Category Archives: colored pencil

The Secret Gallery in Grandma’s Closet

After years of being stored away, I discovered that my mother had hidden a hoard of my old artworks in the upstairs closet in Grandma Aldrich’s house (now my parents’ house).


This oil painting was done on an old saw blade at the request of my Grandpa Aldrich.  He wanted a farm painting on it, like the one he’d seen in a restaurant during a fishing trip in Minnesota.  I chose as the subject Sally the pig.  Sally was a hairlip piglet that had to be bottle fed and raised in a box by the stove until later in life she became a favorite pet.  Believe it or not, pigs are smarter than the family dog.  She became a pig you could ride.  And Grandma had taken a precious old photo of my mother and Uncle Larry riding the pig.  I used that photo to make this painting.  It was also the painting I wanted to find on this trip to Iowa.  Searching for it led to finding all the others.

These two are among the earliest paintings I did.  They were both done on canvases that I stretched over the frame myself in high school art class.  The purple one is a scene from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The blue one doesn’t have a title, but you can see what it is.  It is an ancient shibboleth water monster lurking under a dock, fishing for young boys to eat.


This drawing was done on the front porch in the house in Rowan.  It would be years before mom framed it.  It is another example of what I could do as a high school kid.  In fact, I composed it from art-class sketches I did my senior year in school.


The Boy in the Barn was painted on the remains of an old chalkboard that my sisters, brother, and I had used in grade school.


Grandma Aldrich asked for this picture to hang over the sofa in the farmhouse living room.  It stayed there for many years.


Great Grandma Hinckley passed away in 1980.  I created this portrait from a combination of photos and memory.  It was too good.  It was never hung anywhere because it always made her daughter, my Grandma Aldrich, tear up.


This pencil drawing won a blue ribbon at the Wright County Fair in the late 70’s.


This picture is called First Years are Hard Years.  It was painted in 1982 after my first year of teaching at the junior high school in Cotulla, Texas.   I painted mostly the good kids.  The girl on the lower right would later go on to become a teacher for our school district.  I can’t claim to be the one who inspired her, but she did make straight A’s in my class.


This is called Beauty.  It is done in oil crayon on canvas.  I did it for my mother to hang in the hallway in the house in Taylor, Texas.

So, it turns out, I unearthed art treasures by searching for the one painting.


Filed under artwork, colored pencil, homely art, humor, oil painting, old art, Paffooney

Crayon Addictions


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.


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.


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.


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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Filed under art editing, artwork, colored pencil, coloring, drawing, humor

The Lyrical Imperative


I am always amazed by the fact that things which are inherently silent in nature make music in your mind.  Writing is like that for me.  Drawing is like that.  And so is photography.  That is an actual musical score from Chopin in the background.  My son recognized it from a book of piano pieces I bought for him because he reads music and can turn those squiggle-bugs on the fence into the right plinkety-plunks on a keyboard.  But there is more music in that picture besides.  The nude young girl at the keyboard softly rendered in velvety colored pencil tones is also musical in nature, for more than just the fact of fingers on a silent colored pencil keyboard.  The lyrical loops of black and yellow in the wings of the tiger swallowtail butterfly also make music in my head, sprightly piano music like Chopin’s, or possibly Vivaldi’s violins.

Did you listen to the music?  I don’t mean Vivaldi’s, although if you haven’t heard it, you certainly should.  I mean the music in the words.  The music has to be there for me for the writing to be good.  That’s why I consider Ray Bradbury and Walt Whitman to be masters and Stephenie Meyer and E. L. James to be unreadable hacks.  The beat and the flow of the words need to be patterned and patient and wily.   Do you not hear it in that last sentence? The alliteration of the first two adjectives set off by the counterpoint of the stressed-unstressed beats of the third?  How can I explain this?

Iambic pentameter is the true genius of Shakespeare’s plays.  What the heck is iambic pentameter, you ask?  Well, I realize you have probably never needed to teach poetry to seventh graders, a truly impossible but infinitely rewarding task.  So let me tell you.  Units of stress called iambs consist of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.  So naturally, if iambs are put into pentameter, then there must be five of them in a line of iambic pentameter poetry.  It is a simple, rhythmic way to say something profound and interesting.  The classic example is the first line of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18;

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Translating that into X’s and O’s where X=stressed and O=unstressed;


It’s simple, five oxes, all in a line.  Except that last one about oxes is actually O X O X X O O O O X, a less simple pattern, yet still organized on the beat.  Two iambs, a dactyl and an anapest.  Okay, now I am talking like a poetry geek, and I have to stop it before I hurt someone.

The whole point is, words should be musical, even when they are not the words to a song.  And now I must close on the verge of starting a ten-thousand word thesis.  I shall shut up now.  Here endeth the lesson.


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Filed under colored pencil, education, foolishness, goofy thoughts, humor, metaphor, music, Paffooney, poetry, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Whoo I Are?

One way to define myself is through the pictures I draw.  So today… less words… more draw.








I am certainly not the greatest artist who ever lived.  But when you draw a lot… and do it for 60 years… man, you have a lot of drawings stuffed away in drawers and closets!

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Filed under artwork, cartoons, colored pencil, goofiness, humor, Paffooney, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life

You Are Just Filling Space, Lazy Writer


The Mickey gets tired of Donald Trump-Duck quacking on Twitter and knacking his flitter like so many ditter and bitter pitter witter.

