Saddle Up Saloon; Liber bar, ey?

Written by D. Avery @shiftnshake

       Read my writing and see my books at

April 26, 2021

“Kid? It’s mighty quiet in here Kid.”

“Right up till you come in. Shush, now Pal, I’m readin’.”

“Readin’? This ain’t no library. Shouldn’t ya be runnin’ the Saloon?”

“Ain’t much ta run this week. Ain’t got nuthin’ goin’, got no guests lined up. Figgered I’d read this here book.”

“Jeez Kid! Folks ain’t gonna come by ta watch ya read! How’s the Saloon gonna make any money if’n ya don’t git somethin’ goin’?”

“Make money? You or me ever asked anybody ‘roun here ta PayPal? Nope, this is jist a comf’terble place fer folks ta hang out, say howdy.”

“Well yer s’posed ta have some ennertainment organized, innerviews an’ sech. Jeez, Kid.”

“If ya must know, Pal, I’ve reached out ta some visual artists ta see ‘bout a nuther art showin’. Jist waitin’ on folks ta respond an’ fer the art ta show up. So fer now, speakin’ a art an’ artists, I’d like ta jist read this here book.”

“Well, what’s it even about?”

“Thought ya’d never ask, Pal. This here’s a biography of a artist I ain’t never heard of.”

“’Nuther one a them ‘nonymous artists?”

“Could a been, but fer his own perseverance and a bit a good luck an’ some generosity.”

“So who’s it about already?”

“Book’s called A Splash of Red, The Life and Art of Horace Pippin. Published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2013, it was written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Horace Pippin’s story an’ the way the author an’ illustrator present it puts me in mind a the literary artists here at Carrot Ranch.”

“What? Why Kid, thet’s a kids’ book.”

“No it ain’t Pal, it’s a picture book. Folks is missin’ out on somethin’ if they think picture books is jist fer kids. Like flash fiction, a picture book has ta present a story clearly an’ concisely. This is enagagin’ an’ if ya look ta the back ya kin see it was well researched by both the author an’ the illustrator. There’s a historical note, author’s an’ illustrator’s notes an’ a whole long list a further readin’s, websites, an’ the quotation sources.”

“Well, alright then Kid, mebbe this ain’t jist fer kids. What z’actly put ya in mind a the folks thet write at the Ranch?”

“Well, in the historical note Bryant describes Horace Pippin as ‘a curious and observant man’ who ‘found his subjects almost everywhere.’ Ain’t that what writers are? Curious an’ observant? Gettin’ ideas ever’where an’ anywhere? Bryant wrote, ‘He painted everyday scenes in natural colors; then he added a splash of red.’ That sure soun’s like some a the flash I read at Carrot Ranch. Folks write like Pippin painted, with a ‘masterful use of color, form, and composition’.

“Yer convincin’ me Kid.”

“Pippin had always been drawn ta… drawin’, an’ picture makin’. No matter what. No matter where. Sometimes life got in the way, but he was most always makin’ pictures. ‘He used charcoal, broken pencils, whatever he could find.’

“Kinda like Shorty always paintin’ with words.”

“Yep, Shorty, an’ I reckon most all the Ranchers. Pippin use ta say, If a man knows nothing but hard times, he will paint them, for he must be true to himself…

“Thet’s what some folks do with their fiction writin’ an’ poemin’.”

“Yep. An’ like some a the Ranchers an’ their loved ‘uns, Horace Pippin served. He was over in the trenches in World War I. Even there he drew ever’ chance he got. He said later, The war brought out all the art in me. I can never forget suffering and I can never forget sunset. I came home with it all in my mind. But he come home wounded and unable ta use his drawing hand.”

“Oh no, Kid! He had ta give up his art?”

“Come on Pal. How could he? Nope, he fin’lly got back ta it an’ kep at it. Used his left hand ta support his right hand. He started a paintin’ usin’ left over house paint an’ other salvaged materials. He used ‘the somber colors of war. Here and there he added a splash of red.’ That paintin’ took three years ta finish.”

