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Friday, January 31, 2014


My quickie sketch of the day from a parking spot on Huron Road.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A little jacket

I haven't worn this jacket in a few years. It used to fit. Then it got small. (Funny how that happens, isn't it?)

I've had it hanging on a hook along with a pair of jeans that I've actually never worn because they, too, were too small. The hook hangs on my closet door. The idea was that I would look at these clothes each day and they would remind me to do the things required to make myself less large. Because I really love the jacket. And it worked once. But they've been hanging there so long that they've become wallpaper.

I thought it might be a useful contemplative exercise to draw the jacket, because in drawing it there's no getting around thinking about it. Jacket meditation, as it were.

It's a nice spring-weight fabric. I let you know in a few months whether this proved to be anything but a drawing exercise.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What I Did on My Vortex Vacation (Day)

Last night I was looking at a new sketching book that my friend Sarah ordered for me at the bookstore. There were all kinds of great drawings in the book -- steam punk vehicles, orcs, beautiful women, leprachauns, fantasy animals -- and before I closed my eyes to sleep I felt a burning desire to draw a musk ox. Which meant that when it was time to rise this morning, I was feeling cheerful: "Today I get to draw a musk ox, so life is good," I thought.

Why a musk ox? I'm not sure. Maybe because a musk ox is not Roscoe. But maybe because I wanted to experiment with line.

When I started the musk ox drawing (having pulled a number of photo references, of course), I realized that the ox needed to be A.'s pet.

Why? I'm not sure. To connect it to the project, perhaps.

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Oh, and by the way, I must add that the first time I'd ever heard of a musk ox was when I was reading this wonderful book to my young daughters. That's perhaps when I fell the tiniest bit in love with musk oxen.

Monday, January 27, 2014


I was explaining to Tammy at work today that it's hard to draw babies.
You have to go either photorealistic (working from life or a photo) or super-abstract. In-between often seems to result in weird or creepy-looking or just vaguely blech work.

Tammy herself has an extraordinarily cute baby, whose visage I used to practice this quick sketch. I think it bears out my theory, but it's good to practice drawing babies, because they help you see the qualities of cute. Also, their pictures are fun to look at.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday reading

I'm not much for remembering weather conditions from year to year (or even week to week). The famous blizzard of '78 is an idea implanted in my head through memorial news stories since then. I just remember it snowing a lot when I had to walk to school every winter.

But this winter has been cold and ridiculously snowy. And this weekend was an almost totally in-the-house affair. Essentially, this drawing here is what I did all day Saturday and Sunday, with some breaks for Facebook and drawing and eating and sleeping. My poor, bored dog hasn't seen a real walk in days.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

I make this thing

I make this dish without a name. It's too simple to have a name. Consequently, when someone says, "What are we having for dinner tonight, Mom?" I say, "That pasta thing."

Boil some pasta. (Tonight it was angel hair -- not my fave.)
Meanwhile, melt a bunch of butter in a big pan. By "bunch" I mean, a stick or more.
Add some white wine of ill repute. Why? Because you don't want to waste good-reputation wine on cooking.
Add pine nuts -- a lot. Maybe a cup, but I don't measure. I just throw 'em in there.
Add garlic. A bunch, because there's no such thing as too much garlic. Anything less than three cloves is for sissies.
Add dried thyme because I said so. You could add salt, but I didn't, but salt brings out the flavors of things it cooks with, so you might want to add salt.
If you'd like, add some chopped up tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. I didn't tonight. Well, not much. I had one little tomato left, so I added that, but it was like not having any.

Wait till it all gets bubbly and the butter is all melty and the wine has become one with the butter.

Then add cooked, thawed shrimp just long enough to coat the shrimp with the sauce and warm it a bit.

Drain and rinse the pasta. Spoon it onto a plate. Pour a bunch of the sauce over the top and add grated parmesan if you like. (We do.)

