We had a bad case of tomato blight last year. Every plant turned black and died. All the fruit rotted on the vines. It was sad and awful. Gardenbot would never have let that happen! Good Gardenbot!
Now with spring around the corner (it’s around the corner, right? Right? I’m looking out the window at like 10 feet of snow…) I’ve been thinking about what to plant in our smallish garden this year. Tomatoes are going to be sidelined for other plants. There isn’t a lot of sun in our back yard, so they don’t grow well here anyway. Plus, because the blight fungus tomato plague whatever is apparently still in the soil, I can’t plant tomatoes (or related nightshade plants) in the same dirt anyway.
So this is an opportunity to try and grow something different. Probably beans, maybe a cucumber. Possibly broccoli, or Brussels sprouts (yes, that’s how you spell that, I’m as surprised as you are). If I can find the seeds, I’d like to try kohlrabi – it’s supposed to be like a wild cabbage, but sweeter, and less leafy. Anyway, these cabbage adjacent plants apparently don’t need full sun, and do not recognize tomato blight as a real threat. Suck on that black death!
I don’t often look at problems as opportunities. That’s some eye-rolling LinkedIn manager-speak bullshit right there. I look at problems as problems. You solve them, or you don’t. But I spent most of today throwing a personal pity party celebrating my apparent lack of artistic talent. It was a blast, and brought on by some clearly unhealthy habits I’m trying to shake, and a rotten night of “sleep”. Maybe my creative problem is an opportunity. Maybe I need to plant something new.
Anyway, Gardenbot (above) was a little watercolour and ink drawing from last year. Please enjoy responsibly, and send warm air my way. This snow business is getting out of hand.
I spent a half hour trying to write something pithy to go with this illustration of a scared cat with it’s fur all poofy, but instead I just complained about work and commuting, and I don’t want to be that guy so I deleted it and here we are. I’m exhausted from all the complaining around me, and I’m not blameless in that regard. But you don’t need to be subjected to that foolishness.
Instead, just enjoy this silly drawing. Be happy, be helpful, be curious. Later gators.
Baby your mind is a radio
Three years ago I became so frustrated trying to streaming music from my iPhone to the Apple TV that I gave up entirely and bought a radio.
Initially it was the spotty nature of the streaming itself – sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t – and it was making me angry when I was supposed to be chill and happy. I just wanted to listen to some tunes in the morning and start my day in a positive space. But instead, it was making me miserable.
Then my being angry with inanimate tech made me angry with myself, and it was a whole spiral thing that was just not good, man.
In additional to all that, the tv had become the central part of the home and I really didn’t like that. I despised that it was on all the time, even just to play music. I hated that all the furniture was pointed at it. I wanted the tv turned off when we weren’t watching it. I wanted a simpler life. I wanted a radio.
I bought the Tivoli Audio Model One in walnut. Not the cheapest radio for sure, but it was very pretty, and the visual and interaction design appealed to me. It’s currently one of my favourite things.
Radio is what it is. It can be repetitive, and the DJs aren’t always great. But we have a tolerable alt rock station in Ottawa, plus CBC for the other times. Or when we’re feeling saucy we’ll tune in something from Quebec.
We also continue to stream a lot of music. The services and tech used to stream has changed and improved over the last few years, and I’m fairly certain the issues that led me to buy a radio are no longer issues. All the new music I listen to comes from streaming, or YouTube. In the same way that ebooks didn’t kill the publishing industry, streaming hasn’t killed analog radio. There is a time and place for all things. The mistake we often make is thinking we must replace working systems for new ones just because they are new. We don’t need to, and maybe even shouldn’t. There is a balance, a happy space where the new and the familiar coexist.
Plus, did I mention this radio is one of my favourite things? A Braun analog alarm clock is another. But I don’t have a painting of that, so you don’t get a story.
It’s great if you like hairballs
I’d like to go on record and say that cat is not an acceptable taco topping. If for no other reason than the hairballs. But also because of the cat. That judgemental feline attitude would ruin any meal.
Besides, everyone knows cats make excellent hats.
Seriously, she came from out of nowhere
Watch yer ankles,
Watch yer back,
it’s a Ninja Cat
“Learning can feel like progress, even when it’s not progress.”Mark Manson
Mark Manson from this video Why Your Favorite Self-Help Book Sucks.
He’s specifically talking about the self help space, where people frequently use “learning as a replacement for doing”, but I couldn’t help but think about how many times I’ve used “learning” as a replacement for creating. And I use the term “learning” very loosely. Note the sarcastic quotation marks.
Scrolling the internet for hours, telling myself I’m keeping up with the news, or researching some pen, or how to make a living from selling art, or whatever. It’s all terribly important.
I’m rolling my eyes at myself, you can’t see it, but it’s really annoying.
For me it’s not even just learning, it’s doing anything else as a replacement for creating. Like that time last week I decided suddenly it was the most important thing in the world to upload all my comics from 18 years ago to this website instead of working on a new comic. Or the week before that when I decided redesigning this website was the most important thing ever, instead of working on a new comic. Or really anything instead of working on a new comic.
I suppose it’s all a variation of procrastination? I don’t know, I’ll look it up later.
Anyway, back to drawing something, before writing this blog post becomes a replacement for working on a new comic.
This town’s only big enough for one of us, meow meow
Hazel likes to imagine she’s in the old west. Maybe on a little ranch, farming a few fish, nothing too fancy. Peace and quiet. Working the land. Playing by her own rules.
The prairie winds gently tousling her fur.
Hazel the cat isn’t the spry young thing she used to be. But it’s not her age, or her size that prevents her from accomplishing the great jumps of her youth. It’s just that there comes a time when you’ve made all the jumps, you’ve seen the tops of all the cabinets. And once you’ve conquered all the great heights, what else is there?
Occasionally you’ll catch her, gazing casually toward the top of a closet, or the Billy book case in my office. You see her doing the math, calculating the angles. She could do it if she wanted to, but the excitement is clearly gone. Her interests now pulling her in different, fresher directions.
Like napping – now there is an undiscovered country.
A review of my creative output in 2022
As we tumble into the howling abyss that is 2023, it’s time for a little (forced) reflection. It’s what all the cool kids are doing this time of year. So on with it – what did I make last year?
- 7 illustrations
- wrote 3 short comics
- inked 2 short comics (a total of 4 pages)
- created 28 ink and watercolour postcard sized illustrations
- inked 2 comic strips
Well, that’s depressing. I need frequent reminding that this is not a full time job, as much as I would like it to be. The quantity of artwork I produce is, in many ways, outside my control. I can make the best of the time I get, by ensuring I have tools and a workspace that is ready to go when I am, but I can’t just not go to work, as much as I kick and scream. And I don’t have a say in when a kid needs me to help with homework, or murder a defenceless spider in the bathroom, or reanimate a decapitated Barbie.
Quality, on the other hand, is something I have complete control over. I have no pressure to hack something together by the end of the day. Johnny Corporate’s got no sway here. And I do think the quality of my art has increased. I pushed my illustration more, created more interesting drawings, and experimented more with colour and texture.
The comics I completed (not posted yet), and even the one I’m working on now, are also my best ever. The quality of writing and drawing is much higher, I’m trying different processes, tools, and compositions.
So I may not have completed as many projects as I would have liked in 2022, but I really like what I created, and what that says for my direction, creatively. Silver linings, I guess.
Onward, into the abyss! Happy new year, and all that.