The cycle of the seasons repeats itself. And though today greeted us on the front range of Colorado with a foot of snow on the ground, it is indeed spring and will be sunny and warm in no time.

For now and the foreseeable future, I’m taking a break from the doodles. I need to fill my spare time with writing, or else the stories in my head will never get finished. So like this bunny, it’s time to stretch, shake off the winter stiffness, and get to work. Thanks for sharing this creative outlet with me.

So, what do cats and dogs say when it’s raining really hard?

I went for a walk in the snow on the back of Pikes Peak (Divide, CO) with my friends, Judy and Shing.

Shing is a Havanese. Most of the walk he was off-leash, and it was hilarious to watch him rocket over the snowy tundra, his ears flapping in the arctic breeze. Occasionally he would pause for a photo op, half submerged in a snowbank. I wish my phone’s camera took better photos…

The only scary point for Shing was when three full-grown labs (a golden, black and chocolate), out of voice range of their human, came bounding down the trail and wanted to “play.” They were easily 4 or 5 times his size and got a little rough for the diminuitive fellow, so he hunkered close to Judy’s legs. After that excitement, though, when the big dogs had moved on, he was back to his energetically intrepid self.

Watch out, Maria Malaria. There’s a new skeeter in town. (Yeah, I’m still a little loopy from lack of sleep.)

During the two-hour flight from Houston to Denver that I was on yesterday, between the in-flight snack and landing, somewhere over Amarillo I’m sure, I inked this haughty fellow.

I thought he might be a waiter at first, then noticed he was addressing a judge.

When I was growing up, my family had a black tom cat named “Tom cat.”

My wife (who had lots of cats growing up) had a favorite named “Morris” who happened to look just like the finicky television celebrity of the same name. She still has a worn old t-shirt from the 80s with a print of his face on the front (the celebrity cat’s picture).

Do you have any favorite cat names?

Ever since we decided to get a dog I’ve been doodling happy dog faces. (We’re two months overdo, by the way, and it’s mostly due to my procrastination.)

What do you suppose is on this furry fella’s mind?

I’m thinking it’s something like he just heard someone say, “cookie.”

The Saturday before Valentine’s I had a dream that I was told what would happen to me in the afterlife.

Basically, I am going to come back as this bird:

That’s almost exactly what it looked like in my dream. Here it is from the side, even goofier:

A cute little four-and-a-half year old girl named Teagan was in the office last week. She asked me to draw her dad riding a motorbike on the whiteboard. (Had to think of a way to get her to make it animal themed…)

“If your dad was any animal, what animal would he be?” I asked.

Even four year olds know that everything’s better with monkeys.

This octopus  looks surprised. Not surprised enough to shoot away in a cloud of black ink, but like he was caught in the act.

…why they call it a pride.

proud lions doodle


I wonder what this barnyard hen is chasing? The Saturday-morning-cartoon obvious answer: she’s chasing a particularly speedy and elusive worm.

But she looks angry. So, maybe she’s shooing away a fox who was prowling around her chicks.

Then again, on an esoteric level, maybe that’s a look of determination instead of anger and she’s in physical training for the road-crossing marathon or the Sky Is Falling 2010 Iron Hen contest.

Last summer when we were riding our bikes in a nearby neighborhood we saw a hare. Not one of the common cottontail rabbits we have in and around our yard, but a huge jack rabbit, long legs and all. It’s the only one I’ve seen in Colorado, in the almost thirteen years that I’ve lived here. He was so big, he took my by surprise and I almost wrecked my bike.

My total for doodles last year (official posts, not photos or asides) was 59. So I exceeded my goal of 52 doodles in 52 weeks. Woo hoo. Now, what to title the book? Suggestions welcome.

The shortest day of the year came and went last week in the blink of an eye, or so it seemed. Now, though winter just started, with the days getting longer it’s going to start feeling like spring is just around the corner.

Yay!

She’s an alpaca, and her name is Mahogany’s Lunessa. As an office Christmas present, I made a pencil holder for a friend’s desk from this doodle I drew of an alpaca from his herd. (He raises alpacas.)

I like the goofy expression on her face. I wonder what she’s thinking?

And you definitely would not want to spread it on toast.