Yeah, I know.  Mickey could be using spell check better.  But sometimes you just have to let the pink-and-white four-door 1957 Mercury Monterey of your imagination wander where it will, even if it takes you to the land of misspelled words.


Destroyed by the tornado in 1966, it still chugs around inside my head.

So let me tell you a misspelled story;


Pompolina Cookiespitter was spooplemad for blaying dinkleball with the doofenburgers.  She doorsized dinkleball ten times more fopserisciously than any doofenburger ever minxyblootered.  And if you minxyblooter too snerkly you will dopserizingly biffle dorpsnitz.  So no doofenburger ever really snorkled dinkleball with Pompolina.  It shlayed her so fopserisciously that she almost blootenbursted.  Doofenburgers everywhere schneed from horpspittoon.

Now, that story makes no sense at all.  Yet, I am confident you can tell me, how does Pompolina feel about blaying dinkleball?  And how do doofenburgers feel about it?  And is it safe to minxyblooter too snerkly?  What is the possible outcome of that?

If you can answer those questions about my story, then you have some idea about how American politics feels after Donald Trump-Duck blootenbursted everywhere his first two weeks in office.  So there.



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Filed under artwork, autobiography, colored pencil, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

All the Naked People…


I don’t know if you have seen the news about the unauthorized portrait statue of The Great Orange Face and the excitement it generated.  The statue is totally naked.  And, as you can see, people reacted by taking pictures of the statue, taking pictures of themselves with the statue, and taking for themselves a good, long look-see.  This person naked is somehow inherently more interesting than he is with all his clothes on, and his big red tie too.  And I am mystified by that.  I mean, we don’t have to actually see him naked to know what he looks like naked.  And it is not a pretty sight.

And you know full well that the orangutan we elected did not pose for this statue.  It could only come into being because the artist knows enough about anatomy to create it just from what he already knows about the man.  The man is naked enough in his daily life that we all know almost everything about his naked character, even though he never seems to be without his business suit.  He’s a naked racist.  He’s a naked misogynist.  He has a naked affection for his eldest daughter and thinly concealed dissatisfaction with his other kids.  We see far more of him than we really want to see.


If you are, perhaps, wondering where I am going with this, what today’s theme is, then here it is.  All people are naked all the time.  (Well, maybe not Iron Man in his suit or soldiers in bullet-proof combat armor, but we are talking metaphorical here, not literal.)

The girl who posed for this portrait, whose name I will not reveal, doesn’t really quite look like this.  It is titled Her #2 because it was actually drawn in pen and ink while looking at the original pencil sketch.  And she was actually another man’s girlfriend and became another man’s wife.  She posed for me out of respect for my art skills and from the urging of others rather than anything I ever said or did.  As an artist you never really capture the nakedness of your subject.  You can really only capture what is in your own head, your response to the subject, and so, the nakedness becomes your own.  This picture shows the awkwardness I felt since I really haven’t drawn a nude model more than a handful of times in my entire life.  I made her look younger, thinner, and more child-like than she actually was.  She liked the result, at least the version I gave to her, which was different as well.  But the nakedness here is really mine.


The girl in the second nude portrait I am sharing is done from more than one photograph, and the red panda was even a picture from a magazine.  So again, the picture tells you nothing about the model herself.  It tells you about me.  The happiness and warmth the picture conveys comes from the colors and the composition.  A certain freeness of spirit and joy of life.  It probably also helps you interpret this to know that my wife is from the Philippines, and hence, is the actual island girl who inspired this particular piece even though she did not pose for it herself.  The nakedness in the picture is not about sex or desire.  Rather, it is about innocence and happiness and love, warm sunshine on your naked body while at the nude beach (an experience I have only actually witnessed myself, never taken part in.)

So I am claiming in this essay that everybody is naked when you look at them with eyes of understanding.  People reveal their own naked selves by their every action, word, and deed.  As a blogger, I am probably more naked than most.  I have written a bit about literally everything that touches my life and experience.  I am a novelist too, which makes me more naked still.  But as I show you my most recent nude self-portrait and contemplate me in my utter nakedness I hope you will agree that I am not a pornographer, and I am not as ugly on the inside as I am on the outside.  Be prepared for a slight shock;


Surely you are not surprised that the picture is in cartoon form, and not the picture of a naked sixty-year-old fat man.  It is my naked, shy self.  On the inside Mickey has always been twelve years old.  And keep this in mind.  According to my silly art-philosophy bull-puckie, you are naked too.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, colored pencil, foolishness, humor, imagination, metaphor, nudes, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Gallery of Goofiness

Looking for stuff to organize into a post today led me to realize that I currently exist swimming in a tidal wave of goofy images that I myself have created.


So, lazy and goofy old me will now show you some of these things.

I don’t even remember why I drew some of these things.

Some of it, is obviously because I was a teacher.


But some of it is merely wacky.


Though some might be considered inspirational.



While some of it is just meant to be appealing.

But all of it provides me with an easy post that you can read fast, but still get plenty to think about from.


Filed under artwork, blog posting, colored pencil, goofiness, humor, illustrations, imagination, insight, old art, Paffooney