Category Archives: artwork

Catching Up on Movie Masterpieces

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What do you do after a long, hard journey home when your arthritis is making you house-bound and bad weather is making it worse?  Well there is the miracle of Amazon and Netflix and the movies that you desperately wanted to see, but didn’t make it to the theater for.  One such movie is… um…  What was the name of that movie that all my radically Christian friends said we couldn’t see because of the gay character?  Well, it wasn’t the movie I’m talking about first.  If there is gayness there, it is so intrinsic a part of the story and so artfully slipped in that you really have to intend to be offended to actually be offended by it.    This movie was simply an amazingly beautiful live-action adaptation of an animated classic that morphed into a hit Broadway musical and then morphed back into a movie.  It was brilliant on so many levels.

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The cast is so completely unexpected, yet so completely perfect.  Obi-wan Kenobi plays the Candlestick.  The snowman from Frozen plays the toady character, Le Fou.  Nanny McPhee plays the talking tea pot.  Gandalf plays the clock.  And who knew that Hermoine could sing so well?

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I loved it for so many reasons that I can’t begin to name them all in only 500 words.

And I had more than one movie I simply had to see.

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Moana is an engagingly bright archetypal experience full of bold color and comic relief and breath-taking artistry.  The heroine is a step forward not just for Disney, but for Hollywood as a whole.  The songs are energetic and soul-lifting.  The magic is truly magical.  Both literally and figuratively.

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If I ever have a chance to see this movie in a theater, I will leap at the chance.  Of course, I have arthritis and will probably break my leg.

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And I am watching these things on my parents’ TV.  So I felt compelled to throw in an old favorite as well.

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Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda, and Van Johnson have been dead and gone for a long time now.  Yet this sensitive and beautifully crafted comedy is still as alive as it was in 1968 when it premiered.  I laugh harder now at it than I did when I was twelve, because I was looking at it from the other side of the divide back then.  Rediscovering the charm of old movies is one of the great joys available to the old.

So, my vacation time is definitely not wasted even though I can’t get out much and do much.  Time spent watching good movies with family is a very good thing.  It allows me to catch up on some of the new lights that illuminate the whole of culture.

 

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Why Do You Think That? Part 4

I had to think long and hard about this.  I don’t know how to go about it because I myself am really the opposite of a nudist or a naturist.  I cover up parts of me in public that most people don’t because of psoriasis and unsightly sores on my arms, hands, neck, and jawline.  But I used to know naturists.  I have walked among them, even though I was never brave enough to actually walk naked among them.  But I have this goofy thought that has been nagging me from a back corner of the upstairs filing rooms of my stupid old head.  All people are actually nudists under their clothes.

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Now, if a doofus is trying to argue something as crazily goofy as this, he better have some good main points backed up by real research.  I, of course, am probably not as sensible as that, so let me go with these three main points;

  1. Public nudity is not an invasion of privacy since the person pretty much has to be intentionally nude, and they are not revealing anything that isn’t true of all of us.
  2. Artists really need to draw and paint nudes because one can’t create realistic figures without discovering how to do it by practice.
  3. Naked people are generally happier and more sane than the rest of us.

 

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When I was visiting my girlfriend in the 1980’s at the clothing-optional apartment complex in Austin, Texas, I did not option for naked.  And I really couldn’t protest naked hairy guys strutting in front of me by the pool because I knew what was inside the gate when I knocked the first time.  Nudists are not really suffering from invasion of privacy.  They choose to be naked and choose to be in these places like nude beaches where other people are naked too.

You don’t accidentally become a nudist.  (Even though I wrote a novel about a boy accidentally becoming a nudist in Iowa in the 70’s.)  Even the nudists I have posted in these pictures are not having their privacy violated.  These images originate with old naturist publications purchased in the 80’s.   That means they intended them to be seen.  In fact, I am able to find ample nudism seeking an audience on Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter link to NeoNudist

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BBC Why All Artists Should Have Naked Ambition

And either drawing nude models is an essential part of art training, or all people who learn to draw are perverts and just make art so they can ogle nude models.  I wrote in this crazy blog before about my experience with college-level nude drawing class.  I got a “C+”, not because I wasn’t any good at drawing the naked female art students and naked exhibitionist hairy guys that posed for us, but because the teacher was hyper critical and probably anal-retentive just the way all really exceptional art teachers probably are.

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I am quite capable of drawing the delicate and exquisite nude figure without becoming a gynecological illustrator or even a crude, rude dude.  And there is art to it.  It is not meaningless.

