Friday, May 20, 2022

Crazy Chase • Crazy Cover • Crazy Horse

 May 20, 2022

   It's been a crazy chase, but I think we finally have a winner for our Crazy Horse cover in the next issue:

Crazy Horse Cover #2

   To give credit where credit is due, our publisher, Ken Amorosano, suggested we do this second pass at the cover making the case that the first one, below, was a little too fire engine red and he didn't like the arrow going over the masthead, and behind the top head.

Crazy Horse Cover #1

   I did like the lightning bolt in the first layout. And I do miss the arrow which now doesn't appear at all, but either way, both covers are excellent and I think the top one is a tad more Old West photo looking which should work for us on the newsstand.

   Thanks Dan The Man for going the extra mile.

"Heroes have a rough time because they stand up when they ought not to, they speak when they ought not to; they always go the extra mile."

—George Foreman

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Crowning Around!

 May 19, 2022

   Here's a wonderful, old photo (looks really early, maybe early 1850s?) showing Man's Best Friend, but the coolest part of this photo is the crown of that guy's hat.

Tall Crowns & Hounds

Hold on, check this out:

Crowning Around!

   Man, that is one tall crown! How come we never see THAT in a Western? 

Even More High Crowning

Tall Crowns In Clowntown

   These pics are from the Jeff Prechtel collection. He always has cool stuff. Thanks Jeff!

Speaking of Lost Crowns

"It's not show friends. It's show business."

—David Zaslav, the new CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery when told that the box office bomb "Cry Macho" was made because Clint Eastwood had given the studio so many hits and had never delivered a movie late. Zaslav was quoting from "Jerry Maguire" (1996)

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Mud Wrestling With The Past

 May 18, 2022

   Here's something we can all agree on about our history: the only way we can move forward is to own our past. That's not easy but I believe we are a people who have never shunned the heavy lifting. So, let's start with the positive:

Five Things We Can All Agree On

1. If we are truly a great nation, the truth cannot destroy us.

"Yes, my hat is ridiculous but so is your
contorted ideas about state's rights BS."

2. As with all aspects of history, you can make a valid interpretation of both sides of any issue.

"Personally, I prefer red,
not green chile."

3. We are a nation of ridiculous contradictions.

Everyone's equal except
for those guys over there?
What are you cats smokin'?

4. We all suffer from the poor history we have been taught. I love history and I did not enjoy the history I was taught in school. Mostly names and dates (The Missouri Compromise, 18-and-whatever!) that did not add up to anything meaningful to me.

"Oh, really?"

"You ungrateful Kingman twit."
The late, great, Fay Logsdon, a wonderful teacher at Mohave County Union High School, and who would, no doubt, remind me that I was a horrible student who talked all the time in class and might have at least learned the date of the Missouri Compromise (1820), since she covered it more than once for my benefit.

5. Most of us are guilty of a "glorious forgetting."

"My family could do no wrong."

   So, how do we move forward? We simply own our past, tell the truth and get on with the business of seeking liberty for everyone who is trying.

Daily Whip Out:

"Las Tules, Someone Who Is Trying"

"Offering our students a history that shakes them out of complacency while inspiring hope for a better future—what could be more useful than that?"

—Emily Sclafani, a history teacher in the Bronx, New York

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Calafia Is The Queen of California

 May 17, 2022

   Back to the Real Women of the Wild West. Or, at least back to a legendary woman who led to the real name of the golden state.

Daily Whip Out:

"Calafia In The Mists of Baja"

(Cortez Spies The Golden Girl

On The Golden Shore)

  Calafia was a character in "Las Sergas de Esplandián," an early 16th-century romantic adventure novel written by Spanish author Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. In the book Calafia is described as a Black warrior queen who ruled a mythical island which was inhabited only by Black women who lived like amazon warriors. Calafia allegedly wore armor made of fish bones, used weapons made of gold. None other than Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés, a fan of romance novels, allegedly named the state of California for the Amazon queen.

