Thursday, April 28, 2011

Something Wicked This Way Comes

     Even those of us who aren’t “plugged in” 24/7 can feel that there’s a change in the wind.  Our spider senses tingle and our gut tells us that the world is changing. 
     Corrupt politicians, a Federal Reserve Bank out of control, and a slipping dollar all have us teetering on the precipice.  It’s an easy time to forget who we are, and we tend to want to pull in to our shells and isolate ourselves. It’s easy to let those little cracks of doubt seep in and take over our thinking.
     Let’s face it, the Art Market is a scary place to tread without a flailing economy, and it’s very easy to let fear and doubt drive our decision-making.
     Sometimes, I even come dangerously close to convincing myself that it’s all for naught.   Here are the thought patterns that threaten to undo all I’ve worked for:

“Art is the greatest of luxuries; only 1/100 of 1% appreciate art enough to actually purchase a painting.  If the economy were to tank, art would be the first to go.”  

     I can go on and on for two more pages of fear and doubt, but to what end?  I can only lean on what gifts God has heaped on Pam and me.  He made me to be an artist, and set me on this path.  And that is comforting and builds confidence, at least for us.
      So what’s my advice, among all this doom and gloom?  No matter what you wish to accomplish in your life, STAND UP STRAIGHT AND GET INTO THE GAME!  You were made to be an artist, or a cowboy, or a mom, or whatever your passion is.
     There is no doubt that we are in scary times.  But as a group, Americans aren’t good at lying down and giving up.  I wake up every day and paint to the best of my abilities.  So my recommendation to you?  Press on my friend, THIS TOO WILL PASS.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Power of "Runt"

     About this time last year, I was on a search for the perfect pit bull puppy (a statement you won’t read on many art blogs).  I waded through the many possibilities, but my requirements weren’t easily met:
 --- Female
 --- No undershot jaw and a good disposition
 --- A nice paint job, preferably brindle, blue paul, or mouse colored
 --- Smallest dog in the litter, i.e. “the runt”
 --- Not overpriced
     The first three categories were easy to meet and I knew if Category 4 could be obtained, then Category 5 would fall into place.  After several months, Pam and I stopped in Lockhart, Texas where a very nice older woman was selling a litter of pups.  Both parents were present and were well-socialized, well-mannered dogs.
     I immediately saw my pup in the whelping box, but negotiated from the top.  Two blue male picks of the litter at $1500 each.  Double WOW!  There were three black and white paints with blue muzzles at $850 each.  WOW!  Then there is a smaller female with a white snip at $250.  Better! One little chocolate brown runt acting very well mannered in the corner, all by herself.  PRICELESS! 
     The lady quotes me $150.  I say “I’ve never paid more than $50 for a bulldog pup.”  She agrees to meet at $100 – done!  I put the pup in Pam’s lap and off we go.
     Fast forward one year to today, one empty blog post, and here we are.  I worked on a painting for an upcoming show most of this week.  I struggled with paint application (second layer lifting), paper sizing issues, compositional problems, and an early drawing mistake that had to be repaired.  All of these problems were hardly leading me to a winner or “pick of the litter.”
     I initially thought about ditching this effort, but I had seen a Gordon Snidow painting with a similar dark background and felt I could still make this a special painting.  I pressed on, tackling each problem systematically, and hoping for a winner in the end.
     The reasons I’m fond of runt pups are diverse and wide-ranging.  They are tough by necessity, and survivors in nature.  They are appreciative of a good home, and fiercely loyal.  But you must see past the “runtness” to the possibilities.
     I needed to view my painting exactly the same… it was a runt.  My left-brain logic was screaming to call it dead, but my gut kept fighting back, saying, “Yes, this is a runt, but it will pay off in the end.”  My gut was right. 
"Yerba Mate"
     When your work in progress feels like the pick of the litter, it is easy to go forward.  But sticking with the runt is an uphill struggle.  Take it from me, “Master of the Runt Painting”---it will come back and gift you a thousand fold. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Parallel Planes

     Did you ever meet someone with whom you have a special connection that you can’t explain?  The connection moves beyond just a friendship.  It’s almost like you knew them on a whole other plane or in a different time.  My friend BJ Wacob and I share this gift.
     Before you accuse me of some “Bromance”, I’m speaking from a cosmic parallel plane/ big picture view.  I spoke with BJ last night, listening to him rail on the ups and downs of the Elko County (Nevada) weather.  (It was 39 degrees and spitting snow). 
     Just so you understand, BJ is as cowboy as they come.  His left hand is as rope wicked as you will see, and he is the type you want with you if things go bad.  If cooler heads really do prevail, BJ will be the last man standing.
     Our cynical humor finds common ground in almost every aspect of today’s world.  And our sarcastic banter can rapidly get out of hand.
     BJ has an unexplainable longing for the sage country of Nevada, most probably rooted in the freedom this lovely, hard country provides.  In his early years, he buckaroo’d for the YP and IL Ranches, and has now settled on the famous Maggie Creek Ranch, just outside the lights of Elko.  When he was in his early 20’s, a runaway horse nearly took his life, dragging him by the foot towards a black brush thicket.  The fast action of fellow buckaroos saved him at the last minute, although he suffered a severely shattered leg that nags him to this day.  (When the hard work’s done, BJ leaves the romance of tall top boots and large roweled spurs for the comfort of his Nikes.)
     On my trip to Nevada last year, I knew I wanted to photograph BJ for my central painting at the upcoming Buffalo Bill Museum Art Show.  This painting will be something different and quiet; no thundering horses or dusty pens.  It will be a painting that shows the depth and honor of my friend. 
     When I saw the tack room door at the Maggie Creek Ranch, I knew I had my image.  I know this will be a tough painting for me, in a new direction.  But I look forward to showing BJ in a real light.  His light.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring 2011 Newsletter

I wanted to share my online Spring newsletter with you. Just click the link below and see what's going on in my life and in the Studio. Enjoy!

Check out my @constantcontact newsletter