Saturday, August 29, 2009


When I went to California a couple of months ago, visiting my son, Ben and my ex wife, Belinda, I took some pictures of Belinda's dog, Reiley. He was on her bed. Behind him, on the wall, was a print of an Andrew Wyeth painting of a dog on a bed. Belinda had asked me to do some paintings of Reiley because he was very sick and she didn't expect him to live much longer. The Wyeth painting inspired me and I figured that I would include it in a painting of him. As I thought about it later, though, I thought that it would be kinda tacky to include the print, so I only included the bare minimum of it in my composition.
If you know the Wyeth work, you may recognize it in my watercolour. It's almost a certainty that both pieces will hang in the same room, so -- the connection will be made. Mine is nowhere near the same quality as the Wyeth egg tempra work, but it does hold a lot of sentimental value, I'm sure, for Belinda -- as Reiley did pass a few weeks ago. May he have the joy of chasing bunnies through the fields of the great doggie heaven beyond.

Press Release

In lookin' over my Kevin Bacon post, I winced. What I thought to be a whimsical, fun look at my limited experience with the movie people, sounds boastful and arrogant. Hmm. Well, it's not meant to. I don't put myself on the same plane as Missure Bacon or Herr Carpenter. We come from totally different worlds and all of that. They are famous artists who have given the world great entertainment for decades. I'm just a simple guy who has been included, in a very small way and in a collaborative sense, on a project that John Carpenter is doing -- that's all. Not that I consider myself as a lesser human being ... but very, very different.
Blogs are, by their very nature, a way for people to tell the world about themselves -- and they can be rather self-centered and solobsistic. Each of us is the star of our own play as we navigate our way through the time that we are alotted here on the spinning blue marble in space. If we don't tell people what we're doing, thinking, and feeling, the other self-absorbed units around us will never take the time to find out, because they are too busy directing their own little play as it weaves its way into ours. Together, we create stories, experiences, and memories that become more because of each other.
Wow, that sounded like a real shovel full. Well, spread it on your garden as you see fit.
Along with all of that, I just wanted to say that while I was on the set last week, John's assistant asked me to sign a press release form. She is going around making videos of the behind-the-camera stuff to either put on the web site or on the "extras" part of the dvd when it comes out. Apparently she took some videos of me sketching the stars when they were doing their readings early in the project. It will be interesting to see if those clips actually see the light of day.

Das Boot

As long as I'm giving updates, here's the progress on Das Boot (the double "o" in German is pronounced more like an "oa" in English ... so, it's prounounced -- "Boat" -- almost exactly like English).

The Nancy Sara had a keel-ectomy this morning. Chip, using his creativity, gravity, a whole lot of feneggeling (and, I'm thinkin', maybe a little bit of telekinesis), removed the keel from our great sea-ferring vessel (well, it will be one day, anyway). Now we (the "we" as in Chip -- with me holding a hammer or screwdriver here and there) can lower the boat down so that it will fit into the garage to be worked on throughout the months to come. The keel, too ... obviously -- although with a bit more of a strain, can be pulled into the shop for an overhaul. The thing weighs about the same as my truck -- somewhere around 1,500 to 1,800 lbs.

Paprika progress

I stopped by to visit my friend, Bill, today. If you recall, sometime in April I dropped Paprika, my little goldfish, off at his place, where he joined Bill's fish. It's been a while since I've been by - around a month or more. I was amazed at the size of little Paprika. I think that he's doubled in size since I dropped him off. He seems really happy in his new home with other fish. Bill asked if I wanted to move the little guy into my new digs ... but I don't think it would be good to take him away from his new family. I'm happy seeing him enjoy the company of other fishies (he's the one in the middle).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Conclusion of The Ward project

Friday morning I turned in the last sketches for The Ward project. It was with mixed emotions. I was glad to be done and felt a relief from the pressure. Between the Violin project for the upcoming auction, working full time on third shift, and the movie venture, I’ve pretty much put my whole life on hold and had very little sleep.

