Monday, February 29, 2016

Auditioning Skies

February 29, 2016
   Spent the weekend auditioning skies. By that I mean I work quickly, laying in washes as fast as I can and with as little skill effort as I can muster. My number one goal is to let the washes go where they want to go. I often push this effect by grabbing the paper and tipping it one way or another so that the wet paint creeps across the paper, which sometimes creates some cool cloud effects. I'm also looking for "happy accidents" and with clouds, that is wonderful when it works, and painful when it falls apart:

Daily Whip Outs: "Auditioning Clouds"

   My biggest problem is pushing the effects too far, or, more accurately, trying to lock them down (see middle, right with the orange, stilted cloud bank). The best cloud starters here are the ones where I gave it a once over and then let it dry without messing with it. I took one of the simple ones and finished it before I came into work this morning:

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Heads In"

   That would be, Mickey Free heading into the foothills of the Sierra Madre, rippling in the blue distance. The Mickster is on his quest to find the Apache Kid.

"The boy's kidnapping started the final struggle for Apacheria—the longest war in the history of the United States. This conflict would leave a trail of blood from the Pecos River in Texas through New Mexico and Arizona and deep into Mexico from 1861 to 1886. All sides in that conflict blamed Mickey Free for starting it. In time, the boy would come to play a pivotal role in the war, moving back and forth between the harshly conflicted worlds of the Apache and the white invader, never really accepted by either but invaluable to both."
—Paul Andrew Hutton, in the prologue to "The Apache Wars"

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mickey Free On The March

February 28, 2916

His marching orders were simple and direct: bring back the head of the Apache Kid. As Mickey Free rode south from San Carlos he couldn't help but notice the storm clouds rolling in.

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Free On The March"

  I did a history talk yesterday out at Winter Range. Had fun. Good crowd. Almost all those SASS shooters are history nuts and that makes it fun. Told the story of Adobe Walls and the questionable shot by Billy Dixon and when my talk was over this crusty, Sharps rifle shooter came up to me and claimed he could match that shot easily, that he and his Virginia City pards do it all the time. I took his card. I am thinking Ken A. and I need to film a documentary on Dixon's alleged 1,538 yard shot and re-stage it, on the actual spot and see if it can be done. Tell the story of Adobe Walls (both battles) and then document the shot. I think that would make for a rousing documentary, don't you?

   Another guy came up to me (actually the MC) and said he follows me on Facebook and wanted to know, "Who the hell is this Mickey Free guy you're always posting on?" Well, funny you should ask. My good friend Paul Hutton has a brand spanking new book that answers this very question:

   Paul and I have been working on this story since 2004, with me taking the graphic novel approach and he taking the New York publishing route. The Top Secret Writer (not-so-secret-anymore) has spent over two years writing this massive opus and now that it is being published (it's a May release) we are both returning to the graphic novel/screenplay angle, prepping it for a possible movie.

   And, as for the question, who is Mickey Free? one guy summed him up in a simple sentence:

"Mickey Free is half Irish, half Mexican and all son of a bitch."
—Al Sieber, Chief of Scouts

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Red Man In The Land of Opportunity

February 25, 2016
   I read recently that some California Universities are considering a ban on the use of the term "land of opportunity," alleging it's racist, and that any professor who uses the term will be written up.

   Went home for lunch today and started noodling some red wash around on water color paper. Just having fun. As I pushed the paint around to see where it would go, a face started to evolve and as it became clearer, and redder, I just couldn't resist. In the spirit of Bruce Springsteen ("They said sit down and I stood up") and of just flat-out asinine ridiculousness—and on the off chance of being written up—I decided to name today's Whip Out in honor of all those goonballs in the first paragraph.

Daily Whip Out: "The Red Man In The Land of Opportunity"

"Political correctness is tyranny with manners."
—Gore Vidal

Tom Horn Skirts Sierra Madre Fires In A Diagonal Way

February 25, 2016
   Wading back into the Mickey Free story. In our story, all the principals, Mickey, The Apache Kid, Tom Horn and Beauty ended up in the burning foothills of the Sierra Madre where they stalked each other like hawks. 

