The things I learn ...
Rambling about the art of making little magical moments.
Today I started my perspective with breakfast at Waffle House. I had the all American breakfast. Scrambled, bacon, raisin toast for a change and hash browns. The booth in front of me has a grandfather of very southern decent telling a woman her children, two teen boys, that they are worthless lazy criminals. All they do is play video games and smoke dope. He’s going to call the cops on them and laugh from across the street.
Behind them is a scitzophrenic “little person”, a midget, a dwarf man. He looks a little like the guy from the movie Elf. He’s having breakfast with himself, but it appears there’s more personalities at the breakfast table than the normal observer can see. You have to be careful not to make eye contact with the wrong personality. On the other hand, make eye contact with theorist personality and you have a good hour of some interesting conversation.
When I get in the car, Jackson Browne sings. I remember his lyrics and how they struck me. How they then shaped the way I observed my world. Listening to his songs again like the first time. Only now reflecting on them ever so slightly differently than before and feeling a thankful heart warming inside me that I listened to him way back then. There are drawings to be made. There are a few people waiting to have a delightful surprise moment with me. So off to work I go.
I just turned 51 yesterday. And I’m sitting here about a thousand feet into one of my favorite hiking trails that are “closed” due to flooding. I believe the sign, I just don’t care to oblige at the moment. There’s plenty of dry land, as far as I can tell. Then this twin engine aircraft flys directly over me. I notice this of several throughout the day because there was a loud pop. Then there was a little smoke puffed out of the left engine. Some sputtering and then it seemed to make a change in direction back to where it came from.
So this engine abnormality has happened right above me when I have this thought; “What the hell am I going to do? ” Then I wonder if that pilot and/or passengers had the same thought? At the exact same time. I’ll never know. “Good luck travelers, wish me luck too.”
For me this moment happens often when I look at my current career ending of my life. I mean the real one this time, unlike the others. So I have recognized this dead end I’m on and I’ve got a lot more things to do before I leave this life. “What the hell am I going to do? ” I’m 51. I never celebrated the 50 because I was on the road from a wonderful college gig in Georgia from Kirkland Productions. Great group of people at Kirklands, Gina is a genius.
The twenty something me had some lofty ideals of the fifty year old me. Let’s not even begin to review the dreams and ambitions of that thirty something me that was freelancing like a western gunslinger with a marker and paper. Then just as the forty me was starting to rock and roll into some serious works that would have made the twenty something me and the thirty something me want to invest in more got hit. Hit hard. Some massive metaphysical subatomic particle splitting timeline just mowed over infinite timelines and … woof. Like swish, not woof, like dog. My life line I’d had been working so hard for, just got obliterated by some massive careless catastrophe.
Seems I’ve been finding pieces of dreams all over the place ever since.
So now, at the moment of flight anomaly of aircraft number whatever whom may have possibly survived. I’m asking myself, no I’m telling myself, this is what I am going to do. I have a plan. I’m going to go out once again on my on into the world and share what I’ve got. I’m going to answer questions about what I know while I create works of art. I’m going to listen to what they say, and see if we can put a little bit more into their artwork. That little something that makes it special. A moment that they will hold onto to mark a special point on their timeline.
I’m going to show what I know. I’m going to show what I create the kind if artwork that makes me smile. I’m 51 now. I’m a big very well seasoned and experienced artist of over thirty five years. I’m going to start being the fifty year old that the twenty and the thirty and the forty year old me dreamed of, and quite possibly a little bit more.
More as this work of art I call “my life” continues.
And thank you all forthe bday wishes. True wealth comes from the friends that the man keeps. I may very well be the wealthiest of them all. Please and thank you.
In recent days, I have looked out into my horizon and stood on the edge of my proverbial plank. I glanced at my past and my present, I turned around on the edge of that wobbly plank that is my current track in my life and I said to myself, “You’re about to be 51 years old. Do you really want to have your sons explain to their future partners in life that their dad is ‘just a street artist at Disney’, which, of course, there is nothing really wrong with that or do you really want to get out there and do something important, something of value? Would you rather save the world one smile at a time, or be a street artist at Disney?”
