Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Campfire Hard Cases

November 12, 2019
   I've been on a campfire kick for a couple weeks now. I'm trying to capture that strangely dramatic, lighting effect as it might relate to some pretty bad outlaws around a fire. I want these campfire banditos to be so hard that it appears like lit-up fireflies, or, sorry, this is gross but accurate—neon maggots are crawling on their skin. 

Daily Whip Out: "Campfire Hard Cases"

Daily Whip Out: "Neon Glow"

Daily Whip Out: "Campfire Studies #6"

   Experimenting with greens which gives it a kind of van Gogh glow. 

   Here's a quick one from my sketchbook, below, that is a repeat, but notice that the green at bottom anchors the glow a bit more. Hmmmm.

Of course, blue against orange is always dynamic. Perhaps too pretty?

The creepy kid tells all.

   Perhaps too much monster lighting? Somewhere in all this firelit madness, lies a clean little story that unfolds around a campfire.

"Fires are strangely historical. They inspire stories, disturb dreams and evoke memories."

—Tom Griffiths

Monday, November 11, 2019

Old West Cowgirl Names

November 11, 2019
   An expecting father I know asked me for "good Old West names" for a daughter his wife is carrying. Okay, how about these two:

   Cowgirl twins Etheyle (Eth-eel?) and Juanita Parry performed with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in the early 1900s and later with the Barnum & Bailey’s circus. One of their roping and riding routines involved a runaway stagecoach. Etheyle (at right) would leap off of the out-of-control vehicle onto a horse running alongside the stage. Juanita (at left) would rope a fixed object from the driver’s seat of the stage, then bring the team of horses to an abrupt stop. During an exhibition in Chicago, Illinois, in 1917, Juanita was thrown and trampled to death. Etheyle later became the wife of Buffalo Bill’s nephew, William Cody Bradford. She died in 1962.

   Or, here's a gaggle more: Nettie, Lotta (Crabtree), Libby (Custer), Carlotta, Lizzie, Mattie (Silks), Jennie, Sherry Sky, Dickie Grater (I kid you not), La Jean, Blanche, Mae (West), Minnie, Ruby, Eleanor, Tin Can Laura (absolutely true), Elsie, Creede Lily, Dixie, Emma, Maggie, Effie, Allie, Hymen Hannie (sorry, I made that one up).

   Okay, what you got?

"All men should make coffee for their women. It says so, right in the bible: 'Hebrews.'"
—Old Smartass Saying

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Out Where The BS Begins

November 10, 2019
   I got taken to school yesterday and I learned a valuable lesson.

   After the art opening at Ed Mell's gallery, Kathy and I motored out to Scottsdale so I could pick up a book I ordered from Poison Pen ("News of The World"). Since we were in the West's Most Midwestern Town, we thought we'd take in a movie. My choices were "Jo Jo Rabbit," "Parasite" or "Motherless Brooklyn," but none of them were playing at the right time so we went to Pita Jungle for lunch and it was slammed on a Saturday afternoon, so we sat at the bar and struck up a conversation with a woman sitting alone and studying a film festival schedule. Turns out, right next door to Pita is Harkins 14 Theaters where the annual Scottsdale Film Festival was unspooling and we decided to walk over there after lunch and see whatever was showing at the time.

   "Widow of Silence" is a film I would never have chosen in a hundred years of silence. First off it is from India so my interest level was several notches below zero and on reading the synopsis it sounded to me like a giant load of pretentious crap. Not only that, but we had missed the first five minutes, and as we found a seat in the dark I steeled myself to be tortured for about 85 minutes.

   Imagine, if you can, my surprise, and horror, when I immediately noticed the spectacular scenes of crooked, sun-baked adobes and mountain villages. Shot beautifully with a rhythm I have never seen before (often scenes don't end when the actor leaves the field of vision which creates a shadow effect, or, a lingering expectation that doesn't come.) Yes, the story was torturous—terrorist injustice and misogynist, bureaucratic nightmares—but the whole thing was so brazenly original and it had so much integrity and austerity, I couldn't believe my good fortune to catch this amazing movie and learn a thing or two about new ways to see narrative storytelling.

   So, what is the lesson here?

   Pay attention: the universe is trying to help you.

   Anyway, all of that inspired me to come home and do this:

Daily Whip Out:
"Out Where The Bullshit Begins"

   So much of what we perceive to be true history or good storytelling is actually the same old BS but told from a new angle. And that is a good thing.

"Ring the bells that can still ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."
—Leonard Cohen

Saturday, November 09, 2019

The Roaring Twenties Return?

November 9, 2019
   A great day down at Ed Mell's Gallery this afternoon. Talked to old friends and met new ones.

BBB in front of two G-Man paintings

  I must look at 150 Old West photos a day and I am amazed at how many new ones I see that simply knock me out. While I have seen this one before, it is perhaps the best In-din photograph I have ever seen.

