Wednesday, July 20, 2005

No Sign of BigFoot

Even at 6000ft, it is still too hot for Sasquatch. So, here are my feet, and the neighbor’s houses, and between us, miles of trees (which makes for good fences).
It is beautiful up here, and very nice to see some respectable trees, but still and humid and oddly claustrophobic, so we come back down to the desert, where, at 7pm, it's 117 outside.

Orion stands at the back door in his flotation vest, while I repeat my instructions:

Don’t touch the door.
Don’t touch the knob.
Stay on the rugs. Don’t step off the rugs.
Go quickly to the shade.

We’ve rigged extra shade with pvc pipes and open-weave cotton blankets, hung like camouflage netting.

I keep thinking that there’s a story in this while I follow Orion on the path of rugs.

The water thermometer reads 95.

There’s this device we can install (next year) that shoots a fountain of pool water high into the air so that it cools upon falling.

It didn’t get this bad last year. I may have to give up my little patch of lawn out front.

Orion takes off through the water. I spend some time stretching----I’m stiff and sore, mentally too. I’ve worked intensely on the Nebula Awards illustration for several days that became increasingly frustrating until this afternoon, in a moment of clarity, I decided to do something I do very, very rarely; scratch it and start over.

Pete said, in reference to filmmaking, know your limitations. The concept I’ve been working on embodies the elements I wanted it to, but doesn’t work for me. I’m out of my area of expertise.

I looked at it for a long time. What’s wrong? It’s a broad view with subjects in the foreground and an expansive background.
It’s not… Why not?
Because I don’t do scenic work often. A style has to develop with experience, over time. This is just the way it is and there is no shortcut around it. I haven’t developed the painting skills or vision for this kind of composition.
Sculpture tends to be more like a close up portrait, or a short story.

I could have finished the current painting to the best of my ability in about four hours. It would be okay--would look fine on a badge or flyer, but the execution is generic. Think “The Watchtower”, think Heimlich poster.

OK. Shit. So, where to go from here?

Know your strengths.

If I’d taken a little more time to think this through before I started, I’d have saved myself many hours of hard work. Measure twice, cut once, all that. But… I didn’t.

I needed to look at what I do best in three dimensions and do that, in two.

I reset. I let go of the work and the hours gone. I walked around and looked at sculpture. I sketched out a new composition. Already I look forward to working on it tomorrow. It looks….cool. It will work.

There’s a throng of ants marching around the rim of the pool. We trace it. It goes nearly all the way around. Hundreds of thousands of ants. What are they doing? We can’t touch the rim without risk of getting stung.
I wash them away. It’s another honest moment. I enjoy being high up on the food chain. We edge ourselves around the pool and splash them out of existance.

Then we float about with no remorse on the water until the sky turns gray, the water gets dark and the bats come out. We dry off before the stars appear.

The night sky would remind me that, in the larger scale, we are the ants. I know this, but for the moment I’d rather swim in the shallows and enjoy my fucking opposable thumb. Oh yeah, and my (relative to ants) big, big brain.

So, tomorrow, I paint with what I know: my limits, and my strengths. It’s supposed to cool down to a brisk 109, but with higher humidity.

I found the story too. I jotted down the outline and put it in my ‘raw ideas’ file, where it will enjoy the same odds of being retrieved as a message in a bottle.

We do what we can.



Carl V. said...

I just don't know what to say. That kind of heat is truly unfathomable to me. I hate summers in Kansas City and its like a paradise here temperature-wise compared to what you are describing. I can't believe anyone lives there. Why?

Although I'm disappointed that there are no Sasquatch pics I do have a theory about that...I think he was down swimming in your pool with you were visiting the high ground! ;)

lisa said...

Heh. That would explain the peanut shells...

I came here for reasons unrelated to the scenery, but some actually come here for the climate. Right now this seems insane, but in November they won't.

But here's the thing. I've been here for eight years. I know people who grew up here.
According to them it wasn't always so extreme. I can tell you I don't remember a summer like this. The rain we had this past winter broke the record of a decade ago. Offhand, I'd blame the hundred or so new golf courses for raising the humidity. But I wouldn't mind seeing a couple of charts...

Really_Rather_Not_Nice said...

This whole thing has me thinking about people, and ants, and magnifying glasses, and rising temperatures. And our true place in the food chain. I feel very small and very hot right now, and I think I'll go to bed.

Carl V. said...

Good analogy, RRNN. That's exactly what it feels like, even now, with the sun down and stars in the night sky.

Lisa, growing up in Nebraska I am used to a cold winter climate and though I understand people not wanting winter and prefering the warmer climes I wouldn't want to trade my fall and winter seasons. I'm finding more and more that this is truly the only time of year that I absolutely hate. July and August could just be taken out of the chain of life for all I care.

Kudos to you for any work you manage to get done in 117 degree weather, you are a much better person than me!

lisa said...

To RRNN: Say that in 100 unique words, same tone, please and email to I agree with Carl V...images come to mind...

As for the karyotyping connection--it is indeed an odd thing on this particular site. Pete is fond of saying " You're the sum of your experiences, bro."
When I look at my own art, I can see the morgue, the cryobiology, the endless reading and all the shit in between. Nothing's wasted--it's all in there.