IN WHICH Mojo Admits to More Venal Tendencies...

Cardinal Penguins


So, when Mojo was a wee lass she had this very kind and supportive Favorite Mother who tended to indulge and encourage various shenanigans. One such interest was art, particularly wildlife art. At one point Mojo decided she was going to become a Famous Wildlife Artist (little did she know there really *IS* no such thing, as least as far as TRUE FAME goes, in the quantity Mojo expects and demands), and her Favorite Mother hooked her up with weekly art lessons with a very nice lady the next town over, by the name of Mary Drayton. (I give you her name because the poor dear has since passed on, and Mojo knows a deceased person cannot sue her for libel. Or slander. Or mere association.)

Mrs. Drayton was a simply LOVELY and PATIENT person, who would probably pretend not to mind being associated on the internet with such a rapscallion as Mojo. Anyway, Mojo being Mojo she thought pretty early on that she was quite good at representing various critters in their natural habitats, and her Favorite Mother encouraged this hubris by dropping RANGER RICKs and NATIONAL WILDLIFEs and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICs all over the house. (To be honest they actually predate Mojo's interest in art, and some of them even predated Mojo.) She even bought the big ol' BINDERS so you could hold a year's issues in one convenient place--the NW ones were green; the RRs were brown--and Wee Lass Mojo would spend HOURS paging through the lovely photos of animals and drawing the ones she thought were worthy of her talents.

Anyway, looking at pictures (gateway drug) eventually led to reading the articles attached to them, and one of them at one time was an interview--or perhaps a series of interviews, I forget--with "famous" wildlife artists of the time, which would be the Sixties. At the time she read these (a decade later, in the Seventies), we must remember, Mojo was in her early teens, with girlish dreams of fame and fortune, and what better way of becoming fabulously wealthy than becoming a woman artist? Turns out just about ANY OTHER WAY is better than the dubious path Mojo has chosen, but eh, whatcha gonna do.

The ONLY SINGLE THING I remember from this whole article or interview or series or whatever was an offhand comment by one such artist, who claimed that they often drew or painted cardinals, simply because many a suburban housewife liked having pictures of cardinals hanging on the walls of their domiciles. I very distinctly remember said artist basically claiming, "No matter how TERRIBLE A JOB I do painting a cardinal, it STILL SELLS." Or words to that effect.

Mojo, who at that tender age made most of her money wallowing in newsprint with a fairly large daily paper route (this is back when papers MATTERED, and routes were commonly worked by CHILDREN. My, how times have changed...), saw DOLLAR SIGNS. If she were a cartoon, dollar signs would appear in her eyes with the little "ka-ching!" sound effect. That was it, I realized. My ticket to fame and fortune. I would dash off various pictures of cardinals, and then sit back and wallow in the bathtub of money that would be the inevitable result. Because, dang, Mojo was THAT GOOD.

So without further ado, I got a precious, precious chunk of watercolor paper (that's what I was into at the time), taped it up to my board, selected a suitable cardinal pose from one of the magazines (let's face it--there's like a GAZILLION out there, usually with a snowy or blue sky backdrop, and often with branches with little red berries on them; it's like a freakin' cliché), and started sketching. And painting. This was it; I was gonna be RICH.

Only problem was, I got about a quarter of the way through it and then even *I* had to concede: it was the suckiest, SUCKIEST cardinal ever committed to paper. If you could call having it a quarter of the way done "committed". Mojo tends to have exacting standards anyway, but as much as I tried to remember the artist's claim that they sold like hotcakes no matter how TERRIBLE they were done... I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I could not attach my name to this swollen monstrosity and accept money from anyone stupid enough to purchase it. So the cardinal, and all of Mojo's hopes and dreams of riches beyond her feverish imagination, was soon abandoned.

Total time spent on this get-rich-quick scheme: perhaps an hour.

So to this day, every time I see a picture of a cardinal, I think of that long-ago artist's claim that they sell like nobody's business. Can an older, wiser Mojo expect any less from a picture of a pair of penguins dressed up like cardinals? Time will tell. But I expect nothing less than a FORTUNE. You can do your part in this equation by rushing over to my Zazzle store and buying all sorts of crap. If you don't like cardinals--who doesn't? Remember, they sell no matter how TERRIBLY they are done--perhaps you would be more interested in one of Mojo's other freaky penguins. Because when you get right down to it, it's all about the Benjamins. Oh, yeah, and art. Because Mojo's, like, an artiste and stuff. But you already knew that, huh?