Posts Tagged ‘The World Beneath the Surface’


Have you ever wondered where your pet disappears to after being let outside? Housecats, especially, can vanish and stay gone for the longest time. My cat, Vinnie, for example, has mastered the art of disappearing, not that I blame him for what he has learned from Missie, a mischevious, stray cat in our neighborhood. Missie adores Vinnie. She has become his constant companion; however, she is not to be found anywhere unless she is ready for it. Her roamings are her own; but, seldom will she stray too far from her kittens or from Vinnie, either.
Rootling Bros. Circus, is painting #10 in the watercolor series The World Beneath The Surface. The picture shows two of Missie’s kittens performing before a crowd of Root People. The ringmaster holds a toy mouse on a string. Two cyclists pass by holding hands, and a rootwalker preforms his skills above the crowd. A four-car rooterscooter, carrying eight Root people, takes a dive out of a tunnel. (A rooterscooter is what we Topsiders call a rollercoaster.)
Vinnie, my cat, lays quietly resting on a ledge above the entrance, or lobby, to Rootling Bros.Circus. Opposite him is a geranium in full bloom. In the lobby below, a small boy sits quietly all alone on a toadstool. Opposite the boy, two Root people and a bartender are conversing at the Root Beer Bar. A large circus poster looms over them, and adjacent the bar are two tunnelways. One tunnelway has stairs going down; the other has stairs going up, to the Rooterscooter, and a clown stands there peeking out attentively at the little boy.
Now, I ask you, has no one in this scene noticed Vinnie? How can he seem to be invisible admist all of this circus activity? You know the answer…. it is because he wants to.

Vinnie knows what you know: that cats can do what they please and get away with it and get rewarded for it! Meaning, surely he will get petted a lot and praised too much for returning home safely, he knows.
Yes, Vinnie knows what he is doing, the same as he knows what his master is doing.
So, what is his master (that’s me) doing?
Why, I am up there…at the house on the hillside…standing sockfooted at the open door and yelling my lungs out, calling: “VINNIE!–HERE VINNIE…VINNIE! HERE KITTY KITTY KITTY!!”
Another hour passes slowly, and I continue to worry. Should I go looking for him, I wonder? I know that he and Missy like to hang out under the shade of that maple tree, but, no, I won’t go there this time. I have things to do…he’ll  tell me all about it soon after he returns home.


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No, not Van Gogh… Van Goatee.

As in this Van Goatee!

Yours truly, Glenn’s cat!

I am Vincent Van Goatee, or “Vinnie”, Glenn’s apprentice, critic, and confidant.

I have lain across practically every drawing, viewed progress from my cozy perch over his shoulder and, sometimes, watched from on top of his head. I have been smack in the middle of every mockup and dreamt up new ideas while sleeping on canvas, paper, and paintings. On occasion, I have dipped myself in the palette for a ravishing new look (People can give themselves a purple hair-do, so why not cats–?) I test “quality control” by monitoring the delicate, unique bouquet that distinguishes every jar of paint water. My signature paw print, when found on one of his paintings, is certification that he has met my standards, and the painting is approved.

After countless hours and several years of telepathic coaxing, I have convinced Glenn to feature me in a new root painting titled, “Rootling Bros. Circus.” With my supervision of his brushstrokes, he shall be able to imitate my likeness but not, alas! my purr-rr-fection. To experience that, one has to be in my personal company.

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People frequently ask what inspired the creation of this series, The World Beneath the Surface. It started with this single, pen and ink drawing that I had done for a companion workbook to my novel Light of the Tittle.

The workbook, It’s A Colorbe’s Life! is a lavishly illustrated study containing 100 pages of spiritual exercises for recovering the lost child within. The illustration below is titled “The World Beneath the Surface.” It means to suggest that readers and viewers, alike, go on an inward journey in their quest for self-discovery and healing.Drawing Beneath the surface

Below this drawing, you will see the first painting in the series The World Beneath The Surface. It is titled “Visitors!”

Each painting will be accompanied by a short story, one descriptive of Root People and their life beneath the surface.

Of course, the Root People are very much aware of us, the snoopy ones. They call us the “Topsiders.”

The Root People are at home in their cozy little niche, deep beneath a hillside tree. One topsider, a boy, is looking at a hole in the tree trunk. His sister is in the background.

#1 Visitors! 4x8 300 dpi

She runs to catch up with him. Their two puppies got there first; both are now snooping into holes and sniffing for evidence, like two detectives working a crime scene. One puppy is being observed by a Root Person!

Woof, woof, woof! (The pup sees a one-eyed shiny thing down there!)

