Thursday, 31 January 2013

Making Choices

Now What?
   In recent history, a U.S. President likened his being elected to the car-chasing dog that finally "caught one". Now what? While I operate an a different level entirely, I find myself wondering "now what" about my playground here.
    Should I publish daily? Weekly? Somewhere in between? What regular features could I include?  When this lark started, I simply wanted to put my drawing out there and see what might happen. Truth be told, my major goal was to find something that would push me to keep drawing and trying to do something "creative" every day. Another truth: that daily creativity isn't easy and I'm beginning to conclude that the "showing up" is as important as the final product. That's my take. I suspect that if readers decide "meh" and click on to something else, that might be because not every drawing and every post is worthy of the the New Yorker. Uh me.
   The liberating thought about these ponderings is that the blog remains my playground. This whole project is meant to be fun. For me. (I feel guilty for writing that). Granted I hope others enjoy some of what's here too. Maybe others can tell I'm having fun and they find enjoyment in that too.
    Once in a while I get a spammy comment about "increase your web traffic and make lotsa money". I politely delete said spam and Bwaaah haaa haaa all the way to the sketchbook.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Put on a Happy Face

    My wife returned from a trip to the U.S. to be with her mom and family and to attend a funeral. Because I would be at the office when she got to the house I thought maybe 'somebody's' face should welcome her at the door even before the dogs this guy was "elected".  I probably looked much the same when I got home and my bride was unpacking and settling in.
     I feel much more like "myself" now that she's back---that sense of feeling lost and disconnected when someone is away makes me think about people who are separated from loved ones for longer periods (like families of military personnel) or even when the separations  are permanent (as with those who have had a relationship end or are widowed). May those feeling 'lost' and separated find comfort.
    In a completely unrelated note....I get a kick out of reading the "statistics" on this blog that note countries where someone is looking at these faces. Thank you all for reading and I'd like to especially greet the folk in Germany and Ukraine who have been reading. Interestingly, many who live in our town in Canada have ancestors who come from these two countries....we also live in a home owned by the Ukrainian Catholic Church. So we're connected, yes?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Facing up

Huh...a twelfth of the way to a year of broken resolutions
I didn't get around to making any resolutions...officially. We're making travel plans. I want to try a new glaze recipe for pottery this year.I want to start working on techniques for caricatures.  If resolution is about a self improvement list, maybe mine would be nearly encyclopedic? Is there a statute of limitations on these things? If I come up with something "good" can I resolve after January?
To my defense, I did organize a bit in the pottery studio and went through college mementos and culled things a bit...Had I resolved to do that, I could have kept a resolution. Next year I resolve to be more foresighted....I'm already farsighted, so there.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Facing Forward

Couped up is all right by me
   For the first time in two weeks the weather has warmed to above zero. I saw tracks in the lot next to us for the first time in a fortnight, which makes me think some creatures have decided it's nice enough to venture out again. Many of the two leggers around here are getting out more too and a few are driving around just to be outside the house--hence the distinction between "cooped up" and "couped up".
   I notice several 'technical' elements I'd change if I were to re-do this toon but not today.  The day awaits and there's lots I want to do today. Happy Motoring on this Monday!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Facing Left Overs

People put their name on their carry out boxes?
This picture came by e-mail--a meal with our family from quite a while ago. Little did I know my mother-in-law saved the carton. Syrofoam is a very durable medium. I've learned.
Funny that this picture would come about the time I was blogging about "breakfasts out". Happy Saturday!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Facing Duplicity: That's my mote

The preacher's right, just shameful about all these sports practices going on and stores being open on the Sabbath. Confound it! Where is that waitress with our Sunday brunch special?

   Some of you know my professional title is "pastor". This blog is like my play ground so I try not to get preachy. Well, I'm trying to work out some things and the playground seems like an OK place to do that. No collection will be taken; so if you're willing, kindly read on....Otherwise, have a great Friday and see ya tomorrow.
     This week our readings are about Sabbath and how Jesus runs into trouble with the religious people for breaking the rules and--get this-- delivering somebody from their suffering.
   Here's my "deal". I love the idea that everyone needs a break and a way to rebalance and regain harmony with their lives and with those they love. Nice to remember that BEING is what we are and the doing can sometimes wait. But before I get all high and mighty here....
  There's ol' bartster who loves "breakfast out" any day and any time of day. Sundays are great breakfast out days too. But somebody has to get up early, open the restaurant, put on coffee, and start cracking the eggs so I can have my little treat. Then they get stuck with the dishes!  Say nothing about public safety workers, caregivers, and they EVER get a break?
   Maybe here's my point: So many make it possible for some of us to enjoy rest and restoration. I just hope those kind souls get their turn too. If that rest has been long deferred, what gift could I give to make the road easier for them? Tipping the server is probably only a beginning.  Please stand for the hymn.....

