Coming Attractions

(Be honest – after reading that title visions of  anthropomorphic movie snacks dancing across the screen while singing “Let’s all go to the lobby…” popped into your head.)

If it seems like new material has been a bit sparse lately you’re not mistaken – I’ve been caught up in some other endeavors that have taken me away from my keyboard.  Some of these activities involve visual art, but my biggest iron in the creative fire is a book project that should see print sometime between now and the Fourth of July. It involves reworking my stories from 1962 to 1967 into a volume dealing with growing  up in Alaska in the 1960s.

More than that I’d rather not say, other than it will be available in both e-book and dead-tree versions. I’m also doing the cover and interior spot illustrations.

I will keep you posted.

I Wish I’d Written That (Part 2)

As promised listed below are the sources for the quotes listed in my 19 NOV 2018 post:

“Gentlemen, we’ve got a date with destiny, and it looks like she’s ordered the lobster” by Neil Cuthbert and Bob Burden in  the 1999 movie Mystery Men

“Mists soft and transparent as excuses flapped across pastures the color of crap-table felt” P.J. O’Rourke from the chapter on Paraguay in his 1992 book Give War A Chance.

“She had that mistreated and neglected look, like an encyclopedia that had been owned by stupid people”. A pre-Dragnet Jack Webb from the radio show Pat Novak for Hire

“I’m not saying it’s been too windy, but there’s a witch’s feet sticking out from under the house and everything’s in color: by Steve Pritzker in the “A Dark and Stormy Night” episode of the TV series Silver Spoons

“He’s so (expletive deleted) dense – this morning after formation I caught him sitting in the cab of his deuce-and-a-half  trying to read an M&M”  informal job performance evaluation submitted by 2LT David Ralph Deitrick  during JRX BRIM FROST 1981

2018: I Wish I’d Written That.

It takes a certain level of hubris to “live out loud”1 as a columnist or blogger – you have to have a fair amount of confidence in your ability to crunch words in an effective and entertaining way.  I do a pretty fair job, but there are times when I’m taken down a notch or two –  humbling moments that involve me coming up against a passage in someone else’s work that just so FREAKING GOOD it knocks me back on my literary fourth-point-of-contact

…passages like the following:

  1. “Gentlemen, we’ve got a date with destiny, and it looks like she’s ordered the lobster
  2. “Mists soft and transparent as excuses flapped across pastures the color of crap-table felt”
  3. “She had that mistreated and neglected look, like an encyclopedia that had been owned by stupid people”.
  4. “I’m not saying it’s been too windy, but there’s a witch’s feet sticking out from under the house and everything’s in color:
  5. “He’s so dense – this morning after formation I caught  him sitting  in the cab of his deuce-and-a-half  trying to read an M&M”

Recognize any of them?

I’ll share the sources in a day or two.

 


 

A phrase shamelessly horked from superstar columnist Anna Quindlen.

Friend Events!

It’s tough maintaining a social life when you’re stuck in a studio most of the time,  so it’s a real treat when an unexpected  “frent” (friend event) happens in my life. It’s even better when more than one of these “frents” happen in short order, which is exactly what came about this last month.

The first good news involves  Oscar Hokeah, a digital-age friend whom I’ve never physically met but who shares a love for accurately launching words in the same way  an expert marksman likes to hit the “ten-ring”. Oscar just got a book deal and while most writers write because word-crunching is woven into their DNA it’s always  nice to get some of that external validation1.

The other “frent” involves a buddy from years ago,  and by “years ago” I mean decades. Dave Doering was a fellow member of The Happy Valley Space Academy 2 a  loose-knit group of artists and fans living in the Provo-Orem area in the late 1980s. We’d meet once a month to socialize and share our work but Dave wasn’t above about stopping by during the month as well…and more importantly wasn’t above serving as an impromptu model when I needed reference material and the deadline was short.

Dave is a writer/podcaster interested in the fan/mundane interface and since the early 1980’s has been instrumental in both the establishment and conduct of a writer’s conference dubbed Life, The Universe and Everything. Dave and I lost contact when my family and I left Utah Valley in 1987 and I was pleasantly surprised to get a phone call from him during an otherwise dismal week.

