Sunday, October 17, 2021

Uno The Lounger

 October 17, 2021

   Very nice out on a Sunday afternoon. Look who I spied taking it easy on the breezeway between the house and the studio?

The Lounger 

  Got in a new batch of small scratchboards (5"X 5") and I am making hay with them. They're small enough so it's harder to get bogged down in the detail and it forces me to be quick and decisive. Something I need.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Black Hats at Blackhawk"

   Like Uno, I too love lounging, but of course, I feel as guilty about it as the founding fathers.

"We are here lounging our time away, doing nothing, and having nothing to do. It gives me great regret to be passing my time so uselessly when it could have been so impportantly employed at home."

—Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Mojave Memories

 October 16, 2021

   Back from Death Valley. Always inspired by the harshness and the dramatic nature of the bluffs and spires along the way. But most of all, I love the weather.

Daily Whip Out:

"Dust Storm On The Mojave"

   Full disclosure: we actually didn't encounter any dust storms on this trip, but, of course, I grew up on the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert in Kingman, so the incessant dust storms and wind have seeped deep into my DNA.

   In fact, much of our route to Death Valley was an extension of my home stomping grounds. As we pulled into the next town after Las Vegas, Kathy asked me what I thought of Pahrump, Nevada and I said, "To me, it's just Kingman North."

Kingman 1886

My 12th birthday party in progress

Okay, back to the artwork.

Daily Whip Out: "Pahrump Side Road"

   This whip out was inspired by the lonely road from Pahrump to Death Valley Junction and the Amargosa Opera House, which is a cool story all by itself. All along the way you see these random sideroads going off at an angle and as far as you can see there is not a ranch house, or a dwelling of any kind. However, occassionally, one jarring exception is to see a lone, pristine, RV parked in the middle of a rugged wash, with nothing around it. No camp chairs or signs of a fire ring or anything. Perhaps it's some creepy, suicidal campers secretly waiting for a gully washer? I don't know and I don't wanna know. And, so, like Kurtz, I kept going on into the heart of the desert darkness.

Daily Whip Out: "Furnace Creek Crossing"

   And, I have a dozen other roughs in the works and you might say nothing inspires me more than the Mojave.

“What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.”

—Antoine de Saint

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Harsh Turns And A ZZ Top Stop

 October 14, 2021

   On the road to a magical place.

The Artist's Palette

   There is a show off dad in the picture, middle, left. See him? We're standing in the turn-out parking lot taking pictures and he had to run up to the nearest bluff to show off to his kids and wife. She took a picture of him. So did I.

   We're staying just north of there in this old, stone bungalow.

The Sweethearts of Bungalow #199

   Built in 1929, this Oasis Inn pool is spring fed and is heated naturally at 87 degrees from hot springs. Here's a better shot of the entire stone bungalow.

The Pool House at Oasis Inn

   Lots of critters around the pool area.

Furnace Creek Pool Badger

   Death Valley landscape is so harsh and dramatic. Check out this strata-form-cross-current phenom which I love and have rarely seen in movies. 

Harsh Turn

  Seems like a natural backdrop for the Fast & Furious films, but almost on one has filmed here. The only exception I can think of is "Zabriski Point" in 1970. Has anyone else utlized this spectacular scenery, except for, maybe, "Death Valley Days"?

   This is back on the Artist Ride which is a canyon byway south of Furnace Creek.

ZZ Top Stop

   The S-Curve sign reminded me of an early ZZ Top album cover.

"There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount, a perfect ratio of water to rock, water to sand. There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be "

—Edward Abbey

Monday, October 11, 2021

Making Dust The Other Way With Russian Bill And Sandy King And Hannah Waddingham

 October 11, 2021

   I've been contacted by a British documentary outfit who want to use my painting of Russian Bill for a show called "Mysteries of the Abandoned," which looks at amazing loations and the stories behind them. The show they want my artwork for will feature Shakespeare, New Mexico as the abandoned place and the mysterious Russian Bill and his sidekick Sandy King as the story behind the ghost town.

Daily Whip Out: "Russian Bill"

   They asked me if I had anything on Sandy King and, just for grins, Robert Ray suggested this image of mine might work in a pinch:

Daily Whip Out:

"Prescott Sheriff George Rufner With Prisoner"

   Very clever on Robert's part since the original was done to illustrate Sheriff Ruffner with an anonymous prisoner. Well, not anymore! Ha.

   Meanwhile, reworked—and renamed—a whip out from yesterday you might recognize.

Daily Whip Out:

"Making Dust In The Opposite Direction"

   And, I couldn't resist and tweaked this one as well.

Daily Whip Out: "Long Shadows Final"

   You know who I had a crush on when I was 14?

Gina Lollobridgida

   You know who I had a crush on when I was 20?

Angie Dickinson

   You know who I have a crush on now?

Hannah Waddingham

"Don't cry for me Argentina."

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Long Shadows at The O.K. Corral

 October 10, 2021

   I attended the 100th Anniversary of the O.K. Corral fight on October 26, 1981. Well, here we are forty years later and so many people I met that day are responsible for my current well being and circumstance, it's not even funny.

