Fishbowler

We make art in strange places and blog about it.

The Sex Magic of Self Motivation

At 5:33 the morning hung, still dark, as I came to a waking state. I like the mattress low, right on the floor, and that’s where I awoke to a hollow sound that did not echo, my windows were all open and it was the only sound on the ranch. It was my desire, humming. It’s not always there but today I was ready to go make art. Now, how to get coffee before 6:30? That’s my question. It’s a new rule up at the ranch house.

I might be some kind of sun worshipper. I’m afraid of the sun. Trust me, you don’t wanna’ see him pissed off. The sun’s wrath motivates me. I get out of bed before he can boil me and lately noon has been the stopping point for my morning shift. It’s just too hot after that to be enjoyable.

The art behind the art is motivation–the art of motivation–and it’s an ongoing balance with the sun playing a pivotal role, affecting my motivation. Art’s parent is motivation but from where does motivation come? Maybe I have an internal sun spewing rays of motivation. Do we wait for inspiration or create it?

I have to trick myself like a stoner surfer dude into history class sometimes. “Hey there’s no birthday cake here!” Using the ego to make art well is part of that motivational art form. Like tricking the Sun into hiding behind clouds, it’s about atonement or overcoming the ego. We create to get past the self. If I can make something I’m in awe of, this puts me in a humble spot. I’m thankful.

These moments of victorious struggle or perfect harmony fuel me, past the ego and onward toward bliss. I see it as sex magic because it all springs from my creative center. I suppose it’s a tantric ritual of my own. I cultivate this creation into being. There’s ego but it’s gone beyond, beyond itself. Not resistance, acceptance instead, and it leads into transcendence. I’m here to make something that’s bigger than myself.

Leonardo Me

Leonardo DaVinci drew and painted horses. I recalled the image of their labored execution, so I looked them up. I can’t believe I hadn’t looked up his horses before now, and fer god’s sakes now that I’m looking at his I see that one of his horses had inspired me without even knowing it. I had it lodged in my head, this twisted horse, that or I like the same challenges he does–or in fact I’m just Leonardo reincarnated. Maybe I shouldn’t joke about things like that.

These Containers Won’t Paint Themselves

My new wireless headphones have been a godsend in terms of allowing me to float away. There’s the art but there’s the environment which allows for that art. We create the perfect art making environment, that’s the idea. Art making is an escape, it’s the great escape, and one’s unique fantasy environment should be created for the artist’s own freedom. This notion I’ve become more and more attached to. Now I’m completely convinced that it’s a need for the artist to have his environment just so, just to the artist’s own liking. Results are best this way. Facilitating this space is important. I’m learning how important it is to stand my ground for my creative space.

Crossing The Playa To Watch Rocks Fall From Space

Do You Think I’m Sexy?
Rod Stewart and the playa go hand in hand for me, particularly “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” When I was married we’d camp on the playa with other couples and friends and we’d party on this white tabletop desert for the weekend. This is not your average kind of camping but burners get it. Glamour camping is also called ‘glamping’ and this pastime involves fur and glitter and disco sounds pumped thru large speakers. It’s all about the fabulous. It’s all about a landscape of minimal distraction. The funky white bass carries across the ground in an interesting way. There’s a denseness, a soaking in and you start to think of the silt. How thick is it below these sexy people roller skating to Rod Stewart?

Cattle Clock
From Iveson Ranch driving down to Gerlach or the playa, it’s a short rural drive. It’s 12 miles to the edge of the playa, 27 to Gerlach. Half an hour is very short driving time in open country like this. It’s 2 hours to Reno. Be mindful of livestock and wild horses standing on the road, much more dangerous than hitchhikers.

We don’t have to leave the ranch much other than the grocery getters every couple weeks. JB the bossman calls those rocket runs into Reno & back. I think I was here for an entire month before I ever exited the gates. Often I feel like a head of cattle grazing on the ranch, spanning time. I did get in to Reno the other day for some shopping. I’ve been here since the beginning of July, a month and a half now. I was also here for the month of May. I feel like there’s no where better for me to be. My mind grazes here.

You take Sundays off here only after you’ve gotten stuff done. Today’s Sunday, this mural is feeling fairly done. Art is a different kind of thing, a different kind of time. I sit around alot, getting away from it and it’s done when I feel like it. I’m still going to work on it this afternoon, after my shower but before it starts getting cooler and into sunset, maybe crank up the generator and work after dark too. These murals are two sided. They’re steel cabins. This afternoon I’ll be painting on the East side, the shaded side. I’m painting horses.

