22 September 2012

The Penultimate Post

That's "next to the last," for this is not my last post. There will be one more. Exactly.

I've decided to abandon Blogger.

First, the interface (behind the scenes) will no longer allow me to modify the look and feel without giving an error. That, as is said, "is a deal breaker." I can no longer even enter correctly formatted html without Blogger "fixing" it. I understand this is an effort to simplify things for the "average" user. But I am not average.

Second, I have my own domain and a new web host. I'm going the WordPress route with a custom theme. Blogger was an experiment. I learned a lot, but its days are over for me. I'm going pro.

Third, I will be publishing my first novel in serial form. I was going to go with Amazon, but I honestly felt that the right thing to do was give it away. Not because the book won't sell or get published by a big publisher. It would. The fact is, I want to give something to my tribe with no thought of gain or return. That is just how Ricky rolls.

But this new novel is just too important a project to be hosted by a free account, so even without the first complaint, I'd still be abandoning Blogger. On the contrary, even if that had not been my plan, the new interface by which one writes the code is so broken, I would be forced to move on even if I did not wish it.

I will be linking to the new site in my next post. At this writing, it is under development. But I have enough material to post twice a week—for six months—already written. That is what I have been doing during the long, most recent silence.


20 July 2012

Some Of My Best Friends Are Horses

I love horses.

big draft horse with long mane

I love that horses are really just big babies. I love the beauty of the horse. I love their tremendous physical power. I love the way their giant, shapely muscles quiver under your hands and brushes as you groom them. I love the way they smell, even the pungent, earthy, grassy scent of their droppings. I love the taste of salty horse sweat when I kiss their necks after a hard run. I love the sounds of their hooves, their snorts, and the way they pump wind through their lungs and noses.

I love horse's sweet, pure, gentle eyes particularly, and I love the way they will take food from your hand and rest their chins so delicately on your shoulders. Horses do not have a reputation for being particularly intelligent, but I disagree. They have an eerie kind of intelligence that extends in directions that are alien to us.

Not a particularly religious person, horses make me believe in... Something, for such a creature could be no accident.

I love to ride horses.

But I have no romance for any style of riding. A good charging quarter horse, Western saddle, cowboy hat and cowboy boots make sense if you are herding cows. A long backed thoroughbred, jodhpurs, jockey boots, long tailed coat and hunting cap are fine for fox hunting, but for riding fast over many, many miles of rough terrain, give me a lean and hot blooded Arab with an English saddle, a baseball cap, and running shoes.

The last vestige of traditional Western gear I still like are the really long reins. I can use these to give my mount a swoosh on the rump, or, when I stop to let him rest, I can tie him up.

They call it "English" in America, but really, the saddle type—more properly, the stirrup position—came out of light cavalry, and the style developed from the need to let your horse move beneath you while you were essentially standing. It's a great way to carry a lance, shoot a bow and arrow, fire a rifle, or swing a sword.


For me, riding style is based on purest functionalism. No romance at all. I was probably an Indian in a previous life; I look askance at all styles.

I first learned to really ride from hanging out with endurance riders. These guys are definitely in the running shoes and baseball caps camp. I may have inherited some of their prejudices. For example, the only time you ever "walk" a horse is getting in and out of the barn or pasture. After that, the horse is kept at a trot. The riders I rode with absolutely scoffed at Western style casual riders who walk everywhere and bang up and down in their seats like rag dolls at any other clip until they gallop.

To then listen to these same people in the bar afterward go on and on expertly about breeds of horses and types of gear (called "tack") is just hilarious. I don't really know about any of that stuff, and I don't care to learn. I can tell a good horse when I see one, and I think the best gear is the least gear.

I'm in a third tribe. I'm a primitive, looking from afar at bizarre incursions in strange costumes. I am outsider who does not even want "in."

Don't get me wrong. Even the worst rodeo riders have probably forgotten more than I'll ever know about riding. I know skill when I see it. It's just that most riders don't know shit; worse, they don't even know that they don't know shit. That's unforgivable. Pathetic, really.

