Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Across the Border

The border guard asked who we were, what we were doing, and what we brought back. We told him we were painters up to see an exhibition called "Garden of Enchantment," and all we bought were a couple of art books. He looked kind of disgusted with us, and waved us through.

At the PriceChopper in Plattsburgh we got some turkey sandwiches. I saw a guy two aisles over in the checkout line who looked just like one of Henry Hudson's crew in Rip Van Winkle. I started sketching him, and when he noticed, I just told him: "I'm sketching your picture."

Later I caught up with him at the Lotto machine and showed him the sketch. His shoulders were covered with sawdust. He told me he is a logger, and we got talking about the early chainsaws that the old-timers used to work. They used motorcycle engines and took two men to operate.

He said the oldest trees he had seen in the forest were yellow birch. Once in a while he runs across a chestnut or an elm, but he said he leaves them for wildlife. He invited us by his place, but we had to get home.

20 comments:

Very Top Five said...

What a great story, how you connected with the man like that because of your talent at drawing. Cool post!

william said...

The border guard's reaction hit home for me. I'm an artist (however ungainly) in a banker's body, and I think I project that reaction to artistic pursuits, perhaps unfairly, onto the world. So glad to have found your blog. Inspirational!

Erik Bongers said...

I have to be honest: if I were a border guard confronted with some people talking about "Garden of Enchantment" and "art books", in the world I would live in at that moment, I probably would look disgusted as well. If not because it sounds very arty-farty, then because out of slight embarrassment that I'm "only" a border guard. Nothing wrong with that job, but every job has a social status, whether you like it or not.

Having said that, the social status of an artist is very volatile. Sometimes a single person can make a remark that shows great admiration for artists and the next moment subtily imply resentment.

I try not to judge too hard on people that judge too hard...although I often fail at this, I admit.

booksIaminterestedinworming said...

'artist' to many does not mean the love of art as we know it, but damien hirst, obnoxious, elitist nonsense. thus... it might evoke a negative reaction...whereas, when people see the real craft (as opposed to nonsense) as you did w/ the man you were sketching it usually evokes a positive reaction.

Random York said...

That's it? I was thinking maybe one of you would grab the guard's gun and start shooting it at the ground to cause a distraction while the others ran across the border with the art books! Man, what a missed opportunity!

(Happy Thanksgiving!)

Angie said...

Hi! Stumbled across your blog through "Blog of Note", and I notice you are the brain behind Dinotopia! I can't believe it! Those were my favourite books growing up! Read them several times each!

lilly piri said...

Do you give your portraits to the people you sketch? Just curious, because I do that if they catch me sketching them.

Oberon said...

...i invite you to join globalove think tank.

James Gurney said...

Lilly, I usually email them a scan or send a photocopy if they want one.

Random--we were just listening to your guitar album. Great stuff.

Thanks, everyone, and welcome new blog readers and commentators.

Random York said...

Thanks for the compliment Jim! I'm gald you are enjoying it!

Kaisa said...

Wow.... That was really a great story.. And you have an awesome talent I wish I could draw like you do!! ;P

Rachel Brenner said...

That guard must have been bored and disappointed that he didn't meet his quota for the day.

I had a very Happy b-day Mr. Gurney, because I finally got my copy of Imaginative Realism. Was very excited about the mastercopies and maps sections.

Hope to do an parody of the Coco cola- Santa Claus ads by Sundblom for my Christmas card this year.

DRUMMER MAN said...

your blog is very inspiratinal i love it so much the art is a big talent
just love your blog mate
les underwood drummer002

Nikhil Nayak said...

really cool story mate.

really wish I could draw like you.

Would love to have my face sketched like that!!

JBUDD NEWS said...

Wow, you do some cool stuff. keep it up
jbuddnews.blogspot.com

GALE said...

im learning to draw like you ><
how long would it take to reach your level?? :P
(ur my somewhat idol)

James Gurney said...

Thanks, everybody. You don't have to draw like me! But if you want to improve your drawing, always take a sketchbook in your pocket and have no fear--try any medium or drawing anything. Good luck!

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hypertornado said...

great!

aprofessoratialilian said...

Prezado Gurney Journey, não sei como cheguei ao seu Blog, só sei que cheguei.E olha, valeu a pena ter conhecido seu trabalho.Sua habilidade com desenhos é estupenda
estou de boca aberta até agora.Só posso te desejar sucesso.
Assina:aprofessoratialilian.