Crossing The Playa To Watch Rocks Fall From Space
Black Rock Desert is the flattest expanse on Earth. It’s a dry lake bed at the core of what used to be an ancient inland sea that covered the entire top half of Nevada–a state that takes over 10 hours to drive from top to bottom. It’s a good desert to admire space from.

The plan was to take an art car 12 miles to the playa from the ranch to experience the Perseid meteor shower. Five or six art cars here are being worked on currently as we ramp up to Burning Man week. This one was red and called The Imperial, a Chinese Junk fashioned art car which seats 30 on two levels. It would be slow driving.

Neither of these things happened. Neither art car excursion nor meteor viewing came to fruition. The meteor shower’s best viewing wasn’t to start until after 3am, it was early, so we took fire dancers. This was a very good idea to bring entertainment. They brought themselves really, in a red Camaro from Oregon and we were a hit.

In a borrowed diesel, with 3 adults and a child, I drove us to the playa in the dark of night, which was relatively light. From the ranch 4 or 5 vehicles went out. I love bringing people to the Black Rock Desert for the first time. I remember my first time. It’s a landscape you drive more like a boat since, after all, it is a lake. We had a half moon to light our way.

So this party was a group of maybe 100 people and the Burning Man royalty were there in attendance and being pampered with margaritas. These were some founders of the event. You know it’s 30 years old, Burning Man? These are some people who are famous the world over for what they created. Burning Man has permeated creative cultures everywhere on the globe and enjoys international fame.

Burners will tell you it’s more than a party. It’s a movement. 60,000 fur adorned people can’t be wrong–and that’s just this year’s crowd. This is as significant as the hippy movement. When I told one of the fire dancers that Burning Man royalty was his audience for the night, he got excited, eyes lit up and he asked “Are they aware that we don’t have tickets yet?”

2 Universal Painting Poems

Last evening until sunset

I had a painting session that felt

like the time itself was wrought

from a higher quality iron ore

Tonight I was in full flow

but for a limited time only

I could feel the buzz in my hands

and in my vocalized responses

at certain brush strokes

was honesty

Unedited me

and then paint flings

and I did a little skateboarding

and my eyes felt like

laser attack vessels

on the prowl looking for rebels

Last evening makes me think of

this thing I like to say

and that is

one brush stroke per night

of perfect flow

is cause for celebration.

_____________________________________________

The universe was swirled

like my enamel paint cans

last night

and just as active

The meteors sprinted to graceland

against a background

satellites warm and round

while stalactites of mineral light

kissed the luminous stalagmites

of the gravitas and apparently grievous black

the more distant and bent

deepened light

and we talked about these rays from afar

meeting with our retinas

as consciousness

and love and memory perhaps

And the sagebrush surroundings

lay flat

on this darkened desert planet

beside a big white dog

Not Much Tanning at Night

Brazen Bronze
I’ve been working on my tan, working on caring less about it. I’m becoming brazen about my bronze. I plan to stop needing sunblock. If my skin can be weened off of it then I’ll be resilient and I’m on my way to becoming the uncontested Grizzly Adams of self sufficiency. I’ve needed less each day and haven’t touched sunblock in a week now. One day it will be impossible for me to become sun burned–that’s the idea. They’ll think I’m aboriginal.

Working here in the heat of the day is so absurd it’s almost unbearable. I have to wear black latex gloves so enamel paint doesn’t creep up under my fingernails. Glistening sweat pores from under these gloves and trickles down my wrists. Am I spoiled? I dunno but hey, I can work at night, alone, in silence, with the lonely breeze of refreshment. Nothing will be visible to compete with the horses I’m brushing on to this surface in red and blue. I’m all alone and in the best way possible at night, it’s only me. Me and the bugs. So just us.

My cabin is a 40 foot container actually ear marked for Eddie. I’ve been residing in his cabin during this stay and he’s not in a hurry to displace me. The guys have hooked up the water in this cabin first and I have a shower to myself. After six years coming here I’m the envy of camp.

