Some of the drawings and paintings I do, I do because they make me happy. I know it’s more noble if I do it to make you, the viewer, happy. But part of making art is that you are making it for your own needs. Art is therapy. Often, art is love. This picture of Shannon (not her real name) makes me happy. She was a student I loved, (only in the legal, Platonic sense.)
This one makes me happy. I drew it on a day I needed to laugh. And I laugh a little even now when I look at it.
This one is also a smirkable smirk-maker.
I drew this on a day when I was lonely.
This one tickles me on many levels.
These Telleron, temporary Martians helped me start my publishing career with the publication of Catch a Falling Star.
And pretty girls can make me happy too.
Especially naked ones.
And I mean drawing them, not what was in your evil mind.
Brekka the female Telleron Tadpole is accidentally eaten by the flesh-eating flower from outer space known as Lester (both heads seen here are actually Lester,) But Brekka’s species of amphibianoid alien is poisonous to him/her/or it. so he vomits her out again, having juiced her just enough to grant her telepathy with the plant and all its buds. They become best of friends. This scene comes from the novel Stardusters and Space Lizards.
Filch is a Dungeons and Dragons character from the 1980’s. He is a Gypsy, pickpocket, thief, trap-master, and all around disgusting twelve-year-old boy. (A sixth-grader if he ever went to school.)
He was a D&D rogue used as a character by a 16-year-old band nerd who went on to attend undergraduate college at Notre Dame.
I told teacher stories in the fall of 2016, the second start of a school year after I retired. Randy was a pain in the posterior, extremely smart, and my biggest classroom clown. He saw the fins on the back of my Ford Torino and decided he would call me “Batman” my second year of teaching, 1982. In October he wore a Batman Halloween Mask (a cheap plastic one,) and before he could call me Batman, I addressed him in front of everyone, “I’m so glad you could attend my class today, Battyman, but you will need to go by your secret identity during class.” After that, Battyman was what the other 8th graders called him for the rest of the year.
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.
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.
I recently got criticism for the unprofessional ugliness of one of my novel covers. Of course, that was only a part of the review that generally hated everything about my book. Some people feel certain works of art have no right to even exist. So, for art day today, I will inflict my recent crimes against the world of novel art on all the regretful followers of this blog, and probably ward off future followers as well.
This novella is already published. The first one I showed you represents only a novel idea. No writing yet exists for The Necromancer’s Apprentice outside of my stupid head.
This one is a part of my endless AeroQuest rewrite. The ending of the book and a handful of existing chapters that need to be expanded exist already. It is still a project planned for the part of the future in which I am most likely already dead. The character of Spaceheart featured on this cover has not been written at all yet.
This book is only a few chapters along. It is a currently stalled work in progress.
This one was written as a Tuesday novel-writing project and presented chapter by chapter on this blog. This is an updated cover that came about once I learned how to better create a cover, a thing I am still learning about.
This last one is the cover for a novella I am currently presenting on Tuesdays. It is nearing completion.
So, here now for your consideration are the most recent cover efforts I have made. Be disgusted and horrified at your leisure. I can take criticism. And I know it is useful to be open to criticism. It does indeed make you reflect on what you are doing.
What’s the real reason behind the choices I make as an artist? For instance, why didn’t I do this photo of the artwork over again when the wind warped the bottom left corner. That answer is simple. I was taking this picture with natural sunlight. And once the wind started messing up my pictures, it only got worse. This was the first and best of five attempts. And, while it doesn’t show up here, I did several photo-shop manipulations of this picture, including shrinking the girl’s head. The original was done from a couple of models I got consent from when I worked at a daycare center in Iowa City where I went to college. The boy was eight years old in the summer of 1980. The girl was six, but I used a photo of a girl I went to second grade with, so the head was also eight. They represent David Copperfield and Emily, Pegotty’s niece from the Dickens novel. I had to read the book for my Master’s Exam which I took instead of writing a thesis. The picture is about how I saw myself and my world in that timeless novel.
