I have always had very vivid dreams. This picture was inspired by one. I dreamed of being a seventh-grader going to school in lizard-person school on a dinosaur planet. And throughout the dream my classmates were threatening to eat me. Oh, and the clothes they are wearing in the picture were the school uniforms.
Of course, naked-in-school dreams are a common one. This picture is more of a naked-on-Main-Street dream.
The title of this post is a Shakespearian Hamlet phrase. The picture above is a detail from a dream about Shakespeare’s The Tempest dream.
That particular nightmare had Caliban in it.
Fairy tale dreams are much nicer. In this Sleeping Beauty dream, the monsters are tiny.
I also admit to having animated-cartoon-type dreams. The turtle-boy in front is from the actual dream. The rest of it is made up to fill in the background of the picture.
This dream was obviously inspired by a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I have both good dreams and nightmares. And all of it provides fodder to fuel pictures and stories, but not always in that order.
Yes, it is very possible that my imagination was galvanized in childhood by TV.
It seems to me that NBC had even more power over me than the other two networks. We could get CBS and ABC on our black-and-white TV. But the only NBC affiliate in Iowa was not able to be received in our little town. We had to go to Grandma’s house in Mason City where Grandma had a color TV.
Of course, it used to be referred to as the “Boob Tube” because psychologists and people who mattered kept saying that TV makes you stupid. Which, naturally, has a grain of truth to it because you don’t watch TV actively. You sit there and passively let the stories, commercials, and propaganda about sugary breakfast cereals flow in one ear, poison your brain, and then flow out the other ear leaving only water-logged thinking-muscles behind them.
The Saturday Matinees on CBS provided my youthful imagination with science fiction, fantasy, and heroes of all kinds.
I taught myself to draw cartoon characters based on the animated shows I watched on TV. I not only copied Mickey, for obvious reasons, but also Donald and Daffy Ducks, Space Ghost, Jonny Quest, Yogi Bear, and the Herculoids.
And Batman! With Adam West and Burt Ward and Cesar Romero as the Joker. Bam! Boff! Sock! Pow! Bright colors, goofy Riddler plots, and really bad jokes that were so bad they made you laugh.
And I loved monster movies. Not horror movies really. I never loved Freddy Krueger or Jason. But the Wolfman? Frankenstein’s Monster? Bela Lugosi’s Dracula? The Creature from the Black Lagoon? My inspirations!
And, of course, Disney on Sunday nights. The Wonderful World of Disney in living color.
We, each one, have a certain RESPONSIBILITY if we are born alive into human life.
The root of the word is RESPOND. And that means we have developed a complexity of mind and beo havior that allows us to RESPOND to situations and problems that you haven’t encountered before.
Because we can RESPOND, we must RESPOND. That is how we come to acquire RESPONSIBILITY.f
When I got out of Iowa State University, I had to RESPOND to the situation where I was educated and legally an adult, and I had to somehow support myself in life. I suppose I could have chosen to live in my parents’ basement and done nothing with my life but draw and paint and eventually get fat. That is a way to RESPOND to that situation. And I had a RESPONSIBILITY to RESPOND.
But, choosing between a job doing artwork for the print shop in Belmond, or going to Grad School at the University of Iowa to get a teaching certificate, I took note of the fact that I liked younger kids a lot and got along with them quite well. So, I decided to RESPOND with a bit of teachering.
It turns out that this was a much wiser course of action in that, by the time I got out of the University of Iowa with a Master’s Degree in Education, my parents had to move to Texas in order to fulfill my father’s RESPONSIBILITY to the Lords of Accountancy and continue to wrestle with the evils of business numbers for the good of all mankind.
I would not have been able to continue to live in my parents’ basement, and being homeless in Iowa in the winter is a rather cold and lonely situation.
I had a RESPONSIBILITY to choose a life path.
I was fortunate enough to choose a good one. One that fit nicely into where my talents lay, and what I was able to do well.
I became RESPONSIBLE for lives, well-being, and intellectual development of kids (young human beings, not goats.)
I turns out that, with practice, I was eventually quite good at teachering. I got through to a lot of kids (even some of whom really were goats underneath it all.)
I feel like, in the long run, I artfully handled my RESPONSIBILITY to life, the universe, and everything. But now that I am teachering no more, I am RESPONSIBLE for doing something further with my life. This blog post is part of the becoming an artist and a writer RESPONCE.
