I’d love you iF you let me but you won’t so I’LL love your dog

Your dog has no interpersonal Maginot line, your dog has let the Wermacht in, greeted it lovingly, licked its face and peed all over the mudroom with excitement that it’s here “HELLO HELLO OH MY GOD YOU ARE AWESOME LOOK AT YOU THIS IS GREAT YOU’RE GREAT LET’S GO PLAY YOUR LEG IS SEXY I’M GONNA HUMP IT”

There is always fun commissioned work drawing dogs.   Pros and Cons of doing commissioned dog drawings:


  1. Very positive experience for you and the dog owner… unless you screw it up, which is always possible.  But for the most part it’s great, everyone is happy, peeing-all-over-the-mudroom happy.

  2. Fur is fun, mindless work to draw.  It’s all about layering. Also, the original composition is easy, drop the photo into a grid template on the computer, draw a grid on your page and watch Game of Thrones while your pencil does the work. It’s not Leonardo Da Vinci stuff, it just happens.  

  3. Dog portraits can be much less exact then people portraits

  4. Very easy to market.  Just start drawing your family and friends’ dogs, post them on facebook and watch the commissions come in. There is no end of dogs to be drawn so there is always work.


  1. A short haired trim dog takes about a third of the time a curly-haired shaggy dog takes, waat!  Black dogs take much longer to draw then light dogs. A black, curly haired dog takes what youth you’ve got left like a hot teenage vampire who for some reason has been hanging around a high school for hundreds of years.

  2. Scope creep plunges you into doggy hell: You look up and realize it’s noon, you’ve put six hours into a $50 drawing… and you can’t resist posting it to facebook because it’s so damn good and now that’s the standard you have to draw to.  So you raise your prices and suddenly you have to say no to people A LOT and get flushed in the swirling depression of their bitter disappointment, and your dreams at night become haunted by betrayed devil-dogs on that plane of hell reserved for people who are mean to dogs and the people who love them.

  3. Pencils don’t go dark enough.  To get blacks to be dark you have to switch to ink or paint, and when you do that the gradients all have to be redone… and now you’ve committed additional time and see the doggy hell problem, above.

  4. Once you’ve drawn that particular dog and sold the artwork that’s it:  You can no longer make money off of those hours. The same is true for other commissions like house drawings etc.  The money is handed over and the time is poof gone. The solution to that is to create prints of the work, for instance awesomely hand-printed, for instance screen-printed, for instance in this tiny town in New Hampshire, for instance in my studio.  But as loving and awesome as your dog is, nobody else is going to buy a print of it, much less the dozens of prints it takes for a print to be an efficient income source.

  5. Now that you draw dogs, that’s what you are, a dog artist, not to be taken seriously… although the truth is there’s four people left in the world who take fine artists seriously so ignore this one.

Here are some of the dog drawings I’ve done, just for context: https://www.sunnydaystshirts.com/pet-portrait-drawings/

And here’s how the vectorizing on Beauty can save the world is going:

And here’s how the vectorizing on Beauty can save the world is going:

bad advice, Comedy

How to artist

How to artist

  1. It’s like family game night:  If you are not willing to lose everyone you love and all stability in life then you are not playing hard enough.

  2. Alternate between two lifestyles, 1) 24/7 work for  weeks on end and 2) Regretfully apologize to your family, swear you’ll be more practical, and do dishes until the darkness blots out all joy

  3. If people are relaxed and comfortable around you then you’re not committed enough.

  4. Learn to field the question “Have you talked to any other human being today?”

  5. Never watch anything with sex or violence because that requires you to look away from your drawing.  Rule of thumb is that if it’s at all interesting then it’s not for you.

  6. Make no plans for the future except wild success, despite zero artists achieving wild success. Dare to dream the deeply, deeply unrealistic dream of ditching your little broke annoying clients and replacing them with bigger, richer annoying clients.