People at your table will be required to like it because it has butter and wine and shrimp and garlic, so who can't love that? Oh, and of course draw while you cook, because who can't love that?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Getting a little reading done

This afternoon during a lunch break, I sketched a sketch too ugly to share. And you know I've posted ugly here before. But I can't bring myself to do it. I just really don't want to look at it anymore. So today instead I give you part of something I drew a couple of days ago, but didn't post because I posted something else from that day. Added some digital color quickly tonight to pretty him up for the web, though in his finished form he will be watercolored.

And, as it happens, I will be doing a lot of reading this weekend. So it all works. I hope you have a nice coupla days off from whatever it is that calls you during the week.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Contemplating death

How's that for a cheery headline?

Tonight I pulled out this little box of animal bones I borrowed to draw a long while back but then didn't draw. Till tonight. This skull was the biggest thing in the box, and still pretty small. Internet research suggests it's perhaps a raccoon skull, but it's hard to tell because it's missing the canines (which can be telling) and the lower jaw. But it's not a squirrel or rabbit or cat.

Anyway, it's hard to look at a skull for a long time and not think about mortality, even if it is the skull of an unedentified woodland creature. It can't help but make you think of other dark matters -- friends come and going and gone. The strangeness of the being-here followed by the not-being-here. So while I wondered what the little weird sacs were on the underside of the skull, behind the Zygomatic arch, I also wondered why things are set up the way they are, what with the heartbreak and the long goodbyes and the unexpected departures and the rest.

Monday, January 20, 2014

He's swimming

Here's a tiny takeout from a larger thumbnail sketch. I feel hesitant to post too much. Suffice to say I had fun drawing tonight. The larger thumbnail is still just lines. I very quickly added color to this to make it more entertaining.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Half a bookstore

There's still color and value yet to come, but this is what I had time for today.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Beware the Overthink

Someone in art school once said something like this: You don't really know what you're going to do till you start engaging with the materials. That seemed true, and I was glad to hear it because it bore out my experience.

Still, it didn't keep me from my bad habit of trying to think through everything ahead of time with the hope of avoiding the pain of making mistakes during the artmaking process. I think and think and think, then I get a little cramped up and fearful and dread-filled. It's not exactly writer's block. More like approach avoidance. If I just keep thinking, I think, I'll figure it all out and make a perfect piece of art.

Well. There is a time for thinking. And then there is a time for shutting off the intellectual side of the brain and just writing or drawing or whatever it is we need to be doing. And then we start doing cool things, and getting frustrated, and making mistakes, and the mistakes nudge us maybe onto a different path, and from that path we arrive some place we could not have thought of in our pre-thinking mode.

Dyed-in-the-wool artists know this. Those of us who come from a more trying place must be reminded.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Matter of Honor

The thing about promising yourself that you'll draw every day is that after a pretty short time, you just don't want to break that commitment. A weak effort isn't as good as a strong effort, of course, but it's better than no effort. No effort becomes intolerable.

I can already see how this has put me in a frame of mind where I'm simply going to make drawing time each and every day. Or, more likely during the week, in the evening.

Tonight I did work-work until 10. I had a pretty good excuse to let myself off the hook. Instead I drew myself looking like I was trying to imitate R. Crumb, but failing. Doesn't matter. I'm proud that I drew anything.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We Read a Lot

One of the things I'm most proud of as a parent is that our kids grew up seeing us read.

Oh, they were exposed to plenty of our bad habits, too (hashtagbadlanguage), but they couldn't help but absorb the value of books. These days they both read for pleasure when the mood strikes and when they have time.

And of course, so do we.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


While it is true that I scrawled him at the bottom of an earlier page, it is also true that I worked on art pages for an hour and a half tonight. So I didn't create a new drawing, but hey - it's new to you. And I did my art. So all in all, I can live with it.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Achieving Cute

This is Alonzo. It's been a long, hard slog toward "cute," but I think we've got it.
By the way, that's his superhero costume. Of course, you're missing key details here. But there will be more to come.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Forgot my sketchbook when we went to lunch today, so (again) I improvised.

Glued to the page with Super 77, the spray adhesive, which forced more of a commitment than I was ready for at the moment I laid down the napkin drawing. But I kinda like the wrinkles. I kinda like a collage-y, messy page in the book from time to time, too.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Most Food-Motivated Dog You've Ever Met

The story I didn't tell you about the day I sketched this sandwich: Roscoe was watching.