Yesterday, I went to the NASCAR race track at Petty Place in Fort Worth. There I was one of several thousand to sit in our cars in long lines and receive a dose of the Pfizer vaccine. And today I feel really punked out (not referring to the music, of course, because today I can’t sing.) So, I reached back in time for this Saturday Art Day post. All of these pictures have not been posted in a long time.
Today’s post is a look at artwork from various times in my life.
I will try to find some of my work in the media library for this blog that is even older than this first one. But I am combing the archive randomly, so that I need to date each one.
The first one is from around 1979, possibly ’78 or “80.
This was from before I became a teacher, but just after my arthritis helped me decide not to pursue cartooning as a career.
I was still in my 20’s when I drew this.
This next one is helpfully dated 1983. It is a portrait of my favorite kid in the first year I taught. He was in my class in the 1981-82 school year.
This one is from 1977, my junior year at Iowa State University, You can see that I was overly relying on profile views for faces on cartoon characters. An odd little weakness.
This one is from about 1992 when Jorge and his brothers, some real working caballeros, were in my classes.
This came from 1984.
This one 1978.
This picture was submitted to the adult division of the Art Contest at the Wright County Fair in 1978. I drew it on the front porch of the old house in Rowan, Iowa. It won the purple ribbon.
This was drawn in the Winter of 1980 when I had to read David Copperfield as one of the works responded to on the 1981 English Masters’ Ecam.
If I searched longer I could probably find the pictures I previously posted on this blog from when I was twelve years old. Those are about the oldest artworks I still possess. But what would it show anyway? You can see my work got a little better over time, but not much, and lately arthritis took away some of my skills.
There is no such thing as a perfect face. You know that human beings tend to perceive bilateral symmetry as beauty. That means, the more the left half of the face mirrors the right half. the more beautiful the face is.
But why do we think that? No real person’s face is actually like that. Look at the girl on your right. Her eyes don’t match. The googly-eyed expression on her face may indicate that eating pencils can cause brain damage. Can you get lead poisoning from graphite pencils? Or is it just that her cartoon great grandfather was Barney Google?
And the girl on the left has a weird blush pattern on her cheeks. Perhaps it isn’t a blush. Probably she’s been biting into exploding tomatoes.
How about this face? If you put a line directly down the middle of the face, you can see that each side nearly mirrors the other. People think of that as handsome or, possibly, cute. A nearly perfect face. Me, I prefer the face of the boy. The Muppety puppet, despite it’s perfection, seems almost ugly to me.
Intelligence is revealed by the eyes. The girl on your left is looking directly at you. It makes her seem smarter. And we all know she is anyway, even without giving her a test.
Emotion is also conveyed mostly through the eyes. It is obvious that these lion eyes (or is that spelled LYIN’ EYES?) are looking at you with love. Yes, love. And he would love you even more with ketchup.
A face can tell you more about a character than thousands of words of mere description can. Do you know what Vladimir will be drawing in your art class on his first day in your classroom? I think you do. Strawberry Shortcake and Disney Princesses. What else? Oh, geez… you’ve grown a bit jaded over the years.
Teachers, well, the good ones, will need a welcoming, calm face, no matter how bad of a hair day they are having.
And would you welcome a face to face with this face? Especially on the very day you sacrificed a black cat and two chickens to create a black magic spell to punish your ex-wife? After her lawyer left you with nothing even though you were not the one who spent all the money in your joint checking account on a face-lift? And she didn’t even try to make her danged face more symmetrical!
But enough about faces for today. Everyone who is anyone has one, you know. It’s the style going around. Even though it’s been a year since you’ve seen them without a mask on.
In today’s Art Day post I will tackle the answer to the one question that you probably most don’t need to have an answer to.
Looney Tunes, Merry Melodies, The Woody Woodpecker Show, a Mickey Mouse Cartoon…. why does this old American art form have such a hold over Mickey’s artist’s eye, his pen and ink and drawing hand, and Mickey’s cartoony heart?
Because a simple black line on white paper can become so many different and interesting things. And they can be funny, or they can be in color, or they can make you laugh and cry at the same time.
Cartoons make it possible to turn unicorns into magical jackasses for no other reason than it tickles your funnybone.
You know the funnybone, right? It’s the part of the skeleton that looks the most ridiculously unworkable when you are not wearing your skin.
Yes, no horse actually looks like that. Only in cartoons.
What is too ridiculous to be real, like a superhero whose super power is overwhelming body odor, is the only reality in the realm of the cartoon.
And I really can’t help it. I can no more help being a cartoonist than I can help being an old, retired white guy with gray hair that used to be a school teacher who told really bad jokes and drew cartoons on the chalkboard.