  7. Lawn mowing, snow blowing, cooking meals, washing dishes, doing laundry, sorting recycling and cleaning house all steal time from doing artwork and are clearly the reason you haven’t achieved wild success.

  8. Fantasize about full time employment and block out the part where you chew your own leg off.  Mastication autoamputation is not covered by workplace insurance, Stumpy.

  9. Vacations are times for client-free drawing (Woohoo!).

  10. When on vacation, if the camp counselor divides you into a “People who love vacation” group and a “People who love to work” group be prepared for some awkward conversation  with the wacky sailing instructor.

  11. Backup sketchbook near the pooper.

  12. Be prepared for the shrill reaction of the yoga-pants mafia when you slap the art supplies out of tiny hands to protect those children from becoming artists.

  13. Have very strong opinions about things that no person for a hundred miles around you could care less about, then travel a hundred miles to find that one person who does care and fight him.

  14. As soon as any technique, business plan or relationship works immediately become bored with it and move on. Live in a perpetual state of novicehood because as soon as you get good at something, you backburner that skill so it’s no good to anyone. “Dang, I should learn welding!”.  Think of yourself as superskilled the way a person with an awesome toolset locked in storage thinks about his awesome toolset.

  15. Love long plane rides because the unstructured drawing time is awesome.  No client can expect you to work on long plane rides! What we’re here already!?

  16. Bills are subjective.

  17. You’re a freaking genius, you know.  I mean, you’re an idiot, but a genius… but an idiot.  But a genius. But an idiot. Strap in this will go on for a while.

  18. Compliments are cause for deep suspicion… was that sincere?  Did the complimenter even look at it? Is the complimenter acting?  Does the complimenter opinion even matter? WHY IS THE COMPLIMENTER COMPLIMENTING WHAT’S YOUR MOTIVE, GRANDMA?

  19. Shot of well vodka and Bud Light Draft.  Unless you sold something today, in which case it’s TOP SHELF and where did the money go?

  20. You can fill a canvas with any random crap you want to, but if you’re within a mile of the ocean and it’s nicely framed you can put a $200 price tag on it, apparently.

  21. You’ll regret any decision you make following the question “How do artists dress?”

  22. Keep working!  Don’t get distracted by stupid side projects like writing 22 tips on ‘How to artist’ it’s not even a full sentence.

Why sparrows?

This photo is of my daughter, Autumn, at age 7 (she’s 10 now) and that scraggly bird on her shoulder is Beaky the Sparrow.  My daughter is looking teary because Beaky always sat on my shoulder- it had imprinted on us as a hatchling- but never hers.  Turns out it was about altitude. I put Autumn up on a table and Beaky happily sat on her shoulder, and in this picture Autumn is tearfully, lovingly grateful.

Our sparrow, Beaky

Our sparrow, Beaky

Beaky is long gone now, lit out for birdy freedom, but raising her from a hatchlin was an amazing, life-affirming experience.  She spend most of her youth looking all ragged from molting but filled out and became beautiful before she left us.  We absolutely enjoyed the time we had with her. She was an arrogant, super self-confident little character, puffed up and full of herself, outraged at our insolence and constantly diving back into the fray, then following us around the house in a “Where are you guys going?  Let’s play!” kind of way. She was always playing in that cocky birdy way of hers, it was great.

And now I draw birds all the time, mostly sparrows, or the humbler birds. I like their character, unconscious beauty and self-possessed focus on the task at hand, and their hilarious dignity.  Eagles, owls, hawks would be grander but what can I say? Beaky the Sparrow had more character and love then any of those football team mascots, those national icons, those predators, those killers.  I’ll take a sparrow any day.

Vectors of the Sparrow hatchlings in ‘Beauty can save the world’ coming soon.  Traced on the iPad with an iPencil.  The print will be three colors, white, black and dark grey on lighter grey paper.

Vectors of the Sparrow hatchlings in ‘Beauty can save the world’ coming soon. Traced on the iPad with an iPencil. The print will be three colors, white, black and dark grey on lighter grey paper.

