Monday, September 30, 2013

The Granddaddy of The American Cowboy

September 30, 2013
   Got up this morning and whipped out a little "Mexican Vaquero" before I came into work. There is some debate about the parents of the American Cowboy but his Granddaddy is definitely the Mexican Vaquero, replete with Indio style on top of Spanish horsemanship.

Daily Whipout, "Mexican Vaquero"

"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him."
—David Brinkeley

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sea Change Final

September 29, 2013
  Worked all morning on "Sea Change," which is a tribute to the first cow that landed in the Americas on November 27, 1493. Little did anyone know at the time that these creatures would change the future course of this continent and lead directly to the American Cowboy.

Daily Whipout, "Sea Change"

   I have been intrigued for some time by Columbus and his second trip to the New World in 1493. When I went to retrieve Kathy from Spain last March we stayed in a resort on the beach at Rota, which is the port Columbus left from. As I stood along the sea wall and looked out at the angry sea I thought to myself, those were some brave boys, they were.

   I knew that Columbus brought both horses and cattle with him on this second voyage, but I didn't know the details or the scale of the endeavor. Turns out Columbus had 17 ships (caravels) and 1,500 passengers armed with tools, grain, seed, pigs, cattle. Oh, and 20 stallions and five mares. They landed at Hispanolia (today Haiti and The Dominican Republic) and when that first Spanish longhorn wobbled his way up on the beach, well, it was definitely a sea change moment.

"Columbus didn't discover America, he invaded."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sea Change & Vaqueros Grande

September 28, 2013

   Because I'm ADD and OCD, everything has to be perfect, just not for very long. That's why I usually work on three or four paintings at the same time. Got a good cloud bank going ("Sea Change") and a Andalucia landscape ("Invaders") and another sky ("Vaqueros Grande").

I'll post results as I move along.

"The stone age did not end for lack of stone."
—Bruce Usher

Friday, September 27, 2013

The First Longhorns In The New World

September 27, 2013
   After a couple weeks of painting leaping cowboys I shifted gears today and attacked another scene for the feature on Cowboy Ground Zero. Went home for lunch today and whipped this out:

Daily Whipout: "The First Longhorn Wades Ashore (unfinished"

   Need to drop in a couple Spanish galleons and a gang of Spaniards and that Italian guy. This, of course, illustrates Columbus and his second trip to the New World when he brought pigs, horses and Spanish longhorn cattle. Several references say the longhorns grew even longer horns in their new environment to deal with nastier predators. There is some speculation Columbus picked up these cattle on the Canary Islands. The second trip was for colonizing and Columbus talked Isabella into giving him 17 ships and 1,000 men. The dudes left behind on the first trip were gone when Columbus returned the next year. Turns out they were raping the local women and the natives attacked wiping them out.

"There's no point in burying a hatchet if you're going to put up a marker on the site."
—Sydney J. Harris

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Splitting Hairs & Adding Ropes

September 26, 2013
   Got halfway to the office yesterday after lunch and realized I forgot to give the Straight-up Remington Rider a rope.

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero Straight-up Remington Final"

   You'll notice I gave the V at bottom some definition to accent the search for cowboy ground zero. Oh, and I fixed his hat.

   Had Dan The Man do a cover version with this painting just for grins and here's what Mr. Harshberger came up with:

Cowboy Ground Zero Cover #7

   Respectable, although both Dan and Ken think the other pose is stronger with the two guns and blasting off of a Spanish map to emphasize the ground zero aspect. Started two more versions this morning and got the background washes in. Going home for lunch to finish and send down to the Harsh. Stay tuned. Print is so unforgiving. You send it to the printer and it stays that way for a very long time.

"I have decided that the trouble with print is it never changes its mind."
—Ursula K. LeGuin

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tweaking This Morning's Straight-Up Remington Rider

September 25, 2013
   Went home for lunch and decided to give this morning's Impressionistic Straight-Up Remington Rider a couple tweaks. Always a worry that I may take it too far.

Daily Whipout, "Straight-Up Remington Rider, No. 2"

   Ooops. Just noticed I forgot to give him a rope. Number three coming in the morning.

   I have a history talk tonight at Cartwright's next door. Going to be talking about Those Crazy Cozads and Western Art. See you there.

"There is but one cause of human failure and that is man's lack of faith in his true Self.
—William James

A Straight Up Remington Rider

September 25, 2013
   Hit the wall on the Cowboy Ground Zero cover yesterday afternoon. Dan Harshberger had attempted to make the whole thing fly, and it was a worthy effort but Robert Ray proclaimed it "too cartoony for True West" and my friend Bill Dunn said the whole thing was a little too "Star Wars" for his tastes. When I showed it to Kathy early this morning she agreed and added it is "too busy and crowded."