Smack My Brush Up
I smack my brushes on the wall for splatters and they hate me for it. Paint brushes have tiny nails that hold them together which loosen up because they suffer at my abuse. Repairs are needed. I took the time today to replace screws in my brushes. I’m kinda proud of the whole thing, the abuse, the repairs–it’s work hard play hard. You should see me dancing around flingin’ paint.

It was to be the night I’d go full vampire. I want to paint late into the night with spotlights to see by. Bugs would convene, yes. My laptop assisted me in making a soundtrack which is 10 hours worth of music. It consists of 177 songs and I can’t wait to dig in. I’ve been talking about night painting sessions since before I got here. My tendency has always been for the night owl preference. Early wake ups suit me when I’m here but I’d prefer all-nighters for getting artwork done. My sleep schedule will take a bit of time to switch over. Years ago when i was just out of high school I had a performance motorcycle that I’d work on all night. Night working has been good to me. I’m a night crawler.

There’s a big blue jet parked right beside me. It’s called Playa One with a big ol’ official looking seal on the door. The wings fold out for people to dance on with spinnie glowey lights. Yes, it’s a Burning Man thing. This crew has a couple other art cars parked here in the dirt for maintenance as I paint on container cabins. Six cabins line this yard to eventually house workers during their stay here. This dirt is used to being trampled down by horses.  It’s a re-purposed stable at the West end of the inner ranch where the home front is. No vegetation is here, only dust, tons of dust. The horse patties have  returned to dried up biblical dust.

The weather is crisp and calm, just right. There’s a wind blowing cool air over me. I keep talking about sleeping out here. Seriously. One’s filled with pillows. My cabin gets pretty hot and never cools down. Sleeping out here on an art car might be just the thing I need. The stars are so luminescent it’s like a soup that you can dip into with your spoon–unlimited depth. New moon is the best night of the month to soak up the milk of the Milky Way.

These container cabins are 40 feet long, each side gets adorned with horses and so far I’m up to like 20 horses in total but some are very small and without detail so they almost don’t count. It’s blue brown and red basically. The short cabins are 20 feet long and those get rented to go out onto the playa for Burning Man which happens about a month from now. The cabin I’m currently working on will be a field office for JB, the owner of this ranch. It’s got the best view to the west. This is number 9.

No Dice
There was no gas available for me. I didn’t realize the gas cans piled were empty. There’s gas on the ranch in a big tank or two but I don’t have access to those. I can string a cord out from an outlet. This ranch does have power that’s generated by the big diesel genny. Also an array of solar panels generates energy for the ranch. My midnight lights will take power. Energy is rationed here.

The first night I ran out of gas. The second night I decided I could just plug in, skip the gas can fiasco. The second night I had my electrical cords all ready to go and I saw a flashlight out there in the dark by my painting. JB had walked out and he told me that we don’t have the power to spare. OK. I guess that’s that.

I had to cancel my mission but I’m happy to have it all set up and ready to go for another night and trust me, it’s on. This will happen. Choose your battles, as they say. On the ranch we get started on things that might not happen until the next day. The night was not a total failure because I now know what to expect.

Hoo Doo Hiking & Stripping Rust

One peak rises highest in the vicinity of the ranch and that would be my 3 mile destination. This hilltop was supposed to have a cluster of cairns. Around here we call them HooDoos. I went to see them. These rolling modest clean hills around us are volcanic sediment and so sagebrush clung hold but not so often. Brief barren steps got me up hills to their tops which looked almost bald of vegetation. The wind has blown across these crests for so many centuries that bushes could never take hold, not in recent centuries anyway.

I’m under a tree smaller than the mightier cottonwoods which line the creek through the center of the ranch. Typing these words about yesterday’s ridge top adventure I lounge on lawn chair, I’m in the shaded apple orchard. My Macbook is made by Apple. The dappled light flickers as I type.

On the hilltops I’d seen the topping cobbled with rocks. It all looked so perfect I commented more than once that I thought it was bought at Home Depot and installed here. No grass or soil remained and down the sides the soil laid on top of black rocks that stream down in vertical trickles scoured, abiding by gravity. I call them the stretch marks where the soil has broken way to the rocks’ exposure. It becomes apparent that the entire hill is made of these big black rocks while the dirt had settled on top. All the hills are that way here, handsome.

I could see out over the valley of Haulupai to the Black Rock playa itself, glowing with white dust devils carving across it as the sun bounced its rays off the playa to meet with my eyes perched 12 miles away.

