ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

My Cartoon Crush on Ximena Maier

Ximena Maier (Source

Ximena Maier (Source

Ximena Maier () is a madrileña (but Scotland-based) illustrator, and she is — sin duda — my newest cartoon crush. My latest doodle dalliance. Right up there with Elizabeth Graeber, Oliver Hoeller (aka the visual flâneur), Mike Lowery, Hallie Bateman, and Keri Smith.

Ximena Maier… has been working as a full time freelance illustrator since 1999, mainly with Spanish newspapers and magazines. She also illustrates cookbooks, travel guides and children’s books. (Source: Ximena Maier)

I discovered Ximena Maier’s whimsical artwork when an Essex friend (and printer) shared a sumptuous letterpressed illustration of a scene from Anna Tasca Lanza‘s Sicilian cooking school. A delicate and doodle-y (not precious) black and white line drawing sumptuously sunken into paper nearly 1/8″ thick… Bliss.

It turns out that most/all of the illustrations at their website,, were created by Ximena Maier. If you like what you find, you may also want to visit Ximena Maier’s food blog, Lobstersquad, and her art blog, Ximenita dibuja.. Enjoy!

Artists and Illustrators

Artists and Illustrators, by Hallie Bateman

Artists and Illustrators, by Hallie Bateman (Source:

Perhaps you’re already familiar with Hallie Bateman (@hallithbates)? She’s a cartoonist and illustrator, and she will make you smile. And laugh. And think. While chuckling. At yourself…

This cartoon answers the inevitable and perennial question:

“What is the difference between art and illustration?” ~ Hallie Bateman

Smile. Laugh. Think. Chuckle. On with the adventure!

Mike Lowery: Master Doodler and Illustrator

Mike Lowery, Illustrator and Doodler

Mike Lowery, doodling… and doodled! (Credit:

Mike Lowery ( is a master doodler illustrator. I must learn to be careful about calling illustrations doodles and illustrators doodlers. I get it. They’re different. And many artists who illustrate or draw consider the terms doodling or doodler to be pejorative.

I don’t consider doodling or doodler to be pejorative. In fact, I consider doodler a complement of the highest order, for to doodle is to break free. To be playful. To be curious. To explore. To express. Not all illustrators and artists doodle. But those who do doodle inspire the blazes out of me!

Mike Lower, Doodler

I would like to propose – with apologies offered in advance – that Mike Lowery is an especially inspiring master doodler.

And it turns out I’m not the only one who associates Mike Lowery’s capricious illustrations with doodles. For example, Jenipher Lyn (blogger, doodler and all around creative whiz) captured him in this aptly title post, “Mummies, DRY Humor and silly doodles, oh my!” And The oxford American made the doodle connection in an interview a little over a year ago.

THE OA: Did you ever consciously decide to be a cartoonist? Or were you always doodling and drawing all your life, and then one day someone paid you for your art?
ML: I’ve always worked towards the goal of doing illustration or comics or fine art…anything art related for work. There wasn’t any question that I would shoot for anything else. (Oxford American)

And sometimes even Mike Lowery makes the doodle connection:

Who Really is Mike Lowery?

So you’ve humored me long enough, endured my “Mike Lowery is a master doodler!” schpiel and now you’d like the unbiased bottom line. Right. Better pass the baton…

Mike Lowery is an artist living in Atlanta, Georgia… Mike’s work has been seen on everything from greetings cards to children’s books to gallery walls all over the world, and he is a Professor of Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta. (Mike Lowery)

Mike Lowery is an artist, an illustrator, and a professor. But he’s also a doodler. Period. And a damned good doodler! I dare say, a guru.

Mike Lowery, Illustrator and Doodler

Mike Lowery, doodling (

It’s difficult to explain the near-cultlike following Lowery has achieved if you’ve never seen him perform — and I do mean perform. Even though he prefaces every presentation as being a simple matter of sharing some drawings from his diary, there is no question that the self-concious, deapan commentary he weaves through his slideshows constitute a high form of performance art. You’re never sure if Lowery’s actually that charming or completely aware of his own brilliance and putting on that aw-shucks demeanor entirely for his act — either way, it’s tough not to be taken in. Somewhere between the Still Life series, a collection of cartoons about an apple and a pear who are in a relationship, but live with a third-wheel banana, and the introspective robot who worries about whether his wife is right and they’re ready to have kids, a devotion to Lowery is born. (DCist)

Ah-ha, Mike Lowery is even a performer… See why I like this guy?

Schopenhauer’s Flâneur

San Francisco: The Painted Ladies (

San Francisco: The Painted Ladies (

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism

Perhaps a flâneur is an exception to Schopenhauer’s observation. Or tries to be. A flâneur tries to amplify his/her field of vision by infiltrating the lives of others. The visual flâneur who illustrated Schopenhauer’s words above shares his (her?) pen and ink watercolors at, a simple but enticing river of illustrations “inspired by aimless ramblings of the streets”. Think of it as an evolving digital picture book for adults.

On this site, I continue the tradition of the flaneur; explore the streets and their people, follow my whims and reflect on my findings with pen, pencil and watercolor as a ‘visual’ flaneur. (visual flaneur)

Mission Dolores (Credit: visual flaneur)

Mission Dolores (

I don’t know the visual flâneur though I feel like I do. His images are familiar as if he illustrated many of the picture books of my childhood. As if I’ve been in many of these scenes before. While his eye is trained upon San Francisco most of the time, my affinity exceeds fondness for a city that has long pulled me.