   So I cancelled my trip to Austin tomorrow and went out to the studio and whipped out a straight-up Remington style rider which was my original concept:

Daily Whipout, "Straight-Up Remington Rider"

   Brought it into the office and scanned it, but Ken Amorosano is still holding out for a better "two-gun rider". He thinks this one is too bland and doesn't pop like the other one.

   Going to take one more run at it when I go home for lunch today.

"A new style of American equestrianism began to develop, called la bastarda, which lengthened the stirrups and adapted the saddle for ranching and herding in the rough and varied terrain of New Spain."
—Stuart Rosebrook, our senior editor, expounding on his theory as to where Cowboy Ground Zero is

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

When Painting Failure Turns Into A Virtue

September 24, 2013
   Kathy sent me a text yesterday that said, "OMG! Oh for Pete's sake! I am standing in this kitchen and I'm trying to keep from passing out. What is going on? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I feel very loved. I hope that was your intention."

   I told her I was glad she felt loved but that was only part of the reason I did it. She asked me, "What's the other reason you did it?"

   Well, you know, I have been struggling with this Cowboy Ground Zero cover concept for weeks now. Every day I wake up with a plan of attack and every day it ends in ruins. "I can't paint jack!" I said as I came over to the kitchen last Saturday. And Sunday. And yesterday.

  The issue goes to press on Thursday and time is running out. Bad dreams. Jerky REM sleep, a bad cough. You know, all the usual by products of being a lousy artist.

  This morning I had a tiny breakthrough. As soon as I got up, I took yesterday's failure and added some glow and tweaked a few things.

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero Study #10"

   Heartened, I took another failed board and added a more subtle earth skyline at bottom and added cloud cover, then whipped in our Gus Blazing Cowboy, but with a more shadowy effect:

"Cowboy Ground Zero Background Concept #4"

   I was inspired by the latest Booth Museum bulletin which arrived in the mail two days ago:

   The cover painting by Bill S. utilizes a step-and-repeat shadow image to create movement. Not a big fan of the painting (it is a blatant ripoff of a classic painting) but I dig the design elements.

   Anyway, when Kathy asked me why I really cleaned up the kitchen I had to admit part of it is because when I can't paint sometimes I do mindless chores to get my mind off the failure. "So you cleaned the entire kitchen when you think you can't paint?"

   Yes, ma'am.

"The best portion of a good man's life is the little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love."
—William Wordsworth

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cowboy Ground Zero Minus Ten And Counting

September 23, 2013
   Went for a walk at six this morning and had to turn around and go get a sweatshirt! it was 63 degrees outside! It has been months and months since we've seen these kind of heavenly temps.

   Got back and bailed right into another Cowboy Ground Zero illustration:

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero Cover Study #6"

   I'm aiming at a scene where a pinpoint of light shoots up from a certain place on earth, with our GZ rider blazing away. Here is a rough of what I want:

Rough cover layout for Cowboy Ground Zero

   Went home for lunch and whipped out a background of this concept:

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero Background"

   Running out of time. Still have five inside illustrations to whip out and need to get moving. Going to be a great piece though. Just assigned another of our writers to do something on the Moors, because as the writer put it, "if it wasn't for the Moors, the Spanish would not have had horses or cattle." So we'll have another point of view as to exactly where Cowboy Ground Zero is.

   Finished my write-up on why Scottsdale should give up on "The West's Most Western Town" slogan. Wasn't hard to do. Ha. I'm facing off against Marshall Trimble, which is like playing against your own teammate, but hey, Shirts and Skins!

"If I could have dinner with one historical figure, I'd pick Gandhi, because I'd be like, 'Are you gonna eat that?' and he'd be like, 'No.'"

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Defending The Town I Love vs. Defending The West I See Disappearing

September 22, 2013
  Worked most of the weekend on my Cowboy Ground Zero concepts.

