I decided to be lazy today. The work I am sharing with you only took a week to accomplish.
She was inspired by a cartoon character in an old animated TV show. But the model for this idea was fully clothed and not a fairy. I don’t know why I felt it necessary to portray her nude.
But drawing clothes made from leaves and acorn caps is hard. So, this little 3-inch-tall fairy girl decided to pose nude.
This is a second drawing. The first one was a little too revealing and I felt the need to give her a longer braid.
This, then, is Derfentwinkle, a fairy resident of the Hidden Kingdom of Tellosia. Specifically she is the apprentice of an incompetent necromancer known as Old Bumble Bones.
Once I had the drawing scanned into a jpeg, I decided to enhance it with the basic paint program that came with the computer back when I bought it.
I am not overly fond of this kind of coloring. My old laptop is quirky and unreliable, and my arthritic fingers still prefer a pencil to a mouse or a keypad. So, I may recolor it with colored pencil, But for now, here she is in all her glory.
It’s not easy being green…. the color of so many ordinary things…
Especially as you grow older.
Because green is the color of growth and youth and life. But those things seem beyond the grasp of your outstretched fingers on your spotty and wrinkled old hand.
I am definitely no longer green like Littlebit, the Oceanian ship’s boy from the seas of Talislanta and the pirate ship, Black Dragon.
And, yes, an Iowa boy living as far away from an ocean as you can get in the United States, in all directions, you are bound to dream of pirate ships and the high seas, especially when you’re twelve and your favorite book is Treasure Island.
But now that you are old, green is more often your color because you don’t feel well… again… every day….
But there is still bright green in dreams.
You can still go there and be a child again in memories and your imagination.
It’s just that now the green is written down in sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and cantos.
And talking to your kids about movies, art and artists, stories and writers of stories…
Did you know the favorite color of all three of my children is green?
I have known it since they were small and I could sing to them songs by Kermit the Frog, like “Rainbow Connections” and “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”
And with paint, you make green by combining the blue of sadness with the yellow of sunshine and happiness.
It is cloudy outside. The sky is a cool, damp gray. No rain. No snow. Just dreary and gray. The world is gray today.
We have now been in a lockdown and wearing masks for an entire year. I have lost a lot of ground. Color-blindness runs in my family on my mother’s side. Great Grandma Hinckley was completely color-blind by the time she was in her 70’s.
I myself have known I had the color-blindness problem since I was in high school and the school nurse gave me a vision test that proved it.
In the dotted circle, I could see the blue-green number 29, but I could also see the red number 5. I was told that I had a slight color-blindness on the red/green scale. Believe me, I had no idea what that meant. Still don’t. I just know I have never seen colors the way other people with normal vision do.
But now, after twelve months of lockdown, I can definitely detect the fact that I have lost some more of my color vision.
Great Grandma saw the world in black and white and gray since she was 70. That, for me, is now less than six years away.
As a cartoonist I use a lot of pen and ink. I also love black-and-white movies. Being partially colorblind, you might think that I would be okay living in a film-noire world. But I am not. It is simply not enough. I have always craved color. I particularly love to create with bright primaries, red, yellow, and blue.
I will sorely miss color when it is gone.
And I have always loved cardinals. Not only because they are bright red songbirds, like the one singing outside in our yard on this gray and slightly blustery day. But because they never fly away when the winter comes. They stay even in the snow and cold. Trouble doesn’t drive them away. I shall not give up when I lose all the colors.
I remember the world being gray when I was a boy back in the 1960’s too. TV was only black-and-white… and gray at our house. I watched the funeral parade for JFK on the black-and-white… and gray TV. And around that time the three astronauts Grissom, Chaffee, and White had a similar funeral parade… also black-and-white-and-mostly-gray.
The Viet Nam conflict on the TV news with Walter Cronkite. The riots at the Democratic Convention in 1968 with the Chicago Seven going on trial. The world was very, very gray.
But then, in the Summer of ’69, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. A giant leap for mankind! And I saw that also in black-and-white-and-mostly-gray.
There was a hope of color in my life after that. And we got a color TV in the later 70s after that. And even with my partially color-blind eyes, I saw color everywhere.
And now again is a good time to anticipate color coming back into my life. I am on the waiting list for vaccination. My eldest son has a steady girlfriend living with him now. And we have a better President who actually seems to care if we live or die. Good things are over the next hill.
Once I was finally able to scan pictures again, I did some scanning of old pictures that only got the camera treatment before on my blog.
But why stop a drawing at just the pen and ink, when there is potential for so much more?
So, I took the Microsoft generic paint program and my generic photo editor to not only this pen and ink of the Jungle Princess, but a few other pictures as well.
This is what she looks like after being attacked with color by my arthritic old hands. (There was a day when I could have handled intricate details more cleverly, but that was many, many days ago.
Anyway, I have added new dimensions to Leopard Girrrl with color.
Now I need to add more complications to the basic story of the picture.
Here is an older pen and ink.
This is Dorin Dobbs, one of the dueling plotlines’ protagonists from the novel Catch a Falling Star.
But, of course, Dorin is a more complex character than this old black and white.
So, color needs to be added.
I had this one actually already painted in…
But in order to use it in this project, I needed to enlarge it to make it fit into the other picture.
Making this unlikely pair work together in a story is one of the challenges of doing surrealist stories. They have to be grounded in realism, but also bring jarringly different things together. Like the Jungle Princess going on an adventure with Norwall’s Lying King.
But, putting these two together is still not enough. Let’s try some other things.
The Jungle Princess together with Tomboy Dilsey Murphy is an unusual pairing.
Or what about the blue faun from Laughing Blue?
Or even Annette Funicello?