But these cairns were not all ancient. I think only one of them was. I say this from observation/experience. This feels like looking at crop circles, pondering how old these are and what people it was that made them. Graceful symmetry blessed the real ones.  Precision placement ensure the pinched rocks distribute weight evenly throughout these constructions. Impatience permeated the “fakes”.

There’s this natural draw to stacking rocks. This seems to be apparent once you open the wiki page for cairns. They’re all over the world, everywhere there are rocks there are cairns. Hoo doos. We’re the king of nature’s builders and we see stacking when we look at rocks.

In the morning I was grinding a shipping container with Korean and French writing on it with doomsday rust that’s probably seen every vista the world has to offer, including the wide open seas and the interior urban cores. My grinder was wireless powered by a battery and spinning at super speeds. I’m using a cordless drill with stripper attachment. The other tool is a grinder which spins at much faster RPMs but the wire wheel attachment doesn’t do the job perfectly. The combination of the two tools is working well. It all wails like a sick stork.

My headphones are shiny blue and wireless playing tunes stored on my battery laptop. Mobile is important. The charging of the battery comes from wall sockets which here, on this ranch we’re off grid, meaning a huge ugly generator with it’s own building bulls this place with power. A few windmill on rooftops spin here, not for looks. Solar’s out back.

The horses are for looks only like trophy wives. I’m starting to love horses for very superficial reasons. There’s no where else I need to be. Thanks for being open to my journey.

Inspiration For Ranch Hands

First off, we’re all ranch hands and we all bitch about it. We’re working on their thing, whoever they are, and all we know is they are not us. This goes on for many many years, working for ‘them’ with a hazy vision of the glorious future when finally it will be our own thing we’re working on with ‘them’ in our stable to do our bidding.

The thing is this: if you want something, get it. If you don’t want something, don’t take it. Everything comes at a price and that includes transactions, relationships, and employment. We give and we take so if what we’re giving isn’t worth what we’re getting we must take action. If we don’t take action, our lashing out is really only anger at the self for not doing anything. The lashing out is one way to perceive and react to the world but it’s not an empowering practice to keep. It’s the wrong way for anyone looking to build courage.

It’s easy to take advantage of the desperate and the hungry. Artists will give themselves away, horse girls will sling that hay, and all for just a taste. But for the long haul only discipline pays. That’s the real payola.

To condemn it all can feel like sitting on a mountain top, looking down on it all. Bitching elevates the self in words by putting everything else down below the self… but only in words. What this really does is focus the attention onto what is getting in the way which you’re telling yourself is something other than the self.

Practice makes perfect. To become disciplined is the goal. Discipline, itself, is the pay off. Reputation is everything so build it well. Maintain it. And that bitching, it’ll have to come to a close at some point. Don’t worry about that though, just know that bitching is a strongly centering endeavor for a self. Learning selflessness is the cardinal direction. Selflessness is basically enlightenment so don’t hold that high ideal too tightly. You won’t start on your path to selflessness until you decide to curb your bitching.

Ranch hand is the peon in the world so take the job seriously. Understand what it is to be a peon and realize all the while that you are above this, above your peasant self right now pulling weeds in the dirty wind, shoveling shit in the rain, and start to observe. You are only filling time with these feet that fill these boots which are not you. You are beyond all of this but if you are satisfied with the compensation from your ranch handing, turn this into a decision: “I decided to take this. This job is my decision. This place is what I’ve decided to accept in my growth.”

No one stays a ranch hand forever but the lessons learned won’t ever go away. Eventually you’ll be putting all the knowledge into place…

…and that’s when things get truly difficult.

Drawing From Horses

I’m horse drawing tonight before sunset in their huge fenced territory, the horse pasture. There’s a bit of daylight left, raked from behind the closest ridge in front of us. Six horses live here, Arabian and quarter horses. One is a black and white mule, the only male. He’s 37. I’m told in human years that’s 120. His name is Catfish.

One horse came over to look me in the eye. I mean literally, only 3 inches stood between our eyes, hers huge, dark and milky, inspecting mine, foreign, light and tiny.Like swimming with a whale.

They differ in mood, the horses. A couple horses were very slow to come over and meet me. The ones who did introduce themselves, they had their various ways of interaction. Some more cautious.