Roscoe was watching with the intensity of a Major League batter waiting for the ball to come over the plate in the bottom of the ninth. And he was begging. He wanted to hop up on the kitchen table, which, unfortunately, would not have been a first.

But I said, firmly, "No."

After a respectable amount of time had passed, and my attention had fully returned to my terrible sandwich sketching, I was startled by a sharp "yap-yap-yap-grrrrr!" Roscoe stood at the door to the garage, barking like crazy. Barking like there was someone there, at that back door. Ears forward, body in guard-dog stance. So I went to the door to see who was there -- at which moment he dashed away, scrambled up on the kitchen table, grabbed my sandwich and tore off to his crate, where he a) keeps all things dear to him and b) goes when he has something really special to masticate.

Yes. He faked me out. There was, of course, no one at the door.

I charged after him, and we battled it out till he dropped what remained of the sandwich, and I grabbed it.

No, I did not eat it.

My only solace was that during his dash from the table, he had dropped a couple of choice slices of bacon.

But just to be clear: Yes. He faked me out.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Pete and Repeat

Tracing paper is one of the great inventions. It lets you make incremental improvements in a composition while hanging on to the thing or things you've done right in the previous drafts. I used to dream of being one of those people who could just lay down a beautiful drawing in one easy, fluid effort. That gift was given to others. The best I can hope for is that, through sustained effort and the benefits of tracing paper, I can get something I don't hate -- or even sort of like.

So I'm somewhere in the middle of this composition. There will be more.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014


As I was drawing Grandma Gladys, I was listening to an interview with Temple Grandin. At the moment she mentioned being a kid and reading a book about perspective drawing (she's a "visual thinker"), I looked up at my bulletin board and saw the photocopied pages from a drawing book -- a page that reads "Perspective Drawing."

I love that.

I love Grandma Gladys, too. She is exactly as I think of her.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Quality of Light

Katy was watching and old "Grey's Anatomy" episode. The one where Addison should be getting out of town, but is still making excuses to hang around Derek, and Meredith is getting annoyed and jealous.

The light was not great during this sketch. Not terrible, but not great. I never used to pay attention to such things, but it matters not only in terms of how the subject is lit (obviously) but how much of the drawing is visible as it's being made. More and more I need more and more.

I also did a bunch of sketches for the A. story. Because we had another snow day today. Back to work tomorrow.

Monday, January 06, 2014


There's always something to draw. Even if it's yourself. 

Didn't scan this one, just iPhoned it to keep my daily posting streak going.

Thee will be yet more drawing time tomorrow, when work is called off for the second day because of arctic weather. It's -11 as I write this. 

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Playing With Alligators

This is part of a project. You might see more here. Well, you undoubtedly will.

Just working things out right now. And letting you see some of how the alligator sausage is made.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Red Truck

Dog walks are few and, like the dog himself, short these cold winter days. The red truck was parked across Belvoir in front of the long-empty house, clearly not empty any longer. Roscoe wanted little of the great outdoors, but we managed a blocklong trot. So cold. So much snow.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

A Little Lunch

I have misplaced my mojo, but fear not -- it is retrievable, and I will find it. It might be between the layers of this frightening looking sandwich, actually. But wait, no! I ate the sandwich, and it was good. And it was mojo-free.

Actually, there's something to the two drawings of the guy at the bar. I did the one on the right first, very quickly of course. Then I did the other one at home, with benefit of a quick phone-snap. It's notable that both of these were done AFTER the line drawing of the sandwich, which was the first sketch of the day. There's something to be said about warming up. Something mojo-igniting. I should've warmed up.

But anyway, it makes a cool enough page, as well as a nice reminder of my lunch on a snow day in the new year.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Here We Go

Smart people say that, in artistic pursuits, you have to do a lot of crap to get to the good stuff. So it is. At the last minute today I decided to launch a drawing-a-day project. To this inaugural effort I say "Blech." On the upside, tomorrow's is sure to be better.