I am really thankful that I have had people in my life who did know how to ride, kept real racing Arabs, and were happy to take me from a complete novice to a trail companion who would not slow them down.

I am thankful for the great horses who were able to at first tolerate my ineptitude and then show what they were capable of once they felt me relax and give them their lead.


I remember nimble footed Talouse who first showed me she could jump a six foot high barrier without hesitation.

She was a bay; that is a brown horse with a black mane and tail. She was one of those alpha-female types. It's a total myth that the males always lead herds. My friend Kim got her for his teenage daughter, but Talouse proved to be too difficult a horse for her to handle. Talouse was quirky in that she generally did not like females. I heard this from several excellent women riders. Horses can have strange eccentricities. Sometimes, one cannot fathom where they learned such things. Talouse was not a big horse, and not young either, I was told to take it easy with her all the time. She would want to go too fast, so I had to keep her calm and collected.

Talouse was what they call a "lead changer." Horses tend to be right-footed or left footed. Talouse was both-footed. She'd be going along at her peculiar dancing-footed clip, and then suddenly feel like she changed gears or slipped from two wheel drive to four wheel drive or back again. You never had to worry about Talouse hurting herself, and she had a knack for finding the best path anywhere.

As a beginner, I tended to be heavy handed and seriously pissed her off a couple times by yanking on the reins. After that, Kim had me ride her with just a bridle and no bit. She was a willful horse. I adored her. Good horses, like people, are always a bit hard to handle. You have to get to know them.

She and I really became friends the first time I hopped off her and ran ahead of her down a hill to give her a rest. After that she was always sniffing my neck and trotting over to greet me whenever I visited. I drew her a lot too. I would sit down in the corral, and the horses would shuffle around me curiously. Talouse had very low body fat, so all her muscles rippled under her skin. This fascinated me.

And then there was big, silly Jack who—once you got him excited—could stretch out into the longest strided trot I've ever seen and regally blow right by cantering quarter horses.


He was a big gray. Endurance riders, by the way, tend to favor grays because they run cooler. I do not know what happened in his early life, but Jack somehow must have gotten the idea he was unloved. He could be really mopey and try to refuse to trot. I was told I had to keep his head up. Once he started to hang his head, he'd get apathetic. They called it "Jackass mode."

I discovered a magic formula though. Jack loved to listen to chanting with a strong beat. He loved martial songs. "Hup, two, three, four..." Like that. Usually when a horse flicks his ears backwards, he's upset. He's in fighting mode, but Jack would spin his ears backwards to listen. He kept his head up then. Only then could you get him to do his thing, and his thing was that long strided trot. Jack was a fast, almost tireless horse. He did not particularly care for rough terrain or close environments though. He would get nervous and confused. Jack liked smooth dirt roads or hard packed open desert. He probably would have enjoyed the beach, but I never rode him there.

One time, we were riding a long at a good clip, and Jack suddenly jumped up into a canter while I was messing with my canteen, surprising me. One of my feet popped out of the stirrup. But it was bouncing around, so I could not catch it with my toe, but in trying, I accidently gave him a kick in the flanks, and that inspired him to rip into that crazy gallop of his. I ended up hanging on to the side of him, totally without any control. I resorted to pleading with him to slow down. He slowed down, stopped, and turned his great neck to stare at me. It was like he was saying, "What the hell are you doing?"

Jack could be trusted in an emergency. He was a good guy. I was so pleased with him that I hugged and kissed his big sweaty neck. He just needed someone to appreciate him.

From Jack I learned that there is this certain way you can swing a sword down that generates such force I can believe what I've heard was true: a good cavalry saber could cut through a guy's neck and come out under the armpit on the other side. I used to practice this move with a heavy stick. Jack loved the game. Every time I'd cry, "Hyah!," He would proudly skip a little bit. He was my cavalry horse, a soldier's horse.

I remember brilliant Rascal who was probably the fastest sprinter of them all.


