Blitz took me pheasant hunting last week. I think she would drive herself if she had thumbs. Luckily, she needs a gunner tagging along. It’s my joy to watch this girl living her bliss. I captured this hunting moment in watercolor, and pen and ink.
When working in the woods I’m usually alone, but really never alone. Do you ever get the feeling that someone or something is watching you? I had this big brute spying on me one day. He didn’t think I noticed him.
Now, to answer the age-old rhetorical question.
Blitz decided she would wait it out in the truck. She knew the bear would leave after filling up on a yummy forester meal.
When I say “lost art”, I don’t mean a lost skill. I really mean lost artwork.
Have you ever lost track of your artworks. After decades of doing art, there were some pieces I had entirely forgotten about. Mary used to take pictures of my art. It is the only record I have of some of my work. After all these years I don’t remember where or to whom some of it went. I never kept track of things in a serious manner, since art was never my first career. Between selling art, giving pieces away, moving again and again, and years of living life, things fade in memory. Then, out of the blue I come across a photograph of some lost and forgotten art. It’s a bit of bliss to me. All because Mary, The Backdoor Artist purveyor of bliss, had to forethought to record my art.
We just returned from a visit to family in Arkansas and Louisiana. I took my sketch book with me as I usually do. I don’t get as much art time as I like so I grab it when I can. I had the brilliant idea that I could draw on the plane. I worked on one pen and ink, that has been a WIP, on the way there. The ride was pretty smooth and I will post that picture in the future.
The return trip was a little different. We had a four-hour leg from Houston to Sacramento. I decided to challenge myself to complete this snake picture during the flight. After subtracting the takeoff and landing and a couple visits from the drink cart, no adult beverages were involved, I really had less than three hours. I had no help from the pilots, whom I am sure sought out as much extra turbulence as they could. The line work is a bit spastic, but I hope it communicates snake. Despite the turbulence and sitting in the middle of a three seat row in economy between Mary, small, and some 7’5″ guy on my right, yes I’m right-handed, I managed to finish it. It is a good thing for me that snakes don’t have any straight lines!
I photographed this little gopher snake late this Summer. It was my “Snake On The Plane.” Mary thought I should have titled this post “Snake, Rattle and Roll!” Great title, if it had been a rattlesnake I would have used it.
When I was a young child my mother had the record album Jimmie Rodgers Sings Folk Songs. I loved this record. One of the songs on it was The Fox And The Goose.
I came upon this little gray fox not long ago, and this song played in my head all day. I think the fox was a vixen, because she posed like a Parisian runway model.
The Fox And The Goose
by Jimmie Rodgers
Well, the fox went out upon a windy night,
Prayed to the moon, a gonna give him light,
He had many long miles to go that night,
Before he’d reach-a that town-o, town-o, town-o,
He had many long miles to go that night,
Before he’d reach-a that town-o.
Well the fox, he came to a great big pen,
Where the ducks and the geese, they were kept therein,
He said, “One of you’s a-gonna grease my chin,
Before I leave this town-o, town-o, town-o,
One, one of you’s a-gonna grease my chin,
Before I leave-a this town-o.”
Well, he grabbed the grey goose by the neck,
Throwed a duck up across his back,
And he did not mind their quack, quack, quack,
And their legs all a-dangling down-o, down-o, down-o,
No, he did not mind their quack, quack, quack,
And their legs all a-dangling down-o.
Well old Mother Flipper-Flopper jumped out of bed,
Threw back the shutter and stuck out her head,
And yelled, “John, John, John! Well, the grey goose is gone,
And the fox runs away from the town-o, town-o, town-o!”
“John, John, John! The grey goose, he’s gone,
And the fox runs away from the town-o!”
Well old John went up to the top of the hill,
He blew his horn both loud and shrill,
And the fox said, “I better hurry up with my kill,
They’re gonna soon be on my trail-o, trail-o, trail-o!”
Yes the fox said, “I better hurry up with my kill,
They’re gonna soon be on my trail-o!”
Well the fox, he came to his cozy den,
There sat the little ones, eight, nine, ten,
Said, “Pop, Pop, Pop, you better go back again,
‘Cause it must be a mighty fine town-o, town-o, town-o!”
“Pop, Pop, Pop, you better go back again,
‘Cause it must be a mighty fine town-o!
Well the fox and his wife, without any strife,
Cut up the goose with a fork and a knife,
And they never never had such a feast in their life,
And the little ones chewed on a bone-o, bone-o, bone-o,
No, they never never had such a feast in their life,
And the little ones chewed on a bone-o.
We have been on the road a lot lately, but it is now time to check in with you all. One weekend not long ago we took the Blitz and Teka to a hunt test in Smith River, California. Go a bit North of Smith River and you’re in Oregon. Here are a few pictures from our travels and a bit of pen and ink.
We stayed at a RV park with this ship in the front yard. I thought lumberjacks had big yard art, but I have to admit the sailors win the ”BIG” prize.
Have you ever done pro bono artwork. It is an excellent way to get positive exposure. As artists we have all done artwork for friends or family as gifts. Try taking it one step further and do some artwork for your community, church or charitable organizations.
The pen and ink shown above was done to aid the Shingletown Historical Society, a small community historical society that works to preserve their community legacy. They are a small organization with dedicated volunteer members. They have more enthusiasm than money. At the time, Red Tail Publishing still did book manufacturing for other independent publishers, a service that has been discontinued. The historical society hired Red Tail to do a reprinted edition of Way Back When, a book about the local history, written by Myrtle McNamar over fifty years ago. The original cover art was lost long ago and the previous reprints of the cover were reprints of reprints. At one point the only copy of the cover art was on a tee-shirt that had been produced for a fund-raiser. The cover art had become so degraded that an acceptable copy could not be produced. Mary, of Red Tail Publishing, asked if I would like to create a new piece of cover art for the project, and I agreed. We used an old photo provided by the historical society as a basis. I flipped it around and changed the background to make it work for the cover, and you can see the results below. The Shingletown Historical Society, at no charge, got permission to use my illustration for their book, but I kept all rights to the art.