Daily Whip Out: "Tom Horn Skirts The Foothills Fires In The Sierra Madre."

Although I finished this painting before I came into work this morning, the background was done months ago. I found it in the garage, while looking for something else, and realized it is a good example of Professor David Brody's theory of diagonal design (see my lecture notes below):

Daily Whip Out: "How to Draw Drawings"

"When I am writing I instinctively make a little drawing now and then."
—Vincent van Gogh

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mickey Free: Back With A Vengeance

February 25, 2016
   I was talking to the Top Secret Writer this morning and because of his forthcoming, epic book "The Apache Wars" there is renewed interest in Hollywood for our favorite one-eyed captivo. 

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Free: Back With A Vengeance"

If you have been following along, you know the two of us attempted to do a graphic novel on Mickey Free, back in 2008, which pretty much failed. No, to be perfectly honest—it completely failed. Too many narrators, too much real history, not enough character development or plot. Humbling to say the least. When I hit these walls I try to learn something and when I try to learn something I usually come back to my lack of education. This invariably leads me to this:

Continuing Education
   I decided about a month ago I needed to go back to school. So I signed up for a series of lectures on "How to Draw," taught by Professor David Brody, from the University of Washington. I received the 36 lectures in the mail about a week ago and I have been watching one or two every night. I never knew that humans have been drawing for about 80,000 years and that most of these drawings, until the 15th century, and the Renaissance, were pretty awful for a reason. Most people didn't have time for art of any kind because they were simply trying to survive, but occasionally, sitting in a cave usually, some weirdo would draw a goofy animal on the wall. The Egyptians actually had some decent portrait painters but they kept their skills secret and the skills died out after about 300 years. The Chinese kept the making of paper a secret from the West for a long time because it was a culture war advantage. But the shocker, to me, is it was actually the proliferation of glass windows that unleashed the study of drawing and how to do perspective and foreshortening. As houses moved from burlap coverings in their windows, to glass, more than one curious person began to draw on the glass,  copying, or tracing, what they were seeing on the other side of the glass. This led to the shocking realization that the roofline, across the street, moved back at an angle. No one had figured this out before (it took 80,000 years!). This led to an understanding, finally, of perspective, and the horizon line, which, as it turns out, is mostly geometry and math. Which is funny, to me, because I got into art partly to avoid math and here it is, squatting right in the middle of "How to Draw" good. Ouch!

Daily Whip Outs: "Studying Geometric Drawing Shapes"

   It's ridiculous—and extremely embarrassing—to admit that I have been drawing professionally for at least 45 years and I didn't know any of this.

   Or this: the Greeks believed in the golden rectangle (this goes back about 2,000 years to Euclid, a guy who thought up the theory, which is ironic because when I attended the U of A Fine Art College in 1967, I lived on Euclid Street in Tucson and had no idea of the connection). Anyway, Euclid believed in a golden triangle, basically a rectangle with a radius of 1.64 something (like I said, I have always hated math) and it is supposed to make your paintings better. Actually to quote from the text, "the height (b) to the overall width (c) is the same as the relationship of a to the height, a being the remainder if we subtract the height from the width. . . or a is to b as b is to c. Damn, I hate this!

   Also, horizontal and vertical lines convey stability and diagonals create instability and action. I guess I knew this somewhat intuitively, but not really.

