illustration

Dreams of Old Dogs

“The memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of a man in his prime.”
“Free Four” – Pink Floyd (Roger Waters)

Nearly two months ago, we lost our dear girl, Sadie. By dog years, she lived to ripe old age of around 16. Still, it seems she was taken way too soon. Fortunately, she retained her relatively good health until the end, with only arthritis gradually hindering her mobility. In her later months, she slept more and more and I’d love to occasionally see her feet twitching as she dreamed…of what I can only guess. But given her lifelong hobby of chasing squirrels and rabbits, even when her spirit was far more willing than her body, I’m pretty sure she was imagining herself being on the hunt.

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Proposed Pres. Donald J. Trump Memorial

Sometimes you just need to “go low”. Totally juvenile depiction of Tweeter Dum in his natural habitat.

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Donald Trump’s Loose Lips

The U.S government has always placed a premium on keeping its secrets, and this has extended into its  messaging to civilians as well, though today the emphasis is more on being aware of what we see and hear (If you See Something, Say Something) rather than what we say. But during WWII, wartime posters clearly sent the message that careless blabbing could carry dire consequences.

Last week’s meeting in the Oval Office between Donald Trump and high ranking members of the russian government, in which classified information was allegedly revealed, reminds us that trusting information to someone with “loose lips” could ultimately sink ships and all of us with it.

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March for Science- Earth Day 2017

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.  ― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

This Earth Day, April 22, 2017, scientists, those who support their work, and those concerned about our current government’s disastrous environmental policies will gather in cities and towns worldwide in a march to bring awareness to the state of our planet and what we’re doing to it. I, along with thousands of others, will be marching in downtown Chicago (and doing some sketching).

Here’s the March for Science mission statement as presented on their webpage:

The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.

Hope everyone I know will be there and/or lend their support in body or spirit.

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Chicago Field Museum sketchbook

Here in Chicago, we’re lucky to have a wealth of world class museums to visit. Several of them, including the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium, are clustered in a group next to Soldier Field known as the “Museum Campus”. As a student, I made numerous trips in from the western suburbs to visit each of them years before I could appreciate what local treasures they are. Fortunately, I’m part of the Urban Sketchers Chicago group, a group open to artists of all backgrounds and training, who are interested in sketching in a live environment, and our regular sketching meetup this month took us to the wonderous Field Museum of Natural History. Here are some of the sketches from that trip:
This one is of a Peregrine Falcon, which has recently been upgraded from “endangered” to “threatened”, thanks to the efforts of wildlife conservationists.

This is a sketch of a Black Hat Dancer’s costume worn by Buddhist monks in the ritual of the Cham dance, which is considered a form of meditation and an offering to the gods.

This is the Field Museum’s most famous resident, Sue, sketched during an earlier visit. She was acquired in 1997 and is, to date, the largest, most complete, and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.

Here’s a sketch of a pair of fighting African elephants who, along with Sue the T-Rex, are featured prominantly in the main hallway of the museum. These elephants are one of the first specimens displayed by the Field Museum in 1909. Here’s a fun video about the people & taxidermy involved in bringing the pair to life.

And finally, here are a few more miscellaneous sketches of various exhibits throughout the museum.

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The Wind is Coming: Donald Trump’s House of Cards

The Wind is Coming: Donald Trump's House of Cards

The Wind is Coming: Donald Trump’s House of Cards

“Democracy is so overrated.” -Frank Underwood , House of Cards (Season 2, Episode 2)

In a recent New York Times interview with Donald Trump, the subject turned to energy policy, specifically alternative energy solutions. In typical Trump fashion, his response was meandering and full of vagaries. When pressed on a meeting he had with Brexit leaders regarding windmills and how they might detract from the views on his Scottish golf course, he came up with the memorable line, “The wind is a very deceiving thing.” From there he rambled on about how windmills are made in Germany and Japan out of massive amounts of steel that “goes into the atmosphere”(?) and “kill all the birds”.

This is a man to whom we’re entrusting the future of our country and in many ways the world. His decisions will no doubt effect every one of us, whether we live in the US or not, for the next 4-8 years and likely much longer, especially in terms of the environment and Supreme Court appointments. For those who haven’t read the interview and still say we should give the man a chance as we have all previous Presidents, I challenge you to read the interview in its entirety and NOT conclude that Donald Trump is mentally unbalanced and has absolutely no business anywhere near the Oval Office.

Already his cabinet nominees read like a who’s who of corruption, many of whom have expressed opposition and even taken legal action AGAINST the departments they’ll be heading . It’s amazing that the numerous charges of sexual harassment against him and his admitted sexual assault, disturbing as they are, are not even the most worrying of his corruption. Neither are his countless business conflicts of interest, which he’s done nothing to eliminate and stands to profit from BIGLY.

Now Trump and his cronies’ well documented ties to Russia are finally coming to light, conveniently AFTER the election. Whether Trump himself was unaware of the Russian hacking of the DNC emails, he now seems indifferent and even resistant to uncovering the truth. And now, he’s continuing his crusade to discredit all major media outlets and specific reporters who aren’t firmly onboard the Trump train.