Below is an example of a last-minute modeling job Dave sat in on:

 

COL 2.00002

Staying Grounded

I spent a good portion of the 1970s working as a roustabout for Chevron USA out at the Swanson River Oil Field on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. T.H. Auldridge was the gang foreman, and I give him as much credit as any other human being for anything I may have become or accomplished in my life. He fought across Europe as a tank destroyer commander during WWII, and despite the lack of a college education or any sort of management training, he was one of the best leaders and smartest men I have ever known.

He was Texas-born & bred and as such was prone to uttering “colorful” observations on life, most of which are not printable in this particular forum. Of the ones that were printable my favorite was “The next time you think you’re a big deal just try to give an order to another man’s dog”,

I’ve had that principle reinforced in my life countless times in every field of endeavor I have worked in – especially in my creative work. During all the years I worked as a freelance illustrator I took pride in my work, especially my 100+ game covers and the conceptual designs  I did for BattleTech, Traveller and most recently the Gun Kingdom books written by R. Scott Taylor. I look at those images as my signature work, but do you know what my most heavily published, wide-spread work is?

Kid’s Puzzles.

From 1998 to 2008 Lori and I created linework for a series of kid’s puzzles published by Patch Products. We would create black & white line images that in-house artists would scan/shade/color via Photoshop for use in puzzles sold through Wal-Mart.

Patch2008PondBW0006

That’s right – those 11”X17” kid’s puzzles that are bundled and shrink-wrapped eight-to-a-package? The ones displayed on the end-caps of the toy aisles.

Those.

That means that years from now when the gophers are bringing me the mail I won’t be remembered for BattleTech, or Star Trek licensed work or the fine art I create – I will be memorialized by insects, dinosaurs and cars.

…and as much as I’d like to think that my writing will make more of an impact that my art, I am jolted back to reality whenever I check stats on this page. It’s not the stories from my youth, the commentaries on music or reflections on life that get the most attention.  The single post that gets the most views – the one piece of writing that has been seen the most by people around the world.

Cardboard Batmobile.

Title Page: “Dog King John and The Stolen Syrup

2018-08-01 DJKSS CoverTitlePage

Title page for the aforementioned book I’m writing for my grandchildren. As you can see here and in other images from the book the linework and type are not perfect – and there’s a reason for that. I’m producing this in the “old-school” manner much like we did forty years ago. I’m using my computer strictly as a stat camera/typositor – all the drawings are done with pencil, pen and template as is the line work and graphic devices. I’m placing the type by hand and designing “by eye”.

You’ll also occasionally see stray construction lines that I’ve left in.

Some people dress in period costume and live in restored villages as a means of “living history”. This project it my way of doing so as well.

Video Tour of the Not-so-new Studio

I’m still not totally skilled at handling multiple on-line venues. I have this blog, a Facebook page and a “Fans of The Art of David Deitrick” Facebook page that my good friend Scott Taylor instigated a couple of years back. I shell out $5.00 a month for a page on Freelanced.com and  I have a LinkedIn account but I do very little with it – their major selling point is “Where not Facebook” which doesn’t inspire much confidence in me.

My point? Not everything I post is pertinent to every one of these forums so I try to carefully pick and choose what goes where. Odds are what I post here will also go to my main Facebook page but not always to the “Fans of” page. That also means that sometimes material gets to the other pages…but not here. One example is a nice 180 degree video sweep that I made of my new studio that got to Facebook but not here.

 

This was taken a couple of weeks ago – since that time I’ve stored a little more stuff and added a printer/scanner, but for all intents and purposes this is my studio now …and it a the most “right” working space I’ve ever had.

 

Words and Images

For my whole life there’s been  this running gun battle between words and images.

 The ability to write and draw with an equal facility posed no problems in my youth but when it came time to declare a college major I went against my natural inclination and chose visual art instead of writing, I made that choice based on one very important fact: Distractions are not a problem when I make images. While I am painting I can also:

  • Listen to  music
  • Watch a video
  • Carry a conversation

On the other hand I have to be sitting in a monastery to write. Well, maybe not an actual monastery, but the place  has to be pin-drop quiet with no distractions whatsoever.

 Even more confusing?  When it comes  to painting I freely admit I am not stellar material. I’m a good draftsman, a good  sculptor and had I stumbled into  cut-paper sculpture earlier I’d be rich and famous, but I always knew that when it came to traditional illustration I was a “B-Lister” at best.  I compensated for that lack  by working extremely hard, but the fact is that when it came to making images my concept always surpassed my execution.

