Tag Archives: Oil Painting


Unfinished Stag

Remember this picture that I said was unfinished?  It was supposed to be a picture called The Stag in Snow.  But I was always reluctant to dab the snowflakes on over top of the picture I basically felt was good the way it was.  So, I have experimented with art editing programs to the point of putting snow flakes into the picture without risking spoiling the original with blobs of white paint.

Unfinished Stag n snow

I successfully added snowflakes to the blue background.  I couldn’t help but feel like it is a starry night in the background rather than snowfall.  And so I saved this product separately before continuing to experiment.

Stag n snow

The final product faithfully carried out my original plan.  And it does look like a rather mechanical snowfall.  But I don’t like it as much as I like the starry background step.  It makes me truly glad that I did not put white paint on the original.  I would be happy to have your opinion in the comments.  Of course that is also a tricky way to make you reveal whether you are actually reading the words of this post or just looking at the pictures.




Filed under art editing, artwork, humor, illustrations, oil painting, old art, Paffooney

Taking the Road Home

The Road HomeI was once offered a hundred dollars for this oil painting of State Highway 3 in Iowa.  The art collector who offered it was a fellow teacher at the time.  He didn’t really know much about painting.  He collected wooden Santos, or carved saints from Mexico, and he had bought wooden carousel horses before.  He was very knowledgeable about wooden sculpture from Mexico, but kind of a dithering old fool who was actually going blind at the time from cataracts when it came to other kinds of art.  He wanted to encourage me as an artist, although he couldn’t really see the painting very well.  I loved the old guy, but blind guys shouldn’t really be teachers (unless they have Daredevil level hearing skills), and they definitely shouldn’t try to evaluate art that they can’t see by touching.   I was flattered, but also very happy I held on to the painting instead of selling it.

You see, this is literally the road home.  Traveling west on Highway Three, you only have to go a couple more miles down this road to reach the little town where I grew up, Rowan, Iowa.  And I am going home this week.  My parents live on what used to be the Raymond Aldrich farm.  Up ahead in the painting you turn right on the gravel road north to reach the connecting gravel room that takes you to Grandpa and Grandma’s farm house, where my parents, in their 80’s now live.  In many ways it is a journey into the past.  I have a class reunion of the Belmond High School Class of 1975 on July 3rd.  I get to revisit the town where I grew up and the family farm which always used to be the center of my world even though we lived in a different house in the town of Rowan.  My whole family of 5 is going along.  My sisters and their families will also be there.  It is worth the 700-plus mile trip, which we are doing today.  Soon, the picture becomes reality.  I thank my lucky stars I never sold it.

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Filed under autobiography, humor, Paffooney

Family Issues

DSCN4680There comes a time when you simply have to put things on the line to protect your family from the predations of the world at large.  I am in a struggle now over health insurance.  Health insurance companies never complain about receiving premium payments, but you have to go to war at times over claims where you try to activate the services you paid the premiums for.  I am having trouble now even though the previous insurance had no problem with paying their part for the very same services I am arguing for now.  The new insurance will not accept without a fight.  So now my Paffooney picture portrays Daddy going to war instead of Poppa coming home.  I will think hard about what is funny in this situation.  I mean to come back with a lampoon of these pirates.  That’s how you kill a whale, right?  Lampoon it with a really sharp lampoon… or was that HARpoon?  Whatever… more really bad puns to come later when I have gathered my wits and sharpened my harpoons.


Filed under oil painting, Paffooney, satire

Fragile People (Revisited)


As a school teacher, if you do the job for long enough, you become aware of a great multitude of human problems that can break a child, crumble their emerging personality, and dump them into the most dangerous depths of the human experience.  I have taught bipolar children, ADHD children, transgender children, autistic children, and children with anger-management issues.  I can remember times in my own life when I was the boy made of glass.  I was cracked and crumbled when I was ten years old because a fifteen-year-old neighbor boy sexually abused me.  I was ground into shards again when the Wicked Witch of Creek Valley Middle School refused to see any redeeming qualities in my teaching ability, and zeroed me out on an evaluation so badly that it took two long years to find another opportunity to do the one thing in life I’ve been trained for and believe that I am good at.  The depression from each of those crackings was very nearly fatal.

The Fallen Ace

Don’t despair for me, though.  I have always only been made of glass for brief periods in my life.  The rest of the time I am mostly made of spoof and rubber.  Stuff mostly bounces off me, and I learned from my grandfather (the one I always believed was secretly God in human form) how to laugh at everything, especially my troubles.  Those of us who know the loving God Jehovah (no matter what name we are willing to call Him by) are harder to break than most people.  That belief, especially that part that galvanizes and changes the very stuff we are made of, helps life’s barbs and darts and plain ol’ rocks to bounce off like we are Superman’s sillier clone with very little harm actually done.

