Monday, August 31, 2009

Careful where you step.

Sometimes you end up right in the thick of it.

I had a good time with this one, would like some more detail, but time does grow short.

Drawing larger scenes can be tough. I, for one, am quite impatient with my skills. I start to draw and within minutes I want to be finished. It's a problem I've been working on for a long time (no pun intended if there was one). It's called patience.

Patience can be tough in any situation. With credit to Tom Petty, "the waiting is the hardest part." of almost anything. You order pizza. Is it here yet? You put a cake in the oven. Is it done yet? You load up the family truckster for a two week vacation. Are we there yet? It's hard.

Patience is something I do not have a lot of in certain situations. I believe it is, as they say, a virtue. I have met people with what I believe is infinite patience and I am always impressed. Like bus drivers. I see Chicago Transit Authority bus drivers everyday being cutoff, having people jerk to a stop in front of them, turning in front of them, people not knowing how to pay for a fare, overcrowding, and they just seem to take it all in stride. Granted at times one or two will pop off, but it is rare and I've been riding these buses for years. Infinite patience. It's a beautiful thing to see.

On the flip side there are people who work so fast you don't need any patience at all. I once worked with an art director who did illustration work on the side. He was so fast at drawing we used to joke that as you told him your ideas for a storyboard he would finish the frames just as you finished your sentences. It was a pleasure to watch him work.

I'm not really sure where I'm headed with this one, but I did want to get the word patience out into the atmosphere. I'm hoping it will help me. I have a painting in the next room on a canvas that needs to be finished. I'm about halfway there, but have a lot left to do so I will need speed and patience in a big tall glass for the next couple of weeks.

That said I leave you with this thought:
"The two most powerful warriors are patience and time."-Leo Tolstoy

Something I try to remember every day.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gone fishin'

Once more our barbarian has gone fishing and all seafood diet is good for you.

It's Sunday, so I am going to rest and say, "Until the 'morrow fine readers."


Saturday, August 29, 2009

O' Mercutio

Sometimes it is not the look that is barbarous, but the act.

I was looking through (okay spotted on the shelf) a book on Shakespeare today and this image came to mind. Not that I spend a lot of time reading Shakespeare. I've seen a lot of his plays and I am not a huge fan.

I was messing around with some washes and just sort of jotted down this sketch, I hope you like. It's not technically a bunch of barbarians, but the act was barbarous enough. Again, my house my bendable rules.

When you think about it even in civilized society we have enough barbarism to go around. This scene was based on the streetfight Mercutio and Tybalt have in Romeo and Juliet. Tybalt slays Mercutio because he is friends with Montagues. Not that Mercutio doesn't provoke the incident. It still comes down to two idiots trying to kill each other in the street.

Romeo and Juliet always struck me oddly, not because of the love story, but of the feud between the two families. I can hold a grudge if I have to, but I don't hold many. One I know of, but even it has softened with time. I can't recall the last time I was upset enough with anyone (drivers cutting me off and Glenn Beck being exempt from this statement) that I really hated someone enough to want to kill or wish ill upon them.

You hear about it and read about it in the paper. Two friends get mad at each other over something and one shoots, stabs, insert your violent act here, the other. Why? Especially when you're supposed to be friends? Even enemies. I know I have been upset with people, but would you ever go all the way home, get a gun, come back and shoot someone in the face for, what, pissing you off? Insulting your manhood? Making fun of your fashion choices?

The human capacity for violence stuns me at times.

I was talking to a friend the other night about how to help Africa in some small way (or big way we were kind of drunk) and I said, "I don't want to help anyone else in the world until all sides swear not to kill each other or chop off any more of anybody's anythings off." My friend thought I was being crude, but I gotta tell you, I honestly feel that until people resolve to not kill or maim each other I have a problem getting in the middle.

I want peace in the world. Heck, I want peace in my neighborhood, but I think that has to start with a resolution to not be violent.

And please don't mistake me for some kind of pacifist. If someone punches me in the face (and I'm still standing, of course) I will go right at them with all I've got, but I'm not going to start it.

And this rant is not about fighting. It's about people feeling that they can go around hurting others with no consequence. Not just Africa or the Middle East. Here in Chicago more children are killed (usually by other children) for reasons as lame as, "'He was disrepecting me so I opened fire." That is usually followed by something about not meaning to hurt or kill the innocent children that had nothing to do with the problem in the first place.

I know people will want to respond with gun laws and more, but I'm not sure how much that is the answer. I do want more control (no Tim, not complete control. Just sensible control. There is no sensible reason to own an AK-47 in the city of Chicago when a more effective way to get killed during a home invasion is to have the criminal take away your 12 gauge shotgun and blow you away.) over guns, but I wonder if it's something deep inside the human psyche that needs to be cured.

Societal or psychological? I'm not sure, I just draw the images.

Try not kill anyone tonight and I'll see you tomorrow.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Heads will roll

It's Friday! Yea, time to cut off some heads.

I was sketching all morning trying to create a comfortable looking executioner. One must be happy in ones job mustn't one?

Okay, okay, I'm not into cutting off people's heads. Maybe just torturing some insurance and healthcare people for their outrageous costs, but that's another story. Today we should talk about art and design or something important like that.

Let's start with art. I went to the new Modern Art Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago recently and the art was fantastic. and the view of Millenium Park is great. If you come to Chicago you should definitely go. They did a nice job of bringing the outdoors into the space, and the art collection itself was extensive and impressive. I will say I wasn't that happy with the layout of the floors in and of themselves. Sure there's a bunch of rooms, but in my opinion there was a disconnected feeling to the exhibits within the building.

Funny story, we left the museum with our friends Tim and David and went for a drink. As we discussed the exhibit my wife, Beth, and Tim agreed that the most disturbing piece was a portrait by Lucian Freud. It's a fully nude man laying on a bed with a dog. They agreed that male genitalia is not pretty, especially when painted by Freud. He has a very...rough style. The funny part is I had to confess it was my favorite piece.

