Painting / cartoons of my dog -and a song
In my last post about painting and fishing, I mentioned the dog I had as a teenager.
Having a family dog can be a great thing. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that great for various reasons, but for me Boris, the corgi/ dachshund cross we got when I was about 12, worked out perfectly- although he wasn’t a big fan of my music
For a start, Boris never really lost that puppy cuteness. He was a wonderful wee doggie. He had a great personality. He lived a long happy life. As it turned out, when I left home, I left him with my mum and he was a part of my nieces start to their lives as well, so he had a positive effect on a few generations.
I had a couple of goes at painting him while I was at high school.
I was watching my elder brother design a postage stamp – an assignment for his high school art class. He painted a wash of horizontal blue for water then painted a whale over the top, using semi opaque greys and whites to create a grey scale painting. It really impressed me.
I found a photo of My dog that I liked and had a go at the same technique. Blue back ground, greyscale dog. This was my first effort at realism, using acrylic paint. I was so excited as the dog started to appear on illustration board, I kept painting late into the night (the beginning of a habit) and eventually woke my mum to have a look at my work. I’m not sure where that painting got to, but it set me on my way, to painting realism.
I then decided to get brave and go for colour. Again acrylic on illustration board. About 5 years later, when my colour blending had improved , I had the idea to add coloured pencil over the top, to soften the picture.
I also painted him directly onto a piece of wood once. The result was the paint sunk into the wood & became quite dark. It ended up looking like an old eighteenth century (?) European oil painting. I learned the benefits of priming the painting surface (seals the wood, stops the paint/colour sinking in).
While still at high school, I did a dozen cartoon strips, about my dog and our two cats. I sent them to a magazine for possible publication. I received a positive sounding ‘no’ ‘..a little character development required’ ( no doubt me personally as well – I don’t think I realised at the time this was a very encouraging response). Here’s a few…
In my 20s I took on a job playing and singing at a ski resort in the middle of nowhere in National Park, New Zealand. Stunning views of the mountain (Ruapehu) at sunset- pastel pink rising above the high country plains. Great gig for a few months: I sang and played my favourite songs on my electric piano/ synth strings for diners. My other responsibility was to light the fire in the restaurant before I started. The resort, ‘Buttercup’, was a rustic joint. It had seen better days , but it’s laid back vibe suited me- great gig. The boss/chef/etc was a character: Marshall Gebbe , from Western Australia. I remember after my first song in the restaurant he came he said “This is going to be a fantastic winter”. I used to play 2 or 3 hours straight, without a break because I was so into the music.
On fine days I went skiing. On rainy days I had 3 choices: go trout fishing, write songs or draw cartoons. It was a great winter. I set myself the goal of producing 50 cartoon strips during my 3 month stint, which I managed. I placed myself back in time, still living at home, with the dog and 2 cats. I wrote about 30 songs, too (I’ll rerecord some of those next). The mountain air was a great tonic.
Incidentally , I broke my right thumb while skiing, on the afternoon before my first evening in the restaurant. So I played with 4 fingers on my right hand – I must’ve looked really emotional when I sang -Much wincing and eyes closed with the pain.
The actual accident was quite spectacular. I was being shown around the mountain by a very competent skier. My skiing level was way below hers. At one point she said ” …and we just push of this (near vertical) drop and zoom across toward the other side of this valley, where the slope will naturally slow us down. Coming?” And off she went. ” Yeh, right! As if !”, I thought, as I watched her calmly push off the edge. I shuffled along a bit, had another look. It was even steeper, bit of an overhang. ..and …. my skis started going and off I went. I free fell for 10m , then I made contact with the the icy face, and balanced , in a full tuck- momentarily triumphant. Then I looked up as I levelled out, to see some scary icy lumps which I hit about 5000 kms per hour. I was fully air borne, timed my flight to neatly bisect pairs of skiers on the lift. then I eventually came down on the hard surface, landed fully on my thumb and slid to a stop. A bit hair raising. I don’t smoke , but I accepted a cigarette from my guide. I remember the feeling sitting in the snow, observing the beautiful view of the plains far below, reflecting on my brush with total disaster.
Ok here’s a few cartoons
After all these years occasionally I still feel the urge to lean down and pat Boris (who is of course long departed) which makes me smile . Perhaps he’s come back for a visit. I make do with a quiet “Hey, mate”. So he’s still bringing a smile to my face. Years ago, at the time I recorded the River Music album, I wrote a song with a friend called Huckleberry Man. It’s autobiographical. There’s a line about Boris in it: the character ‘walks with a dog no one could see’. I’ll have to record it one day. The band play it from time to time.
Post script : Last night while I was painting, I decided to listen to some old recordings…home demos, etc, that I hadn’t heard for years. I completely forgot on one song I’d asked my young nephew, Toby, to giggle at the end of a quiet songs. He got into it, giggled and then there’s a bark – it’s Boris, saying hello after all these years. It took me right back to the moment. I rewound the tape and played it about ten times- very cool to hear my little buddy. I remember Boris figured out there was something up with the microphone, picked up on Toby’s excitement I suppose. Anyway, Great timing, with me currently writing this about him. (I’ll put the song online- once I get my music computer back up and running, I’ll transfer it from cassette tape (!) )
Writing about these times from my past has made me nostalgic. Here’s a song about making the most of our time on earth. I’m so happy I made the commitment to write my songs and do my art. It’s great to be able to share some of it here.
TIME WON’T WAIT ©PETE PASCOE 2012
BROKEN HEART BROKEN WHEEL
TIME WON’T WAIT IT SURE CAN HEAL
LONELY MAN LONELY LIFE
IT’S ALL GONE TO PLAN IN SPITE OF THE STRIFE
IF TIME CAN’T HEAL YOU ON THE PATH YOU’RE TRAVELLING
YOU BETTER CHANGE TACK, IT’S TIME TO KNOW
IF YOU DIDN’T FEEL YOUR PLANS UNRAVELLING
NOW WHEN YOU LOOK BACK IT’S SO LONG AGO
AND ONE THING MORE, FOLKS IT’S FOR SURE TIME WON’T WAIT
YOUNGER YEARS THEY WON’T STAY
UNLIKE TEARS YOU CAN’T WASH AWAY
THE HERE AND NOW SURE YOU CAN,
THO ITS LONG PAST THE HOUR FOR US TO MAKE A STAND
IF YOU DON’T REACH THE STARS YOUR BLEEDING FOR
THERE’S ONLY ONE PLACE TO FALL – IT’S NOT BAD AT ALL
IF WE LET IT TEACH THE GIFTS WE’RE NEEDING NOW
WHEN YOU HOLD OUT YOUR HAND , TRY TO STAND
WALK THROUGH THE DOOR, ONE THINGS FOR SURE
EVERYONE FEELS THE PULL ANYONE CAN ACT THE FOOL
BUT TIME WON’T WAIT
AND IF YOU SEE THE DARK CLOUDS GATHERING
WELL YOU BETTER RUN FAST, THIS STORM WON’T PASS
OVER THE SEEDS THEY ALL NEED WATERING
YOU JUST GOTTA ACT AS A MATTER OF FACT
BEFORE YOU GO SOMETHING TO KNOW
DONT YOU MOVE TO SLOW COS TIME WON’T WAIT
ANYONE CAN LOSE THE PLOT, ANY MINUTE THE CLOCK COULD STOP
BUT TIME WONT WAIT