Art Self-Edited

I have been working at illustration and drawing for the majority of my life, but it took computer technology and digital photography to allow me to maximize the use of my abilities.  Let me go through a couple of case in points.

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The Red-Haired Girl picture is a good example of what I can do.  I originally drew the picture to illustrate a Charlie Brown poem.   Here is the poem if you don’t remember it.  (A convenient excuse to re-post something and fill this post with words already written.)

Little Red-Haired Girl

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

That little red-haired girl, so cute, so nice

You only looked and looked from afar

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

You could’ve held her hand

You could’ve walked her home from school

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

She never got your Valentine

At least, you forgot to sign your name

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

No hope of marriage now, nor children for old age

Happily ever after has now long gone

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

Now every love poem is a sad poem

And the world is blue and down

You never told her that you loved her…

You never told her that you loved her…

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown.

You may not see what I did without looking at the two pictures very closely.  The better, more brightly-lit photo is not the answer.  I originally created the Red-Haired Girl as a Charley-Brown-y creation complete with a bigger than natural head, a Charley-Brown head.10305044_602428713227020_8427155857664240183_n

I have ulterior motives for my evil cartoon manipulations.  I like this image I have created very much, in fact, one might say that I have fallen in love with it just a bit…  Pygmalion-like.  I wanted to use the image to illustrate Anita Jones, a character from my book Superchicken.  Anita is the fictional re-imagining of a girl that I had a deep and abiding crush on (possibly still existing today, though she is now a grandmother in real life.)  She is literally my little red-haired girl.  So what did I do?  Look closely.  I lovingly shrank her head.  Yes, like the headhunters of old, I used the paint program on my computer to shrink it, re-attach it, and make it more human-like.  Realistic proportions, though only a very slight change by actual percentages, make a realistic difference in how real the viewer perceives her to be.

I know you probably think I am full of goofy-gas to make such claims.  If you don’t see the difference in the first example, perhaps you will see it here.  Compare these two David Copperfield pictures carefully.  Look at Little Emily’s head.

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You don’t have to believe me, but it does make a difference.

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Picture Tricks

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I have discovered things about being an artist by blogging.  I have discovered things by learning from other artists.  I have also discovered things by trial and error.  I have also discovered things by random acts of God.  So let me share some of the ill-gotten picture secrets that I have added to my vast bag of useless incunabula-juice squeezed out with my arcane-secret juicer and internet blogger good luck.

#1.  Save everything arty… as you see above, I have three different pictures of my Catch a Falling Star character Dorin Dobbs, all made from the same pen and ink line drawing.  All the color is digital paint from my computer’s own paint program.  Simple and cheap to do.  Save functions multiply the pretty.

#2.  Splice stuff together and make new stuff…  I have the cheapest possible photo-shop program, but using its entire $7 value every time I paste with it, I am able to create new art out of old.

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New art out of old;

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#3.  Weave things together to create unity…  My art is not for its own sake.  I am not Picasso or Van Gogh.  My art is very much tied to the stories I tell as a writer of Young Adult novels.  (Snow Babies is awaiting its turn with the editors of PDMI LLC Publishers.)

#4.  Promote the art and writing of others…  I have spent a ridiculous amount of internet time stalking artists like Loish and sharing their work on my blog.  Writers too.  I do my little book reports in order to connect the reading and the literary influences I have completed (or stolen from) and show where much of my own style and je nais se quois comes from.  If the artist or writer is still living and notices what I have done, they will often return the favor (hopefully, if they don’t find my work to be an offense against the gods of art).  If they can’t return the favor (because they are quite dead or thoroughly disgusted by me), I have at least associated my work with theirs in the minds of my readers,

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#5.  It’s all about digital photography…  In order to share my colored-pencil menagerie of live Paffoonies on the internet, I have to get better at photography.  I have taken far more photos of drawings in the last two years than I have drawn drawings.  That has not been a life-long way of things.  I love color, and poor photography skills turn out various shades of gray.  Sunlight?  Incandescent?  Fluorescent?   I haven’t discovered that secret yet, but it will never be uncovered if I don;t keep trying.

