Category Archives: colored pencil

Art Day Look-Back at 2015

This is artwork from this blog in 2015, a year after I retired from teaching.

December … The Leap
December… Annette Funicello
November … The Singers
November … Shannon
October … Tiger Swallowtail
September … oil painting … Defiance
The Blue Faun who represents the lovely melancholy sensuality that informs my wordy little life. August 2015
July … Endaemion and the Minotaur
June … Miltie is actually Me
May … The Ship with Pink Sails
April … Player #3
April … oil painting … Poppa Comes Home
March … The Little Red-Haired Girl
February … The Boy and his Bugle
February … Klown Kops, Pie-whackers brigade
January … Harker Dawes, lovable fool
January … Sizzahl the Galtorrian scientist

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Made-Up People

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I often get criticized for talking to people who are basically invisible, probably imaginary, and definitely not real people, no matter what else they may be.

The unfinished cover picture is from the novel The Bicycle-Wheel Genius which I finished the final rewrite and edit for and then published in 2018.  All of the characters in that book are fictional.    Even though some of them strongly resemble the real people who inspired me to create them, they are fictional people doing fictional and sometimes impossible things.  And yet, they are all people who I have lived with as walking, talking, fictional people for many years.  Most of those people have been talking to me since the 1970’s.  I know some of them far better than any of the real people who are a part of my life.

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These, of course, are only a few of my imaginary friends.  Some I spend time with a lot.  Some I haven’t seen or heard from in quite a while.  And I do know they are not real people.  Mandy is a cartoon panda bear, and Anneliese is a living gingerbread cookie.  I do understand I made these people up in my stupid little head.

But it seems to me that the people in the world around us are really no less imaginary, ephemeral, and unreal.  Look at the recently replaced Presidentumb of the Disunited States.  He is an evil cartoon James Bond villain if there ever was one.

Animated cast of OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT. Photo: Courtesy of SHOWTIME

Animated cast of OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT. Photo: Courtesy of SHOWTIME

People in the real world create an imaginary person in their own stupid little heads, and pretend real hard that that imaginary person is really them in real life.  And of course, nobody sees anybody else in the same way that they see themselves.  Everybody thinks they are a somebody who is different from anybody else who thinks they are a somebody too, and really they are telling themselves, and each other, lies about who somebody really is, and it is all very confusing, and if you can follow this sentence, you must be a far better reader than I am a writer, because none of it really makes sense to me.  I think everybody is imaginary in some sense of the word.

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So, if you happen to see me talking to a big white rabbit-man who used to be a pet white rabbit, but got changed into a rabbit-man through futuristic genetic science and metal carrots, don’t panic and call the police.  I am just talking to another fictional character from a book I finished writing.  And why are you looking inside my head, anyway?  There’s an awful lot of personal stuff going on in there.  Of course, you only see that because I wrote about it in this essay.  So it is not an invasion of privacy.  It is just me writing down stuff I probably should keep in my own stupid little head.  My bad.

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Filed under characters, colored pencil, commentary, goofy thoughts, humor, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, rabbit people, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Seeing Through an Artist’s Eyes

It is not an easy thing to explain. Artists don’t see things using only their eyes. The brain intrudes in the process. For instance, you are welcome to interpret the picture above any way you like. But the way I see it will be nothing like what you thought this picture is about. You probably see two very different girls here. There is actually only one. I know because, as the artist who drew both parts of this picture, I actually know where the ideas came from. There is only one girl in the picture. Dilsey Murphy, in front and wearing her Carl Eller Minnesota Vikings’ jersey, is based about 33% on the older of my two sisters. On the outside she is pragmatic, no-nonsense, and focused on living a family life that is as normal as possible. But the inner Dilsey is the African leopard-princess. She dreams of going on Tarzan adventures in the movie-jungles of the mind with a handsome male hero. She is fierce, loyal, and completely independent, not even needing the hero she adventures with. In fact, she often saves him.

This picture is about the idyllic parts of my childhood. The mother figure is doing a ritual dance. She is in tune with the music of daily life. She is closely attuned also to her responsibilities of stewardship in her society. Both children are nude. I cropped this picture so that it is not rude and showing Smiling Boy’s penis. But both children are bathed in nature and sunshine, not just because I am pro-nudism personally, but because clothing covers up innocence and joy.

