Wednesday, October 4, 2017

On the Prehistoric Murals of William Stout

Prehistoric Life: William Stout Murals

What a great book! I'm a huge fan of Charles Knight and of museum murals in general, so this book was a real treat for me.

The murals at the San Diego Museum of Natural History have always fascinated me. They are so full of light and detail! Today I bothered to look at who painted them for the first time and almost fell over. They are by Bill Stout, an artist I met at Comic Con 2008, one year after I moved here to the West coast. I remembered talking with Bill for 15-20 minutes (everyone else seemed to be ignoring him) and bought a few signed sketchbooks.

Down in the gift shop I found this book and immediately snatched it up. It is an excellent read and provides lots of not-at-all-boring detail about how the paintings were created from first sketches to final product. There's even a forward by Ray Harryhausen, a friend of Bill's. And of course there are lots of great images - thumbnails, quarter-sized paintings, the finished works, detail shots, etc. - from "the Nat" and other museums.

This was a great end to a great day. I'm sitting quietly now, having finished reading the book, while my wife and kids revisit Toy Story II. The rest of the day was taken up by a morning exercise, a great breakfast, reading, napping, and looking at dinosaur bones (etc.).

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

On Loyalty to Country

“You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions or its office-holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death. To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags, to worship rags, to die for rags—that is a loyalty of unreason, it is pure animal; it belongs to monarchy, was invented by monarchy; let monarchy keep it. I was from Connecticut, whose Constitution declares “that all political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their benefit; and that they have at all times an undeniable and indefeasible right to alter their form of government in such a manner as they may think expedient.”

Under that gospel, the citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth’s political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal; he is a traitor. That he may be the only one who thinks he sees this decay, does not excuse him; it is his duty to agitate anyway, and it is the duty of the others to vote him down if they do not see the matter as he does.”

From Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court