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero Concept #5"

And I also tried a more nuclear approach:

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero, Concept #6"

   Working on an Arizona Republic Op-ed piece on the controversy over Scottsdale's trademarked motto "The West's Most Western Town." I am supposed to defend Cave Creek's claim to the motto, so I will probably not use this:

We moved to Cave Creek back in 1986, in large part because it had an Old West feel to it. And part of the feel I was attracted to has disappeared with the ever encroaching Valley rules and regs and pavement. I know many old Creekers who left ten years ago because too many people moved here and ruined the charm. "It's Yuppy Scum like you who ruined this place," Lew Jones, of Mineshaft fame, told me (he moved to Mogollon, New Mexico to escape the onslaught of newcomers, like myself). I enjoy that cantankerousness. It's part of the West I love and it seems to get more scarce every day.

"Our New Jersey jeep tour operators are more Western than your New Jersey jeep tour operators."
—A suggested alternative motto for Cave Creek made by a neighbor who shall remain nameless

Friday, September 20, 2013

Working On Girth And Qualifying to Subscribe

September 20, 2013
  Thanks to Murray's comment this morning, I went home for lunch and worked on the girth and size of the horse on the Cowboy Ground Zero project:

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero Scale Sketches"

   I also returned to the original concept, emulating Remington, with a straight-on perspective, which is pretty dynamic, but such an obvious poach.

   Sometimes I get strange requests and have odd, but fascinating exchanges with readers. Like this:

Bob - my Korean wife (Gracie) owns Wild Bill's Saloon - that's why I try to give you such positive pub there. I have admired your work for years and I believe I have all of your publications - except those my first wife destroyed about 10 years ago or so when she set fire to my belongings, but that's a different story....
Sorry about the first wife. Hope she's in jail. Love your second wife. She has a very high IQ.
about an hour ago
Bob: going to hospital on Tuesday, surgery. Where can I buy True West mag on shelf? When I survive, I'm going to subscribe, 'til then, want to take some to St Joes with me. Thanks
ou can buy a True West at almost any Barnes & Noble. And we checked with a website "Find My Magazine" and they said a Fry's at 4724 Nr. 20th ST. carries True West. Get there quick though because they may only have a couple copies. Also, if they are out, please complain. If you do AND you survive the operation I will comp you a subscription. Good luck.

"When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.
  • —Mark Twain

Cowboy Ground Zero Splash Page FPO

September 20, 2013
   Came down with a summer cold and went home early yesterday. Felt lousy all day, headache and sore throat, general malaise. Did manage to do several more sketches on my big, opus feature on Cowboy Ground Zero based on my photo reference shot yesterday. Got up this morning at 5:30, took a brisk walk, came back and bailed into the big idea of the piece:

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero Splash Page FPO"

   Wanted to illustrate all the horseback influences that begat the Cowboy, including the Iberians (Spanish warriors from Extremadura, Spain), the Cau-boys from Scottland, the Conquistadors, the vaqueros and even the knights of King Arthur. What was interesting in researching these horsemen is that all of them carried some sort of lance or spear or pole of some kind. Even the Extremadura cow tenders used long poles instead of ropes. Thus the preponderance of lances and spears along the bottom.

   Brought the painting into the office about 9:30 to scan and Rebecca and I are going to start the layout for this very ambitious feature.

  Oh, and FPO stands for "for position only".

"If the world were a logical place, men would ride side saddle."
—Rita Mae Brown

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When Authentic Bermuda Short Make All The Difference In The World!

September 19, 2013
  I have a pretty cool saddle I bought at a pawn shop in Phoenix back in about 1980 ($300) with excellent tapaderos. I envisioned the cover image to be an 1880s Texas cowboy riding with taps and shooting the moon, so I asked Kathy to take one of the entire outfit.

Daily Whipout, "When Authentic Bermuda Shorts Are Needed"

"The Devil is in the details."
—Old Vaquero Saying

"Some historians have claimed the cowboy Bermuda short never existed in the real Old West and this photo shows the lie to that claim."
—Excerpt from a letter we won't be running

One Big, Fat Cowboy Ground Zero Poser

September 19, 2013
   Woke up around 2:30, very concerned about the anatomy on the Ground Zero Cowboy artwork. Gathered up all my gear from the studio and hauled it out to the driveway. Waited for Kathy to wake up and then hauled her out to the driveway as well. Assumed the pose and had her shoot off a dozen photos, like this one:

   One, Big Fat Cowboy Ground Zero Poser

   Needed to see the dynamic of the shirt with arms in the air, and also the angle of the hands and the pistols:

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero FPO Sketch #5"

"He who opens a school door, closes a prison."
—Victor Hugo

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Flip-Flopping On Billy

September 18, 2013
   My production manager, Robert Ray, came in this morning and said, "We have the best scan of the Billy the Kid tintype of anybody and we have flopped it to show how Billy really looked, but shouldn't we be running it as it really is?" Good point. Here are the two versions, with the original on the right:

Flip-flopping Billy, as he really looked (at left) and how the tintype actually looks (right)

   Went home for lunch and whipped out another take on Cowboy Ground Zero concept:

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero Concept, #4"

   Going to do a linework-woodcut looking version for a possible stark cover image, but inside it will be a full-boat painting of the world of the horseback warrior.