The illustrations are playful and carefree but tinged with mortality. Less Pollyanna postcard; more urban reality amuse-gueule. Temptations to ramble further. Perhaps this is the finest gift of flâneurs’ literary and artistic bounty: an open invitations to flâner!

In “How to become a flaneur” the visual flâneur tempts the reader/viewer with a reminder that the richness of flânerie is free to all, everywhere, all the time.

I believe that life is lived at it’s fullest when we open up to experience the world. And there is a lot of world. All around us. You don’t even have to go far. It’s right there! (visual flaneur)

While Schopenhauer is likely correct, flânerie stretches our field of vision. If only for a while. And certainly stretching is superior to limiting, no?

virtualDavis Caricature #2

virtualDavis Caricature #2

virtualDavis Caricature #2

Remember the last caricature experiment? This next virtualDavis caricature was created by a gifted digital artist who goes by konko on fiverr. He was a friendly fellow and I’m considering having him create some additional images, this time of non-virtualDavis subjects. Vanity be damned! You can check out some examples of konko’s digital artwork in his online portfolio.

Soon I’ll share another fiverr caricature, an image that endows me with a fatter but tougher look. Until then, you might want to invest five of your own hard-earned ducats in a personal caricature to adorn your holiday card. Or your business card? Might be a handy way to let clients know you don’t take yourself too seriously. Of course, if you’re a surgeon or an attorney, you might want to pass on this genius idea. Back to the drawing board…

I’m not sure what I like so much about caricatures, except they seem to offer a self-deprecating way of looking at ourselves. And that’s categorically a good thing!

Have you ever noticed how many realtors include their photograph when advertising the properties they are listing? It’s weird. If I’m looking for a house, use that extra space in your ad to show me the kitchen, the back yard, the bathrooms. We’re in love with our own images. In the age of social media, we eagerly post pictures of ourselves all over the place. I’m no exception. Google keeps track, so there’s no denying it. But — despite frequent advice to the contrary — I tend to post goofy pictures of myself. Snapshots in quirky hats are a favorite. In other words, I try not to take myself too seriously, inviting others to chuckle when they see my photos. If I ever run for president, this may come back to haunt me, but I see it as being a bit like caricatures.

When I was young, there used to be a Mexican restaurant in Plattsburgh, NY called the Tijuana Jail where caricatures covered the ceiling. Diners who frequented the restaurant were eventually memorialized in exaggerated cartoons for the amusement of others. Both of my parents were up there, looking about as silly as they’ve ever looked. I never asked them, but I’d guess they liked being up there on the ceiling for everyone to laugh at. And probably all of the others did too. I hope so.

Ferdinand the Bull

[Ferdinand the bull]… doesn’t fit the typical mold of other young male bulls: he doesn’t like to fight or butt heads. All he wants to do is enjoy the meadow and smell the flowers… “Ferdinand’ is a perfectly absurd story which will make everybody laugh and chuckle. Smell the Ink

Absurd, perhaps, and sublime to boot! My favorite book as a boy; and today, my favorite boy as a book. The Story of Ferdinand. Or as I always remember and reference it, “Ferdinand the bull”. Some childhood habits die hard!

This simple but poignant children’s book written by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson has never lost its sparkle for me. It’s still inside, still beside my bedside, still my favorite gift for chilluns and olduns alike. The story, the pictures, the corks in the trees, the flowers in the ladies’ hair, the dazed look of confusion/euphoria on Ferdinand the bull’s handsome mug, his mother’s look of concern, the bee-stings-bull’s-@$$ action sequence, the long ride home. The Story of Ferdinand is a must own, read, re-read for the child in all of us. And the adult in every child.

Ferdinand the Bull Updates:

[January 24, 2012] I’ve come across the video version of Ferdinand the bull quite by accident. I never knew it existed. Raised without television I overlooked the obvious: most good children’s books were at some point Disnified!

A quirky little video, certainly no more compelling than the story. Perhaps less so? I am intrigued to see Lawson’s illustrations animated, as if — after so many years — Ferdinand the bull had wiggled off the page. However Ferd’s mother, especially her goofy walk and her grating voice, are a little far from the mark.

The rather dated flavor or this Walt Disney short and the almost literal translation of the story to film does provoke my curiosity what a modern digital version of Ferdinand the bull would look like. I imagine that the potential of today’s digital storytelling is much more compelling than Disney’s short film. Perhaps it already exists? Perhaps we should add it to the great “To Do” list in the sky?

Ferdinand Tattoo

Ferdinand the bull tattoo (Credit: TheNinth)

[March 26, 2013] It’s always fun to discover old posts that continue to be read. A lot. Like this goofy glimpse at Ferdinand the bull, a truly “evergreen” story! While it’s a pleasant surprise to be reminded how many folks stumble onto this post, I am even more delighted by the number of people I meet who remember Ferdinand the bull with fondness, who reference his story to help clarify real life situations, and often enough who tell me that I’m a real world Ferdinand the bull. I know that sometimes they’re gently (or not so gently!) mocking me, but the gibe always flatters me. Silly? Perhaps.

But there is something more I’d like to pass along, a more peculiar and wonderful update that I couldn’t possibly allow to languish in the distant reaches of the web: a Ferdinand the bull tattoo! No, I haven’t overcome my phobia of needles to commemorate my favorite flower smelling bull. But the magic of the interwebs have brought this illustrated arm (or leg?) to my joyful attention. Enjoy!

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