Monday, 31 December 2012

Facing the New Year in Times Square

I don't think I want to go down therrre.....
Is the reluctant ball anxious about joining the revelers in New York? Maybe he/she is apprehensive about the year to come. After all, we weren't always especially nice to 2012  with all that  apocalypse, fiscal cliff, what- if- my- political candidate -or- sports team- doesn't win alarmism.
   On the other hand, I was buoyed by reading a blog by a potter friend of mine who reviewed his own year and spoke of the ways he's grown personally and in his art. Today might be a good day for me to think about what 2012 brought to our home. See ya "next year".

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Three Gifts

  Have you been to those eateries that use butcher paper as a table cloth and provide crayons or markers? I LOVE that! My version of ambiance! A couple of weeks ago, we sat down to a lovingly prepared dinner at home. My loving and supportive wife set out a place mat of blank paper and a cup with some crayons. An invitation to draw continues to delight and humble me at the same time.  I doodled out some birds, sea creatures, land animals and a zoo keeper. You see one of the birds as today's doodle.
   The next two gifts appeared at Christmas in the form of books. I'll probably devote another blog or two to these. The first is a team written book by NPR's "Puzzlemaster" Will Shortz, whose puzzlers have been a staple on Weekend Edition. The other writer, Robert Mankoff, serves as The New Yorker's cartoon editor(he still owes me a rejection letter or maybe a promise to publish:)  The book combines New Yorker cartoons with NPR puzzles and has already brought hours of great fun! 
   The third gift is a book about the art of caricature by Tom Richmond, whose work appears in that highbrow publication, Mad Magazine. The caricatures remind me of many happy hours reading "Mad" and laughing at the drawings. The lessons in anatomy and psychology, not to mention art, stretch the intellect and imagination at the same time. These gifts and a nice coffee=cartoonist heaven. Until Monday, then.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Is Curling Ready for THIS?

No, the rules committee will NEVER go for it
The idea for this toon kept "intruding" while people spoke of a favorite winter sport here in Canada. All that sweeping looks like hard work. Maybe some efficiency expert somewhere would suggest a "labor saving device". Or not. Cheers.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Sign of the Times

 And to think I was just wondering where to get ice this time of year
    Mincing along an icy sidewalk bordered with berms of snow, I saw a sandwich board sign outside a catering business selling- - -  ice. Ice in Manitoba. In December. Who-da thunk it?  I imagine as people ready for their family parties and dinners this season,  ice is important to have on hand. A practical person would have bought some and continued making preparations for feasts and get- togethers. Me? I laughed and went looking for pencil and paper.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxer Face

With you being American, I'd better explain "Boxing Day" 
We moved to Canada about three years ago. Some of the traditions and customs are unfamiliar and we've been introduced to lots of new things...foods like perogies, variants in speaking and spelling....and sports. Boxing Day is a festive event here and from what the news reports suggest a big shopping day.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Holiday Travels or Travails?

"Fly with Santa--see the world", they said. Ya seein' the world there, Cupid?
   The very first scrawled version of this toon had the most life and whimsy to it. It didn't clean up so great, though.
    I fussed with angles, points of view, orientation and styles even. Then I tried different pencils, pens, markers, and brushes. Nothing quite worked for me. Lots of trial and error and in the end I tried to dash off this version and then clean it up just a little.

    I had to laugh at my angst here as I tried to recapture the spontaneous feel of the first drawing---planned spontaneity! That ranks right up there with "If you can fake sincerity, you can make people do what you want". (Spoken by a one-time co-worker who is truly gifted as a humor practitioner).
   When I'm overworking something, I remember the words of an artist friend of mine, "Art has a lot in common with barbering; you gotta know when to quit cutting." So enough already.