Beauty is in the eye I suppose.

People say art is subjective and I do agree, but I'll go one step further and add that isn't life itself subjective? Doesn't everyone have their own view that doesn't necessarily match up with anyone else on the planet?

My wife and I were discussing that this morning in regards to a dinner get together we're having at our house tonight. I'm not going to call it a dinner party because it's very casual. It's more like a dinner happening, with five good friends. But I digress...

(Please plant tongue firmly in cheek before continuing. Thank you, the Management.)

We were discussing the fact that I do everything incorrectly because she wouldn't do it that way. I calmly explained that it was she that was in incorrect because I would never do whatever it is her way. She's right-handed, I'm left-handed, she calls first, I just go places, she uses the library, I watch way too much TV. You get my point. We're all different no matter how much we think we think the same we probably don't. We think different. We act different. And that's okay.

It's actually kind of fun. When Beth and I first moved in together we each had over 200 CD's (I can still say CD's right? If you feel you must please replace CD with MP3) in our respective collections. 7, that's right 7 crossed over. It's all part of being an individual. As I say it's all subjective.

So the next time you think everyone thinks the way you think ask the closest person to you what they think. You might be surprised, and you should be happy about that, by the answer.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Eek, while I was making a blueberry compote for tomorrow night's dessert I couldn't think of one thing to blog about. (Those of you that actually know me will not find the previous sentence odd. Those of you who have never been to my house for dinner will have to bear with me and hope for an invitation at some point in the future.)

It reminded me of the time I saw a mouse in my apartment and actually yelled, "Eek" as I hopped onto the coffee table. Bad days do happen. Thank Ikea and wood glue that table was strong enough.

But today is not a bad day, my friends. I am halfway through the Barbarians Project and have people coming over for dinner tomorrow night. Life is good and I aim to keep it that way, at least for the weekend.

I got to thinking earlier, as I am wont to do, and decided that arguing with people who don't have all their facts is a waste of time. Of course, I never like to have all my facts so finding someone to argue with could prove harder than my original estimation. I will say that I believe you still should be allowed to goad others into arguing for the spectacle of it. At least that's what I think FaceBook is for, isn't it?

How was your day? Me? Mine was okay. A little rainy, had a lot to do, but all in all I came out the other end feeling good.

Back to the compote. The wife found a great recipe for an ice cream cookie type of thing and we're trying it out on friends tomorrow. I have a few other things to make before tomorrow evening, but wanted to discuss baked beans, one of our other dishes. (Remember the segues in this blog can be hard to follow. Sit back and relax.)

We found an old recipe for baked beans and decided it would be fun to make. We hadn't made it in years and neither one of us could suss out the actual directions from what we wrote down years ago.

First pass, not so good. Too soggy and not as flavorful as one might have hoped. So we went at it again, drained off some of the liquid, added more spices and molasses (not sure how to clarify molasses, it could be a spice, but what do I know) baked the sucker for another hour and you know what? It's pretty good. I might still add more mustard, but that could be done at the table.

What I'm trying to say here is that whatever it is you're cooking, be it actually food or maybe a new business scheme or even a romantic evening with your partner, if you think it's going badly, take a step back, refocus and get back in there. You'd be surprised at what you can do after you think you've tried everything.

It's a theory I may refer to as the "Twice baked potato theory", or if I was from further south maybe the "Refried bean Theory". Either way, what I;'m trying to say is they both taste good.

Now it's time to focus on getting a beer and trying to figure out 50 more figure drawings. Does the work ever cease?


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Get out of my pond

Ouch. What a setback. Just as your running through the water some numbnut decides it's time for archery practice.

Well, what a day. 49 images done and only 51 left to go. Almost over the hump.

Today, or rather last night Ted Kennedy died. Sad. Not that I was a huge fan or knew him or anything, but he was a pretty famous and at times infamous person. He was and is a part of history.

Amazing that, being a part of history. Most of us will go about our quiet lives only known to very few people. We will have no real, lasting impact on the planet or be written about in history books. That's gotta be a kick. To actually know that people will write about or study your life in some history class in the future. To be someone like Ted Kennedy or Barrack Obama, man, that would be pretty cool.

Although, I would not want them to mention anything that I did before today. It could be embarrassing. Of course, tomorrow I could do something stupid and I wouldn't want that discussed. Maybe staying out of the history books is more my style. Let my idiocies rest where they are in the past.

Then again there's FaceBook. Dammit!

Why is it that everyone wants to remember the dumb things you did as a drunken twenty year old. No one ever posts a picture of you at twenty three helping some woman with her groceries or at twenty eight leading a blind man across the street. It's always a picture of you half naked with a beer looking like an @$$ with a caption like, "Remember this? Wow, you were funny!"

No, I wasn't. I was drunk and in a stupid bid to impress whatever girls happened to be around that was the best I came up with. You know, it's remembering times like that that make me happy not to be someone trying to make history.

Can you imagine someone writing a dissertation on how you acting like and @$$ may have affected world peace? Hunger? Reality TV? And then some college professor calling you up and saying, "Hey, we know you helped solve all the world's problems, but we have footage of you in a push up bra singing torch songs and vomiting. Would you care to come to Yale and explain how that helped you shape the future?" Yikes!

I don't need that kind of pressure. No, I'll write my little bits, create my little ads and hopefully pass into anonymity with 99.9% of the rest of the world content in the fact that I made a few people laugh and my family loved me (okay, liked me or at least I think they did, or do).

Ugh, let's just forget today too.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


"Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change."

I have been reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and came across that little gem. What a cool, and oh so true, line.

People have trouble adjusting to great change. I know I do. I'm not one to be too flustered if there are no eggs in the refrigerator on Sunday morning, but when great change happens, such as losing one's job or the ending of a relationship, I know I have a little trouble righting my boat. It's natural. It can also be a great impetus to change even further. To push your life in a completely different direction.

