Monthly Archives: March 2022

2022 0324 sumta loogat

An old saying has it that “You cannot have your cake and eat it too.” But thanks to printer/scanner technology, it is easy to have your drawing and change it too. That’s what I’ve done with this one. What you see is a printed copy of a work in progress of mine, one far from finished, and after I printed the copy I drew on it, then I scanned it and photoedited it to darken the midtones, goose up the contrast, and crop it. The result is something I defy people to inpect and see if they can tell what was printed and what was subsequently drawn. Modern printing is miraculous.

I’m calling this “Sumta loogat” because that’s the way I, with my Southwestern American accent, pronounce “something to look at.” When I drew I tried to entertain myself with visual dynamics, tonal range, composition, and just enough text to intrigue. Those familiar with my word would correctly guess that the words are meant to eventually be the spines of two triple acrostic poems. But here is a visual experience that is different than the one to be had when the poetry is complsed and added.

The notation “a/p” is something I picked up from my intaglio printing days in the 1970s and early 80s. It stands for “artist’s proof” and can mean anything from “unauthorized edition” to “work in progress” to “don’t take this one too seriously.” In printmaking it means it is NOT part of a print run.

Just something to look at, Friends. Hope it pleases!


so this is after
a bowl of stewed carrots
and a cup of coffee
and before a shave and shower

that indeterminate time
when my drawing and i have a tussle

“redeeming love” is the name of the movie
that i watch and then pause to draw more
it is about gold-strike times
and a dirt farmer and a luscious prostitute
he is bound and resolute to marry her
she is scarred from abandonment
and the ugliness that goes with the life

it’s impossible to say
what influence watching the movie
has on my drawing
except that watching the movie is strangely soothing
because despite the tawdriness and pain
the title promises glory by the end
and i need that hope right now
for my drawing
(notice the word DEFEAT in lower right)
and my day
(seems like yesterday i did my laundry
and not four days ago
and i go out of town tomorrow
and haven’t booked a room yet
and i want to finish this drawing
and another more important drawing
and and and and and)
and my life

old guy getting older
full of stewed carrots
and redeeming hope

2022 0322 snap shot stage 40001
I hope it’s evident by now that “snap shot” as an acrostic has many different solutions. This one’s Snap is a Ginger Snap, and its Shot is the Ball Shot used in antique weaponry. Conjoin them and you get a Snapshot.

snap shot

slung projectiles do impress
nailing bone and hapless flesh
all too soon we both must go
piorrette et piorrot

Once again the French language comes to my rescue to rhyme a word that ends in o and a word that ends in t. I’m especially grateful for the David Bowie quotation “I am Piorrot. I am Everyman.” So the “we” the poem refers to is Everyman and Everywoman, and Everyone else. You and I, Friend. Though we must go all too soon, we are here in the eternal Now. May we use Now to the kindest advantage.

2022 0320 snap shot stage 3
Here’s another and different yield from the “snap shot” acrosticon. This partakes of certain establishments that are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. Here in the Southwestern United States of America we call them “bars.” Sometimes they are themed. A place with a lot of television screens channeled to sporting events is called a Sports Bar.  A place where patrons who wish to sing are given a microphone and the lyrics to the song they requested is called a Karaoke Bar. A place where silicone-enhanced young women do a pole-enhanced dance and progressively take off their clothing is called by many a Titty Bar, though I, who am no stranger to such places, prefer the term Strip Joint.

Such places exist to spice up people’s lives, so that they can be more rowdy or outlawish or looking-for-love or otherwise fantasy-indulgent than their everyday activities allow.

The “snap” of this acrostic is the snap of a finger. People snap their fingers at poetry events when the poet has said something eloquent or otherwise noteworthy. Jazz lovers may snap their fingers in sync with a beat. Sometimes a finger-snap accompanies a “Eureka!” moment when a person figures out something that had eluded them. And, recently and cinematically, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “The Snap” performed by whoever was wearing the gauntlet ensconcing the Infinity Stones enabled the snapper to reshape the Universe Itself.

In short, the Finger Snap has a rich and various connotation.

The Shot is also numinous. Almost all bars have shotglasses, into which spiritous liquors are poured. A Shot is the contents of a shotglass.

Well, enough exposition. If I want to have a Shot at holding your attention, I’d better make it Snappy. đŸ™‚

snap shot

staccato finger-poppy sounds
napkin-resting thing o’ hooch
at th’ bar will shakespeare’s zounds — o
please knock it off or get the boot

2022 0319 snap shot stage two

Here is one way “snap shot” might go. Were this image taken to its conclusion, the background would be made to evoke “bombs bursting in air” explosions, illustrating “war’s desolation,” backstopping these words:

snap shot

silhouettes and aftershocks
now reveal the cost of wrath
are we safe inside our box? o
potentates won’t stand for that

It seems to fit the acrostic, with immediacy in the Snap, and destructive chaos in the Shot.

