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Don’t Settle For A Still Life

April 30, 2015

I’ve been trying to catch up on some abandoned sketches. These are cases where I’ll get
an idea, do a line drawing, scan it in. Then I’ll get an assignment and abandon the sketch, making a solemn vow to return posthaste to add color and finish it.

Sometimes my posthaste is significantly delayed.

But I did finish an old sketch recently, and here it is. I uploaded it to my online store as
a motivational poster.

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Poster don't settle for still life, make break, take chance, grape waving goodbye, leaving safety of fruit bowl to make his way in world

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highFunny how cartoon grapes can subtly convey a universal truth: It’s hard to leave. Hard to leave family and friends who are often emotionally invested in holding us back, keeping us right where we are. The old “If you succeed, then I fail” mentality.

Huh. I seem to be in a very Freudian mood this morning. Here’s a detail image.

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detail image poster don't settle for still life, make break, take chance, grape waving goodbye, leaving safety of fruit bowl to make his way in world

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highMy LinkedIn profile includes this professional headline: “I create images that get brand content seen & shared. Images are now key to marketing & communications.”

I’m always telling clients that images can be creatively recycled. That you can get a lot of mileage out of a single image.

Take this particular illustration– our “Grape Expectations” image. It’s perfect for incorporating “You can do it” inspirational quotes. Here’s one from American essayist
and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

inventors sailing voyage of discovery world all gates opportunities quote, Ralph Waldo Emerson, grape waving goodbye, leaving safety of fruit bowl to make his way in world

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highOr perhaps you’re a fan of the late science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke.


find limits of possible by attempting impossible quote, Arthur C. Clarke, grape waving goodbye, leaving safety of fruit bowl to make his way in world

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highEver heard of Publius Terentius Afer? No? How about Terence, for short? He was a Roman playwright whose comedies were performed circa 170-160 B.C. His most famous quote is “I am a human being, nothing human is alien to me.” Hmm. Wonder if he’d still feel that way in 2015 A.D.??

He also came up with this very concise truth:

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Fortune favors brave quote, Terence, grape waving goodbye, leaving safety of fruit bowl to make his way in world

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highSamuel Johnson had something to say about almost everything. Here’s a good one to remember. You’ll never get anywhere without a leap of faith.

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nothing will ever be attempted if first must overcome all possible objections quote, Samuel Johnson, grape waving goodbye, leaving safety of fruit bowl to make his way in world

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highAnd speaking of great philosophers, I’ve saved the best till last.

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take chance better than rotting going bad waiting around to get eaten quote, Mark Armstrong, grape waving goodbye, leaving safety of fruit bowl to make his way in world

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Do you include images in your social media posts?

Ever thought about using illustrated quotes to help promote your business?

Have you ever seen a grape carrying a little briefcase??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:


Chocolate, Caramel Apples, And A Few Photoshop Tips

I’m Giving You Just 8 Chances To Find The Right Word

Mr. Puddle Opens A Store

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footer for all future blog posts showing picture of blog author Mark Armstrong, along with short bio and contact information


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39 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2015 3:02 PM

    Reblogged this on Gemma Greaves.


  2. Margie permalink
    April 30, 2015 11:06 PM

    I like your quote best of all!


    • May 9, 2015 9:52 PM

      Ha! Thank you, Margie! Your kind comment deserves a reward. I’m sending you a fruit basket. If the grapes start walking around, show ’em a box of raisins and say: “This is what happens to naughty little juicy fruits!!” Always great to see Canada’s preeminent shutterbug! : )


  3. May 1, 2015 9:09 AM

    Wow, before I red your post I wasn’t aware about the many possibilities for a fruit bowl. I love your quote and your highly philosophic approach. Mark Armstrong, the deep thinker of the 21. Century! 😉


    • May 9, 2015 9:29 PM

      Yes indeed, my dear Tutti! A fruit bowl offers many possibilities. I’ve often worn one for a hat. Especially when I go for a walk in a hailstorm. My brain is very soft, and easily damaged… : )