A friend's mother used to say, "Everything happens for the best." As your wedding is being rained on, you lose your job or someone close to you passes away unexpectedly you may not believe this, but I have come to find that it's pretty true. I know I've lost jobs and always gotten better ones. It rained on my wedding day and I'm still married (13 1/2 years). I've had friends pass, and it forced me to reevaluate what I'm doing and how I affect those around me, which I choose to see as a good result.

Moving on, if you get a chance and want to see some very sweet looking pen and ink drawings pick up a copy of Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein. He added some sweet illustrations to accompany Mary Shelley's text. It's beautiful.

Today I was drawing and thinking about a new promotional piece for myself. I've already got the blog and the website, but the self-promotion never ends when you're a freelancer. I've already done some drawn pieces and I'm thinking about photography for this next piece. I just need to come up with something brilliant. I hope tomorrow goes well.

Didn't watch the news tonight so I am not real pissed off. It feels good to take a night off from the madness that is cable. Instead I watched a version of "Inherit the Wind" with Kirk Douglas and Jason Robards. Not as good as the one with Spencer Tracy, but it was nice.

I've got to get to the library, soon. The only problem is there is a police sting set up in front of my local library to stop motorists from running over pedestrians. It takes a lot of the fun out of walking over there. I suppose I could drive, but that would be even less fun without the possibility of scaring someone.


Okay, today is a real fractured mind sort of day. I have been having trouble keeping my thoughts in check. It gets crazy. One minute I'm talking to the dog, the next I've got the theme song from Barney Miller playing in my head and I am having a heck of a time coming up with a point for today's blog.

(Patiently waiting for thoughts to align.)

(Still waiting.)

Water chestnuts! Love 'em.

(Back to waiting.)


Great change happens. Enjoy it. Roll with it and see where the river takes you, just try not to drown along the way. That seems like a pretty good point.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Fear and loathing

Why is it that I still think lizards are slimy when I know in my heart and brain they are not? It's just something that seems to be ingrained into me. I fear insects biting me, snakes and lizards attacking me. I fear sharks and never swim in the ocean. It seems insane, but there it is.

Fear resides in all of us. It's there for a reason. It's there to tell us not to walk down that dark alley, not to try to swim across a raging river. It's there to help us in many situations, but it is not the main tool you should be using. It is just one of many in your toolbox.

The brain is the toolbox the human animal and fear is a tool that can be used to hurt or help. I'm afraid, these days that fear is being used to hurt.

I have seen more YouTube posts, rants and raves of people yelling the stupidest things because they are allowing fear to control their actions not their brain. They are accusing instead of asking. They are yelling instead of discussing. On both sides. It's as if idiots have taken over the airwaves and now my country is filled with these jerks. Facebook, Youtube, cable news all stoking a fight that should be a discussion, forcing people to choose sides instead of bringing them together to solve a problem.

But that's America for you. All juiced up and raring to go at someone instead of coming together and working with each other to build something. It's what happens when we're bored. I don't think we should be bored. We've got two huge fights going on a half a world away. We're trying to rebound from the greatest financial crisis in the last fifty years and our healthcare system blows. Don't you think we should be sharing ideas and trying to move forward? Shouldn't we be talking instead of yelling?

Fear. Think about it and before you start any discussion with anybody. Are you afraid of them? If not then why are you yelling? To make them afraid of you? Should they be? Remember people have ears. They can hear you just fine if you keep your voice down. Remember that the person you're arguing with isn't out to kill you or take away anything. They're probably trying to help, but just not doing it the way you would do it. Is that a reason for yelling? For hating? For vitriol and spite? I don't think so. I think it's about working with people instead of against them.

In other news, tangentially related to that rant is my friend Brian Ahearn's blog ( Today's post was about persuasion vs. manipulation. I think he makes some great points about ethics and using persuasion and not manipulation today, but his earlier posts and ones that are coming up about influencing those around you are informative and entertaining you should take a read.

Personally, I think people in this country prefer manipulation. I think that persuasion is a forgotten art too subtle for the likes of this 21st century world. That people would rather manipulate than persuade. Persuasion takes too long.

Actually making a point and getting people on your side doesn't matter if you can just manipulate them into it (or better yet yell at them until they submit). You should remember though that persuasion lasts longer. Once someone finds out you've manipulated them, and they will figure it out, you're back to square one at the very least.

Persuade someone to see your point and they'll be on your side because they want to be there, not because you tricked them. It will make your relationship stronger and you will both be stronger for it. But that's just my opinion you crazy folks can do what you want.

But remember if you want to talk to me, my ears work just fine and I am not afraid of you. Snakes and sharks hell yes, but you, no.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

I talked a couple of weeks ago about going to the zoo just to draw animals. Let me say they never pose the way you need them to. Tonight I just drew the cat from memory. Not sure if he looks too much like a kitty, but I had fun.

Animals are tough. Unlike models they never stand in place. I have so many sketches of parts of animals that it looks like I'm drawing a veterinarian guide book. I usually supplement with photos, but there is something about being in front of an animal that makes it more exciting. When you see how large a tiger paws are or how a rhino actually moves it can take your breath away.

We have a zoo down the street from our house called the Lincoln Park Zoo. It's small and not all that impressive, but it has animals, hence the "zoo" title. They also have a neat little part just outside where you can walk around this secluded lagoon. Very Frank Lloyd Wright in it's prairie design and very peaceful. A good place to reflect upon the problems of the world I suppose. I walked through real quick, no time to stop and smell the prairie grass, I guess.

Have to actually do some real oil painting this week. I have a small show in October and if I don't finish at least one painting I'm afraid it will look bad. I have a "flying David's" on the canvas that stands about eight feet high and two feet wide. It's a fun piece of naked men falling and flying all over the place. I'll post a pic of it here when I'm finished. They're not necessarily barbarians, as a matter of fact I think of them as happy little gentlemen just floating about, but I think they'll fit in.

