A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 273: Saturday Life Quotes – Groucho


“Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light.”

Groucho Marx (born Julius Henry Marx, 1890-1977) was a genius in the art of comedy, wordplay and the classic one-liner. He was the inspiration for Alan Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce and a sort of “patron saint” of all comics. Groucho Marx glasses remain a symbol of subversive silliness and despite being a funnyman of long ago his words still resonate with contemporary irony and satire.

For today’s Saturday Life Quotes, I give you Groucho Marx, the man who once said, “Humor is reason gone mad”. Thank God for his brand of unreasonable madness!

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

“From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.”

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never live long enough to make them all yourself.”

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them…well I have others.”

“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.”

“Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men — the other 999 follow women.”

“I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.”

“While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”

“Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.”

“I intend to live forever, or die trying.”

“Life is a whim of several billion cells to be you for a while”

“Time wounds all heels.”

“Marriage is a wonderful institution…but who wants to live in an institution?”

“A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.”

“If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you.”

“My plans are still in embryo, a town on the edge of wishful thinking.”

“All people are born alike… except Republicans and Democrats.”

“Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.”

“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”


A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 272: Worthy to be Rendered


Stephen T, Pen & Ink and water color pencils, 2017

A simple post for Friday as I got back into a simple combination of pen and ink and water color pencils. The two portraits shared here are based on two men that come to the day program where I work. They happen to be housemates who have a very sweet relationship. Both are (mostly) gentle giants and I spend a lot of time in their company.

Knowing them as I do, I can tell you that neither one of these portraits is particularly accurate, in a photo-realistic way. I wasn’t really aiming for that. At first it was an excuse to use water color pencils again. But working on them I started to feel like I needed to bring out personalities, especially from a couple of men who exist on the margins of society; two men who may be easy to categorize in a glance but nevertheless are complex, unique individuals, worthy of being rendered.

If there is one thing I have learned by working in an environment with those we label as “disabled” it is to not judge a book by its cover. And never, ever discount the depth of the humanity you find in those eyes: behind them lies a world more vast than anyone truly understands.

CJ watercolor 2017

CJ, Pen & Ink and Water color pencils, 2017

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 271: Album Art + Fine Art =

Cyndi Lauper and Vincent Van Gogh might seem like an odd couple… in a number of ways one could describe “odd”… but the truth is that many contemporary music stars have drawn cover art inspiration from the world of fine arts. It can be a slight reference or a straight-forward rip-off or used for comic effect. But it is amazing how well it seems to work.

On my blog today I share a few examples of cover art that connects with famous fine art. Some are as obvious as, well, “Starry Night” and other are not so much. Enjoy…


Jack and Meg draw a direct connection to the De Stijl art movement and its most famous contributor, Piet Mondrian (“Composition II with Red, Blue and Yellow”)


Heart goes for the surrealistic treatment and the same bird-in-a-cage torso motif as Rene Magritte’s “The Therapist”


Those lovable Irish roques the Poques cast themselves as the hopeless crew upon “The Raft of Medusa” (Theodore Gericault)


Those lovable Canadian Crash Test Dummies pull a Poques with Titian’s “Bacchus and Ariadne”


While more of a reference, there is no denying the connection of the-entrails-becoming-the-extrails between Florence and Frida (“The Two Kahlo’s”)


Joni Mitchell’s album cover comprises a few Van Gogh self-portrait elements but most noticeably the “Self-Portrait with a Bandaged Ear”


New Order’s album cover designer wasn’t shy in nearly ripping off the old order of design by Fortunato Depero and his “Futurist Poster”


It’s more than a rumour that Fleetwood Mac’s album cover for “Tango in the Night” borrows heavily from the work of Henri Rousseau (“Charmeuse De Serpent”)


A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 270:


Recently, I purchased one of those comic book cover art reproductions to hang up in our eclectic TV room. It is pictured here, The Mighty Thor #160. 

As a child and into adolescence and… let’s be honest here… up until my early twenties I was a major, massive, massively major comic book fan and collector. Yes, I was that geek kid decades before The Big Bang Theory made geeks semi-cool and mostly acceptable. Yes, I was the kid with the Marvel Comics three-ring binder at school. Yes, I was the kid who spent his allowance on those bags of three comic books you could buy for a buck at the grocery store. And, yes, I became the twenty-something with over a thousand comics, each individually housed in their own plastic sleeves, stored in long rectangular boxes made just for comic books, and usually stored under my bed.

In other words, to say that Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the X-Men and Conan the Barbarian were a big part of my growing up is a massively major understatement. Yes, I was a Marvel guy.

Yet all that comic book geekamania didn’t make me a Sheldon Cooper, that is, a brilliant but eccentric scientist. Instead, the comic books inspired my drawing. I loved the stories and the larger-than-life characters, of course. But what I truly tried to emulate was the art. I used to spend hours and hours drawing my favorite characters, trying as best as I could for that over-the-top graphic nature of their presentation. I got to the point where I began making my own comic books starring the super-heroes I had invented (Mass Man was my favorite).

