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.

Update: Dog King John

As I wrote previously I am in the middle of a book project entitled “Dog King John and the Stolen Syrup”.  The story behind the project has more twists than an M. Night Shymalan script but basically involves my efforts to stay involved with my grandchildren through sketch cards I send to them each month.

I’m replacing the individual cards with pages from a book I’m writing for my wonderful mob of grandkids. If everything works according to schedule the book will be done third-quarter 2019 and will be available for purchase via a Kickstarter campaign at the time. Until then I will periodically publish occasional pages like this one:

DogKingJohnPage1

1961: The Sandman

ReRun Saturday + 1. What I didn’t mention in this post was that 100 year old home didn’t last another twenty years. An extended family member had it leveled sometime in the Eighties and put a manufactured home on the lot. Logically I understood the move – the place needed constant repair and was hard to heat/cool but it still broke my heart when I heard the news. It felt like losing a grandparent.

David R. Deitrick, Designer

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The Sandman is a member of what I call second-string mythical characters.  Not prominent enough to rate the massive Disneyfication that would weld him into a universal image, the Sandman has been used in both print and broadcast media for a wide-range of roles ranging from benign wizard to superhero to evil demonic menace. You’re welcome to take your pick of any of these incarnations but personally I know him to be a kindly short little man dressed in mid-19th century British garb.

I know that because I actually saw him in 1961.

Despite the lack of any Romany blood (that I know of) my family and I were gypsies when I was a kid. Using education alone as a measuring stick it was obvious that we never stayed in one place for long; by the time I got to seventh grade I had been a student in seven…

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Thank You India

Earlier this year I wrote 2018: Bubble Wrap – a post concerning the personal fallout from the death of an old friend and mentor. When first published the post received  moderate  attention so I filed it away as one of my average efforts….but a week or two later  I learned that my  assumption was wrong. Something in that post  must have touched a collective nerve because the readership climbed very quickly, bringing about the following developments

  • FA large number of initial views on 2018: Bubble Wrap.
  • A large number of comments and “likes” on that particular post.
  • A sharp increase in “second-viewers” – readers who came to my page looking for the Bubble Wrap post but then stayed to read some of my other work.
  • A sharp increase in registered followers

As expected most of the readers have been my countrymen – readers from the United States. What was not expected was the nationality of the second-largest sub-group in this surge of readers. One would  assume that they would be from Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom, but in fact India is the home of the second largest group of people reading my blog.

It was a total surprise, and my first thought was trying to figure out what I’d said that would be of the slightest interest to  people living on other side of the planet. I grew up on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska and while my training in military intelligence left me with a bit more knowledge of the Indian subcontinent than most Americans, I am still mystified by so much interest in my work coming about in a country on the opposite side of the globe.

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to express my thanks for this interest and thought maybe I could find a way to express myself in Hindi or Urdu but as I started research I had visions of committing some terrible social blunder through miscommunication. There are innocent terms used in North America can take on very different meanings in other languages – for example, payday is what we call the day wages are disbursed  but “payday” is also a homonym for “fart” in some Latin American countries. I’ve known of American hipsters getting tattoos based on (mistranslated) Chinese or Japanese characters that were later found to have ” undesirable” connotations.

Besides – how do you say “thank you” to an entire continent? It’s like having a blue whale for a pet. The relationship might mean something to you, but I doubt the whale would be aware of your existence much less develop any sort of fondness.

Maybe the answer is intrinsically undefined and is a more personal matter. Despite my Teutonic surname most of my ancestors came from the British Isles – and not just England but Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall.  Military service runs several generations back in my family – I could possibly have had an ancestor stationed on the Northwest Frontier but as far as I can tell the regiments don’t match up…and it might not be the most politically correct idea at this point in time.

There’s always the chance that connection comes from a time even further back than the Raj.  I’ve recently discovered the music of Archie Jay & her bag-piping lady snake charmers and (all musical puns aside) it strikes a resonant chord. My family has always kept in touch with its Celtic roots and years ago before Mean Old Mr. Asthma literally took the wind out of my sails, I was a passable piper. Even to this day I can squeak out “Amazing Grace” and “Cock of the North” on my chanter so it should be no surprise that  the first time I heard Miss Jay and her team of snake-charming lady bag-pipers a chill went up my spine as the tears went down my cheeks. It felt familiar yet alien so maybe that amorphous  connection happened millennia in the past before the great Indo-European migrations split us up into Celts, Aryans and the countless other subgroups that wandered all over the globe.

…all of which is a much deeper subject than I can handle for now. Please keep reading, liking, sharing and recommending to your friends.  If you’ll excuse me, I have to go try and put a collar on a whale.