I sat out back in the late afternoon, having finished and delivered the last of the artwork earlier, and having gotten six and a half/maybe seven hours of sleep (the most in quite a while), and chatted with my brother, Chip as he enjoyed a cigarette. I felt relieved to be done … although it seemed very anti-climactic.

As I was getting ready for work later – at around 8:30 PM – I got a phone call from Rachel, the set decorator for Mr Carpenter’s project. She was in a bit of a bind. They were doing prep work on a scene that was to be filmed at 10:30 on Saturday morning and found that they needed some paintings on the wall in the “infirmary”. I told her that I was getting ready to head off for work but that I would look around to see if I had something that would fill the bill – she was looking for some subdued landscapes – perhaps even monochromatic/sepia in nature.

I went from a relieved/end of project calm, to an instant stress. Strangely, though, I felt much better with the pressure. Somehow it made me feel geed about myself; gave me purpose.

I made a hurried review of some of the things that were accessible without digging too deep in the little time that I had before setting off for work. I found a few things, but without seeing exactly what she needed, I came up with a different plan. I called her back and told her what I thought and it seemed like a good idea to her.

So, after work, I picked up some canvasses and frames and headed to the Medical Lake movie set first thing in the morning. It was a beautiful day, although surprisingly cool. I brought my little paint box and sat outside and did three quick landscape sketches on the spot and finished them in time for their morning shoot. They aren’t great pieces of art, by any stretch of the imagination, but, according to Rachel, exactly what was needed. I felt great about my last work for the project.

After I finished doing the little paintings, Rachel gave me a quick tour of the new set up in building #2. Some really cool stuff. I ran into John Carpenter as I was waiting around to see C David and had a long conversation with him. He’s really a very affable person; much easier to talk with than one might have thought – at least for me (even though I’ve heard that he was unapproachable) – he and I seemed to click from the start.

It was with a new sense of accomplishment that I sat in the dining hall and had a complimentary breakfast. Many people from the movie crew (North by Northwest Productions). Producers, and union workers recognized me and stopped by to chat with me as I sat there enjoying coffee and a nice meal. Strange that I only worked with them all for a few weeks but was received so graciously. It was with a sense of melancholy mixed with gratitude and success that I drove out of Medical Lake.

I hope to have many more projects with NxNW in the future.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Six Degrees

The other day I was working on some drawings for "The Ward" while listening to the television. There was a documentary on about teenage sexuality in the movies. It began with the late 50s and early 60s stuff ... and went into things like John Carpenter's Halloween, where it discussed that this film was the first to have teenagers having sex and then being brutally murdered as part of the "now expected" horror genre.
I was amused that there was something on television about John Carpenter while I was working on one of the props for his current production. What are the odds? Then I was really amused when the documentary went on to discuss Footloose and Kevin Bacon! Wow.

I've heard about the six degrees of separation a lot over the years. If you're not familliar with it, "Six degrees of separation (also referred to as the "Human Web") refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth. It was popularised by a play written by John Guare." The game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" was invented as a play on the concept: the goal is to link any actor to Kevin Bacon through no more than six connections, where two actors are connected if they have appeared in a movie together. I can be connected to Kevin Bacon in two steps!

Later I got to thinking about it. Does a documentary really connect me? Maybe not. So, I wondered how I could find a connection. Has Kevin Bacon ever been in a John Carpenter film? Or would I have to do it by linking another actor to Carpenter and then to Bacon? So, like anyone doing any research in this day and age; I Googled.

What I came up with is kind of amusing. According to "the role of Starman (1984) originally went to Kevin Bacon!"
Actually, I'm not sure if I qualify, since I'm not acting in the movie ... only my artwork (hopefully the sketch of me as a pirate will show up -- but I wouldn't really count on it.). Still -- it's always fun to play the Kevin Bacon game.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


My brother, Chip, and I went in on a new venture together ... we purchased a sail boat. It's a bit of a fix-er-upper ... but it should be a fun project for the winter. Eventually we'd like to sail up the inside passageway to Alaska. We are going to have to get some training and experience in one of the local lakes (Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho -- pronounced pon.der.ay -- crazy French) that has some good waves and can be unpredictable, like the ocean -- on a much smaller scale.

