemed to like that. As you can see it put him to sleep. Ha.

And here's a very proud grandmother:

Now here's the amazing part: Deena and Mike haven't named him yet! They have promised to name him before we leave tomorrow, so we'll see. I'm guessing but I think his name should be Thor. Or, even Triple B (Baby Bell Bortscheller).

"I was born in a cross fire hurricane. . ."
—Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter

Monday, June 24, 2013

Grizzly Manor Cafe at Big Bear Lake

June 24, 2013
  Here's a reason to drive 300 miles from The Valley of the Sun: I'm sitting in a cabin at Sleepy Forrest Cottages wearing a hoodie SWEATSHIRT! Because it's chilly in the pines. Her's our cabin.

Got up to a nice chill, put on the hoodie and walked down Big Bear Lake Blvd. to the Grizzly Manor Cafe:

Had a great cup of coffee in a giant mug and then had the Huggy Scrambled Eggs platter while Kathy had the oatmeal. Place slammed with locals:

Love this part of road trips. We're leaving this morning for Pasadena and the hospital where a certain Bell girl is having a baby boy.

"Baby, it's cold outside."
—Old Vaquero Song

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chuckwalla Mountains and Big Bear Lake

June 23, 2013
  Headed to California for the birth of a certain grandson. Got a hair up our butt and took off from Cave Creek at nine o'clock at night on Saturday. Drove for three hours and landed in Quartzsite, Arizona at the only available motel, The Stagecoach Restaurant and Motel ($55.18). Took off from there at six, and took the back way through the Chuckwalla Mountains east of 29 Palms. Really desolate country. Loved it.

Had breakfast in 29 Palms (great name by the way) and saw all the pretty murals in the town, including this very impressive lizard on the side of a local business:

Landed at Big Bear Lake at about 11. On to Pasadena to see Deena, tomorrow.

"Pasadena Deena has a nice ring to it, eh?"
—Captain Jack Sparrow

Friday, June 21, 2013

Guys Standing Next to Their Rods

June 21, 2013
   Working every morning on memories of the road. One of the rituals I remember is proudly posing beside your car. The only thing better would have been to have a certain girl IN your car, but that was usually just part of the dream.

   And when I was a kid guys got status by being able to draw flames. I wasn't very good at it. One time Wendell Havatone asked me to draw flames for a cool car and I botched the assignment.

Still trying to nail the rippling heatwaves on the horizon:

"History is the a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man."
—Percy Bysshe Shelley

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Making Time

June 20, 2013
   When I give my history talks, I sometimes learn more than my audience. Last night at Cartwright's was one of those times. My talk was on the history of Route 66 and as I was relating my own story about growing up on Route 66 I told the tale of buying the fake photo of Billy the Kid at The Longhorn Museum in 1958.

   On our annual summer trips to Iowa, my father rarely stopped the car except for gas, food and a good night's rest. When I wanted to stop to see The World's Largest Buffalo, he didn't even slow down and as we blew by the exit he told me we had "to make time."

   Like so many fathers of that era, his trips were planned to the minute and by the mile. After filling up with gas he did the math on the inside of a matchbook cover to figure out his mileage. When we got behind 14 trucks outside of Gallup he would work his way around them, then cruise at ten miles above the speed limit for a half hour to make up for lost time. We had to make time and this was why he was so reticent to stop for stuff I wanted to see.

   "You've got fifteen minutes, kid." Those were the words he told me after he reluctantly pulled into the dusty parking lot of the Longhorn Museum, 43 miles east of Albuquerque, on the south side of Route 66. As I ran inside, this is what I saw:

As I told this part of the story last night and mentioned the Longhorn Museum, a woman in the front row literally gasped and put her hand to her mouth. She looked like she had seen a ghost. After the talk, Sandi Cook came up to me and said her father worked at the "ranch" and that she grew up there, catching the school bus to Moriarity every morning. That was such a treat for me. I asked her what happened to the place (I went looking for it in 2006 and found only part of the sign remains). She told me the sad story, which I'll share later.

The punchline to my story of visiting the Longhorn Museum for fifteen minutes in 1958 is that I bought an "authentic photo of Pat Garret and Billy the Kid" for a quarter and after putting it up in my room and making a vow to someday have a hat, vest and rifle just like the Kid in the photo, I discovered—in True West magazine—that the photo was A FAKE!

The Fake photo of Billy and Pat: actually George Gormley as the Kid and Dave Steele as Pat from the 1931 Santa Fe Fiesta Melodrama, directed by Margery Wilson

   In my talk last night, I made the connection that two years ago I actually held the only known photo of Billy the Kid, which later sold for $2.3 million.  From a fake picture of Billy the Kid to the only known photo which Billy actually held in his hands (his thumb prints are on the photo!). How about that for one degree of Billy the Kid?

   After my talk and after Cindi and I exchanged contact info, Bucky and Tracy Marshall approached me to tell me how much they enjoyed the talk. Bucky asked me if I still had the fake photo of Billy and I said, yes, it's framed and in my studio. Bucky asked me what I thought it was worth. I had never thought of that before, but I admitted that despite it's fake-iness, it was an icon to me, and now that I think about it, what a great investment it was. And, it literally launched me on my career and a lifelong passion to find out the truth about the historic, wild West.

