Sunday, June 29, 2014

MY BUSKERVILLE HOUND: GRRR ...



Obviously my snappy title for this blog is in reference to the hell-hound in the Sherlock Holmes tale of terror mystery (The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1902) set in Dartmoor, England.

My tale is not so terrible.  My tale is set in present day Regina, Canada.  My tale is one of frustration, a tale of attempting to solve the mystery of how-to-draw Zoey, which I did solve, but after three tries.

Here is Zoey:


And here is attempt number one:


Though the actual artwork is appealing, I quite disliked this picture because it did not look like Zoey.  I, the critic, saw the face as being too narrow, the snout too small, and the eyes too big.

And here is attempt number two:


This depiction of Zoey was closer but not quite what I was attempting to do.  To me, it still did not look like Zoey.  The snout was still a tad small and the eyes a tad too big.  The width of the face I got!

And here is attempt number three:


Finally!  A Zoey drawing that I like!  I’ve never met Zoey but still I recognize that at last I DREW the Zoey that I SEE in the picture sent to me on my IPhone.

Zoey was a mystery, and Zoey proved to be a mystery that I solved.

And, dear reader, why would I write such a drawing tale?  Is this story of Zoey really just another of my Aesopian tales to be pondered? 

Could this story really be about searching for a life that I can love, a life of meaning and adventure, fulfilled by drawing people and pet portraits down on the sidewalks in the local farmers markets?

Or could this story of drawing Zoey be a last middle-aged attempt to create an amaranthine existence, imagining that my I-am-old-and-afraid-to-die signature on the bottom right of every portrait that I sketch shall be forever hanging in a frame on a wall within a house somewhere in the world?

Could it be that this tale of Zoe (pun intended) is simply an appeal to my complicated friend, Robin (whose mother belongs to Zoey:), an attempt to contribute something of significance (to her) toward our friendship?  To put this into perspective, are the frustrations of drawing Zoey representative of yet another significant (to me) dram of my complications at work and at home and at play?

Could it be that I am but a thinking-too-much meshuggener, with just another of my crazy tales told to embellish and embigger what I really do with my sketchbook and pencil down at the Market?  That by adding all these fanciful graphite details of drawing Zoey somehow makes my portraiture much more important that what it really is?  (Referring to portraiture rather than sketching does this too, does it not?)

Or am I just the ever tormented narcissist attempting to convince the reader that I’ve this prodigious talent for drawing faces, and I need to keep wanting the world (the readers of this blog and the walkers of the market) to know this?

Could it be that I am that wildcatter busker (pun intended), first sketching portraits of people, now sketching portraits of pooches, lobbying for sketching cats next on the list?  (Several people did ask if I could draw their moggies should they bring pictures of their mousers to Market next Saturday!)

Or … is this particular essay just another drawn-out pointless shaggy-dog tale (pun intended on all sorts of levels), offering excitement for the writer (me) but boring for the reader (you).

Hmmm … not surprisingly, I did meet some very enjoyable people down at the Market.  Here is my CHAUCERIAN PARADE of humans ... NOT hounds:

RON
KORY and KEVIN
MADISON and BAILEY and RYLAND and JILL and MARIUS

STU and PEGGY CRAM


  • RON said I made him look old ... he was being funny.
  • KEVIN insisted he tell every passer-by my age ... he was being funny (a lovely couple).
  • MADISON and BAILEY and RYLAND and JILL and MARIUS was my BIGGEST drawing ever.  What a beautiful family!
  • STU is my favorite photographer who has shot me many times over the years.  This is the first time I'd met his wife, PEGGY.

Stu’s accoutrement is his camera -- my accoutrement is a pencil. 

Stu’s camera shutters at the truth -- my pencil never lies!
  


Sunday, June 22, 2014

DRAW DOGS: I'M A BOWSKER!



This past week I’ve been drawing dogs.  Last Saturday when I chose not to take my soggy pencil to the market I received a poignant text from my complicated friend ... “I was at the market.”  This suggested that she went specifically to the market to visit me; rather, she took her doggie, Luke, to the market so I could draw him.

Then she sent me his picture:

LUKE
And this is what I drew:

LUKE'S PORTRAIT

And then she sent me another picture of her little dog lost, Max, who disappeared just over a year ago:

MAX

And this is what I drew:

MAX'S PORTRAIT

And then she sent me a picture of her mom’s dog, Zoey:

 
ZOEY

 And this is what I drew:

ZOEY'S PORTRAIT
 
Hmmm … the people that I know who have dogs … really, really, really love their dogs.

