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Capture Time in a Bottle


sun-bottle_web

Can you fry an egg on a rock in Arizona?  Well, you can melt a glass bottle, so!

Once contents are gone, the glass bottle has no value – toss the bottle. That is what people do!  That is why we find em’ out there.

This bottle was discarded, but not tossed, it was set down.  How do I know this? Because of how I found it.

I stumbled across this sun-melted and warped beauty in the high Arizona desert almost 55 years ago, in a canyon lying amongst ancient lava flows.  It was not far from the “Old Trail,” later the path of the famous Route 66.  I imagine it was “discarded by someone on a wagon train or mule or horse back rider, who stepped off the trail a hundred yards or so up that canyon for, well, for something.  Perhaps a campsite, perhaps just a pit stop.  Resting on some round rocks still protruding from washed sand, it sat in a natural heat oven amongst the rocks, in direct Arizona sunlight.  There was also a part of a tin can resting on the glass that left an impression in it.  Look closely and you can see the round impression in the glass (center image).  I wish I had saved it also, but there wasn’t much left of the can.  The bottle has started to turn blue as certain old bottles will do in Arizona.  If it were tossed it would have broken on the rocks, which is why I believe someone sat down and finished off its contents, put the lid back on with satisfaction I assume, and placed it there.

It slowly collapsed of its own weight as it softened under the Arizona sun.

There it rested for how many years I don’t know; perhaps it was lost 80+ years before I found it.  That was when I was a teenager of 15.  It has an alloy screw top which places it after the time of just corked bottles and before ubiquitous plastic screw tops.  The writing cast into the bottle is in English and warns against reuse of the bottle, so it was a controlled substance of some kind; rum or liquor of some sort.  It is 4/5 of a quart, which is an alcohol measure.

It has begun to turn violet from sun exposure and has since developed a crack that makes it very fragile.  Given that I have moved it over twenty times in five decades it is a surprise it is still intact at all.  I used to collect old bottles, going out into old settlements and ghost towns to dig for them.  Selling, trading, swapping them to collectors, keeping the pretty ones or unusual ones to use as painting props during a “still life” painting jag.

After many years an old tossed bottle has more value than any contents ever placed within it.  Now I have only a very few and not very valuable bottles; I consider this a favorite object find.  It is rare, even though others have found similar artifacts warped by the sun, but this one is unusual and I treasure it because I found it.

There are so many “things” of interest, too many to possibly ever paint or even consider to collect, and so we all must both curate and cull what we react to and carry with us on our life journey. This bottle is like several other “treasures” I have burdened myself with because, well, I don’t really know, I can’t seem to turn loose of it, just because.

Will I yet paint the impressions of ghost towns, or a lost soul in the desert sitting by his last bottle of rum, looking out at tomorrow’s promise and yesterday’s regrets?  I wondered at the bottle when I discovered it, looking all melted and wobbly; thinking it a rum bottle, had the bottle become an image, a sign somehow of the one who left it there?  I kinda doubt I will paint that, but the bottle already did tell a story.  The day I found it, images were conjured up, and carried for half a century.  Every time I handle this old bottle, I recall both the moment I discovered it and the moment my imagination saw stories emerge to explain it.  Wagon trains, cowboys and Indians, settlers on a new quest, right there within walking distance of my home.  Now with a blog I can try word painting it into your memory and you can help me carry it around for another 50 years.

The ghost towns of Oatman, Gold RoadChloride, White Hills, Jerome, are all worth exploring.  When I was a child they were fairly untouched; you could walk into stores that still had merchandise on the shelves, people just walked away from them.  After time they were striped of their treasures.  Wagon wheels and hitching posts went last.  Even today, you can find chandeliers made of wagon wheels, hitching posts still used in front of restaurants, and if you look close you will see lots of picture frames made of wood moldings captured from these ghost towns. Finally people had to be restrained by laws, or the very wood of the buildings would be taken too; but back then, no one cared much.  I used to gather a few boards to make old picture frames out of.  I still have just one such frame.  I sold many western art images framed in ghost town lumber. Mostly given to me by my uncle.

