THE FALL GUY

The title of this painting has several different meanings. Most obviously, it refers to the season of the year, as indicated by the brightly colored autumn leaves.

Another meaning is American slang for a scapegoat — someone who undeservedly takes the blame. Sadly, that has been the case with the much-maligned wolf. For centuries, humans have persecuted the wolf to the point of extinction. As man expanded into the wolf’s territory, eliminating much of its habitat and prey, wolves sometimes killed livestock. Superstition and myth also added to the wolf’s unfair reputation as a vicious, random killer. But in truth, there are few creatures in the animal kingdom more intelligent and social, and probably none a more efficient hunter than the wolf.

For me, however, this painting will always be a reminder of an especially dramatic period in my life, when I literally was “the fall guy.” I was doing some maintenance work at my house when I fell from a ladder that slid away. I fell from a height of ten feet. I wasn’t dead, nor was I paralyzed, breaking only my left shoulder, but it hurt everywhere in my body. After a week I could (O, wonder!) sit and paint. It was the only thing I could do.

So, this painting helped me through that difficult period. I didn’t worry about all the work of painting details such as the dead leaves and the little rocks. I felt comfortable, there was no pressure, and I forgot about my physical problems. Thank you, Fall Guy!

— Carl Brenders