Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jack of all puppets...

About 20 years ago, I was sifting through the bargain bin of a local bookstore and found a book on making puppets. Something struck a chord as I leafed through the pages so I bought it. Out of the blue, I started making puppets.

I remember loving the process: sculpting the heads, torsos, hands. I spent a few months bumbling my way through their creation. The Count was the only one I finished. The Ogre and the Sullen Clown never made it to the end.

It dawned on me that although I enjoyed making them that I would never use them for anything. I'm not an entertainer -- more of a behind-the-scenes guy. And I didn't know any puppeteers so the endeavor seemed fruitless.

So, as suddenly as I started, I stopped. Everything went in a box and I'd pretty much forgotten about them until my parents brought them over from their house a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Evil shortbread

Most of these shortbread cookies were made with love.
But some were made with evil.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Something I did recently for my second cousin to accompany an article she wrote on why Democrats should love Republicans.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


If I were an astronaut, this would be me.

Illustration Friday's theme-o-the-week: "Hatch".

(Patent idea: "Key in a Comet". Much like the spare key in a fake rock concept, but for astronauts. Genius.)

This one very nearly never came about. As I was inking the chin, the nib of my pen decided to belch out the entire load of ink. I either had to find a creative solution or start again. Being the lazy man that I am, he now has a beard.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Optimist

This for Illustration Friday's "Entangled" challenge. It's an older cartoon cleaned-up and snazzified with Technicolor. Here's the original pen/ink drawing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Swine flu

I have no doubt that getting the swine flu is bad, but I find it hard to believe that we are in the midst of a pandemic any more than any other year with any other flu. There. I said it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

I was poking around the net today, doing a little remembering, and came across quite a collection of Newfoundland Regiment photos. It's nice to see such a vast collection is available.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

More chicken pixels

I've been fooling around with Painter IX today, trying to figure out if it's worth learning to use. I probably should have cracked open the paints and used one of the many blank canvases I've got lying around but I can't resist multiple undos. I enjoyed the process. Being able to backtrack is great but navigating the controls seems to really limit spontaneity. But I'm sure it'll get easier with practice.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Skinny Party

Here's a doodle for Illustration Friday, a site that posts a theme every Friday for doodlers of all skill levels to make something and submit it. This week's theme is "skinny”.

This image is available on a t-shirt and other products at my Cafe Press shop.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Last of the crop

I meant to post this a few weeks ago: the last haul from the garden. We ate much of it during Thanksgiving dinner. The tomatoes have gone through the salsafication process.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fallen Pine

So the month of October has been nothing but cold, wet and windy. I normally love the fall but this month's just been rotten. Last weekend we lost a nice pine tree to the heavy winds.

Now it's stacked neatly near my fire pit (thanks Mark!)... just need a nice a nice evening to give it a proper send-off.

Marker doodle

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bargain bin

Not much happening in the art making arena these past few weeks but I'm not doing too bad with the art reading. Found a couple of great steals at Chapters. Or so I thought.

I just finished Peepshow: The Cartoon Diary of Joe Matt. It's an autobiographical collection of mostly one-page strips. Highly entertaining, but sometimes Joe shares a little too much about his life. It was great read but the book literally fell apart as I was reading it: the cover and it's "contents" are in a loose pile on my night-stand. No wonder it was $3.99. Note to publishers: yes, it's cheaper to print in China but you will get what you pay for.

In The Studio: Visits With Contemporary Cartoonists is just that. The first section is on Robert Crumb so I couldn't resist. He writes a great piece on his soon-to-be-released Genesis which I'm also anxious to pick up. At $14.95 I thought I was getting quite a steal but while poking around Google just now, I realize it's available for free at Google Books. Yeesh.

In retrospect, the bargain bin didn't really pan out.

Finally, The Beats, (mostly) written by Harvey Pekar and (mostly) illustrated by Ed Piskor, was the only full price book I purchased. I haven't read it yet but I'm looking forward to it. Like Joe Matt, Pekar is (usually) a self-deprecating, autobiographical writer. If you haven't seen the movie American Splendor yet, check it out: it's based on his long-running comic book series of the same title. He's also had a few entertaining appearances on Letterman which usually end badly.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Long-range Chicken

Who knew my first showing at a gallery would be of a flying chicken?

Tuesday night I've got a piece in a group show called "Urban Myths and Legends" at the Argyle Fine Art gallery in Halifax. It's in conjunction with the animation component of the Atlantic Film Festival and apparently they're having their after-party at the gallery to coincide with the show opening. There will be music, food, good times and flying chickens.

I won't able to make it but I wish the other 16 contributors and the gallery owner, Adriana Afford, all the best.