I have done other art donations, such as illustrations for our church newsletter, and donations of artwork and commission work for local non-profits. Being an artist has not been my primary career, so I have been able to do this simply because I want to. It is a gratifying way to give back and a nice thing to support local organizations that in turn are trying to help others. It is also a great way to get your art seen by folks and to build good will. Who knows, you might even get published.
Thirty years ago today Mary and I were married. After all this time I would still choose her. I am a lucky fella. This is the story of how we began. Mary wrote her version of events and it is posted on her blog The Backdoor Artist. Read them both and enjoy.
Greg was a friend from high school and junior college. He called me up because he had a favor to ask. We met at my folk’s house for lunch and that is where he laid it on me. Greg asked if I had any plans for that night. I told him I didn’t and then he explained that a mutual friend of ours had broken up with his girlfriend. Kelly, the girlfriend, called Greg and asked him out on a date. Greg tried to beg off on it by telling her that he and I already had plans, the big liar. At that point she told him that she had a good friend at work that wanted to come along and that it would be a double date. Greg was powerless against her and agreed. Now, his next problem was to convince me to go with him. I don’t mind helping out a friend and I wasn’t seeing anyone at the time, but I had never been on a blind date or a double date for that matter. What could possible go wrong. A young college guy has standards you know, especially when he doesn’t have a girlfriend. Greg was a big strapping fella about 6’2” and after a good long while, the sight of him begging me to go was more than I could take, so I finally agreed.
Kelly and her friend worked at a camera store at the local mall. That was where Greg and I were to pick them up. I was dreading the walking into the store and meeting this strange girl that my Dad would probably describe as “pie faced”, not good. I have five older brothers and they were never going to let me hear the end of it. Greg and I sauntered on into the store where we were greeted by Kelly. She called her friend over and introduced us to Mary. It turned out she was pretty darn cute, but she had a deer in the headlights look about her. I was thinking that maybe it was going to turn out okay. We waited while the girls closed the store. Then it was off to the movies. We went to see a Charles Bronson movie called “Borderline.” On a scale of 1 to 10 as a date movie, it was a -2. Kelly jabbered the entire time and when the date was over I really had not gotten to know Mary. We dropped her off at her car, an old Triumph Spitfire, and with no kiss goodnight she was out of there. On a date scale of 1 to 10 it was about a 1, although the bright spot was that Mary seemed nice.
I went by the camera store pretty regularly, because my good buddy Terry worked there. I got to talk to Mary on occasion and decide maybe I should give it another try, but this time without Kelly. So a few weeks later I ask her out again, and she agreed. Oh yah, I was a fast worker…not. This time we were going to an Air Supply concert. This was a big deal since Redding rarely had major talent showing up in our podunk corner of California. Okay it wasn’t ELO or Arrowsmith, but hey this was Redding after all. I don’t know what happened next, but somehow Kelly horned her way in, but it didn’t become a double date. It became a date with Kelly’s best twenty-five friends. Not the intimate date I was hoping for. We all went for pizza afterward and it was so noisy that I still didn’t get to have conversation with Mary. On the date scale it was about a 3.
It did leave me intrigued with Mary. I figured the third time’s the charm. I would ask her out and there was no way in hell Kelly was going to be there. So about a week later I went by the store and asked her out one more time. I was going to make sure we would have a chance to get to know each other. I was on a roll. No more lolly gagging around. When I asked her she said “I’m going out with someone else.” Ouch, I was too late. She was dating some other guy. It just wasn’t meant to be. She had moved on. I still went by the camera store to meet up with Terry, and I would talk to Mary once and a while.
Fast forward six months. There was a birthday party for my friend Wayne at his parent’s house. They were gone and it was going to get loud. My brother Pete, friend Rick and I were driving over to Wayne’s house at about 9 pm. It was a long driveway to the house with rocks like boulders and potholes like moon craters. It was dark and there was a small car ahead of us. It was a Spitfire, Mary’s Spitfire. She was driving so slowly around the potholes and dragging her undercarriage over the rocks. That car had about 3½“of clearance. We laughed at the sight of her trying to negotiate that road. When we all reached the house she gravitated to me, since I was the only person she knew there. Terry had invited her to the party and he was late. She was mad a Terry for abandoning her with all these strange people. Good for me and bad for Terry. Mary and I finally got that chance to talk and dance. We were having a great time, to the point that the other girls there were getting a little catty about this female interloper. Not me, I was doing great. The guys started wrestling, you know show off their manliness. Rick and I were wrestling team alumni and there was alcohol involved so Rick toyed with his opponents and I just watched. When Terry did finally arrived about two hours later Mary started giving him a dressing down for showing up so late. After, a little more alcohol Terry challenged her to a wrestling match. He wasn’t prepared for what happened next. It was the drunk verses the angry woman, with swearing and pain. She served up some wup ass! When she was done with him, he announced that if we thought she was so easy to beat then we should wrestle her. Then he volunteered me. She was fired up and ready to wrestle. I figured well, why not! Did I mention there was alcohol involved. She didn’t know I was a wrestler, so I went easy on her. I didn’t want to humiliate her, but there was no way I was going to let her win. She was a good sport about it and we enjoyed the rest of the evening. When it was time for her to leave I walked her out to her car. She was sitting in her car and we were alone and in the dark. I leaned over and we kissed. I was long kiss, a nice kiss, and just the beginning of many more kisses.
Happy anniversary honey, I love you.