Suppose, though, we’d had enough of war, and rumors of war. We might take the same acrostic and evoke something more sweet and innocent:

2022 0319 snap shot stage 2a

snap shot

sage & salt & sassafras
nature spices up our hash
applesauce & ice cream too
pastries make a passe-partout

And the background would be pastoral, and perhaps there’d be a spot illustration of an Ice Cream Social. The acrostic works with a little stretching, since Ginger Snaps are cookies, and Jello Shots are “desserts.”

Does the artist want to Work, at getting a point across and influencing away from violence, or Play, doing some feel-good ain’t-it-great-to-be-alive uplift? Is she or he or they more or less an artist for going against the grain of natural inclination for the sake of a soapbox, or taking the easy way out and producing a more free-flowing expression?

Friends, THIS artist wants to do it all. If you look over my nearly two thousand blog posts, you’ll see my spectrum ranges from Goofissimo to Muy Serioso. Slapdash and meticulous; flighty and pondersome; looking into the Abyss and daydreaming about the Stars. As Walt Whitman pointed out, he contradicts himself because he is Large and contains Multitudes.

And so it is with you, Friends. Hope you have plenty of Love and Enjoyment in and among your Multitudes! đŸ™‚

2022 0318 snap shot stage one

This morning I unblanked a page to the extent that you see above. There is a temptation to make two dozen or so artworks based on this image, and challenge myself to make them different enough so that each piece offered something none of the others did, and yet the whole of them would make a worthwhile exhibit in a reputable art gallery or museum. Ambition fuels achievement, and even if the goal went unachieved, or otherwise a failure, I have some confidence that the six months or so effort I see going into the endeavor described would be time well spent.

On the other side of my psyche, there are these wild horses stuck in their gates at the start of the race, and they want OUT and they want  to RUN and STRAIN and FINISH THE RACE will all due speed, and some undue speed that risks injury.

In the middle and reasonable region of my mind, there is a person who looks a little like Groucho Marx and a little like Morgan Freeman and a little like Eleanor Roosevelt, and that amalgamated chorus of reason says to explore some, but don’t get carried away. I think this imagined trifold of humanity makes the most sense.

Why do artists makes artwork? There is no one reason, but there are a few main reasons. One is the simple urge to bring something into being. One is to advocate a point of view, be it “Isn’t this bowl of fruit lovely?” or “The End of the World is Nigh.” One is to have something to trade for groceries or adventures. One is to try to make sense out of a tiny square footage of the Universe.

What drives me may be nothing more than addiction to expression. I’ve been drawing since I was two and a half years old, and I wrote the first of my thousands of poems and other creative writing when I was seven. I like making myself, and then my friends, and then the world, something to look at and something to think about. So today, to kick things off, I started drawing tiny circles on the page, one by one, asking and answering “Where should the next one go, and how big should it be?” Soon there was dialog, with circles saying “Concentrisize me” or “give me a sister” or “Geez it’s crowded in here.” A few said “Convey a gravity well.” And then they all said “Make us the background of a double-acrostic poem.” Instantly “SNAP SHOT” came to mind. It feels like it pushed itsd way up from my subconscious.

End of stage one. Stage two follows, sooner or later…

2022 0315 inner workings

Long ago T. S. Eliot said “Our beginnings never know our ends.” And much longer ago, legend has it, Alexander the Great anticipated the Indiana Jones scene where Indy, menaced by a guy brandishing a fearsome, whirling array of sword steel, shrugs, takes out his gun, and shoots the guy. But in Alexander’s case it was a complicated knot that no one had the wit and dexterity to untie. Alex shrugged, whipped out his sword, and hacked the knot into non-knottedness. It was both a naughty and an unknotty thing to do, but it solved the problem and left the rest of his afternoon free.

Earlier today I had a complicated work in progress, and showed Facebook and Instagram folks what I was up to, thus:

I captioned the above image with this: “Here’s a drawing in an early stage, with some photoediting. It might be called “non-objective” but human beings can’t help objectifying everything from cracks in the sidewalk to clouds in the sky. ‘That looks like…’ starts many a sentence in an art museum. Faced with the blank page, I asked my hand and carpenter’s pencil to show me something that evoked Energy and Connectivity. An hour later here we are, and the drawing is starting to tell me what it needs, and asking me: Remember the vapor trails out of White Sands? Remember the motion of the caterpillar’s tiny legs? Can you wrap a few tendrils around this form, and give that spiral over there a hint of majesty?”