   Way back in 2019 when Kathy and I were in San Francisco, I took a special trip downtown to view an early portrayal of this legendary women created by one of my painting heroes.

A mural panel of Calafia in the
Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco

    According to scholar Don Hagerty, this is Maynard Dixon's depiction of Queen Calafia, the mythical Amazon woman who the early Spanish explorers thought inhabited the Baja region with a group of women warriors. The Spanish, or more specifically Cortez, applied her mythical name to the new lands they just discovered, or, rather conquered, and that led to the name California. Maynard Dixon actually painted this and the other panels with the artist Frank Van Sloun  who also loved mythology and used it to great effect in this mural. If you are in the Bay Area I highly recommend you go see it. One caveat, you will need to make a reservation, it's not in the lobby but on the second floor and it can be seen by apointment only.

“I just found out her ghost left town, the Queen of California is stepping down."

— John Mayer, "Queen of California"

Monday, May 16, 2022

Olive Oatman Post Orgasm

 May 16, 2022

   Oh, man, this new AI-techno-moving-faces stuff is getting a tad weird. This is from a video Bradley Ross sent me. Kind of creepy and kind of amazing all at the same time. Looks kind of demented to me.

Olive Oatman Post Orgasm

   Creepy because it's seemless and quite believable. Check it out for yourself. What do you think?

   I know where this is going and it's not going to be pretty. Or, maybe it will be too pretty. Full length movies utilizing and building on old real photos and putting them in outrageous situations. Dang!

Deena Bean On SNL?

If you watched Saturday Night Live last weekend you perhaps saw the Steve Martin bit where his girlfriend, "Dina Bean," is tortured by hand buzzers and eye socket removal and all of the kitschy 1950s gizmo toys writ large and ridiculous. Kathy and I did a double take the first time he called his girlfriend "Dina Bean" and later I realized his girlfriend is played by Aidy Bryant who is from Phoenix! In fact, according to one source, her mother still has a boutique store here. Could it be one of them saw this blog post and thought the name was funny?

   Probably not, but still, that's pretty coincidental, no?

"Women are the real architects of society."



Sunday, May 15, 2022

One Crazy Horse to Ruin

 May 15, 2022

   One of the methods I use to attempt my best art is to intentionally set out to ruin something. In short, I try to trash one piece on purpose, just to get the desire to be perfect out of my system. It doesn't always work, but it often helps me get past the usual obstacles.

Drawing On The Right Side of The Brain

   When I was a freshman in the Fine Arts College at the University of Arizona (1965), two of our excellent drawing professors, Mr. Scott and Bruce McGrew, forced us to draw with the opposite hand, upside down (the subject, not the artist), and incredibly, with our toes. The goal was to break down our preconceived ideas of what something should look like which is primarily the function of the left, or, logical side of our brain. This led to what later became known as left-brain vs. right-brain thinking. As the theory goes (and not everybody buys it), the linear part of our head, the left, thinks it knows what a door knob looks like while the right side of our brain is more intuitive and sees things more holistically. So when I start out to ruin a painting, it really messes with the left side of my brain, as it should. 

The Big Picture

   And here is my mantra: draw what you see, not what you think you see. Put another way: we are born knowing, then we see. Put even another way, your left brain is good for tying your shoelaces, but not so good at seeing what a painter needs to see in order to create decent artwork.

   So, without further ado, here is my trash piece. 

The last of the Crazy Horses

Daily Whip Out:

"Capturing Crazy Horse #4"

   I can tell you one thing: my left brain had no idea what I was doing! My right brain was saying things like, "all in all, it's just another brick in the wall," and, "that's kind of an In-din design you got going there, keep doing that." And, for comparison, here's a rough sketch of where I actually thought this one would go.

Daily Whip Out Sketch:

"Dark Side of The Moon"

   So, in the end, it's all a blind romp and crap shoot and I enjoy the process and have zero idea of whether it connects with anyone, or even works.

"The key is to care, but not that much."

