Tuesday, July 31, 2018

When Visibility Drops to Zero

July 31, 2018
   We've had some big storms roll through the Valley in the past several days and last night it really ripped. Down in Phoenix, Dan the Man's power has been out since last night at eight. Huge pine tree blocking one of the streets near his house.

   We got hit about seven last night and the power went out momentarily but it came back on immediately. So we dodged a bullet on that one. 

   Anyway, when the dust blows like this I get homesick for Kingman and I have a tendency to go there in my head when I draw.

Daily Whip Out:
"Visibility Dropped to Zero But Still He Rode On"

Daily Whip Out: "Billy the Kid In Dust"

Daily Whip Out:
"Ojos and Fang Approach A Lone Ranch
On The Mojave"

"It's hard to do 'Old Man' now. It's like, 'Old man take a look at my life/ I'm a lot like I am."

—Neil Young

Monday, July 30, 2018

More Lawdogs And Mexicali Studs

July 30, 2018
   Got home from Santa Barbara last night and enjoyed, or, rather, I faced the baking heat of my hometown as opposed to the balmy ocean breeze of the California coast.

   Woke up this morning with a new-found enthusiasm for my work. It's always inspiring to see other climes and it's always even more fun to come home. Found a couple of old boards in the studio this morning and tweaked them for future use.

Daily Whip Out: "Lawdog #3"

Daily Whip Out: "Mexicali Stud #3"

Daily Whip Out:
"Goyathlay On The Mexicali Stud"

Daily Whip Out: "Snake Eyes #3"

   Came into my office this morning to find a big old package on my desk. Inside I found this:

My own Sugarloaf sombrero
made by RJ Preston!

   Hot damn! Thanks for the custom made hat, RJ, very, very cool.

   It's become rather in to knock Facebook, but I have to say, if I hadn't been posting my sugarloaf images on there, I wouldn't have found RJ and he wouldn't have approached me about making one for me. Expect to see this sucker on a few of my Daily Whip Outs in the very near future.

"There's always a story behind the apparent story."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Picturesque Wedding & The Supreme Court On Horseback

July 29, 2018
   Saw some great art yesterday and attended a very nice wedding for Paul Hutton's daughter, Lorena, at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. 

   After the ceremony, we retired to the property next door, where we enjoyed excellent food and wine and then dancing under the stars on the patio at Casa de Covarrubias (built in 1817).

A toast to the bride, by the mother of the bride,
 on the patio of Casa de Covarrubias

The Supreme Court On Horseback
   I have been inspired by the Edward Borein exhibit at the museum and subsequently have been seeking out more information on the Rurales of Mexico, who were known as The Rural Guard. They somewhat paralleled the Texas Rangers and the Arizona Rangers in terms of intent.

"A Rurale" by Edward Borein

   However, the American rangers could not match their Mexican counterparts in terms of style. The Rurales wore a distinctive grey uniform braided in silver, which was modeled on the national charro dress and included wide felt sombreros, bolero jackets, tight fitting trousers with silver buttons down the seams, and red or black neckties. Senior officers wore elaborate rank insignia in the form of Austrian knots and sombrero braiding, which cost hundreds of pesos. The corps number appeared in silver on both the headdress and a leather carbine cross-belt.

   The Rurales have been variously described as "the world's most picturesque policemen" and "mostly bandits." The latter description is derived from the tradition of giving captured bandits a chance to serve out their term in the Rurales. Since it sometimes takes a thief to catch a thief, the system worked for a time and the image has stuck.

Rurale with sword

The rurales—well, if we'd mount our Supreme Court on broncos, arm 'em with Winchesters, and start 'em out after John Doe et al. we'd have about the same thing."
—O. Henry

Saturday, July 28, 2018

A Vaquero of Old Santa Barbara

July 28, 2018
   Here's a real life vaquero and artist who I greatly admire.

One of my heroes on a white mule

   If this looks somewhat familiar it's because I did a painting from this photograph called "The Hacendado." I had forgotten that I used this image, or that it was Ed Borein himself in the photo.

   Ed actually worked as a vaquero in Baja and Chihuahua, and other parts of Mexico, in 1897 and so he was steeped in the traditions and training methods of the old vaqueros, and his drawings show it:

"A Rurale" by Ed Borein

   He was from the Oakland, California area and, in fact, he lived in New York City for 14 years but he finally came home to the West and settled in Santa Barbara where he had his last studio. I have long wanted to visit this studio and wondered if I could find it, or, if it still existed. As you may know, I am a nut about standing where they stood (see O.K. Corral).