In three days, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, an event considered unthinkable and I even took part in lampooning just a year ago. And just as surely, some day, either before his term is up or after, the full extent of his corruption will be exposed and his house of cards will come tumbling down.

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Summer’s End: Farewell Cicadas & Walnuts

  1. CicadaWalnuts06Fall has definitely arrived to the Chicago area, and with it the end to the summer’s familiar ambient buzzing sound coming from the native cicada. This year’s brood was the annual cicada, which according to Wkipedia, are also known as the dogday cicada or harvestfly, though I’ve never heard them called either. cicadaI’ve taken some artistic license and depicted the orange eyed and wing tipped 17 year cicada (aka. the periodical cicada) who, according to the “Chicago Botanic Garden website”, aren’t expected to emerge until 2024.

As for the walnuts; our next door neighbor’s grand & glorious walnut tree has branches which extend over our fence, towering far above our driveway. Throughout the later summer months, the sound of squirrels cracking open the hard shells can be head clearly and constantly across the back yard. walnutsThe falling nuts striking the metal garbage can lids from 20-30 feet act as a warning gong for anyone passing beneath. They’re fairly substantial and a direct hit on the head could lead to hospitalization or, at the least, a nasty bump.

Like cicadas emergences, walnut tree production can vary greatly from year to year, and may be on an “alternate bearing” schedule, producing nuts one year and reserving their resources the next. As it happens, this was a very bountiful year for our neighbor’s walnut tree, with a sea of green, nearly lime-sized walnuts dotting the rear part of our driveway. Later, those that remain after the squirrels have had their fill take on the familiar wrinkled, brown look of dried walnut shells. As a bonus, I’ve discovered that disabling the electric eye on the garage door results in a powerful nutcracker.

For more info:

“University of Illinois extension: Cicadas in Illinois”

“Morton Arboretum:Black Walnut Tree”

 

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Trump & Putin: Really Into Each Other

RussianDolls“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”
-Winston Churchill, 1939

 

What to make of Donald Trump’s relationship (or lack thereof) with Vladimir Putin?

A sampling of Trump’s contradictory quotes only makes things murkier:

Donald Trump last week: “I never met Putin. I don’t know who Putin is.”

Donald Trump in 2013: “I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success.”

Donald Trump in 2015: “I got to know (Putin) very well.”

Donald Trump yesterday: “Just so you understand, he said very nice things about me. But I have no relationship with him. I don’t…I’ve never met him. I wouldn’t know him from Adam except I see his picture, and I would know what he looks like.”

And Donald Trump is (just barely) seen as the more “trustworthy” candidate.

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Game On: Donald vs. Hillary

Hillary tormented by Alien TrumpSo it’s come to this. As grueling as the campaigns have been on the nominees, sildenafil it’s been truly agonizing for the voters. And at the presumed end of the nomination process to determine the two most qualified candidates for the highest office in the land, it’s hard imagine coming up with two less likable individuals.* And with the proven effectiveness of negative ads, it’s only going to get uglier leading up to November’s general election.

Only five more months until it starts all over again.
And remember: in the voting booth, no one can hear you scream.

*In the latest polls , Donald Trump has an unfavorability rating of 63%, with Hillary Clinton only slightly better, with a rating of 61%

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The “Golden Wrecking Ball”

Sarah Palin's Trump "Golden Wrecking Ball"This Memorial Day weekend, sildenafil Sarah Palin gifted political cartoonists the world over with the perfect nickname for 2016 GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. In a glowing and rambling rally introduction, she dubbed him the “Golden Wrecking Ball”, a name that will hopefully follow him through the remainder of his campaign. Thank you Sarah!

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Dog Phobias. Case study: Sadie and Ella

Dog PhobiasPhobias are strange things. Most of us have them to some degree. I myself have a pronounced fear of heights. Some call it a phobia, which implies an irrational fear, but I’d call it common sense fear of bodily injury due to falling from a great distance.

Dogs are similar in this regard. But our two girls, Sadie and Ella, couldn’t be more different when it comes to weather conditions for instance. Ella shows a total disregard for thunder and lightning, whereas Sadie goes to her “safe spot” behind our couch and will wait out the duration of the storm, sometimes trembling at an especially loud crack of thunder. She’s gotten a bit better as time goes by, but no amount of petting and soothing talk will completely dispel her fear. And according to canine psychologists, by overcoddling her, I may have only been rewarding and reinforcing her fearful behavior. Oops.

After 13 summers of occasional loud & violent storms without incident, any intelligent animal should realize thunder & lightning are a natural occurance and nothing to fear, right? Then again, lightning strikes DO account for around 50 deaths and 300 injuries on average annually in the U.S. alone, so maybe her fears aren’t totally irrational. Ella, on the other hand, has no qualms whatsoever about going out in the middle of a loud thunderstorm. So who is the smarter dog? The one who blissfully ignores the forces beyond her control? Or the one who spots potential danger and avoids it at all costs?

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Trump!