#5. Find connections that help pull your work together in one big, messy bundle…  Facebook, WordPress, and Deviant-Art are all better forums if you can connect them.  I did this by labeling everything Mickey with a meaningless made-up word that no one else in their right mind would use.   The word is Paffooney.

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A picture search on Google using the words “Beyer Paffooney” gives you an almost complete gallery of my artwork and nonsense.  Googling the word itself yields a link to a plethora of my old blogs.  Do you not know what plethora means?  Try it and you will learn that very good word.

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Finding Answers with the Right Questions

Flower val

Yesterday I burbled purple paisley prose all over the page and, in trying to answer the question “Why do I Blog?”, only managed to come up with a lame sort of “I don’t know.”  but I also referenced Douglas Adams’ answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything which turned out to be 42.   You see, in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy we learn that the Earth is nothing but an alien-designed supercomputer run by highly intelligent mice to find the actual question that goes with that ultimate answer.  Unfortunately, after the planet Earth is destroyed by Vogons to make way for an interstellar bypass, the question is put on hold.  That’s really what I did yesterday.  I put the question on hold.

But today, feeling ill and a little blue, I decided to percolate the old teapot of wisdom one more time to see if I could find an answer in the tea leaves.  I am not a well sort of individual.  As I have posted before, I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor since 1983.  Every day I wake up to a new dawn is a bit of a miracle.  But the sand is running out of the hourglass.  There are things I have to put right, and blogging is a way to do that.

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In this photo Paffooney I am sharing one of my recent miracle sunrises.  6:55 looking East from the Greenbelt in the middle of Carrollton, Texas.  The dog exercises me every morning in order to keep me alive on the off chance that I will drop some bacon on the floor one morning in the near future.  She also uses me to bag up poop so she can stay out of trouble with the city.

Every morning is like that now.  I am retired.  That is a less-painful way of saying “waiting to drop dead”.  I spend a good portion of my day now alone and able to write and think and not do very much else.  So what I write and think has to be the real work that I am doing now to justify the amount of food I eat and air I breathe (and bacon I drop as the dog has just reminded me.)  I have recently finished two novels.  I have a novel waiting to be published, with a contract and everything at a small, but very real publisher.  I have two books already in the marketplace, Catch a Falling Star and Aeroquest.  You can find them and ignore them on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com just like everyone else has been doing.  The books are what I am technically blogging about.  I am blogging by command of I-Universe publishing.  But that’s not really why I am doing it.  There is so much more to it than that.

Here’s the realist’s assessment of my writing… it has become a very expensive and time-consuming hobby that eats up my remaining days like a ravenous wolf.  At the rate I am going, I will not live to see the day when my writing finds wide-spread acceptance.   I have the word of professional editors and other writers that my work is very well-written, and there was a time in my life when I might’ve made a decent living at it like Terry Brooks or R. A. Salvatore.  There was a time when good books found a publisher.  Now, there is the little problem of a world teeming with books all clamoring for notice of their own.  I am generally ignored by the masses.  The local library didn’t even put the gift copy of my book, paid for with my own money, on their shelves.  They didn’t give it back, either.  My time is not yet, and my audience is probably made up of people not born yet.  Maybe they simply don’t exist.

But all those mulched-up and melancholy things I have said about my writing amount to nothing in the face of the question, “why are you still bothering to blog?”  Truthfully, in the past few months I have made myself laugh and made myself cry by writing and telling stories… by mangling metaphors and propagating purple paisley prose… by blogging.  And I really don’t care if no one ever reads my blog full of blather and allusive alliterations.  They exist.  They are real.  And I have offered them to the world.  Why do I blog?  I still don’t have any idea.

first flowers

These are the very first flowers that bloomed in our neighborhood this year that didn’t die a horrible death by freezing.  Sure, they are only common dandelions and many think of them as weeds… but they are also proof that for now the sun continues to shine and possibilities continue to bloom.