I wish I could show you examples of these but, alas, in a cleaning spree my Mom removed the stacks and stacks of typewriter paper from under my bed and tossed the lot. I can’t really blame her. I was probably off at college at the time. And it was a TON of paper.

However, I owe a great debt to comic book art. It was my muse as a child. I would get lost in the way they so dramatically and dynamically displayed my favorite heroes. Some of my first real-life heroes were the guys who drew the comic books; they were the true stars of those colorful rags, if you ask me. I would seek out my favorite artists and study them. I wanted to draw comic books for a living one day.

That didn’t happen for me. But I have lived to see so many of my childhood heroes up on the big screen or gracing TV series on Netflix. In a lot of ways, I’ve been able to live those sweet times of my childhood over and over again. I’ll never forget how much those comics and that wonderfully brilliant graphic art meant to me.

About seventeen years ago I sold the bulk of my collection (I don’t think my brother has forgiven me for this yet). I had been lugging those boxes from place to place, storing them in basement after basement, for fifteen years. But I did save a few of them, some because they are collector items, most for nostalgia. Below are a some examples of comic book cover art and all are issues that remain in my possession. I get warm, fuzzy feelings when I see this artwork and it brings me back to when 25 cents or so could buy me all my imagination could hope to contain… and a whole lot more.




A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 268: Crowing About My Rooster

I Have Seen the Light

I Have Seen the Light! (Muhammad Ali Was Cocksure), Craft Foam Mosaic on canvas, 2017

There’s a first time for everything. For me, recently, there are two first time things combined: (1) first time making any artwork with a rooster as the subject matter and (2) first time creating a work of art for a specific art show, in this case The Atomic Rooster’s annual Cock Show:


Given my last name an the opportunity to follow a theme, I couldn’t resist. It also seemed the inspiration I needed to make another mosaic out of the colorful  craft foam I’ve used before.

At first, I thought of doing something to connect with the fantasy/allegory that is Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr. Set in a barn yard, the central character is Chanticleer the Rooster. But the ideas weren’t coming for me around that concept so I kept seeking inspiration. One day when I was looking up quotes that had to do with roosters, I came upon a quote by Muhammad Ali:

“A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.”

That was it – I had my inspiration. Sketching an idea and beginning the artwork was now an easy task. However, I was getting very close to the deadline for submissions and I had forgotten how painstaking the mosaic process was. In fittingly barn yard fashion I worked on that rooster like a rented mule for a week, grabbing hours here and there whenever I could and, miraculously, got the piece done on time!

Below are some photos I took during the process and some detail photos of the finished piece. If you happen to be in Ottawa from today until early November, stop by the Atomic Rooster on Bank street near Somerset and enjoy the cockerels. If I’m there, I’ll do some crowing for you.


A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 267: Sunday God Quote – Faith Poem


Faith Poem by Walt Whitman

I NEED no assurances—I am a man who is
pre-occupied of his own soul;
I do not doubt that whatever I know at a given
time, there waits for me more which I do not

I do not doubt that from under the feet, and beside
the hands and face I am cognizant of, are
now looking faces I am not cognizant of —
calm and actual faces;
I do not doubt but the majesty and beauty of the
world is latent in any iota of the world;
I do not doubt there are realizations I have
no idea of, waiting for me through time
and through the universes—also upon this

I do not doubt I am limitless, and that the uni-
verses are limitless—in vain I try to think
how limitless;
I do not doubt that the orbs, and the systems of
orbs, play their swift sports through the air
on purpose—and that I shall one day be
eligible to do as much as they, and more than

I do not doubt there is far more in trivialities,
insects, vulgar persons, slaves, dwarfs, weeds,
rejected refuse, than I have supposed;
I do not doubt there is more in myself than I have
supposed—and more in all men and women
—and more in my poems than I have

I do not doubt that temporary affairs keep on and
on, millions of years;
I do not doubt interiors have their interiors, and
exteriors have their exteriors—and that the
eye-sight has another eye-sight, and the hear-
ing another hearing, and the voice another

I do not doubt that the passionately-wept deaths
of young men are provided for—and that the
deaths of young women, and the deaths of
little children, are provided for;
I do not doubt that wrecks at sea, no matter
what the horrors of them—no matter whose
wife, child, husband, father, lover, has gone
down—are provided for, to the minutest

I do not doubt that shallowness, meanness,
malignance, are provided for;
I do not doubt that cities, you, America, the
remainder of the earth, politics, freedom,
degradations, are carefully provided for;
I do not doubt that whatever can possibly happen,
any where, at any time, is provided for, in
the inherences of things.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 266: Saturday Life Quotes – Patience


“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” – Hal Borland

In yesterday’s post, I pondered the quality of patience. Continuing in that thought, I decided to post various quotes on patience today.