   Well, maybe a little funny. 

Daily Whip Out: "Long Shadows"

   Meanwhile, on the Dust Front:

Daily Whip Out:

"Making Tracks The Other Way"

A bunch of other artwork in progress. Later. Don't want to become too famous. Why?

"There's a reason why famous people are often screwed up. It's not that wankers become famous, it's because fame makes you a wanker."

—Tim Minchin, in a wonderful essay on why he gave up stand-up fame to stay home for six years.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Resting Hound Face, Red Snapper & Jim Gaffigan

 October 9, 2021

   Photographer Bryan Black sent a reworked, light-balance take on Uno in the studio. You can see so much more detail.

Now THAT is a "resting hound face."

   Meanwhile, for a Friday night delight, Kathy asked me where I wanted to go for dinner in downtown Phoenix and I picked this place.

The Red Snapper at Mariscos Playa Hermosa

Laugh Again With Jim Gaffigan

   After a great dinner, Kathy Sue treated me to a show at the Celebrity Theater (she claims this is an early birthday present, and that would be a fact since my birthday is in December). Anyway, Jim Gaffigan was as stellar as you might expect. Did a whole routine on how we—the Phoenix audience—were all "white trash," which I loved. And, he opened on the pandemic and did 10 minutes on that with brilliant commentary on how absurd life has been and how we thought it was over, but NO! He is especially good at ribbing his beautiful wife and five kids and how they mock him and think he's a joke. He made a couple glancing references to John Mulaney,  then closed the show with a joke about one of his sons wanting to dress as a comedian for Halloween, and when Jim proudly questioned if the kid was going as his dad, the boy said, "No, I'm going as John Mulaney." I took it as a sign of support because of Mulaney's recent drug-rehab problems? Or, maybe he really thinks Kid Gorgeous is truly the Bomb? Anyway, it was sweet and we laughed our asses off the whole time. Really therapeutic on some level. Good for the soul and I highly recommend it—and Jim.

"Raising kids may be a thankless job with ridiculous hours, but at least the pay sucks."

—Jim Gaffigan

One More Bonus Laugh:

"Isn't it strange—when you're single, all you see is couples, and when you're part of a couple, all you see are hookers."

—Jim Gaffigan

Thursday, October 07, 2021

More Bryan Black Studio Shots With Uno Front And Center

 October 7, 2021

   Here are a couple more of the Bryan Black photos from our session last Sunday in my studio.

Uno, Front And (Left) Center

   Bryan wanted to do one emphasizing my massive library, which is, of course, impossible because it goes on for rooms and rooms, but still, this is a worthy effort.

BBB Library, Partial Front And Center

         And, he also shot a few close-ups.

Coy Boy

   So these are my fave shots from the main overview (Bryan sent 40 choices). I have to give a shout-out to Randie Lee O'neal, who scored me the cool shirt, above, as a thankyou for the original Honkytonk Sue original art page of "racy" artwork I gifted him. Randie is an intel contractor who works overseas and he had Akram Khan, a tailer in Rihadh, Saudi Arabia, make me five custom-made Western shirts and this is one of them. Thanks Randie!

   The irony is, the shirt is damn close to this one:

Old Man In Rocker

   Which, ironically, is the photograph that set off the entire gag portrait project to begin with.

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

—Mark Twain

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Bryan Black Nails The Ironic "Brave-Courageous-and-Bold" Assignment

 October 6, 2021

Last night Bryan Black Dropboxed me 40 shots from our Sunday photo session. This is my favorite.

I meant for this portrait to be ironic, since I have been chasing a certain guy in the background of this photo for my entire life and now, here I am, where he was in the 1920s. Hint: we're the same age, 74. Anyway, Bryan nailed it and, yes, that is Uno peeking over my knee. One subtle, and sweet reference, is the Little League photo over my left shoulder. That was taken in 1958 when I first became aware of the guy in the framed photo. Also, there are a couple random, hidden references to the dude in the photo sprinkled around me. Can you find them?

Willing The Future Into Being?

   Sometimes I worry that my actions, or intentions, can portend the future. Or, even worse, create it. For example, I faked like I was having a heart attack at my 40th high school reunion (we took a group photo in front of the train at Metcalf Railroad Park in Kingman and as the cameraman fiddled with his rig I feigned a heart attack because he was taking so long). It got a laugh, which is why I did it, but two years later I had a real heart attack, three blocks from there, while playing "Wipeout" at a band reuinon. Troubling, to say the least.

Landscapes From Hell, Part II

Mickey Free Opening Sequence:
"He Couldn't Outrun The Dust Storm"

   More scenes of an apocalyptic world where dust storms and fires rage out of control. These were created for the Mickey Free story The Top Secret Writer and I worked on two decades ago. Seemed ridiculous and absurd at the time.

Mickey Free Opening Sequence:
"He Skirted The Fires As Best He Could"

Mickey Free Opening Sequence: 
"Mick Rides In To El Muerte"

Daily Whip Out: "Red Lake Rider"

Mickey Free Opening Sequence: 
"The Peons of Divisidero Struggled
Through The Choking Dust"

   If we create visions of an apocalyptic world, does the universe take note? Or, is it just an inevitable cycle that we are witness to regardless of our intentions?