Creative Process, funny

Birds, niches, the crazy, Russians, my daughter, and carronades

1) WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE, NOTHING MATTERS AND I LIKE TO DRAW, not to be hysterical.  But from that baseline, what artwork to create?

2) Birds are awesome, they’ve got intricate, detailed feathers and stuff.  What subject hasn’t been drawn about ten gajillion times? I landed on birds, especially the humbler birds, especially sparrows.  Seahorses would also be cool (and octopi!) but not as cool as birds. Here are other great subjects not as cool as birds:

Fantasy characters and superheros: There’s an ocean of artists doing those, heck drawing any other thing = instant niche.  Fantasy subjects art quality has been cranked up to an amazing level. Too much competition, I coward. Also my favorite pen and ink artists all end up doing Star Wars or Game of Thrones stuff because it sells, sells, sells and since I apparently hate success and money I don’t.

People = What do we need more people for? we’ve got zillions and zillions.  They’re everywhere going places and doing stuff with VERY GREAT SELF IMPORTANT ENERGY, spouting trite platitudes,  demanding things, reproducing, making me uncomfortable for no good reason, fuhgeddabodit. People are only interesting to me when you peel back a couple layers of defenses and get down to the good stuff, the crazy unique energy that every one of us has and hides… and that New Englanders hide in particular.  Say anything out of the ordinary and New Englanders start digging escape tunnels, they run off to mow their lawn. I like Russians. Pour some vodka into one and be nice to them and suddenly you’re their BEST FRIEND FOREVER AND EVER, let’s break out the crazy! But Ty, you say, if you find people so onerous, what about you, you deplorable hypocrite? Well, says Ty, I’m not doing self portraits, either.

Sexy ladies (speaking of Russians): I likes me a good titillation as much as the next guy but I’d like people to pay attention to the art and message, plz. If they’re in for the sexy they’re not in it for the art… plus I’ve got a ten year old daughter and I’d rather her not have to think of her ‘ol Dads’ sex drive when she looks at my art, or worse, to think being sexy is super-important to get attention.  She’s going to do great in this world and she doesn’t need that shit.

Zombies/horror stuff:  Pen and ink artists are all about horror but let the sun shine, baby, lighten up, jeez.  I gotta live in this head, evil isn’t welcome up in here.

3) I really do have a message to get across, some realworld philosophy that has helped me along..  Why do it with art and freakin birds? Because logic sucks. We rationalize, we debate, we come up with talking points, we try to take the news cycle.  It’s all rows and rows of mental cannonades and grenadiers defending the core lizard brain. You see something, you feel about it and then out comes the insults, meh.

Okay that’s it more later

Here are the roses from ‘Beauty can save the world’ vectorized

Here are the roses from ‘Beauty can save the world’ vectorized

funny, Creative Process, Pen and ink artwork

Betrayed by warm grey

It’s blind o’clock in the morning , icy howling wind in the black night outside is threatening to knock a tree over a power line and set up that Christmas Miracle, as in it would be a miracle if I found our generator and that generator actually started.  The great chia state of New Hampshire is blanketed with trees about to down power lines and freeze our pipes, ugh. My agent says make your blogs sexy, what to I do with weener shrinking pipe freezing wind storms? I don’t have an agent.

I’m up and working on the artwork; it’s not going that well, at this point it has layers and layers of watercolor, ink, acrylic, markers and my tears.  I used these Blick 30% warm grey markers to color big chunks of the artwork, refusing to admit they’ve got pink hew. My sig other said “Why’d you make it pink?” so I said “It’s not pink it’s warm grey!” and then my 10 yr old walked in and said “Why’d you make it pink?” so I yelled “Warm Grey!” and she said “Sure, like that pink scarf you wear everywhere” so I dropped her off at the orphanage.