That guy could charge up a hill so hard and fast, you had to keep your head back or he would knock your forehead with his. I have never seen a horse who could go up a steep hill like him, but he could handle anything. Nothing stopped him; nothing scared him. And he was such a sweet, gentle horse! He was in Talouse' herd. He followed her everywhere... until you got on the trail! And then, he wanted to lead! Only then was he competitive.

In the herd, Rascal was entirely docile. But on the trail, he had two speeds—fast, and faster. Rascal was Kim's horse. I usually rode behind him on Talouse, holding her back to preserve her energy. Once Kim and Rascal were out of sight, Talouse would relax and not try to charge forward or pass them. Kim only let me ride Rascal once I'd learned to use a gentle touch on the reins, but what a joy! Rascal loved to prance around, showing off, tossing his head, skipping sideways, dashing around in zig zags. He was a horse who ran for the pure joy of running. He was beautiful too. He could have been a model for Apollo's horses on the gable of the Parthenon.

But probably the most beautiful of them all was Mary.

We called her "Proud Mary," or "Bloody Mary." She was a dappled gray with dark socks, mane, and tail. In horsey talk, they say "points." An extremely tall horse like Jack, she was big enough to handle a tall, muscular guy like me. We had to keep her away from most of the other horses because she would bite them. She was a bitch.

gentle eye of Mary

I loved her. Mary and I got along just fine. She loved to be petted and groomed. She loved having her eyes rubbed. She loved to be washed with cool water on a hot day. With people, Mary was fine, but with other horses, though, she was possibly the fiercest horse I've ever known. Like Talouse, she definitely favored men.

Unlike Talouse, Mary had an extremely predictable gait. She was probably one of the smoothest riding, fastest, rough terrain, horses in the world. Riding her was like riding a cloud. She liked to get into a pace, and keep it up for hours. Mary had a driven, relentless quality. She and I shared similar personality traits, I think.

I very much favor fierce female animals, whether human, horse, cat, dog, or bird. You don't have to worry about them doing sneaky, cowardly stuff. If they have a problem, they'll let you know, and if you rate their loyalty—special bonus feature—they will watch your back in a tough spot. Of all the horses, I'd say Mary was the one who would be most likely to win a hundred mile race.

Despite her total alpha-female character, I did once see her yield to the energetic charms of a big, young stud. It was the cutest thing to see her act like a silly girl for a change, following him about and chasing the other girls away.

I'm too big a guy to ever be a really competitive racer, but my brother and sister horses did not mind carrying me, once we achieved an understanding.

It never ceases to amaze me, for, believe me, if a horse wants you off his back, you will be off his back. The damn things weigh a thousand pounds. They could knock a house down if they wanted. Unlike some of my riding friends, I never liked to just manhandle them. I always liked to get to know them. I always liked to run my hands over their magnificent bodies and sing them songs. In this way, I learned to not only draw and sculpt horses, I learned to capture their beautiful, childlike spirits.

Romance? No. Something better: True Love.

In these quickly done studies for sculptures, I try to show this love.

Why not receive free updates delivered to to your email inbox? Subscribe to Art of Life by Email. Or, for blog savvy types, Get the RSS feed to Art of Life.

I always enjoy hearing comments, even though I may have antagonized some Western riders this time. But, well, I got sick of hearing them go on and on about how lovely they were, so I had to have my say.

14 July 2012

Chains of Darkness: The Human Condition

Here is a sketch of what will be my largest wood sculpture to date. You see here a black angel, his wings burned off, wrapped in shadows, holding to his heart something lost, and dissolving in black flames.


This is my opinion of the human condition.

I do believe I hinted at some darker, edgier stuff to come. Well, there was a sneak preview.

The plan is to build up the wood with slices made on my table saw, laminate them, then carve them down. I have been finding that is the only way to get a large piece that has the structural integrity to hold together. I estimate this figure will be fairly near life-size. I'll be using redwood for the wings and a combination of oak and ash for the body. I am also planning on either scorching the wood with a blow torch or painting it black. I may use a combination of the two and contrast that with polished, unpainted wood. I am not sure how I will render the chains, but I am leaning towards something like the wrapping of a mummy rather than chains, despite the title.