—Herbie Cohen

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Capturing Crazy Horse Once And For All

 May 14, 2022

   Spent part of yesterday in Tech Hell, which is redundant I know. Trying to pay a bill online. First I proved I wasn't a robot, but then failed to get the new credit card info input correctly. Kept getting a window that says, "This card isn't good yet." Turned out the card hadn't been activated and I was indeed pissing up a rope.

Capturing Crazy Horse Once And for All?

   On a more happy note, the account I was trying to activate was to pay for four art prints I had made at JC Printing so I could pull an Andy Warhol on Crazy Horse. You know, like this:

Daily Whip Out:

"Crazy Horse Captured #1"

Daily Whip Out:

"Crazy Horse Captured #2"

Daily Whip Out:

"Crazy Horse Captured #3"

   I need to thank my artist compadre, Buckeye Blake, who sent me the bedrock image this was created from. Not sure where he got it but it aligns perfectly with all the known details of the real Crazy Horse as he has been described by those who knew him.

• Curly hair! Check

• Lone feather. Check

• Narrow face, not a prominent nose. Check

• A significant scar above his lip on left side of his face. Check

   Yes, Crazy Horse was shot in the face by a jealous husband and the bullet entered above his lip on the left side of his face. I think the best scar rendered is in #1.

   I have one more unpainted image to go and I intend to do everything I can to ruin it. The method to my madness tomorrow.

"We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

—Crazy Horse

Friday, May 13, 2022

Illlustrating Westward Women, Dan The Man Style

 May 13, 2022

   Okay, based on our internal debate, here is what Dan The Man came up with.

"There were two Americas for women in the 1800s. While the Victorian Era was strangling women in the East, the West stood as a physical and mental opposite."

—Jana Bommersbach

   Pretty damn groovy, if you ask me. But then I got this from one of my muses.

No Alaska?

   "Bob,  I like this concept a lot and hope it is in the book somewhere.  I love the idea of the USA map and I agree it needs to be the USA we know today.  One omission might get you in trouble with some mighty upset Alaskans.  Alaska was a part of the west and had similar dens of iniquity and real women, lots of tough hombres, gold mine boom towns and indigenous people.  It might not fit within a page without looking a bit awkward, but it is something to consider."

—Lynda Sanchez

   A legitimate concern but sometimes we just have to shoot the ball and keep up the full court press, to mash a basketball metaphor, or two.

The Waver?

I was gifted five boxes of old photographs from a collector back east and as I was going through this treasure trove of Old West images I came upon this oddity. What is this young woman from St. Joseph, Missouri doing? Or, more specifically, what is her pose attempting to communicate?

It appears she is wearing a glove. I call her "The Waver" but that doesn't seem right. What do you think?

"Women are the real architects of society."


Thursday, May 12, 2022

More Real Women, More Real Effort

 May 12, 2022

   Day three of the Real Women of The Wild West prologue illustration marathon search. I contemplated creating a huge plywood map and cutting out the shape of the U.S. with a table saw. Ultimately realized I don't know anybody with a table saw and went back to plan B, which is, Dan asked me to gang shoot my favorite photographs so he could drop them into Photoshop and play with the concept in his computer. So, I did just that.

Midwestern & Southwestern Women

And, we musn't forget these serious women.

East Coast Biddies, Part II

   And, to me, this one is just a stand alone.

Mojave Maiden

One Last Batch of Real Women

    I'm still interested in creating a painted version of the outline of the U.S. like this:

Daily Whip Out:

"Rough Rider of Real Women Map Mosaic"

   And that is a rough of this great photograph from Judy Crandall's "Cowgirls: Early Images & Collectables." An excellent resource.

Helen Rue at the Tri-State Round-Up
at Belle Fourche, South Dakota

"It's the way you ride the trail that counts."

—Dale Evans

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Westward Women, Part II, Work In Progress

 May 11, 2022

   Worked most of the day on yesterday's premise for the prologue to the Real Women of the Wild West book. I decided to check in on some of my map heroes for inspiration.