Well, I want to be known as the a guy who set himself apart from the rest if the world. I want to be the guy that may not have achieved an enormous goal, but he paved the way so that others may continue this mission in life; to save the world one smile at a time! I pondered all of these things as I stood on the edge of the plank and upon answering this question as to where my life was going, I turned around quite carefully and I looked at my users, my doubters, and my critics and I bid them all a polite, “Goodbye, I must be going.” I turned back around and looked into the sun and said, ” if Crystal can do this, then so can I.” And I took a little hop, turned in the air and gave them a cheerful “peace” sign with my right hand.
You see, almost three years ago my wife made a leap of faith to pursue her dream of being a chef at EPCOT in Disney World. Recently, she was named as Epcots Culinary employee of the quarter. She is very well on her way of pursuing her dream. She convinced the boys and I that dropping everything and moving with her on a culinary student externship at Disney World was a great idea and a life adventure we would never forget. She was the top of her culinary school and she new that she would get a full time job at Disney in culinary and make her dream come true.
So we packed up our life and moved to Florida and have continued to survive and thrive despite a few bumps in the road. In fact, during the past year, she has excelled at EPCOT even beyond her dreams. And by her doing that, living her dream, she has inspired me to do the same. I’ve spent the past two-and-a-half years drawing smiles. I’m drawing people from all over the world and being a very small part of a wonderful moment in their lives with my artistic gift. I love my work here at Disney, but it’s time to do more with my art. With greater works of art, I can make bigger smiles and perhaps increase the my influence in others by going out on my own.
“Splash” I jump off the plank and into the unknown. I’ve already met others who share my passion and together we plan to take on our individual missions with our artwork and spread our positive influence in ways we’ve never imagined we could or would before. I can’t wait to share my greater works of art with the world, I can’t wait to share my artistic experience with others as they seek to improve their lives too. I’m looking forward to growing creatively as I help others grow themselves. All of this is possible with the upcoming opportunity that I am taking on in the next few weeks to come. Scared? Yes. Excited? Even more so. Ready? Oh I think I’m more than ready. My wife is my inspiration. Seeing what she has achieved because she believe it could be done has inspired me beyond understanding. Besides, what could possibly go wrong?
More as this work of art I call “my life” develops.
This time of year gets me thinking about the time I worked a gig for; as the client of this gig, refer to himself as “The Hispanic Sopranos”.
It was in September. Septembers in Texas to me was always filled with that sense of time to put summer to rest. Get yourself ready for the fall season of festivals, fairs and smiles. Prepare for a creative hybernation in the winter. In nature the snakes shed their skins, the catapeller starts apraising cocoons. Sycamore trees outgrow their own bark. And the artist continue to ponder as they cycle through their process. September is a little stretch of the creative process. In folklore and bar bragging circles, it’s the beginning of the school year. Imagine that. My evening drawing smiles with the Hispanic Sopranos was like my first day of school.
The Hispanic Sopranos of September
. [cue the Spanish guitar, spaghetti western whistle].
Now before we get into this story, I must tell you upfront. Their are suspicions of questionable activities. There are possible legal strings attached to one person or another in this tale of drawing smiles in the pit of a real life super villain. Well, sort of. Possible. My host at this gig was incredibly awesome. I could not have asked for a better leader of the event that this man, who shall remain anonymous. Please, for my own safety, don’t pry.
The client himself told me “My family, we are like the Hispanic Sopranos. ” he then looked me straight in the eye and the entire world froze. At that very second my soul would either get me killed, or buy me at least six hours till the end of the gig. Without a pause, “You’re the Hispanic Sopranos?”That explains all the blinged out Low Riders out front. I dig the matching red velvet Escalades. “. And he stepped back and looked at me, then squinted, then busted into laughter. “yeah”, he said “my wife likes us wear matching outfits.”
There are rented parking lot attendants and they are guiding cars into a side pasture of this huge ranch spread that’s hours from anything. This parking operation was just shy of a state fair level operation, but no trams. It’s a good hike to the event tent. The main event is in a circus tent out on the back pasture by the big pond. They have about every imaginable inflatable balloon obstacle courses, giant slides, bounce houses with basements, everything. Then there are a bunch of 10×10 satellite tents around the big tent. I’m one of the little tents. Remind me to tell you about the tent flap.