So my very subtle color with the watercolors and acrylic came to exactly bo diddly; I hooked the scanner up to the laptop but the scanner refused to work.  So I aimed lights at the the artwork, took about eight good photos with my iPad and after a photoshop photomerge it looked like this:

Photomerge of a 18” wide by 24” tall drawing. Over the next few weeks I’ll vectorize a bit at a time on the iPad every morning until it’s done, then prepress and screenprint it…. and in Illustrator and photoshop I’ll hammer out the many, many problems. This original will probably go in a drawer until Armageddon.

Photomerge of a 18” wide by 24” tall drawing. Over the next few weeks I’ll vectorize a bit at a time on the iPad every morning until it’s done, then prepress and screenprint it…. and in Illustrator and photoshop I’ll hammer out the many, many problems. This original will probably go in a drawer until Armageddon.

Look at the subtly cool and warm greys, the light blue I put in the sky and swishy bits, the delicate shading.

So I greyscaled all that out and am ready to trace on the iPad, probably on the plane to California for Christmas, I’m the only person ever too look forward to plane rides…

How important is the original?

Sneaking around like a ninja at 4AM, making coffee stealthy like Navy Seals (silent percolation!) which is ironic since when Aut and Ali get up they make coffee like an artillery barrage.  I mutter at migratory items for being out of place: Geezer goggles, ten thousand pens and pencils, headphones, and ipad, phone, computer (to make sure the internet isn’t different on one of them), yin-yang coffee cup. I like to make sure there’s enough clutter to make my sig other insane, because pure rage helps her wake up in the morning.  Here’s what I’m working on:

detailed lower half of ‘Beauty can change the world’

detailed lower half of ‘Beauty can change the world’

The big question today that I’m overthinking is:  How important is this original?

There’s more than enough detail here to go into production:  From here I scan it and vectorize it using Illustrator or an iPad app with iPencil called Graphic (Worst app name in history, try doing a ‘Graphic Help’ Google search).  Vectorizing takes a long, long time and requires zero mental activity, ‘slike playing solitaire ‘til dawn with a pack of 51. Audible sends engraved thank-you cards, throws parades in my honor.

But what about the original?  It’s completely unnecessary to finish the original, all I need is enough information to vectorize, and then the original drawing goes in a drawer somewhere. The me of the future will come across it while searching for my rocket pack or something and say ‘huh look at that’, briefly consider throwing it (and a hundred other drawings) in the EnviroClean © Vaporizer, decide not to, and put it back in the drawer until the earth plummets into the sun.

OR, I could polish it up, spend many hours sharpening and cleaning the image, frame it and see if it will sell.  

The problem with that is that it’s many, many hours, and I’ve made a couple bad decisions for keeping the original:  Bristol Board kind of sucks for this, it’s no good with the water-based brush on ink, it wrinkles like my cottage-cheese looking buttocks. I should have gotten a drawing board (and done some sit-ups).  Also, I dove in without consideration for framing because I can adjust for that on the computer… so framing this might be wonky. From this day forth only frameable-sized drawings, I so decree it!

Anyway, to finish the original or not to finish the original? I should see if I can find a buyer, and finish only if I know it will sell.  The problem there is that Facebook is sick of my shenanigans, I’ve got diminishing returns like a coke addict, the likes go down and down as I post similar artwork, folks are sick of it.  I get all itchy, go into withdrawals, look into facebook rehab, fail to find facebook rehab, invent facebook rehab, become a zillionaire, get hooked on actual coke, and nobody wants that I’m a father for chrissakes.

Oh crap a snowplow truck just rumbled by, it’s dark out this morning and I haven’t looked outside… I might enough up behind a snowblower in just a sec, argh, gotta go.