Thanks for the opportunity, Adriana!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Somebody somewhere

I've been reading Rick Geary's graphic novel The Lindbergh Child recently and loving his drawing style. So tonight while watching Shawshank Redemption for the fifth or sixth time, I came up with this little portrait of nobody in particular in Geary's style. I'm digging him and David Levine this year.

Of course when it came time to scan, my scanner decided to give up the ghost. Thankfully, our new little Sony Cybershot point-and-shoot saved the day. I must say, I'm impressed with that little camera.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Damn grubs

The cabbage crop was a total failure this year. Although I suppose that depends on who you ask. No humans had a chance to eat it. Just grubs. Someone from work described to me the big bloated grubs she found at the base of what used to be her cabbages. Great image, I thought. Sure enough, mine shared the same fate.

I was going to do this in Illustrator but ran out of time tonight so I thought I'd share the rough sketch.


Jennifer from The Ruban Fringe came across my blog a while back and recently interviewed me for her blog. Thanks for the interest, Jennifer!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The beaten path

Well, summer seems to have ended abruptly and my landscaping adventure has yet to reach the driveway. But, as a former boss of mine would say, its back is broken.

I usually get about 5-6 feet of the path laid most Saturdays. It starts with a trip to the landscaping place. I go out back, ask for a pallet and start poking around the picking pile with a few other amateurs who also don't really know what they're doing.

I carefully select from the flagstone pile. If it's too thin, it won't settle properly. If it's too thick it'll be a job to make it level with others. I get a few that I can barely lift and the rest are medium to small pieces that I use to build around the big ones. I put as many on the pallet as I think my vehicle will hold and flag someone down to weigh it for me. Usually it's the same person: a gruff lady with little patience for landscaping newbies.

The first time I went through this process, she raised the pallet from the scale and shouted at me over the grumbling forklift, "Where's your truck?"

"Umm, it's the Golf down there," I said pointing towards the lot.

"A Golf!" She laughed out loud. I totally made her day. I laughed too.

Usually she deals with guys with giant pick-ups. She raises the full pallet above the back and wiggles the controls until all the rock clambers into an overflowing pile into the back. Not with me though. She drives to the lot, climbs down from the forklift and passes me pieces which I lay gingerly throughout the back of the car. If it's a big load, I put a few on the front seat.

She knows me now. I show up and she just brings me a pallet. It's like walking into your favourite bar and the bartender places your pint in front of you as you're settling into your seat. She's still a bit gruff but when it comes time to load up the car, I see a smile creep across her face.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Quite some time ago, I came across the Skull-A-Day blog but didn't exactly delve into the site. Like most internet meandering, I probably glanced at a few pictures, read a headline or two, judged it and moved on. But last week at Chapters I picked up a copy of "Skulls" by Noah Scalin: a collection of his skull-a-day art endeavours and I remembered the site. It's a great little book but it only scratches the surface of the material at Skull-A-Day, which now includes user submissions as well as Noah's own work. It's a wonderful reminder that creative efforts can come in any form. Even peach pits. And push pins. And leaves. You name it: Noah probably made a skull out of it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Before and after

Ahoy! This is another image from the paper. I was about to upload it a few days ago but I thought the original pen and ink looked a bit bland so I added some colour and texture in Photoshop.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009


Sometimes the drawings for the paper served simply as illustrations and not cartoons. Like this for example.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wonky weather

This one never actually ran in the paper at any point... can't remember why. It was regarding the closure of the weather office in Gander... the only one in the province. After much public outcry, it was reopened. But our weather didn't get any better.

Saltwater Cowboy

Rustlin' icebergs.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cash landing

This one accompanied a story on the money spent here by the American military when they stopover in St. John's.

The Optimist

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More aliens

I presume this went with a story relating to the kerfuffle over the Memorial Dominion store development back in 2005. A bit crudely drawn but it made me laugh.

Newfoundland abduction

How do you illustrate a UFO sighting in Newfoundland? Like this of course! This was my first cartoon for the paper. Truth be told, it was the first cartoon I ever did. When the editor asked me if I could "do that sort of thing" (cartooning, not abducting) I said "You bet!" and forged ahead.

Silly season

Oh, poor blog. So neglected.

I don't feel one bit bad about though. I decided a few months ago that that guilt and stress no longer have any place in my life. And I've got to say, it's been a good couple of months.

So, in the summer months I think blogging will have to go on hiatus while I'm pursuing activities of a more summery nature. On the upside, the garden's coming along nicely. The veggies are growing like crazy, the raspberries are just about ripe and my first landscaping project for the year is underway. Maybe I'll do few posts on that.