Hmmm... Perhaps it should be "Shrouds of Darkness."

As you can see, I do not bother with fussy detail in my sketches.

When it comes to artistic production, I am not a patient person. I want results, and I want them yesterday. I am much more interested in the overall effect. Besides, I do not require much information to start carving.

For this sketch, I departed from my usual sumi-e technique and went over it here and there with some white acrylic paint, following that with a bit more black. In Photoshop, as always, the only thing I did was manipulate the contrast so the white is brilliant white and the blacks are dark black. I am, in effect, simulating on the computer screen what the eyes see, for scanning tends to gray things out.

Did you like this post? Hate it? Think it was lame? Please feel free to comment, regardless. If you would like, you could subscribe to Art of Life by email, or if you're blog savvy, you might prefer to subscribe via you favorite reader. Notice also the cute little buttons. These are easy ways to let others know you found something interesting.

10 July 2012

How to Be an Artist

It is heresy to say it, but I do not believe that there is such a thing as an "authority." For that matter, there is not even such thing as a "reliable source." You simply cannot—and must not—ever believe everything anyone says. A fact, if it is a fact, is a fact because it is true, not because it was said by an authority or a reliable source.

I suggest, therefore, that you apply your own reason and experience to the following. These thoughts are based on my personal experiences...

And yet...

Mountain Hemlock on Mt. Shasta

I have been walking The Way of the Artist for many years, so I have accumulated a lot of experiences. I have spent many years struggling to "make it" as an artist. I pass these thoughts along as my personal observations. I earnestly intreat you to judge for yourself whether what I say is true.

I was seventeen when I noticed that I would rather die than not do art.

I do not recall making a decision about that. It was an observation.

But it gave me my orientation. My peers had their ideas of what success was; I had mine.

Certainly, we all wanted good jobs. And by "good jobs" I mean we all wanted to do something that was both fun and profitable. Some of us had high enough ideals that we wished to live lives that were of value to others, and we were willing to forego riches for the sake of service. Some wanted fame. Some wanted money and money only. In the scale of social value, I deemed those type of people at best—worthless.

There's nothing wrong with wanting money. The question was, "What are you willing to do to get it?"

I wanted money. Of course I did. Money is great. Money is fun. I wanted fame too. Why not? You always hear famous people complaining about how it is not so great, and sometimes I believe them, but for an artist, fame puts a big, fat exponent next to the prices you command. However, I was not willing to do anything but art to get fame or wealth; more, even if my art did not provide me with wealth and fame, I was still not willing to do anything but art.

South Fork of the Scramento River, Rocks and Water

There were things that others wanted that I did not want.

I did not want to "settle down, buy a house, and raise a family." I looked on the suburban lifestyle—the lifestyle in which I was raised—with horror.

That kind of life never even crossed my mind as something desirable. I wanted to wander. I wanted to roam. I wanted to look at the world, and I wanted to do art.

I was a little bit more free, but in many ways, I had set myself up for a life of suffering.

I was free in that I did not have to worry about the things other people worried about. I did not have to worry about school, sticking with a job, or a family. I did not have to worry about food, rent, clothing, or shelter.

The only thing I had to worry about was getting the next piece made.

I quit high school. I never even graduated. All the indoctrination that was supposed to turn me into obedient worker or complacent manager just did not work on me.

I would have stuck it out, but they weren't teaching me anything in school that I could not learn on my own. Worse, they were not even trying to teach the things I really wanted to learn.

At that time, I wanted to learn the painting techniques of the high Dutch and Italian Renaissances, and no one, to my knowledge, was teaching that, so I figured I would just have to figure it out on my own.

My life became very calm and orderly. When I looked for a job—and I've had many—all I needed to ask was, "Will this job help or hurt my art?"

When I met a girl, I need only determine, "Will she be good for my work or bad?"

When I considered moving somewhere else, my only question was, "Will I find inspiration in that place?"