On the walk to my tent I see a fenced area with shorter tubular sections of fencing leaned up against the fence. This fence was bottom half cinder block and top half wood and metal fencing. The fence was keeping us from reaching over and petting what must have been two dozen dogs and possibly a few gargoyles from the sounds coming from the other side of this fence. It wasn’t until we walked up next to a Band Touring Bus when a cloud of smoke comes rolling out the bus and three or four horn players in big puffy sleeves of bright baby blue stumbling and laughing among it. As they meandered down towards the big tent they sing a traditional Mexican love ballad ” Cu Cu Ru Cu Cu Paloma”, but with a Deep South blues twist. It was then that I realized the shorter, smaller fencing made of metal tubing was, in fact a large ring. I have no idea why it took me so long to figure out.
This is the flap about the Tent Flag prank.
My stand was first small tent to the right of the bar and buffet tent. There was a flap directly between the two of us. This flap was the greatest thing that ever happened by accident in a event set up that I am aware. Listen first to this and then top it in your comments. please and thank you.
The Ol’ ” flap in the tent between the gig bartender and caricaturist ” routine.
Now listen to this set up. I stand and draw with a French Easel. Pretty standard set up, accept that I stand. I’ll explain another time. My guests, are sitting on two bar stools just to the left of the flap in the tent. When I start to draw them I give my standard greeting “Howdy, I’m Ty the Art Guy and y’all are? ….” Get their names, tell them to be comfortable, and ask do they need a drink or something to nibble on? It’s okay for them to do so while I draw them. Now if the tent wall on the back should bump behind them while this is all going on, I knew the bartender had the time to make a drink or get a waitress to bring some tapas or what knot. The bartender can hear my conversations with the guests. So when the guy says I could use another scotch, “bam”. There it is sticking out from the flap. Without missing a stroke while I’m drawing I let the guy know he has a drink with his name on it. The guests and the crowd watching, just love that little gag.
Back to the Hispanic Sopranos.
When I finally meet our client, he’s the guy I charge of everything the event, the business owner, he’s the guy. His finger snaps, somebody answers. He’s pretty cool about all of this too. He said it’s a party for his daughters birthday. That’s when he gave me the solid eye stare into my soul and layer down that line of being the Hispanic Sopranos. My reaction must have come across as cool and not alarmed because then he’d just laugh and proclaim to the masses gathered at his celebration “tonight we celebrate Family!” The crowd cheers, drinks inthe air. The Horn Section of the Band kicks off into some groove.
The client is all about five foot two. Maybe 225-250 varying the chains and bling he’s wearing that day. He has long, long kinda crazy jet black hair . It’s cousin IT style hair that was pulled back into a tail held by gold chains. Several gold chains wrapped his hair tail that was as long as he was tall. He had chains around his neck. Tons of chains. They cascaded from his goatee to his shoulders. He wore a white basketball jersey with no branding on it what so ever. And matching basketball shorts. And white with gold trim basketball shoes.
He was nice as he could be. Told several people that I was his special guest artist and anything I wanted I got. For the next six hours I had a couple glasses of wine and a plate of tacos. I sipped and nibbled as I drew smiles on a wide variety if people. There seemed to be a little of everyone here. The most out of place looking people were those that looked like they went to a suburbia gated community, community bible church. “Must be in HR or Probably accounting. ” I thought to myself. The client was the CEO of Indian casinos, nobody ever mentioned which ones.
During the six hours I drew truly all the stereo types I could imaging, for all races, it was just awesome the variety of faces and styles of people at this event. I drew this one guy who looked like one of the bad guys that Bruce Lee would whoop up on. He even had the scar on his cheek. Left side, closer to the ear than nose.