Enough rambling. Go to bed.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lazy Saturday. It's about 60° outside. In August. How cool is that, no pun intended. I love me some Summer, but I like Spring and Fall better. Sleeping with the windows open and the covers all up around my ears. Yum.

Spent the morning cooking with my wife (we have a couple of friends coming over tonight) and the afternoon drawing pictures. Can't think of a better day unless, of course, I was doing it with a beer, but that will come later.

Anywho, enjoy the sketch, I have to recharge my batteries and come up with more thoughtful posts to fill your time.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Wrestling. Day 44. The week is over and it's time to think about having some fun.

So tonight it's just a sketch and a thought:

Read this photographer's journal post think happy thoughts and call your parent(s).


Thursday, August 20, 2009

I drew a few images today. All of wrestling. All I could think of was the state of the country right now as people spit venom at each other and wrestle vehemently over the issues of the day. I don't know about you, but it seems like much ado about some important things, but mostly just arguing for arguments sake.

Whatever. I draw my pictures, look for work and regale you with stories and opinions you probably don't care about, but you have nothing better to do and it makes me happy that you show up. Thank you for your support.

Now, what shall we discuss? Naked men wrestling? Seems tawdry. Politics? Yawn. How about connecting with those around you, but not in the, "Ha, I've got you in a vice-like grip of death.", but in a, "We don't talk enough, maybe we should have a cocktail?" sort of way.

I met some old friends last night at a local pub. One of them had come into town from San Francisco for a few days and he pulled together a few people I haven't seen in long time. It was great fun. Catching up, laughing about old times and generally enjoying each others company.

It's something I think we don't do enough. Not drinking, I do plenty of that for all of us, but getting together with people we appreciate. Your life gets busy and you really only have two evenings in each week to get together with anybody. Life can be hectic.

Well, I'm going to try and change that a little bit in my life. I am going to try and get together with people I haven't seen in a long time at least once per month for the next year and see how it goes. How hard could it be? Send out an email, place a phone call, go have a few drinks, lunch or have people over for dinner. I gotta eat and drink anyway, might as well have some kind of structure.

Ooh, this sounds very bold right now as I am not much of a planner, but you gotta start sometime I suppose. I'll keep you posted on whether or not I'm actually getting it done. Who knows, some of you might have made the list.

Wow, listening to John Williams on the ITunes, brings back memories of Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Good times.

Memory is a funny thing, I can remember whole scenes out of movies I haven't seen in ages, but my mother's phone number eludes me. I guess I just let my phone remember the important things and I keep all the goofy stuff in my head.

As a matter of fact, reading the preview of this post, and a few of the previous ones it must be hard to keep up with the ramblings of the insane. Try living in this head for a week, it's like a rafting trip through idiottown. All a jumble, lots of screaming and whole bunch of fun.

Well, I'm off to a networking event with a bunch of "green" companies. Better keep mum about my love of chlorofluorocarbons.

In the immortal words of Bette Davis, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Careful where you sleep kitty!

More tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sure it's not a fighting barbarian picture, but I'm sure that when the little guy hits his mark that's what she'll call him.

This piece is a little more finished than some of my recent pieces. It's called "Surprise!" I did it a few months ago, and while it's not necessarily a "barbarian" piece, I like it and wanted to put it up. My blog my rules as my father might say.

So what do you make of this little guy? He was actually inspired by some pieces I like to call the "Flying Davids" project. I was sketching during breaks in a figure class and began penciling little naked men "flying" all about. I brought it home and my wife loved them so I made some more. I actually created an oil painting that hangs in our kitchen of these little buggers. Someday I'll post a picture of that here.

It's funny how you find yourself just "messing around" and suddenly something turns out pretty special. I think that that is how some of the greatest inventions were probably thought up. Edison was sitting by a candle and thought, "Hey, if I could switch this on and off how cool would that be?". Mr Sham-Wow was wiping down his bass boat and thought, "Hey, if I had a towel that could soak up 50 gallons of water, how cool would that be?" You get the point.

I often wonder how many great ideas never went anywhere because people thought it wasn't really an idea.

As a matter of fact, I often wonder. Some would call this ADD, and if I was 7 years old I'm sure I'd be on Adderall or Ritalin or something. In the old days we were called daydreamers. The kids who couldn't really focus on what we were supposed to do because we were wrapped up in a world of what might be cool to do. I have trouble getting out of that world sometimes, but enough daydreaming let's get on to a real topic.

Like healthcare. No, wait, let's go back to dreamland, the people are nicer.

As you might have already gleaned from some of my earlier posts, I love to doodle. I find myself in a meeting and suddenly my hand begins to race around the page scratching out weird images and hash marks. I find that it actually helps me concentrate on what people are saying. Probably because the drawing is second nature and the focus that it brings allow my ears to open up and hear what people are saying.

I wish more people could do this, not doodle, but listen and actually hear what others are saying. There are times when I've been in a meeting and when I, or someone else speaks you see the rest of the room look up, but you know they're not really listening. They have that look on their face that my dog gets when I whistle. They kind of tilt their head and smile and you know that they're thinking,"I have to get my back waxed" or some other such nonsense.

I know I have trouble hearing people. I've been trying to work on this, but my progress, I'll admit, is slow. It takes a lot of practice to really hear what others are saying. Then to actually give a crap adds a whole other dimension, but you have to start somewhere.

Which brings me to tonight's point (okay, there's no real point, the title of this blog is "Bits and pieces of a fractured mind" so play along) I'm working on a pro bono project. It's a recipe book for a fine charity that helps dogs and cats find new homes. I would normally try to trade my time for creative control of a project, but this time I just caved early and said I'll do whatever, just send me your files.

