“I don’t like to brag,” people say with their lips pursed to preen themselves. Self-aggrandizement is socially awkward, but at the same time, we take pride in the things we do fairly well, hence our many specialized blogs. My particular blog is heavy on photography, with some poetry and fiction scattered within. But my professional hobby is drawing editorial cartoons for multiple publications, a few of which are also included here.
Most every year my work garners awards at the state-level, and that’s an honor, of course. But the truth is, there are not that many cartoonists submitting work to newspapers in my state, especially middling-to-small publications. Most of those papers subscribe to a syndicate and purchase work by nationally-syndicated cartoonists. At the national level, however, there are many more folks who do what I do: draw and submit opinion pieces with a local slant.
Last week I was notified that I had taken First and Third Place for the category of “Best Original Editorial Cartoon, Daily and Non-Daily Division” in the National Newspaper Association’s annual contest for 2018. Now, I’m not up against all the syndicated folks or the few remaining staff cartoonists at large, metropolitan papers; their work falls under a different organization’s auspices. But still, across the nation there are many artists who draw for middling-to-small papers, of which there are still thousands, which makes my accomplishment very meaningful to me.
Political opinions can be very polarizing, so I don’t expect everyone reading this will agree with my cartoons, but here are the two winners. The First Place cartoon deals with Bitcoin miners setting up huge server farms in my county, which happens to provide the cheapest power in the United States. Douglas County has put a moratorium on such operations as they draw huge amounts of electricity from the grid.
The Third Place cartoon is of the oft-parodied painting, “American Gothic.” Pot is legal now in my state, so pot farms have sprung up all over the place. In addition, one farmer here in Eastern Washington installed solar panels on large swaths of his land to make a profit. I thought I’d update the painting…
© Brad Skiff
All you nerds our there might appreciate this particular short poem:
Cheating in Science
You are antimatter, time’s backwards arrow,
an irrational number in silk. You are a paradoxical
feline in a box of contradictory fates.
Like a conscious wave, you pass through gaps
in this event’s horizon to skim my ozone sweetly.
And I, protozoa immersed in alcoholic solutions,
fluoresce beneath your ultraviolet eyes.
“Told the babysitter we’d be home by eleven”
says my unequal mass. The fermion sheds its boson.
© Brad Skiff
The other day I posted a photo of a leaning barn near Pearrygin State Park (you can see it here). This is a different angle, taken with an infrared filter.
© Brad Skiff
This old car sat in a field a few miles from Mansfield, Washington. Standing outside of the farmhouse next to this overgrown plot was a woman holding an infant. Four other children played in the grass nearby. I pulled into the drive and introduced myself as the photography teacher at Bridgeport High School, then asked if I could take a few photos of the vehicle. She kindly agreed, so I returned a short while later with my camera, then gifted several prints to the woman the following day.
I’m glad I stopped. Like so many photographic opportunities, this one would’ve passed by had I not taken an interest, as the car is no longer there. Or, perhaps my visit rekindled the farmer’s plans for this junker? Either way, shortly after my visit, the farmer pulled it from the weeds, parked it by the road with a “For Sale” sign, and it was gone within days. Now, most likely it’s either stashed in a garage as someone’s project, or it’s a rustic adornment full of flowers in a different front yard.
© Brad Skiff
When I was six, I tried to make a fossil. After seeing pictures of ancient leaf imprints in a first grade primer, I sprinted home from the bus stop determined to make a specimen of my own. I found two flat rocks (an obvious requirement, since all the photos showed leaves neatly pressed upon sheared shale), then I plucked a fresh leaf and sandwiched it between the stones. I gently set my soon-to-be fossil by the mailbox and checked it daily.
Obviously, the school lesson that day made an imprint on my mind. Dinosaurs and their remnants dominated my interests for years after, but my puerile experiment was quickly forgotten, since a suitable image did not develop in the week or so demanded by youthful impatience.
As an adult my interests haven’t changed much. I find abandoned wrecks and homesteads just as intriguing as the Stegosaurus bones I imagined I uncovered on City Beach. I often wonder of the life that once flowed through my discoveries as I photograph them. This truck is located at a small farm just outside of Pearrygin Sate Park, near Winthrop, Washington. I have a couple of infrared shots of the vehicle posted in my blog, but here is that particular relic in all of its glorious color.
This barn is located near Pearrygin State Park. I have another view which I’ll post soon.
Taken with a Hoya IR 720 nm filter.
© Brad Skiff
As part of the Drawing and Design course I teach, I have the students create 3D floating objects in charcoal. I drew this as the sample. The nut is about 15 inches across.
This is the reverse angle of a homestead near Waterville, Washington (one of my earliest posts was “In a field of wheat,” which shows this structure in infrared from the opposite side. (You can see it here).
I drove by this place not long ago and noticed it is starting to lean. Not many more winters ahead for this fellow, I imagine…