   Turning to leave, Bucky had one more comment: "And your father gave you the best gift." I didn't follow his drift and said, "What is that?"

"He gave you the fifteen minutes."

   Can fifteen minutes in a museum change a person's life? It certainly changed mine. Thanks, Dad for making time.

"In the end we are judged on what we give, not what we take."
 —Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mexican Beer Ads vs. Mexican Jail Time vs. Vogue Trash

June 19, 2013
  Filled my fifth trash bin with art reference trash this morning. Made three piles: worthless stuff, stuff I absolutely have to save and then, on-the-bubble stuff, like this:

Actually a postcard, but mighty sweet, don't you think?

 Giving my first history dinner lecture of the season next door at Cartwrights' Restaurant tonight at seven. Sorry, it's been sold out for a week. The next one is July 3rd, but it is filling up fast so don't dilly dally.

  As mentioned, I spent some time in jail last Friday night:

BBB In Mesa Jail: all metal, dang, that must have been uncomfortable in the summer time!

Our publisher, Ken Amorosano, brought in some magazines this morning and wanted me to look at them for graphic design inspiration. Took home a Vogue for lunch. Wasn't overly impressed, but I was inspired. Did these sketches based on a couple images I saw in the issue:

The lizard came out of my art reference, which I saved from the trash heap. So, what we have here is Vogue trash meets BBB trash. Demented, yes?

"Out of old fields comes all the new corn."
—Geoffrey Chaucer

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Real Naked Lunch

June 18, 2013
   Every morning I do six sketches before I check email. Makes for a nice little reward when I'm done. This morning I noodled two things: highway heatwaves on two ridges and mug shots of Route 66 Killers.

Went home for lunch and took off my clothes, thus achieving the Real Naked Lunch, and took a stab at the double heatwave phenom:

Daily Whipout, "When Heatwaves Dance"

Still not there, but I'm beginning to learn the secrets behind the highway mirage and the rippling horizon. Meanwhile, finished Salvador Dali's book "Fifty Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship." Thanks again Wolfgang for the great read and inspiring text. The Cliff Notes version of the book is:

• Drool

• Don't have a cat or a dog, instead have a spider as a pet

• To facilitate smooth blends, use a fan brush and keep fanning until the paint is completely dry

• Give yourself work assignments when you nap (your subconscious is very powerful and often solves the problems while you sleep!).

• Know when to stop, but great paintings are painted in six days.

• Do not screw around during a painting, literally. Do not have carnal relations until it's done.

• Have an affair with Gala because she loves painting (and Painting loves Gala). Transfer this effort to your married partner, whenever possible because Gala, Dali's muse, has been dead for a long time.

• Wear long mustaches because the ends of your mustache attract good vibes and the painting muse.

• Draw images upside down (turn a photo upside down and draw it that way, what you see, not what you THINK you see). Use a mirror to spot mistakes. It IS amazing. You can look at something for days and when you hold a mirror up to it, the mistake(s) become instantly recognizable.

• Draw and paint naked (see above and below).

• Naples yellow is a trade secret

• Trick wasps into flying into your painting medium and sticking around until they are dead. Then trick another one. And another until you have painted a Killer Bee Painting.

• When you work out perspective issues there is a "golden section" of the equation that seduces the human eye every time.

• Work on curves and logarithmic spirals until they sing.

• Channel an angel to guide your hand.

Oh, and yes, I have now completed a handful of drawings and paintings done in the nude and yes, one of them is "The Pensive 66 Kid." Not really a surprise because I was on high alert and perhaps even pushed it farther than normal because I knew it would be viewed as such. However, as forced as that sounds, it did allow me to use a pen on top of wash and then more wash. This is something I did way back in my art student days at the University of Arizona (1965-69). We did this every single day, but then I got out of school and moved away from it. This was worth reading the entire book just on this one point. Rediscovering a powerful combination.

And here's more naked lunch:

Notice how the young lady, at left, seems to be saying, "Pa-leeze put something over that thing down there."

"Nine times out of ten, the grittier the narrative, the more engaged the public is."
—Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, drummer for The Roots

Monday, June 17, 2013

No Nudes Is Good News?

June 17, 2013
   Over the weekend I got this email from my best friend:

"At age 66, does taking up painting in the nude make you a better artist, or just certifiable?"

  So, I thought to myself, Well, perhaps I have been taking this painting in the nude a bit far. It's a bit grotesque for someone this old to act so, well, immature. And, although I still did do a session au naturel, I decided to spare you the raw details of my efforts. Then, I got this:

"I can't believe you're going to drop the ball on this after all that build up. This is total proof you are a hopeless ADD goonball."
—BBB Inner critic

So, without further ado, here are two paintings I finished during my lunch hour. One was done completely clothed and the other one, well, here is photo positive proof of the strip tease part:

Daily Whipout, "At Least Keep Your Shoes On!"

Okay, here are two paintings. One of them was painted completely nude. Can you spot which one?