Today, I laughed out loud when one of the recipes came across my computer and is for, get this, 9 gallons of Whipped Cream Horseradish Sauce! It actually says, "432 portions". This, I suppose, is so a layman can do the math and reduce it for a dinner party. But just in case you're having 432 of your best friends over for dinner you'll know what to serve with the prime rib.

As I typed this recipe I decided that my job really is no longer about trying to create good work. My job is about getting work done. There are times when you just have to realize that most people don't want good work, they just want to be done, so you might as well go along and not get your knickers all bunched up. Just enjoy the laughter and go on with your life.

Now, if you'll excuse me I've got to track down 6 and half pounds of horseradish root and 432 dinner guests.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Quick sketches

Just sitting around tonight whipping up some quick sketches for a new piece. Loving the idea of a crocodile. Looked through some old Frazetta and Suydam stuff and got inspired, but a little too late at night.

That's the thing about inspiration. You never know when it will strike, but it is always exciting when it does. You'll probably be seeing a lot of animals with our barbarians over the next few days.

And remember, if you have an image you want me to post right alongside my own feel free to email it in. I love a good collaboration.


Sunday, August 16, 2009


And so the battle begins. One force throwing itself upon the ramparts of another. Ah, I smell the hot oil boiling now.

That is almost always how I feel as I begin a new project. You're hurling yourself, once more, into the abyss. It's exciting, the challenge rushing up towards you, but when they pour that first vat of hot oil down onto you and your brethren, ugh, time to leave.

The key, and what sets people apart is the will to stand there, run over the bodies of the wounded and dead and rush once more into the breach. Or so I'm told.

I used to work with an art director who had a fantastic approach to this. He was a former marine who fought in the Korean war. He was a nice guy and a good art director, but what amazed me was his utter lack of anger when faced with client who just refused to listen or understand what we were trying to do.

He would just laugh and say, "Well, I suppose we'll charge back up that hill tomorrow." I am trying, after 20 years of art directing, to acquire that type of peace and understanding. That doing great things doesn't really matter in the day to day of advertising. That, somehow, you have to grind through whatever clients want and at the end of they day if they get mediocre work it is no reflection upon who I am. It is only advertising after all.

Argh, just writing that makes me cringe a little.

I have always tried to put only great work in front of my clients and was always taken aback when they asked for or forced the work into the mediocre realm. I know it is something to overcome on my part. It's their money and if they want to waste it who am I to try and convince them of something different? I give it my best shot on the first, second and third tries.

What are you going to do? Me? I'm going to draw my little sketches, write my little blog, love my wife and attempt to not care. The first three I know I can do. Number four, I'm sure I'll still working on it for years to come. Ugh.

Sleep well and cheers!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I was thinking earlier tonight about genius. Not any genius specifically, but in the general.

This has nothing to do with tonight's picture, but I wanted to get it out there.

I was reading about Frank Frazetta. In my opinion one of the greatest illustrators of the 20th century. I was reading about how he trained with and worked with different artists, Michele Falanga, John Giunta, Roy Krenkel and others that I believe helped him add to his inherent talent.

It got me thinking about other artists and other geniuses. Van Gogh spent a lot of time with Gaugin. The Impressionists were concentrated in Paris. Michaelangelo competed with Raphael and DaVinci. Einstein spent a lot of time with the greatest physicists of the early twentieth century and they all created works of genius.

What struck me was that all of these people, and more I could name, considered geniuses in their respective areas, all worked with or near each other and I wonder did that contribute to making them each greater in their own right?

My theory, if you could call it that, is that you can achieve greatness on your own (I'm not blind to people who have toiled alone), but that when you surround yourself with greatness you can and will achieve it faster and it will last longer.

I want you to think about this and apply it to your own life. Do you spend time with people who are doing amazing things and allow them to challenge and help you achieve something greater? Or are you hanging around people who are on the same, or even a lower, level than you and you are not living up to your potential because you have no one to play your greatest ideas off of? No need to change your world, but a reason to examine it.

This topic strikes me as something that will keep me up for a few nights and since I've had a few beers I'm going to go to bed and contemplate this thought while I sleep.

But, before I go, I will repeat one of the greatest lines in movie history because I saw it earlier today and because I have always loved the sentiment and think it applies to our lives in a big way. Today's topic, we'll get back to tomorrow.

From Bladerunner, Roy Batty talking to William Deckard before he dies, "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched seabeams glitter in the dark at Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain."

Whew, what a great film.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Tonight just sketches.

Also, saw Timeline Theater's version of the History Boys. Great play, wonderfully acted.

See you tomorrow.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bad day in barbarian world when you get your @$$ kicked by a girl. Hehe.

As I sit here tonight pondering the world's twists and turns I can only think to myself, "Why in the heck are all my CD cases broken?" It's not like I open them all the time or play them that much, but since I have had to redigitize my entire music collection because of the untimely demise of my former back-up drive, the Pip, (for those of you who remember Gladys Knight that joke will be funny, for the rest of you try Google) I have noticed that almost every case is busted to some degree.

It boggles my mind. I like the word boggle, that and hullaballo are two that I am trying to bring back. If you think of any other really cool words that need bringing back let me know.

Well, what are you gonna do? Things break. You can't go through life hoping never to break things otherwise there would be no omelettes.

Breakage can just happen sometimes. Every day you start, continue or stop relationships with those around you. You could strike up a new conversation on a bus and thus begin a relationship, continue one with your significant other or friends around you or you fall out of touch with people you know. I think about this last one a lot. Not to the point of insanity, mind you, but it comes up when you look at FaceBook or I go back to an agency where I see people I haven't seen in a long time.

You wonder what happened? Was there a break? Did I or they do something? I think we all know what happened. Life happened. People grow and change and move on, make new friends, start new chapters. You can either look on these events with sorrow for the time you're losing or you can look back on what was and enjoy it for the memories you have and the person you have become.