"I just robbed everyone at a Whole Foods Market, armed with nothing but a bag of gluten."

From Cau-boy to Cowboy: As American As It Gets

September 18, 2013
   Got up this morning and took another pass at Cowboy Ground Zero:

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero, Study #3"

This may go with the end of the feature where we tie up all the loose ends:

"As stubborn as the Iberians, as bold as the conquistadors and as skilled as the vaqueros, the cau-boy became the cow-boy and ultimately the Cowboy. In the end, as American as it gets."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cowboy Ground Zero #2

September 17, 2013
  Got out on the road early today and saw some wonderful sunrise effects:

Red Trails In The Sunrise

About three minutes later, it really opened up:

State Flag Sunrise

   I don't think I've ever seen early rays, or shafts of light, this pronounced.

Daily Whipout, "State Flagscape #3"

   Seriously, it's not hard to see where the Arizona flag designers got their inspiration.

   Meanwhile, this morning I did another pass at a cover concept on Cowboy Ground Zero:

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero, Study #2"

"The early worm gets the birds-eye-view."

"I wonder if Houdini ever locked himself out of the house."

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Winged Cowboy Hat to End All Winged Cowboy Hats

September 16, 2013
  I buckled down and did a bunch of artwork this past weekend. Did a dozen whipouts of clouds including this little nocturn:

Daily Whipout, "Bisti Badman, Midnite Storm Rider"

  John McWilliams has some of the best Texas Rangers photos of anyone and his collection is coming up for auction on September 21, in Dallas. Included in the items is this very early photo—c. 1854—some historians have claimed the winged cowboy hat never existed in the real Old West and this photo shows the lie to that claim.

The Winged Cowboy Hat to End All Winged Cowboy Hats

Did this portrait of Kid Curry last year. Tried to capture his visage but I'm not sure I got him.

Daily Whipout, "Kid Curry"

"A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth."
—John Singer Sargent

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Still On The Hunt for Cowboy Ground Zero

September 15, 2013
  My father was a stubborn man. Just ask anyone who worked for him or was married to him or who was his only son. My wife seems to think I inherited a big, fat dose of stubbornness from him. When she sees it in action she calls it those "stubborn Norwegian genes that Allen P. gave you."

  I had big plans for this weekend. A movie in the theater ("Blue Jasmine"), a movie on Netfilx ("Death Race") and a dinner out, at Cartwright's or The Keg. Kathy prefers Pita Jungle, but it's kind of noisy and well, I'm kind of stubborn on stuff like that. You might think selfish is a better word and I would admit to some of that as well, although I ate at Pita last Friday, with Wonderful Russ and Mad Coyote Joe. So, there.

  Anyway, I wanted to get a handle on our next cover. I have been working on my approach for a week. Every morning I get up and bail into sketches. I have great reference:

Daily Sketches for "Cowboy Ground Zero"

   Yes, that's Remington at top, right and that is the strong, single design I am working towards. Worked until five yesterday and missed "Blue Jasmine" in the process. In fairness to me, Kathy said she'd rather stay home and hang out. So today it was do or die: started a couple big boards trying to nail the impressionistic background, but kept dancing around and not getting a final drawing on a board. Must have done a dozen different approaches but couldn't get it done. In all honesty sometimes it is a liability to have too much good reference.

   I took some photos of Ratcliff Ridge:

When you are stuck, everything in the house calls out your name, especially the refrigerator.

Had some green chile and a leftover salad from Pita, ate a peach, planned an afternoon attack. At three, I was tired, had nothing and wanted to quit, but I reached deep and told myself I had to do a drawing on a board no matter how bad it was. AND I had to finish it. This hurt, but I did it:

Daily Whipout, "Cowboy Ground Zero Study #2"

   Not anywhere close to what I need but at least I stayed with it. Took some solace from this quote Wonderful Russ sent me:

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
—Albert Einstein

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Early Bird Gets The Birds Eye Views

September 13, 2013
  Woke up early and decided to seize the day. Headed out the door at six, about a half hour before I usually do my morning walk. First off, I couldn't believe how much cooler it is, low seventies. Great predawn light over Ratcliff Ridge.