      You’re right, I’m very deep. As deep as a mud puddle, and just as murky. But it pays to be shallow sometimes. It allows my brilliant thoughts to rise to the surface more quickly… : )

      Thank you, dear Tutti, for your steadfast support! You are, of course, the great philosopher of our time. It is my humble fate (and privilege) to stand here shivering in your shadow… : )


  4. May 1, 2015 9:22 AM

    Your art is so very uplifting and perfect.
    You must be such great fun at a dinner party!!!
    Have a fabulous weekend, my comically-talented friend


    • May 9, 2015 9:47 PM

      My dear AnnMarie! Your comments are what’s uplifting and perfect. Thank you for reducing me to blissful giddiness… : )

      I’m really not that much fun at dinner parties. That’s because I always go straight to the kitchen and eat all the desserts. Then I get sent home without any supper– which is good because I’m so full… : )

      Please forgive this inexcusably late reply. Rest assured I shall give myself a stern talking to! Always a delight to see you!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 10, 2015 7:00 AM

        Well, hello there Mark.
        Why am I up so early on Mother’s Day? My darling kiddies should be delivering breakfast in bed to there splendid mother, but they’re still sleeping. My husband was annoyed that the dogs woke him at 4 am (poor guy – he has to work today – the husband, not the dogs) – geez… So, instead I’m here at my trusty laptop eating invisible eggs and sipping air coffee 😉
        I hope you are planning for a creative week of making people like me – giggle – you know, Mark – there is just not enough giggling on the planet. I will vote into the Oval Office – the first person who makes the world giggle – but in a good way – not for anything icky, dirty, underhanded, dubious, illegal …I think you probably get my point – so Mark, will you please run for Office – I’ll make sure you get elected!
        Have a wondrous week, my kooky, talented friend.


        • May 18, 2015 9:30 PM

          Happy Mother’s Day! he blushed, a week late… : (

          My dear AnnMarie!! I must have a stern word with your lazy layabout kiddies! They shoulda been up and cookin’ for their mom at the crack of dawn!!– or even that little ominous crinkle-crackle that comes just before the big crack… : )

          Well, hope you had a good one, and that the accolades and the omelets came later. (That bit about eating invisible eggs and sipping air coffee durn near made me spit out my own unfortunately all-too-real, cold, store-brand instant.)

          Your kind words are soothing balm to my fevered soul– and I dinna even know I had a temperature! Run for office, eh?? Chief Executive Gigglemeister… well, it’s a thought, as the craniologist said when he saw the synapse. With you as my campaign manager, I know it would be a wild and woolly, and delightfully zany ride. I’ll just need, what– $100 million or so?? I’ll take my shoeshine kit down to the corner of Spit and Polish, and start filling my campaign coffers immediately!!

          Sorry for another tardy reply, and thanks a heap for your lovely and very supportive comment!! : )

          Liked by 1 person

        • May 19, 2015 8:13 AM

          lol, my cartooning friend.
          My kiddies did take care of their mom, on kiddie schedule. I did have a lovely Mother’s Noon!
          I think we’d be quite dangerous together. You’d do all the work and I would read my favorite joke book to you, ’cause I got nothin’ 😉
          Never worry about responding in a timely manner, I’m not sensitive (oh, excuse my whilst I wipe the tears of agony from my puffy eyes) 😉
          I would most definitely vote for you for prez – this country needs real humor, not the sick kind.
          You have a fabulous week of cartoon creating, my talented friend.
          annmarie 🙂


        • May 21, 2015 9:43 AM

          Gosh! My own eyes got kinda puffy when I read this. Of course, I also cry when I see dandelions swaying in the breeze… : )

          Whaddaya means ya gots nuthin’?? Absurd, I won’t hear it! Your a natural humorist, which helps explain your reputation as a dangerous woman… : )

          Thanks a zillion for your tremendous support, I really do appreciate it more than I can say… : )

          Liked by 1 person

        • May 21, 2015 3:56 PM



  5. soul . to . earth permalink
    May 2, 2015 5:20 PM

    Your humour and talent extract so much spirit from a cute bunch of fresh grapes – wow! 😀 At the risk of sounding like a parrot (that found its wings, of course), this post is truly awesome and inspiring, thanks!