Utes Crossing A Stream

   Meanwhile, this is thought provoking:


   To me this is a reminder of the boom and bust nature of time periods. And, while it's doubtful there will be flappers and bathtub gin this time around, it's probably safe to say we're heading for bread lines and some sort of global depression.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
—Mark Twain

Friday, November 08, 2019

Ed Mell Invitational Tomorrow

November 8, 2019
   Rounding up artwork for tomorrow's Ed Mell Invitational Art Show down in Phoenix. I will be hanging along side some of my fave artist amigos, including Edmundo Segundo, Gary Ernest Smith, Mark McDowell, Brent Bond, Carson Mell, among others.

   The cover painting for my latest book, above, will be in the show, along with this one, also from the G-Man book which is being printed and binded even as you read this:

"Alchesay Cuts The Sky"

   The Ed Mell Invitational will be open tomorrow, Saturday, November 9 from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. at 2337 N. 10th Street, in Phoenix, Arizona. I will be there with Bells on.

   That is joke. This comment by one of my heroes is not:

"You are one of the kings of Western Expressionism!"

—Tom Russell

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Too Many Lists But Not Too Many Movies

November 7, 2019
   So, I was at a Christmas party about ten years ago and I was introduced to a guy who said, "Oh, I know who you are. I used to subscribe to your magazine."

   Now, these are the four worst words a magazine publisher can ever hear—"I used to subscribe"—so I asked the obvious question and Lonnie Couch replied, "Too many lists."

Dita and Lonnie Couch

   At that time we were being coached by a bigtime New York magazine expert on how to sell magazines and his advice was simple: "People love lists!" So we had, THE 27 BEST HISTORIC SITES IN NEW MEXICO and THE 100 BEST LONG GUNS and THE BEST LIST OF LISTS!

   I'm joking, but you get the idea.

   Long story short, I invited Lonnie and his wife into the True West World Headquarters and had the two of them answer questions and when one of my sales people asked, "Is the Santa Fe trail interesting?" Lonnie replied, "It's not the trail. It's what happened on the trail." I took a photo of the two of them, above, and had it framed with that quote on it, and it hangs to this day in our conference room and we refer to it often.

   I haven't talked to Lonnie in a long time, but I called him up today. We have an in-house controversy going about so-called movie covers. Whenever we run a popular culture character on the cover, the newsstand sales increase by about 35%. This is significant to a small publisher. Here are the best sellers for the past ten years.

Best Sellers Ever! Notice a Theme?

   One of the people here at True West (his name rhymes with Ken Amorosano) thinks we may have gone to the well too many times and people who love history are fed up and not buying True West because we are forsaking history and running too many movie covers. So, I called Lonnie and this is what he said:

"I am still a faithful subscriber and I would not like to see too many movie covers because I am here for the history. But, so far, I don't think you have run too many. In fact, when you bring films back to the real history I actually enjoy it."
—Lonnie Couch

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

What Makes Grandpa Ha Ha Really Happy?

November 6, 2019
   You know what makes Grandpa Ha Ha happy? This makes me really happy.

Frances The Reader

   We're going to see her and her brother next week.

   Stumbled upon this nice little painting by our friend, Andy Thomas, of the Fremont Expedition entering Santa Fe.

   Very nice. I think that could be a future cover, cropped in, at center.
   We are hard at work on a big collector's issue for January, which will feature never-before-published photos of a certain outlaw gang and new uncovered information on a certain band of brothers:

"The Whip Out"

"All had seen the inside of a jail: Wyatt in Arkansas and Illinois, Jim in Montana, Virgil in Iowa, and Morgan in Illinois and Missouri. Wyatt and Jim were jailbreakers. Wyatt, Jim, and Morgan had all been pimps. Virgil had been charged with both arson and fraud."
—John Boessenecker, "Ride The Devil's Herd"

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

The Vaquero Moves On And Trigger Rears up

November 5, 2019
   Got up this morning and took a swing at a vaquero idea.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Vaquero On The Move"

   I make notes in my sketchbook all day long and if you want to know if I mention you, well, here you go.

Daily Sketchbook Whip Out:
"He Turned Down The Canyon"

   I spend most of my day looking for inspiration and with the internet, that is not too hard to do.

John Singer Sargent: "Julia"

   Meanwhile, someone said it's this guy's birthday.

Happy Birthday Roy Rogers!

"Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, November 04, 2019

What to say to someone who wants to try on your hat

November 4, 2019
   For some reason, some people back east think our Western lifestyle is a joke of some sort. 

   Here's what you say to Easterners who ask you stupid questions:

"Can I ride your horse?"

"Can I wreck your car?"

Can I try on your hat?"

"Can I try on your underwear?"

   They don't quite get this, but try it. It offends so many people, and that makes it all worthwhile.

