Not an image for a kid, I realize. But summertime is sketching time, and sketching time is play time, and play time is kid time–for me at least–so there, that about justifies including this sketch of the 16th Street Mall in Denver. It was early morning. I was having a coffee at an outdoor table at Starbucks. It was a lovely little spot to watch the city come to life, the businessmen clicking by in their shoes, the tourists strolling out for breakfast, the delivery trucks starting to make their rounds. Ah, Summer!
Little Baby Binky
There’s no need for sheep.
Little Baby’s Binky
Lets his Mommy sleep.
Little Baby Binky
Sleeping in a heap.
Little Baby’s Binky
Makes his Daddy weep.
This is a sketch from my Western sketchbook, a picture of palms in a picnic area in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The bright light of the Mohave desert in June is not something to be trifled with–but trifle I did. While visiting my father this summer, I got up early every morning to sketch and draw around town and in the desert, before the heat made any work out of doors unbearable. This is a lovely little place called Rotary Park. There’s a nice promenade that takes you all the way down to the London Bridge, grassy spots with shady trees where the locals walk, jog, and practice yoga in the morning, and a sandy beach for swimming, picnicking, and sunbathing. An oasis.
The muse is a demanding sidekick, a greedy little inspirational figure, always digging his chin into our shoulders, always calling for another song, another painting, another act of artistic derring-do. Even on a Spring day, with the lilacs riding their purple ponies fresh through the open window, he calls us back to our instruments, like a bored monarch distracting himself from his own riches–and his harem bickering in the bath! An artist is a fool for a ghostly king, and there’s nothing to do but put a smile on our faces and play him yet another tune. This one’s for my friend, Greg.
Who knows what a self-portrait says about an artist? When I look at this one I think of Illya Kuryakin, the Russian spy in Man From U.N.C.L.E.? Maybe it’s the turtleneck that reminds me of Illya. Or maybe it’s the strange, alien, enigmatic character of the face. Illya was much more handsome, the 5th Beatle, they called him. But his persona was built on half-light and absence, concealment and silence. As David McCallum, the actor who played Illya said, “No one knows what Illya Kuryakin does when he goes home at night.” In any case, this is me, as a modern, abstract, Secret Agent man, a sort of Mod Brainiac.
This little happy chick is called Narcissus. Closed in on himself, he is a picture–for his eyes only. He is his own fine feathered friend! We really can’t blame him, if he doesn’t pay us any mind. Look at that tail! But oh how we wish he would come out to play! Out in the sun, so all of us could see his lucky rear–and he could see ours!
Chomp, Chomp. It’s a Monster mash. I’m still chewing my way through cardboard. Some monsters just have that devil-may-care, hang-it-all air of boys, and this one is a particular favorite (so hands off, Internet thieves, it’s copyrighted!). I call him Huck. From time to time, all warm-blooded, healthy American boys still, even in the Digital Age, get heartily sick of the Miss Watsons of the world. Miss Watson, you’ll remember, was one of the sisters who took in old Huck Finn when he was just a homeless waif. Huck Finn did just what healthy American boys do when prissy little maternal scolds suffocate them–he took to hanging out in vacant lots and woods, where a free boy can always find enough cardboard and chalk to while away the day. God bless our Mothers, but save us from our Aunts!
“Thumbing his nose at the enemy, the Warrior bares his teeth, mocking the motley crew that calls itself an army. But he hides behind a mask, under his leather helmet, and behind his spikes and spear.” I suppose I could make up some such story about this picture, but assigning it a place in a narrative steals the image from mystery. Assign it a number, stamp it on his forehead, and put it in some cabinet of logic, if you like. I suppose someone could turn it into a couch and psychoanalyze me with it, trace it’s origins in B-rate Sci-Fi (as if it were some perverse inversion of the Lone Ranger). All I know is that I like this mocking warrior, this primitive cardboard Spearman.
I’ve been enjoying experimenting with different materials as grounds for my art. These are on cardboard, a nice democratic medium, low cost, but not low rent, I think. It’s a fine rough material. I must have been thinking of the twin towers, or the children who lost parents on that day, or maybe the way we are all of us children of 9/11, struggling to remain innocent, if not naive, in a terror stricken world.