But in the final analysis, we all have a bit of the nudist instinct in us.  We all secretly enjoy those times when we were able to naked, however briefly, in the warm enfolding light of the sun.  If you have not experienced that and don’t know what I’m talking about, then why have you read this far through the post?  Why have my posts about drawing nudes and being around naturists been my most popular posts?

We have that urge to go naked because that is how God made us.  Being naked in the company of other naked people is actually good for you.  At least, Scientific American thinks so.

Benefits of Nudity from Scientific American

Daily Mail Being naked makes us happier with our bodies

In truth, my time among the naturists helped me recover from the trauma of being sexually assaulted by another boy when I was ten.  That was a long, painful journey that deprived me for a while of being able to be naked.  For a while I was too damaged to be a happy naturist.  But I have come so far now; I can even make this admission in writing.  I would like to be a nudist, even if only for a very brief while.  In fact, I think we are all at least a bit like that.  Now, if only my skin would stop flaking and peeling off.

Naked Wanderings

 

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Filed under artwork, humor, nudes, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Learning to Reproduce Art Digitally

I began this journey in 2013 as author of Catch a Falling Star, using a blog to promote the book at the prompting of my publisher.  They basically set the blog up for me and then handed me the steering wheel.  And I drove right into the deep pool of creative liquid filled with my own writing, artwork, and goofy thinking.

One thing that was critical was adding pictures, especially my own colored-pencil art, to the blog.  And so, I had to start converting my portfolios full of colorful scribbling.  I bought a digital camera and started my quest to reproduce in digital form the most important parts of my soul.

Here is an example of one of those first reproductions done in sunlight with my digital camera.

In the Land of Maxfield Parrish

It was acceptable enough to post, but look at the unicorn’s muzzle.  Do you not see the glare?  And how about the overall graying of the picture even at the most careful aperture settings?  Not to mention the camera’s penchant for posting the date in the corner if I don’t ask it not to politely enough.

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This one is so much better, having managed the settings better, having bought a 100 watt and a 300 watt light to light it better, and having practiced repeatedly.

 

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This one is even a little better.  It is done on my cell phone camera with a carefully selected and tested app that retains and enhances color so much more easily than the digital camera.

It is entirely possible you are looking at these three digital images and not seeing any difference.  But the differences are noticeable to me.  And I am proud of the progress I have made in four years, even if it is all in my stupid old head.

 

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Updating the Cardboard Castle

When my health is poor and my day is limited mostly to the bedroom, there are still ways to pass the time that create a tangible something.  Something I can hold in my hand.  A piece of art.

This weekend has meant more work on building my castle out of cardboard.  (I am not planning on living in it myself.  Imaginary D & D characters live, fight, and die there.)

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I actually painted the wizard in red and the Amazon in front myself.

So, I don’t draw all the elements myself.  I have found published sources of easy-to-assemble cardboard castle parts.  Then, with my arthritic fingers, scissors, tape, glue, and miniature-making muscle memory I proceed to create castles.

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This weekend’s castle-creating came about with the help of a supplement purchased at a book store, my favorite used bookstore.

It was called Map Folio 3-D and was published in the last decade by Wizards of the Coast, a publisher whose D & D products I have been buying since they published Talislanta books in the 1980’s.

It has cut-out walls and doors and details that you can cut out and slap together.

You may have noticed I even cut designs off the cover to use on my versions of the buildings they designed.

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So, that plan took me from this above to this below.

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I did the village inn and a barn/workshop.  And put into the center of the cardboard castle, it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the scene.

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So there you have it, a little bit of the doofy art-noodling that Mickeys often do.

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Filed under artwork, Dungeons and Dragons, making cardboard castles, photo paffoonies

Novel Ways to Make a Portrait

As both an artist and a writer I portray people I have known. I can also say that I have portrayed people I love, but that is rather redundantly repetitive because I basically love all people, even the really nasty ones who hate me in return.  It’s a teacher thing.  But portraits as a writer/artist/cartoonist/fool is not a straightforward thing.  Let me start by unpacking my portraits of the Cobble Sisters.  Sherry and Shelly Cobble are twin sisters.  They are in several of my YA novels about the little town in rural Iowa where I grew up.

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They are nudists.  That means their family believes there are health benefits to not wearing any clothes when they are at home or spending private time with the rest of their family and friends.  I can claim that they are based on real people, because they are, but that takes considerable explaining.

