BY BRIAN BESCH
LIVINGSTON -- Chris Carson is looking to join the police force, but probably not in the way you would think. He is looking to use his creative talents to become a sketch artist.
"I have a friend in California that did all the courthouse art for the O.J. Simpson trial and I could easily do everything he did as well," Carson said. "My wife and I are settling down here in Livingston and we will be here for good. We are also opening a music and art school here and I was going to offer my services to do police sketches."
Someone who collected Carson's art offered him a deal on a house that the Las Vegas native could not pass. His mother lives in Willis and Carson moved to Texas 12 years ago from Florida.
"I have always done art, but when I started doing it to make money, I was in the Navy stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. They didn't let me bring my art supplies on board. I went down to the galley and got all the condiments like coffee, soy sauce, mustard, and ketchup and I would tear up cardboard and I would mix the condiments with my clear hair gel. Then, I would twist up napkins, paint on the torn up cardboard, and sell them on eBay. Into my second year in the Navy, I was making more money off my art than off of my military pay grade."
The school Carson is looking to begin will be called Orange School of Music and Art. Learning will be set up for courses, so instead of taking private guitar lessons, students would take the class with a small group. Beginner, intermediate and advanced courses will be available.
"I will talk to people in see where they at, but it will be one lesson a week. I will also have art courses that will be more based off of workshops. If you would like to learn how to draw or learn how to paint, I will be catering to all ages. I can paint all styles. Right now, I'm in the process of raising funds for the school and I'm getting ready to pass out flyers."
Carson has a website that he just built and he frequents a lot of conventions. He has his work in comic books, children's books, movies and album covers, but does things outside of the usual for artists.
"I'm doing commission for a lady right now that I met at the doctor's office, and she said her son died when he was 22 or 21 and she would love to know what he would look like now. I said, 'I can do that for you.' I can do anything from illustrations to a full-blown oil painting. I'll spend anywhere from a couple of seconds, to the longest I've ever spent on a painting is 200 hours."
Some of Carson's more popular work was done in the movie "Dark Crystal" from Jim Henson of "The Muppets."
"I did some artwork for 'Dark Crystal.' I have my own property called 'Graveyard Girl' and it's kind of dark, gothic, Tim Burton-type stuff. I also have 'Darkened Bedtime Stories for Children,' which is kind of like the Brothers Grimm-type stories. I painted all the pages. I'm working one right now called 'Pumpkin Zombie Cat' and it is about my wife's cat. He got a skin disease and started looking like a zombie, so I immortalized him in a book about a cute little girl that looks like her (pointing at his wife), but she's kind of sadistic."
The descendant of frontiersman Kit Carson said the opportunity to use his skill to help his new home is reason enough for him to give his time and effort to the police.
"I think art is kind of like magic. For me to be able to talk to somebody, hear what the person looks like, and be able to draw the person — I think that would be really cool. If it can help somebody who is harmed, then that is even better. I also really want to get more involved in the community here now that I've decided on living down here in Polk County. I will help out in any way that I can. If they can pay me for it, that is cool, but if not, I'll still do it."
Carson said he is looking at locations near downtown to begin his school. His website can be found at worldofstrangely.com.