“Whoa. Thet’s a while ta be workin’ on one paintin’.”

“Reckon he needed ta do it. He told a friend ‘bout that paintin’, It brought me back to my old self. An’ he got some mobility back in his hand an’ got back ta his art. He still got his ideas ever’where— childhood mem’ries, fam’ly stories, Bible stories, even movies. But Pippin took ta plannin’ the scenes fer the ideas that come ta him. I go over that picture in my mind several times and when I’m ready to paint it I have all the details I need.

“Soun’s like a plantser. Did he git famous?”

“Not right away, Pal, but he kep on paintin’. He was able to hang his paintin’s in a local store and a restaurant. People liked ‘em, but they didn’t buy ‘em.”

“Ain’t thet the way?”

“But then the president of a local artists’ club saw them paintin’s an’ invited his friend N.C. Wyeth ta see ‘em. The exhibition they organized for Horace brought attention and buyers ta his art.”

“Yahoo! Thet is a cool story, Kid. A real fine picture book ‘bout a picture maker.”

“Yep. Now ya kin see his paintin’s in galleries an’ museums all over the country. There’s listin’s an’ even a map fer that in the book too. In fact, Bryant come across him through a paintin’ she saw a his in the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA while doing research for a YA novel, Pieces of Georgia, that has ta do with the Wyeth family of artists. Dang if she didn’t have her next book idea.”

“Well, I’m real glad she did. Reckon she wouldn’t mind ya spreadin’ the word here.”

“Reckon folks realize them’s Jen Bryant’s words italicized in single quotes an’ Pippin’s quotes from her book are in italics.”

“Yeah, we git thet. So yer gonna have a art showin’ here agin Kid? When?”

“Whenever I git some art gathered t’gether. Wanna have a worldwide garden tour too, but it cain’t work if folks don’t send their best couple a photos ta our writer at . Thet stage there is open ta the Carrot Ranch community, so we’re always lookin’ ta hear from someone wants ta join us fer a chat or innerview or even somethin’ we ain’t thought up yet.”

“Yep, hopin’ folks talk ta D. Avery so we ain’t here talkin’ ta ourselves. Though I did injoy thet picture book. Any a y’all have a fav’rite picture book fer all ages?”

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via

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  1. Norah

    I loved reading about Pippin and his persistence. So great to hear that he painted what he knew, just as we write what we know. He painted in greys, the colours of war, and added a splash of red. Our words on paper (or screen) are shades of grey until we colour them up with blood, sweat and tears and give them our soul.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      It was an interesting and inspiring read, and also just a well done picture book. Picture books are akin to flash fiction (or flash bio and bots), getting a lot out of a few words and pages.

      • Norah

        We learn a lot from every genre.

  2. Jules

    Kid & Pal…
    I might have a couple of photos… that came out interestingly.
    But the .com isn’t an email…
    Gits me to yer writer’s About Page.
    That ain’t where you wanna have images sent is it?
    I do got a gmail account address. Is that where ya want stuff? ~Jules

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Huh. I just tested it and it went to my email. If you have another contact for me go for it! I look forward to seeing your offerings and hanging them in the gallery.

      • Jules I tried tapping that in both places in your piece – and this time it didn’t go anywhere’s at all.

        I’ve got two – comcast or Gmail. Which would be better?

      • Jules

        I did the Gmail…sent some photos. To the address I had for you that ended with

  3. suespitulnik

    Thanks for the introduction to Horace Pippin. He sounds like a fascinating guy and veteran too. My kind of person.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I thought of you with that connection. He didn’t have a writers’ group but he worked on that picture and a whole lot more, I’m thinking, for over three years. These days that might be called art therapy.

  4. Charli Mills

    Getting the small details right can take a lot of processing and progression. Art takes the time it needs and transforms us in the meantime. I enjoyed this philosophical journey into Kid’s reading. Thanks for introducing us to a worthy picture book and the nudge for art. I sent you my art obsession that got me through the most anxious section of writing my thesis.

  5. Mr. Ohh's Sideways View

    Great stuff
    Laugh Now! You can be crabby anytime

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