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Facing Wind Chill

bartster's winter stargazing abruptly halted by nostrils freezing shut
A clear night in Manitoba is simply awe inspiring. The stars in these northern latitudes shine so bright and seem so close. One can look heavenward and marvel at the expanse of the universe ud-tid dor dostruls preeze shudd add ips toe told oub-tide you gobba geb idda houb (read this phonetically--out loud-- and you'll get the gist).

Tonight it's 27 below, but the winds are down, so the windchill is only about 30 below F. Good news, by the weekend, it's supposed to warm up enough to snow.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Made me laugh

Alpaca mak-a- you smile?
There are lots of ways to make faces. My litmus test: If I laugh while I'm making the face then I'm doing what I want to do. We have some of these alpaca as fridge magnets.
A mess of fish (and fowl) faces
I enjoy making these little fish (fowl discontinued until I can figure out what I want to do with them). They're fun individually and I think really fun when they gather into a school for a group photo. I once made four dozen in a prolonged session---lots of laughs to be had there for sure! Friends and family have received these fish as gifts---our chiropractor has one too (he'd be worried that the backbones on these guys aren't so well aligned).

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Literary Society

 My friend Gary's blog features Time Warp Tuesday and I just love it! I thought I'd play along. My brothers and I were gifted a huge stack of comic books and you can see we loved them I suspect the kid on each end was trying to figure out how to do the drawings. The little one was in the picture for 'cute value', and his oldest brother seems to be enjoying the little one's antics more than those in the comic book.  Check out Gary's Third Pottery Blog to see his Time Warp Tuesday as well as some great pots and commentary

This is also part of Time Warp Tuesday. I drew this one a couple of years ago. I can see areas I change if I were drawing it today. I'd keep the warped humor (not temporally warped) though.


Monday, 21 January 2013

Facing the elements

The Scream--polar edition
Windchill warnings are for about  minus 40 c, which equals about minus 40 F which equals the answer to "cold enough for ya?". Even words freeze in the mind and don't make their way to the dialogue balloon.
PS Sorry to the Munch estate...

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Face the PressI

I admit it--I 'Lanced' Armstrong

Poor news people---they have to appear suitably aghast every day at whatever story we're currently stirred up over.  Truthfully, I wonder what good it does me to follow current events (besides for cartoon ideas). I often wish I could do something to make things better or at least find ways not to make them any worse. Sadly suffering continues, film at eleven.  Sheesh there's a downer from somebody just going for a quick laugh.
I read some about another cyclist named Armstrong; Kristen. She lives in Boise and I remember stories about how much good she's done for the community and for the sport of cycling. On top of that she found ways to keep going after a medical diagnosis ended her triathalon career as she could no longer run at the competitive level she once did. I draw some hope from her story and think I'll tune out the stories about the "other" Armstrong.


Friday, 18 January 2013

Facing Critique

Actually she said the sermon was soporific, not "so terrific"
 In this case, the words came first, followed by the setting. The drawing and characters were last.  I'm tempted to fuss more with this one (like most) but am aware that I'm still learning the balance between 'tweaking' and overworking something to the point of dullness.

