Category Archives: artwork

Celebration 1,900

My blog on WordPress, Catch a Falling Star, now has 1,900 followers for the very first time.

You may have noticed that my blog is about surrealist art, fantasy fiction for young adults, and a somewhat strange idea of what humor is all about.

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The Art of the Paffooney

There was a rollerskating rink in the little town of Lake Cornelia in Iowa from the 1940’s until the 1980’s. The first time I went there as a ten-year-old learning to roller-skate for the very first time, I spent the entire time cleaning the dusty floor with the knees and seat of my pants. My parents could both skate with fantastic ease. Dad could even skate backwards. During the couples’ skate, when they turned the lights down and turned on the blinking colored lights, they didn’t merely skate, they danced in circles around the rink.

But I wanted desperately to skate like that. We went numerous times to that same rink that Summer of 1967. The second time I went there I had spent a couple of nights dreaming of myself successfully skating. And practicing in my dreams apparently worked. I could skate the complete oval of the rink, and I only fell down three times the entire couple of hours we were there. We went to the A&W drive-in for root beers to celebrate afterwards.

We kept skating and I kept improving. In 1969 the song “Sugar, Sugar” was a number one hit. It played at least five times a trip to the skating rink, often during the couples’ skate. That Cornelia skating rink was the place where I skated hand in hand with a girl during the couples’ skate for the very first time. To that song, of course.

That rink was also the site of my worst embarrassment in junior high school. I fell because of a dreaded gum-wad on the floor and split the inseam of my pants from the crotch all the way down the right leg. When I got up, the girl I had a crush on and three of her female friends got a good look at my fruit-of-the-looms. Strangely, nobody made fun of me for it afterwards. The rink manager came up with enough safety pins to hold my pants together for the remaining hour of skate time. Embarrassed within an inch of my life being over, I was still not going to miss out on skating-time,

I hadn’t thought about skating in long time. I am not able to do it anymore with arthritis in my knees and feet. But this old colored-pencil drawing of a girl I once adored on roller skates brought the memory of it back again. It is a permanent part of who I am. A core memory. A foundation-stone in the edifice of Mickey-ness.

And a picture I have made with the story that goes along with it is what a Paffooney is. If you want to see more examples of Paffoonies I have created, you can do a Google picture-search of “Beyer Paffooney” and you will see a lot of them, mostly linked directly back to this blog. It is word I invented that nobody else is using (as far as I know), and so, it functions as a sort of magic word for my silly little blog.

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What’s the Real Reason?

What’s the real reason behind the choices I make as an artist? For instance, why didn’t I do this photo of the artwork over again when the wind warped the bottom left corner. That answer is simple. I was taking this picture with natural sunlight. And once the wind started messing up my pictures, it only got worse. This was the first and best of five attempts. And, while it doesn’t show up here, I did several photo-shop manipulations of this picture, including shrinking the girl’s head. The original was done from a couple of models I got consent from when I worked at a daycare center in Iowa City where I went to college. The boy was eight years old in the summer of 1980. The girl was six, but I used a photo of a girl I went to second grade with, so the head was also eight. They represent David Copperfield and Emily, Pegotty’s niece from the Dickens novel. I had to read the book for my Master’s Exam which I took instead of writing a thesis. The picture is about how I saw myself and my world in that timeless novel.

This picture won a blue ribbon in the art competition at the Wright County Fair in 1979. It is a colored-pencil cartoon situation right out of a Jay Ward, Dudley Do-Right cartoon. I used a picture from a Canadian travel ad for the Mountie. The Indian sidekick is a modified version of Little Beaver, Red Ryder’s sidekick. The villain and the girl were basically Snidely Whiplash and Nell from the Dudley Do-Right cartoons, but made to look slightly more realistic… but only very slightly.

Actually, I lied a bit about the blue ribbon. I got the purple Grand Champion ribbon for this picture. I had entered it solely because two years before I saw how easy it would be to win a purple ribbon looking at the pictures that won it, and I wanted to win the purple ribbon. Sorry I lied, but the real reason for this picture is that I wanted to win that ribbon.

