Being an artist is a matter of genetics, luck, and loads of practice. I began drawing when I was only four or five years old. I drew skulls and skeletons, crocodiles and deer on everything. My kindergarten and first grade teachers were constantly gritting their teeth over the marked-up margins of every workbook and worksheet. I drew and colored on everything. I eventually got rather good, drawing in pencil, crayon, ink, and as you see here, colored pencil. I loved to draw the people and things around me. I also drew the things of my imagination. I drew my best girl, Alicia, and I drew the half-cobra half-man that lived in the secret cavern under our house. I drew a picture of the house across the underpass from Grandma Mary’s house. I drew cardinals, and I drew Snoopy cartoons. I drew my sports heroes in football and hockey, Donny Anderson and Gordie Howe. I drew monsters with fangs and fuzzy animals with huge soulful eyes. I still draw and it’s mostly the same things that I drew when I was a child. I will post more of the drawings here in the near future to dazzle you with my talents and ridiculous sense of the absurd.
I inherited art talent from my father’s side of the family. He could always draw fairly well, though he only used the talent to draw things he meant to build or create in his workshop. He was a practical man who loved to tinker and make things work in a useful manner. He had no love or need for that which is fanciful and fantastic. I suspect, though, that he encouraged my artistical flights of fancy because it spoke to an unfulfilled portion of his own creative instinct. My Great Aunt Viola was also an artist. She loved to paint flowers on porcelain and create delicate beauty in items like plates and vases. Her art was more fanciful than my Dad’s art, but it still had a certain Midwestern practicality at its roots.
I hoped early on to be a cartoonist or comic-book artist. I loved to draw wildly imaginative things. The first cartoons I created were all about outer space. I wrote stories and drew pictures of Zebra Fleet, a Star-Trek-like space force that kept peace in an area of space inhabited by dog-headed humanoids. It was fanciful and goofy at the same time. Since then I tried my hand at a Cowboys and Indians cartoon strip, built around the massacre of Custer’s command at the Little Bighorn. I researched the Indians of the Dakotah, Crow, Shoshone, and Hidatsa Tribes for my cartoon. I learned to love drawing feathers, totems, magic men, shamans, shirt men, and lovely Indian girls. Nowadays I draw the adventures of weird little Toons from Animal Town and the various strange places in Fantastica. Teenage Panda Girls go out for cheerleading and fail, seeking to wreak revenge on Animal Town. Hairy Bear is a Grizzly with a tiny body and a huge reputation earned by fantastical hair growths and the ability to make large hair-pieces. The Four Bares are a family of bears who live at Newt’s Naturist camp and turn Animal Town upside down when they insist on their right as top-of-the-food-chain predators to go anywhere they like naked. If you are lucky, I will never be a published cartoonist. I made a serious stab at it. I came close in two different job interviews and one major submission, but I have arthritis, and it attacked my hands at just the right time to make me a school teacher instead of a cartoonist.
Drawing has become for me a hobby and a lifestyle all about the color and the symbol. I try to cram as much story and meaning into every figure or picture I do. Each drawing is precious, and I must squeeze as much as I can from each one, because drawing has become so hard to do and is such a rare thing. I lean towards the blue in my cartoons. There is a certain Blue Period about my melancholy work and life. Things turn out wrong at the end of my stories and there is no happily ever after. When the nighttime comes, I have to go to sleep with the urge to draw more. I’ll draw more in the next life, or maybe in my dreams.