Safe travels (and no travails) this season and may you enjoy hefty doses of cheer and hearty laughter.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Facing the Coffeepocalypse

On the day of the solstice and of the predicted-by- alarmists apocalypse day, I ran out of coffee beans. Not good.  Earlier this week I discovered that our town has a local coffee roaster. Good, very good.  In fact, he lives one street over from us. Just plain amazing! Donny Loewen of Silent Creek Coffee invited me by  while he roasted the coffee I bought and he treated me to a tour, a great cup of coffee and a wonderful conversation about all things coffee. Awesome! Lots of pictures to share from my big coffee adventure....
Mr. Loewen graciously allowed me to snap some pictures as he roasted my order of Yirgacheffe (from Ethiopia)
Roast-meister Donny Loewen scooped, weighed and poured my Yirgacheffe beans into his  roaster.We went with light roast.

The beans are whitish or green to begin with. The roasting to "first crack" at about 420 degrees  will give us a light roast. Mr. Loewen is far more precise with time and temperature than I've reported here.

From roasting chamber to cooling pan

The beans are air cooled to maintain the quality of roast...they'll keep roasting even after  coming out of the roasting chamber!

Guests get to write on Mr. Loewen's wall!

This bag of Yirgacheffe light roast was roasted and bagged right there while I waited  It will need to "set" for about 48 hours so it won't taste too 'roasty'

Miss Jasmine and Mr. Jimmy stopped by with their brother Alisher(whose name means strong lion) and their  dad Mike who needed some coffee too. Today is Jimmy's birthday....solstice and "apocalypse" and all. These three know their way around the shop and even helped with packaging and labeling coffee. The photograph was taken and posted with their and their dad's permission. 
   Brewed a cup of some medium roast from Kenya that Donny roasted a couple of days ago. What a satisfying mug of java that was! This made my face very, very happy.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Winter solstice in Winnipeg--at NOON
  Sometimes the art comes just tooo easy. Happy Friday and Happy Solstice. The days start getting longer again after tonight.

Zilla Faces the End

Godzilla's first day on the movie set
   This larger than life cultural icon even crowds parts of my blog page. To see some truly artful and wonderful Godzilla sculptures and drawings check out my friend's pottery at Gary's third pottery blog.
His post today reminded me of a cartoon I had drawn a while back...This drawing is a hasty reconstruction.
    Now for an end of the world story. I heard this from a man who was in his eighties and he remembered the doomsday predictions that coincided with a pending solar eclipse. The gent remembered children in his grade school class weeping and trying to hide. Alec reasoned that if there was enough sunlight for him to play marbles at recess he didn't really care what else the day brought.  I file that story under the category of "resilience".
     I'm enjoying all the jokes and posts about how we dodged the end of the world. My hunch is that present day Mayans must think we're pretty crass for taking a fragment of their tradition, misunderstanding it, then commercializing it, without bothering to learn more about their history and culture. There's still time....
Happy Friday to you.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Those sixties faces

Taking a break from doodling to share a laugh with my charming younger brother.  Lots of stripes going on here and I console myself that at least they are all horizontal. Sometimes I think I'd like to get a hat like the one in the picture....maybe a fedora this time....
   About the time my brother and I posed for this picture, I was in my "rendering" phase. You probably know the one....A marker, a magazine with lots of pictures....What fun to blacken in teeth on glamorous people and to add moustaches to the lady fashion models. About the same time we'd get coloring books, which were fun. Even then I took to doodling in the margins and drawing my own little faces on those coloring book pages.
   Have you seen the news feature about the artist who distorts the facial features of actual live models by applying cellophane tape onto folded skin?  I wonder if parental warnings about "your face will stay like that" apply. Talk about making faces!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas Tree Faces

   These faces are done with polymer clay. A few years ago my supportive and creative wife suggested I try making faces with this sort of clay during a time when my back was "out" and I couldn't make pottery on the wheel. Working out the detail was fun as I learned by trial and error. I started making ornaments for our Christmas tree and we still use some of them.