I’m more of a jam person myself. Strawberry preserves being my favorite.

Even rats are cute when they’re young.

Not to offend any rat-lovers out there. Each has its own personality and temperament, I’m sure. And beauty is only fur deep. But I’ve always found rats less appealing than say hamsters, gerbils, or guinea pigs.

A gorgeous Thanksgiving weekend in Austin, Texas, with a little yard work of moving some old cinder blocks. Yes, there were scorpions and centipedes. It’s Texas, after all.

To scorpions, a pile of cinder blocks must be like high-rise condominiums. Nice view!

What else would you expect from box turtles?

Of the martial arts woodland creatures, the most fearsome is the badger. Ferocious, tenacious, unstoppable, sly, he is an unbeatable foe.

His favorite form? The Crazy Leg move, of course.

“Look at my leg! It’s way up there, getting all CRAZY. What’s it going to do? I don’t know, because it has a mind of its own. Come closer and look. Look at the crazy leg!”

There is no defense.

Mother Nature says, “it’s bed time,” but a certain someone refuses to hit the hay.

bedtime porcupine protester

Though I live where it’s almost always sunny, the grass has faded to a yellow-brown crispiness and the trees have dropped their leaves in preparation for a chilly winter’s sleep. Only eight weeks of snaring woodland creatures left for 2009. My, how time flies. It’s been fun so far and looks like it will continue to be a positive creative outlet for me. I won’t be counting this one in the “52 doodles in 52 weeks”, though it does have a cute little porcupine. OK, maybe it counts.

Is there anything you absolutely want to do between now and the New Year?

porcupine calendar

Shrimp luggage prawn

Pack your bags, prawn.

Catch a cab, crab.

Hasta la vista, lobster.

I dropped “shellfish” last week from the menu. I’m not sure why this guy is angry, though. He should be happy to be off the chopping block (or out of the fishing net). Maybe I just drew his mouth upside-down…

Jacques’ Canadian accent gives him away again, while he is trick-or-treating with his American cousins in Michigan.

snaring_trick_or_treat_web

I like to draw bears, though they always tend to look like stuffed teddy bears rather than real ones.

To make them slightly truer to nature, I included their claws. It doesn’t really stop them from being cute and cuddly. Just makes them a little more dangerous.

 snaring_bears_web

(Sigh) If only we could…

 

snaring_elephant_painter_web

I decided recently to give up eating meat. It is for a variety of reasons and I’m not going to get all crazy about it. It’s kind of like a test of will power. Lots more veggies, fruit and grain in my diet.

I’m not going cold-turkey (ha!) on all meats just yet, but decided to start with beef. I’m not sure if I’ll ever phase out fish, since it’s the healthiest meat to eat. And I haven’t decided whether chicken or pork will be next on the list.

snaring_happy_cow_web

Bed bugs nibble on us when we’re sleeping, to drink tiny bits of our blood. We wouldn’t notice them if it weren’t for the fact that their bites make us itch. Since they normally do their business in the dark, we almost never see them.

snaring_bedbug_web

snaring_turtle_and_monkey_web

We went camping this weekend in Meuller State Park (Colorado) and enjoyed the cool air and high country with good friends. It rained Friday night and then a cold front blew through Saturday, deluging us Saturday night with a chilling rain.

Sunday morning the sun came out and with it the campsite was full of energetic little bluegray-headed birds that hopped around, pecking at goodies among the pine needles. They were dark-eyed juncos, and it was beautiful to see their little colored heads bobbing around the forest floor.

What’s your favorite camping story?

snaring dark-headed junco sketch

See the larger sketch.

Our woodland friends, the weasels, have a bad reputation for being sneaky thieves. They’re painted as untrustworthy skulkers, always up to no good. Well, I think they are playful, friendly, likable creatures, who are neither sneaky nor thieves.

snaring_weasels_web

I stand corrected.

A request last week to draw a turtle driving a Camaro raised a few questions in my mind regarding what kind of car a turtle would actually choose. Muscle or mileage? Domestic or import? Convertible or hard top?

What do you think?

snaring_turtle_camaro_web

And what would his license plate say?