   I was honored to attend Robert M. Utley's ninetieth birthday party last Friday night. I sat across from the birthday boy, who regaled Paul Hutton and myself with the story of interviewing the last survivor of the Little Bighorn fight! So to be one person away from the Greasy Grass battle was, to say the least, exciting.

Along with the birthday boy and wife Melody (top, left), were Melody's two sisters, Bob's son Don, Marv and Jane Kaiser, Don Fixico and wife Michelle Martin (right, foreground), myself and Paul Andrew Hutton (top, right).

"Every child is an artist until he's told he's not an artist."
—John Lennon

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Campfire Auditions (Hint: Emulating Vincent van Gogh, Bob Dylan and Tom Russell)

November 3, 2019
   I revisited an older post of mine that someone has reposted and it showed up in my blog stats today. It's something that the singer-songwriter Tom Russell wrote over four years ago and I had forgotten. Rereading it (see below), it led me to this series of drawings, which I call Campfire auditions. 

Daily Whip Out Studies:
"Old Vaquero In Campfire One"

Daily Whip Out Studies:
"Old Vaquero In Campfire Two"

Daily Whip Out Studies:
"Old Vaquero In Campfire Three"

Daily Whip Out Studies:
"Old Vaquero In Campfire Four"

     Plus, you know that dull haze that envelopes a campfire, late at night? I want to capture that effect, and so, that idea that led here.

Daily Whip Out Studies:

"Campfire Haze"

And here is the blog post comment that inspired the above:
Dylan is Van Gogh. Van Gogh Is Dylan. In the Van Gogh book of letters and sketches are endless rough drawings - hundreds of working sketches of potato eaters, farmers, sowers, prostitutes, fishermen, weavers and endless attempts at sunsets, fields of flowers and on...all leading up to the final masterpiece paintings. The art begins wild, sometimes off balance, but ends up powerful and complete. I see the same processes in young Dylan in this release "The Cutting Edge." The rapid song processes and number of resulting masterworks - it's as unimaginable as the truth of Van Gogh painting three hundred great paintings in one year.  We are granted a full-on vision of the artist in the studio. We listen to the young Bob Dylan starting and stopping songs. Renaming them. Staring over. Moods shift, titles change, awkward poetry is smoothed into art. He keeps carving (in a matter of days) until the masterpiece unfolds. Dozens. The obdurate shard Like a Woman eventually ends up becoming the epic classic: Just Like a WomanVisions of Johanna survives dozens of off-base rock feels, until it glides safely home into a Beat, Rimbaud-influenced, love ballad for all time. And finally, the nail the point down here, Like A Rolling Stone survives days and days of rough transitions and dead-end turnarounds and young Bob blowing his voice out - to become the most important rock song of all time, with an opening snare drum call to attention that is the shot heard 'round the world.
          Dylan is Van Gogh. Van Gogh is Dylan. We are perceiving art that is forged in deep time, created by possessed souls - and does anyone have the guts now to trek that wilderness road again? Batting away the vicious critical gnats and the boo's? Certainly Dylan hammered the point home in his "Music Cares" speech. The bedrock of his art lies in the study, and assimilation, of ten thousand folk songs steeped in myth, deep poetics, and mystical melodies - which he borrowed heavily from and then carved into his own modernistic visions. There are no major young songwriters today capable, or willing, to do this heavy lifting. Welcome to the Dark Ages of song. 
—Tom Russell

Friday, November 01, 2019

Campfire Sparks Or Flying Sperm?

November 1, 2019
   Working on a campfire sequence and wanted to see if I could capture those sparks that come off the fire.

Daily Whip Out Study:
"Campfire Sparks Or flying Sperm"

   Got a postcard today from my friend Peter Corbett:

   "Isn't this the wide spot in the road you visited a year ago? This place is cool. I stumbled on it earlier this week on my way to the former Union Pacific Kelso Depot in Mohave National Preserve.

"I guess cannabis capitalists [from Phoenix] bought Nipton last year for $5 million and sold it this year for $7.7 million to Delta International Oil & Gas."
—Peter Corbett

   Yes, this is the wide spot in the road Kathy and I stayed at in October of 2018 on our way to Death Valley. I am kind of glad the Weed guys sold the place, but dang, they made some serious money in a short time didn't they?

   Meanwhile, the Top Secret Writer is here and he's helping us locate classic old True West articles, like this one:

Another wonderful Al Napoletano illustration from True West magazine, January 1966

   Then Paul Andrew Hutton found this classic:

By Gary L. Roberts, no less, November 1965

"I got gas today for $1.39. Unfortunately, it was at White Castle."
—Old Fast Food Joke

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Al Napolitano's Mailed Masterpieces

October 31, 2019
   Charlie Russell is famous for his illustrated letters, and rightfully so. Speaking of which, this morning we were digging around in the True West archives and Carole Glenn pulled out a box full of mailed masterpieces addressed, mostly, to her. Check these out:

   Yes, that is the outside envelope at bottom, and another painting inside atop a letter! Wow! It must have taken him half a day to do these.