Frijoles Canyon, Bendelier National Monument, New Mexico

Food was merely fuel: rice, beans, and whatever meat and greens were on sale. Clothing was simply practical: jeans, boots, and thrift store button up shirts we fine; for winter, fedora hats and trench coats. Housing had only to be cheap and spacious; a garage or a bunk in a warehouse was perfect.

Seeking, as I did, beautiful environments in which to ponder the universe, I got jobs at resorts and vacation spots. I cooked food and waited tables, mainly. I took evening jobs. This meant I could stay up all night if I wanted, and I would still get plenty of sleep. Day jobs drained my energy and left me too tired for art.

If a manager gave me any shit, I quit. I always wondered, "Where do they find these guys?"

If a girl said, "What about me? Am I less important than your art?" I told her, "Babe, you just said the wrong thing."

Later, I learned to warn her at the beginning. There are plenty of women who can dig an artist's passion for his work, but you do have to let her know at the beginning rather than blind-side her later.

I made a lot of mistakes. It seems I mainly made mistakes.

If I had it to do all over, I would have been more gracious and kind to the people who cared for me. But I would change little else.

I could not have known that "The Techniques of the Master's" was an artistic dead end. I had to walk that road to find that. I was not really living in the present world as it was. I was living in nineteenth century France, fifth century BC Greece, Kamakura era Japan, or 14th century Florence. I was pretty out of touch with the current scene.

Frijoles Canyon kiva atop cliff

The funny thing is: I knew that.

But I did not care. The world as I saw it had taken the wrong turn. All those skyscrapers, factories, chain stores, and fast food places seemed preposterous to me.

I rarely made money with art. I did not attempt to promote myself as an artist. I never tried to get into a gallery. I never even wanted to have an art show. I just did art.

Beyond practicing lovemaking skill, I did not attempt to be much of a boyfriend either. I did not go after women. I let them come to me, and they did, often enough that I never felt deprived that way.

If not quite a cad or a rogue, I was certainly a flake.

No. I take that back. I really was a bastard sometimes. I actually said, "Fuck off, bitch," to a woman one time. I was not toying around, either. I wanted her out of my life, and we never spoke again. I did not even feel guilty about at the time.

But it haunted me.

I would change that part if I could. I did a lot of things wrong. But I did do one thing right. I never quit.

I continued to do art. I got better, and better, and better. I got to where I had no trouble selling; then, I would get bored with the sellable style and go off on another learning curve, beginning with crappy work all over again.

I was seeking my voice. I was trying to find the magic nexus where what I had to offer was also what the world wanted.

There is a quote that is supposedly by Aristotle. This is my version, written in active voice: "Your path lies where your skills and the needs of the world meet."

I've read a lot of Aristotle, and I never found where he says that. I asked two classics professors as well, and both were like, "Hmmm. Doesn't ring any bells."

So if you, dear reader, know the proper, complete, exact attribution, please do let me know!

Yet it really doesn't matter who said it. Remember, there are no authorities. So regardless of who said it, I agree with the sentiment.

However, It seemed to me that the world wanted some goofy stuff. Top news was celebrity gossip and scandal. And in the contemporary art world, well, I thought the artists were over educated buffoons with barely infantile skills.

Self Portrait in Charcoal

I looked at a lot of art. I went into galleries and museums everywhere, all the time. I was always looking at art.

But I was too shy to talk to gallery owners and other artists, generally. That was another mistake. My road would have been quicker and happier had I engaged such people as passionately as I engaged my art.

I was always looking at the universe. I studied the sky, the clouds, the patterns of bird flight and the ways of the wind. I walked all over the mountains and along the coasts, looking and listening. I found that the best things to watch were life forms. I had always wanted to draw and paint animals, but I was advised that it was a "genre," and "serious" artists did not do that. I avoided those subjects. I did become good at drawing and painting people. My study of "The Masters" had equipped me for a fine career as portrait painter had I cared to pursue that. I did not. It was a bore to do only that all the time.

Finally, one day, only a couple years ago, I had and itch to carve some wood. Living as I was in a little mountain town and fishing in the river a lot, I wanted to carve a trout. I said, "Ah, what the hell!"