     I enjoyed making batches of these little guys and was truly flattered when a co-worker hung one of these guys from her review mirror in her car. I used a good bit of blue and orange as a nod to the college football team while we lived in Boise Idaho.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Big face time

Since always I've been aware of 'wasting paper'. Must have gotten in trouble for it once and as it goes, those things stick. That bit of gazel naving, I mean navel gazing is to say that sketching a big face like this one (about 4 inches square) was kind of a break through for me. I kept the guide marks and extra surface texture marks intact. That's what they call all those stray lines, isn't it? The fellers below just make me laugh. A night or two after drawing them I had a dream about having orthodontic work done.

See youz Wennzdeey!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Facing Mondays

I guess it's mutual. Mondays don't like me either.

     Mondays off are pretty nice. The downside of having Monday off is that your favorite coffee shop might have Monday off as well. Thankfully the burr style coffee grinder, fresh coffee beans, and the aero press come to the rescue.
     I'm mindful that today must be a heart breaker of a day for people in Newtown CT, as the funeral services commence. I can only imagine the feeling that much of life stubbornly trudges on while so many are frozen by shock, fear and grief.  Maybe Monday will bring some consolation large or small your way. I hope so.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Mugs are Faces too....sort of

     Mug...visage...countenance....countless words and synonyms for 'face'.  Care to comment and add your own synonym or maybe the word for 'face' in one of the languages you speak?
     These mugs came from a glaze firing done this week and overall I'm happy with how they turned out. I was going for "wonky" for shapes and think I've accomplished that. I will readily concede that these mugs and the photo do not constitute a "doodle". That said, the process is fun and that's why I make pots and why I doodle. The humungous payoff comes when somebody says my little projects bring a smile, or that a bowl or mug is an oft used object in someone's life.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Elf Portraiture

What's this about outsourcing production to China?
   Does Santa sub contract? Is the North Pole a "right to work" locale? It can't be easy to be Santa or an elf in such a complex world.  Hope things are OK in your corner of the world.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Goofy Face

     The professional cartoonist Jamie Smith (Ink and Snow) recently shared the process he uses for getting from a sketch to his final toons. He says he can go from basic lines to a full rendering in about an hour's time once he's got ideas and supplies at the ready. He uses a myriad of techniques and devices including a computer for final rendering--that's all way above my pay grade. Some day I might learn some of these tricks. For now....
     The bulk of what I do is rough sketching. I do it for my health. Sometimes the faces I make surprise even me and they make me laugh. This guy's one example. However....he does have some disturbing similarities to a photograph taken of me in my first years of high school.
    Your assignment: Provide a comment or dialogue line. What tickles this guy so?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

North Pole Faces

He's been like this since kids started Tweeting their Christmas  Wish Lists

The times are a changin'. You'll likely see cartoons elsewhere and on this blog site having some fun with the dust ups that happen when yuletide traditions 'go modern'. Stephen Colbert lampooned all the talk of "updating" Santa to keep up with the times ( "they" took away his pipe and made him lose a few pounds).

   Maybe as a child you wrote to Santa and sent it by mail to Santa's workshop at the North Pole. I wonder if kids write letters like that now. Yes, our traditions change as the times change.  Then again it is said, "Nostalgia just ain't what it used to be."        

   With change comes incongruity. The cartoon editor of the New Yorker magazine, Robert Mankoff, says you'll find funny where incongruity lives. If this maxim holds, there's plenty of funny to go around.  OK Bob, I've cited you in my blog, it's only fair you run some of my cartoons in your magazine.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Game Face

How Stella tricked her husband into sweeping the floor 
   Curling fans might enjoy this one. Someone recently told me that curling is the perfect sport because, "you get to drink beer and throw stones at houses." Hope your day allows for a little work and some play.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Monday's Child Face

