This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Just looking at stuff

It's Sunday morning, and I will be going history adventuring today. And if you're wondering why I'm doing this, it's because I just like looking at stuff, and I have since I was a kid.


Of course, just *looking at stuff* doesn't make much sense to most people. I'm an illustrator, and I've always loved to draw, but I won't be bringing a sketchbook along. I used to, but then I discovered that I was spending most of my time looking at stuff, and not drawing. And as much as I like drawing, refocusing on the sketch pad just took me away from looking at stuff.

I will bring along a camera, but mostly just to record the adventure. My co-adventurers always have something in mind to find, so I like to get a photo of me standing in front of whatever that is. It's human nature - you know, get a photo of me standing in front of, well, whatever. But it really has never mattered all that much to me.

My high school art teacher once gave me some great advice about drawing - spend more time looking than drawing. When I started teaching, I would often see my students with their faces buried in their sketchbooks and wonder how could they draw what they couldn't see? Drawing happens in the mind, with your eyes, and getting it down on paper is just the physical part. In the last few years I may have gone a bit too far with this - just looking at stuff.

Luckily for me, human nature helps me out with history adventuring - or just looking at stuff. I can comfortably relegate the things that I have no interest in to my co-adventurer, such as driving the car (or flying the plane), going into the gift shop and looking at postcards, talking to people who want to tell stories, etc. I just wander off.

I live in Arizona, which is so beautiful and scenic, even right in the Phoenix area, that the mountains and clouds often look *Photoshopped*. So, just looking at it in cyberspace, which I do a lot of, and enjoy, isn't enough. I want to see it in real life. I want to see it in 3-D, in Vista-Vision, in Panorama.

It's the backgrounds that interest me, the foregrounds I leave for more responsible persons. Maybe you should drive.

Above: Looking north towards Squaw Peak (Piestewa Peak) at 24th Street and Thomas in the 1960s, Phoenix, Arizona.