Category Archives: pen and ink

Portraits in Pen and Ink

Simple, clean lines and basic, well-defined shapes go together in black and white.  They are in the basic nature of being a cartoonist.  You translate what you see into line drawings where a few simple lines become a complex and meaningful image.

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My one-legged Batman is an exercise in  foreshortening and trying to burst through the two-dimensional confines of the page to grab the viewer.  I learned this trick from comic book artist Jim Lee.

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His sidekick is rendered as a static portrait where the computer monitor in front of him lights up Robin’s intense and thoughtful face.

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She was an excellent teacher and former nun… she was a mentor to me, taught me a lot about life and love and great beauty.  How do you adequately portray the wisdom and the patience in those highly magnified eyes?  I drew from memory only.  She never considered herself beautiful.  But she was.  And it hurts not to be able to capture it correctly.

Not every portrait is literal.  Sometimes you exaggerate facial characteristics and behavioral quirks are emphasized to create humor in the portrait.

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When I was first married I did a double portrait of us as a knight and his lady fair.  I know, I know… it is so sickeningly sweet that it punches me right in the diabetes.  But, hey, it doesn’t really look like me anyway.   It is more of a portrait of Porky Pig in glasses and hair.

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There is an art to pen and ink that cuts right to the heart of who you are and who you want to be.  Simple lines in black and white… there is no more incisive tool for putting my goofy old mind down on paper.

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Pencil, Pencil, Pen, Pen, Pen…

Yes, students actually eat pencils in class.

My daughter forgot her pencil case in school over the weekend. Now, for normal students, this is no really big deal. But for the Princess, like it is for me as an amateur artist, the pencil case, with her colored pencils and pens in it, is one of the most necessary things for life.

Of course, we did not have an opportunity to go back to school for her pencils and pens. So, panicky, she texted her teacher whereupon the pencil case in question was found and put aside for her until early this morning. She then stole my pens and pencils for the weekend, depriving me and causing me to be the one with the anxiety disorder and heart palpitations.

Of course, pens and pencils were always a critical issue when I was a teacher for 31 years, plus two years as a substitute teacher. Unlike the Princess, students in an English classroom NEVER have a pen or a pencil to write with. I swear, I have seen them gnaw pencils to pieces like a hungry beaver or termite. And they chew on pens to the point that there is a sudden squishy noise in their mouth and they become members of the Black Teeth Club. (Or Blue Teeth Club for the more choosy sort of student.)

A piece of an actual classroom rules poster.

Having students in your class who actually have pencils and pens to learn with is a career-long battle. I tried providing pens for a quarter. I would by cheap bags of pens, ten for two dollars, and sell them to panicky writers and test takers with a quarter (and secretly free to some who really don’t have a quarter). I only used the pen money to buy more cheap pens. But that ran afoul of principals and school rules. A teacher can’t sell things in class without the district accountant giving approval and keeping sales tax records. Yes, the pencil pushers force teachers to give pens, pencils, and paper away for free. I finally settled -on a be-penning process of picking up leftover un-popped pens, half-eaten pencils, and the rare untouched writing instrument apparently lost the very instant the student sat down in his or her desk. These I would issue to moaning pencil-free students until the supply ran out (which it rarely ever did) at no cost to myself.

I also tried telling them repeatedly that they had to have a writing instrument, or they needed to beg, borrow, or steal one. And if they couldn’t do that, I’d tell them, “Well, you could always prick your finger and write in blood.” That was a joke I totally stopped using the instant a student did exactly what I said. A literalist, that one. And it turns out you can’t read an essay that a student writes in actual blood.

But, anyway… My daughter is safely in school now and no longer panicking because she has her precious pencil case back in her possession. And she probably will not ever make that same mistake again. (And she will probably not return my pens and pencils either.)

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Pen and Ink

Pen and ink is the first art needed if you want to be a cartoonist.

Why would anybody want to be that?

I don’t know.

I was in love with comics page in the daily newspaper when I was a child.

I copied the treasures I found there constantly.

Did I get any good at it?

Well, that’s kinda the point of this Saturday Art Day post.