This painting, from the 1990s, was an attempt to make sofa art to sell in my sister-in-law’s home d├ęcor store. So, the real reason for this painting’s existence is greed. But since I ended up putting so many hours into it that I couldn’t justify selling it for twenty dollars in a store that went out of business because nobody ever shopped there, I got far more value out of it by keeping it and enjoying it myself. It was inspired by numerous paintings of Native Americans done by white people on display in Love’s Travel Stops across Texas in the 1990s.

This picture, “That Night in Saqqara,” is about youth versus age, thinking about death, immortality, and being afraid of any or all of it. The model for the Mummy is Boris Karloff who was so nice to pose for a production still from his movie that I could draw him long after he was actually dead. The boy was a seventh-grader in 1983 who did not actually pose for this without a shirt on or with an actual Ankh life-symbol around his neck. The Pharaoh in the tomb-mural in the background was from National Geographic Magazine, and I think was supposed to be Tutankhamun, but I could be wrong. I am old and I mix up lots of things I once clearly knew. That’s what mummified brains have to be like, apparently.

The reason I had to create this artwork was because I was increasingly falling victim to illness, especially arthritis, and I was constantly thinking about what it would be like to die alone, entombed in a two-bedroom apartment on North Stewart Street in Cotulla, Texas. This was well before I met and married my wife, who is now my wife of 25 years.

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Filed under artwork, drawing, foolishness, humor, inspiration, Paffooney

Strawberry Fields

This foolish essay about berries that mean love to me is only partly inspired by the Beatles song, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” That’s because, of course, their song was only about meditating. In the lyrics they take you to the “Strawberry Fields where nothing is real… but it’s nothing to get hung up about…” They are talking about a blissful place of no worries where we all need to go. And then staying there forever.

This, of course, I could never do. Worrying about the future is tattooed on my behavioral imperatives in the dark part of my stupid old brain. And while I often found that place of no worries, and lingered there for a bit, I found you could never really get anything done if you stayed in that state of strawberry fields forever.

But don’t get me wrong, strawberries are a critical part of every healthy mental diet.

You see, my meditations on strawberries when I was a child of eight, nine, and ten centered on the strawberry patch at Great Grandma Hinckley’s place.

She was, as I incorrectly recall, slightly older than Jesus when I was that age. By that I mean, though she seemed museum-quality ancient to me, I had derived wisdom about life, love, and laughter from her before Sunday School taught me any of those things said in Jesus’s words.

And I was given the task of mowing her lawn in the little plot of land surrounding her little, tiny house in the Northern part of Rowan where I also lived and grew and celebrated Christmas and Halloween and Easter and the 4th of July. And though I was doing it because she was so old, I never even once thought she was too old and frail to do it herself. Grandma Hinckley’s willpower was a force of nature that could even quell tornados… well, I thought so anyway when I was eight. And she gave me a dollar every time I did the lawnmowing.

But there were other things she wanted done, and other things she wanted to teach me. There was the garden out back with the strawberry patch next to it. She wanted me to help with keeping the weeds and the saw grass and the creeping Charlie from overrunning the strawberries and choking them to death. (Creeping Charlie wasn’t an evil neighbor, by the way. He was a little round-leafed weed that grew so profusely that it prevented other plants from getting any sunlight on their own leaves, causing a withering, yellowing death by sunlight deprivation. I took my trowel to them and treated them like murderers. I showed them no mercy.)

And Grandma always reminded me not to be selfish and eat the very berries I was tending in the garden. She taught me that eating green strawberries (which are actually more yellow than green, but you know what I mean) was bad because they could give you a belly ache, a fact that that I proved to myself more than once (because eight-year-olds are stupid and learn slowly.) She also taught me that it is better to wait until you have enough strawberries to make a pie, or better yet, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream. She taught me that delayed gratification was more rewarding in the long run than being greedy in the short run and spoiling everything for everybody.

She always gave me a few of the ripe strawberries every time I helped her with them, even if I had eaten a few in the garden without permission. Strawberries were the fruit of true love. I know this because it says so in the strawberry picture. Even though I probably never figured out what true love really means.