Ridiculous, I know. But don’t they look like satin sofa paintings?
The three primary colors of paint are red, yellow, and blue. Together with the neutrals, white and black, these colors can be mixed to make any other shade, tone, or hue that exists on the color wheel and can be perceived by the human eye. When all three are present in a painting, it inherently has a feeling of completeness, wholeness, and balance.
How those primaries are mixed, allowed to dominate, or allowed to recede does a lot to determine the feeling the artwork projects into the viewer’s mind.
All of the artworks I am showing you today haven’t appeared in my blog for some time. But all of them are interpreted in primary colors. I won’t tell you how each picture is supposed to make you feel. I am just the artist. Only you can prevent forest fires, and only you can interpret a painting and tell someone else how it makes you feel.
The Rowan Public Library has a storm sewer drain near the parking area on the west side of the building. How do you prevent cars from parking on top of it and risking significant damage to two different things? The librarian’s solution? Make a rock garden around it so that only extremely stupid people would still consider parking there. And what better summer activity than to invite kids and senior citizens to come in and paint the rocks for decoration’s sake.
The goofy spotted frog and the Star Wars rebel flying goose are the rocks that I chose to paint. You can see that I had more fun than I did artistic epiphanies. But that is the thing about art. Bob Ross says that it can bring good things to your heart. And it does even more so when you share it with kids and other people.
So I had a relatively good time just painting rocks for fun and cracking simple, stupid jokes to make little kids laugh.
Mom had fun painting flowers and smiling suns on a rock next to her good friend Annie and Annie’s great grandson. You see them in this picture taken by the little boy’s grandmother.
And my daughter really got invested in the zen experience of putting paint on rocks. She took the longest of anybody to finish her second rock. And, of course, her little dragon-obsessed creation was easily the best one of the day.
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.
I recently posted about being synesthetic and discovering how I am different from normal people. Here is the post if you are interested.. Then I discovered that Kanye West is also synesthetic as he gushed some southern-fried crappie-doo about how wonderful he is as an artist because he sees the colors of his music. Well, now I don’t want that mental affliction any more. I don’t wish to be anything like him. Of course, it has to be incurable, doesn’t it.
Now I am wasting today’s post on another metacognative thinking-about-thinking style of paragraph pile when I could be rhapsodizing about the humor of Dave Barry or the wisdom of Robert Fulghum, the author of
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
I could be shamelessly promoting the work of artists whose works I love instead of examining the random filing cabinets in the back rooms of my stupid old head. But I can’t because I now need to explain myself to myself again. Self doubt and self examination are features of being an artist. We reach a point where we have to think about how we do what we do, because if you don’t know where the magic comes from, you might not be able to call on it the next time you need it.
I am a self-taught artist. I have had art classes in high school and college, but never professional art training. I know how to manipulate the rule of thirds, directional composition, movement, perspective, and lots of other artsy-craftsy techniques, but it is all a matter of trial and error and an instinct for repeating what works. I have had a good deal more professional training as a writer. But I do that mostly by instinct as well. Trained instinct. I have reached a point where my art is very complex and detailed. And I don’t mean to suggest there are no flaws. In fact, I am capable enough to see huge, glaring mistakes that really skew my original intent and make me feel hopelessly incompetent. But others who see it and don’t know the inner workings of the process can look past those mistakes and not even see them. Given enough time to look at my own work with new eyes, I am able to see at least some of what they see.
Now that I have totally wasted 500-plus words on goofy talking-to-myself, what have I really accomplished beyond boring you to death? What’s that you say? You are not dead yet? Well, that’s probably only because you looked at the pictures and didn’t read any of my sugar-noodle brain-scrapings in loosely paragraph-like form. And if you did read this awful post by a colorblind artist who doubts his own abilities, you probably didn’t learn anything from it. But that’s not the point. The point is, I care about doing this, and I need to do it right. And I managed to learn something… how to ramble and meander and make something that is either a hot mess… or something that vaguely resembles self-reflective art.
This post is about Mickey and his crayons. Little Mickey always loved to color. He always had a cigar box full of Crayola crayons that he treasured and kept where he could always reach them whenever the art urge struck. (Well, except for that one time on the drive home from Mason City, Iowa when he left them in the back window of the 1960 Ford Fairlane and the sunshine melted the entire box… tears there for about a week.)
But Mickey has grown up and graduated to colored pencils. Radical change, huh? The need to color stuff is still there. So, what do I do about it now that Mickey is a rational, responsible adult? Well, you know there is a surge in the publishing industry of adult coloring books. I think that means that Mickey is not alone in the fevered fetish to put crayons… er… colored pencils… er, some kind of color to black and white pictures with plenty of white space to fill in. This is something I do while watching television. Other adults do it during meetings, at school functions… during sex… It is something that occupies your hands and a tiny portion of your brain and fills in all the blank spaces with color. And Mickey has the added advantage of not having to buy adult coloring books because he can make his own black and white pictures to color.
So, the crayons are out… er, the colored pencils, anyway. Mickey has this new picture he drew that honors his childhood cartoon hero, Astroboy. He is going to fill it in with colors and patterns and two-or-three color blends and have a whee of a time while watching Supernatural or The West Wing or Dr. Who on Netflix. It is a hoot.
And you may be wondering why the narrator of this silly Paffooney post always refers to himself in the third person as Mickey when talking about his art? Well, no one actually calls me Mickey in real life. Mickey is the cartoon character who lives within me and controls the part of my brain and personality that paffoonies out all kinds of art. It is not complicated. Mickey is definitely me. But not everything I am is Mickey. Mickey will always be that little boy with the cigar box of crayons coloring an original picture of lions eating that bully in third grade who called him a sissy for liking coloring books.