I personally believe that every situation we go through in life makes us into the people we currently are. Change any aspect of the past and you would just not be the same person. It's good to know that nowadays we can all get back in touch in so many ways. I encourage you to do it. Who knows you may begin a very new relationship with someone from your past.

Remember, life happens and that's a good thing.

Now where in the heck is the CD case for "A Charlie Brown Christmas"? Damn you, Pip.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Barbarian number 35 and the days are flying. Bad news about Mr. I'm In Front, but what are you going to do this is a tough crowd.

So what shall we talk about tonight? Tough crowds? Being stabbed in the back? Gladiator sandals? How about healthcare? No, no, no let's not go there.

How about the interesting phenomenon of "It's not my job."

I was in the parking lots of Jewel (a local grocery store) and Costco in the last week and what is it with returning your cart to one of the many "cart corrals" or even, God forbid, back to where you found it? I have seen so many carts in Costco's parking lot that you wouldn't think there would be room for cars. It's as if people just believe that, "Well, Costco has employees it's their job to put these back." I find that not only rude and self-centered, but also costly. How do you think that guy gets paid? Not from the goodness of Costco's heart, his salary is folded back into the prices.

I have to say I am seeing more and more of this attitude all over town. People littering, leaving Starbuck's cups on top of mailboxes when there is a garbage can right next to the box. Argo Tea cups strewn about the neighborhood like so many leaves. Ugh, it's killing me. Are people so unaware of the world that surrounds them and just so lacking in manners that this behavior has become acceptable?

It just cheeses me off because I would like to know where people learn this from. It's not just kids littering and leaving shopping carts everywhere. I've seen men way older than me leave a Costco cart in the parking space next to them. and let me tell you the reaction I get when I ask them why they do it, "Well, somebody else will handle it." Arrrgh!

This sense of entitlement is enough to make me vote for assisted suicide laws so I can go buy a gun and start assisting.

I mean, is it just me? Am I the one missing the boat on this? Should I just leave my garbage wherever it suits me and leave grocery carts wherever I can? Is every minute of my day so precious to me that taking the time to put things back where I found them is not worth it?

Now I know no one that reads this silly little blog actually does any of these things. I know you're all discriminating, well-mannered types who care about the planet and your neighbors, but what can we do about all the other jagoffs out there can't get with our program?

Who knows, certainly not me, but enough kvetching. It's time to go to bed and dream of a world where things are in order and people are smarter. Tomorrow I have to go to Sears and, oh God, no.....


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The battle rages on.

Tonight our barbarian has encountered more barbarians in the swamp. Who knows which way this will go?

I drew tonight's image mostly during a meeting I had today. I was there to observe and help figure out where to go after the meeting. I started drawing this picture as I watched and listened to other people at the agency fight boldly against the onslaught that is a confused client.

The battle was amazing. I saw some people from this client last week send the agency in one direction. Was in a meeting yesterday where we were told we were heading this right direction and today found out that that both of those directions, while interesting, really had nothing to do with what the client wanted. I had to laugh. Not because this was a strange client, but because I have seen this so many times over the years it's as though they are all one big client.

Now, I don't have an MBA, and I'm never one to say that I'm the brightest bulb in the room, in fact I usually will tell you that I'm not really that smart, but I gotta tell you if the one eyed man is the king in the land of the blind how come I'm not president or Chief Marketing Officer of some multi-billion dollar corporation?

I can't quite figure it. I've sat in more meetings over the years and listened to people ramble on worse than me on a beer bender watching the news. It just boggles the mind.

Maybe it's because I don't have any high fallootin' degrees that I can't see the logic in wasted time and silly arguments? Maybe I just don't understand the real reason to choose a target then make sure that your marketing pieces are so broad as to try and encompass everyone with a thought pattern? Maybe I just can't see the genius that is running around in circles?

At least it always prove amusing and I give props to anyone that can hang in a meeting like that and still see the good coming out the other end. As for me, well, I tend to think that if it feels like you're wasting money then, chances are, you are wasting money.

If anyone can explain to me differently and help me understand the ways of big business I would love to hear it, because right now I am just as confused as I have always been.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Stalking and hunting. Or is that hunting and gathering? Either way it looks like that is what our man is doing tonight. Pursuing whatever his next meal is through the tall grasses.

Just like the rest of us these days.

We are all hunting for something I imagine. A better job, a perfect mate, our next meal, the next great investment. Whatever it may be for you, know that with patience and persistence all things are possible. Or so they tell me.

Biathlon is the sport of cross country skiing and target shooting. You race as fast as you can from target site to target site, when you reach a site you have to calm down as quickly as you can to shoot a rifle at a the target.

I know that new business pursuits are much the same. You ramp yourself up, preparing as best you can, put together some amazing work for some new client and then calm down, present all the work and rush off to the next client to start the process all over again. It can be frustrating, exhilarating and exhausting all at once.

I'm not going to preach to you about the need to be careful when hunting at that pace. To watch out that you don't lose yourself among the job or whatever the obsession of the day might be. You should be smart enough to know that. What I will tell you is that as you hunt for whatever it is your heart desires remember that patience is the most important part. That's not to say you can just sit around and wait, but if you planned correctly and hunted smartly the animal will walk into the trap.

Before that happens though, you may want to double check that it is the animal you went looking for in the first place.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

The hunt is on.

No long post tonight. I don't feel well.

Enjoy the sketch. I'll be back tomorrow.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Okay, no long post tonight. It is Saturday after all. Just wanted to throw up a quick sketch of a very nice lady disciplining some not so nice young men.

I wasn't able to spend much time on this post. I had some family in town tonight and didn't get to it until late.

I did it while watching Saturday Night Live. Is that show still funny? After a few sketches I actually switched over to watch Larry King interview Colin Powell. What scared me was they seemed funnier. Maybe I'm just getting old and watching these geezers crack wise was easier for someone of my advanced age to understand.

