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The Long Haul

MARCH 25, 2022
The Long Haul is a short story by the fabulous Rick Bragg; Southern humorist, writer, and sometimes contributor to Garden & Gun. Rick Bragg is one of my wife's favorite writers. We heard him do a reading in Decatur a few years back. I told Marshall, “This will make me a hero around the house.”
I was over-the-top thrilled to get a call from Marshall McKinney to work on this article. For me it was kind of like being asked if I wanted to play with the big kids on the block. I love this magazine and they have such a first rate contributors list... John Cuneo, and Barry Blitt to name a few... Just such a great magazine. I have been a fan for years. Reading the story I was a bit puzzled with where to start.
 
This spread idea came as a little gift... my first idea even before starting on rough thumbnails...
 
Here are some first thoughts and thumbnails...The first image has a sort of "bat out of hell" theme while the smoke coming out the back of the truck is actually flowers,birds, butterflies, or something else that conveys the love he has for his truck. Also trying to sort out some country landscape and an old farm road...
I had to do some more thinking about it and try and work out how to handle the spot illustrations. There were a couple dozen more ideas that seemed perfect. The loaded-up truck reminiscent of those old dust bowl families abandoning farms in search of work somewhere else. And a bit of a more abstract concept of an old white-wall tire wreath.
My first stab at the truck spot was using an old model T truck, I still think that it had a bit more desperate feeling about it but was edited down to be a '67 Dodge for accuracy.
The main spread and the tire spot, one last request before approval...”Oh, one last thing: let’s be sure to get some magnolia blossoms into the mix of flowers! And any other iconic southern species you can think of!” He wanted me to add some southern flowers. Magnolias, dogwoods, lillys, oak leaves. Hydrangea and Camellias... A smart tie-in to the southern theme.
I rearranged the background to be a bit more southern complete with a “See Rock City” sign on a barn... Seemed like that red dirt needed a bit more to back it up...
This was just such a joy to work on these three paintings. Much thanks to Marshall McKinney and the folks at Garden & Gun,
and big thanks for putting me in the contributors list as well.
And talking me into doing a self portrait...
The first one in a long, long time!
 
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© 2022 Bill Mayer