Sunday, August 5, 2007

20. Painting in Deadwood

When I got the idea to come and paint here in Deadwood I decided to make myself some special painting gear that I thought would help put me in a "Deadwood mood." (see first posting, July 16) I made myself a Buckskin jacket because that was the type and style of jacket that was preferred here in 1876. I also made a pair of matching silver ceramic six-guns with white handles just like the pair Wild Bill carried. I added paint brushes so I could actually do my painting with them. My rough wood easel was something I thought might look like what a painter living in Deadwood in 1876 would have fashioned. I made all this and more, but I overlooked one thing; I hadn’t counted on the town being full of tourists.
Back in my California studio I had envisioned myself standing across from the No. 10 Saloon in full gear quietly painting, with maybe just a curious local stopping by for a moment to see what I was up to and maybe talking a bit about the old days. But that wasn’t going to happen. For me to be standing in the middle of a bunch of tourists on a corner in 100 degree heat with my buckskin jacket on and waving a couple of six-guns around would be to invite being arrested for public lunacy. What I ended up doing was getting up very early and driving downtown so I could find a parking place across the street from No. 10 where I could paint from inside the cab of my truck.
I did paint in full gear on top of a Homestake mine slag hill where I could be far enough away from people so they couldn’t tell what I was doing, or what I was doing it with. Even so, the mine’s visitor center was at the bottom of the hill and they had some of those coin operated telescopes. I was careful not to wave those pistol brushes around too much. A man on top of a hill in a buckskin jacket waving two guns in the air might be cause for alarm these days and could have very well brought in a couple of Homeland Security helicopters to look me over. Fortunately, as I entered the Black Hills I started painting on my way up to Deadwood so I did manage to get some painting done.

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