I still like to think that I get the jokes. Just the other day I was at the 4:30 dinner service at Old Country Buffet (33% off!) and the guy in front of me told the funniest joke to his buddy. It had to do with back pain, golf and his wife having an affair, I forget the punchline, but I laughed so hard I dropped the tongs into the creamed corn. My "friend" didn't seem to think it was that funny. Maybe he meant it more as satire and was expecting less of a guffaw and more of a quiet chuckle.

Anywho, I do just love that creamed corn.


Friday, August 7, 2009

For those of you who read yesterday's post you'll be happy to know I didn't watch the news tonight. Instead I had a peaceful evening with my dog, drawing little pictures and watching Die Hard for the 3457th time. I think that Bruce Willis could really be somebody someday.

Tonight our barbarian and a female companion are moving through a forest. Navigating the unknown as it were. We've all been there at one time or another. Not in the forest per se, but navigating through unknown territory. Feeling our way through the darkness as we attempt to get from one place to the next.

Be it going to a new school, driving to or vacationing in another city or town or even one's first kiss, navigating through unknown territories is what makes life worth living. Discovering a new way to see or do something gives you that little jolt doesn't it? It tickles you in a way you might not even realize.

I love to discover new things. Some new things I can do without, but the actual uncovering of them is what triggers my excitement. It can be scary, but as the situation unfolds before me, I believe my enjoyment increases.

What is around that next bend? What hides behind that tree? Where did I leave my shoes last night? Questions like these will always pop up to delight and confound us, or at least me.

I thought I started this blog as a way to communicate what I was feeling and thinking, but I have found as I go on that I am excited each night by what I am discovering about myself and my abilities as an artist and writer. As I discuss the pieces that I am drawing and try to find parallels in the real world to try and be of some help, I find that I am gaining insights into my own way of thinking about myself.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's new territory for me, looking inward, and I kind of like what I am discovering. I hope you do too.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Queen of the hill

Not really sure what to write about today. We are on Barbarian number 29. And she's a girl!

Is today's image an homage to our first Latina Supreme Court Justice? I wasn't really thinking about it until I watched the news (which my wife, for reasons about to become annoyingly apparent, does not like me to watch) and had to listen to right wing white dudes yammer on about racism. But then again, maybe she is a scary, hot blooded woman with crazy ideas who will try to legislate from the bench. She's just been biding her time until all the pieces fell into place. Those crazy latinas they plan everything years in advance.

I know it really doesn't matter what she does someone will take offense. I think I hear Glen Beck and Sean Hannity lining up already, that will be some profound discourse.

Is this what we've all become? Just a collection of people taking offense at the actions or perceived inaction of others? I don't think I've heard anything positive in this country for at least a year if not more unless it had to do with some IQ sapping reality TV show like American Idol. Yay to whoever the winners were I suppose.

It's as if all we can do is complain and whine and cry about how miserable our lives are. I don't know about you, but I have yet to see the bloated stomachs of half naked American children suffering through a drought. I don't know of any instance of tribes of people coming out of Montana to rape, pillage and cut off the hands of the people in Wyoming. I have yet to see the wholesale slaughter of a town within the borders of this country. So why all the gloom and doom? Why all the fear mongering?

Because the government "Cash for Clunkers" program is actually working? Because if the government starts it's own health insurance company the horrific specter of poor people actually having health coverage will raise it's ugly head while rich insurance companies may have to start offering me a reasonable amount of coverage to compete? The reality of gays and lesbians getting married and being able to go through all the crap heterosexual married couples go through (such as being allowed to sit by the hospital bed of the person you love or keeping together the life you've built with each other over the years or , heaven forfend, being able to slog through a messy divorce like 50% of the hetero couples in America today). Sounds terrible. Might as well kill yourself now.

Pish posh on it all I say. It's time for people to start talking to each other again. Pulling together. Actually understanding and quietly discussing issues with your neighbor instead of despising him or her because he doesn't hold the same belief system as you. It's time to figure out how to get rid of all the bile spewing TV talking heads and go back to actually getting some news on television instead of the right or left wing pundits pretending that the opinions they are spouting are actually facts. It's time for Americans to stop listening to those opinions and repeating them as fact.

Be happy that Bill Clinton brought home two journalists who were being held captive by a dictator. Be happy your duly elected president is having a beer with a couple of guys as a photo op and not taking another vacation to clip weeds on his farm. Be happy that Texas wants to secede from the union, goodbye have a nice day, I'll get right to work on that wall. Be happy that we live in a country where you can disrupt a town hall meeting by acting like the same @$$hole you were in high school and then try to call it intelligent discussion (don't worry you won't come off as a jerk).

Just be happy. Oh, yeah and be quiet.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Practice makes what?

Riddle: If you take what some doctors would describe as a pain killer and the pain does not go away can you still hear me screaming in the forest? Answer: Yes.

Put some ink to paper tonight. Tried to keep it loose and I am quite happy with the results.

As I typed that last sentence I thought to myself, "Man, people must think I'm a schizophrenic maniac from all the ups and downs he runs through on this blog." While I don't think I'm any crazier than your average Octomom I do think that I spend an inordinate amount of time riding the emotional roller coaster in the amusement park that is my brain.

I have always been one of those people who feel that no matter what job, project or crossword puzzle I have just finished I could have done it better, faster, cleaner. I look back on something, like a print ad or a piece of art that I have produced and wonder, "Couldn't I have done that a little better?", knowing full well that the answer is yes.

Why? Well, I'm sure that there is some deep seeded psychobabble answer (most likely having to do with insecurity,penis size and a set of Rock'em Sock'em robots I had when I was a child) that would scare the bejeezus out of me and you, but why go there? I prefer to think of it as having just completed a job successfully, if I had to do the same exact thing all over again I would definitely be able to do it better. It's called practice.