   Al Napoletano illustrated many, many articles for True West magazine over the years. Starting this coming January, we are going back through those 66 years of archives and rerunning some of them in the magazine. In fact, one of the very first Classic True West features has an opening illustration by Al:

   One of the illustrated letters says that "there will be an exhibition of the drawings on June 2 through July 15, 2006 at Benton County Historical Museum in Philomath, Oregon."

   Thanks to the intrepid, Gay Mathis, here is the obit for Al:

Albany Democrat-Herald Newspaper--Albany, Oregon--Al Fuzzy Napoletano --February 4, 2012

Al 'Fuzzy' Napoletano, 91, formerly of Lebanon, passed away Wednesday at Wiley Creek Community in Sweet Home. At his request, no services will be held. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital Foundation, Samaritan Evergreen Hospice, or the Wiley Creek Community Activity Fund sent in care of Huston-Jost Funeral Home, 86 W. Grant St., Lebanon, OR 97355.

"My mother used to say that I would crawl out of my buggy if I saw a horse anywhere near."
—Al Martin "Fuzzy" Napoletano

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Uno, Dos, One, Two, Tres Genius!

October 30, 2019
   I love those old comic book covers with the raw color. I am considering doing something like this on an upcoming cover we're working on.

   Meanwhile, Garrett Roberts posted this sweet bibbed shirt that appears to be similar to the shirt worn by you-know-who:

A bibbed-fireman shirt

   Working on a big Wyatt Earp feature for 2020. There is a new book out, "A Wyatt Earp Anthology: Long May His Story Be Told," edited by Roy B. Young, Gary L Roberts, and Casey Tefertiller, with a foreword by John Boessenecker. 

   As Casey Teferteller puts it in the Prologue, "Perhaps no figure in American history has endured such an odd ride through fame. He has been portrayed as a magnificent hero and a lowly villain; a glory seeking braggart and humble introvert avoiding the spotlight."

   They even included my cover story from 2015, "The Untold Story of How Wyatt Earp Got Ripped off by Outlaws in the Last Outlaw Town."

   I still think that's a movie, but, unfortunately "Sunset" has ruined that premise, at least for now.

   Okay, music lovers. Here is a crazy, stupid song that was a novelty at best when I was in high school, but for some reason I clicked on this link, below, and watched the video (sorry about the ads) and could not believe how zany it is, and downright genius. Is Sam The Sham Middle Eastern? I always thought he was Mexican, but dang dude, check out his band mates. And, more importantly, why is the Go Go Girl just standing there like a. . .oh, I get it: A Sphinx!

Uno, Dos, One, Two, Tres, Quatro!

"Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They aren't going to get rid of me that way."
—Betty White

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

More Campfire Confessions & The Return of The Mexicali Stud?

October 29, 2019
   Last weekend I got on a campfire kick and did a variety of studies playing with the dramatic lighting produced by sitting around a campfire. 

Daily Whip Out:
"That Creepy Kid Confessed to Everything"

Yes, it's akin to monster lighting for obvious reasons. But desert campfires create a wider range of emotions, including melancholy, moody madness and flat out zane sessions.

Daily Whip Out: "Campfire Confessions, II"

The BSer?

Daily Whip Out:
"Campfire Lighting Study #7"

And of course, it's rare, but campfires can bring out the worst in some:

Daily Whip Out:
"Campfire Lighting Study #8"

"Did you just call me a wussy?"


"You went and kicked the coals out there, now go pick them up!"

Daily Whip Out: "Old Vaquero Faces"

   Got a call from a fellow Hat Nut before lunch, and he wanted to know if I have finally gotten Geronimo out of my system so I can get back on the project he would like to see me finish.

"I just love your concept of 'The Mexicali Stud' because I love high-back saddles, wide-brimmed hats and low, raunchy sex."
—Rusty York

Monday, October 28, 2019

Jesse James Bearded Out

October 28, 2019
   After six months of Apaches and Geronimo, it's kind of fun to go in the opposite direction. 

Daily Whip Out: "Jesse James Bearded Out"

   This is based on, or, rather is inspired by, his death photo, where he is shown propped up against a wall.

   Jesse James Bearded Out, is kind of evocative to me in a Hiding-In-Plain-Sight disguise kind of way. And, by the way, this photo is barely one step removed from him being a freshly shot deer strapped across the running fender of a car as a trophy specimen.

   Expect other anomalies as the days go on.

Daily Whip Out: "Diagonal Dust Storm"

"Art is a never-ending dance of illusions."
—Bob Dylan