Daily Whip Out: "Diagonal Mamacita"

"The goal of all inanimate objects is to resist man and ultimately defeat him."
—Russell Baker

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Revenge of The Comanche Moon

February 24, 2016
   Here are the three images I wanted to add to the Battle of Adobe Walls story, but ran out of time. I wasn't happy with the first Whipout of the burning of Adobe Walls, so I did this one, this morning:

Daily Whip Out: "Revenge of The Comanche Moon

   Someone asked how the Comanches burned down adobe buildings, since they were made out of mud. Well, tell that to the McSween defenders in Lincoln who fled, room to room, in a 10-room adobe, fired by piling wood on a porch and setting it afire, until the defenders, including Billy the Kid, were huddled in the last room—the kitchen—and had to make a run for it as the flames licked at their hot, little behinds. Wooden ceilings, and vigas (log poles in the ceiling), helped, as did wooden doors and wooden furniture, but in the Adobe Walls firing, I imagine the Comanches dragged over a bunch of tree branches (as you can clearly see above) to stoke the fire. Also, as Mark Boardman has pointed out, the adobe bricks in those days utilized grass, or hay, to mix in the mud bricks, and that burned, albeit slowly. At any rate, when white settlers finally arrived in the area (after the In-dins were put on reservations), all they found was crumbled adobe walls, which is probably how the location got its name.

   I also wanted to do a painting of Billy Dixon taking his legendary shot.

Daily Whip Out: "Billy Dixon Takes Aim"

   For this scene I wanted to show him on the roof of one of the buildings taking aim, and with other sharp shooters coming up to join him, on a ladder. I don't think I've ever read where exactly Dixon was when he took his famous long shot, but, for some reason I picture him on the roof. I do know during lulls in the fighting, some of the hide hunters went out and dragged off dead horses and oxen, and it would make sense to have men on the roofs for cover and to spot any lurking attackers. Anyway, didn't get this one in the can, either, beyond a gesture sketch. May still do it, if I can find the time..

   I also was intrigued by the fact that there were 28 men and one woman in the camp. What the hell was she doing there? I have a hunch:

Daily Whip Out: "A Wanted Woman"

"He grunts, he looks cold, he pretends to sleep in a horse's carcass."
—Caryn James, in The Hollytood Reporter, summing up Leonardo Dicaprio's performance in "The Revenent"

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Adobe Walls Postscript And Runway Models With The Right Cheekbones

February 23, 2016
   I had three more scenes I wanted to do for the Adobe Walls Classic Gunfight, but I ran out of time. Spent too much time tweaking the "Lonesome Dove" cover story and then cheated myself on my own department. It happens. On the positive side, I really enjoyed revisiting a great book:

Daily Whip Out: "Wind In The Pines"

   One of the refreshing aspects of S.C. Gwynne's Pulitzer-Prize-finalist-epic, Empire of The Summer Moon is that the author spares no one and he doesn't flinch doing it. In his masterful telling of the fight at Adobe Walls, where the attacking Commanches, and their allies, believed they were immune to White Man bullets, here is what Gwynne says about the aftermath: "Meanwhile the Indians drifted off, furious, helpless. Once again, bad medicine had been their fatal weakness. They could not help themselves. Reverse the roles to see what might have happened. The whites would have surrounded the buildings and kept up the attack. They would have come by night and caved in the walls. They would have accepted far greater losses to achieve the objective than Indians ever would. Indians never understood the concept of seizing and holding a small piece of real estate, or of calculating the grim cost-benefit ration of a siege. Failing all this, the white men would have simply starved the Indians out, waiting patiently for them to get so thirsty they would have to choose between dying and fighting." The New York Times called it "transcendent," and I couldn't agree more.

   In this age when every excuse is employed to cut native tribes slack, to the point of making their faults superior traits, it's such a breath of fresh air to read a balanced narrative about simply being human. Is this genius? Not sure, but it's damn brave writing. And, by the way, here's what a great writer has to say about genius:

"[There] are really good writers. Above them—above almost all of us—are the Shakespeares, the Faulkners, the Yeatses, Shaws, and Eudora Weltys. They are geniuses, divine accidents, gifted in a way which is beyond our ability to understand, let alone attain. Shit, most geniuses aren't able to understand themselves, and many of them lead miserable lives, realizing (at least on some level) that they are nothing but fortunate freaks, the intellectual version of runway models who just happen to be born with the right cheekbones and with breasts which fit the image of an age."
—Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

   This, of course, is ironic, because what Stephen is saying here is, to me, genius!