This picture won a blue ribbon in the art competition at the Wright County Fair in 1979. It is a colored-pencil cartoon situation right out of a Jay Ward, Dudley Do-Right cartoon. I used a picture from a Canadian travel ad for the Mountie. The Indian sidekick is a modified version of Little Beaver, Red Ryder’s sidekick. The villain and the girl were basically Snidely Whiplash and Nell from the Dudley Do-Right cartoons, but made to look slightly more realistic… but only very slightly.
Actually, I lied a bit about the blue ribbon. I got the purple Grand Champion ribbon for this picture. I had entered it solely because two years before I saw how easy it would be to win a purple ribbon looking at the pictures that won it, and I wanted to win the purple ribbon. Sorry I lied, but the real reason for this picture is that I wanted to win that ribbon.
This painting, from the 1990s, was an attempt to make sofa art to sell in my sister-in-law’s home décor store. So, the real reason for this painting’s existence is greed. But since I ended up putting so many hours into it that I couldn’t justify selling it for twenty dollars in a store that went out of business because nobody ever shopped there, I got far more value out of it by keeping it and enjoying it myself. It was inspired by numerous paintings of Native Americans done by white people on display in Love’s Travel Stops across Texas in the 1990s.
This picture, “That Night in Saqqara,” is about youth versus age, thinking about death, immortality, and being afraid of any or all of it. The model for the Mummy is Boris Karloff who was so nice to pose for a production still from his movie that I could draw him long after he was actually dead. The boy was a seventh-grader in 1983 who did not actually pose for this without a shirt on or with an actual Ankh life-symbol around his neck. The Pharaoh in the tomb-mural in the background was from National Geographic Magazine, and I think was supposed to be Tutankhamun, but I could be wrong. I am old and I mix up lots of things I once clearly knew. That’s what mummified brains have to be like, apparently.
The reason I had to create this artwork was because I was increasingly falling victim to illness, especially arthritis, and I was constantly thinking about what it would be like to die alone, entombed in a two-bedroom apartment on North Stewart Street in Cotulla, Texas. This was well before I met and married my wife, who is now my wife of 25 years.
It is said by somebody who wasn’t basically me that any time an artist draws a picture of someone, or paints a picture of someone, or twizzles a twizzle-snoot of someone… they are basically making a picture of themselves.
So, this Paffooney that I paffooned of a purple mouse in a Don Martin-esque style, is supposed to be Mickey the cartoonist. And Mickey is supposedly, basically me.
And here I am as Muck Man, the superhero. It is me because the super power he has is his horrible, non-adorable, and unrelenting stench. The horrible smell of him renders villains and bad people unconscious or worse… sometimes straight to the hearse. And using his olfactory assaults on evil as a way to make something terrible into something with a -someness of awe, makes him indubitably, indelibly basically me.
And here is a picture of a boy who might’ve been my son if only I had been given enough good sense to fall in love with that first blond young lady who first had thoughts about making babies with me. I didn’t. I’m stupid. And now she has only girls. That makes it a picture too of basically me.
And this little not-me was me all along, and as the boy who sees colors, it’s really not wrong. Synesthetic they call it in a name that’s not long, but is resoundingly deep like the words of a song.
And you might argue this one and say that it’s true… “This one is too pretty to be a picture of you.” But you would be wrong on this basis, you see…
The monster inside me is basically me
And here I am all magic and purple, and I just blew the rhyme again, so this isn’t another danged verse. I drew this picture of Milt Morgan from an old school picture of me.
I often say the character in the stories is based on the Other Mike, the other boy I grew up with who was named Mike in my little home town.
But he thought like me, he acted a lot like me. He even looked like me, at least a little bit. So, if I am portraying him, I am depicting basically me.
And this is the naked me, as a nudist back in childhood in Rowan, Iowa, which I never was… not like this… but still am. Because I am a writer. And writers always write about their naked selves, showing the whole world what saner and more prudish people keep secret. If they were truly smart and wanted to keep their secrets to themselves, artists would never draw or paint or write about or twizzle about themselves. In fact, they would make no art at all.