  Very quiet, nobody on the road yet. The only irritant is one damn dog that takes delight in running along the Barro's fence line barking at me all the way up, and all the way down. But, Bella's just doing her job.

  Hiked up to the top of the hill on Old Stage Road and here's the view looking west towards New River Mesa:

  Very peaceful. One of those houses is Samantha's parents house, she was our intern this summer. And then here's the view looking back towards Rockaway Hills:

  Coming back down, I caught this view of Black Mountain and the sign for Cahava Ranch Road. If you look close you can see the tip of Camelback Mountain about 22 miles away (just under the sign).

"The early bird gets the bird's eye view."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, September 12, 2013

So Wild Bill Rides An Indian Into A Bar. . .

September 12, 2013
   We had a going away moment of appreciation for our summer intern Samantha on Wednesday. Everyone applauded her and we gave her a little gift and a card. She's on her way back to school in Chicago and we will miss her.

   Read an excerpt from The Top Secret Writer's forthcoming book on the Apaches and it is excellent The boy went deep and he tells it well. Who here has heard the story of Larcena? Well, get ready. . .it reads like fiction but it's all documented and rarely told.

   So I'm working on a big painting from my study, "An In-din On An Indian In In-din Country" and I really need an actual Indian motorcycle for reference so I can get all those aligned cylinders and exposed alternator caps right.

   But where, oh where can I find one way out here in the hinterlands of Cave Creek?

   Yesterday morning I'm on my morning walk on Old Stage Road, when up ahead I see my neighbor Joe, who's also out for a walk, leaning in a hot rod talking to another neighbor, Matt, who never drives the same vehicle twice. I walk up and lean in as well. Of course Matt is the dude who owns this vehicle:

   We get to talking about cars, of course, and he mentions he has a bunch of bikes as well. So I say, "Hey, do you know anyone who has a classic old Indian?"

   "Yes," Matt says, "as a matter of fact, I've got two in my garage." Well, I could hit his garage with a rock from my studio. So I met him over there last night when I got home from work and he hauled them out so I could take some reference pics:

   And then I had Matt get on the older one and assume the pose so I could study the angles of everything:

Matt On An Indian

   I'm also working on a new series of sculptures of gunfighters, starting with this dude:

"Wait for me, Wild Bill!"
—That other fat guy from Kingman

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to Promote An Art Show

September 11, 2013
   I decided to postpone my next art show in Santa Fe after talking with Forrest Fenn at length about how to promote a successful show. Forrest was a successful art gallery owner for 17 years in Santa Fe and regaled me with story after story on clients and shows. After lunch at Harry's Roadhouse, we drove over to his house and he showed me his incredible collection of Southwest pottery and art.

I told Thom Ross, the owner of Due West Art Gallery, that we needed to back up and reschedule the show and listen to advice from the master. For example, when I asked about promotions, he forwarded me this video of how a museum in the Netherlands promoted a Rembrandt show:

How to Promote A Museum

   Now THAT'S creative. Which just goes to prove the bawdy bard's saying:

"Out of old fields comes all the new corn."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lady Luck & A $1 Million Dollar Treasure

September 10, 2013
   When I was in Santa Fe last weekend I had the distinct feeling I needed to pay attention and play my cards right.

Daily Whipout, "Santa Fe Madam: Playing Your Cards Right"

   I had lunch with Forrest Fenn last Saturday. He took me to a great place, Harry's Roadhouse on the east side of town, where we talked about all things art show related. He was full of such great advice and stories. He's a handful.

   I was more interested in his art show treasures rather than the $1 million dollar treasure he has hidden somewhere in the West, BUT I did get a sense of where the treasure is. I mean this generally, like I said, we really didn't talk about the hunt for his treasure but it did come up and his comment had me thinking, Hmmmmmmm. Once the next issue hits our subscribers I'll be more specific. I have no interest in looking for the booty myself but I would love for one of our readers to find it. And when you see the clues, I think you will see what I mean. We had one of our senior editors sift through all of the clues online and in Forrest's two books (we had a sneak look at his latest which comes out this month) and we took just the best and distilled them down for your benefit.

  We got another batch of rain today! Just crazy good. Shot these clouds on the way home for lunch. They dumped on us pretty good.

Rain Clouds Over Sugarloaf in Cave Creek

   Got back into the office just fine and finished a couple projects. Working hard on a couple layouts. Wrestling with a big painting idea and need to go home and work on it.

"Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else."
—Mark Twain