 I’ve never felt that way about my writing – not that I am cocky about it, just confident. It helped that during all those years focused on images I never completely stopped crunching words:

  • I’ve kept the same journal going consistently from 1972
  • I’ve edited newsletters in just about every religious or secular organization I’ve belonged to.
  • In the service  was the “go-to” guy for writing recommendations for awards and fitness reports.

 …and I borrowed a tool from my image-maker tool kit.  I work hard at my craft. While he might not seem the most obvious choice, Teddy Roosevelt has always been an inspiration for me in the way he fought his childhood weaknesses with hard work and a vigorous life style. As an artist I knew that my only compensation of lack of talent was hard work. If a classmate spent three hours on a project I spent six. If a competing illustrator put twenty hours into a cover I’d spend thirty or forty.  While I don’t spend quite so many hours on my work now, most of what I publish (especially the autobiographical stories) is the product of careful craftsmanship and word-crunching.

 It may be that I overwork my word-crunching at times. I do know that it slows down my output which isn’t a problem until I get sick and lose a week or two, at which point I start to lose followers as well. My original intent with the blog was to have kind of an  A/B schedule, with the “A” stories extensively crafted multi-page productions and the “B” stories  being made up of shorter more off-the-cuff observations.

 Maybe I need an A/B/B/A schedule….but as I’ve already weathered the disco storm once, so on that note I will wish you a good day.

( If you were born after 1970 you probably won’t get the joke…)

2018: Studio Deitrick

Due to a very fundamental misunderstanding with Dad we spent most of the summer of 1987 without a studio. “Useful studio space” was one of the deal-breaker conditions  to be met before we assumed house-sitting duties while my folks served a mission in Nova Scotia, but evidently there was a generation gap in the definition of the word “useful” and we were left to work out of an unfinished/unheated garage. Nevertheless I had clients to service, so after squeezing my drawing table into my old loft bedroom, I divided my long Alaskan days between marker renderings and carpentry, taking care of both my clients and construction chores.

It was a happy day in mid-August when Lori and I nailed the final bit of trim, hung the last of the curtains in the windows, and had an impromptu party sipping New York Seltzer, eating poppy-seed muffins from the Soldotna Safeway and listening to the Peter Gabriel blockbuster album SO.  I was feeling great relief at having the wherewithal to go into full production, but there seemed to be another intangible presence dancing along with us to “Your Eyes”.

For the preceding three months it felt like a member of our family was missing, and it was only after three sets of verbal volleyball that we figured out  what had been missing:  Studio Deitrick.  The studio had become a part of our lives in the same way writers described the Starship Enterprise as being as much a character as Kirk, Scotty or Uhura in Classic Star Trek.   For years most of our life revolved around that particular kitchen of the mind – no matter what else was happening, we all eventually congregated in the studio. In addition to serving as delivery room to countless works of art, our children grew up in our studios, we entertained in them, and all my prep time for thirty years of college teaching happened in Studio Deitrick.

…but then something happened in the early summer of 2015 and Studio Deitrick went away. Even though the house we bought had a very similar floor plan to our previous rental, there was no room for a studio as such and I was left to cram what I could into an extension off the back of the kitchen…and when I was done  nothing clicked. Oh, I got the room into a semblance of order but there was no magic and it remained nothing more than a converted breakfast nook …and the three years I spent in there were the three least productive years of my life.

It was only after we started making changes when I lost my contract with Nashville State that the Studio came back into existence. As we sat in the sitting room that we’d organized from the old studio space it just felt capital-letter R Right. When we trudged up to the new studio in the old bonus room it felt capital-letter/bold, underscore/Italic R “right” – the strongest impression of “rightness” any of our studios have felt since leaving Sterling in 1989.

That extra member of our family has come home.

It still has that vibe now. No doubt the resemblance to my loft bedroom back on the ranch has a lot to do with the feeling, but even on the worst days when that flight of stairs seems a thousand feet long, I continue to feel a calmness of certainty when I sit down at my desk.

Does that mean that our troubles are over and all of our challenges are being solved?

No…but for the first time in years I feel hope.