    On a related note: Looks like Bill Gates took Emerson’s words literally? The world IS all Gates, all opportunities for a fresh start after each important update w/o fixing the past, where compatibility isn’t required and anything new renders all else obsolete. 😉


    • May 10, 2015 9:38 PM

      My dear Radhika–! Sorry to be so late with my reply!! I haven’t been this embarrassed since I fell off my elephant riding into the Taj Mahal. I learned an important lesson that day: never wear a 3-foot diameter turban that doesn’t have a chin strap. If said turban suddenly shifts to one side, off you go. But I’m sure you knew that… : )

      Thanks for your parroty comment, meaning, of course, one with exquisite and highly colorful plumage. When I extract spirit from grapes, I call it whimsy. When I extract spiritus fermenti, I call it wine. Or fancy-schmancy grape juice… : )

      Bill Gates… yes, he’s mentioned in the Bible, isn’t he? Something about The Gates of Hell. Truly prophetic. Microsoft updates– and their demonic nature– are clearly implied. Poor Bill– he’s cracked.

      Thank you, dear Soul, for your latest transmission to Earth. It made all the lights on my old transistor radio go blinky-blink with happiness. : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • soul . to . earth permalink
        May 12, 2015 2:45 PM

        With your Rajput moustache and a Bandhani turban, what a stately picture indeed! No wonder the poor elephant turned around to stare and you fell off! 😀


        • May 13, 2015 9:58 AM

          Ha! I always learn so much reading your wunnaful comments, my dear Radhika! I’ve seen Rajput moustaches, but never recognized them as a distinct type. My venerable ‘stache is actually quite close to a Rajput. I’d just have to extend it a bit and attach two tiny pink curlers. Might be a good idea. I’d never even considered that I might be able to look even more distinguished than I do now. Besides, one never knows when one might have an opportunity to ride an elephant! : )

          Reading about the construction of Bandhani made my eyes ache. Tying pinpoints of fabric with a single thread?? I’m lucky if I can wrap old newspapers with twine!! Yes, I learned a lot, my gray cells are approaching overload (it doesn’t take much).

          Thank you for your good-humored culture enrichment, and see if you can spot me in this gallery. Hint: I’m near the bottom, wearing my backup turban, and chewing on a hookah. : )


  6. May 2, 2015 5:33 PM

    Graphic illustration of one picture saves a thousand words, or how an illustration illuminates a pithy quote. Really enjoyed your grape leaving the bunch.


    • May 9, 2015 9:21 PM

      Yes, a picture is worth a thousand grapes. I heard that somewhere. I think it was at the supermarket. The produce department, I believe… : )

      Glad you liked the post, very nice to meet you, and thanks so much for your kind comment!


  7. May 2, 2015 7:02 PM

    Can’t beat the Mark Armstrong quote!
    Come to think of it, can’t beat that damn good cartoon either!
    …but, why should one?!
    We have to accept the mere fact that there is only one artist who can convey an idea in such a brilliant way: YOUOUOUOUOUOUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂


    • May 11, 2015 9:10 AM

      The Mark Armstrong quote– hmm! I suspect he came up with it after imbibing too many grapes– the kind that come out of a bottle… : )

      But who needs wine?? Just reading your comment makes a man intoxicated– with joy! Thank you, my dear Marina!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  8. May 3, 2015 2:02 AM

    Painters. They never get tired of painting bowls of fruit, right?