Minutes later, my music-loving, fellow 2D artist friend Myra Smith responded: “I thought inner workings of a human ear,” and my instant, flip response was “Huh?” But even as I was being a smart-aleck, that potent phrase “inner workings” resonated, echoing between my human ears. I loved it as a title. And I loved it as a quick, Cut The Gordian Knot solution to the work in progress: superimpose a face on this swirly stuff, tweak the drawing a little, and call it a day.

My thanks to Myra for some superb, catalytic conversion.

This morning at 7:44 AM Russ Kazmierczak the text equivalent of a Bat-Signal to me and Birdie Birdashaw:

“Good morning, you guys free to hang and draw at Sip’s this morning?”

We were. We did. And it was a fine morning to hang and draw. And when I got home I took a look at one of the pics I’d taken of Birdie and Russ, and then drew some more.

I’m grateful that these two fine gentleman include me in some of their sessions. They’re both quite a bit younger than I am, and they’re doing a lot more of what they should be doing, creation-wise, than I did when I was their age. They keep it up and they’ll go places. And then I’ll show them this page and I’ll remind them that I fully recognized their potential a bit before the World did. đŸ™‚

bird & russ

buds abide & score a coup — or
iridesce & Gobsmack you
razzmatazz & comic sans
diving deep & clanging pans

2022 0310 what the hell

Jack Kerouac was born on March 12, 1922. Today is his Centenary, just as March 12, 2072 will be his Sesquicentennial Year. We have fancy names for points on our number lines.

I am not too strapped for time, but I am leaving part of my page-image unfilled-in. Call it Compositional Whim, or call it Laziness, just don’t call it late for lunch. (Inside American joke there.)

But the poem will exist complete as soon as I codify it below:

Nick Nack Kerouac’s

New Waves of change, of Parry & Attack
Irreverence as tasty as Shad Roe
Concocting journey’s chapters of a slacker
Keelhauling preconceptions to & fro
Now we must fit the Bride to her Trousseau
And mark when Heads called Marijuana Tea
Concluding that this Beat who’d reached High C
Knew habits that are Bird’s as well as Bee’s

Here are some facts, fun and less so, about Jack Kerouac. Though he was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, he spoke nothing but French till he was 6 or so due to his immigrant parents, and it took him till 11 or so to lose his French-Canadian accent. (Tip of the hat to my French-Canadian friend Michel Lamontagne!!) His birth name was Jean-Louis Lebris de KĂ©rouac, which has an odd resonance with Hercule-Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac of legend. He wrote his famous novel-but-not On the Road on a single, enormously long sheet of uncut typing paper. A movie called Heart Beat loosely adapted from his reality was made in the early 80s, starring John Heard, Sissy Spacek, Nick Nolte, and a manic Jeff Goldblum as the guy who was supposed to be Allen Ginsberg. Kurt Vonnegut wrote this about him: “I knew Kerouac only at the end of his life, which is to say there was no way for me to know him at all, since he had become a pinwheel. He had settled briefly on Cape Cod, and a mutual friend, the writer Robert Boles, brought him over to my house one night. I doubt that Kerouac knew anything about me or my work, or even where he was. He was crazy.”

I read On the Road in my early 20s, when I was still involved with my college sweetheart, and I still had romantic notions that made On the Road as enticing as catnip to a cat. It was a good, quick read, but I remember little except the reference to Fort Lowell near Tucson, and a description of steak and milk as a “protein feast.” I bought The Dharma Bums but do not remember a word of it besides the title. (How Time withers the Mind!!)

But the title did come in handy today. My poet friend Richard Davis Facebook-posted a Happy Birthday to Kerouac, and in minutes this pastiche came to me:

This old man
He was Beat
On the Road and on the street
With a trick knack
Was and now becomes
To us
Dharma Bums.

Happy Birthday, Jack, however you are.

PS: The late Harry Dean Stanton would have been perfect for the role of Jack Kerouac, I think.

2022 0310 what thee hell
Here is an image on a 3×5 card that sat on the table for weeks, faces vaguely sketched, no words. It was either throw it away or finish it. It is almost always better to finish it, and I did finish it, or at least bring it to a stage of completion, but  it may still be better off shredded or otherwise destroyed.

This one’s uniqueness of composition and the aptness of the drawing to the acrostic poem gets it  indefinite stay of execution. When I review my 2022 output in 2023, I’ll have fresher eyes and judgment. Meanwhile, it seems to be something done by the lovechild of Franz Kafka and Sally Bowles.

What [?] Thee [!] Hell [!!]

Whip’n out the sour mash
Hoist it high for dear Estelle
ye a serpent of the lash’ll
Take grotesqueries unwell