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The Meaning of 42

little Toy Trio

I get goofy ideas for blog posts when I am reading other blog posts, when I am reading books, and when I am letting television suck the smart out of my brain cells.  I was first inspired by reading this blog post from In My Cluttered Attic.  He was talking about why he chooses to blog in the face of a plethora of common-sense reasons not to.  “Good idea for my own blog post!” said the insane voice that inhabits the dark space behind my mind’s own creative filing cabinet #42 in the second dungeon under my memory.  I immediately filed the idea away in that cabinet because the cabinet was close at the time and I might never find it again later.  Then I leaped to a post by The Off Key of Life in which I found a beautiful song beautifully sung that made me trip over another file cabinet that was behind the mechanical letter-sorting machine on the stairway landing to the sub-basement of the second dungeon.

Some old memories spilled out on the stone steps because I used to sing that song to my three babies when I rocked them to sleep twenty years ago, fifteen years ago, and thirteen years ago.  That song, and “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Disney’s Pinocchio.  Both of those songs are about one day finding the key to happiness… or possibly the key to understanding… but definitely about the search for the key.  I always believed that those songs would give my children sweet dreams… and I prayed that the songs would never become the source of nightmares.

And then I was watching Hulu, an episode of Arrow in which Oliver Queen must decide on the reason why he was doing the whole superhero-vigilante thing and risking his life constantly.  Unfortunately I didn’t find the file box that has superheroes in it that I was looking for in hallway leading to Area 51 in the upper dungeon.  But I knew the topic was going to be “Why I Blog”.  That settled, I began to write and paste in all sorts of random stuff.

“What is the meaning of 42?” you ask?  How clever of you to ask that!  In Douglas Adams’ seminal series of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books

the_hitchhikers_guide_to_the_galaxy 42 is revealed to be the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.  Practically everything that he adds to that epic trilogy of five-or-so books is basically random.  And yet, it is not.  He is telling us about the apparent randomness of Life, the Universe, and Everything while carefully explaining how all this random madness that is Everything actually fits together in a very random-mad way.  There is a certain asymmetrical symmetry about it all that has a certain contradictory sort of beauty, if you get what I mean.  (A certain ugly beauty if you don’t get what I mean.)

So why do I blog?  Good question.  I don’t really have an answer to it.  I blog because my first publisher told me I had to do it to promote my book, Catch a Falling Star.  My book has netted me $28 so far, as long as I am not fool enough to start subtracting all the money I have spent trying to advertise and promote my book.  I’m not fool enough.  I stay out of that corridor in the maze of my complicated little mind.  I blog because I can share all the private drawings and poems and insane nonsense that fills the filing cabinets in my mind without paying a hefty psychiatrist’s fee.  Your underwear drawer needs to be aired out once in a while even if you do remember to wash your underwear.  And it is liberating to walk around figuratively naked in front of an audience that potentially includes little old church ladies, God, and everybody.  I blog because writing is something that I do, have always done, and will continue to do until they put my smelly corpse in a pine box and bury it under the garbage pile out back.  All that scribbling has to count for something sometime.  And maybe that sometime is now.  If you are one of those poor souls suffering from Serial-Mickey’s-Blog-Reading Disorder (a condition the CDC has taken to labeling SMBRD… not to be confused with small-bird flu), and you actually read the posts and look at all the random junk piled into those mad paragraphs, you may just accidentally stumble across that key we have all been searching for for eons… and unlike the majority of the world, you will be giggling insanely for a reason!

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, writing

A Maker of Books

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For an awfully long time I have been filling blank pages with junk and goofy stuff and saving it in book form.  I think it began when I was a Junior in high school.  At least, that is the oldest of the homemade books I could find.  I fill these handmade and factory-made blank books with stories, drawings, poems, clipped pictures, nonsense, secrets, shamelessly plagiarized gunk, and anything and everything.  At 58 and one half years of age, I have been doing this insane thing for a very long time and have quite a pile of it.  The above is my Tales of Fantastica, a cartoon journey into my own dreams and personal life.

