Graphite & Colored Pencil Drawing on Paper, 2019

“Hubley Cap Gun” by Mike Pitzer

If we weren’t looking for pop bottles, we were probably playing Cowboys and Indians. This was my Hubley cap pistol. I must have had it from the time I was 6 until I was 8. I remember my Dad taking it away because a bunch of us kids discovered that you could take a whole roll of caps and smash ‘em with a hammer on the cement and it would sound like an M80 going off! We also cracked the cement sidewalk. None of the Dads seemed happy about that.

As I worked on this piece and shared it on Facebook, something interesting happened, the people who had had a cap gun growing up knew instantly that it was a toy. Those who hadn't had one as a child started a conversation about, "Why would I draw a pistol?", "Too many people are being killed by handguns!" and so on. My wife Lynn was one of those people who felt it really wasn't "Happy Art" and she'd asked me why didn't add "caps" when I was drawing it? It never occurred to me that people wouldn't see it as a toy — so I added caps to the drawing and instantly everyone saw it as a toy. The funny thing was that a couple people came up to me and said they could actually smell the sulfur when they looked at the drawing. Maybe, I should do a scratch and sniff show?

Cap Gun by Mike Pitzer
Cap Gun detail by Mike Pitzer
Cap Gun detail by Mike Pitzer
Cap Gun detail by Mike Pitzer
Cap Gun detail by Mike Pitzer

My art is not an exercise in, nor an attempt to master hyper realism. My drawings came from an inner desire to find “happiness” again. A creative satisfaction I was no longer getting from simply being an advertising Creative Director. Don't get me wrong, I love the ad biz, but the last several years had sucked the happiness out of it for me. My wife, Lynn encouraged me to start drawing again and as I did I looked for that thing that would inspire me. That "thing" turned out to be “things” that made me happy as a kid growing up in Algonac, Michigan. As I continue to see, these things make other people happy too.

As an ad guy, I thought there had to be an art movement out there like “tribalism” or “familiarism”, art that people identify with at an emotional level. (OMG! Ad speak...) I haven't found one yet. Lynn had an idea that sounded interesting — “Evocationism”. She said it was the act of calling forth — evoking of old memories. From postings on Facebook, that's what's happening. Friends are telling me how fun and cool this series is. Which is why I've been calling this work “Happy Art” — because it's brought my happy back!
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  • Title: “Hubley Cap Gun”

  • Artist: Mike Pitzer

  • Medium: Graphite, Colored Pencil on Paper

  • Image Size: 34" T x 65" W

  • Signed & Dated: MPitzer '2019

  • Series: “Happy Art”


  • Happy Art

  • Fig Tree Gallery

  • Drawing

  • Pencil Art

  • Cap Gun

  • Childhood Toys

  • Mike Pitzer Artist

  • Fresno Artists