Considering the furious pace and millisecond attention spans of our day, patience would seem to be in short supply. But I suspect that I am not alone in the pursuit of it. Though, I must confess, some days it feels like I’m on a snipe hunt. Does patience really exist? Or is it hanging out with the jackalopes and Sasquatch?

Sometimes I feel like the possibility of finding any patience in me is a lost cause. Certainly, it helps to pause… reflect… and take in some words from other people on the subject. That, in itself, is proof that at least a smidge of patience still survives in me. I’m hoping to do better. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see…

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” – A.A. Milne

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – Aristotle

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” – Leo Tolstoy

“It is very strange that the years teach us patience – that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.” – Elizabeth Taylor (English novelist)

“I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience; let me add that so is being a writer. Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”  – Anne Lamott

“Trying to understand is like straining through muddy water. Have the patience to wait! Be still and allow the mud to settle.” – Lao Tzu

“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.” – David G. Allen

“Be worthy love, and love will come.” – Louisa May Alcott

“Our patience will achieve more than our force.” – Edmund Burke

“Patience is not a virtue. It is an achievement.” – Vera Nazarian

“An alternative to love is not hate but patience.” – Santosh Kalwar

“Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.” – Helen Keller

“What good has impatience ever brought? It has only served as the mother of mistakes and the father of irritation.” – Steve Maraboli

“Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 265: Illustrated Quote for Friday

Adopt the pace of nature

My final installment of illustrated quotes comes from the pen of American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. I think I may have been subconsciously testing the patience of the viewer by how I scrawled this quote into the bark of the tree. Let me help you out: “Adopt the pace of nature: Her secret is patience.”

When I read that quote the first image that came to mind was a tree. No big surprise as I am a major tree-lover. I have never hugged a tree, mind you, except in jest. However, I do confess to talking to them, thanking them, and giving them a loving touch every now and again. I am always very impressed by trees – beauty, strength, personality: they have it all! To me, they are perhaps the greatest living things on this planet (sorry, human race – you don’t even come close to cracking my Top Ten). I love the big, leafy buggers. So it is no surprise that a tree came to mind instantly.

The unique part of the image was that it was of one of those incredible trees that finds root and grows out of a rock face! This past summer, while cottage-ing in Quebec, as I was in a kayak silently gliding by the shore, I was taken aback at the impressive feat those tenacious trees had accomplished. Of course, tenacity is the word that seems to fit. But “patience”? Why did this image come to mind with Emerson’s quote, which emphasizes the patient quality of nature?

As I was drawing this illustrated quote, I was thinking on that question. Really, it makes perfect sense. The patience of nature is on display in those trees finding a place to grow and mature in the cleft of a rock. Consider these questions: How long have those rocks been there? How long did it take through erosion, the expansion and contraction of hot and cold, to create the fissures in those rocks? After that, how long did it take for those cracks to fill up with the needed soil and nutrients to make a suitable place for a tree? And then how long did it take for a seed to find root and to grow in that seemingly harsh plot of ground? How long did it take for it to become that silent sentinel on the rock?

It was all accomplished at nature’s pace, hundreds if not thousands of years in the making.  That is patience.

Is it even possible for me to adopt this pace? I’m not sure. But it sounds so wonderful. The pace of life running the human race is brutal. There is no time for taking your time, or so it seems. Yet isn’t it true that the most beautiful things, the things worthy of remembering and passing on, the things that reach to the deepest places in who we are, have all been built over the long haul? Our culture is impressed by the Big Flash in the Pan, the viral sensations, the latest of this or that. But that wears thin exceedingly fast and we are quick to shuffle off one fad for another one that comes hard on its heels.

For me, the quote from Emerson, and the lesson from nature, reminds me that the most important things in my life are those things I have been given to care for, nurture, and develop over the course of time. Many of those things will outlive me, ironically enough.  But what of it? Am I so important that I cannot be simply a part of something great and not the great thing itself? Of course not.

I have been given what amounts to a brief span of time but that doesn’t mean I’m in a sprint to the finish. Instead, if I live humbly, seek good things, work to focus my energies and loves on the really important aspects of life, then the number of years becomes immaterial. Then I don’t need to race, heart pounding in my chest. Then I can relax, enjoy the scenery, and feel content in the place I play in the pace that creates things that are true; things that really last.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 264: Illustrated Quote for Thursday

And into the woods

Today’s illustrated quote is based on words by Scottish-American naturalist John Muir, known in the U.S. as “the father of National parks”. I love the play on words here as so often “lose my mind” has connotations of going crazy. But the idea that you could lose your mind, as in a release of all that stuff that swirls around in your brain, by venturing into the woods and, as a result, find your soul, is something I deeply understand.