Anyway, it's a long-term project, but something that Chip has been wanting to do for some time. Just seeing his face when he brought it home and the excitement that he has made it worth my investment for sure.

We're naming it after our Mother: the Nancy Sara. She's a 1953 27' Blandchard Sr Knockabout (the boat, not my mom).

I think it'll be a great experience, and should bring forth some interesting artwork. I will be truly "itinerant" while out on our adventure.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Red Violin

There's an important show that I was invited to submit a piece for by a local art collector. When Dr Harken first asked me to do this he made me promise to do a "new, beautiful, large piece" for this auction. That was almost a year ago -- I had plenty of time, right? Well, right. Each piece that I've done since then I had considered for the porject ... but always dissmissed them as not big enough or the right kind of subject, etc.
So, about a month and a half or two months ago I started a big canvas specifically for this auction. I was about three or four weeks into it when, suddenly, right in the middle of a four hour session with the work, I lost confidance in it. Totally. I didn't believe in it at all. The composition was wrong, the subject wasn't really right for the show ... etc, etc. I took it off of the easel, set it aside, and immediately started something new ... a still life with my son, Tim's, old trusty violin. I spent another three or four hours ... sketching it out in paint and then wiping it off until I finally had a decent under painting.

Then the movie thing came about. Yikes ... all of the time and pressure of that project (which is still in the works, but I have done most of the drawings that need to be completed for it).

Time to turn the painting in is rappidly approaching ... so I spent about a zillion hours this weekend just working on the violin piece. It's pretty large - 24" x 30" and was a real bugger to do. The compostition took me a while ... and I had to use flowers from a couple of other paintings in the background. Several things that I painted in ... like a vase with a live flower from brother Mark's garden ... which I also painted out.
I've just about got it licked, though. It's due a week from today and I have the week to tweak it a bit ... but I think it'll be dry by the time I drop it off. Hopefully, anyway.
I have to run off to work with no sleep for the day ... but relieved that both of the big projects that I'm working on will require very little of my time this week.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Draw Me

One of the projects that I'm doing for the Ward project is a faux magazine layout. One of the girls in a scene about halfway through the film is sitting in a common area reading a magazine. The art department was having a difficult time getting clearance to use magazines from back in the 60s ... or it was just too costly ... so they asked me to do some illustrations and they would fill the rest of the space with copy (it's unlikely that the copy will be ledgable in the film ... so it can be pretty much anything). One of the things that I spotted on their research material was one of those old "Draw Me" adds.
Is there anyone in the world who didn't take a crack at one of the Draw Me images? How many of y'all mailed yours in? Yeah, me too, I think I drew the Pirate. They called, of course - the whole "draw me" thing is just to get you interested in their art schools; I'm reasonably certain that they call 100% of the people who submint their work. To my chagrin, my dad told them to bugger off (well, some version of that anyway). I was twelve or thirteen at the time ... an angst-ridden, moody, juvinile delinquent. You would have thought that my dad would have wanted to send me off to art school, heck, he was constantly threatening me with military school. I probably sulked for weeks. Even at that age, I knew that art was going to be a big part of my future.

So, (too late to keep a short story short), for this project I created a little "draw me" page for the "magazine", only I made up my own, rather than doing a copy of their schtick. For fun I made myself into the Pirate (not too much of a stretch there) ... and I also did a version of me as an Artist (in which I'm wearing my favorite hat ... the one my good friend, Brenda, got me for my birthday a couple of years ago). This is my way of sneaking a cameo into the movie (well, it's not likely that you'll actually see that page - but it's possible).

Okay, now it's your turn ... please submit your entries of one of the images on the "draw me" page ... let's see all of the tallent out there! Both of you who actually read this blog - scan your drawing and send it to me at