I had been working that summer cutting and selling firewood. That's a rough business. My fuel cost alone for a pickup truck of wood was $40.00. After the work of finding trees to cut into rounds, I had a good ten hours of work to split it. Plus, I was paying one or the other of my nephews to help me and always buying him a good lunch.

Well, one afternoon, taking a break from the splitting, just for fun, I took my chainsaw and carved a trout with it. It took me about twenty minutes. It was pretty loose work, but it had a certain panache. I liked it. I had fun making it. I left it sitting on the log where I had my "Firewood for Sale" sign propped.

Then, I had this one guy who thought $165.00 dollars for a pickup load of really good, well split, perfectly seasoned tamarack pine was just too much money.

But he was happy to give me $20.00 dollars for the fish I carved.

A dollar a minute?

Yep. I'll take that. I took his money and gave him a carved fish.

Brown Trout, Brush and Ink

I never looked back. I became a chainsaw carver. My egalitarian ideals were delighted to have a form that delighted all people, everywhere. I was not limited in my market to a small handful of wealthy customers who were besieged by large armies of hungry, desperate artists. I had broken the box. I did not need a gallery. I could sell anywhere, even on the street. I cannot even express the joy this gave me. It so happened that my work was well received by the wealthy elite. The way things are going, my prices will soon be climbing very high. Were I the P.T. Barnum type, I would advise you to buy now while I am still affordable.

Already, I sell fish like that first one for $200.00, but I do take more than twenty minutes to make them. I use a lot of tools besides a chainsaw now.

The point: My skills and the needs of the world had finally crossed paths.

Now, I don't worry about whether carving animals is "genre" work or not. I do not worry about any of the sniping criticisms that pervert the art world. I have paid my dues. I do what I want just like I always have with no apologies and no compromises.

But there is another point I would like to make.

I did not start becoming financially successful as an artist until I became a better person.

I never quit trying that, either.

These days, the biggest problem I have is producing far enough ahead of the demand to actually get together a show.

Oil on Canvas, The Oracle

Here is the part where I shift into the second person; that is, I start saying, "you." If the following does not apply to you, great. Understand, however, there is a particular audience I am trying to reach and help.

You may find you have a long road ahead of you in order to find your voice and an acceptable skill level. Mastering the techniques of art is arguably more difficult than learning to be a doctor or a lawyer because you can learn about those things in school. I know there are millions of people who will take exception to this, but no one can really teach art. Technique, yeah. Art? No.

That is why you have to have that tough attitude I told you about at the beginning of this essay.

You have to look Death in the face and smile.

It is not that difficult to face death. Haven't you heard? Everybody dies. Once you recognize the inevitability, you can relax.

Why not live a life worth living in the mean time? Why not fight the good fight? Why not be a contender instead of a face in the crowd?

I told you I was often living in another era? Well, there's the viewpoint of an ancient, republican era, Roman or a pre-Hellenistic Greek.

And the old Romans and Greeks were right about that. Ask anyone who is at death's door. He or she will tell you, in the end, the only measure of success is: Did you enjoy life?

It does not really matter whether you "make it" because no one ever "makes it."

Do you see this? The game is in the living. It is not about winning or losing. The only way you can lose is to quit.

But there's a catch.

You may think it is enough to just try to enjoy life. I know a lot of people who do think that, but per my observation, they are never as as happy as the ones who strive for something great because if you do that, man, you are living!

I rarely presume to give advice, but this is good advice.

Never give up. Never surrender. You do not have to compromise your ideals. You do not have to sell out. In fact, while I'm at it, let me clue you in on this whole idea of "selling out." If they were not buying you before, they will not buy you when you sell out. "Selling out" is a term that applies only to people who have already achieved fame. As Orson Wells put it, "You make your reputation on the way up, and your money on the way down."

You, my friend, just have to keep working.

Did you like this post? Hate it? Think it was stupid? Lame? A bore?