jmc/emc

Hualapai-pallet-knife_web HUALAPAI PEAKS

Acrylic on Upson board 9″x12″

This frame was originally  the crown molding from an old hotel lobby in White Hills ghost town.  My uncle owned the town back then, and we went there to target practice.  My parents, brother and sister, shot old bottles for target practice (doesn’t that make you ill?),  and I collected framing material. (I was “the good one” – my daughter’s favorite saying). The painting in this frame is of the Hualapai Mountains as seen from Kingman, AZ.  The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe RR siding had some old crew cars stored there for several decades; the railroad runs right beside Route 66 and I just decided one day to go and paint them.  My wife and I pulled off Route 66 and had a picnic painting session there. The spot is now somewhat developed with a car wash and service garage, but if you walk around back it is still the same view as it was 45 years ago. The Hualapai Mountains, 14 miles distant, are an ancient volcano, and the town of Kingman is thought to set in a smaller caldera volcano.

All this because of a bottle!

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The basic ingredient in glass is sand; sand has iron in it and has a tendency to turn green when exposed to light.  The thicker the glass is, the more the edge has a pronounced green color.  Throughout time, different additives were used to stabilize the color, having varying effects.  Up to about 1915, the element of choice was manganese. Manganese exposed to ultraviolet sun radiation oxidizes it, giving a purple tinge to the glass.  Older glass becomes collectible because of this, and Arizona is a favorite place for turning bottles purple-blue.

Did you know that glass is always a liquid?  Over time, it sags under its own weight and window panes get thicker at the bottom than they are at the top.  That is why my bottle is all warped, because it is a liquid, made soft in the Arizona sun!

jmc/emc

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What does a Butterfly See?


Dye and watercolor stain on paper

What does a Butterfly see? 14″x18″ water dye on illustration board

So what does a butterfly see?  Do you know what you think you see?  If I paint a butterfly, should I paint what I see or what I feel about it?  But when you look at the painting, it should remind you at least of how you feel about butterflies, or if not, maybe you get how I feel.  Must we paint what we think some one else might want to see?

A butterfly probably doesn’t have an opinion of how it should appear for its portrait.  There are no pictures of people hanging in butterfly houses . . . oh wait, there are no butterfly houses!  Don’t think I am being silly, I think this is at the core of all good art. The ability of this little creature to feed, flash color, reproduce and flourish, avoiding extinction long past the dinosaurs, has more to do with its collective beauty than it does with it’s brain (it doesn’t have one).
Collective beauty because: The Native American Indians did not speak of bears, they spoke of “bear” as if all bears made one creature called bear. Grass was not blades of grass, it was grass, one thing; the trees and flowers were all known as grass, as we call it flora; they call it grass, one thing with one common life.  One entity, living as many things from many places, as trees, as flowers, as weeds, it is all grass.
Bird meant all birds as one entity, fish the same thing, one fish.  To give honor to the one thing was to ask for a single bear or a single fish or bird to be taken from the whole as food, and because they, too, were part of the whole, living in harmony of the one thing, it was acceptable to take from self.
The collective creature is somehow sentient with the ability to exist in a collective world where most every other creature would see a butterfly as food, we see it as inspiration worthy of decorating our lunch boxes, stationery, t-shirts, and bed sheets.  In the end, we study, protect, cultivate and will probably make sure this time to get it on the next ark, (unlike the unicorn which missed the boat).  Like the stripes on a tiger, there is a reason for decoration and style.
There is a good book about this effect called the
Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, TED talks
So, why be shy in painting a butterfly?  it represents our highest hopes for our own societies.  It is like the rainbow, or the four leaf clover, or even the moon.  Celebrate your love of design and art, paint this beautiful bug.
jmc/emc

Get It Now


I have some Art advice worth sharing. When a child needs art equipment—find a way to get it for them.