   Well, I got my chance today, because I am in Santa Barbara for a wedding, and of course, this morning I went straight to the Santa Barbara Historical Museum where I found, much to my delight, they have honored Ed with his own art gallery:

Edward Borein Riding High in Santa Barbara

   In addition to the excellent artwork by Ed, they have a wing of the museum dedicated to the local "Old Spanish Days Fiesta" and it too has some treasures:

A Classic Fiesta poster from the early days

They have a short film that shows off some serious Spanish dancing. . .

. . . and, of course, some cheesy Senorita cheese.

The film also has a cameo by Ida Lupino (at left) who was either just starting out in the biz, or, she didn't want to be noticed.

One guy who did want to be noticed was a fellow kid from Kingman, Andy Devine, who plays a bumbling matador.

   Thanks to directions from one of the docents, I was able to locate, a mere two blocks from the museum, Ed's studio.

Ed Borein standing outside his
Santa Barbara studio

BBB Standing at the exact same spot.

   I don't know why, but standing on the same spot makes me real happy. As my wife likes to say, when it comes to all things Western, I am "easily amused." (By the way, we were married 39 years ago today)

"Ed Borein was a 'character'—one of those uncommon people who personal traits and abilities are sufficiently different from those of their fellows to set them apart as something unique."
—Dr. Irving Wills

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Cabin Fever

July 25, 2018
   Lounging off the grid in the great state of Washington. No internet (a blessed relief). Wonderfully cool. Nothing to do, but eat too much and go to the creek and lounge some more.

In the clearing stands a boxer
with waterwings on

      Didn't sketch at all on Monday. Sometimes one needs to be fallow. Did putz around yesterday, enjoying poaching paintings off of Instagram and learning from their plentitude of scrumptious technique.

My favorite Instagram Poachings

   We've only been out once to go see the twin waterfalls featured in "Twin Peaks." Stopped in Fall City at the Roadhouse Diner & Inn and sat out on the porch:

Los Familitos Dining It Up

   Got the lazy river routine going on. We spend the hot afternoons (80 degrees!) down at the creek.

The Thinker

   It wasn't that long ago that Kathy and I were hanging out with two of the people in this photo.

Deena and Tommy not so long ago.

"To understand people, you must tell stories about them."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Abstract Ojos

July 22, 2018
   Heading north today. Back next weekend.

Daily Whip Out: "Abstract Ojos"

Gnarly ironwoods in our front yard.

Random Notes
   Whenever I finish a sketchbook, like I did this morning, I cull all the random notes to carry forward. Here are a few notes from that culling:
  • The end of things is always painful, but life is a poem, be part of it.
  • We're all standing on a whale fishing for minnows.
  • “You stole a horse to track down a stolen horse?”
  • “The best thing to ever happen to me is all the things I didn’t want.”
  • “An ass you are, an ass you remain and an ass you will still be when you end your days.”—Sancho Panza
  • The highest low. It was 94 degrees at 6 a.m. on Friday setting a record of the highest low, breaking the previous high-low temperature of 93 degrees in 2007.
  • They were the bad boys of Baja
  • “A horse can read your heart from a 100 yards away.” “He’s watching me like a snake.”
  • A Wicked Cross: The offspring from first and second degree matings have a significantly increased risk of suffering from an inherited disorder. It’s called line breeding, the selective breeding of animals for a desired feature by mating them with their immediate family.
  • History has ruined many a good story and this has been one of them.
  • Overheard at the Mexicali customs house: “You have no idea what you are up against.”
  • “This is a story that starts when California was an island.”
  • “Black and white is like a poem.”—Robby Muller, cinematographer ("and it stimulates the Imagination by a reduction of information.”)
  • Up ahead he saw an ash colored fly catcher and all the ravens in the word, gathering it seemed to complain about the heat.
  • The horse is the hero. Remember that.
“Whatever you do is evil to somebody.”
—Joseph Campbell

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Under The Sugarloaf Brim

July 21, 2018
   Bailed into the project yesterday. The first step was to get good scans of all the latest artwork for the story. I also worked on shadows under the brim.

"Under The Sugarloaf Brim"

   Not bad, with the one blue eye (Ojos de Gringo: Gringo Eyes) gleaming out under that sugarloaf hat brim.

"Ojos de Gringo Rides On"

   Ojos rode through some rough country but he had an even rougher time getting through the border at Mexicali.

"Americanos En Mexicali"

   But the women of Mexicali were even rougher than the Americanos:

"One Pissed Off Puta"

   Some of the other women were a little more kind:

Hogtown Hussy: "Suchi Sueno"

  Certain area hacendados were also against Ojos and his quest:

"Leonides Cabrera de Caca"

   But, it must be said, Ojos had a few allies, mainly his Indio cousins in the hills above San Felipe. One of them provided him help when he needed it most.