Well, regardless, feel free to comment. You can comment anonymously if you want. Or, you can drop me a private note via my contact page. Below, you will see a whole bunch of little buttons. Pressing these is a way for you to let your friends know you found something worth reading, on Twitter, Facebook and by email. The G+ button actually lets Google know I'm a real person with original content. It's a way for the little guy to fight corporate giants with battalions of copy robots. Come on! I'd do it for you! Start pressing buttons!

04 July 2012

Blogging About Blogging

I know.

"How jejune!" You say.

Or, maybe not. Maybe you are now saying, "Jejune. Hmmph. I hate it when people toss out obscure words to show how smart they are—so how about some words of my own, like 'juvenile,' 'insecure,' or just, plain, 'lame?'"

But "jejune" is a great word. I only just learned it, and it applies to blogging about blogging.

Here's a cut and paste from the dictionary built into my Mac: The New Oxford American Dictionary.

jejune |jiˈjoōn|
1 naive, simplistic, and superficial : their entirely predictable and usually jejune opinions.
2 (of ideas or writings) dry and uninteresting : the poem seems to me rather jejune.

jejunely |dʒəˈdʒunli| adverb
jejuneness |dʒəˈdʒun(n)əs| noun

ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from Latin jejunus ‘fasting, barren.’ The original sense was [without food,] hence [not intellectually nourishing.]

See? Great word.

I have noticed that in American English, the words that generally sound sophisticated are those with the French derivations. (Yes. I know "jejune" is Latin, but it sounds French.) One suspects that somehow it was British working class culture that laid the strongest linguistic foundations in what was to become the U.S., and at the time of the American Revolution, there was even less love lost for the French than now, so they purposely eschewed French derivatives as the pretentious affectations of the aristocracy.

Just a theory. And there's me nodding to Independence Day on this Fourth of July post.

Spending most of my career as a working class guy, I've always had to watch this sort of thing. On the job site, you really gotta dumb yourself down. Every once in while you would meet another who really liked to read books and genuinely enjoyed words and wordplay.

But I forget myself. This is a post about blogging.

I suspect that by now you will have perceived that I say that with droll self-depreciation.

Let me say, however, you've done it. I've done it. We've all done it. Every once in a while it is necessary to talk about what you are trying to accomplish with your blog, the things you've learned, and the process of blog creation. I'm right, aren't I?

And sometimes, you have to publicly admit when you have been wrong.

Like now, I realize that I was wrong about a lot of things.

I have always had this anti-capitalist, anti-commercial, anti-mercantile, anti-establishment, anti-status-quo chip on my shoulder. (I told you I was a working class guy. It's true.) I have seen those forces just cast me and my brothers and sisters in the scrap heap because we no longer served their little piggy interests of the micro-moment. I never had to read The Communist Manifesto to acquire a burning hatred for any philosophy that put profit before people.

Let me interject right here that I am most emphatically not making a pitch for Herr Marx. Everything is all about class struggle? Pfft! Maybe if the guy had spent less time in the library and more time taking care of his family, he would have seen that the history of humanity is not reducible to such a stupid axiom.

But I forget myself. This is a post about blogging.

I was about to admit where I had been wrong. I was wrong about the true attitudes of the American middle class, and I know I was wrong because lately I have been moving in different circles.

I have been moving in the art world.

And believe me, that is a capitalist, commercial, mercantile, establishment, status-quo world.

So I find a capitalist who is almost single handedly revitalizing downtown Fresno by proving cheap, beautiful space for artists!

And I find merchants who are just barely hanging on because it is more important to support the arts than it is to get rich.

Then I find retailers who buy me lunch and coffee because they know I'm broke.

Finally, I see that the status quo has every bit the same sense of righteous outrage at the ill treatment of the poor as I do.

[edit: I forgot to mention some cool politicians and lawyers.]

But what does that have to do with blogging?

Everything. "Content," they say, is King.

For by getting out and meeting people instead of staying home and working on the computer, I see a different world. I see myself changing. I see that I'm making the transition from a bohemian outcast to the cool cat in the tux having a blast at the art show. I have different things to say because I am seeing different things.