Maybe I'm shooting for "planned spontaneity". I'd like the work to have some liveliness to it and still have recognizable forms and a hint of perspective now and then. Enough already---don't want this post to become "so terrific" either.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Ted makes it a policy to always stay in his comfort zone
Ted and I probably have a lot in common. Today I became intrigued by the tension between playing to our strengths and straying outside our comfort zones. Some dear friends lent me a their copy of a book titled Flow written by Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi. He describes flow as doing what you enjoy while being challenged yet not overwhelmed. It sort of makes sense, right?
   Today I wondered what would happen if I did ONLY things I was completely comfortable doing. Would I wind up like Ted....asleep all day? On the other hand, what happens when we stretch beyond our "comfort zones" and continually feel as if we're making no headway?
   I think it might be interesting for me to think about those activities I do for work or leisure that are well within my comfort zone and those way outside. Perhaps repeated and disciplined practice expands the zone? 
    The drawing today has its influences in a wonderful book The Cartoonist's Work Book by Robin Hall. He offers us both a very comfortable starting place and some challenge as well.  So...enough gazel naving and name dropping for one day?
Sorry about the odd highlighting....the cut and paste feature got me in trouble and I don't know how to undo the highlighted part. It's out of my comfort zone I guess.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

My other cousin, fin-ny

I think I'll wait until the water's less sharky
   Timing matters, eh? As I was posting this picture it occurred to me how much the guy's nose and the shark's dorsal fin resemble each other. Hmmmm....Maybe I posted this one too soon?
   For those of us who are a bit risk averse, it's nice to know that sometimes waiting or "holding off" pays dividends and offsets the times someone has told us "you snooze, you lose".

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Bovine faces the cliche

Until when? I'm already home!
   A former colleague studies the cliches we lean on when we're not entirely sure what to say. It's also true that like everything else, "you gotta start somewhere" and that even hackneyed speech began with somebody's fresh insight.
     As I read about how cartoonists work, they speak of beginning with the cliche or even a stock scene (like the castaway on a desert island) and then tweaking and twisting for something fresh. Would that be like "upcycling"? Maybe you'd like to comment on how you add a new twist to a familiar theme.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Actions at face value

Well, I find all this speculation about our goings on very tiresome....I'm just sayin'
What do chickens talk about when they're crossing the road? Do they sit up nights pondering the sequence of things; egg-chicken, chicken-egg.
The drawing came before the concept here to be sure and began with one bird---I added the one offering the commentary a few minutes later. I was sketching away with no particular agenda in mind---just letting the pen and paper do their thing.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Facing Change

The Post Graduate
If you've seen the movie "The Graduate" my arcane reference might make sense. Or not. I was thinking about how technological change affects how we make a living. For starters the way we do our jobs certainly has changed. More striking to me is the fact that some jobs today simply didn't exist "in my day" as a young university student. Conversely, jobs that were fairly promising back then are becoming obsolete today. One example: mass media. Are radio announcers in demand anymore with the advent of internet and downloading music? I don't see video stores much anymore...So as I wondered what the "big thing" is for the current generation, I remembered the line from a long ago movie....

Friday, 11 January 2013

Facing the Elements

School is cancelled in our part of the province. Blizzard's coming, they say. For openers, temps were just above freezing yesterday and we had some drizzle overnight and the temps now are dropping to about zero (F). So it's probably too icy to drive places unless.......

Snow day please please pleaaaaaase let it be a snow day
While I was reading about the cancellations and checking out the dire predictions (oh, I believe they'll come about) I hear whining engines in the field by our house. Even before the school bell would ring on a non-snow day, kids are out running their sleds. Yep, it's easier to get up and out into the world when there's the prospect of having fun.
I'll be walking to a meeting in a bit and have my boots and grippy chains, so I should be all right. I'll have to invent some fun along the way......

Thursday, 10 January 2013


Yesterday I was pondering the idea of looking with the eye and with the imagination. As one who walks around town (we're known here as "those people who walk everywhere") I see things most people might not because they're driving past. So I'm big on gawking, or if I phrase this avocation in a more lofty fashion, I "observe". As I observe, I infer, judge, and conclude. Sometimes insight follows. Sometimes I just get things "all cattywampus". Imagine the adventure of sensing things differently--like when art teachers suggest drawing (or making pots) with the eyes closed.
Believe it or not, I drew this doodle with my eyes shut. I was surprised when I opened them and peeped at what my hand did. I had a basic idea and feeling and was enjoying some of my morning coffee and voila! As read bits from Cat Bennett's book The Confident Creative, I like to try some of the exercises. I'm finding that this book is satisfying to read slowly and then to go back and re-read and to try the ideas. Some of her coaching revolves around taking risks, doing what' true versus what's popular or will gain approval. I love what she says about art "it's about going where you haven't been before."
   Some potters recommend throwing (forming) pots with your eyes closed as a way of learning and 'becoming unstuck'. I finally got the courage to try it and have found a stillness that comes with the experience; a sense of joy even. I have to try this practice more to tell whether or not the work's essence or quality changes. Sometimes what the eye sees is fodder for critical (not the helpful and clarifying kind) thinking. This fish was made with eyes wide open if not as googly as the fish itself:)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Making statements