My Great Grandma Nellie Hinckley was the foundation stone that my mother’s side of the family was built on. She was the rock that held us steadily in place during the thunderstorms, and the matriarch of the entire clan of Hinckleys and Aldriches and Beyers and other cousins by the dozens and grandchildren and great grandchildren and even great great grandchildren. I painted the picture of her in 1980 when she passed away. I gave it to my Grandma Aldrich, her second-eldest daughter. It spent three decades in Grandma’s upstairs closet because looking at it made Grandma too sad to be so long without her. The great grandchild in the picture with her is now a grandmother herself (though no one who has seen this picture knows who it is supposed to be because I painted her solely from memory and got it all wrong.) But Grandma Hinckley taught me what true love means. And true love has everything to do with how you go about taking care of the strawberry patch.

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Every Picture Has a Story

This is an illustration that goes along with my first good published novel, Catch a Falling Star. I don’t talk about that novel in this blog very much anymore since, in order to actually promote that novel, I am under contract to have to spend hundreds of dollars more to use one of their many expensive promotional packages to get this “award winning” novel promoted in the way the publisher thinks it deserves. I wanted to use a picture like this for the cover of the book. They rejected that. Instead they gave me a silhouette picture of a girl flying a kite at night. That, of course, has nothing to do with the novel inside the book. These two, by contrast, are two of the most important characters from the book, both of them aliens. Farbick is the competent space pilot who gets himself shot and captured during the failed invasion of Earth. Davalon is the marooned tadpole, Telleron child, who gets himself adopted by a childless Earth couple. I definitely like my picture better than the one I got stuck with.

This picture is called, “Long Ago It Might Have Been.” It is a picture I drew in the late eighties, after my girlfriend/Reading-teacher colleague took a job in San Antonio and left me behind. Honestly, she wanted to marry me, and I never got around to telling her that the reason our love life was so difficult was because I had been sexually assaulted as a child, and though I was attracted to her, I hadn’t truly healed enough at that point to become a husband and father. I never told her about my terrible secret. She left. She got married and had more than one blond-haired little girl that probably looked just like her. The boy in this picture looks like a young me with blond hair. He wears a baseball jacket of the St. Louis Cardinals, my favorite team. He’s the child that might’ve been, if only I had grown to adulthood a little sooner.

This picture is even harder to explain without me looking like a real fool. After all, if you are a real fool, it’s rather hard to hide that fact. In that last picture, I depicted something that related to one of the two girlfriends that I had to juggle at the same time back in the eighties. You see, I had set my heart on winning over Mary Ann whom I had worked with in the same classroom as she was the teacher’s aide assigned to the Chapter I remedial program I was teaching. She’s the girlfriend I took on visits to the Austin area on weekends. She had a sister in Austin, the one who lived in the nudist apartment complex, where she stayed during those visits. My parents lived in Taylor, Texas at the time, a nearby suburb. We dated regularly. She knew my terrible secret. She was a divorcee and I knew her terrible secrets as well. Ginger, on the other hand, was looking for a mate, and she lived in the apartment next door. She’s the one who would’ve hopped into bed with me anytime I asked. And she made no bones about wanting me to be hers. Needless to say, I could’ve written a TV sitcom about the majority of my love-life back then. It could’ve starred Jack Ritter as me. And I ended up with neither of those two young ladies. The picture, of course. is in honor of the kids in the eighties calling my classroom Gilligan’s Island because they thought I looked like the Gilligan actor, Bob Denver.

This is, of course, a portrait of Millis the rabbit in his accelerated-evolution form as a rabbit-man from my novel The Bicycle-Wheel Genius. That book, obviously, is a science-fiction comedy with a lot of unexpected plot twists. But the story behind the picture is one of a boyhood spent as a town kid in a farm-town community. Unlike the other kids in the Iowa Hawkeyes 4-H club, I couldn’t raise a calf or a pen of hogs as my 4-H club project. So, instead, I got in as a keeper of rabbits. Of my two original rabbits, a buck and a doe, I had a black one and a white one. The white one was a New Zealand White, a purebred white rabbit with red eyes, because the entire breed was albino. I called the white rabbit, the buck, Ember-eyes because his eyes glowed like fire in the night under the flashlight beam. The doe was a black rabbit I called Fuzz. Out of the first litter of babies Fuzz had, eight of the ten were white And of the two black babies, one died in the nest, and the other passed away shortly after he got big enough to determine that he was a male rabbit. I won’t go into how you determine the sex of a juvenile rabbit. So, almost all of the rabbits I raised before I discovered what a Dutch-belted rabbit was, were white with red eyes.