[Thanks, JK, for the suggestion!]

scarab_heiroglyphAlmost three thousand years ago the ancient Egyptians believed that the sun was pushed across the sky by a giant scarab beetle.

They drew pictures (called heiroglyphs) on papyrus paper, carved stone and made neat amulets and other jewelry depicting the scarab.

Can you imagine that beetle’s job? Pushing, shoving, pushing, shoving, heaving and rolling that giant ball of fire across the sky with only six legs? Don’t get me started on the smell of sunburned beetle. Get that guy some sunblock!

snaring_scarab_web

Meet Matt von Pelt, the marmot.
Matt likes to lay very flat.
When Matt finds a rock that’s flat,
He spreads himself thin on it.

 And that is that.

snaring_marmot_flat_web

This doodle was inspired by a photo from my friend, Tracy. Read the rest of this entry to see her photo and a retelling of her “flat marmot” experience.

Read the rest of this entry »

Well, not oodles… but one poodle doodle.

Fifi aspires to model someday. For balloon animals.

snaring_poodle_web

Who doesn’t like to dangle from a tree limb or collapse in a pile of leaves and pretend to be dead? If only for a little while, it’s fun to play possum.

snaring_possum_web

Ungrateful children. “I’m hungry. I’m cold. I’m uncomfortable.”

It is the nature of things. When we’re little we think the world revolves around us because our brains are developing and we’re still being guarded by our parents. Plus, it is a fundamental survival instinct. It’s a good thing.

snaring_baby_birds_web

One of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child, though, is a sense of self-reliance and confidence to make it in the world on their own.

See the entire doodle:  Benevolent mother.

Do you think a leaf cutter ant appreciates a finely-grown leaf the way a woodcraftsmen appreciates a beautiful tree?

snaring_leafcutter_ant_web

snaring_kangaroo_rat_web

snaring_walrus_web

Some friends nickname their infant son, “Bug.” As in, he’s cute as a bug.

Recently, while getting artsy and craftsy with an arts and crafts project, they dipped his  tiny feet in blue baby paint to make some imprints. Once done, getting the paint off was more of a challenge than they expected and they’ve been finding little traces of blue in the cracks between his toes ever since. (Just thinking about having paint scrubbed out from between my toes gives me the tickle monster shivers.)

Needless to say, “Bug” became “Bug Blue Toe” for a while. Sounds kind of like a pirate name.
snaring_blue_toed_bug_web

Added trivia: while I was drawing this, I was listening to ELO’s “Boy Blue” on my iPod.

Here’s Abraham in the park, as mentioned before, enjoying a spot of tea.

snaring_rhino_tea_park_web

I think the owl is part of a small cluster of bad influence characters that occasionally pester Abraham and try to get him to do bad things. He’s above their influence, of course.

A bird’s plumage often reflects its location.

snaring_bird_on_wire_web

For example, this fellow could be found at a renaissance festival:

snaring_bird_jester_web

Above the canals of Venice:

snaring_bird_web_venice

20,000 leagues beneath the sea:

snaring_bird_deepsea_web

Near an English chocolate factory:

snaring_bird_wonka_web

I went camping two weeks ago with friends, among whom was a certain, adorable, most imaginative three-year-old named Ella.

Through suggestions and corrections (number of horns, flatness of forehead) she guided me in sketching some new characters, foremost being Abraham Hornswoggle. He’s the dashing fellow in mutton chops, sporting the top hat, cummerbund and cane.

snaring_abraham_rhino_web

He loves the opera, Sunday walks in the park, and discussing fine art and politics with his dandy friends.

snaring_aunt_sophia_webNext up was his disapproving Aunt Sophia. You can tell that she is a “she” by the bow between her ears and her eyelashes. With her nose always in the air, I imagine her in a conservative gown that comes up snuggly below her chin and is just frumpy enough to ward all but the frumpiest, most disapproving of her friends.

In Auntie Sophia’s house lives a boarder mouse named Ella who has run of the kitchen pantry and helps with the daily chores. On her free time she roams the expansive garden, finding adventure among the gladiolas and sage.

