Monday, July 31, 2017

Visiting Lumber Camps


In addition to riding the freight trains around America, Tom Kinkade and I drove my Austin America around California looking for subjects for our planned book on sketching. The trunk was full of easels and stools and the whole back seat was filled with art supplies.

Between Fish Creek and Coarse Gold, by Tom Kinkade, markers

We stopped at a lumber camp, and Tom did this marker sketch of an abandoned wigwam (or teepee) burner.

The lumbermen invited us in for coffee and we sketched their portraits as they told us about dangerous aspects of their jobs.

Related Topics
In case you missed it, here's the audio journal podcast of our cross-country sketching adventures.
And here's where you can find old copies of The Artist's Guide to Sketching. No plans yet on reprinting, but there's been a lot of interest.
Previous post about riding freight trains with Thomas Kinkade
This is the last day for entering the Dead Vehicle Challenge. Even if you're not participating, check out the amazing entries that have been coming in.


16 comments:

Mary Burr said...

I was able to locate a copy of "The Artist's Guide to Sketching" at my local library. I enjoyed it tremendously and you have my vote for reprinting. Excellent book!

Jon said...

Agreed that your book on sketching is excellent. Definitely worth the price I paid. On top of a reprint, a new book on sketching, with a painting focus, covering a lot of the topics you talk about here and in your videos could be cool.

nuum said...


Master,
It´s about time to reprint "The Artist's Guide to Sketching"

It´s a winner.

One of my dearest books.

Paulo
Rio

artsworth said...

Great car, more comfort than my current model Hyundai. Drove one from Melbourne to Sydney. Please reprint your guide to sketching. I can highly recommend Color and Light. Best wishes.

Luca said...

From the hobo life on the trains to the on the road adventure. Wow, those must have been intense years... :D

We know that you are an adventurous discover of the world, so it's not a surprise. But it's more difficult to imagine Kinkade in all these situations, even if I don't know a lot about him, i must say (but what you wrote in the other post, about people not believing the story of the train travel , confirm my impression).

I don't know, maybe we'll discover that Norman Rockwell was actually a ninja or a KGB spy, soon or later... :D

Amanda said...

Looking closely at the car photo you and Tom appear to have matching clothes, is it a uniform?

I tried to borrow the sketching book from our state library - not possible - apparently it had been stolen. Clearly in demand!

Mark Martel said...

The shirts were genius, where did that idea arise? They evolved into the Dept of Art thing, right?

James Gurney said...

Amanda and Mark, Yes, we bought sets of matching gas-station shirts at a secondhand uniform store. We also had matching security guard uniforms. They were cheap, but also we found wearing them got us access to all sorts of experiences.

Luca, Tom's later artwork was quite different from the work he did when I knew him. I'll share more about the adventures Tom and I had in future posts.

Thanks, Mary, Artsworth and Nuum. I don't control all the rights to the book, and I would have to find a suitable publisher, but I will see what I can do.

Jon, I agree. AGS doesn't cover painting at all.

Warren JB said...

On one hand, there are still copies on Amazon!
On the other, you told everyone there are still copies on Amazon! I don't make many £90 impulse buys, but this is one of the cases where I think it's well worth it. (Won't stop me buying a reprint though, if it materialises)

These tales of your travels with Tom are fascinating to me. Rightly or wrongly, they feed a romantic notion of a bohemian life as an artist. (I guess it might feel a little less glamorous, shivering on a rooftop, or turning artistic cartwheels for $2! But still...) The commenter mentioned in the previous blog post was overly contemptuous of the idea that someone could still ride the rails on the 1980s; me, I'm kind of in awe of it. I wonder what the possibility's like in the 2010s?

Luca said...

Warren: i think the point is not if it's possible or not to travel around a country by train or by bus or whatever, but if done today it would give us the same feeling of 40 years ago. The world changed a lot from that time: pc, mobile phones, internet...It got smaller.
And perhaps repeating today experiences done in the past by others could give different feelings. On the other side, i've always thought that the meaning of a travel is travelling, not arriving: the world changed but men stayed the same.
Perhaps you should find a bohemian way to live... updated for our era! :)

James Gurney said...

Warren and Luca, The heyday of boxcar riding was in the 1930s, and we were motivated by a somewhat romantic idea in taking the trip. We also planned to ride down the Mississippi on a homemade raft until we realized that would be impossible in the modern world. What made it an epic adventure is that we had no idea of the route and no control over the means of transportation, and we faced some real obstacles.

The online magazine Vice has had some of its guys try riding boxcars:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWHh9W5IeBo
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/8gdzbb/the-illegal-freight-train-life-stolen-pizzas-and-hobo-handjobs-212

I would not recommend riding the freights under any circumstances because it really is dangerous, and I can only imagine the bulls guarding the yards are more zealous about enforcement than ever. But as you suggest, the spirit of adventure can take you on all sorts of journeys. What if you went to truck stops and bummed rides from long-haul truckers? That's do-able and a great sketching opportunity.

Luca said...

I think this is that strange nostalgia for a past we didn't live, or for places we didn't see (if i am not wrong, there's a name for this feeling but i can't remember it) . And i think that it has more to do with the difficulty to adapt to our present, cold and iper technological era than with the real charm of the past. We idealize the past in a romantic way, as James said. We feel that in the past life was simpler and more human-sized, but we also forget all the problems they had to face and all the opportunities we have (just think to the fact that we are reading this wonderful blog everyday and all the knowledge James can spread just posting something here...a cassette shared among friends now is something that can reach all the world in a second).

We are men of our time, but we belong to a brave species: we are still continuing the travel of some brave hominid that one day decided it was time to climb down the tree! we just to find our own way to live enriching experiences! but mistery and magic are still there waiting for us, because they are inside us! :)
Perhaps, just turning of the phone for a while could be enough to start feeling the world in a different way! :D

Warren JB said...

Thanks for the links, James. Though don't worry, I'm not about to go hopping boxcars anytime soon! I can't disagree with Luca:

"I think this is that strange nostalgia for a past we didn't live, or for places we didn't see"

Especially true when you live in Ireland, where there's no rail freight (as far as I know) and everywhere's a few hours away at most! Though there are some things we don't lack - and I'm sure you know well - lots of little back roads, and the places they lead to.

Now if I could just find a dead vehicle around one of those places...

Violet said...

I love the Artists Guide to Sketching book you and Kinkade wrote together- would like a copy but it is out of print and the ones that are available are going for upwards of $80-100! Not something on an artist budget to get...any thought of having it reprinted anytime soon?

Thanks for all that you share to help others like me along on our artistic journey~

Tami J

James Gurney said...

Violet: I wish it were cheaper. We're starting to look into getting it back into print.

Simon Barnsley said...

Austin America?
I believe it was called the Austin Maxi over here in the UK. Cool.