Bird School: The first rule

I am obsessed with birds.  I have this strange belief that I will not uncover truths that I seek in my art without first understanding birds fully.  So I am taking myself through my own Bird School– developing my own rudimentary curriculum and drawing out the answers and stitching together the truths.


Parts of a Songbird

Head Feather Groups

Today’s lesson: The First Rule

Sketching and taking notes in the field are exercises that will force you to look more closely, reinforce your memory, and greatly increase the rate at which you learn.  The joy of small discoveries is part of the great appeal of birding, and patient study is always rewarded. 

– David Sibley

The first rule is simple: LOOK AT THE BIRD… Watch what the bird does, watch it fly away, and only then try to find it in your book. 




Ghosts in the wall… #streetart

I think about the wall often.


Many ask me about it.

It no longer exists.  But lives on in my heart.

My new friend, Chrissy Davey (aka @craftyfatalist) recently connected with me on Instagram about my embroidered drawings.  Serendipitously, she had taken pictures of a street art wall (in the lane behind 119 East Cordova in Vancouver) a few years back- which amazingly turns out to be the wall I worked on with my youth program.  She sent me some photos that take my breath away.  The wall may be gone.  But the ghosts live on.

Photos by Chrissy Davey:


That is why I love the creative process- especially street art.  You create, you share, you let go.  It deteriorates but leaves a mark in the heart.

Photos of the wall from my archives:



With fondness, I look back through some of my blog posts about the wall.  What I love so much about that is the connections made with the artists and with the community…


The power of paper and glue. – JR


The New Year’s Drawing Marathon

On January 15, 2017, I launched the first chapter of the third draft of my experimental graphic novel: Molly- a true crime analysis

Birds have been a recurring theme throughout the work.  It is difficult to explain their symbolism fully, but to me they carry messages across space and time.  

I spent Dec 31, 2017-Jan 1, 2018 drawing birds for a particular image I wanted for Part 22 and in order to end and start the new year working on the book.  The drawing process was a joy but I was surprised at how loud my inner critic was, how sad I became, how I questioned the validity of the book, the point.  

I danced with the critic though, didn’t fight the darkness that welled up, and continued to put china marker to paper and wheatpaste to canvas until I felt done.


This true crime/cold case/murder mystery art project has been part of my life since 2003, though I know I was born to write and illustrate it.

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

page 6


“The image of a dead bird in the snow is similar to the popular “Babe in the Woods” motif of children who are in their mortal sleep in the forest, and may have likewise been a call to empathy for the less fortunate.”

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 12.02.22 PM

My @TwinPeaks fan art helps me hold on to the dream

We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside the dream.

I process my obsessions through creativity.  And there is a lot to process as we have reached “the end” of Twin Peaks: The Return.

A Lynch fan since Eraserhead, deeply deeply influenced and inspired by The Elephant Man and Blue Velvet, I recall cutting out the news article about the pilot in early 1990.  It showed Ronette Pulaski walking across the railroad bridge.


I recall the cultural shift when the show aired on April 8, 1990.  The camaraderie as the weekly episodes were inspected and analyzed voraciously.

Our family’s countless trips to North Bend and travelling to all the sites from the show.

Staying at the “Great Northern” (The Salish Lodge) and walking down to the falls.

Meeting the one armed man and the man from another place (the arm) on the streets outside of the RR Diner during the first Twin Peaks festival.  They signed our copy of Lolita- she is filled with secrets.

Drinking coffee and eating cherry pie at the RR diner.

Multiple trips, multiple times.

Being FREAKED OUT by Bob (to this day).  On a visit to Las Vegas Fall 1990, I saw Bob silhouetted by the lights outside, in front of the sheer curtains, sitting in a lounge chair.  He leaned forward and turned his head towards me.  I leapt out of bed.  JEEEEEEEEEZUS.

My son recreating the Laura wrapped in plastic scene at the exact location in 2010.

Reading Laura Palmer’s diary a gazillion times and collecting every clipping, article, book, collecting, collecting.

Trading fan art on instagram.