Daily Whip Out: "Hogtown Hussies"

"A stitch in time would have confused Einstein."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Long Shot

February 21, 2016
   Finishing up the Battle of Adobe Walls for the next issue. Goes to press in the morning. Some pretty amazing descriptions of the battle from the participants themselves. Here's Billy Dixon describing the initial Commanche charge:

Quanah’s Headlong Charge
“There was never a more splendidly barbaric sight. In after years I was glad that I had seen it. Hundreds of warriors, the flower of the fighting men of the southwestern Plains tribes, mounted upon their finest horses, armed with guns and lances, and carrying heavy shields of thick buffalo hide, were coming like the wind. Over all was splashed the rich colors of red, vermillion and ochre, on the bodies of the men, on the bodies of the running horses. Scalps dangled from bridles, gorgeous war-bonnets fluttered their plumes, bright feathers dangled from the tails and manes of the horses, and the bronzed, half-naked bodies of the riders glittered with ornaments of silver and brass. Behind this headlong charging host stretched the Plains, on whose horizon the rising sun was lifting its morning fires. The warriors seemed to emerge from this glowing background.”

—Billy Dixon

Daily Whip Out: "Commanche Charge Underpainting"

Daily Whip Out: "Commanche Charge Final"

An Examination of The Shot
   In the summer of 2015, several re-enactors restaged Billy Dixon’s shot on the actual site. Members of the Wild West History Association went out to the site during their annual convention in nearby Amarillo, Texas. Quoting from their October 2015 journal, “To appreciate the significance of Dixon’s shot, it’s important to know that bullets do not follow the line of sight when fired. The arc-like course is affected by its rate of spin, gravity, air drag, temperature (it goes farther in warmer air), elevation (the higher the elevation, the more a bullet’s range) and wind.”

Dr. James A. Bailey of Wilmington, North Caroline, concluded that to have hit his mark, Dixon would have had to aim 35 degrees above his horseback target to allow for a 318-inch bullet drop.” [That is 26 feet!] “At nearly a mile, even a modern 30.06 round would drop at least six feet,” says San Antonio gun collector Kurt House. A 1989 scientific investigation of the shot, utilizing computer models, concluded, “Out of 1,000 simulated shots, only three hit the target at that distance.” Also, Bailey added, the “gritty buffalo hunter would have had to train his weapon 337 inches to one side or another [27 feet to the side!], given a wind speed estimated at 14 miles an hour.”

According to the above information Billy Dixon had to aim 26 feet above his target and 27 feet to the side, or, into the wind. That is indeed a "scratch" shot.

Daily Whip Out: "Billy Dixon's 'Scratch' Shot"

“He was either the best shot in the West, or the luckiest.”
—Roy Young

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Day of The Dead Heads Dancin' Up A Storm In The Renaissance Days of Yore!

February 21, 2016
   For several years now, my partner, Ken Amorosano has been telling me of the genius behind the Renaissance Festival and that we could learn a thing or two by going out to witness it. So, today, we did just that. It's an hour run out to the desert location halfway to Florence. Saw more than a few cute fairies

Saw an impressive cookout done right:

   So much is the right presentation and this is pretty spectacular. Our history chuck wagons could learn a thing or two from this. Of course, the reason Ken is so high on this phenom is that many of the Renaissance themes are interchangeable with Old West themes, like wenches and dance hall girls, jousting and gunfights, turkey legs and chuck wagon stew, mandolins and guitars. Still, there are things we could learn from them, for example the theatrics at the Renassance Festival are excellent. They seem to hire good actors. And, of course you have plenty damsels in distress.

In this case, damsels in distress being rescued by other damsels. The biggest difference to my eye is the Renaissance Festival has actual young people, both performing and in attendance, something we are lacking. Saw these kids pulling carts full of other kids dressed to the nines and the guy pulling (the guy at right) actually said, "This is the best job I've ever had!"

