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Kel’s equipment corner 2 (click here for part 1)

If you’re in the States and public television is still a going concern where you live you’ve no doubt been artistically instructed by a languid gentleman sporting a brazen cocaine pinky nail and what appears to be a tumbleweed perched on his dome. Though he’s been lifeless for twenty-one years as of this writing the fellow’s art instructional program still rolls on like Old-Man-River-as-if-drawn-by-Escher, a Mobius strip of smoky rejoinder gyring and whirling, ever and always and ever again tamping down the cold, cold clay on the Boot Hill of American representational art.

Tumbleweed’s métier was the unintentionally psychedelic landscape, decades worth of aggressively fungoid forests and mercury lakes in black light hues, tapped onto hundreds of pre-stretched canvases with his ubiquitous two-inch house painter’s brush - all the while spiced with a cyclic mutter of cloying life lessons...

Now, if at this juncture you’re thinking that I dislike Mr. Tumbleweed you couldn’t be more wrong. In and of its time, Tumbleweed’s screed/medicine show were and are to this day a joyous fusion of cunning con and trainwreck and I do not abjure the man, no, I admire him. Further, because it is better to be rich than right, I truly wish I was him… but for One Thorny Issue, which tasks me.

This, friends, is my Winsor & Newton #4 Sceptre Gold II 808 sable/synthetic fan brush, which I love:

It was given to me almost a decade ago by someone who loves me more than she probably should and I’ve kept it pristine not only for its sentimental value but because a neglected tool sets my teeth on edge. A tool abused makes me, like young Ishmael, want to walk into town and knock the hats off of fools.

And so, J’accuse:
Unequivocally, the late Mr. Tumbleweed, Public Broadcasting Service’s premier landscapist and art supply tycoon, did willfully and with malice aforethought abuse his fan brushes. Worse, he misused them, took a tentative spray of follicles meant to tenderly smooth oil paint - to move the pigment not apply it, to caress painted skin to creamy softness, to tease clouds into feathery wisps - and he, over and over, show after show, year after year would clasp said fan brush, sweep up globs of lime-green oil paint and slob on whole forests of his signature sick, twisted, bent-meat versions of crayon colored pine trees, all the while extolling its appropriateness to hapless millions of aspiring artists... and oh, the pixelated pre HD spectacle of his pale speckled hand – freckles, liver spots, chaw splats, who can say? – blobbing away with that overloaded fan brush, laying in ranks of preposterous cartoon foliage!
Honestly, for all the world it’s like watching a chimpanzee use a hammer to drive in a screw.

Mr. Tumbleweed. Dead twenty-one years, and yet… he tasks me.


Pepperpot Piper is written & illustrated by Joseph Kelly
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