Not all people are made like that, however.  I taught for two years without an actual teaching job (in spite of the Wicked Witch of Creek Valley), doing substitute work in Reading, Science, Special Ed, and even as a test administrator for the Texas state academic exams, at the time they were the TAKS Tests (the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, though the name is perfect because they are really more like sitting on TACKS while paying your income TAX).  In fact, I was a substitute Science teacher as I originally wrote these very words (on paper, you know, because subs are not generally smart enough to be trusted with computers).  As a substitute I encountered more fragile kids in one year than I ever knew existed when I was a regular classroom teacher.  There are more breakable people in schools than you can count on Robert Malthus’ abacus.

At the TAKS-celebration teacher-student basketball game, I was called on to sit in a quiet room with two unique specials who couldn’t stand to be around crowds or noise (a constant condition in schools that one can only rarely get away from).  The girl, who throws fits if she thinks you are looking at her too much, sat quietly with the computer, looking up Pokemon episodes and repeating dialogue aloud from each in funny voices meant only to entertain herself.  The boy, who goes into the fetal curl and weeps, sat at a table with a book on origami, happily folding up an army of alien space cruisers to stuff into his notebooks and leave a trail of space ships wherever he was soon to go.  Neither one of them will ever damage anyone but themselves if they get broken by life, yet each is so fragile that mere noise can scatter their flower petals.  Hothouse violets with no tolerance for much of anything in the great wide world.  I suppose I should feel honored that the school felt confident enough in my abilities at classroom management that I could handle these two delicate blossoms at the same time while everyone else was off having fun of a different kind.

I’ve seen violent and angry broken people too.   I once referred a boy to the school counselor because he was fantasizing about blowing people’s heads off with a shotgun in the pages of his class journal assignment.  The counselor back then, in a pre-9-11 world, said there was really nothing that could be done about something that was in a boy’s private journal.  Three years later that boy went to jail for beating his girlfriend’s youngest daughter almost to death.  The child was only two years old.  It put a few cracks in my armor to learn about that, knowing what I thought I knew about that boy.  Sometimes we are not Superman and the bullets don’t bounce off.


One of the most dangerous sorts of glass people are the girls made of glass (at least in the opinion of one male teacher).  Three times girls fell in love with me during the course of the school year.  All three reached a point in their fantasy lives where they believed they required love and sex back from me.   I wondered to myself if they had severe vision problems or were just plain crazy, but all three were lovely girls, and smart, a joy to teach… at least until that love bug bit ’em.  The first two ended up hating me and becoming discipline problems for the remainder of the year.  The third, well… she was just too perfect.  She listened to the “you are more like a daughter to me, and I’m marrying someone else” speech and only put her sweet head against my shoulder and said to me with tears in her big, brown eyes, “You are the teacher I am going to miss the most when I’m in High School.”  You know, twenty-one years later, I still tear up thinking about that one.  Those three girls were all breakable people too, and I had the hammer in my hand on those three occasions.  They are not the type to hurt others either, but I mourn for them, because they all three grew up into beautiful women and are so much smarter now than they were then that they would never again fall in love with a goofy gink like me.

I took this old journal piece out of cold storage and re-wrote a bit and added a bit and revisited old sorrows and jokes because I am still dealing with breakable people despite being retired from teaching.  This morning I had to quell another panic attack in a child who had no reason to have one.  Waking up to eat sausages cooked by goofy old dad should not cause someone to curl up in a ball and be afraid to get out of bed… to the point of tears.  (Or maybe there is more wrong with my cooking than I realize.)  The health insurance still doesn’t want to pay for psychiatric services, and I am a loss for how to cure things that could so easily turn into paranoia and schizophrenia.  I am dancing with bare feet on a thistle patch at present and hope to come out of it all with enough money left to live on and enough life left to be worth living.

So, what is the main idea out of all this mooning, fluff, and drivel?  Well, I guess that people are all made out glass sometimes, all delicate and easy to destroy.  And you know what?  There are too many angry bulls in this China shop we call our lives.  Too much gets cracked, wrecked, or broken.  If only people could walk through our lives with a bit lighter step… and maybe at least try to be careful!