   Oh, and day of the dead heads dancin' up a storm. This is something we in the west need to embrace:

 I was impressed.

"Hurry it up. I'm due in Hell for dinner"
—Black Jack Ketchum to the hangman

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Press Check for "Vincent van Gunfighter"

February 20, 2016
   Spent the day down at Cattle Track Art Compound working on the letterset, hand-printed edition of "Vincent van Gunfighter." These are the four guys who have made it happen: 

L to R: BBB, Robert Ray, Dan Harshberger, Mark McDowell
and Brent Bond (of Santos Press). 

    Had fun, drank a couple beers, hand cranked the press and didn't lose any fingers.

Robert Ray gives it a crank as Dan Harshberger and Brent Bond look on

   In many ways, I feel like we've come full circle. Back in the beginning (1972) Dan The Man and I printed the Razz Revue—an alleged humor magazine—on an AB Dick 360 which wasn't much bigger than this. We farmed out the collating to a Tempe business next to the Valley Art Theater. I remember taking the "guts" out there and watching a small crew do our job with stitchers and paper cutters. The foreman was drinking and showing off and he ended up chopping off the ends of his fingers in a moment of frivolity. He ran out onto Mill Avenue and was leaning over the curb crying out in pain. I followed him out and asked him if the job was going to be finished on time.

   Well, not quite, but it was bloody hairy and it did happen and I often wonder where he is today.

   We traded press war stories and I learned something I didn't know before. When a plate is finished, the pressman writes, or scratches the plate with big letters: NFG, which stands for No Flippin' Good, and, of course the middle word is not flippin'.

"Give me a hand here, will you?
—Old Pressman Saying

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bad Medicine

February 18, 2016
   I'm working on the second fight at Adobe Walls for the next Classic Gunfights in the April issue. In 1874, the Commanche Warrior (and son of Cynthia Ann Parker) Quanah Parker led a combined force of 250 Commanches, Kiowas and Southern Cheyenne against a stubborn knot of hide hunters holed up on the Canadian River not far from present-day Amarillo, Texas.

   The In-dins hated buffalo hunters for obvious reasons but in this instance they were keyed up because of the blustering claims of a self-proclaimed messiah-like medicine man named Isa-tai, who actually convinced a whole bunch of otherwise intelligent people that his medicine was so strong (puha, the Commanches called it) that they all would be immune to the White Man's bullets.

Daily Whip Out: "Bad Medicine"

   Add to this absurdity the fact that Isa-tai showed up for the attack, stark naked except for a cap of sage stems, and painted completely yellow, as was his horse. If you know your history, you know the attack on Adobe Walls did not go well. For starters they were attacking 28 buffalo hunters armed to the teeth, not only with pistols and repeating rifles, but with long range "Big Fifties" Sharps rifles and the requisite "sharp shooters" to man them. One of them was 20-year-old Bat Masterson (yes, THAT Bat Masterson) and another was Billy Dixon, who proceeded to drop a warrior with his Big Fifty at an alleged 1,530 yards, which is just short of a mile. Dixon had to factor in a six foot drop of the arc of the bullet and a 14 mile an hour wind, which necessitated a 337 inch sideways adjustment, cheating to the side against the wind.

   In addition to the combatant knocked off his horse, more than 25 other In-dins were NOT impervious to White Men bullets and died before the rest of the attacking party departed in humiliation.

   The kicker to this sad story is that for most of the Twentieth Century historians have fudged Isa-tai's name as "Coyote Dung," when, in fact, his name more accurately translates as "Wolf's Vulva" or "Coyote Vagina."

   So, in the current climate of choosing leaders based on their belligerent claims of  kicking our enemy's asses, remember the outcome of Coyote Vagina's boasting.

"I know how to deal with our enemies. I'm Coyote Vagina and I approve of this message."