“I sat in the dark and thought: There’s no big apocalypse. Just an endless procession of little ones.”
― Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Landscapes From Hell

 October 5, 2021

   For the past couple decades, I have been doing fire and brimstone landscapes, inspired by an apocalyptic world, I saw, at the time, as fictional. It started with a make believe, end-of-world environment for the Mickey Free story. A raging metaphor for the Apache Wars. Recently, current events have caught up to the fantasy.

Daily Whip Out: "Dusto Humongo!"


Daily Whip Out:
"Hillside Dust Devil Apparition"


Daily Whip Out: "Dust On The Sun"


Daily Whip Out: "Death In The Dust"


Daily Whip Out: "Creepy Kid Confession"


Daily Whip Out: "Caught In A Dust Devil"


Daily Whip Out: "Dust Storm Rolling"


Daily Whip Out: "Duster de Chelly"


Daily Whip Out:
"Visibility Dropped to Zero"


   Authenticity is the goal. In my tribe, "getting it right" is the code. The enemy of authenticity in our world is this retort: "Nobody cares what year or model the saddle or the rifle is, they just want to experience a good story." And so we get 1950s roping saddles in movies depicting the 1880s and 1895 model Winchesters being used in movies depicting the 1870s. 

   And so it goes until the very end.

"He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.”

― Cormac McCarthy, "The Road"

Monday, October 04, 2021

Blessed Be The Definition And Nina Adelita Suprema

 October 4, 2021

   As you may have noticed, I have a thing for motion and blurred lines. 

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Last Fandango at The Heatwave Cafe"

   But there is also something to be said for solid definition. Here is one of my graphic heroes at his best.

A Classic Hohlwein Horse

 That would be Ludwig Hohlwein, a German graphic designer and commercial artist of the 1920-40 era. Note the specific highlights (no blended highlights) and sharply-etched-edges. So damn cool. Everything gets deliniated down to simple shapes amid a strong design. So damn German!

The Bold And The Beautiful

   Soldaderas, also called adelitas, were female soldiers of the Mexican Revolution and they continue to fascinate me.

Daily Whip Out: "Nina Adelita Suprema"

   Seems like there should be a good legendary character in there somewhere, and, perhaps Nina Suprema is the ticket to that dance.

"A job is never truly finished. It just reaches a stage where it can be left alone for awhile."

—Neil Young

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Old Man With A Huge Head Has Photo Taken Next to Another Old Man!

 October 3, 2021

   In the past five decades, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with some very talented photographers. And out of that long list I would call special attention to Gary Ghoring, John Beckett, Ralph Rippe, Dan Harshberger and Bryan Black.

   About two months ago, I was looking at an old photo of an old man I have long been chasing and I had a rather shocking realization: I am the same age as he is in this photo.

Old Man In Rocking Chair

   I thought to myself, wouldn't it be kind of zany to do a BBB portrait with this photo, framed, and in the background? Well, actually, it would be kind of zany, but only if it doesn't come off like I am trying to ape him, or trying to be like him. That would be very stupid looking and that's a risky assignment and I knew only one guy who could walk that tightrope and make it work.

My worst fear is it just might make it look like
I have a huge ego, or a humungous head,
like this William Penn statue head.

The Long & Arduous Road to An Expensive and Ridiculous Sight Gag.

   First, I had to blow up the photo (thanks Robert Ray), then I had to have it printed (thanks JC Printing), then I had to have it framed (thanks Guzal at Custom Art & Framing) and then I had to have it mounted somewhere in my studio where it looked natural (thanks Cal Nelson) and then I needed to dress the studio for the best shot angle (thanks Kathy Sue and Cal) and then I had to line up other artwork to go around it (thanks Kristi Jacobs) and then I had to call the photographer I chose for this assignment to see if he would even want to come shoot it.

Old man framed and on the inside
of my studio door (nobody liked it there).

   The photographer arrived this morning at nine and he set up his lights and we finished in an hour flat. Finished proofs when I have them.

"Old man look at my life, I'm a lot like you were."

—Neil Young, "Old Man"

Saturday, October 02, 2021

All Around The Instagram Town

 October 2, 2021

   Went up town and all around today. Lots of people out and about, in spite of the fact that 35 a day are dying of Covid in Arizona. Crazy. Speaking of crazy, check this out.

Crazy Dames Times Two?

   Or, this creepy, walking cadaver.

Black Shadows Girl

   I'm always on the lookout for these kinds of images and thanks to Instagram there are thousands to choose from and be inspired by. Not to mention the stuff I really need.

Excellent Buscadero Rig Reference.

   And let's say, I need a very specific scene, like, say, an old, arthritic, African-American man on crutches? Oh, yes, they got that.

Sweet Photo Reference!

   Everyone bitches about social media and how awful it is, but I've got to say, when it comes to photo reference, it is a dream come true.

Children at War

   Got it. There's more where this all came from but we'll save them for later. Meanwhile. . .

   "You can have anything you want at Alice's Restaurant."

—Arlo Guthrie, "Alice's Restaurant"