Many thanks to Miss Ella for helping me doodle these creatures.

snaring_ella_mouse_web_rough

I like the squat, warty shape of this toad content on his toad stool. Nothing silly or people-like (aside from his smile). Just a fun doodle. I like the earthy colors, too.

snaring_toad_toadstool_web

Do animals that typically get classified as an “all you can eat” food type ever risk going to a fortune teller?

snaring_crab_fortune_teller

My scanner is broken this week, which means my hand-drawn doodles are piling up on my desk. So while I wait for the trusty repair men to do their magic, I’ll resort to finding woodland creatures someplace other than my sketch pad. First place to look: out my office window.

There’s a cloud that looks suspiciously like a squirrel. I wonder if he’s taunting any cloud dogs?

cloud_squirrel

My friend, Ely, sent this note along with this photograph. It’s a funny coincidence that while I was drawing iguanas in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she was petting iguanas in Venezuela!

Thought you’d all enjoy these pics from my trip [to Venezuela].  My cousins spotted this iguana in a mango tree. So my uncle climbed the tree and shook him out.  I like the angry look on the iguana’s face.  Right after the last picture was taken, the iguana got his revenge by biting our friend who’s petting him by his head.  He honestly probably needed stitches on his little finger but the Venezuelan answer for that was more beer and dancing.

snaring_venezuela_iguana_photo_web

Reptile brains only process the basic fundamentals.

snaring_iguana_web

Translation:

“Hey, Keanu, let’s go for a dip in the surf!”

“Thanks, dude, but I just want to soak in some UVs here in the sun.”

What do Europeans call an inch worm?

snaring_centimeter_worm

the chicken or the egg?

The coffee! Coffee always comes first.

snaring_coffee_chick

He’s grumpy before his first cup of joe.

They’re already in the middle of the road, making us have to brake anyway. Might as well put those woodland creatures to work.

snaring_moose_sign_web

… able to eat bushels of leaves in a single, monotonously slow gulp.

It seems to me that some species wouldn’t benefit much from having a super hero among them. Can you get any slower? I wonder if his super power would be to hang from a branch for weeks at a time. Or to stare. The colorful cape would be a nice accessory, though.

snaring_the_sloth_color

A friend of mine went to the aquarium with his daughter and saw a moray eel. Then he drew it with chalk on the concrete when they were home and sent me the photo.

snaring_eel_photo_cropped

I followed suit with a cartoon version. It’s hard to make a moray eel look friendly without it ending up looking like a slow-witted dinosaur (like this one). When drawing eels and sea snakes, you can always start by drawing an S or a C since they’re floating in water.

snaring_moray_eel_web

When I was very young, some cousins of mine in Phoenix had a box turtle as a pet. (Maybe it was some kind of tortoise?) It wandered their yard, ever so slowly and seemed so huge to me. I was about seven years old at the time, so I’m sure it was pretty small.

snaring_turtle_color

 

(Stuff.)

…had roast beef. (You can tell by his full belly and content smile.)

All the news this week about swine flu got me thinking about our porcine pals. They’ve always got a smile on their faces, even if they are looking down their noses at us.

Maybe they just like to ham it up?

snaring_pig

It’s like Valentine’s Day for me. 19 years ago, my wife and I had our first real kiss. It was at an Earth Day concert in Austin.

earth_day_kiss_snare

The headliner: Spyro Gyra.

Happy Earth Day!

People have been saying for years that since cockroaches have lasted so long (tens of millions of years), they can survive anything we dish at them.

I wonder what they’re saying?

cockroaches

Hedgehogs are so cute, all pointy-nosed, soft-bellied and spikey on the back. When you look at them straight on, they have this bewildered, dazed look.

hedgehog_headon

But when I stand one up, he looks an awful lot like an armadillo. Even the same arm position, belly button and feet.

I really need to broaden my styles a bit.

hedgehogs_dazed1

(Yes, Stephen Colbert’s segment on hedgehogs got me thinking about them…)

Shakespeare: to bee or not to bee

I was in a meeting, doodling as usual to stay focused, and my little circles became bugs, then ants, and finally ants dancing. It reminded me of a song my friend Judy put out a couple years ago called “The Ants Dance.
ants_dancing_1

If ants dance, what style is more popular with them? I’d guess line dancing or maybe salsa.

ants_dance2

Everything’s better with monkeys!