This one is easier to interpret. I was an ESL teacher. I had students who spoke Spanish as their first language and students who learned to speak Mandarin Chinese as their first language. It makes for a classroom that becomes a cultural mixing bowl. You have to learn how to deal with people who are very different than you,, but are benefitting from learning English together.

Every picture the artist draws or paints has its own weirdness embedded inside it. The way the artist sees it is probably never the same as how the viewer thinks about it. And that is as it should be. But as a viewer of art, it is hoped that you will at least try to think about what the artist means to say..

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Art to Help Me Be Happy

Some of the drawings and paintings I do, I do because they make me happy. I know it’s more noble if I do it to make you, the viewer, happy. But part of making art is that you are making it for your own needs. Art is therapy. Often, art is love. This picture of Shannon (not her real name) makes me happy. She was a student I loved, (only in the legal, Platonic sense.)

This one makes me happy. I drew it on a day I needed to laugh. And I laugh a little even now when I look at it.

This one is also a smirkable smirk-maker.

I drew this on a day when I was lonely.

This one tickles me on many levels.

These Telleron, temporary Martians helped me start my publishing career with the publication of Catch a Falling Star.

And pretty girls can make me happy too.

Especially naked ones.

And I mean drawing them, not what was in your evil mind.

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Mickian Fantasy Art

There is a reason why anything in my artwork starting with a rabbit is assumed to be autobiographical. I raised rabbits as a 4-H project from about the age of 10 and we kept rabbits in pens until I was finishing my undergraduate degree. (Rabbit chores fell to my little brother when I was away from home.) In many ways, I was a rabbit-man. My personal avatar as a school teacher was Reluctant Rabbit.

The panda known as Mandy in my cartoon world is an avatar of my wife, an immigrant from the Pandalore Islands.

There is often an exaggerated sense of adventure in my cartoonally weird Paffoonies, the very name of which is a fantasy word.

I have been known to actually believe gingerbread can be magical enough for gingerbread men to come to life once baked. It is the reason I bite the legs off first, so they can’t run away.

I have been known to see elves, fairies, and numerous other things that aren’t really there. In fact, a whole secret hidden kingdom of them inhabited the schoolyard in Iowa where I attended grades K through 6. They were all mostly three inches tall. The biggest ones, like dragons reaching only about six inches tall at their largest.

Of course I am afraid of death, evil, and… (shudder) mummies.
I think of art and story-telling as a form of music. I am a troubadour whose songs (like this one) are often completely silent.
My fantasy art tends to be more “comic book” than “art gallery”.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, cartoons, cartoony Paffooney, colored pencil, humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism

Double Portraits

Todd and the Island Girl
Annette and Princess Cheetah of the Jungle
Me and David
Kyle and his daughter, Valerie Clarke
Lilani and Bakari
Elmo in disguise and Armando
Shane and Bobby Niland
Maria Selena and Chao-xing
Grandma Hinckley and her great granddaughter

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Filed under artwork, colored pencil, oil painting, Paffooney, pen and ink

A New Day Art Day

So, how do you follow up a thing like starting a new religion like Quackatoonity? Should you follow it up?

I mean, this is Art Day. And I need a theme for Art Day. How about, “Art with no ducks in it?” Well, Ducks are always watching from somewhere. So, I guess that’s a no-go.

Of course, I could always try to prove the “toon” part is real. I am a cartoonist. I do do cartoons. (Haha! He said, “doodoo!” Shows you the level of humor he will sink to.)

This cartoon is a bit creepy and definitely surreal. This was done more than a decade before I even met my wife. But the two boys seem to be four years apart in age, just like my real-life sons. They do not, however, have visible horns on their heads. This is supposed to be surreal, not photographic.

So, there’s a weird cartoon story for today’s Art Day post on a New Day. And nowhere in sight will you find a duck in it… OH, NO! THERE’S A DUCK IN IT!!! How does Donald do that?

