Point of Exquisite Suspension

Thoughts & life experiences of a Chicago area graphic artist

08 December 2016

When I heard about John Lennon's death...

I was surrounded by fellow college students at a Christmas-themed gathering in the Student Center of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Illinois in 1980. The event was organized by the local chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ but it was an excuse for any interested students from a variety of groups to socialize and enjoy the holiday spirit.
From my sketchbook, a drawing I made of Lennon just a few years after his death.
© O. Douglas Jennings. All rights reserved.
Early on, a student arrived who I recognized as being in a couple of my classes. Tall, slim and outgoing, I had not realized he was member of any Christian group on campus. But he got everone's attention to say he had heard that John Lennon had be shot and killed in New York.

The crowd's initial shocked silence gave way to murmurs of disbelief and grief. The student who had broken the news, and whom (I'm embarrassed to admit) I thought was enjoying being the center of attention, led us all in singing Lennon's song "Imagine".  I seem to remember that we shat "So This is Christmas" as well.

The gathering went on after that. I have flashes of visual memories of the room and my fellow students from that evening. John Lennon was not a particularly popular figure among many Christian groups at the time since he had flippantly remarked that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus at some point. And he expressed sympathy for socialist ideas, according to what I had been told. So that our Christian group was lead to sing songs in his honor at his passing has always stuck in my mind.

I don't remember the student's name who led the Lennon songs. Nor do I ever remember seeing him at other gatherings after that.

29 November 2016

Surprising Ways

Inspired by my experience relayed below, I call this both
"Crow Angel" and "Raven Angel" depending on my mood.
© O.Douglas Jennings. All rights reserved.

A sense of joy often comes to me in a variety of surprising ways.

Sometimes it is when I’m in joyous fellowship with others and see the hand of the Lord at work in the events, hearts and minds of brothers and sisters in faith and humanity.

Sometimes it’s in the quiet stillness of dusk when I see a blessed breeze blow over the tops of the trees and remember the nearness of God.

Not too long ago, I while mowing the lawn, I twisted my ankle. It happened at the very back of our yard near the retaining wall where the yard is sharply sloped. Inexplicably, even though I had mowed over this stretch of turf hundreds of times, my foot caught in a nook of the ground that I couldn’t see under the grass and it bent grotesquely with a crunch of cartilage and muscle. The shock of pain made me dizzy as I released the safety handle that abruptly turned off the mower. I sat, half falling, on the sloping ground. All my strength was sapped. I actually wanted to lay down and close my eyes. I stretched my legs out and leaned on my elbow when my wife, Chacha, who had seen me from the kitchen window, came out to see what was the matter.

“What’s going on?”, she queried, keeping any alarm in her voice under control.

“I twisted my ankle!” I laughed weakly through the pain.

She helped me walk to the house as I thought, “Our yard is too long!”. But before we got to the steps on the patio, I felt extremely faint. In a cold sweat, I said, “I have to sit down.”

“Let’s just get in the house!” Chacha said. “You can lay down and I’ll get you some ice for your ankle.”

But I grabbed the back of the nearest patio chair and turned it around. “No. I have to sit down. Just give me a moment.”

“Ok. I’ll get the ice ready.” Chacha said as she reluctantly left my side.

I was happy to sit and feel what by now was a cooling breeze on my clammy skin. I tried to detect my pulse and assess my breathing. Was something else going on? Was I having some other physical crisis? Stroke? Heart attack? Though panic threatened to engulf me, I tried to relax and focus on the sensation of the soothing breeze and the sound of late-afternoon birds.

Then an inexplicable sense of joy came to me as I heard a crow. It’s calling was nearby. Not just the typical “Caw! Caw!” but a crow call with an extra kind of gargling sound mixed in. I remembered a documentary I had watched about how young crows make warbling kinds of sounds before they learn and settle in to the “traditional” calls.

For some reason, at that point I knew I would be okay. I smiled to myself. “Go for it, little dude!” I thought as the young crow continued to practice his caw-craft. God was speaking to me through that crow, I thought. The breeze, the crow, the lowering orb of the golden Sun. I felt revived enough to go inside to ice my ankle and rest. My joy was strangely sweet.

There was no bruising or any other signs of broken bones. My ankle felt tender the next day but was notably improved. I walked slower for a while as it healed. By the end of the week I finished mowing the yard.

Later I was inspired to make a drawing of an imaginary “Crow Angel”. Who knows but that God used an angelic crow to uplift me that day. Even now I keep my eyes and ears open for any new surprises of joy in the wonderful natural world around me that is touched with God’s signals of love and comfort.

20 November 2016

Hopeful Flight

Detail of super hero in flight ink sketch
Detail of quick ink sketch showing Super Hero in flight. © O. Douglas Jennings. All rights reserved.
I'm often planning ahead for my Cartooning Classes. Sometimes I get an idea of a technique or style I want to demonstrate for the students and then I'll make a quick sketch to understand the steps. That is the inspiration of the sketch at the top of this post (full sketch can be seen by clicking on the image).

When I begin the demo with the students, I make a pencil sketch of the figure using basic shapes and then I have the students follow along. My current spate of students like to create their own individual details of the hero they have in mind when we get to the final stages.

In the class where I demonstrated drawing the flying hero, on of my students decided to create art of the Marvel Comics Avenger Vision.

Student Drawing of Marvel's Vision android super hero. © S.W.
Another student made a drawing of the Spider-Man villain Electro. Yet another student chose The Hulk. In the meantime, I made my finished drawing to be of Green Lantern. I took an iPhone pic of my finished inked drawing and then colorized using Adobe PhotoShop. See Below.

Green Lantern Illustration by Doug Jennings
This was the first class since the 2016 Presidential Election. I find that in these uncertain times, the hope that is symbolized by super-heroes is somewhat therapeutic.

16 November 2016

What Nature Loves...

Oak, Ash & Maple Leaves in my yard. Photo © O. Douglas Jennings. All rights reserved.
Diversity. That's what Nature Loves.

I was raking leaves in my yard recently and, at one point, at my feet, I beheld a beautiful example of the diversity of trees in my neighborhood.

It's not just the trees. My neighborhood has other diverse residents. Polish, Mexican, Middle-Eastern, Filipino, South Asian and other American ethnic groups are represented.

Despite the current political turmoil that questions this value, I try never to forget that it is America's diversity makes us truly great. Nature loves it and I love it too.

25 October 2016


Just a little reminder to myself. 

Breathe.....in and out...

...Renew...Innocence, Joy & Peace. 

These grace notes are available and waiting...

...anytime I need them.


20 October 2016

2016 Presidential Election Horror Show

We are all on tinter hooks until Election Day... and beyond.  © O. Douglas Jennings
The third Presidential Debate fueled further debasement of my estimation of the GOP Candidate.

With all of Hillary's baggage, the infantile yet menacing Trump is, to me, absolutely untenable as one to hold the office of my President. He resists even his own handlers. His supporters are motivated by rage, which I understand. Even so, the spirit of his candidacy is far more destructive than could ever be warranted.

He's a horror show. And he'll be keeping us in suspense for quite a while.