Buttons and magnets by @skyyedawl

Looking for clues in every other Lynch film.


This new season was so much about my generation aging.  Beautifully aging.


Aging is celebrated, honoured by Lynch.

I have wept for my own losses.  All the life markers experienced since that first episode aired.  (The log lady looking so much like my mother before she passed.)

We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside the dream.


The dumbest and greatest and deepest show.


My illustration (2016) for Matthew Roy’s incredible speculative fiction novel could be renamed “GOTTA LIGHT?” (Episode 8 Season 3)

Stanley Park. Birds. Angel whispers. And Pledge Drive.

I walked around Beaver Lake today.  I was infused by the profound beauty of nature.  Warm sun.  Blossoms.  Skunk cabbage.  Herons were dancing in the wind above the lake, ducks were courting and playing, chipmunks and squirrels scurrying.  Chestnut-backed chickadees and red-breasted nuthatches landed on my hands.  I describe the feeling as angel whispers.

I took a few photos.


And drew my collected observations:

Drawing 1: March 28, 2016. China Marker on Newsprint 16″ x 24″

Stanley Park Scenes 72-hour PLEDGE DRIVE!

Until March 31, 2016 9 PM PT.

I am raising funds to renew and upgrade this blog and to purchase art supplies!

For every $20 pledged, I will draw a new scene from my daily observations of animal and bird activity in Stanley Park.

Pledgers of $20 can choose to receive the upcoming e-book version of Drawn Together- Maintaining Connections and Navigating Life’s Challenges with Art by Roar and Kat Thorsen!


You can choose to purchase a drawing for a $75 or more donation.  

The rest of the drawings will be donated to EVERGREEN HOUSE residential care facility, Lions Gate Hospital, North Vancouver to celebrate my father, Roar Thorsen (who lived at Evergreen House 2007-2012 and who loved drawing and being outside in nature) and to thank the staff who made our lives so happy.  

Roar and Kat at Evergreen House April 2012

Pledgers can choose to have their names included on the donor list!

To pledge:

Donate via email transfer to

or donate via PayPal


If you are pledging to pre-order the e-book include a note/email address with your donation!

If you wish to purchase an original drawing (they will be shared here) for $75.00, include title of drawing and your mailing address with your donation! 

If you enjoy my art blog, please consider a small donation!  THANK YOU!

Same image, different context. What is the truth? #molly #graphicnovel

I took down my “working wall” for my graphic novel, Molly. I am planning to put up a cork wall to start creating the Molly AUTOPSY image I imagine. The story of Molly will unfold in the various peel-backs of the autopsy, while at the same time following a 5 act structure.

It strikes me how different one image can be when overlaid on top of various other images. The story becomes quite different even though the image by itself remains the same. The image may convey fear, power, escape, despair, consequence, obliteration, youth, jadedness, loss of innocence etc. depending on the juxtaposition.






This rings true for life itself. What we may think is THE STORY about ourselves, an event, someone else- may look totally different when looking at it in a different way. We make assumptions. We jump to conclusions. I want to peel back the layers and look at context.


SALE! Today only! Ending 12AM PT: order a handdrawn portrait in my signature style for only $30!

Many of you have asked, pleaded, begged… so today I’m doing a special SALE!

Today only ending 12AM PT: order your handdrawn portrait in my signature style for only



18″ x 24′ on newsprint in china marker

4f5ff7c0f25f44a7d4eda32843a2710a images-1 923550_10203645249633955_1684411603_nDJ Skinny   Andrej   img_1461

 Regular price ranges from $100-$300

But until midnight tonight, for $30 per portrait, I will email you a high def photo of the portrait based on photos you email me.  I will also be wheatpasting the original on our Gastown street art wall.


For $50, I will mail you the original.



All portraits [unless otherwise specified] will be shared on this blog and on instagram.  Your name will be added to the donor list on the Lifeskills Entrepreneurship Curriculum Development page.

The portrait will be completed in about 1-2 weeks.

How to pay?


or via




Watch videos of my process at: VIDEOS/TUTORIALS