    I wondered about this. Is it a classic art assignment? Seems to make sense to me- contrasts of color, various shape compositions and textures to practice technique, and so on.

    Images are now key to marketing & communications..
    ..Do you include images in your social media posts?

    All the time. It really does seem to be a really effective way to get people’s attention. Overall, I don’t see much Internet content that doesn’t have a lot of imagery, and I think that’s even including the long-form articles from periodicals. They’ve always got a solid photo or video at the top.

    I do have a blog article that’s a good example:
    An Artist’s Journey: Get The Balance Right!

    Images can be a very effective educational tool, and I was creating street-style signs to encapsulate the abuse recovery tips I’ve been learning. I did it to help myself internalize the information.

    Ever thought about using illustrated quotes to help promote your business?

    It seems like the way to go. I saw a video recently by that nailed that dead-on; a new segment they’ve got called “New Guy Weekly”. The “new guy” on their staff does it, and he said something about doing this VERY thing to get noticed in comedy, actually.

    (In case you’re wondering, yes, Cracked started out as a knock-off competitor to MAD magazine, and they still exist as such, but the website is more aimed at the college crowd as a high-brow take on sophomoric humor, rather like CollegeHumor.)

    Sorry for the long comment, Mark; I wanted you to know I think you’re really spot on with this idea! (That, of course, will be easy inspiration for another piece of art.)


    • May 11, 2015 9:41 AM

      Hi, Jak! I can see you put a lot of thought into this comment. Many thanks for your kind feedback.

      Funny– I’d never really considered why one sees so many Bowls Of Fruit paintings. I’m sure you’re right: every painter paints still lifes to learn technique– and what could be easier than setting up a bowl of fruit?? I’m sure keeping things simple (when one is starting out) is also a factor.

      I enjoyed your “Get The Balance Right” post. Inspiration is everywhere. The key, of course, is being open to it. That, and a willingness to free-associate!

      I agree: illustrated quotes and comedy are a perfect combo. Great way to attract attention and get noticed– either as an artist or a gagwriter.

      I remember seeing Cracked Magazine on newsstands when I was a kid. Competing with Mad was tough, since the latter had a much more talented stable of artists and writers (IMO, anyway).

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Jak, and thanks again for your kind and thoughtful comment! : )


  9. May 5, 2015 2:06 AM

    Hello Mark, i am a big fan of your illustrations. How about this one to “add to the bunch” lol:
    Once you’ve been mixed in the bowl, a fruit ripe for the taking – to be picked at and picked from, you’ll notice its time to leave the bunch when you’ve had the juice squeezed right out of you.


    • May 9, 2015 1:04 PM

      Ha! I like it! No doubt about it: hangin’ out in the wrong bowl can do a number on you. When someone starts using you for a crutch, it’s juice depletion time– not good for fruity health! : )

      Nice to meet you, Nita, and many thanks for your kind and good-humored comment.


  10. May 5, 2015 2:46 AM

    or….. and this is the editor coming out in me:
    Choose to stay mixed in the bowl, picked at and picked from, or leave the bunch and start squeezing your own juice. XxA.nita


    • May 9, 2015 1:12 PM

      Yes, indeed– breaking free gets our juices flowing. New starts can be scary, but they definitely energize us. Hard to “get pumped” when you’re wallowing in the same old fruit bowl! : )


  11. amii permalink
    May 5, 2015 6:37 PM

    That’s really what I needed to hear today , thanks for making my day . I enjoyed your page a lot .


    • May 9, 2015 12:59 PM

      Ah! Always nice to find something when we need it. Glad you found the post helpful. As for making someone’s day, you certainly made mine with your kind comment– thank you! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Lily permalink
    May 6, 2015 5:05 PM

    I could definitely do with one of these on the wall at home! Better yet, on the front door so I can see it everytime I step out of the house. Better yet, I should just get it printed straight onto my eyes. 😛

    Who knew we could relate so much to a bowl of fruit? 🙂


    • May 12, 2015 7:57 AM

      Ha! Yes, what is there about advice that causes us great excitement, then we forget the whole thing 5 minutes later?? And if we put up signs, they soon become invisible to us?? I suppose the answer lies in the old truism: We become what we do. If we’d just start executing the advice, and keep executing it, we might see some beneficial results. But there’s always something more interesting to do– like watching fruit flies leaving their nasty little footprints all over our grapes and bananas!!