My grand daughter is a young aspiring artist and loves painting, also she loves art supplies, tools and equipment. She has fallen in love with the idea of getting a French easel (usually $140 plus unless on sale) and is saving towards it. Family members have discussed getting it for her birthday. “Really”….if she were a hockey player or in any other sport it would be equipment needed for playing the game and would be purchased immediately as needed. Because it is art the tools are thought of as gifts instead of equipment. This is her sport. She needs it now.

As to materials and supplies, magazines and books that support and enlighten the young artist, well birthdays and Christmas are great times to fatten up the studio with the more exotic or expensive items, but like a hockey stick and gear, an easel is the gear of an artist, a main tool, so are general supplies. Paper and brushes are like tape and hockey pucks, they are a consumable and replacements are needed continuously.

It is not a pony or a castle. most kids today have a cell phone worth hundreds, and most small studios for a child can be equipped with materials, supplies and equipment for the price of one cell phone or e-device. Start with a French easel, they are portable, small and very versatile. www.dickblick.com   is a good place to start.

Get them now get them going you never know how long the “Muse” will await a child.

The tip…don’t just think about it and don’t  forget about instruction, lessons and exposure by a real capable teacher for art, a mentor if possible.

 

 

 

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Drip


Drip

Many things in life come one drip at a time. When that drip lands in the same spot, over and over, as most drips do, that spot is changed. If the landing spot is organic in nature, it will become enhanced by the addition of constant water. If the spot is inorganic it will become reduced by abrasion, rust or corrosion.

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45 years ago, when acrylics were still emerging as a “new” medium I felt compelled to paint an acrylic memory of a water spigot from my childhood front yard in Arizona. Over the years since, one drip at a time, I have built and eroded and added and removed, often without notice, so many things made of small drips of divergent materials. some made of time, some of effort, some drip dripping ideas yet to be acted on.

The water spigot (faucet to us now-a-days people) became an allegorical encouragement to me over the years, reminding me that both time and my efforts were ever flowing.

Somehow as time flows out and away, progress and accumulation, in both materials and experiences, drips in. Some things become corroded, some become nourished. As I age, many things become easier to grasp and harder to carry. Ideas are like that, projects are also. Relationships become more nourished and more abraded as well.

As long as there is pressure in the pipe there will be the possibility of a drip, no matter how good or new the gasket, it will drip sometime. It will add to life, it will subtract too.

The more we lean to the natural side of things, the more the drips nourish.

This little painting has reminded me of my childhood one drip at a time, and now of my many years passing since I painted it. Drip drip drip.

 

 

Are You Hearing Voices?


RCA_dog_web

When blogging, do you find new voices within that were silent before?  They were there, but there was no place to speak them so they went unheard, unformed and just bumped around sticking to each other until some critical mass forced them in or out of your mind? No place for them in the social normal world.  Like a record un-played.

The hard part is creating new sentences to exhibit these voices; to express them by word-smithing so they can be said.  Realizing that the way we talk and the way we write are not the same, especially nowadays, not the same as we learned in our youth, either.  The way blog readers read and the way they perceive the story are also not the same as in the walk-around world, either.  We are socialized individuals, specific to our own people, time and environment and choices and our thoughts don’t always fit just because we have them.

I gave some really deep thinking time to this and a few unseen thoughts came up.  For one: Those of us older than a CD player, our world had to add new words just to keep up.  For those who played with cabbage patch dolls or micro machines, the words, sentences and ideas are made of even different elements.  Brown paper wrapping and string ties mean little to modern children, but the care and value of a friendship once was discernible by simple tells in the tidy twists of a string bow, and saving both the paper and the string was normal.

Another was: These things are deeply seated in the sentences as I try to form a communication with a world that no longer remembers how those specific things felt.  I worry not that those feelings are lost because they are not, they are just assigned to new icons but are still felt in old common ways.  When the language of today’s younger folks is understood, and we take time to express out our older word assemblies, most of us can still communicate, but that is where those new voices that were silent emerge.  With new constructions of how to explain old memories arise, new thoughts arise with it and new inner voices introduce themselves.