So, it is my thesis for today that every picture I make has some kind of story behind it. It may be totally boring, but still technically a story. So, there.

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What Dreams May Come?

Lately I have been having problems with passing out during low blood-sugar moments in the middle morning, early afternoon, and shortly after supper, usually when I have already had a snack and my sugars haven’t balanced yet. When I pass out, perchance… I dream. Vivid dreams. So, for art day, I will post images I have made based on dreams I have had.

This one has shadows on everything. I exhausted three pens drawing shadows. Yet, there are no shadows on the child-figures. In the dream, they were glowing white ghosts.

Snowboy is one of the main villains in The Bicycle-wheel Genius. But the boy-robot made entirely of snow, ice, and circuitry first appeared in a 1978 dream that happened while I had a fever from the flu.

This dream is a mental-disturber caused again by fever. Here the two gigantic toys play with the little girl. I was not actually in this dream. I was an observer floating above. I think the bear was inspired by a Care-Bear.

This picture has all the elements of the actual dream, the candle, the line of glowing pixies, the sleeping princess, and Prince Charming. But nothing here looks like it did in the dream. The prince and the princess were both young teens that I did not know in real life. The fairies were larger and a lot more obviously nude.

I actually passed out while writing this post. It happened right here, before I could post this dream of living colors. All the colors were in motion in the dream, something I couldn’t really represent here.

I knew when I dreamed this dream that the Bambi-kin in this dream were members of my family, but at the time I dreamt it I had not met my wife yet, let alone had three kids of my own. Yet I knew that it was not my family at the time of the dream because one of my sisters was not there.

This is from a dream I had in college at Iowa City. I made an entire cartoon out of it called Babysitters Hate My House, It is about a babysitter having a horrible time with my two sons as she loses control when they show her the man in the basement that, “Daddy built out of a kit.”

And, finally, this dream featured not only the spirit stag and the medicine man, but the bolt of lightning in the background. The Dakotah people say having a dream with lightning in it makes you a “lightning dreamer”, a magic man, or a shaman. So, I guess that qualifies me to be one.

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To Have the Power…

I have been struggling with my goals for this week. I wanted to publish my novel, The Wizard in His Keep. I also wanted to go get my vote in at an early-voting polling place. But I had to get my phone repaired because the battery was failing. I needed a reliable phone if I had to wait in a long voting line, which it seems we are actually having. My health has been poor. I didn’t want to pass out in line and cause an emergency without a working phone. I had to get battery power to pull this off.

Last weekend my computer crashed and it turns out my Google account may have been hacked… again. I had to recover the account and change a ton of passwords. I have had to check accounts repeatedly without using my computer. But, even though it delayed my final edit and publication by a couple of days, I got the manuscript and cover submitted last night. The e-book is already live on Amazon. The paperback will also be available soon.

I managed to order and receive a new phone battery online before the computer crash. But I discovered that my arthritic fingers couldn’t handle the battery installation.

So…

I was able to get the phone working by taking it to the nearest AT&T Store. The guy behind the counter put the battery in my phone for free.

And then today, as I was planning to go vote, I passed out about five times after breakfast. I took what medication I have that is relevant. Early voting is every weekday until the 30th of October. I will have to wait for a better day when I have more physical power to do it.

So, I have overcome all of my goals except for voting. I did it by marshaling power. Battery power by buying a battery. Finger power by relying on the empathy in an AT&T employee for an arthritic old man whose fingers fumble. And I will overcome the voting issue with healing power and will power.

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Reading is Life

I have spent a lot of time reading and reviewing other people’s books. And at the same time I have invested some of my free-reading time in re-reading my own novel, The Baby Werewolf. The thing about all of it together is that it represents the actual life-force of the author. We all do it. Authors put their own experience, their own heart, and their own precious world into their work. We do it at different levels of confidence, competence, and creativity. But we all do it. And because we do it, someone needs to read it.

