Broke Down Time

“Always carry your sketchbook with you like you do your driver’s license.” My great teacher Juanita Greene Parks used to say. I had mine with me when I was broke down on a country road waiting for help. I did 3 sketches leaning on my truck. This was years ago. But I painted over one recently.

All Things With No Teacher

I just finished reading a 970 page historical novel. I generally don’t read many novels but I will read anything on the legendary Musashi who roamed feudal Japan in the early 1600s. He was a philosopher, a painter, a sculptor, a strategist, a writer, an architect, a wanderer, a calligrapher, a poet and a ronin…a Samurai without a master. “I practice many arts and abilities- all things with no teacher.” Musashi wrote. Also, “When I apply the principle of Strategy to the ways of different arts and crafts, I no longer have a need for a teacher.” and “ When one has achieved mastery over one thing-it shows in all things.” He was a complex man who never married or settled down. He traveled his whole life to hone his art and pursue enlightenment. “ A week before he died at the age of 61, in the cave where he went to prepare for his death, he wrote the Dokkodo which consists of 21 principles. It expresses a stringent, honest and ascetic view of life. Number 19 made me chuckle.

1. Accept everything just the way it is.

2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.

3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.

4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.

5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.

6. Do not regret what you have done.

7. Never be jealous.

8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.

9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.

10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.

11. In all things have no preferences.

12. Be indifferent to where you live.

13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.

14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.

15. Do not act following customary beliefs.

16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.

17. Do not fear death.

18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.

19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.

20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.

21. Never stray from the way.

Fence Line

I have been looking through sketches I have drawn from life in the past that I have never gotten around to painting. Spending the winter safe and sound indoors and working on them isn’t a bad way to spend my time.

I scanned this at various levels to show the process.

Telephone Poles are Like People

I am often asked why I include telephone poles in my pictures. Telephone poles are like people. They are all different. Some are plain, some complicated and some even have lights that shine. They stand alone and yet are all interconnected. Like people. I did a sketch of this scene when I was broke down waiting for help on a back road. It must have been a long wait as I did 3 drawings.


I found this old sketch that I had done from life many years ago. I like to scan my drawings before I paint them. Its a way to save the drawing that will be covered up with paint. From the black and white image I can make prints up that can be painted later or even be sold as prints themselves. I didn’t really have an image in mind when I started to paint this. Once I did the sky the dye was cast, and I built off of that.

Blind sketch

I found myself parked behind an old church on the rez. The moon gave me just enough light to see the sketchpad and a faint image of the ink I applied with a pen. Drawing blind I call it. A common occurrence when drawing at night. Looking at the subject more than the paper allows me to remember the scene which I later try to re-create with watercolors. Often I appreciate the sketch more than the final piece. What was I doing on the rez in the middle of night? What happens on the rez stays on the rez. Sorry.