I know a childless couple who refer to themselves as Mommy or Daddy when anywhere with their dogs.  Every time they go out as a couple, like on a date night for instance, they hire a dog-sitter.

Some people, including my daughter, Natika, regularly post pictures of their dog on FACEBOOK.

NATIKA AND GLEETNA

NATIKA AND GLEETNA

I know a lady who constantly brags about her dogs, and who is forever willing to tolerate considerable discomfort for the minimum pleasure of bragging rights immediately following any one of her twenty-five dog shows she and her dogs attend year after year.

I know people that are limited to staying in pet friendly motels because of their dogs being their constant companions.

Our penchant for pooches has, indeed, figured significantly into our culture, an apparent example by the dog representation in our language:

Every dog has his day.  You look as though someone just shot your dog.  You need a little more of the hair of the dog that bit you.  If you lie down with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas.  It’s a dog-eat-dog world.  You can’t teach old dog new tricks.  Let sleeping dogs lie.  His bark is worse than his bite.  You are dog-faced liar.  The place has gone to the dogs.  He’s in the doghouse.  I’ve been working like a dog.  You need to run with the big dogs.  Hey, bird dog.  Sun dog … Moon dog … Dog day afternoon … Dog’s breakfast … Straw dogs!     

The bond between humans and bow-wows began over 10,000 years ago.  We have connected more with dogs than with any other creatures on the planet.  Dogs march with us into battles.  Dogs sniff out drugs and dogs sniff out bed bugs.  Dogs mind the sheep and dogs lead the blind.  But for a little love in return, even mutts and mongrels make for humans the very best of companions.

This week I’ve been more than a bowsker, drawing people, too, of course.  Yesterday the Farmers’ Market was ripe; it seems, for couples wanting their pencil portraits.  Strangely, all my clients posed as couples or as family, there was not one posing singular.

My CHAUCERIAN PARADE for this week:

CARTER AND SYDNEY
(note by projection of SYDNEY ... SHE RULES:)





 
CARLA AND MIKE

 
JORDAN and CAREN and PENNY and MOLLY

According to Mark Twain, the most precious gift we can give to anyone, is time, just a little personal association.  Though I know certain people who give their time grudgingly, oppositely give loads of time genuinely and generously to their tail-wagging friends.

Hmmm … the people that I know who have dogs … really, really, really love their dogs.

ROBIN IN HEAVEN
Discovering the quiddity in a dog's face is really similar to discovering the quiddity in a human's face.  For example, in the drawing of Zoey, several dog pictures above, I really didn't capture her nose (I drew it a tad small), or her eyes (I drew a pinch too big).  As for Luke and Max, I most certainly think my sketches did them justice.

Ah yes, be they human or canine, faces have become my pencil forte.

And, as long as humans have their pooches for companions down at the marketplace ... it’ll pay for me to keep my bowsker pencils sharpened!


  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

KIMBERLY'S CUPCAKES: THE REAL MEANING OF LIFE



Today is drizzmal. 
  
Since there is no practical sense for the packing of a wet pencil to an agrarian market, even though the moisture makes the veggies glisten, the soggy sketches are not worth the trip.   

There will be no busking today, neither sketching nor strumming, and for an abecedarian such as myself, today definitely shouts Plan W – a simple plan of woolgathering. 

Woolgathering gives excuse for me writing more bildungsroman blog entries, such as the one you are right now reading.  Capricious as this may seem, I do spend considerable time contemplating the perfect snappy title for each of my blog entries.

KIMBERLY’S CUPCAKES:  THE REAL MEANING OF LIFE jumped at me on Friday, whilst we (Darren, from Phantom Tide, and self) were grilling pork kabobs for our colleagues, one of my favorite, favorite colleagues, Kimberly, brought some home-baked cupcakes for the occasion.  And I speaketh for everyone when I proclaim that I love Kimberly and I love her cupcakes! EVERYONE LOVES KIMBERLY and EVERYONE LOVES HER CUPCAKES!

Woolgathering, I’ve decided I need to be more than just a dilettante in the art of Buskology.  I need to be more than a faux busker.  I need to put myself, a vulnerable creature, in a dangerous situation.  I need to sell everything; my soul and Acura ILX included, and hit the street as a bona fide busker.

Hmmm … how could this happen? How could I survive such a cheeseparing and cockamamy circumstance?  What would I do for money?  Where would I do for shelter?

Hmmm … I will tell you how this could happen.  I would do well on the busk.  My consumers tend to be munificent, especially on windless and sun-shiny days.  Easily, in a six hour sketch or strum day, I could take in a hundred or more dollars.