Anatidaephobia (pronounced anna-tidy-phobia) is a pervasive and irrational fear that you are being watched by a duck. A person with this rare phobia fears that somehow, somewhere a duck is watching their every move.
I know, that’s pretty random, right?
But that’s how this Art Day post works. I had no idea what the first picture would be until I searched for it. This post began not with an idea, but a title; Random Art, the Art of Picking at Random.
Most of my art posts are exactly that. Pictures picked at random simply by going back through my media gallery and picking them. I usually pick up a theme along the way, sensing how the pictures are connected and deciding what that reveals about the artist and how that should be put into words.
I am aware that by relying on my library of already-used images, I am bound to be putting up something that you may have seen before. But I do have a large supply of already-downloaded pictures, and I find that I deeply love seeing some of these over and over again. However, they are all original artworks done by me. (Yes, I know I didn’t make any of the Pez dispensers or anything in the above photo. But I made the arrangement and took the photo. That makes it as much my art as Campbell Soup cans can be Andy Warhol’s work.) And I have seen them far more often than you have, and I haven’t tired of them.
Many of these pictures are actually self portraits. And that’s because an artist can only come up with whatever is actually inside him at the time.
I am not myself in this picture, but it is never-the-less very much about me and who I am inside.
You might be able to spot the connections between this picture and the last one if you are observant of small details.
This picture seems awfully random until you start to see them as Mr. Dickens, Mr. Shakespeare, Mr. Disney, and Mr. Poe.
So, there it is, Random Art for Saturday Art Day. Picked totally at random. And yet, at the end it seems somehow organized. That is a sort of small miracle, and probably proof that God exists… at least in some random way.
I painted this picture in the 1980’s because this boy was a very attractive little Asian-American child and I wanted to paint a picture of him.
But it became something else when I added the soldier’s helmet with the bullet hole in it.
It was the closest thing I ever did to something politically controversial. I was accused of making an anti-war picture… in Texas where you don’t disrespect a soldier. And the Viet Nam Conflict was still very much on people’s minds in the 80’s.
This is a Dickensian illustration. Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim. The boy was actually the son of a school secretary and grandson of a math teacher. Bob was modeled after a stand-up comic that I had a magazine picture of.
This reptilian fellow appeared in my dreams when I was twelve. He didn’t actually pose for me. I used a National Geographic picture to help me get the head right.
Grade-school me was the model for this one. I made it from an old school picture.
This is actually a portrait of Manuel. He was a seventh grader in 1984. Seventh Grade Language Arts, A-minus student and excellent oral reader.
This sweet child was actually a green-eyed brunette and holding a tub of autumn leaves in the original photograph.
There’s a lot of portraits in this picture. They are all from photographs, except for three imaginary faces. Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan were both in a black-and-white photo from The Kid. And the skeleton was made of plastic.
This is Black Timothy, dressed all in red. This is pretty close to what he actually looks like. Of course, he’s imaginary.
Literary realism attempts to represent familiar things as they are.
Surrealism definition: Surrealism is a type of literature in which the author attempts to display irrational or dreamlike qualities in his or her writing. Surrealism refers to writing that goes beyond the realistic into a creative, imaginative realm that often has dreamlike qualities.
Two definitions of styles of writing that are common in today’s literary realm.
Realism is a tradition that began in the middle of the 18th Century. It includes authors like Balzac, Alexander Pushkin, Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis, and Charles Dickens. They tend to focus on the details that shine a light on the grungy, dreary realities of the Industrial Revolution, the American Experiment in Democracy, and wars like the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and wars against Napoleon, Hitler, and Communist Russia.
Surrealism, especially as it grew legs and began galloping in the 20th Century is really a reaction to the realities that Realism ground into our souls. Science Fiction imagines the problems and the possibilities presented by applying science and industry into our future. Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, and Aldous Huxley are all surrealists because they apply the power of their imaginations to dealing with the limits reality hangs around the neck of the race horse we call life on Earth.
Fantasy writers like JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Neil Gaiman, and JK Rowlings apply apples of imagination hung from a string in front of the race horse to motivate him onward. The race horse of life on Earth is a dreamlike metaphor, somewhat like a dog who smokes a pipe and solves crimes, and is the kind of literary device that defines surrealism the way that Mickey sees it.
But enough about what surrealism is. It is just realism with a “sur” pasted on the front. So, let me just show you some.
So, now that you have seen the pictorial evidence that Mickey thinks surreal thoughts, you should be willing to admit… He probably really is a Surrealist. Or, possibly, he surreally is a surrealist.