How do we stay in touch with our art on the road?
You don’t need to produce profound masterpieces, but it helps to ask the spirit that drives your art to go on the road with you: playfulness, or abstraction, or folk art, or even food. It needs to be a break, so serious work should be avoided.
I took the Sprocket Rocket, but those old-style film photos will take a while to develop. I enjoyed the play of my sketchbook… seed ideas seem to be what it’s about when you travel. It’s not good to be too ambitious, as anyone who has a pile of blank notebooks and sketchbooks lying around can tell you.
The “Angel of the Special” in the IHOP picture was a statue across the highway that I could see from our booth. The Floating Condiment was an extension of the notion of an angelic diner. Or maybe we had just been traveling too long, or had something funny in the syrup for the Pumpkin Pancakes. These little sketches, done in around 7 minutes each, make me feel relaxed and at ease. It seems to be important to paint them at the moment of making. I never complete the ones where I say “later” to the color.
The desert clears my head. I like the monotony, and the inverted feeling of the landscape… with so little as a classical focal point, it practically begs for a kind of X-ray vision, an aboriginal approach. I’ll write more on this in the next petroglyph post. The apparent “Dead Ends” of the desert lead to new perception. Little or large things, sometimes quite alive, wiggle on up to communicate.
I try to use the camera to record what I feel more than what I see. These little arti-facts, the images, stir the pot. We didn’t eat at Tonopah Joe’s after all. We were invited to an impromptu, delicious potluck . We ate in a reclaimed building near El Dorado Hot Springs with a fire outside and the stars really close. This beautiful meal, in the company of wanderers, was a real tribute to American hospitality. We found great Thanksgiving bounty, on the road and off; in the middle of desolation, a sudden bloom of fellowship. For me, that’s the essence of the desert– a radical clarity of heart.
Mythic News: The Desert is the place where prophecies and prophets thrive. Revelations abound, whether they come from an old desert hermit or a UFO visit. Cowboy heroes themselves have a sort of monk-like quality. First the White Hats fix the bad guys, then vanish, eaten by the endless horizon. The West is the place of death and sunset, and I did have the sense sometimes of crossing a great monotonous Purgatory. But it is also the land where one can see forever. Vision is both challenged and purified. After all that, a cool beer tastes really good.