Some call my style 'surrealism'-Actually it's astigmatism
This cartoon came while I was walking one day and thinking about learning to draw what we see. Then I wondered, what if we don't see well? The sincere response for me would be that while eyes might not always see clearly, the imagination can.

My glib response....well that's pictured in today's post. I'll also toss in a bit about artistic statements. I love to read them. Some are simple. Others very protracted and profound. Once in a while a statement seems more about ego and less about work. My provisional statement....I draw this way because I have yet to learn to draw that way.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Tourist Face

Canadians will recognize Cow's Creamery--best ice cream around. Cows is located in PEI and we took the tour, had the sample and checked out their funny t-shirt designs which include parodies and puns. I haven't seen the most recent ones, but many are riffs on TV shows, movies, or pop stars. The ice cream itself is truly wonderful and does put a smile on the face.
You're thinking I'm a company spokesperson now? Nah...just saw this guy mugging for the camera and thought it was funny and remembered how much fun we had visiting "the Gentle Island".

Monday, 7 January 2013

Why the long face?

   Today's challenge: You know those paper strips restaurants use to wrap cutlery? Interesting medium but the bit of gloss on the back does disturb good ink flow.
   The fun was doing designs that followed the shape of the paper. The kid in the phone booth was my first effort and the stretch doggie followed. My insightful wife looked up from her knitting and suggested tying the two panels together with the leash. BTW the pancakes were delicious and the coffee is ground on site and pretty fresh. Happy Monday!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Sunshine on the face does a body good.

I set my alarm for spring
It's becoming a bit easier to get up in the morning these days. The days are beginning to lengthen since the winter solstice and daybreak here is at about 8 a.m. Lately I've joked that it seems odd to eat lunch at sunrise.

 I am a self-professed sun junkie and I know that mood and energy benefit when I can get some rays. Even on a colder day, a fifteen minute walk helps; provided the sun's shining. Like now.... I think I'm going for a walk so I can get my 'sun fix'. Happy Saturday.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Facing Friday

   Someone once asked me whether I cartoon "from the head or from the heart". I love that question, although I haven't an answer. Today's toon came from a sketch last night. I started with the little guy with the pronounced proboscis. This morning I looked at him again and this image came to mind. My journey reading Cat Bennett's wonderful book The Confident Creative has me thinking about finding my own style and being 'intentional' about what I do. Today was more like "just go with it and try not to get to precious about where all the lines go". I submit this one as "provisional" and reserve the right to revise....I already have some ideas, but the day is getting on! Happy Friday, all.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Facing Bleak Mid Winter

Hmmm if it's mid-winter here, we should see spring by April?  This toon is from the archives. I remembered it when reading a friend's blog and Facebook postings about the huge snowfall and now the big winds they're getting. I'm working on some doodles that aren't blog ready. That might be a sign I'm trying too hard.
Those expectations can be trouble! Hope today's oldie brings a smile anyhow.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Facing the Work Week? this pup reacting to a cold floor? Maybe this dog likes his kibble as much as our dogs do. One of our dogs leaps up and down waiting for her breakfast (and she's fourteen, mind you). The other day her energetic leaping landed her into the water dish. Yes, dogs are capable of feeling embarrassment.
  As I have shoveled the driveway for only the first time today (many more to come, I think) and head out for the day job, I would like to experience the verve and energy of today's doodle.
   The nice thing about doodling and goofing off like this is the chance to try a variety of styles and techniques. Imagine the sheer entertainment value of drawing Queen Elizabeth's "outtakes" while posing for  Canada's twenty dollar bill. I don't think I'll be able to put it into a format that would make sense, but drawing the different poses (like the spoon on the nose trick) was mesmerizing. laughter producing and felt like what I would guess it feels like to do improvisational comedy.
   Well, the coffee's nearly drunk and the time is flying by! Happy 2013 and happy day!