Everything's good.

I've got a few little art/doodle projects underway but nothing to share yet.

Back when I was working in newspapers, my buddy always referred to the summer months as the "silly season". It's the time when the news seems harder to dig up because the newsmakers and those connected to the newsmakers all seem to be on vacation. I suppose that's why the traditional media outlets resorted to "Great Summer Reads" sections and the like. I guess this newfangled internet is changing all that too.

Anyway, I thought instead of ignoring the blog in the coming months I'd post some old cartoons from the paper. Oldies but goodies. Well okay, they're not bad. Oldies but not baddies. I'll start with the first couple I ever did. Some of them may need explaining as they originally accompanied stories.

Happy silly season.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Organic beef

The paper was doing a story on an organic beef farm on the island and for whatever reason, we couldn't get a photo so they asked me to do an illustration. This is what I brought them. It got a lot of blanks stares from my colleagues. We ran it anyway. My wife laughed her butt off. It's all good.

Just as an aside, an FYI if you will, an organic beef tree is self-fertilizing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Strike averted

The latest for NLPress.

* * *
Not a lot of creative action these past few weeks. I'm settling into a new job, my rotten house is being deconstructed/reconstructed and our short Newfoundland gardening season has just kicked off so my hands have been full with various things... but not with art implements unfortunately. Soon though.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I'm employed again... yay! I like freelancing but the irregular work makes me twitchy. It's a graphic design/production position so it seems like a good fit.

Since accepting the job offer last week, I managed to get a wicked cold... completely down for the count at the moment.

My other sound excuse for not making anything lately is the garden. 

Mmm... gardening. 

Got some yellow onion, red onion and garlic in the cold beds on the weekend. Also trying corn this year so I've got those set up in greenhouse to see if they'll take. Tromped around the yard scouting out the landscaping projects I dreamed up during the winter. Got my tiller on the go (thanks to my buddy Mark... oil... who knew?). I would have tilled the bejeezus out of the potato plot today but I feel like there's several people standing on my head and chest. The couch was as much as I could manage.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I thought I'd post some bits and bobs from my sketchbook starting with this one.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Imagine... rejected

The annual Arts and Letters Competition for Newfoundland and Labrador is quickly approaching and I found out today that my entry (Imagine) will not be shown this year. :( I was disappointed as it's one of my favorite pieces. Not to mention the most labour-intensive linocut I've ever produced.

The judge(s) provided me with more detailed notes than I normally get so that was nice. They clearly put some thought into it and made some valid points:
  • "Depiction of flowers is good and expressive. A nice contrast with the blockiness of the mosaic."
  •  "A bit symmetrical, makes the image static, not enough energy"
  • "Image needs a greater sense of diversity, a sense of chance"
  • "The image is confined and stifled by grey border"
  • "Good strong shapes around edge"
  • "Good energy pushing from the center outward, but that could be taken further."
There's always next year. In the meantime, it's available in my shop.

Image size: 11.5" x 8.5"
Paper size: 14.25" x 11.5"
Edition: 12
Linocut; White ink on black paper

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stockholm - Gamla Stan (Old Town)


I thought it might be nice to add a few Sweden shots here. Art and design seems to be deeply ingrained in their culture. In Stockholm, it seems like you are never out of eyeshot of something beautiful to look at whether it's a street corner sculpture, an architectural detail or even a shop window that says a lot more that "buy me".  The Swedes seem to have embraced art as a part of their culture throughout the ages.

The above panoramic was actually about eight shots I took while on our boat tour (thank you photoshop). Stockholm is largely made up of islands and many of them, just beyond the city center, are inhabited even though they are too small to justify bridges. It seems, for some Swedes, traveling by boat is a part of everyday life.

I'll post some more shots over the next few days.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Flights of fancy

Just got back last night from Sweden. We had a great trip: Stockholm is a beautiful city filled with many wonderful things to check out. Highlights included the Vasa museum containing a 17th century warship, a 7-course smorgasbord at the Grand Hotel and strolling through the cobblestone streets of Gamla Stan (Old Town) from which Stockholm evolved. The only low points were getting there and getting back. Since we have no direct flights to Europe in Newfoundland, we had to get head west in order to head east. 

We were busy being tourists so I didn't get to do much drawing outside of the flight plan doodle above. It was a nice distraction during the 24 hours it took to get to there. We did manage to take over 300 photos though. I'll probably use some of those for future doodles and paintings.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fabulous Blogs

I've been delinquent this past week... no posts. Had a few freelance gigs on the go and just didn't have the time. I suppose as I get busier, I'll need to make a point of finding the time because I'm really enjoying posting as well as poking around the blogosphere and interacting with other artists, doodlers and the like. But I'm finding it hard to find time for it all. I don't know how Sheila does it.