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Critical Characters in My Fiction

Valerie Clarke
Ricky Porter
Poppensparkle the Butterfly Child
Horatio T. Dogg
Mickey the Wererat
Grandma Gretel Stein and General Tuffaney Swift the Storybook Fairy
Blueberry Bates
Tim Kellogg
Devon Martinez
Francois Martin
Derfentwinkle and her Master, Sorcerer Eli Tragedy

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Possibly Preposterous Pen & Ink

Boz, the Bard, Diz, and Poe
A preposterous portrait of the Crocodile Hunter
Flying a kite au naturel
Derfentwinkle studying magic
The Napoleon of rat-crime, Rattiarty.
Grandpa’s thinking spot
Cheery McCheerleader
Flying upward!!!
Swimming Eastward

Why do daisies bully onion bulbs?

Fluttering Westward
Going as far downward as is possible.

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Top This!

“Dad?” asked the Princess, “I heard a funny word in school today. ¬†What does Fuddy-Duddy mean?”

“Oh, that’s a good word,” I said.  “It means an old fogey… a stick-in-the-mud.”

“A what?”

“A fussy old guy who likes to have everything his way.  Like, if you accuse your father of being one… which you often do… he’s a fuddy-duddy daddy.”

“Ooh!  I get it!” said Henry, chiming in.  “And if your father is evil, then he’s a fuddy-duddy baddie daddy!

“Yes,” I said, “and if it makes him sad to be evil, he’s a fuddy-duddy saddie baddie daddy!

“If you are not sure he’s really your father,” said the Princess adding a one-up, “he’s a fuddy-duddy saddie baddie maybe daddy!

“Yeah!” said Henry.  “And if you suspect he may have fallen into a time machine and been turned back into an infant, he’s a fuddy-duddy saddie baddie maybe baby daddy!

“Now that he’s a baby again he will surely want to watch his favorite TV show again,” I said with a tear of nostalgia in my eye, “he’ll be a fuddy-duddy saddie baddie maybe baby Howdy Doody daddy!

“What’s Howdy Doody, Daddy?” asked the Princess.

“No,” said Henry, “now you’ve spoiled it.  It just ain’t funny any more.”

“Yes it is!  He’s become a funny bunny fuddy-duddy hoo-dad doo-dad saddie baddie maybe rabies hoo-dah doo-dah…”

“Just stop,” said Henry.  “You always carry things too far.”

“Right you are!” I said.  “See this grin?  It means I win!”

“AW, Daaad!” they both said at the same time.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, pen and ink, Uncategorized, word games

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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The Latest Character Portrait

Yes, I drew Blueberry Bates one more time.

I drew her as an illustration for the novella I am currently working on, Horatio T. Dogg, Super Sleuth.

The original is in pen and ink, shaded on the Microsoft paint program that came with the computer.

She is not a main character in this story. But she is a key character in the plot.

The essential details about the character Blueberry Bates include the fact that she was named by her older sisters. She was born a blue baby, her Infant Methemoglobinemia (Blue Baby Syndrome) was caused by too little oxygen in her blood. Her mother died during childbirth. Her father never quite recovered from the loss, leading her sisters and her aunt to raise her as a girl even though she was born with a penis. When x-rayed as a young child, she was found to have internal female organs, including ovaries and uterus. Blueberry is highly imaginative, loves to draw with colored pencils, and pursued Mike Murphy to be her boyfriend until he finally gave in and fell hopelessly in love with her at the edge of ten and a half. She is based on two different real transgender students I encountered as a teacher.

Here is the final, color version of the new portrait.

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Pen and Ink and Sometimes… Pencil

Drawing with increasingly painful arthritic hands is still worth it. I suppose I should feel a little embarrassed about drawing so many young girls. Especially when I draw them naked.

But drawing someone who is naked, yet totally confident in their own skin and unafraid of the world they have bared themselves to, captures a feeling I have aspired to my whole life.

That is the purpose of art. To show the deepest insights life has forced upon the artist.

Not all the nudes I draw are female.

Sometimes it is the top of the head that is naked. That makes it easier to show what you are thinking. No hairy stuff between the viewer and the mind of the man.

Mere shapes and lines can make you feel something deeply.

There is a joy that can come from drawing something that begins with a spark from your secret heart.

But people will know at first sight what things you used to keep secret and to yourself.

And some people will hate you for it. They detect a little nudism or a little bit of gayness (and I am definitely not gay) and immediately default to hating your drawings, and, beyond that, hating you.

But I don’t accept hate. Because I don’t know hate. It is a stranger to me, from a country I have never been to. And I don’t recognize that stranger. But I don’t hate him. Because I don’t know hate.

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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