A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 177: 18 Single Lines

18 single lines self portrait

Self Portrait in 18 Single Lines, Ronald Kok, Coloured Markers, 2017

Last week I discovered that a single line has a lot to say. On a whim, I decided to turn the experiment into 18 single lines.

There is a pack of dollar store coloured markers at my workplace, the kind that dry out really fast. It just so happens that it is a pack of 18 different colours. After filling a couple of sketch books with single line portraits using a large black marker, I felt like another step or two was needed in the experiment. So I grabbed that set of markers and did the above self portrait, using each marker only once to create it.  I wasn’t working off of a photo, just recreating myself in simple lines as I think I might look. I found the exercise to be fun and challenging, a sort of planned spontaneity. So I decided to up the ante…

I work at a day program for adults with developmental disabilities. I am part of running the art studio there. There are always a number of artists who I interact with on a daily basis. I asked three of them last Friday if I could draw their portraits. Below are those three, also done with 18 single lines, each a different color.


Nola in 18 Single Lines, 2017


Sophia in 18 Single Lines


Alison in 18 Single Lines, 2017

Far from a sort of “photo realistic” image, yet conveying a lot more than I expected, I was happily surprised at the results. So much so that I think this is a style worth exploring more. There was no pencil drawing to start, instead I jumped right in with the first colour and just flowed from there. It was a bit scary and required far more concentration than I initially realized. But it forced me to boil the portraits down to the bare essentials and, hopefully, to convey something important about the personalities in those portraits.

The 18 lines of colour reminded me of the many facets that make us who we are, whether or not we are categorized as having a “disability”.  Each of us is so unique and so imbued with a distinctness that even a few lines can display that for the world.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 176: Sunday God Quote – Mike Scott


This Sunday’s God Quote goes out to all you spiritual wanderers out there.

Mike Scott is the founding member, songwriter and lead guitarist of the band The Waterboys. But, really, Mike Scott is The Waterboys as he has always grabbed various musicians to perform with him over the years. He’s a Scotsman who calls Ireland home. He has that restless creative spirit that is so often tinged with a religious wistfulness. I love his songwriting and I love his honesty. So for this Sunday here are the lyrics to “Long Way to the Light”, almost a novella in song as it takes you along in his story. The song was on his 1995 solo album Bring ‘Em All In. Below the lyrics is a video to the song.

Scott barely mentions God in “Long Way to the Light” but, to me, it is clearly the song of a man setting his face towards a higher purpose.

I’m sitting in my bedroom
Overlooking Findhorn Bay
Cluny Hill in the distance
Summer on the way

Blue skies and sailing boats
Like a picture in a book
I can’t believe I got here
Or how long it took

Living one step at a time
Putting one foot in front of the other
It sure feels right

Healing on my mind
Been a long way
Been a long way to the light

I’d made it to Manhattan
Built myself a nest
I meant to get right back to doing
Exactly what I do best

Plugging in an electric guitar
Leading a band
Well, if you want to give God a laugh
Tell him your plans

Summer in the city
Wilting in the heat
Buzzing up and down to Bearsville
And back to Hudson Street

I learned meditation
And how to visualize
Just breathing, being still
Never felt more alive

Living one step at a time
Putting one foot in front of the other
It sure feels right

Healing on my mind
Been a long way
Been a long way to the light

I spent the fall in transit
Circling the moon
Like a cat on a hot tin roof
Like a fiddle without a tune

I found what I was searching for
In Mrs. Caddy’s book
I had to go there straightaway
Have myself a look

I flew back to Scotland
Anticipation in my bones
The old country welcoming me
Like a prodigal coming home

I knelt and kissed the tarmac
In the wild Atlantic rain
Felt the fiery Gaelic blood
Rising in my veins

Living one step at a time
Putting one foot in front of the other
It sure feels right

Healing on my mind
Been a long way
Been a long way to the light

I spent the night in Glasgow
Flew to Inverness
I found the place and at the first
I was not impressed

Nobody said hello
The faces left me cold
Back then how was I to know
All that would unfold?

I entered the Sanctuary
Heard the voice of a girl
Sending out a circle of light
Clear across the world

I shuddered in the Power
Like a seedling in a storm
I’ve been traveling to this place
Since the moment I was born

I flew back to New York City
Singing the big city blues
The sand of Findhorn Bay
Still clinging to my shoes

Tried to restart my life
But the life I knew was gone
I had to let go everything
But that’s another song

Living one step at a time
Putting one foot in front of the other
It sure feels right

Healing on my mind
Been a long way
Been a long way to the light
A long way to the light

So I’m sitting in my bedroom
Overlooking Findhorn Bay
Cluny Hill in the distance
Summer on the way

I’m watching the sailing boats
Bobbing to and fro
Time to hit the road
The only way I know

Living one step at a time
Putting one foot in front of the other
It sure feels right

Healing on my mind
Been a long way
Been a long way to the light


A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 175: Saturday Life Quotes (and paintings) – Carr

Art-Canada-Institute-Emily-Carr-HR-Above-the-Gravel-Pit 1937

“Above the Gravel Pit” Emily Carr, 1937

“There is something bigger than fact: the underlying spirit, all it stands for, the mood, the vastness, the wildness.”