“So what do want to do in your cartoon of you?” In my best Ty the Art Guy way. His friends pipe in, “he works in the body shop”. Well okay, so I draw the guy working out a wrecked car with his fists, like he’s so tough he can make a wrecked car look like new withHis bare hands…never mind. It was a good quick sketch. His buddy were dying, “dude, he really drew you working in a body shop!” And they all died laughing. It was obvious there was a joke I was not getting. It was weeks later when I shared this story that someone told me “body shop” was slang for guys that acted as the muscle. Which if true, makes this story even funnier.
At the end of the event, the client made a point to come see me as I was packing up my gear. He gave me some wonderful praise for the job I did and the drawings I did of his daughter and very close friends were his favorites. Then he paid me in cash, all brand new $100 dollar bills. And then leans in and say to me “hey, you want a girl?” He then looked in the direction of some very attractive ladies and looked back at me. I calmly said, “you know, I’ve got a great lady waiting for me at home.” He smiled and slapped me on the shoulder and said, good for you. Then have me a couple a bills more.
I’ll be in Texas the week after Christmas. I’ll be drawing the generals and commanders and athletes and their support crews for the Armed Forces Bowl at the Worthington, one night. The other team VIP’s at the Omni downtown Fort Worth the next night and then at the Gaylord a few nights for the Cotton Bowl.
These are open houses for the teams and their family. The first of the Armed Forces Bowl is usually in the Van Cliburn suit, on top the Worthington. I love this gig. I was drawing there one year, early in it’s short bowl history, and Van Cliburn himself came down that unique staircase and he played about twenty minutes by request of one of the generals. Who then immediately made a hefty check out to the Van Cliburn foundation for scholarships.
When Mr. Cliburn came down the stairs I was drawing a young lady and Van stopped and visited me, I introduced myself, we shook hands and he complemented my line work. Then like a professional politician, he calmly made his way around the two rooms, shaking hands and making small talk like they were all from east Texas. He completed his greeting by sitting to my right on the piano bench. He then claimed that a certain member of the army brass wanted to hear him play a few “diddlies” on the piano. Then the room filled with polite golf laughs.
So he played, and his music grabbed every single person in the room. Tears could have flooded Main st. Hearts were wrung out of all the muck and yuck that we all seem to soak up from our drudgery of employment. From our servitude for our children. And our loyalties to all those anxieties that we blame our parents and closest of kin. All negativity that bombards us all, was melted into tears of joy. Watching his fingers just glide over those keys like they were made of butter. He would look around the room and have eye contact with them while he played and he would change the medley, the rhythms, and the attitude of his music as he visually bounced eye contact with the whole room, even me, standing slightly behind him. This entire moment was a masterful one. He came and gave us all of himself for a solid twenty minutes. And the he was gone, but everyone there all talked about that moment for the rest of the evening.
It was the perfect gig. The people hav e been entertained, wowed, and left inspired. All my drawings were just marvelous and should be worth millions by now. Good for those owners who framed theirs. Everyone there were geniuses, athletic wonders of man kinds best. And then the foundation of the evening, Van Cliburn. We all shared a rare opportunity to see him spin his classical musical magic. He truly made that night a work of art for all in attendance.
I love these bowl gigs in Texas every last week of the year. For me, it’s a great gig, it’s a homecoming, and a wonderful creative experience for my creative process. I’d be happy to share more about my creative process or even help a group discover a little more about their own creativity. If you’re in The METROPLEX or living somewhere near it and want to schedule a fascilitated workshop with me during that last week of the year; then please email me. There are a few lunch times, afternoons and a couple of late evenings available. Please and thank you.
Ty the Art Guy.
The pathway of the Artist.
Oh the life you will lead.
You are going to see things no one else will see and from your perspective. No one in the world has your perspective. No one. Isn’t that wonderful? No wonder we love to create.
Should you tell them?
Would they like to see what you see?
Share with them and learn together what is new.
You’ll discover that it’s a wonderful life. Well, as long as you don’t want to make a lot of money. Otherwise, this pilgrimage truly sucks toad warts.
From Ty Walls:
After four decades drawing smiles I often encounter remarkable people. I've learned to create little special moments for people from all around the world with my simple smile-drawing skills. But sometimes, life creates little magical moments for me. This blog is my attempt to share them with you.