You think about how bored they must get but after all, these are not humans. Their desires are simple and definable. I bet their desires and their lust don’t get in the way. Their dreams and aspirations probably aren’t a concern that gets confused. Do horses even have egos? I don’t think they crave attention in general, though perhaps I’m wrong there. There was one brown Arabian who liked to pose for me. What does a horse want out of life besides soft vegetarian food, a light breeze and an agent?

I’m just glad to see these horses never picked up smoking. Not heavy drinkers either so this is good. Boredom never wreaked self-destruction for them. I can’t tell if they care about the sunset or not. All in all I’ve found these horses to be a very easy going bunch. Like me, dislike me, they don’t seem to care about me either way.

It’s very Zen of them to be so chill. For humans it is a challenge to just be. Having no opinion, pushing no preference, a person would feel disengaged or just plain dumb to have no problems to fix. We occupy ourselves with jobs and the pursuit of ideals. We suggest that having no opinion is lazy and fence riders be damned but we fail to see how often the opinions we choose are wrong. And the ones who think they are rarely wrong are more wrong than the rest!

Horses don’t seem to have opinions. Or at least they don’t bank on it. Horses are so open minded I wonder how true it’d be if I called them geniuses. I don’t think there’s ever been a horse war. A war between horses is an absurd thought.

Abstraction isn’t their game. Horses don’t do abstractions—they hate algebra for instance. Yes they told me. They don’t have much to say about art either. I learned this first hand in the pasture. The quality of my renderings made no impression but the smell of my paper interested more than one horse here so maybe genius is a loose term.

There has never been evidence of a horse God. Horses don’t go in for belief systems. There are no political parties in the equine world. There are no divisions amongst horses. You just won’t find schisms. Horse is the original pacifist. It’s going to be fun painting them. I start soon.

–Chad Sorg, July 2016, Iveson Ranch, N. Nevada

We Publicize

I wasn’t a kid who always said I’d be famous some day as some do but it’s the way it is. I knew. I was modest but I knew from within. My purpose for being has always been in tact right since the beginning. Is “fame” a purpose for being? No not really but I knew a degree of public life would become my destiny. Fate?

Ironic perhaps, but I’m not one that follows the famous. Paparazzi be damned. Fame doesn’t hold a spell over me. I know some who align their lives around the lives of the famous. I’m not that way at all. I know nothing of the famous lives. The talented, I do study.

It has always felt like fame was with me. Purpose-for-being might be considered more about what a soul wants to become and less about what is intrinsic and already there within.

So this fame, I go after it. How do I pursue fame in my life? What is my modus operandi? I don’t live in Hollywood or New York so clearly I want something different. Comparing my way to the way of those people who clamor for attention in Hollywood it would seem I’m just on a longer time line. Mine is the Leonardo way. I’ll get there, I’ll die at some point but I will get to famous status. I’ve always known this. Hell, I’m there already from what they tell me. I just keep on truckin’. I just keep on making good art.

It’s true I’ve accepted that P.R. can be my art and so it has become. I’ve pursued publicity but I have my taste to thank for steering me in a stylish direction. Publicity can be tasteful–and there it is: the art in publicity is in making it tasteful.

Publicity gets a bad rap from those who would pretend that art is separate from business. For those of us who regard art as a profession, we publicize. We’re Western culture’s offspring, we’re capitalists and we publicize.

The passion can still be there in the creative making, the art is still art. I like the term “talk value” as it applies to public relations because it directly pins together what matters about talk: it can be of value.

Do noteworthy things and you’ll be talked about. Ask Thoreau, ask Johnny Appleseed. Ask the Hell’s Angels. Ask Christopher McCandless a.k.a. Alexander Supertramp. Sean Penn made a movie about his adventure, “Into the Wild”, based on the book of that name. All the kid had to give for his eternal fame was his life. He didn’t even get to live to see his fame begin. His goal was not fame and this was probably the most attractive thing about his story. He stood out by ducking out.

You camp in the middle of a city and you’re just another homeless. You camp on the rim of a volcano and people want to know your name. Ask Jack Kerouac, ask Al Capone, ask Geraldo Rivera.

–Chad Sorg, July 2016, Iveson Ranch, N. Nevada

Playing Sherpa

Navigating these scrambling rabbit paths leads my mind to my childhood when I’d get into one-kid adventures surveying the forest lands like a scout or mini white sherpa. Later I got motorized with a red and chrome Honda 50.