Emily Carr (1871 – 1945), as her simple grave marker states, was an “Artist and Author, Lover of Nature”. She was also one of Canada’s greatest painters. Often included though never technically a part of the Group of Seven, it was the Seven’s Lawren Harris’ appreciation and support of her work that gave Carr the boost she needed at an age when women were often not considered legitimate artists. As Harris said to her, “You are one of us.” She was influenced by the Fauves and drawn to the same themes as the Seven, a post-impressionist display of the spirit, the vastness and the wildness of Canada.

She was also a writer and had a beautiful way with words. For today’s Saturday Life Quotes, I give you some of her paintings along with her words.


“Autumn in France”, 1911

“You come into the world alone and you go out of the world alone yet it seems to me you are more alone while living than even going and coming.”

“A Rushing Sea of Undergrowth”, 1935

Art-Canada-Institute-Emily-Carr-HR-Odds-and-Ends 1939

“Odds and Ends”, 1939

“The artist himself may not think he is religious, but if he is sincere his sincerity in itself is religion.”

“Blunden Harbour Totems”, 1937

“You will have to experiment and try things out for yourself and you will not be sure of what you are doing. That’s all right, you are feeling your way into the thing.”
scorned as timber, beloved of sky 1935

“Scorned as Timber, Beloved of Sky”, 1935

“I think that one’s art is a growth inside one. I do not think one can explain growth. It is silent and subtle. One does not keep digging up a plant to see how it grows.”
carr-emily-canvas-autumn-woods 1911

“Autumn Woods”, 1911

“Do not try to do extraordinary things but do ordinary things with intensity.”


“Kitwancool”, 1928

“Let me not fuss and fret at my incompetence but be still and know that Thou art God.”

emily-carr-Indian-Church 1929

“Indian Church”, 1929

“It’s all the unwordable things one wants to write about, just as it’s all the unformable things one wants to paint – essence.”

maccauley point 1924

“MacCauley Point”, 1924

sunshine and tumult 1939

“Sunshine and Tumult”, 1939

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 174: My Folk/Rock-n-Bromance

avetts and me

“And I wanna grow old without the pain,
give my body back to the earth and not complain.”

I’ve got a serious Folk/Rock-n-Bromance going on with the Avett Brothers these days. It’s all their fault, writing and performing music that is hitting me square in my personal angst. I picked up their CD I and Love and You on the advice of a far-away friend who figured I’d enjoy their music (you are partly to blame, Greg – at least 42% responsible, I’d estimate).  Frankly, I can’t believe it has taken me this long to experience their music. Yet it is obvious that it is coming along in my life exactly when it was meant to.  You know that’s the case when songs written years ago can seem to be written with you and your present state of mind in mind.

There are many songs on that album that are hitting the nail on my head. The song “The Perfect Score” in particular contains some lyrics that continue to run circles in my brain. I’ll share that song with you today, first in video form, with the lyrics printed after.

This feeling has reminded me that creativity kick-starts your heart or kicks your ass when it is needed, and there’s no telling where it will come from or who will be the kicker(s).  That reminds me, the Avett Brothers song “Kick Drum Heart” – ya gotta listen to that one!  After this one, of course… By the way, nobody moves in the video. Just listen and get over it already.


“The Perfect Space”

I wanna have friends that I can trust,
that love me for the man I’ve become not the man I was.
I wanna have friends that will let me be
all alone when being alone is all that I need.I wanna fit in to the perfect space,
feel natural and safe in a volatile place.
And I wanna grow old without the pain,
give my body back to the earth and not complain.
Will you understand when I am too old of a man?
And will you forget when we have paid our debt
who did we borrow from? Who did we borrow from?

Okay part two now clear the house.
The party’s over take the shouting and the people,
get out!

I have some business and a promise that I have to hold to.
I do not care what you assume or what the people told you.
Will you understand, when I am too old of a man?
Will you forget when we have paid our debts,
who did we borrow from? Who did borrow from?

I wanna have pride like my mother has,
And not like the kind in the bible that turns you bad.
And I wanna have friends that I can trust,
that love me for the man I’ve become and not the man that I was.


A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 173: Single Line Portraits, part 2


It turns out, a single line not only has a lot to say, it can also keep your attention for a good while.