In a production meeting today, we were brainstorming ideas on the dry-erase board and someone tossed out the idea “space monkey.” Well, that needed a doodle to go along with it. So here it is:

space_monkey_whiteboard

It could have been anything, I guess, but frogs are easy to draw. I like how she’s kind of suspended, floating in the water.

Plus I like her feet.

snaring_frog_whole

So, you come upon a pair of eyes staring up at you from the water.

What could they belong to? A frog? An alligator? A mudskipper fish? A crocodile? A toad?

Do you dare slip your head under the surface of the water and take a peak to see what the rest of it looks like?

snaring_eyes

There’s a kind of wasp in The South called a mud dauber. It builds its home out of mud by “daubing” little bits at a time with its jaws.

I imagine a southern insect to be a tough, contemplative bug of few words. 

southern_mud_dauber

For some reason, I always picture them leaning against split-rail fences.

Everything’s better with monkeys!

 

chimp_doodle

If we have an elks club, what do elks have?

elks_club

Do moose hang out in a human lodge one weekend a month to plan charitable fundraisers and to let their hair down?

Next to puppies and kittens, baby goats and sheep are probably the cutest, most playful woodland creatures on the planet. I love to watch them chasing each other, mock head-butting and standing, perfectly balanced, on all manner of things.

goat_kid_on_rock

My wife had a pair of goats when she was young who would climb on her mother’s car and perch on the edge of the chrome, walking only along the narrow edges of the car’s windshield and frame.

Sometimes when they get older, billy goats tend to get gruff.

Prairie dogs live in prairie dog towns.

Do they have official jobs?

 

prairie_dog_town

I flew to Austin, Texas at Christmas and drove from Austin to Houston and back while I was there. During all that time on the road I think I only saw one armadillo. When I was growing up, there, I saw them all the time.

Grubs are yummy!

Grubs are yummy!

A classmate and I had a comic strip in the school paper when I was in college called, “Waller City Limits.” It was modelled after Berk Breathed’s Bloom County and featured an armadillo as the main character. He looked an awful lot like this little fellow. Same stance and facial expression.

It is cold today. A frigid -3 degrees as I was driving to work. Cold weather makes me think of summertime and fun things you can’t do when your nostrils are full of ice, like doing a cannonball into a swimming pool.

In the animal kingdom, I think the most perfect cannonballs would be performed by the roly poly. Our pill bug friend is uniquely designed for maximum cannonballitude.

Perfect canonball execution.

Perfect cannonball execution.

Second place: the armadillo.

I received a photo of our friend, Chile, in response to “Aw, nuts” that I had to include. Life imitating art.

…Speaking of squirrels, Chile has had an arch enemy his entire adult life. While the squirrel usually just makes a mad dash between houses, on one particular day it decided to stop and taunt Chile. They exchanged chatters and barks for close to 15 minutes. When I went out to try and shoo the squirrel away it just stared at me, with a glazed look in its eyes. To be honest, it scared me, and instead of scaring away the squirrel, I brought Chile inside. I had visions of “Christmas Vacation” with the squirrel lunging for my jugular…   ~  Michael

chiles_nemesis

We have several rabbits in our neighborhood. They scurry from yard to yard. It’s fun to see their footprints in the snow.

Occasionally, we see one hunkered down in the center of our lawn, curled-up under the butterfly bush, or nibbling on the leaves of the babies’ breath it uses as a bed.

We know we’re not supposed to, but sometimes we toss them bits of vegetables like carrots and lettuce. They never eat our veggies.

bunny_in_grass_flat

(Never feed or touch wild animals, no matter how cute or cuddly they are. Don’t even get close to them.)

praying_mantis_caller_small

 

This is why praying mantises shouldn’t call square dances.

Plus, the dance floor gets all slippery.

Do you contra dance?

A squirrel has moved into our neighborhood. He runs the fence line and taunts the dogs in their yards, like an angry heckler at a comedy club.

squirrel_on_fence

If they get too close, he scampers off, only to return later to chastise and berate them again.

Stuff.

It would be a shame if beavers decided to drop the lumber trade and took up welding.
welder_beaver_wordpress1
As natural engineers, though, I think the things they built would really stand the test of time.

Stuff.

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