Here the dirt is dry and it’s not even dirt, it’s sand. It ain’t mud. Trails that haven’t been blown away are evident still, but the lack of human intervention out here is the freshest air. I’ve been trying to see as the animal sees. I’ve been trying to stop my mind from forming words. Writing essays and silent minded hiking don’t mix. Now I know.

My boots wind me down a couple slopes to a mass of low willows filling this low folded area wall to wall. It’s a low gulch here. The glut of life accumulates here and feeds the mouths of a whole panoply of species from the micro scale up to the species like bobcats that would have us for dinner if they had to. That’s extremely rare though, just so you know. The deer live here untouched, unbothered by human aggressions and passions and if we watch them closely we may even find evidence of frolicking.

Moisture runs the show. Vegetation is here in this crevice between mountains because the creek flows through with reservoirs. Water, my friend. Even the shape of the ground here was eroded by water in its various phases and amounts. Water, ice, snow and steam work to mold the ground of our lands.

Quiet wind cools my writing on this modern papyrus with fine point gel pen at this poetic moment. These winds have carried away souls for centuries and probably poems too. People have lived here where I write for a long time. A few have died here I’m sure. It’s a natural cleansing cycle. The rhythm rings echoes of death. Layers of the dead bring more layers of life and the desert doesn’t try to hide much in its dried mulch.

There are remnants of historic encampments around here just like I’d see in Goldfield, pots and pans and the various exciting trinkits decomposing gracefully. I wonder if they were mining for gold too. Maybe hunting, I really don’t know but the ‘leave no trace’ ethic didn’t take with these guys. I don’t mind because it all rusts away to make for astoundingly glamorous photos.

They should call this the front 40. Maybe they do. Hiway 34 is gravel and runs through here from Gerlach, twenty some miles away. This area of the property butts up to that.

It’s an unexpected wilderness serving as the dumping point for ancient rivers and shoreline of an ancient high elevation sea. The desert leaves traces apparent for generations. The depth cut in is dramatic here with sharp erosion edges at 45° angles and it becomes wholly apparent that it’s only mounds of sand waiting to change. I’m standing along the border between flattened and ridged. The Granites father this family of hills along the Haulapai flats. Fly geyser bubbles a few miles away and past that the might Black Rock desert. A passionate land.

Horse stables surround the houses of this ranch and beyond the fences are low ridges that sweep into winding formations, gracefully photogenic but unapologetically woeful toward any rubber wheels. Like the rest of the western half of this continent, It’s all volcanic here. Yesterday a kid broke his collarbone riding motocross. It’s dude ranch 2016 style.

Two stunning horses were here on visit, belonging to a wife of a biker is what I’m guessing. Both were a deep smooth brown. One horse was statuesque. A giant. Art car people come and go too. There’s also a family reunion gathered here now so it’s alot of people on the grounds. They’ve all brought enjoyable energy.

Mountain bikers pass slowly down a path as I write this. At a distance they remind me of the Mormons in the suburbs. This is kinda’ funny. I was lost in a Calvin and Hobbes fantasy wearing bobcat skinned sarong brought abruptly back to 12 geared reality in the last frame. I’m not sure they’re wearing the ties but their shorts and shoes look uniform. They are of the dirt biker clan who meets here yearly but today seen roaming more silently. A quick ride before they leave have to leave.

Iveson Ranch Writings 2016 Pt. 1

The wind is a good metaphor for change. This year started with strong metaphorical gusts back in Reno. I’m single again. And now here I sit at a ranch with horses outside my door as I compile an essay from my journaling.

Wifi doesn’t reach my cabin and that is how i would have it. Sunday I touched up the pink on the cabin I’m staying in. I’m under two giant cottonwood trees along the creek at the horse fence. The frogs are better entertainment than wifi but loud.

It’s like a dude ranch here I guess but we’re all working. Many people can stay here. More and more. We’re building housing. I’m painting pictures on the side of the housing. I’ve been painting at Iveson Ranch for like 6 years now.

The first couple days I took my mule to the pasture. The mule is a vehicle with one forward and one reverse gear. It’s made by Kawasaki. This one’s mine, Eddie the ranch foreman tells me, designated for the artist. Someone called it my art car. It has a roof and a bed for hauling stuff. Round rubber wheels get me around the ranch quickly and efficiently and I love my mule but it’s loud to start.