Filed under humor, Paffooney, teaching

Homely Art – Part Two – Paul Detlefsen


Back in about 1968 my Grandma Beyer was seriously scandalized by an artist named Paul Detlefsen.  Detlefsen did a lot of covers for the “Ideals Magazine” that Grandma always had on her coffee tables.  He scandalized her by putting a painting on the cover that showed a young boy taking his pants off, the rear view only, so he could go skinny dipping with a group of naked boys.  Truthfully the picture shown above is by Detelfsen, but it is not the one that offended her.  I have discovered that this painter of old-timey things like blacksmith shops and one-room school houses has painted at least four different versions of “the Old Swimmin’ Hole”.  And Grandma was easily scandalized when we were kids.  She was a very conservative woman who loved Ronald Reagan and his politics most severely and thought that Richard Nixon was a leftist radical.  She didn’t like for people to be naked, except for bath time, and maybe not even then.  She is one of the main reasons, along with this painter whom she adored, that I came to learn later in life that “naked is funny”.horseandbuggydays-print  http://www.freeplaypost.com/PaulDetlefsen_VintageArtPrint_A.htm

Grandma Beyer also seriously loved puzzles, and besides “Ideals” covers, Paul Detlefsen did a beaucoup of jigsaw puzzles. (Beaucoup means a lot in Texican, I tend to think in Iowegian and talk in Texican and completely forget about the need to translate for those people who don’t know those two foreign tongues)   One of the puzzles we spent hours working on was “Horse and Buggy Days” that I pictured here.  They were the kind of puzzle paintings where every boy was Tom Sawyer and every girl was Becky Thatcher.  And there were a lot of them.  Here is another;



Grandma had this in puzzle form also.  We put the puzzle together, glued it to tag board, and framed it.  It has hung on the wall in a Grandparent’s house, first Grandma Beyer’s and then Grandma Aldrich’s, since the early 1970’s.  My own parents now live in Grandma Aldrich’s house, and that puzzle-painting may be hanging in an upstairs bedroom to this very day.  Detlefsen is not known as a great artist.  He was a humble painter who painted backdrops for films for over 20 years.  In the 1950’s he switched gears and started doing lithographs that were turned into calendars, jigsaw puzzles, laminated table mats, playing cards, and reproductions you could buy in the Ben Franklin Dime Store in Belmond, Iowa and hang on your back porch at home.  I believe I saw his paintings in all these forms in one place or another.  According to Wikipedia (I know, research, right?) “In 1969, UPI estimated that his artwork had been seen by 80 per cent of all Americans.”  That is pretty dang good for a humble painter, better numbers than Pablo Picasso ever saw.  Let me share a few more of his works, and see if you recognize any of these;

db_Paul_Detlefsen_Covered_Bridge1 b01e8afaadde Artist Paul Detlefsen PaulDetlefsen_VintageArtPrint_B11 il_fullxfull.285794883


Filed under art criticism, art my Grandpa loved, artwork, homely art, oil painting

Homely Art – Part One – Thomas Kinkade

Fantasia  These images can be found at http://thomaskinkade.com/

I honestly have a thing for artists that critics hate and common folk like my parents and grandparents loved.  Norman Rockwell is a bit like that.  He enjoyed commercial success as a magazine illustrator.  That is about as far from avant garde art as you can get.  But what can I say?  I don’t call myself an artist.  I am a cartoonist and all around goofball.  I don’t do serious art.  So the questions surrounding Thomas Kinkade bounce off my tough old non-critical hide like bullets off the orphan of Krypton.  I love his pictures for their gaudy splashes of color, his way with depicting puddles and water of all sorts (splashes of splashes), and his rustic homes and landscapes of another era.  This is a man who does lovely calendar art and jigsaw puzzle art.  He is roundly criticized for factory production of “original” oil paintings which are actually a base he created and made a print of painted over by an “assistant” artist or apprentice.  But I don’t care .  I like it.  And you used to be able to see his originals without going to museums, in art stores at the shopping mall.  He is unfortunately dead now.  For most great artists, that makes their work more valuable and more precious.  Kinkade’s art hangs in so many homes around the country already that his fame has probably already reached its peak.  Look at these works that he did for Hallmark and Disney and various other mass-market retail outlets.  I dare you not to like it.

Cinderella-Wishes-Upon-A-Dream thomas-kinkade-signed-and-numbered-limited-edition-print-and-hand-embellished-canvas-the-night-before-christmas-1 kinkade-2010-bambis-first-year-1st-art-disney-thomas Teacup Cottage kinkade-2012-lg-little-mermaid-disney-art ladyandthetramp thomas-kinkade-hometown-morning-19676


Filed under art criticism, oil painting, Thomas Kinkade

500 Followers on WordPress

I am celebrating because I have done a lot of blogging and I believe it has reached a few people who really read and like what I post.  I know for a fact that many like my artwork.  I am not foolish enough to believe that I deserve to make loads of money as a writer.  So far I have made 28 dollars worth of royalties on two published books.  That makes a lot of hard work for very little return.  I have spent more than that on my writing, so I am realistically making negative dollars.  But the important thing is that my writing and art is now out there in the world, inhabiting closet and desk drawers no more.  Some of it now resides in you who are reading this.  I thank you.  My life was complete before I started this endeavor, beginning and ending with being a teacher, so every word I can possibly write on the heart of a reader is pure whipped cream on top of the lemon-meringue pie.Mickey's 500

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