A story…

contains the characters that the author has known, the author has loved, and especially the people the author has lost over the course of his or her life.

At least, the competent authors do that. They put real people into their work. You can tell, even in really awful, poorly written novels, that flashes of what the authors really observed, really hated, or really fell in love with about the people in their lives are there to be read and absorbed.

Places

are also crucial to the story. Fiction or nonfiction, you will be taken to other homes, other cities, other worlds than the one you yourself inhabit.

What more can you truly say about your life than where you lived it, where you are from, and what background defines you as an author?

And plot…

that which happens in a story, is probably the most important thing of all. Because reading gives you a share in someone else’s life, in someone else’s experience. A chance to walk about in someone else’s shoes.

You can comfortably learn what others have learned before you. You can share in their ups and downs and all-arounds to experience the same chills and thrills and sadness as they have lived, and loved, and laughed about.

So, in this essay, I contend that human life on the planet Earth is a very good thing. And you multiply its goodness a thousand-fold if only you will only pick up and read someone else’s book.

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Surreal Self-Portraits

What you see is basically me.

It is said by somebody who wasn’t basically me that any time an artist draws a picture of someone, or paints a picture of someone, or twizzles a twizzle-snoot of someone… they are basically making a picture of themselves.

So, this Paffooney that I paffooned of a purple mouse in a Don Martin-esque style, is supposed to be Mickey the cartoonist. And Mickey is supposedly, basically me.

And here I am as Muck Man, the superhero. It is me because the super power he has is his horrible, non-adorable, and unrelenting stench. The horrible smell of him renders villains and bad people unconscious or worse… sometimes straight to the hearse. And using his olfactory assaults on evil as a way to make something terrible into something with a -someness of awe, makes him indubitably, indelibly basically me.

“Long Ago It Might Have Been”

And here is a picture of a boy who might’ve been my son if only I had been given enough good sense to fall in love with that first blond young lady who first had thoughts about making babies with me. I didn’t. I’m stupid. And now she has only girls. That makes it a picture too of basically me.

And this little not-me was me all along, and as the boy who sees colors, it’s really not wrong. Synesthetic they call it in a name that’s not long, but is resoundingly deep like the words of a song.

And you might argue this one and say that it’s true… “This one is too pretty to be a picture of you.” But you would be wrong on this basis, you see…

The monster inside me is basically me

And here I am all magic and purple, and I just blew the rhyme again, so this isn’t another danged verse. I drew this picture of Milt Morgan from an old school picture of me.

I often say the character in the stories is based on the Other Mike, the other boy I grew up with who was named Mike in my little home town.

But he thought like me, he acted a lot like me. He even looked like me, at least a little bit. So, if I am portraying him, I am depicting basically me.

And this is the naked me, as a nudist back in childhood in Rowan, Iowa, which I never was… not like this… but still am. Because I am a writer. And writers always write about their naked selves, showing the whole world what saner and more prudish people keep secret. If they were truly smart and wanted to keep their secrets to themselves, artists would never draw or paint or write about or twizzle about themselves. In fact, they would make no art at all.

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Cardboard Castle Art

Slaying a blue dragon wasn’t the biggest event at the cardboard castle, but it was among the most memorable.
All sorts of people show up to parties I hold there. Of course, the guests don’t really have a choice in the matter.
Celebrities make an appearance if I can afford them. Mickey and Minnie cost me less than five dollars.
The place isn’t actually Hogwarts. It’s made of cardboard. I believe Hogwarts was made of polystyrene.
All sorts of heroes try to save the day in the cardboard castle.
Heroes at the cardboard castle are made, not born.
Sometimes the cast is a bit crazy.’
It is possible to take the Snowball Express from the castle to Toonerville. Mickey and Minnie are always ready to jump in front of the camera.
Of course, a few evil wizards are essential to the game.
Voldemort may have mistaken the place for Hogwarts too.
Sometimes I question the prevailing religion at cardboard castle. But Princess Jasmine seems to be fine with it.
But the old castle is a bit run down in parts of it. Maybe Princess Aurora can convince the Prince to invest in a few wall repairs.

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Filed under artwork, humor, making cardboard castles, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, playing with toys