Saturday, November 3, 2018

Peace in two-minute increments


I want to be in a drug commercial. Let me rephrase that. I want to live in a drug commercial. That sounds even worse. If I may explain.

I don’t have fantasies about being rich or famous or even good looking. That ship, as they say, has sunk. Now I just want a nice quiet life. Where everything moves in slow motion. Where when I go to the park or a car show or even a ball game there is no one there but my love ones. No drunks. No horns blasting. No pollution of any kind. Just some soft music playing and a voice over describing severe side effects that I tune out thanks to my tinnitus.

Yes, people are sick and never cured, but their symptoms are alleviated within two minutes. And even when they are not they are at peace and seem content. Maybe heaven is just an eternal drug commercial? Spending eons floating around with the people you love and who love you. You never have to fight for a parking spot or do laundry. Side effects may include a bland diet and not giving a shit.

I know this is a strange concept. But after a year of cancer, a lost job, mass shootings, bomb threats and a political environment that could make a parasitic worm go “yecch” I need a break. It was what made escapist films so popular during the Great Depression. We could use some songs like they had in the 1930s such as “We’re in the money” and “You can Boogie my Woogie for a nickel cigar”.

I guess it is just that time of year when all my beloved drug commercials are replaced by political attack ads. If I see one more grainy photo of a person askew with broken typewriter lettering I may just go mad. What other profession resorts to this level of animus in order to land a job? So, I have some real answers to today’s problems I would like to share with those running for office and maybe we can get this over with.

1.     Gun control: No restrictions on owning firearms but only for women.
2.     Instead of sending troops to the border how about holding a job fair there? Anyone that can walk 1,200 miles on little food or water is hiring material.
3.     If we want government for the people by the people than half the people in government have to be women.
4.     Healthcare: if we take care of 3, then the actual caregivers will figure it out.
5.     No advertising of any kind for political office! Only debates and town hall meetings.
6.     Every state needs to offer people the chance to vote early so it is convenient.
7.     If we are in an environmental crisis (which we are) maybe we should start electing scientist instead of lawyers and pitchmen?

Any more problems pop up just send them over. It makes me sad to think how you will get by without my sage wisdom once I depart this world. Should I write a number of blogs to be posted after I’m gone so I can bitch beyond the grave? It’s the gift that keeps on griping. Now if you will excuse me I am due back in the woods with Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother, drifting my problems away in a semi-somnolence hike. But to end in a positive note here is a quote from the poem “The Happy Hunchback”: Things look bad, the future bleak and people are corrupt. And although I’m always looking down, I’m also looking up!

Below is a portrait I did in oils of my grandmother, the sweetest person in my childhood.




Friday, July 27, 2018

“How He Paints a Picture”


As many of you know a favorite paper of mine is the Steamfitters Sentinel. I was honored by Local 287 when asked to sit for an interview. With back issues somewhat difficult to find I decided to reprint the transcript, which is below.

How he paints a picture
by Brick Turner, Master Carpenter 3rd Class

I recently sat down with local artist Jim Stroud and asked him about his process in painting. Although at times confusing and off topic many of his comments give insight to what it means to be an artist in todays market.

BT       Jim, when did you choose art as a profession?
JS        Its Jamie.
BT       But, youre a guy. Why would you want to be called by a girls name?
JS        Because its my name. I prefer that you call me Jamie.
BT       Yeah thats not going to happen. Can we get on with this now?
JS        Fine. I was doodling one day in tenth grade biology class when my teacher handing back my latest test said, with grades like these you better stick to drawing. I considered it a calling ever since.
BT       How do you determine when to start a painting?
JS        When I am filled with uncontrollable euphoria about a topic.
BT       And how do you know when you are finished?
JS        When that euphoria is replaced by total self-loathing.
BT       I see you have started a painting of a landscape.
JS        Its a nude figure actually.
BT       Jees. Would you walk us through your procedure?
JS        Delighted.
BT       You seem to have quite a few colors on your palette.
JS        I used to paint with a limited palette but had a very difficult time getting yellows, reds, and blues. As you can see theres lemon yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Light, Yellow Orche, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean, Cobalt Blue, Kings Blue and Prussian Blue. Then theres the reds
BT       We wont have time for all of those.
JS        (sighs) I round it off with a few earth tones such as Burnt and Raw Sienna, Burnt and Raw Umber, Ivory Black and four whites.
BT       Four?
JS        Theres titanium, lead, flake and lastly bone white for when Im having an off day. Of course, now this leaves very little room for mixing on my palette.
BT       (to his photographer) Charlie you better move back if you want to get all of it in the picture. Do they usually come with their own legs?
JS        Oh no, I had this especially made by a cabinet maker in Anchorage.
BT       Knotty pine?
JS        Yes. If you look underneath he made a small drawer to keep refreshments in case I get hungry while at work. Hmmm?
BT       Whats the matter?
JS        There seems to be a leak under the Lead White. I wonder how long thats been there?
BT       Isnt that what made Van Gogh want to cut off his ear?
JS        Thats an urban myth. What happen was he was napping on the kitchen table when a far-sighted cook came in and thought his head was a boule. Theo liked the tortured soul angle and would help sell paintings.
BT       Getting back to your painting, without much room on your palette where do you mix your paints.
JS        Right on the canvas. Im working on her face so I take a little lemon yellow, some titanium white, a pinch of cadmium red. Hmm, seems a little bright so maybe some ultramarine blue and a little black. Damn. Now its too dark. Ill just grab a little more yellow and white onto my brush. There, that should do it.
BT       Looks a little like mud.
JS        Hmmm, maybe more blue.
BT       You mentioned brushes. Is there a particular kind you prefer?
JS        Yes. I use only Barkleys and Johnsons Series 13. Its made from 100% pure baby yak hair.
BT       Baby yak hair? Sounds expensive.
JS        They can be. Often times the little calves wont hold still and they go plunging off the precipice and down into a crevasse. Its a horrible sight.
BT       Couldnt you just use a synthetic?
JS        Synthetics just cant tolerate the weight of all the paint on load on them. And the price of a few hundred baby yaks every year more than make up for in creating art, dont you think?
BT       Im not sure what to think any more.
JS        Oh no, I did it again. See what happens when you dont pay attention?
BT       She does seem to have one foot too many. While youre fixing that let me bring up another topic. I understand your artwork has recently come into vogue. What do you contribute that to?
JS        Simple really. I changed the title of many of my pieces. For instance, that piece in the corner use to be called Standing Nude. Now its Lump of Mud. And that one there is no longer called Girl with an Umbrella but Arrangement in Black and Brown Dirt.
BT       Interesting. Sort of like Whistler.
JS        Who?
BT       And this piece you are working on?
JS        This might be my Magnum Opus. I call it simply Pile.
BT       Jaw dropping.
JS        Yes, isnt it?
BT       I think that is all the time we have. Thank you Jim
JS        Jamie.
BT       for showing us how you paint a picture.

The editors would like to thank Mr. Jim Stroud for giving us a glimpse into his studio. We also would like to say that even though we cannot accept it the thought of giving the Sentinel his painting Earth Hole was truly something else.