A George Avey Classic Arizona map

   And, I also asked myself what one of my fave illustrators would do with this assignment?

Barry Blitt Is So Damn Good

I personally like the illustration approach, but Dan thinks the cartoons cut against the grain of the title—REAL Women, and that all of my REAL tintypes of anonymous photos of Western women would work better.

   So I found a big piece of plywood and leaned it up against a chair in the studio and eyeballed on a quasi-shape of the U.S. and slapped some of my original photos on it, and also some old photos I got from our morgue and it came out like this.

First pass at Westward Women

One Problem

   Our book starts in about 1820 and, of course, the U.S. did not look like it does today.

A map of the United States in 1820

   And, I kind of like it that there's a big, fat, empty space out there in the West, but Dan thinks it won't work if you can't recognize the current shape. Hmmmm. Not sure I agree with that, but I do know it has to read at first glance. What do you think?

"There are those who follow maps, and those who make them."

—Alberto Villoldo

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Uptight East Coast Bitties

 May 10, 2022

   Working with Dan The Man on a doubletruck illustration for the prologue of the "Real Women of the Wild West" book. Jana has a great opening line that goes like this:

"There were two Americas for women in the 1800s. While the Victorian Era was strangling women in the East, the West stood as a physical and mental opposite."

—Jana Bommersbach

   So, how might we illustrate that? One way would be to have a gaggle of old photographs laid out to form a mosaic of the United States. You know, like this.

Women Photos Form A Mosaic of The U.S.

   Dan likes the concept but thinks that is way too busy and suggests we shoot it on a neutral background. Agreed. Also we talked about showing the east coast as uptight bitties and then as the photos spread out across the Mississippi we get wilder images of women, some native, all looser and more free. First we needed to find some uptight Victorian women to populate that eastern seaboard, and, thanks to Google, that wasn't too hard.

Uptight East Coast Bitties

   Now to create the foundation and the transition into the mosaic. Here's the beginnings of the eastern seaboard. Shot this right on the kitchen floor.

South Florida Coast Looking North

   Need even more bitties and a few more farmer women, but those aren't hard to find.

   If we can pull this off, it just might just be a classic poster.

"Grammar is the difference between feeling your nuts and feeling you're nuts."

—Old English Teacher Saying

Monday, May 09, 2022

A Sneak Peek at The Real Women of The Wild West

 May 9, 2022

   Got a few women on my mind today. A certain tennis playing army wife, for starters.

Martha Summerhays playing tennis

at Fort Apache in 1874

   An Apache grandmother who escaped slavery in Baja and walked 1,000 miles without a map to make it back to her home in the White Mountains of Arizona. Here she is crossing the Colorado River and she couldn't swim!

Diltche Crosses The Colorado

And then there are the sinners and the saints. Let's start with the first kind.

Big Nose Kate Could Light Up A Room

Bruja Wandering

Life On The Line

My Favorite Senorita

Cathouse Request: Santina Por Favor

   Of course, not everyone out west was a loose woman. There were the women from my tribe.

Sharlot Hall

   And then there are the women I'm related to.

The Wit & Wisdom of Honkytonk Sue

   And the women I admire.

Zulu Vaquera

And the Zany females with the quick wit.

Hey, Pendejo, My Eyes Are Up Here!

Not to mention the women who stole my heart.

The Girls Who Knocked Me Out

And then there were the ones who got away.

Prisoner Or Mate?

   And finally there is the whole lotta lotta.

Whole Lotta Lotta

   Of course, what does all this mean for the book, or for that matter, the world we live in?

"If I am asked how we should account for the unusual prosperity and growing strength of this nation, I would reply that they must be attributed to the superiority of their women.”

—Alexis de Tocqueville,  Democracy In America, 1835


   French sociologist and political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) traveled to the United States in 1831 to study its prisons and returned with a wealth of broader observations that he codified in “Democracy in America” (1835), one of the most influential books of the 19th century.