      Yes, I’m speaking from sad personal experience… : (

      Wonderful to see you, my dear Lily– thanks for visiting the produce section here at the Armstrong Illustration Mart!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  13. May 8, 2015 12:54 PM

    Haha! The last one by that famous humorist Markie MacGiggles is my favorite one! What a great cartoon. And oh the caption possibilities are endless! In fact, I think this is a fantastic concept for a children’s story. I found myself wondering where he would go and what he would do. My visit here today started my day off just right!


    • May 12, 2015 8:11 AM

      Markie MacGiggles: Grape Artist & Fruit Philosopher. No doubt about it– that’s gonna look mighty impressive on my tombstone!! And maybe some grape clusters sculpted around the edges. Yes, I think that would be nice. And when fans came to pay their respects, they could bring their own stick-on fruit flies. I’m tearing up just thinking about it… : )

      Say, I like your idea about a children’s story! The Little Grape Who Left Home. Did he get squashed crossing the street? Did he wind up in a bowl of Jello?? Did he start his own vineyard and become rich and famous?? Lotta possibilities there– I must give that more thought!!

      My dear Linda! You are the nectarine in my fruit salad, and your visits are always a joy– thanks for your lovely comment!! : )


  14. May 11, 2015 12:59 AM

    Much food for thought here. And what fate awaits the lonely grape? Will he end up in a bottle of wine? Will he be eaten by a possum? Or will he hop on a boat and sail the seven seas and have a lifetime of grape stories to tell? Whatever happens you are right – you have to take a chance in life. These quotes are wonderful and worth remembering. Thanks for a great grape post. Cheers, Maria. 😄


    • May 21, 2015 9:49 AM

      What fate awaits the lonely grape? Sounds like the sort of deep philosophical question you’d hear at some deep thinkers symposium!! Loved your musings, and the thought of a grape having a deadly encounter with a possum of all critters, made me bust out laughing! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at a bowl of fruit the same way again!!

      Very glad you enjoyed the post, Maria, and thanks so much for your delightful comment. : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 21, 2015 9:46 PM

        So glad you got a laugh out of my comment. 😊. Actually I have possums that visit my shed and they just love grapes! (I even did a post about it!). 🙂

        Thanks so much for favouriting my tweet of the crocodile comic. It’s much appreciated. Cheers.


  15. October 1, 2015 9:33 AM

    Mark!! What a delight this is! So true, so insightful, so creatively layered with wisdom.
    And there’s a pun!


    Wish I’d seen it in April but I’m very happy to see it now because the power to inspire never expires.

    Re Mr. Grape and his tiny briefcase: I’m there’s a bunch of awards for Mark Armstrong in there. 😉


    • October 1, 2015 9:55 PM

      My dear Robin!! I read your comment and leaped like a gazelle! The good news is: the window was open. The bad news: I was on the second floor. Not to worry: I have several old mattress below for just such occasions… : )

      Many thanks for that truly outrageous praise. I can’t recall exactly what inspired that image. I’m not much of a fruit eater, and I don’t own a mini-briefcase, so I guess the usual mysterious forces must have been at work… : )

      “The power to inspire never expires.”– wow!! That sounds so– so– profound!! You really must do something with that– seriously!

      Bunch of awards– ha! That almost went over my head, as the Scarecrow said about the Flying Monkey. You deserve a bunch of awards: for kindness, being supportive, and radiating an exuberance that lifts every boat and rubber duckie in the bathtub!! Thank you so mucho!!!! : )


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