Then because I really feel best when I’m drawing I decided to work on a project I’ve had in mind for months. One day a few weeks after we’d been here we went to the Lazy K colt sale over by Chowchilla (don’t you love that name! Pronounced just how it looks.). There were a host of colorful characters there and I serreptitously snapped a few shots of terribly interesting faces. I saw this older man that I instantly fell in love with. He was with a younger man (his grandson?). They both had the same hats on. I was dying to go up to them and ask who are you you’re both beautiful and where are those hats from but I chickened out.
The photo I took, of course, was so, so bad but it had enough information for me to figure stuff out. I guess that’s the bennies of doing this for so long that you can know what is supposed to go where and you can put it in. The way is now in the DNA.
My dad said it just has to be convincing. I think this is. PS just so you know I’m actually going to put a little more work into his coat and the back ground but not much. His face is the interesting part.
Yes, dear friends, it’s been along time since I’ve posted. Moving is such an all consuming task for me. I’ve figured out that my insides don’t feel right unless my outsides look just right. Hey, I’m a “visualiste”. I see things visually. So I have been spending the last four months getting things to look right in my world and finally it is. In the midst of this setting things right I was tapped for a local job. A church needed some renderings of proposed changes to their altar and would I be interested in making those views for them? Of course, I said yes. I need the bucks and boy howdy do I. It was a fun project though. Not like a creative project though. This was a illustration project. Here’s the difference: A creative project starts with oh my god am I going to be able to pull this off which segues into it’s not going so well am I going to be able to save it which segues into hmm it’s starting to look pretty good and next thing you know it’s hey this looks okay. I like it!
In illustration the challenges are this: keep the colors the same with each view. Keep the proportions and drawing the same in each view. It’s much more technical. It’s much more meditative in a way. I turn on the music and zone while I draw. I refer back to the previous for adherence to the “look” and I go. I’m not so “intense” as when I’m doing a strictly creative project.
Here are the drawings. Very, very different from my creative work. My dad always said I’m going to go build a painting. That’s pretty apt, I think. Illustration is really like that.
I’m right in the midst of doing something you should try never to do if you are an artist. If you have to do it, keep it to a minimum. I’m referring to MOVING. It’s terribly disrupting to Your Flow. Anyway it’s been terrible disrupting to MY flow. It has to be done in this case. We’re going to a much better place. It’s OURS. That makes it automatically much better and necessary but moving? I would not recommend it. Especially to an artist. As a young artist I always wondered why Andrew Wyeth, for example, always lived in the place he grew up, in Brandywine, Pennsylvania. I’ve can’t ask him but I can tell you now from experience staying one spot has big advantages. One advantage is your poor art work does not get jossled around in the moving. The other thing is you never have to go through packing it up so it only gets jossled to a minimum. Then, of course, there’s the aforementioned “flow” that gets interrupted. It’s taken me 2 months to finish my ducklings. They’ve been sitting sequestered safely amongst the packing tape and boxes and when I had some energy, which wasn’t often, I pecked away at them (no pun intended). Yeah, moving. I don’t recommend it unless it’s for a very good reason. So, you artists out there, if you’re reading this, think about a few things when picking your studio and place of work and try to pick a place you think you can stay long term. That’s one piece of advice I can give you.
When someone tells you it can’t be done it’s more a reflection of their limitations, not yours. (unless they tell you that you can’t turn yourself into a rainbow farting unicorn. Then you can trust that to be bang on.)
When I was a kid we had a cat named Louie. He was an ordinary tabby cat and we all loved him. He was one of those perfect cats that let you hold them upside down and cradle them in your arms like a baby. My sister would play with him. I think she loved him most of all and he loved her. They would play for hours and they would play just like cats play with each other. He would maul her arms and give her little bites. We would be amused and somewhat horrified to see her arms bloodied with shallow little scratches.
Now I have two cats. This is one. We call him Charley and he is the perfect reincarnation of Louie. I call him Fatty because he is solid. He wasn’t solid when he showed up at our Tracy farm wild and emaciated. You couldn’t get within 20 feet of him and he would run under the tack shed or into the hay barn. I started putting out food and little by little he would get closer and closer. One day as I put the food in his bowl just under the edge of the tack shed he reached out and scratched my finger. Give it to me! It wasn’t an aggressive move. He didn’t want me to go away. He just wanted his food. To make a long story short, we won him over and his inner Louie quickly came tumbling out.
Now he lays on our bed with his new friend Bella. I want to rename them Shy and Notshy. He’s not shy. Bella is shy. She was a stray just like him. She showed up at the ranch one day and pretty soon we felt it was time for her to become an indoor cat. So we brought her in and the love affair began. She is the best thing that ever happened to Charley. They adore each other. I look at them when they are grooming each other and I think “that’s a perfect reflection of Marty and me!”. Except Marty and I don’t lick each other. That would be gross.
What follows is one of my most favorite quotes. I have one other. A poem called “God Speaks” by Rainer Maria Rilke. This quote by Henry Beston fits my subject for today and for the foreseeable future. I am undertaking a project to draw as many of our animal brethren as I can. The first is Mr. Fox. I think foxes are lovely.
“When the Pleiades and the wind in the grass are no longer a part of the human spirit, a part of very flesh and bone, man becomes, as it were a kind of cosmic outlaw, having neither the completeness and integrity of the animal nor the birthright of a true humanity. We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the Earth.” – Henry Beston from The Outermost House
I don’t know where I got that quote. That phrase I use for the title of this post. It doesn’t matter. Good things should be passed along. I believe the originator would be happy to have it passed along without a particular credit. There is satisfaction in having things go out there no matter (almost no matter) where they emanate from.
This is a small piece. 19″ wide by 12″ tall. I’ve decided to do some pieces that aren’t big. It was as it always is. A torture and a joy to create. Now that it’s “finished” (is anything ever finished?) I’m satisfied. Maybe even pleased. Thank you for coming to see it.