Paris in the present tense

Listening to Mark Helprins “Paris in the Present Tense” on audiobook, because I loved his “Soldier in the great war” so much. It’s uncomfortable: In the first book, written years and years ago the theme seemed to me to be ‘beauty can save the world’. His main character is an Italian Alpini soldier in WWI whose grim/beautiful adventures are told by his older self years later; after the war (s) he’s become a Professor of Aesthetics, a man who studies beauty, which is a concept I find delightful. The awfulness of WWI serves to offset the beauty of art, the natural world and infatuation, sharpen it, make it wonderful. Mark Helprin is screaming “FIND AWE AND EMBRACE IT’.

But Paris in the Present Tense has a similar main character, an older music professor at a Parisian college, who has devoted his life to music and beauty. This story is set in 2014 and everything has changed. Less war and death so that’s good, but much of the point of the first part of the novel has been his regret in having lived a simple aesthetic life. He doesn’t have enough money to pay to have his grandson treated for cancer (better then the French medical care) and he feels terrible about it.

This hits so far home for me that I’m struggling to keep reading. You can’t be an artist without to some extent being an antimaterialist, and part and parcel of antimaterialism is not having a lot of money around. My justification for that is easy: Lots of people work hard, miserable lives in terrible jobs and still don’t have a lot of money around. Screenprinting prepress graphic designers are $18 per hour at most, and I can make that with my own shop, my own art, and still have time for raising my beautiful daughter. I was never destined for a lot of money, I guess. Captain obvious here but man I hope I never have a Grandson with cancer, I’m not going to be able to do a thing.

SO was it right for me to live an aesthetic life instead of a practical money-oriented one? I imagine there’s an ocean of office workers who sit in their cubes making much more money then I do who wish they could be self-employed starving artists. For them I should stop complaining. Besides, even those office workers don’t have the kind of money it takes to treat cancer in a grandson… or even if they do, they could live their lives with crushing regret for not having enough money to treat a second cancerous grandson!

The sadness and regret is a part of the beauty; beauty without some darkness is very trite and fanciful. Creating artwork is full of the hope that the message of beauty, art, antimaterialism and a search for unique awe is a big part of the reason for living! Everything entropies, the darkness is with us always, especially as we get older; What we get from this life is wonder, awe, satisfaction, contentment… if we are lucky, make beautiful decisions, and are productive.

5AM I’ve getting a 2nd cup of coffee and putting pen to paper, the day has to start.

Beauty can change the world

Extrapolate ‘Beautiful decisions can change the world” and it overcomes the “What being shot at with an AK-47?” argument. “What am I going to do, paint a beautiful picture? Violence is the source of power, not beauty. Police carry guns not paintbrushes.”

Philosophy should be taught in the schools, it really should, if only to overcome materialism. I mean, violence and immorality in general, too, but if we could focus in on beauty and art maybe the next generation would make some decisions that would allow people to do that, rather then scrambling for money, resources, health, time.

There’s more then enough stuff in the world to give us all the time we need, I wish we could focus on time instead of money.

I don’t really expect anyone to read this blog, and I don’t know how long I’ll stick to it, but the beauty of that is it matters exactly zero how much or how little I write, or what I write about. Just now I am focused in on this new art show: I need several more artworks and I’d like them to convey the idea that Beautiful decisions can save the world. I call the show the Sunny Days Aviary… maybe I’ll change it. Right now. it doesn’t matter a bit.

Nothing matters a bit.

I am a not-terribly charismatic middle age hermit in a very rural place working by myself to draw, draw, draw something that will spark the imaginations of thousands of people I’ve never met. To break the solitude and introversion I’ll write out my thoughts on the artwork here once in a while. Maybe I’ll nail down better the beautiful thing that I’m trying to say, narrow it down to pithy sound bites that I can spout at people when they ask about the art.

Nobody asks about the art. They go their own way; we’re not in a time or place where art is a culture-bearer, and people are busy. Ten seconds they’ll look at a very detailed piece and move on; much of what I draw is an attempt to slow them down a bit, delay and get the message across: BEAUTY CAN CHANGE THE WORLD MAKE BEAUTIFUL DECISIONS.