Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Woodworker

Axe handles and hash pipes, crosses and rosary beads. Nick runs his generator intermittently day and night to power hand tools, grinding and polishing his signature shapes. He is slowly piecing together another layer of flooring in his rig, hammering it down tight at all hours.  His workshop fills the open space in the back of his Class C RV, and I wish I had something similar as a studio for painting. He has arranged a beautiful collection of saws, hatchets and knives, decorating the walls around his wood stove. He hikes out into the sage flats, finding old wood and interesting bits of antique iron tools. The axe blade pictured below is a very old piece of steel from China.

We share Critter Control stories; he delivers a long rambling oral blog about the squirrels that attacked him in Tuttle Creek, rats that have tried to leap through his windshield, bouncing off and trying again at the side and back windows. Mice that colonized his bath and toilet cabinet. He is fond of the pretty wood rats, or pack rats — calls them the "Mae Wests of rodent society," since they have thick plush fur and a tufted tail to swing around like a boa — which he demonstrates with his bandana.

He has traveled over the Western states working machine shop and mechanical repair jobs; he says he can recognize a bolt from a car he worked on in 1978, but didn't learn to read until he was 50 years old. He noticed that his wooden crosses sold well at street fairs and craft festivals for several years, but dried up after the Catholic sex abuse scandals hit the news. He claims to be dyslexic and feels defeated by paperwork of any kind; he is currently struggling to file the forms necessary to collect Social Security benefits. 

He has been a good neighbor to me in the Independence Creek Campground and I wish him well. If you pray, please say a prayer for Nick the Woodworker.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Independence Creek

Actually the red horse trying to mooch an imaginary treat from my kneecap through the barbwire fence was taken at the edge of a winter pasture in Big Pine, but I like this big red horsehead (note the closed eye).

Lots of red in the riparian wood lining Independence Creek where I have been parked since Jan 3 — January's been sunnier and warmer than stormy, snowy Thanksgiving and Christmas times. Colors swelling grey sticks. I have been continuing to try to paint the creekside woods; my drawings display expressionistic turmoil — jagged, contrasty, awkward — continue the "white painting" compositions that I was working with last winter in the East Bay. I like them, I want them to be ruder and cruder, but when I look at the real woods, the real creeks, they are beautiful, quiet, stoic, flexible.

More on the paintings later.....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A New Painting Strategy

It's easy for me to buy art supplies, but getting down to painting is fraught with obstacles;  much more fun to shop for cool colors, nifty gadgets, and pretty brushes while fantasizing nebulous and gorgeous outcomes for their use, than it is to set aside the time, space and energy for work.

So I am going to discipline myself: NO MORE shopping sprees at art stores — NOT UNTIL you have used up all the expensive creamy acrylic and cotton rag paper already stashed in the trailer. When the shelf is empty, you can make lists and fill bags with new art supply treasure, you can even have some fancy erasers and glitter stripe pens and maybe a few "organizers."

I employed a similar strategy last July;  I had changed my paintbox to a more luxurious brand of acrylic, but had kept a small bag of leftover Liquitex in non-standard-palette colors. I couldn't get going on new work, so I set myself to use up the icky old Liquitex on the back side of some dud paintings, and just scratch and fingerpaint messes. I got two kick-ass owl paintings, and some tree trunk starters I didn't like as much, but the self-psyche-out worked. I hope this one does.  Here's my first splatter, out of vintage water colours and ancient gouache.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

More Winter Color

Trailer parked in Independence Creek campground for a couple weeks. Weather mild for a bit, and I am painting again -- stay tuned for fun painting report, coming next to your favorite Eastern Sierra blogspot.