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Downwinders

February 17, 2016
   Went home for lunch and noodled some skies. One of them took an ominous turn into dark territory. One of the dirty little secrets in my home country is the unusually high rates of cancer deaths. Many believe it's due to the nuclear tests in Nevada in the 1950s.

Daily Whip Out: "The Downwinders"

   We're also finishing up our in depth coverage of the 25th anniversary of Lonesome Dove (I think it's actually the 27th or 28th but whatever). Found this great image of Tommy Lee as Woodrow Call:

Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones) on the Hell Bitch

"I loved Augustus McRae, but I wasn't willing to share him with you every time you decided to ride off on some adventure. I despised you for what you were then, Captain Call, and I despise you for what you're doing!"
—Clara Allen (Anjelica Huston)

The Hualapais

February 27, 2016
   There is one range of mountains that never cease to amaze me:

Daily Whip Out: "The Hualapais"

   Of course, I grew up looking at this mountain range every day, on my way to school, on my way to work, on my way out of town. And, of course, the Hualapais are named for the Hualapai people who inhabited the range for a long time before Route 66. In the interest of neutering all things Spanish, the anglo residents of Mojave County, excuse me, Mohave County, changed the spelling of Hualapai to Wallapai.

"When I am drawing I instinctively make a little drawing now and then."
—Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The van Gogh Glow

February 16, 2016
   Got this last week, but had to share:

Daily Whip Out: "Vincent van Gunfighter"

"I could not imagine where you were going with the Van Gogh idea, but now that I've read this issue, I think it's your best. Placing Vincent and Toulouse-Lautrec in the context of the Wild West shows brings together elements of the 19th century in a beautiful way. I hope you do more of that."
—Mary Doria Russell
Lyndhurst, Ohio

Daily Whip Out: "Toulouse-Lautrec at The XX Corral"

"I hope Theo destroys those pictures in the batch that we considered not good. Most of the batch from Arles, especially."
—Vincent, as quoted by Bob Kunzinger in his book "Vincent" in 1987, and gifted to me from Larry Floyd

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cave Creek On Fire

February 15, 2016
   Tom Augherton took this photo last night at sunset. Looks like Cave Creek is on fire

"Cave Creek On Fire" by Tom Augherton

A Personal Invite to The Vincent van Gunfighter Art Show

February 15, 2016
   I'm sending out personal invites to my Vincent van Gunfighter art show on March 5 at Cattle Track Art Compound in Scottsdale. If you'd like to have an old-fashioned, personal, mailed invitation from me, send me your mailing address and I'll pop one in the mail to you. You can send your mailing address to me via email at

Rough Cover for the Vincent van Gunfighter limited edition book

   Only 100 signed and numbered books will be sold at $150 each. The first 11 have already been sold.

"But in the past, we were always younger, which means the present can't win."
—Meghan Daum, in the New York Times

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Hunt for The Mexicali Stud

February 14, 2016
   I had two engagements yesterday, the parade in Wickenburg and a speaking engagement down at Cattle Track for a family gathering. Nice quiet evening. Had fun.

   Today I finally got to come up for air and plot my next projects. Got a few I want to do, including a former project I want to return to. That would be this dude:

Daily Whip Out: "On The Hunt for The Mexicali Stud"

   He was a blue-eyed vaquero from Baja, sent to find and return a valuable stud horse swept up in the California remuda of 500 horses General Crook ordered for the Apaches at San Carlos. It was an arduous journey, or, as Chief of Scouts Al Sieber put it: "Arizona is no place for amateurs."

   My neighbor Tom Augherton came up a couple weeks ago during our cold spell and caught me outside without a hat on. He thinks he's captured a dusk jacket cover. I do like the shadows, the clouds and the field of cholla.

BBB on a cold day with no hat on.

"All cholla, no cattle."
—Scott O'Connor

"The only way to avoid Hollywood is to live there."
—Igor Stravinsky

The True West Crew at The Wickenburg Parade

February 14, 2016
   Here are some of the photos from yesterday's parade in Wickenburg.