Daily Whipout, "Cloud Rider"

Daily Whipout, "A Pensive 66 Kid"

BTW: Regardless of clothes, that is the best ear rendering I have ever done.

"Clothes may make the man, but do the lack of them make a painting?"
—Salivating Dali

The Classic Harold's In Cave Creek

June 17, 2013
   Working on a variety of images and ideas. Whipped this out over the weekend.

Daily Whipout, "He Didn't Like What He Saw In The Middle of The Road."

Deena Bell is expecting this week. Her mother was obligated to pose for me even with a baby (Deena!) on her hip. I'm still cleaning in the garage (five full bins of paintings and trash, so far). Found this in the piles of crap. This is Kathy posing as Honkytonk Sue in the old, original Harold's of Cave Creek in 1980.

Kathy is pretending to hold a beer. Ha. I was intrigued by the old style booths Harold had tucked away in the back of the joint. Of course, I had my father time with the little girl as well. Here I am in our old farm house at Seventh Avenue and Indian School about 1981, when I worked at New Times, publishing and still drawing Honkytonk Sue, the comic strip.

I'm making an art pile of stuff I might give away. Stay tuned.

"Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope."
—Bill Cosby

Friday, June 14, 2013

Jail Time In Mesa

June 14, 2013
   Spent some time in jail last night. I gave a history talk out in Mesa for the Historic Preservation Conference at the Arizona Museum of History. Over 250 in attendance. Had fun. They put Kathy and I up at the Hilton and that is always nice. Ate at Mango's on Main Street before the talk. Afterwards, Vince Murray walked me to the old Mesa jail and we took a couple gag photos of me in a cell.

   Tonight the Class of 1963 is having their Fiftieth High School Reunion in Kingman at the Dambar Steakhouse. Quite a few of the guys in that class had some major, bitchin' flattops, which I have been working on lately.

The look, styled by Chuy, had a distinctive winged look, with fender sideboards and a buzz cut on top, sometimes set off by a long curl in the front. All of which faded fast when the Beatles hit in 1964. And the flattop has been going in and out of style, but it always guarantees a smile, when I see one.

 Of course, the flattops in my neighborhood got very interesting when applicated to the In-din head, because those dudes had a head of thick hair and the hairline was way low on the forehead.

And the flaming flattop wasn't just the provenance of the teenager. No, even the animal kingdom in our neck of the woods had it's own version of the desert flattop:

So, The 66 Kid will have a Two-Lane Flattop to go along with his street rod.

Going to settle in this weekend on the nude issue and I'll post the results on Monday.

"Every true genius is bound to be naive."
—Friedrich von Schiller

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Test for The Naked Eye

June 13, 2013
   Got home last night around 5:30 and stripped off everything except my shoes. It was quite hot out so it actually felt somewhat good. Went out to the studio and started working on a couple different painting ideas. After about 45 minutes I got a little tired of hanging out, literally (not as liberating as I thought it might be) and started a couple more drawings with shorts on (I have to admit to a little concern of Kathy coming home and having to defend the concept. Ha).

 A Test for The Naked Eye: can you spot what was done naked?

This is Mila Kunis, from the cover of Esquire. Going home for lunch soon and will post a couple more for your naked eye to consider.

"For the man who knows how to draw what he wants, feels himself to have become a kind of god—and sensations of that kind I very strongly advise you to experience in a state of total nudity, rather than clothed. Know this as Secret Number 23."
—Salvador Dali, "Fifty Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship"

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wolrd's Largest Buffalo Five Miles Ahead

June 12, 2013
  I've been debating this for a couple weeks now, but this morning I decided I needed to put my paint brushes where my mouth is, or, maybe a better metaphor is I need to put some skin in the game. As per Salvador Dali's advice (in his excellent "Fifty Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship" book which was gifted to me by master painter Wolfgang, of this site), I've drawn the human figure starting with the big toe to good results. I've drawn images upside down and I've "Slumbered with a key" (given myself assignments before I go to sleep). I haven't drooled yet (Dali claims all great painters drool) and I haven't painted in the nude.

  So, why wouldn't I paint in the nude?

  Because it's embarrassing? Yes, but would I do it if it actually made me a better painter? Of course I would. So, here are my sketches from a few days ago, done fully clothed and right side-up and drawing the human figure from the torso outward (as I was taught by Burne Hogarth):

That led to this little study I whipped out this morning:

Daily Whipout, "World's Largest Buffalo 5 Miles"

This too was done fully clothed. But tomorrow I intend to post the same sketches and a study of the same subject, each done completely in the nude.

"If you understand your painting beforehand, you might as well not paint it."
—Salvador Dali

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Prom Queen Scene

June 11, 2013
   The Prom Queen gets dumped and as he drives off, she turns and is lit up by approaching lights:

The Prom Queen Scene

And here's the rough storyboard for that sequence:

Went home for lunch and whipped out a little study on highway hitchers:

Daily Whipout, Heatwave Highway #66

Getting there. Bigger sign, longer legs, more rippling along the top, more pools of water effects in the foreground.

"By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong."
—Charles Wadsworth