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                                                                                                                                                                             Sherry Cobble

I have a pair of identical twin cousins who I grew up with and learned about the unique things twin share from them.  But the Cobble Sisters are not a direct portrait of them.  They are not nudists.  And they would probably beat me to a pulp if I dared to insist that they were.

The nudist/naturists I once knew and lived near were in Iowa City where I went to grad school (and where I found the original model for the picture), and in Austin, Texas where my girlfriend’s sister was living in a clothing-optional apartment complex.  My parents lived in an Austin suburb and when my girlfriend and I visited the area in the 80’s, I stayed at my parents’ home and she stayed at the crazy communal resort for naked people where her sister lived.  This situation provided the background for the embarrassment humor in my novel Superchicken.   That’s the story that includes an episode where the main character is tricked into going to a nudist camp as a guest with the Cobble family.  Poor Superchicken didn’t realize until he got there that it was a place where you have to take off all your clothes to blend in.

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Which leads quite naturally into the second portrait I want to talk about.  Edward-Andrew Campbell is called “the Superchicken” by his friends in Norwall, Iowa.  That nickname is actually my nickname from high school.  It comes from part of the George of the Jungle Saturday morning cartoon show by Jay Ward (Rocky and Bullwinkle’s creator).

The nickname was hung on me by a girl I had a huge crush on from grade school through junior high.  Superchicken in the cartoon show was this mild-mannered chicken who could gain super powers by drinking super sauce and then fight crime.  She obviously thought I was full of hidden talents just like him.

So Superchicken is a me character.

But the picture is not me drawing myself as a boy.  It is modeled on my young second cousin who was my little buddy for the last two years of high school and during my first couple of years in college.  The portrait in the novel, however, is part me and part a student from my early years as a teacher.  The Anita Jones portrait is drawn from a Sears catalog model, while the real girl was the most popular girl in my grade at school,  I wasn’t the only boy hopelessly in love with her.

Finally, since I am well over the word-count target already, I want to talk about the portrait of the main character in my novel about to be published, Miss Francis Morgan.

On the left you see who Francis really was.  Mother Mendocino was born to be a teacher, and it is her natural-born love of teaching and rapport with kids that I am portraying in the novel.  In the novel, though, everything that happens in that classroom was really something that happened in my classroom, not hers.  Especially the invasion of the classroom by three-inch tall fairies.  But it should also be obvious that Miss Morgan is not a portrait of me.  I am not female.  I could never respond to and touch kids the way she does because our society frowns on that from male teachers.  And further, she is not Hispanic because the novel is set in 1990’s Iowa rather than the deep South Texas town where these things happened.  So I based the drawing on another teacher I knew from Iowa, one that had always been the next door neighbor girl when I was a kid.  She babysat me and was older than me.

So, my portrait art that I am mangling the discussion of in this post is made up mostly of amalgamated portraits.  A little of this person added to a lot of that one, with a sprinkle of me mixed in for goof-factor effect.  The novel Magical Miss Morgan is being edited by Page Publishing as I write this and will be available soon.  I am hoping that a few of you may be foolish enough to buy one and read it.   I truly believe in my goofy old heart that you will like it.

 

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Crayon Addictions

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A simple, black-and-white drawing done in pen and ink.  Elegant. Easy to understand.  At least, if you can get past the weird little kid inside a birdhouse who has apparently saddled a mutant pigeon-sparrow. The black and white is the essential underpinning.  The bones of the idea.

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So, adding color makes things a little more complex.  I started with the girl’s face. Here is where I establish the basic color-theme.  And give more character to the surprised face peering through the portal of the bird house.

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Much of the work in coloring this little articus projecticus is a matter of pattern.  I like doing wood-grain patterns in colored pencil.  It looks good when it’s finished.  But it also takes time to do line after line.

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The last step is to color the bird-riding fairy-kid. Here I am completing the color-echoes and the pattern-making.  More lines.  More care with giving the shapes volume by using light and shadow.  And now we are at the final destination.  The picture is complete.

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Pen and Ink in Progress

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This drawing is not done.  I have plans.  But this pen and ink Paffooney is a good example of a doodle-point I probably need to make.  The plan does not occur before the ink hits the drawing pad.  No, this one started with a circle.  And for no good reason, I had to draw the girl’s face in the circle.  But what was the face doing inside a circle like that?  I next drew the bird.  But if she’s so surprised to see a bird inside a birdhouse…  Well, you get the idea.  The story comes after the scribbling.

And here comes the controversial conclusion.  This is exactly how life happens.  Stuff becomes… and the reason why only becomes clear later.  Curse me for a doodling philosopher!

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