BBB and Greg Carroll in front of the True West Stretch Checker Cab Limo
waiting for the start of the Wickenburg Gold Rush Days Parade.

My neighbor Tom Augherton drove the beast and that's Lee Anderson
on Concho in the back.

Tom Augherton took this shot of me in front of our neighbors in the lineup.

Another Tom Augherton photo of the True West Ambassador, Lee Anderson,
with his saddlebags stuffed with True West magazines. Lee always cuts
 a fine figure on Concho.

This year Greg and I walked the parade and handed out 600 True West magazines
to people who actually read. Oh, yessiree, I made them each qualify.

"Arizona is no place for amateurs."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, February 12, 2016

Beale Camel Corp Traverse Red Ghost Canyon

February 12, 2016
   i'm doing a commission for a an old Kingman friend of mine. He wants something historic and Mohave County specific. This is one of the concepts I'm pursuing: 

Daily Whip Out: "A Study of Beale's Camel Corp Traversing Red Ghost Canyon."

   Heading to Wickenburg in the morning for the annual Gold Rush Days Parade. Driving the big, stretch cab with the True West logos over the door. Lee Anderson will be riding Concho. Handing out free mags. Always enjoy this parade.

BBB and The True West Official Stretch Cab Parade Car

Yes, those are saddles on the roof. The car is owned by my neighbor Matt Grace and we run it in several parades, including the Prescott Rodeo Parade and The Cave Creek Old West Days Parade.

"By God, Woodrow, it's been one hell of a party."
Gus McCrae (Robert Duvall) on his deathbed in Lonesome Dove

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Caprock Rider

February 11, 2016
   Went home for lunch and decided it was time to do something different. I've been doing scratchboards for a couple weeks now and I needed to cleanse my palette, so to speak. So, I grabbed a long, panorama board and cut loose with some washes to see where it would go. Ended up here:

Daily Whip Out: "Caprock Rider"

   "Here's to the sunny slopes of long ago."
—Gus McCrae (Robert Duvall), "Lonesome Dove"

Buckeye Blake's Beatific Billy

February 11, 2016
   Got this constructive criticism from an artist friend of mine, after posting the image "The Snaggle-toothed Cop Killer," yesterday. 

"Snaggle-toothed Billy

"Your Kid looks too damn old and his nose ain't turned up enough like an Irish Leprechan. He looks more like me than the Kid! Other than that, you've captured him beautifully!"

   And, by the way, the title of that painting I copped, ahem, from the daughter of a policeman, who watched the Nat Geo "New Evidence On Billy the Kid" semi-documentary with me. Her name is Mary Doria Russell, the author of "Doc" and "Epitaph." She confided to me she never has had much use for the little criminal. But back to someone who defends the Kid, and hated my Daily Whip Out: Ignoring the sarcasm, I emailed my Kid Krazy friend back and said I have never noticed a "turned up nose" on the tintype photo and that if anything, the nose appeared to be a hook nose. That only spurred the lad on:

"Double tough butt,, there lies the irony! He had the face of an angel, an innocent look. The boy with the tiger heart! The Wolverine inside the Lamb! Ranger Gillette said he would be the last one you would take as a bad man! That was his armor! This sweet little blond cherub would crack your crust!!! Coe said that bullies would naturally go after him, he would draw them in, then   look out, he'd eat-um fer breakfast! I'm surprised you haven't flashed on that--- thay all said it. Look at what happened to all the ones who tried it. Re-evaluate please."

   Trying to be nice, I responded that I didn't know he, my artist friend, was such a "Romantic," which only set him off  even more.

"It almost looked ridiculous, all those armed men, surrounding this innocent looking youth. The Mexicans said his face went to every ones heart. Even Garrett and Upson said it! That he was the last man you would pick as a bad man."

   So I thought, okay you damn Texas Romantic, how about this?