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Filed under artwork, cartoons, colored pencil, humor, Paffooney

Art to Help Me Be Happy

Some of the drawings and paintings I do, I do because they make me happy. I know it’s more noble if I do it to make you, the viewer, happy. But part of making art is that you are making it for your own needs. Art is therapy. Often, art is love. This picture of Shannon (not her real name) makes me happy. She was a student I loved, (only in the legal, Platonic sense.)

This one makes me happy. I drew it on a day I needed to laugh. And I laugh a little even now when I look at it.

This one is also a smirkable smirk-maker.

I drew this on a day when I was lonely.

This one tickles me on many levels.

These Telleron, temporary Martians helped me start my publishing career with the publication of Catch a Falling Star.

And pretty girls can make me happy too.

Especially naked ones.

And I mean drawing them, not what was in your evil mind.

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Filed under artwork, colored pencil, drawing, humor, Paffooney

Characters in Colored Pencil

As a novelist, certain characters, as I understand them, have to be portrayed in a certain specific way.  It may be because the character is based on a real person, so those characteristics are tied to reality and changing them will impair the character’s realism.  It may also be because the character has a very special function in the story, possibly a metaphorical or thematic function so a change in those particulars can derail the entire story.  But portraying them in colored pencil is not nearly so arcane.  Colored pencil is my own preferred medium, the one I know best how to use as an artist.

Snow Babies 2

Snow Babies

These characters are not specifically people.  They are created in nature when a person dies in a blizzard by freezing to death.  They act like banshees in that they serve both as omens of impending death, and collectors of the spirit forms of the deceased.  Snow ghosts after a manner of speaking.

They are from my novel Snow Babies and give the book its name.  Of course, they are not the only snow babies that the title refers to.  But they are essential to the basic theme of the story.

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Brent Clarke

Brent is the leader of the Pirates.  He appears in the novels Superchicken, and The Baby Werewolf, though I have another couple of stories in my head where he plays an important role as well.

Brent is an amalgam of two real people.  One was a boy from my boyhood gang, and the other was a student I taught more than a decade after that.  He is a farm boy, naturally outgoing and athletic, but also a bit of a bully and a bigger bit of a jerk, especially around girls.

 

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Miss Francis “Franny” Morgan

Miss Morgan is a middle school teacher based on a real-life colleague who had a gift for reaching and teaching challenging kids, though she’s also got a bit of me in her since the major challenges she faces in the story are mostly things that happened to me, and I made her an English teacher like me instead of the Science teacher she really was.  She is the main character in the novel that bears her name, Magical Miss Morgan.  She is also a minor character in Superchicken, almost twenty years earlier in time.  I pictured her wearing a purple paisley dress to represent her magical abilities.  That magic is, of course, the ability to make stories come to life through imagination and creativity.

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Sean “Cudgel” Murphy

Cudgel is “Grampy” of the Murphy Clan, living in the home of his eldest son Warren.  He is basically a clown character, being an irascible, evil old man who loves his family, only ever drives his beloved Austin Hereford motor car (“the best goddam car in the whole goddam world from 1954”), and will fight for any reason or excuse at the drop of a hat.

He has already played a role in the novels The Bicycle-Wheel Genius and Snow Babies.  And I hope to use him in several more.  He is loosely based on several old men I have known throughout my life, but he functions mainly as a clown, a comic relief character that breaks up the tension in developing plots.

So there you have some characters that I have written about in my novels and illustrated in living colored pencil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under characters, colored pencil, humor, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Art Day Look-Back at 2015

This is artwork from this blog in 2015, a year after I retired from teaching.

December … The Leap
December… Annette Funicello
November … The Singers
November … Shannon
October … Tiger Swallowtail
September … oil painting … Defiance
The Blue Faun who represents the lovely melancholy sensuality that informs my wordy little life. August 2015
July … Endaemion and the Minotaur
June … Miltie is actually Me
May … The Ship with Pink Sails
April … Player #3
April … oil painting … Poppa Comes Home
March … The Little Red-Haired Girl
February … The Boy and his Bugle
February … Klown Kops, Pie-whackers brigade
January … Harker Dawes, lovable fool
January … Sizzahl the Galtorrian scientist

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Filed under artwork, colored pencil, oil painting, Paffooney, pen and ink