Practice makes perfect.

It's a simple tenet we learn as children. Practice makes perfect. But have you ever noticed that when we grow up that little phrase lands right in the dumper? It does. We push ourselves to be perfect. We push our kids to be perfect. We push our colleagues to be perfect. We wonder why no one on any road, ever, is as good a driver as we are. Why? Why so much emphasis on achieving that which we know, deep down, really shouldn't be obtainable. What do you gain?

I was watching Bridezillas the other night (Yeah, you read it right--Bridezillas, and no I didn't say I was flipping around and just happened to land on it. I watch it. Other peoples train wrecks are funny to me) and I couldn't help but laugh at how much people seem to think other people care about their weddings and that everything must be perfect or disaster will follow. Any little misstep and these people go crazy ranting and raving about how everything is ruined and their lives are over.

It reminds me of advertising, an industry where people work themselves to death, give up family and friends, stay up late night after nght wracking their brains as they strive to perfect work that, admittedly, the entire population of the world, spends every waking moment trying to avoid.

It's funny until you realize you've been doing it for over 20 years.

That said, I've got to go reexamine my life now. Maybe I'll check ebay for a set of Rock'em Sock'em robots.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Every now and then you step into or create a situation that pits you against someone you love and respect. You think you're heading down the same road in a conversation and then a turn comes and you find yourselves at odds.

It sucks doesn't it?

It's nothing more than a discussion, but then one person (usually me, okay always me) pops off with something that sounds condescending or demeaning. You're not sure what to do and the discussi0n deteriorates. Bad news all around. The end to a wonderful evening.

How do you get back from that? Me? I apologize and hope to discuss what happened and why. Understanding why an argument started is the first step in making sure a relationship succeeds.

As for tonight's picture, the subconscious meaning could be related to me feeling the mounting pressure of a daily blog looming all around me. At times, I feel as if this whole project is going to swallow me whole. That and some serious pain in my leg has made me less understanding and cordial in the last few days. It may have also played a role in making me act like a prick in the first place. Okay, truth be told, I really am a prick and was just trying to add subtext.

Well, tomorrow I know I will find my way out of this maze and back to reality. I hope my friend(s) can forgive me for being a self-centered jerk and (I hope) I will try (once more) not to be the same self-centered idiot that always starts this problem in the first place.

Careful! Watch out for those tentacles!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Mirror Image

Some days you just feel like you're fighting against yourself, don't you? Obviously that must have been what my subconscious was thinking of this evening.

We've all been there. You're arguing for what you believe in, but you know deep down, that there is no way to win. You keep on hammering away until you're exhausted. You rally and try one last time and then watch as all of your arguments crash helplessly against the rocks like a wooden ship lost in the fog. It's a tricky business.

Why? Why do we do it? I have been trying to figure it out. I often wonder if it happens across all industries or if advertising is a special kind of hell for masochists with Sisyphusean tendencies? I would imagine that it happens elsewhere because it seems like too much fun. I wonder if techniques on how long to watch someone try to save a good idea is taught in MBA programs or at Harvard Business School. I'll have to Google that.

I (and I know you, if you are in advertising) see it all the time in meetings. You watch as someone tries to argue a point. They are convinced they are right and firmly believe they have a chance to win if they present the argument succinctly and accurately. It's what they have been told their whole lives. From the other side of the room you can see they are utterly doomed.

Like a spectator in the Colosseum you watch as the half naked Christian picks up a sword lying in the dirt and waves it at his masters. The crowd roars and the half naked man feels his confidence rise. Then a gate opens, a lion rushes out and dinner is served.

Sometimes you're just out there amusing those around you. I know. I did it for years and it seems that I can still amuse the emperor.

You want to hear a funny story? I attempted a few years ago to go the other way. To stop fighting against the forces that were around me. I would move on. The Chinese call it Wu Wei, literally "without doing, causing or making." Allow the natural order of things to work with minimal effort on your part. Like a river flowing past and around rocks. Sometimes you must do the same. You just move on. So I resigned. I felt that I was a rock raging against a river and I let the river go. I stepped out of the river.

I recently found out that apparently the "river" didn't like that. I met with someone who told me that because I didn't stay and keep fighting it was seen as an affront, that I was not a leader because a leader would stay and fight to change things. She said this fully knowing that while I was in the "river" I was told that all my fighting was an affront and that I had to learn to get along with the way things were.

After the meeting I laughed for an hour. The circular logic was sheer genius. I had walked right back into the Colosseum for someone else's amusement and didn't even know I was there.

So do you fight or do you let it all go? I have no answer for you. I draw my little pictures and tell my little stories and hope that someday I'll figure out which way to turn.

Hey, look, is that a sword on the ground?


Sunday, August 2, 2009

When was the last time you came over a hill and bumped into a floating eyeball? Never? Really?

I drew a lot today and tried to let my imagination wander into strange areas. In the interest of full disclosure I got some pain pills form the doctor today that I think may have contributed to the opening up of my mind a little, but I digress.

Opening up my imagination is something I try to do every day. I think imagination is a wonderful tool that tends to tarnish quickly if not used often enough. It's one of the reasons I started "100 Barbarians..". It forces me to use my imagination every day, even when I don't feel like it and I think the practice is really helping me out in many aspects of my life.

Well, I've got an early day tomorrow so I think I will go try to imagine myself getting a full nights sleep.You try and imagine not running into any floating eyeballs as you come up over that next hill.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

A rough sketch I plan to work on more tomorrow. Almost one quarter of the way through 100 Barbarians. Not to make excuses, but I injured my foot this weekend and concentrating has hit an all time low. I'll load up with painkillers and a good nights sleep and hopefully have this a little more polished and a new barbarian tomorrow.

I'll also try to think about a topic that says a little bit more. Don''t want you all to become bored with my ramblings.