I didn’t know at first that as I go out looking for interesting blogs to sift through, this other voice, the one that I don’t show in the walk-around world, is here within the internet, here in a new time.  At first it felt as if, we who are older than ball point pens or pocket calculators, might be at a disadvantage but now I realize that I have been alive through all that today’s youth has been, though I am not immersed in it, while they have never received a gift wrapped in brown paper tied with string that has been used a dozen times, nor eaten fruit preserved by being dipped in wax.  No one can keep up today; actually, no one wants to, but all of us are discovering new voices within, courage to use those voices and not being silent anymore because there is a place to speak.  No one glances away or says to be still; if they lose interest they just click away and what is written sits and awaits someone else to speak to.  I go to bed and don’t wait around, then magically someone rings the bell and comments to my new voice and we all smile.

Don’t you just love blogging with a new voice?

Getting in a Rut to the Moon


27-Southbound-2_webHOW  WIDE ARE RAILROAD TRACKS ANYWAY?

Glad you asked.   The real answer involves horses.  Stay with me, okay?  After the Civil War, the Congress declared that all new railroad tracks had to be a standard 4-foot, 8 and one half -inches.  Before that time there were not so many rail roads and the track sizes were all different sizes all over the place, whatever each rail company wanted, it did without measure of any other rail company.

Standardizing is of course a good idea, but why the odd number? If you can pick any size why pick 4 foot 8 and a half inches?

For a start – because the English made them that way, and English ex-patriots built our railroads.  Fine, but why did the English build track that size?  Well… Because the Romans did, not rail track, of course, but they did build roads, and the wheels on their chariots cut ruts into the stone roadway and if your cart wasn’t that size you had a really rough ride going in and out of the ruts. This forced everyone after them to make wagons the same size.  Four feet, eight and a half inches between wheels- because in ancient Rome that was the size of their war wagon wheels and that was determined because it was the width of the back end of two war horses harnessed together. Someone way back then had decided that the wagon should not be any wider than the horses so they could go through the same openings. Time has a way of carrying its’ ideas forward so … it gets better.

You know those huge booster rockets on the space shuttle?  Engineers wanted to make them fatter, but they couldn’t because they had to be shipped by train and had to fit through a tunnel.  Tunnels are only slightly wider than rail cars that run on the tracks, you know 4 foot 8 and a half inches, which means this: engineers had to design a sophisticated rocket capable of thrusting a shuttle and people into orbit to go to the moon…but they also had to honor how wide a horse’s rear is, times two, because they shipped parts of the shuttle by rail cars which had to go through tunnels and gateways. Rail cars are, however, wider than 4 foot 8 one half inches; some can carry 12 foot wide cargo on special carriers, but is generally limited to 10 foot wide carriers.  This limits the size of rail cargo in many areas and limited the size of the booster rockets.  Keep in mind that many of today’s horses are much larger than the ancient Roman version and if they had them would we would have had bigger boosters?  Not really the point of this story.

Recipes are ruts too!

When I was a child my mother used an old recipe handed down to her from her mother. It was for a beef roast. After doing all of the sauce and meat prep, the final instruction was to cut 2 inches off the rounded end of the roast before setting in a pan and placing in the oven. Every time, for many years, as my mother made a roast she would dutifully follow these instructions. One year my grandmother, (my mother’s mother) came to visit. Mom decided to make the traditional roast and just offhandedly my mom asked her why she had to cut off two perfectly good inches of the roast before inserting into the oven. Time has a way of carrying things forward-remember? Well, Grandma had a really good laugh….. “Dear,” she said, “I was cooking on a small wood stove and if I didn’t cut 2 inches off the end I couldn’t get the door closed. I wrote the instructions so I wouldn’t forget at the last minute!”

Don’t you wonder how much of our daily life is run in a rut?