I had a similar experience working for the US Army as a civilian in an educational post. I saw that the officers, men, and government service civilians were some of the most conscientious and duty oriented people I had ever met. The media portrays them all as drill sergeants and sociopaths. But that is just not true.

Now I am finding out a similar fable has been spun about the movers and shakers in the arts.

I decided to take the chip off my shoulder.

You can expect, now, my posts to be at least a little more entertaining.

In that spirit, just for grins, tongue firmly in cheek, I thought I'd post a picture of a cute cat. This is my kitty Kiki. Yesterday, while I was out taking pictures of my sculptures for my web gallery, she followed me everywhere.

Kiki, the cute cat

Isn't she cute? I sure do love my Kiki.

And, oh! Yes! Speaking about blogging about blogging? I forgot to mention that I changed the header of this blog yet again. I have been "advised." My name is my "brand." OK, OK! I get it!

(I still smell pork. Guess I always will.)

03 July 2012

What It's All About

I finally figured out what this blog is about. It's about what I've been doing, and it's about what I've been pondering.

The two are closely related.

But I do a lot of stuff, and I ponder much. Lately, I've be working on my image gallery. I even took time off from carving to do that as I needed to have it set up to show friends, buyers, and sellers of my work. (I should note that most of my friends are in both categories with the added bonus of getting gifts.) So here's the latest piece I've put up.

screaming falcon

I'm under a lot of internally generated pressure to get into a show here in Fresno, and I found that the way to really promote one's wares is to have a web page. A gallery owner actually told me that's essential. The funny thing is, I have not gotten much interested in doing "web promotion." By that I mean "web only." What I'm actually doing is going around and meeting people in the local scene, and using my site in much the same way I'd use a printed portfolio. It's not about "generating world wide interest." It's about showing Tom and Mary, who are already interested and want to see more. That's the carving gallery.

So part of "what's it all about" is what it's NOT about.

I shall leave that as an exercise for the reader.

This blog is like a little paper boat I put out to sea which may, one day, reach foreign shores or may, one day, perish. (I will give a star to anyone who knows who I ripped off for that line.) A mentor of mine advised me to keep a journal. He said that I will be glad I did when I'm sixty-five.

Right now, my carvings are generating some fantastic interest. Soon enough, I'll be in a show with other artists, and soon enough, I'll have my own shows. Soon enough I'll have more attention than I want.

In the mean time, I'm enjoying quiet, productive peace.

30 June 2012

An Image Gallery

The past couple of days, I've been working on a new page to show my carvings. It's another blogspot blog, actually, but you'd never know that by the look of it, for it's stripped down as far as I can take it. No comment forms, no titles, no dates, and only minimal text for the images.

This new "blog," and I use the term advisedly, for it's hardly what we've come to expect in a blog, is called, simply Richard G. Crockett: wood sculpture.

At this writing, however, I haven't put up any sculptures, just some test images to see how navigation, loading, and display works. [edit: This will change by the end of the day. I put this post up because I put up a link to the new blog in the sidebar, and the new blog links back to this one.]

The new site is a very pure image gallery. It is designed for clients, potential clients, retailers, gallery owners, and curators to get a feel for my wood sculptures. It's also a way for my friends to have a running record of my output.

And these days that is pretty considerable.

The gallery template I picked was chosen for its extreme minimalism. And I made it even more minimal. The template I used is a pruned version of Mr. Huy Dinh Quang's Simplex Gallery. Not only is he a brilliant coder, but he has quite the sense of aesthetics. (And btw, Nhamngahanh, should you happen to see the new gallery before I fix it, please do not be displeased that your name has been removed from the footer. I shall give you credit when I figure out how to make the footer smaller and more discreet.)

There is always this tendency to add and add more and more to everything we make, do, or say. It is a rarer skill to take away until there is nothing left to take away.

Perhaps that is why I like carving.

Anyhow, off now to work on the footer. One thing I can't take away is credit and a link to the designer. We artists have to stick together.