"Squibe En San Felipe"

   But even after he finally crossed the border at Mexicali his biggest challenge loomed out ahead. He still had to cross the deadliest desert in the world, the Mojave:

"Swallowed Up In A Sand Storm
at Badwater Basin"

"Death Valley is the hottest place on the globe. . .hotter than the tropics, hotter than the Australian Outback, hotter than the Sahara Desert. A temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56 C), the highest ever, was recorded at Furnace Creek in 1913."
—Roger Naylor, "Death Valley: Hottest Place On Earth"

Friday, July 20, 2018

Law Dogs

July 20, 2018
   I was digging through my morgue this morning looking for a "Pendejo" painting and rediscovered these two paintings that just might work for a cover down the road.

Law Dog #2

Law Dog #1

   Yes, both were done with Wyatt and Virgil Earp in mind, but I think they work on a larger scale, standing in for law enforcement throughout the West during a violent and dangerous period for the profession.

"The law is an opinion with a gun."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, July 19, 2018


July 19, 2018
   Such a great idea. Take two of the most gorgeous Latinas on the planet and do a Sergio Leone Western spinoff with Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz as bank robbing bandidas. Three words:

   Ay Yi Yi!

Bandidas (2006)

   Let's start with the hats. Too much cholo and not enough sugarloaf. Also, corsets on the outside is, well, creative, but it doesn't really do anything for me. How about you?

   I sure wanted this movie to work, but it fell short. High concept, low results.

"If there's one thing people can't stand, it's intolerance."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Starting Lineup

July 17, 2018
   Finishing up the synopsis for my next project. Send me your email address if you'd like to see it.

   We are doing a feature in True West on the historic Castle Hot Springs out by Lake Pleasant and it turns out that the artist Maxfield Parrish stayed there in 1901 and was quite influenced by the desert and especially the light. Here is a very fine painting by the master, before he turned his attention to nymphs on swings:

Maxfield Parrish:
The Oultaw"

The Kingman Bulldogs Starting Lineup

March 11, 1965

   Of course, Dan Harshberger won that game easily and, in fact, those of us in the outfield had a boring game because nothing came our way. That's how good Dan The Man was before he became the art director of True West magazine.

   Took another swing at Ojos de Gringo:

And then another:

And I also had fun with scratchboards:

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out: "Brooding"

"Any man who has $10,000 left when he dies is a failure."
—Errol Flynn

Monday, July 16, 2018

When The Rurales Rode

July 16, 2018
   I have always dug the Rurales and their association with the Arizona Rangers, fighting crime along the border in the early 1900s.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"When The Rurales Rode"

   I was looking through my Mexico files and re-discovered a little booklet by the artist Bill Leftwich who apparently self-published "Los Rurales de Porfirio Diaz" in 2007. The author-illustrator wrote his forward from Fort Davis, Texas in 2004.

   The small pamphlet has some cool little nuggets of history:

   "The Guarda Civil horse troopers of Spain served as a model for the Rurales. Hard, disciplined men with unlimited power, keeping a close watch on the people with only the President's interests in mind." That would be Porfirio Diaz who ruled Mexico for 30 years and his dictatorial regime led almost directly to the Mexican Revolution. So, the Rurales have a bit of a fascist bent as Porfirio referred to his main man in Sonora as his "mailed fist." This presumes to "mailed" as in a suit of armor, but unfortunately, to English speakers, it comes off as he Fed-exed his main man to the sites of contention.

   According to Leftwich, "the first rural constabulary was in the 16th Century and was called 'Santa Hermandad,' or, Holy Brotherhood. This outfit was formed by landowners to eliminate the lawless elements in their areas. Another forerunner of the Rurales was an organization of 1710 called, the 'Acordada.' The purpose of the Acordada was to 'apprehend and jail highwaymen." Bill translates "Acordada" as "decision, order, and to resolved by common consent."

   Leftwich died in 2009 at age 85. He worked in Mexico in the 1960s and met guys who knew the Rurales and the pamphlet has little nuggets in it, like, during the Presidency of Benito Juarez they were called "Cuerpo de Caballeria de Defensa Rurales" or, Body of Horsemen For Rural Defense. They were famous for wearing leather pants and jackets and were often referred to as "Los Cuerudos," the leather guys. Ha. Love that stuff.

   Tomorrow, I'll get into their uniforms, which were designed by Porfirio Diaz himself and based on the charro rig. Ay-yi-yi! You are going to dig this.

   Here's another gem from the pamphlet:

   "God is good, but He is better in Spain than in Mexico."
—Old Vaquero Saying