Hmmm … I will tell you how this could happen.  I do not fancy myself as being a troglodyte cowering in a cave or sleeping under a bridge, but rather one who could reside in a broom closet.  I only need a place to shower and make a cup of tea, with storage suffice only for a guitar and a pencil.  (Really, how much space does a pencil take up?)

Hmmm … I will tell you how this could happen.  Simply I would evanesce alone into the sunset, slinging only my guitar and harp, my pencil and sketchpad, and a duffel of clothes and toiletries.  I would travel light and in solitude.

Hmmm … I will tell you how this could happen.  It must happen.  I’ve been a professional and certified BUSKOLOGIST for a long time, always writing and philosophizing, never doing.   

DAMN!  IT IS TIME!

I have the credentials!  I have a cache of original songs to strum and sing;  I’ve a stash of pencil portraits from real life characters.  I am a recognized guitar slinger and, as of late, a recognized pencil pusher of life-like portraitures.  

I am more than a strikingly handsome goldbrick.  I have a history of busking success! 

Hmmm … I will tell you how this could happen.  I shall leave my three viewbicles, my regular full-time counselling and my regular part-time university teaching and my private practice.  I shall leave my hausfrau, and I shall leave my amigos.  I shall leave, leave, leave and later reckon with, I’m sure, my zero-sum experience.

Hmmm … I will tell you how this could happen.  The very notion of busking on the streets of Canada and America and Western Europe, and breaking only for the sipping of  American decafs (with just a dram of cream) on the curbs of Canada and America and Western Europe, eating daily lunches fresh from the farmers’ markets of Canada and America and Europe, never again wearing that Windsor-knot tie that symbolizes my used-to-be workaday world from 8 until 5, never again having to keep up with the Joneses, never again having to plan and budget for vacations (because the rest of my life would be a vacation, a buskation, a laissez-faire end-of-life adventure, that would fructify things meaningful for me).

Hmmm … I will tell you how this could happen.  I would relish the cornucopia of people encounters, the coffee shops, the curbs lunches, and the girls, the enchantresses, the femme fatales, the houris.

Hmmm … this is a lifestyle decision to leave my money for the real meaning in life.

Hmmm … such a go takes mettle.

Hmmm … though I know in my heart that my competence as a busker will prevail, and that my life as busker will never be narrow like my macedoine middle class misadventures to date, I’m having second thoughts!

Hmmm … I am ever so slowly learning the game of life, the meaning of life.

Hmmm … really, all I want to be in life is a trustworthy person who plays nice with others.

(And speaking of playing nice, here some of the characters (actual colleagues) in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:)

JENN



RENEE


RONA

Hmmm … as I wake from my woolgathering all my boustrophedon notions are, in realty, just braggadocio bluster.  I’ll not be leaving my lady.  I’ll not be leaving my lecturn.  I’ll not be leaving my profession.  I’ll not be leaving my penthouse.

Hmmm … life is really about building relationships.

Hmmm … life is never better than when I am eating KIMBERLY’S CUPCAPES! 

Hmmm … the meaning of life is simple!

Hmmm … Ah ... Kimberly’s cupcakes – the real meaning of life.

Kimberly’s cupcakes are morsels delicious, delicious, delicious … and Kimberly herself in the flesh ... 
is even moreso delicious, delicious, delicious.

KIMBERLY IN THE FLESH!




Sunday, June 8, 2014

THE UNFORESEEN: LIFE IS A TALE OF SURPRISE!

HMMM...

Have you ever met someone with whom you were smitten, someone you thought you could never distaste?  Have you ever met someone you found to be bewitching, who later proved to be a vexation?   

Have you ever met someone you thought was cool, then whose interests you realized never rose above workaday and pedestrian?  Or ... have you ever met someone who would make you laugh, then by malicious design make your heart ache?  Or ... have you ever met someone who made you feel absolutely wonderful then abhorrently unworthy?

Fact:  Life is not abecedarian, but a happenchance series of surprise.
Fact:  All thoughts in life can neither be anticipated nor predicted with certainty. 
Fact:  Life is UNFORESEEN, and all thoughts and all things (especially including interpersonal relationships) in life are UNFORESEEN.

THE UNFORESEEN title of this blog is taken from THE UNFORESEEN, a television weekly drama of the late 50’s and early 60’s.  THE UNFORESEEN was a type of suspense drama, a weekly thirty minute story always with a twist in conclusion.  THE UNFORESEEN was, like real life, always filled with surprise.

Generally, we can anticipate and predict our day-to-day trudging events with considerable accuracy, but all such predictions are just really good guesses, imaginings based upon the empirical evidence in our lives at the time.  In any contest, games of sport for example, we never really know what is going to be the outcome, and the outcome of any event in our lives is just as uncertain.