Maybe this kid spends a little too much time in church
     The idea for this has been pinging around in the brain pan for a while. Last night, as I munched fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and sipped a mug of coffee, the goodness of such things inspired me to break out the pen and colored pencils.
   The humor here riffs on some church jargon, so sorry if it's a bit narrow in its interest. Intinction is dipping the communion bread into wine and then eating the bread. So this kid takes a bit of experience from his Sunday and applies it to the rest of his week.. As weekend becomes Monday-- that not-so-popular day of the week, may you laugh a time or two and have a cookie.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Aging Faces

 A few years ago a colleague had written a very funny story about the little hairs sprout from one's ears as one ages. Then such a thing happens to me. A bit of humor there....
    I notice the brows have thickened a bit too and yes, barbers offer to trim them for me on occasion. Of course I don't take the offer merely at face value....there's humor in them thar brows!
    Happy Saturday whether you spend part in the barber's chair or making holiday preparations.
First time a barber has used thinning shears---on my eyebrows!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Hat head

Anybody living in colder climates likely knows about hat head. You wear a toque or other kind of hat to stay warm and if you wear it for any length of time....hat head! Having that condition myself nudged my brain and pencil along a slightly divergent path. Sometimes hats are funny. Sometimes hairstyles are funny. Sometimes you see them together.  I think the late Don Martin (of Mad Magazine fame) might have drawn some cartoons along this line as well. 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Is Simplicity Big Business?

So, how much for a copy of "Stuff Won't Make You Happy"?

   I like the idea of living simply. Sometimes we get carried away buying stuff*, so I'm interested in books and magazines that affirm a simpler, saner way of living. I began looking for some helpful things to read and discovered that most of these helpful tomes are FOR SALE. The irony of something like that is both cause for me to do a little soul searching laugh while I break out the pencil and paper!

* There's nothing wrong with buying good stuff like a great cup of coffee for which I'd gladly pay a bit more and some excellent handmade articles like, oh, let's say, pottery?  I can refer you to virtuoso potters in both Upstate New York and PEI :)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Snow Face

We had a quick warm up and the snow was perfect for making faces. The tool kit for this guy included a snow shovel, a garden trowel, a short length of rebar (I love saying "rebar"...makes me feel so industrious) and even a pencil for shaping and contouring. Unlike when drawing, I did have to deal with things like gravity...when you draw, you get away with quite a bit that you can't in a 3-D world.
   The guy makes me laugh, although he does resemble a very crotchety Ned Flanders. The hat? It's one of my regular pre-winter hats.
   My spell checker doesn't like the word rebar. It doesn't know what it's missing.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

What if Churches borrowed from NAASCAR?

On  second thought, maybe product endorsement isn't the fix for our budget problems.

     Many churches look for creative ways to pay the bills. Besides taking a regular collection, putting on bake sales, rummage sales,and harvest suppers  are most common. What if congregations did underwriting announcements like PBS..."support for this mass is brought to you by..."? Or what if churches went the sports route; notably the advertising on race cars or tennis apparel?   Maybe we'd better stick the the bake sales.....

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Saturday Drawing Club? I Wanna Join!

   I brought home a wonderful find from a trip to the bookstore. Even though said bookstore no longer has the comfy chairs where I like to sit and read books (sometimes before buying), the cafe area seems serviceable enough. Oh! We were just getting to "the find". A little book called "The Confident Creative" by Cat Bennett is geared toward all of us and encourages us to draw to tap into creativity in any and all spheres of our lives.
   The writer talks about a Saturday morning drawing club where people get together and draw. The exercises look like fun....drawing while blindfolded, drawing with the non dominant hand, drawing upside down.
Woo hooo...Saturday Morning Drawing Club!
    I haven't found out if this group serves coffee and cookies while they draw. If they do, I'd be SOOOO wanting to commute to the greater Boston area once a week. From western Canada. Seriously!
    On another note....I've been looking at the 'statistics' section of the blog and am so excited. We're getting views from the UK, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and New Zealand. Thanks for checking out the blog. Feel free to leave a comment even if it's "Hello from...".where ever you're from.