Thursday, October 18, 2007

Suburban Archaeology

When I was in second grade, I was convinced that if I dug enough in my front yard I’d find the tomb of an Egyptian pharoah or the skull of a T.rex. Never mind that I grew up in Santa Clara County, California, the heart of suburbia. You can’t talk a determined archaeologist out of his steely determination. My dad couldn’t talk me out of it either.

I was the youngest of five kids, and by the time I came along, my dad pretty much gave up on yard maintenance. He didn’t mind too much if I dug test pits in the yard. The Tonka trucks stayed at it for months. All the neighborhood kids helped out. Eventually their moms banned them from coming over because they came home with their shoes and their pockets full of dirt.


National Geographic was the cause of my affliction. There was a set of the old bound magazines outside my bedroom door. I would read about Hiram Bingham discovering Machu Picchu. If he could find a lost city, why couldn’t I?


I charted my expeditions on the globe: first Palo Alto, then Persia, then Peru. My older brother Dan showed me how to draw sailboats and dinosaurs. Big dreams are born in little people, and I am always grateful to my school teachers, my parents and my older brothers and sisters for encouraging me--and letting me dig up the yard.

4 comments:

Andrew Bosley said...

Thanks so much for all the fabulous info and stories! I've been a big fan for many years. It's wonderful to be able to learn about all these fun illustrator experiences in one place! Thanks for the inspiration!

(my college professor always had kind words about yourself and your work. Do you know Alice "Bunny" Carter?)

james gurney said...

Thanks, Andrew, and we're all grateful to you for sharing those great scans of Leyendecker's work on your blog and to Charley Parker for including them on Lines and Colors.

I hope we can meet if you happen to be at my talk at San Jose State Art School on December 6, courtesy of that wonderful force in the illustration world, Bunny Carter.

Andrew Bosley said...

I'm really depressed now! I wish I could be there, but I've been in North Carolina for about a year now. I need to make my way up north to see more of your work in person some day! Thanks again! Always inspiring!

K_tigress said...

I love childhood stories.
I'm glad you shared one of them.
I have a few childhood stories relating to art, my self. Some sad and a few that are funny.
:)