Morally bankrupt Donald TrumpIf the race for the Republican presidential nomination is a circus, Donald Trump is definitely its number one sideshow attraction. Whether repeatedly dropping the f-bomb at a speech in front of potential donors, giving out his opponent’s personal phone number, or lobbing cheap insults to anyone who disagrees with him, his campaign so far more closely resembles a Comedy Network roast or a WWE taunting rather than than a presidential run. And so far, the audience seems to be eating it up. As of this moment, he leads among the GOP contenders in the major national polls.

So keep it up, Donald! It should be an entertaining year ahead.

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Inequality and the California Drought

 

A while ago, I was given an assignment to create an illustration for a national conference addressing economic inequality in the U.S. I saw it as a great opportunity, since it’s a vitally important topic and one which I have very strongly feelings about. I was given the main thesis along with some thoughtful initial direction, and and I presented several rough concepts for consideration.

After a number of back and forth iterations, the one that was ultimately decided upon was a simple allegorical image depicting ladders and star-bearing trees as a metaphor for inequality. The thinking was to present the subject as being more about inequality of opportunity and not so much about class conflict. Due to exclusive copyright issues, I’m unable to show the final image, but one of my initial rough sketches, which I used as inspiration for this image, was seen as putting too much emphasis on the “99% vs. the 1%” for this particular assignment.

Now, given the recent headlines about California’s mega-drought, it’s taken on a more literal meaning. Gov. Jerry Brown’s conservation and rationing measures are already being criticized for giving unfair breaks to big business and the oil industry in particular, whose fracking technology uses tremendous amounts of water for an already controversial process. Solutions for now involve conservation and shared sacrifice, and praying for rain. In the long term, growing and engineering crops that require less water, and improved desalination and groundwater drilling techniques may help. Given the fact that nearly half of the nation’s produce is grown in California, it’s a problem that will eventually affect nearly everyone in the U.S., most of all those who can least afford it.

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Warren in the Temple

I must confess, it’s been a while since I attended my last Catholic school religion class (which reminds me, it’s been eons since my last Confession too), but some of the New Testament stories and lessons have stuck with me and still resonate all these years later.

Albrecht Dürer

One that I’ve always found especially thrilling was the single documented incident in which Jesus lost his cool and, in a fit of rage, threw out a group of moneychangers doing business in the temple. The story was always presented to illustrate Jesus’ human side, and as young students, how could we NOT thrill to the story of a badass Jesus brandishing a handy whip and going all Indiana Jones on the greedy heathens, driving them from the temple, yelling, “Do not make my Father’s house a house of trade!” (John 2:13-17).

While for the most part monetary transactions have been banished from the churches (though you’d never know it looking at Joel Osteen Inc.’s megachurch), the same can’t be said of the temples of government, where Wall Street bankers and corporate lobbyists have long been calling the shots in Washington.  Thanks in large part to the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling, unlimited campaign financing has lead to the election of politicians who serve the interest of their corporate donors, not their constituants.

In this environment of decades-long erosion of middle class wages while the accumulated wealth of the top 1% has skyrocketed, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has made a name for herself by calling out the political corruption that has lead to such rampant inequality. Fighting the lonely fight for the middle and working classes, she, along with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have declared a war of sorts against the overwhelming influence of the megarich on the legislative process.

Belying her stereotypical librarian appearance, she delivers fiery speeches  preaching against Wall Street corruption and its insidious power over US politics and policies. This has lead to a growing grassroots movement for an Elizabeth Warren Presidency not seen since the improbable  and meteoric rise of Barak Obama in 2007.  And it seems the more Sen. Warren flat out declares that she’s NOT running for President in next years election, the more enthusiasm builds for her potential candidacy.

As much as I’d love to see a Warren candidacy, barring a political vacuum in which, for whatever reason, Hillary Clinton decides NOT to seek the Democratic nomination, a 2016 run for President seems to me increasingly unlikely. But we can hope.

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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Dave’s Ink!

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Pangolin and Armadillo- my soon-to-be-written children’s book

Lately I’ve been exploring the idea of authoring and illustrating a children’s book. So far, I have the main characters, Pangolin and Armadillo, and I’m working on building a story around them. That’s the easy part, right?

Pangolin ball

I only recently learned what a pangolin is. For others unfamiliar with the critters, they’re small to medium sized mammals native to the tropics of Africa and Asia and are noted for their scale-covered bodies and anteater-like tongues. Unfortunately, they’re also quite tasty (according to the locals) and are in danger of being hunted to extinction.

 

 

 

Armadillo

Meanwhile, separated by a vast ocean, the armadillo makes it’s home anywhere from South America to the south-central United States. Though they share some similar characteristics, most notably the body armor and the ability to curl up into a hard-shelled ball, they’re actually fairly distant relatives.

 

 

 

First character sketch

My story will detail the gripping adventures and unusual circumstances leading up to the chance meeting between the exotic Pangolin and a travel-wary Armadillo. Romance and hijinx ensue. Look for it at your neighborhood (or online virtual) bookstore once I get around to writing/illustrating it and find someone to publish it. Then of course there’s the film rights and the plush toy royalties to haggle out. So much to do!

 

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