Yipe, yipe, yipe, yup- It sees him! (Hole watching is one thing; being watched by a little man in a hole is quite another!)

Clearly, we are the observers with a better view of the cutaway hillside. The taproot of the tree penetrates down through three levels in this home of the Root People. A stairway wraps around the taproot of the tree, and it ends at the lowest level, where a stream flows through an underground tunnel. At the stream, we see two Root People disembarking a rowboat upon returning from a fishing trip. One Root Person carries a nice stringer of minnows.

We see stalactites and stalagmites in the glow of the fisherman’s lantern. Candles, too, light the steps that lead to rooms above this cavern. Along the way up the stairs, we see a large, wooden keg filled with root beer (the favorite beverage of Root People.)

In the level above the cavern, four Root People are seen dancing and singing merrily. In a room adjacent to that, two youngsters sit in study at a kitchen table. Above the well-lighted table, there hangs a large “candleier root.”  Proceeding up the stairs to the uppermost level, we pass a clothes closet (Roots are handy, ready-made hangers for lots of things.)

Two bedrooms are visible to us at the upper level; although, rooms with doors are logically connected to more than meets the eye–more bedrooms, probably. The little man who watches snoopy visitors through a telescope may be standing near a tunnel entrance; namely, the one that leads the way to Root Beer Factory, supposedly. Hopefully, it is a tunnel, and it does go there; because, the factory is our next scheduled stop in The World Beneath the Surface!

Root Beer Factory

Root Beer Factory, 14 1/2 x 29-inches, watercolor, by Glenn Lewis

The inspiration for this painting started with the wooden keg that I had mentioned previously in Visitors!

On any warm afternoon in late spring, three topsider lads like these of the neighborhood might readily appreciate a glass of root beer. Understand me,–it could be snowing on dandelion blossoms, turning the grass white, and still they would not refuse a frosted mug of root beer. What, no glass,—no mug? Not a problem! Just pour some root beer onto a snowball and dream on—see whether Earl wouldn’t trade you his English Grammar schoolbook for it!

Earl is the boy seen walking home from school; his two friends each have a bicycle, but only the new boy in the neighborhood is riding his. Corbin is walking his bike in order to keep a conversational pace with Earl.

Just about any idea is useable that will keep junior minds busy on a road well-traveled already, zillions of times. These boys, I mean, have supposedly seen everything there is to see around this dry culvert. They have counted cans in ditches and thrown rocks at bottles. They have seen a rusty old fender left abandoned to weeds. They have kicked at lizards, oil cans, and broken glass, and Styrofoam, all that and found nothing of value along the way—save some miniature, wooden barrels.

“–doll-house furniture!” one boy laughed. Earl secretly pocketed the toy things anyhow; on the chance that little Laurie Jo might appreciate having them to add to her collection.

That is only the tip of the story, of course. The rest is all about what no one is supposed to see without an artist’s permission, and that is where we come into the picture, looking to our heart’s content at what has to be a root beer factory hangout.

Three levels of “sassy-fras” activity are made visible in this cutaway scene. At the uppermost level, root tenders cut tree roots and gather them in bunches for delivery to the processing plant on the level below, where Sassafras roots are first cleaned and chopped before going into a large stone crock for Stage 1 processing. During various stages of brewing and cooling, the making of certain syrupy extracts calls for a mixture of flavorings and sweeteners; Peppermint is one (if you can believe that) and, Cherry is another. The process is watched over by a factory foreman, like the one seen standing high-up on the platform.

The syrup then goes into a series of large wooden vats all linked to a system of tubing that only bootleggers might recognize and appreciate. Carbonated water is added to each mixture; the kegs are sealed and stored in an adjacent room for curing. Another dock worker stands ready to load aged barrels for transport and delivery. As a sled load is being hauled away, we move down to the next level. Along the way, we pass a family of three root people. They are on their way up the stairs to see the foreman and ask him for a tour of the factory.

Playtime Park is on the lower level. The park is home to the famous “Root Beer Bar,” where new stories get told and old memories are sometimes the best entertainment.

Bounded on three sides by a cavernous waterway, the park offers plenty of fun for fishermen, hikers, and picnickers, alike. There are mushroom stools to sit on; there are sand pits to play in, and places for Ring-Toss competition. Visitors can take a boat ride to Craggy Mist Falls, or they can hike across bridges and go exploring.  Either way, park visitors will be delighted, and stories will get told; because, stories happen where two or more are gathered around the Root Beer Bar.  (You have just heard one!)

Now, don’t rush off just yet, my friends; we have an invitation to go prospecting…for gold!

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