Grown-Up Art for the Child Within – "Beep Beep I"

Do you remember watching Warner Brothers cartoons after school?

I remember sitting at the kitchen table after school with a snack and watching them. Or maybe you first encountered them as a member of the Netflix generation. Later in life, I was surprised to learn that much of my familiarity with classical music started with those cartoons!

Bugs Bunny was my favorite, of course, but I also watched The Roadrunner. I think I’m in a minority, though. I always wanted the coyote to catch the roadrunner – such a smug bird.

I was looking for a new idea for a petroglyph piece one day and the cartoons just popped into my head. With most of my petroglyph pieces, I try to remain true to the feeling and intent of the original artists. But every once in a while my sense of humor creeps in, like it did with “Beep Beep.”

Even though I always root for the coyote, I don’t think this fella is going to catch this roadrunner, either.

In most of my petroglyph pieces, I apply two layers of plaster. In “Beep Beep,” I used three to create all the elements I needed.

You can see the first layer at the very top and is light brown.

The second layer is more of a burnt sienna. This layer let me accomplish two things. At the top, I formed the edge of the plaster to look like the Southwest mesas you see in the cartoons that inspired me. Secondly, this layer is where I created the “carved out” images of the roadrunner and coyote.

The third layer forms the darker cliffs on which the characters stand. This layer allowed me to add some story-telling drama to the situation, including the fact that the cliff the coyote is standing on is about to break.

The petroglyph images themselves are based on the Pueblo peoples’ petroglyphs found at La Cieneguilla, New Mexico. The meaning of many petroglyphs is elusive, however the coyote is known as a clever trickster. Roadrunners might represent mental and physical speed and agility. Since both animals are clever, perhaps the speed aspect is simply the reason that the coyote never catches roadrunner.