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I believe, based on physical evidence that the first collected writing I have done is in my Journal, Rage.  It is called that because I named it after a Dylan Thomas poem in which he “raged against the dying of the light” because he was venting on the subject of his father’s death and the dread of living a life without being allowed to really be alive… to really live.  I wanted to write down everything I noticed about being alive… my hopes, my fears, my dreams as fully as I could remember them… and it became, over time, quite ripe and fertile, as stored garbage usually will.  I was able to use it as a source for other stuff.  I have at least nine volumes of this journal composed over a period of twenty-some years… before I started depositing my daily dose of words and interior monologues in other places.

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My old drawing notebook goes all the way back to 5th grade.  I saved almost every drawing and doodle I did as a grade-school-and-middle-school doodler.  It has some of my very first cartoons and bird drawings and monsters that I filled my quiet hours in childhood with instead of doing the homework I was supposed to be doing.

In college, specifically Cow College… Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, I first began putting stories into novel form.  These I kept in binders and neatbooks that I had to illustrate the covers of with my own story-specific logos.

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Here is the first manuscript of Superchicken, the first manuscript that I actually finished and followed all the way through with.

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This book-maker-mania followed me even into the classroom.  I collected classroom drawings from students, either as gifts from them or confiscated from them and put them into the binder I call my Gallery.  This will make an interesting post of its own in the near future.

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And I am still not cured of making my own covers, even though I am now trying to make them into traditionally publlished books.  Here is the cover for Superchicken.

superchick_novelI suppose I will never really be cured of this mental aberration for as long as I still live.  I don’t know what my heirs will do with them when they are finally rid of me once and for all.  But it is all something I don’t regret doing.  And besides, I couldn’t help it.

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Filed under photo paffoonies, NOVEL WRITING, autobiography

Another Self-Promotional Announcement from Mickey

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I’m not bragging.  I know it is not that much.  But it’s more than twice what I had at the start of 2014.

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More Powerful than a Locomotive

There is an old saying… “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.”

I have an addendum to add… “If what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, then I must be Superman!”

Lying here now in pain after having surgery this morning, that is exactly what I have been telling myself.  No more Kryptonite today, thank you.

Superman 1

I may have mentioned before on this blog that I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor since 1983.  (If I haven’t mentioned it before, then it was only because I mistook complaining loudly and relentlessly about it for mentioning.)  I have arthritis, diabetes, COPD, hypertension, psoriasis, and benign prostatic hyperplasia.  Two of those diseases ganged up on me recently.  I had a sebaceous cyst on my lower back that had gotten infected because psoriasis had flaked skin off the top of it until there was an ulcerated infected hole there and it caused me enough pain to prevent sleeping.  (I know you didn’t really want to know about that… but. then, neither did I).

I got the thing surgically excised (whacked off with scalpel and scissors) and had the hole sewn back together with a few butterfly Band Aids slapped on the top.  I had been given a topical anesthetic that deadened the nerves while I was being carved up, but wears off shortly after and then all the pain that has been saved up comes rushing back to fill the void.  The doctor said I could take aspirin, but I have a big bottle of Aleve next to the bed for arthritis, and my body is so used to the medicine that I might just as easily have taken a sugar pill for the same effect.  (Of course then my diabetes would come knocking on my brain.)   So, I am in pain.

But less than an hour after surgery, I had to go in to the counselor’s office at school and discuss for 45 minutes the life-and-death future consequences of the schooling of one of three kids.  It is no kind of chicken barbecue or country fair to have to explain to a school official everything you have been doing to solve the life-or-death problem for the kiddo while pain medication is wearing off and anesthetic is wearing off and patience is wearing off and mental acuity is disappearing faster than a rabbit-man can teach irony to middle-schoolers…. wait, what?  Perhaps I should rest now and let the medicine do its work.

Naw, can’t do that.  I’m Superman.

But, wait… wasn’t I Popeye just yesterday?  Who the heck am I really?  A goofy old writer-guy, most likely.

Superman 2

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