We sat together alone out in this pasture of desert sage vegetation. Maybe I should name this mule. This is work–it’s research. A friend called this my paintcation.

Sage is more like 5 kinds of plants we call sagebrush. Some are hops, some are rabbit brush and then there are grasses like cheat grass and Great Basin Wild Rye which is very tall. There’s bitter brush which features the little cottony yellow buds and then spiny brush. There’s moisture saved in some. It’s the desert but it makes me wonder how much moisture there is in these plants.

Grey and brown are handsome backdrops to the valley’s floor with the spring greens dominating in wide variety. Green can be grey, brown, yellow or blue. The desert is dusty and dust makes things look grey. My mural on the container is the subject of sagebrush. To warm up I painted a canvas in oils on the easel beside my steering wheel.

In the valley where I sit a patch of pale sunlight inches along. Wind moves light, sound, temperature and moisture. Almost no blue cracks through the silver. Apparently the sun patch has found me but the wind pushes it away in a rustle.

I’m here because I’m an artist. Appreciation is what I do. My purpose is one of preservation. There’s sense of purpose out here. At the ranch everything has purpose. Conserving this place, this environment’s protection is priority. Water is king, our leader. We serve water. It’s not the other way around. This vegetation feeds deer and wildlife. Interested in how conservation works? Talk with these ranchers. The chain of causation continues to feed and the vegetation is crucial.

Did I mention dogs? The dogs here are one black dog and three white ones. Buddy is not a resident here but a visitor and young and with blond peaking thru the white. Mara is fluffy and slow moving sweet, big. Her leg is hurt so she moves slow. Blue is Australian shepherd and I love them. She’s pretty damn chill with David Bowie eyes of course and with grey fur. The black one is Jessie. She’s old and tweaked with a crooked neck and bad eyesight, no hearing. She’s still happy though. She makes due. Loves life, doesn’t wanna miss a thing.

The hierarchy is challenged with the interloper, the pup, Buddy coming to energize things. Blue is right there though, she’s on top of things. Everyone knows their place and things work even when the youngbud comes to knock around but with good spirits of play and companion love. They chase the cat up the fences which are rail road ties stood on end and up around the pond at the front yard the cat sat there all morning the other a.m.

Attention to detail is a championship sport around here. Six years of it has me in pretty good practice but I still get heckled once in awhile by Eddie.

The mix of people here churns up interesting moments. Everything here is interesting. An artist might get special treatment but it’s not about better and worse, it’s about different. An artist is unique in his position in the world. We soak it up. We’re here to reflect.

I sit on my mule on the ridge after dinner over looking the ranch.

The sun went down like an hour ago. The frogs started up just then. I engulfed bratwurst which is like my favorite. I’m listening to Elvis Costello and the sunset has become a yellow ochre or sienna color like mustard it seems. Dark yellow is an interesting thing.

I left dinner abruptly and sped up the hill to this spot and they can see me from the dinner table on the front porch. I’m up the hill and possibly they even get a hint of my music echoing down. The wind has kicked up from behind me, due east, which is where the Black Rock sits. The heat collects there. The wind blows through on its curved path. Here the valley collects the wind and the heat gets sucked up and out.

I’m stuck with green minded thoughts. every thought it seems like I’m seeing green. My thoughts are green. That’s a strange thought.

The purpose here is I make beauty. I’m grateful for the way I make money. I hope to effect people with what I’m leaving here on the surfaces of these cabins. I hope to inspire. I hope the vision I share strikes a nerve with observers. I’ve heard great comments so far. I can’t wait to see this one. It’s a challenging thing painting so big. I simply have to wait patiently until its finished. It takes time. It’s a workout. It’s not a simple. This thing is huge. It’s fucking huge. It’s over 100 linear feet, this mural. Each box is longer than my Victorian Square mural.That’s 70 feet long.

I’m thinking of sneaking to bed. That’s probably what I’ll do. Now it’s silent other than my laptop speakers so I turned the music off. Earlier it was the frog battling the generator for sound from this elevated point. Down at the house you don’t hear it much but up here it’s a different sound point and the two sounds are predominant over people’s voices. It’s raining. I should go home and go to bed.

Their croaking started up slowly tonight with just a few kicking it off at dusk.

What would Mark Twain do?

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