Forgive me, dear reader, for such a negative opening paragraph, but most of the surprises in our lives weigh down, rather than uplift.  In our Yin and Yang existence, this probably isn’t true, but are brains seemed to be more programmed for pain than for pleasure.  Pain we remember forever, pleasure we remember only for a season.

The examples in the opening paragraph, generally speaking, seem not to work well in reverse.  Have you met someone you loathed at first, but now love?  Have you met someone your eye found repulsive but now you deem strikingly attractive?  Have you met someone you felt was caustic, and then determined to be cool?  Have you met malicious people that make you laugh?  Life does not seem to work from negative to positive.  If ever it does, this is truly surprise, surprise!

Life is, according to your metaphor of choice, mostly a highway, a path, or a river.  Our uncertain lives are filled with detours, forks, and rapids.  Always, these detours lead on to more detours (hence our shaggy-dog tales), more bends and turns, and more roundabouts. Whilst we breathe, we are forever navigating rage after raging river, sometimes wading, sometimes treading.  Every road, every trail, and every river takes us somewhere, and that somewhere is always unforeseen and filled with surprise.

Let us go to busking down at the market.  On any given day I can with considerable accuracy predict, in a very general way, how my buskapade will unfold.  I will arrive and pick my buskspot somewhere between 9 o’clock and 9:30 a.m.  (It will likely be near my best vendor neighbour friends, Greg and Valerie Asher of ASHER DESIGN LANDSCAPING.)  This is my comfort zone for busking with either my guitar and harmonica, or my pencil and sketchbook.

I know I will meet several people during the four-hour busk, some friends, some colleagues, some strangers, both familiar and unfamiliar.  Strumming or sketching I will make approximately one hundred dollars.  Generally, this is how my busking at the market will typically unfold.   

Specifically, I shall describe how my morning at the market did unfold.

I did not arrive between 9 o’clock and 9:30 a.m.  I had to retrieve my car from the parkade beneath the hotel across the street (long story), then I had drive over to my son’s apartment for a quick emergency (an even longer story).  Finally, I arrived at the market and set up just minutes before 10 o’clock a.m.

I did set up across from ASHER DESIGN LANDSCAPING, but Greg was a no-show.  Valerie was operating alone.

I took only my pencil and sketchbook.  I find that strumming my guitar and blowing my harpoon for a four-hour market to be wearisome, humdrum, and colorless.  Sketching pencil portraits, on the other hand, I find to be animated, stimulating, and bright. 

My morning at the market went generally as I had anticipated; specifically though, my morning was filled with surprise.  And here are just a few examples of some awesome people that came my way:

CINDY



 
BRANDON

LINDA

My unforeseen CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week includes:

  • Allen is a Financial Studies university student, who happens also to be taking a camera class.  Allen approached me the week previous seeking my permission for him to take a picture of me while sketching a pencil portrait.  If it was okay with the consumer, it was okay for me, I told him.  Allen did take some pictures, and did quick interviews of Linda (pictured above) and myself for his camera class project.

  • Ponziano Aluma is the author of WE’RE HERE!  NOW WHAT? (This is a non-fiction book about newcomer misadventures).  For his next book, he wants me to be the illustrator!

  • Gordon asked me if I drew dogs, and if I would draw one from a picture.  I told him I could but it would cost him a lot of money.  I told him if he brought the dog to market, I would do the pencil portrait for the usual $10.  Gordon said he’d be bringing his dog for a sitting next Saturday.

When I return to work tomorrow I can generally predict that I shall have a morning chat and chuckle with my friend and band mate, Darren (pictured below), and an afternoon chat with my imaginary Rubicon, Kimberly (pictured below).  Darren and I always have a philosophy-to-go type of chat; whereas with Kimberly, I’m always sadly reminded of my senescence.  What will actually happen between Darren and me and Kimberly and me has yet to be really determined.  My day at work tomorrow is right now unforeseen.

DARREN OF PHANTOM TIDE




  
KIMBERLY
     
To close, we humans (according to Sam Keen, 1973) are featherless, gregarious and storytelling creatures just wanting to get along with one another, oftentimes needing moral support from one another.  This could mean a written letter, a personal phone call, a text, or at the very, very best, a vis-à-vis over a coffee.  Not so strangely, my unforeseen interactions at the market seem suffice to temporarily fill such a social deficiency in my particular make-up. 

No matter what we believe and think ... 
Our lives from beginning to end are a complicated series of eight-lane highways and dirt roads, happy and sad trails, raging rivers and still ponds --- ALL OF WHICH BEING UNFORESEEN TALES OF SURPRISE!