I heard once that a rut is a grave with both ends knocked out, but sometimes it is good to have something to keep you on track as well and often it leads to someplace or some way that is worthy of going. Ruts are not all bad but I can’t help think that without some ruts we missed a lot of roast and we could have boosted more cargo to the moon, too!

I got into a rut of not posting often and now I think I’m out of that groove!

Thanks for reading on my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seagulls of Canal Park, or 5 things you might not know about seagulls!


 

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These silly sea gulls provide both charm and agitation to the life of a plein air painter. After many days (years) of painting in the presence of Gulls, I learned at least 5 interesting things about them.

1. They know who is friend or foe. If you feed them they don’t dive bomb your floppy hat and leave you a present. If you ignore them they do! They learn to get close if you let them alone. They have a very good memory.

2. Young gulls start out brown not white. They are taught in a school by older birds and protected until they are almost grown.

3. Seagulls go very far inland and search for food in “dry” places too. They dwell around very small ponds too if there is food. Most like to live and nest on high bluffs or buildings.

4. Seagulls are very good swimmers and divers, and float just as well as a duck. They are a very smart bird, sometimes using bread crumbs to “fish”, attracting small fish to the surface to then dive on and grab for supper.

5. Seagulls can be found very late in the fall in Duluth, then one day they just vanish. I do know they are considered a migratory bird, and fly south for the winter. Although they live in flocks they migrate more haphazardly than ducks or geese and forage along shorter flights paths in steps until they find enough warmth and food. They are habitual and return to many same locations yearly.

The Band Played On


The-Band-Played-On_web

The Band Played On 17″x25″ Watercolor on 90# paper

Sometimes a word is worth a thousand pictures, or several words!  My son and I had set up to paint plein air in Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota. There, a “dry docked” retired tug boat sat in an oversized “planter” on the sidewalk and became my subject for that day’s watercolor painting.

Land-tug_web

I sketched and began to lay out my painting, wet the paper and had just begun to wash in a sky when….these guys came out of nowhere, toting folding chairs and musical instrument cases. They set up right between me and my tug subject.  Rude!  You know they could see we were there first!  Not a word; nope, they said nothing, they just took out their instruments, looked at each other and begun to play—–the most amazing brass quintet I think I may have ever heard.

I did not know what to say, so I just began to sketch them into the picture, painting quickly as could be.  Soon a large crowd gathered around them and us; the band never looked up, playing one piece after another. They played for over an hour this way, long enough to roughly paint them when all of a sudden the very loud signal horn for the lift bridge went BOOOOOOOOOFFFFF announcing the arrival of a Great Lakes freighter.  The crowd (whom I had not had time to paint in), turned and ran to the harbor channel to watch the great ship coming in and leaving us and the musicians alone, and the band just played on never looking up.  Later in the studio at home, I added in the ship and the crowd and finished up the tug which is all I had wanted to paint.

After the band finished I did make the effort to go over and meet them and find out what this was about. They were all professionals in the medical field and met twice a year for a impromptu concert in a public place just to keep their skills sharp.  They practice all year for the events but never perform publicly except for these two concerts.  After a rude start, I felt privileged to have experienced this, so I named the painting, “The Band Played On.”

 

 

The Red Fiddle Book!!!


A great little music book, first edition is sold out and new edition is really worth the cost for young musicians who need a book of songs to build a set of presentation or front porch performances. Julie has take great care to make this a must have music book! do your child or friend a favor and also help the Crescendo Youth Orchestra.
Get the book

julieviolin's Blog

Waltzes, Hoedowns, Showpieces, Traditional, & Patriotic Tunes Waltzes, Hoedowns, Showpieces, Traditional, & Patriotic Tunes

Hello! Final proofing edits are nearly complete and I’m getting ready to make another print run of the Red Fiddle Book. Books are $15 each and help support the Crescendo Youth Orchestra in Hibbing, MN. Send check or Money Order to P.O. Box 73 Hibbing, MN 55736 for $15 each + $3 shipping (up to 5 books per shipping cost).

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