I didn’t get enough of single line portraits so I went at it again. This time, I chose a different sketch book and used a thicker Sharpie marker so I would get a stronger line. I had some abysmal failures but I kept at it. In the process I feel it has helped me learn more about how to say more with less.

Here is part 2 of my single line portraits experiment. As I told one of my students today, “It’s like taking a line for a walk”.

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A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 172: Single Line Portraits


What can you say with a single line?

I recently saw a post on Facebook about an artist who draws portraits using a single line. That is, he puts pen to paper and draws a portrait without picking up the pen until he feels it is finished. I really liked that idea so I set to doing it myself. Over my morning coffee, at around 6am or so, I took up my dollar store sketch book and an illustration pen and proceeded to let the portraits flow. It was a great experience and I was only stopped from continuing by the fact that real life necessitates that I go to work. Bummer.

Here are my initial single line portraits. I am hoping to revisit this again soon. Maybe tomorrow morning…



A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 171: Coleur de Rose


I want more lives in which to love
This world so full of beauty,
I want more days to use the ways
I know of doing duty;
I ask no greater joy than this
(So much I am life’s lover,)
When I reach age to turn the page
And read the story over,
(Oh love stay near!)

Oh rapturous promise of the Spring!
Oh June fulfilling after!
If Autumns sigh, when Summers die,
‘Tis drowned in Winter’s laughter.
Oh maiden dawns, oh wifely noons,
Oh siren sweet, sweet nights,
I’d want no heaven could earth be given
Again with its delights,
(If love stayed near!)

There are such glories for the eye,
Such pleasures for the ear,
The senses reel with all they feel
And see and taste and hear;
There are such ways of doing good,
Such ways of being kind,
And bread that’s cast on waters fast
Comes home again, I find.
(Oh love stay near.)

There are such royal souls to know,
There is so much to learn,
While secrets rest in Nature’s breast
And unnamed stars still burn.
God toiled six days to make this earth,
I think the good folks say—
Six lives we need to give full meed
Of praise—one for each day,
(If love stay near.)

But oh! if love fled far away,
Or veiled his face from me,
One life too much, why then were such
A life as this would be.
With sullen May and blighted June
Blurred dawn and haggard night,
This dear old world in space were hurled
If love lent not his light.
(Oh love stay near.)

Coleur de Rose by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 170: Here’s Looking at You

1947 Dark Passage

Bogart… Bacall… The names conjure up the style and feel of classic movies of the 1930’s and ’40’s. I love many things about the films of that time, tops of that list is the attention to design given by everyone who worked on them. Today I wanted to share a few posters of that era, each one is a movie starring Humphrey Bogart, the #1 movie icon of that age. The graphic art of these posters immediately connects with the era and often is more dramatic than the movie itself.

Here’s looking at you…

african queen frenchbigsleepCasablanca-posterkey largoPoster - Dead Reckoning_04Poster-Maltese-Falcon-The-1941_02sierra madreSiroccoto have and to have not


A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 168: Saturday Life Quote – Nature’s Voice

“I’ve watched thee every hour;
I know my mighty sway,
I know my magic power
To drive thy griefs away.”
An artist often speaks in another person’s voice or pictures the world from another person’s perspective. It is part of the role of art to create empathy and to help us discover what it is like to inhabit someone else’s skin for awhile. But that creation of empathy doesn’t just apply to human relationships.
For this Saturday’s Life Quote I’ve chosen a poem by Emily Bronte that speaks in the voice, and pictures the world, from Nature’s point of view.  It almost reads like a letter written from a lover who seeks to woo back the one he has lost. And it becomes a great reminder of the relationship we are meant to have with Nature, the health and well-being that can bring, and the need we have for each other in order to thrive.
There are times when I feel the natural world around me is indeed wooing me back. This feeling comes on strongest when I am gripped by all the grey thoughts of the business of existing. Bronte give Nature a voice to call me – and you, as well – back to into its embrace.
Shall earth no more inspire thee
Shall earth no more inspire thee,
Thou lonely dreamer now?
Since passion may not fire thee
Shall Nature cease to bow?
Thy mind is ever moving
In regions dark to thee;
Recall its useless roving—
Come back and dwell with me.
I know my mountain breezes
Enchant and soothe thee still—
I know my sunshine pleases
Despite thy wayward will.
When day with evening blending
Sinks from the summer sky,
I’ve seen thy spirit bending
In fond idolatry.
I’ve watched thee every hour;
I know my mighty sway,
I know my magic power
To drive thy griefs away.
Few hearts to mortals given
On earth so wildly pine;
Yet none would ask a heaven
More like this earth than thine.
Then let my winds caress thee;
Thy comrade let me be—
Since nought beside can bless thee,
Return and dwell with me.