I'm a bad blogger...   or am I?

Apparently James Parker doesn't think so. He bestowed upon me a "Your Blog is Fabulous" tag. (Thanks, James!) Aside from being a very active blogger, James is an artist living in Costa Rica. His web site has a great collection of his wildlife paintings.

I'm not that familiar with tagging but I'll give it a go. His rules are to name your five favorite addictions, then pass the award to five other bloggers. I'll put the tags at the end of the list.

John's top five favorite addictions (in no particular order):

1) Gardening. Last year my wife and I bought a place outside of town which was originally owned by people from a farming family. They built 10 cold beds, a huge greenhouse and a shed. Though it had been neglected by the previous owner, I felt some strange obligation to pick up where they left off even though I didn't have a clue about gardening. Anyway, long story short: I repaired the beds, planted tons of stuff and spent the rest of my summer weeding and watching it grow. Now I can't wait for the snow to clear and get back at it.

2) Art. I like looking at it, making it, giving it away, selling it, framing it, and finding just the right spots on the wall. Making it includes doodles, painting, pen and ink, linocuts, as well as digital illustration (oh stop rolling your eyes... digital counts!). I picked up a router and a chop saw a few years back so my buddy and I got into framing... good times... must get back into that... the art is piling up.

3) Publication Design/Layout. Weird huh? I bill myself as a graphic designer. I can put together ads, brochures, web sites... pretty well anything I'm asked too make. But I really love making publications. Books, magazines and newspapers: that's what I most enjoy in my work life.

4) My Fire pit. Is it weird to be addicted to a fire pit? Who knows. I sure don't. Nor do I care. I LOVE my fire pit. The week we moved into the new place, my wife went out of town and  a neighboring buddy came over. We had a few beer and the topic of a fire pit came up. We scouted the property for a prime location. It was hypothetical of course but before that case of beer was empty, we scoured the tree line for rocks, dragged our top choices to the selected area, made a big circle, then burned stuff. Instant fire pit. Last spring I upgraded to Fire Pit 2.0 by digging out the space, lining the pit wall with stone and buying some huge pointed stones to make it into a compass design. I've already got plans for the next upgrade.

5) Documentaries. It sounds snobby but I do love a documentary. Don't get me wrong, I watch more TV than I probably should. I have favorite shows (Battlestar, Lost, Heroes) that I follow and watch all genres of movies but I most enjoy a good documentary. A recent fav: A Workingman's Death.  Powerful subject matter and spectacular camera work. Also Garbage Warrior. It seemed a little flakey at first but what a fabulous story it turned out to be.

Okay, coming up with that list was harder than I thought it would be. Here are five blogs I frequent and therefore new owners of the "Your Blog Is Fabulous" award. (Rules for those tagged will be the same: list five favorite addictions, then pass it on to five bloggers)

1) Peter Yesis. Peter has great step-by-step photos of a lot of his ongoing paintings and I really enjoy seeing his process.

2) Jim Bradshaw. Fabulous doodler and artist! You should hire him!

3) John Stewart. Great portrait artist. His digital work is very inspiring.

4) Andy. Great cartoon characters. His "A Dude A Day" project is hilarious.

5) Jonathon Burton. Awesome illustration work.

That's it... I've got to go. I'll have no more posts for the next week cause in 6 hours, I'm off with the wife to SWEDEN of all places. I was going to post on that but I've run out of time. But I have a fully loaded digital cameral, a brand new sketchbook and a fist full of pens and pencils. Hopefully I'll have some interesting material to post when I get back.

I'll leave you with a shot of Fire Pit 2.0 in all it's glory:

Oh alright, an action shot too:


From my sketchbook. I'm thinking about doing a series of robot cartoons in the future. I like the idea of fancy robots being plugged into an outlet with a five-foot cord. Makes them rather useless. And makes me laugh.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Edgar Allan Poe

I was looking for a new subject to do some pen and ink work when I came across the famous Edgar Allan Poe daguerreotype (1848) on Splinter In Your Eye. It's a blog from British Columbia hosted by a photographer and an illustrator... some great stuff. I don't know why Poe was there -- most content is local scenery -- but it was my good fortune.

This cartoonish portrait was inspired by David Levine's work. My awful crow image reminded me that I need to take more care in my artwork instead of barreling through it like a race to the finish. "Poe" was an exercise in patience. I enjoyed working on it and I was pleased with the end result so I think I'll do some more of these.


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