Daily Whip Out: "Buckeye's Beatific Billy sketch"

   And, then, in a fit of vindictive pique, I did this:

 Daily Whip Out: "Buckeye's Beatific Billy."

"The sick talking to the blind! The Blind scout and the Snake Bit Preacher!"
—Buckeye Blake, dealing with chemo, and responding to my Billy blasphemy

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Snaggle-toothed Cop Killer

February 10, 2016
   I've got sugarloaf sombreros on the brain and as you many know a certain outlaw allegedly wore one. 

Daily Whip Out: "The Snaggle-toothed Cop Killer."

"I hate rude behavior in a man.. I won't tolerate it."
—Gus McCrae, "Lonesome Dove"

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Strange Prejudice Towards the Mexican Sugarloaf Sombrero

February 9, 2016
   It all started with the revelation that the producers of "Lonesome Dove" wanted Robert Duvall to wear this style of hat:

Daily Whip Out: "Gus In A Sugarloaf Sombrero"

   This led to a vigorous conversation about whether Duvall made the right choice in terms of his hat style, which to my eye is historically wrong for that time period (1860s). Several fans of Westerns then made the claim that the much maligned sombrero would never be worn by big stars because they look silly and don't look right on 'Mericans. But then Jim Hatzell sent me this photo:

John Wayne Sporting A Sombrero

   An interesting thing happened when I sent this photograph of John Wayne wearing a sombrero to a well-respected historian friend of mine. My friend said, and I quote, "It looks like a gag photo." As i said, I received this photo from hat expert Jim Hatzell, who wondered why, if the Duke could sport a sombrero, why couldn't Robert Duvall in "Lonesome Dove"? (Duvall flat out refused to wear a sombrero in "Dove") I can't prove it, but I have a hunch this is a test photo, taken by the studio prop department, or the producers, to see how Wayne would look in a sombrero for the movie "Hondo." His outfit, with the exception of the hat, appears to be the same one he wore in "Hondo." And, if that's true, it's probably not too far of a reach to surmise that the studio had the same reaction as Paul Hutton, or, I mean, my well-respected historian friend.

   But my friend put me on to something. The Mexican sombrero gets a bad rap and has for a very long time. It doesn't help that it's an over-the-top hat style (pun intended) and prone to more than a smidgen of clownishness. Exhibit A would be the beach town straw monstrosities every drunkard brings home from Cabo. Also, witness the salt and pepper shakers or yore with the "lazy" Mexican taking a siesta in a sugarloaf:

Food Fight at The BBB Kitchen Corral: "Get Your Ass Up, El Salto!"

   The irony here is the two Earp brothers salt and pepper shakers were gifted to me by the friend who thinks the sombrero on the Duke is "a gag." Which brings us to the several exceptions to the rule, when Hollywood has opted to feature the sugarloaf on the head of the main character in a Western:

Willie Nelson's excellent sombrero in "Barbarossa"

   Now granted,  there are some who believe Willie looks "foolish," but I don't think so. I think it's damn cool. Here's another example:

Robert Mitchum in "The Wonderful Country"

Never mind that various western stars have toyed with classic border head gear:

Buck Jones in "South of the Rio Grande"

And all of the big brim cowboy hats of the 1920s and 1930s were inspired by the Mexican sombrero:

Tim McCoy In A Modified Sombrero

Back to my good friend, the distinguished professor: "I still think it's a gag [The Duke photo] 'cause the sombrero looks so stupid on him they never would have bothered with it. Mitchum and Willie Nelson pulled it off, but its a tough hat unless you're Yul Brynner as Pancho Villa."

   And there is the rub. To me, the sugarloaf sombrero doesn't look "stupid." Granted it has become a caricature when it's actually a thing of functional beauty. And, it looks more authentic to me, than the anglo-conservative-twentieth-century head gear that Robert Duvall insisted on wearing in "Lonesome Dove." I hate to say it, but the disdain for the sombrero is on the border of prejudice.

"I can see by your hat that you are a lazy Mexican."
—Old Redneck Saying