The Unflappable Molly

A close friend commissioned me to make a drawing of every member of our dog walking group.

I’ve been stuck on Molly. I have many great photos from her Mom and friends, and I started a very different piece back in June (or was it July) of 2021.

That piece just wasn’t speaking to me. I’d started it in the style of another of the drawings I’d done, but it just didn’t suit Molly as well. So I dragged my feet…there was no joy in Whoville.

In the last month I decided to walk away from that drawing entirely, which was a first for me. It came with consequences in the form of self-doubt. Had I lost my mojo?

In the lead-up to walking away from that drawing I was also busy with my business, and I had not been sketching or collaging or doing anything creative outside of work. I felt a creative constipation of sorts.

The holiday break was good for me because I just started playing again. The value of play can not be overstated. As a creative, sometimes you need to make something really bad, or good, or somewhere in between with nothing riding on it. There’s no pressure, just “pure” creation. I use quotes because pure isn’t really the right word. It’s more about letting go of any preconception or intentional design and just seeing what happens.

All of Molly’s pictures are in an album and I would flip through them every now and then. Molly is very much her own dog. She was a stray that adopted her family, and she has ideas about when things should happen. She’s a private dog…preferring to go off trail a bit to take care of business. She doesn’t waste time with too much jumping around and wiggly butt greeting. She tolerates her pack mates and she is sometimes protective of the group. But she is an anchor to the group. She is a founding member, and she is solid and reliable Molly. Ever present but not overly affectionate to the group.

This means the photo I eventually picked is probably not her most flattering, but I does match my experience of her. Aware of me, comfortable with me, but ultimately not impressed by me. I’m also making progress on it, and this morning, the sunlight coming through my front door threw a rainbow on the endeavor. I must be on to something.


New Year’s Eve of 2021 was spent celebrating with friends. The first celebration was with the loosely assembled membership and ancillary joiners-on of the WHDWC (Winthrop Harbor Dog Walking Club). Clover and I arrived early. While hanging out in the fading warmth of the car, I took out my new Moleskine and sketched the parking lot island in front of me.

I can declare conclusively that I prefer drawing trees in the summer…leaves can be amorphous blobs of greens in different shades. I ran out of time drawing the thousand little tiny branches, so the trees in my drawing look more spare and sickly than their living, yet dormant, models.

Time flew and soon our friends were arriving on scene to take a soggy walk through the woods. There wasn’t a hard rain, but there was a soaking mist. Still, there was good cheer along the trail, stories of two broken Christmas trees, speculation about expected snowfall, sticks thrown in the double digits (at least) to keep the youngest puppy in the group occupied, dog treats at the corners, 37 vertical jumps by the second youngest dog in the group, 428 butt sniffs, 32.5 sudden directional changes, 5 multi-dog ground sniffs for longer than 10 seconds. You know, the “usual” group dog walking activities. 

At one corner, Jack led us in the singing of Auld Lang Syne. He knew more of the words, so he performed a solo and we rejoined at the chorus. Later he posted a complete solo in front of a bonfire on Facebook…thanks Jack!

Happy New Year to you!

Treasures All Around

My mind needed a good airing out this afternoon, so Clover and I joined up with the WHDWC for a stroll through the woods.

Some creative and festive litter (a.k.a. Ornaments) were found dangling from various trees along the trail. I love the cheeriness of this kind of thing, but the cynic in me wonders if the creative individual will return to take down the dangling joy after the holiday. They really should. My faith in humanity will be lifted (not restored because humanity has a lot of work to do before my faith in them is restored) if they do.

The ultimate decoration arrived at the end of the walk with the sunset. Purdy.

Commissioned Piece

This is General Cuddles. He no longer has teeth, he does have cataracts in both eyes, and he does not walk steadily so he rides in a pram.

His ferocious demeanor upon meeting strangers remains intact. Meet him on the path and learn how he got his stars. Dogs in his own pack give him a wide berth. That may be because he no longer recognizes members of his pack so any dog brushing by—friend or foe—gets a good snarl.

Certain liberties were taken with his attire to suit his ferocity (the faux medal of valor) and clan affiliation (his snappy tartan).