I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell –
my designs sell out!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

"Folklore"

I spent quite a bit of my youth looking for melonheads.  Well, I never actually looked for them.  This NE Ohio folklore has had teenagers drinking and/or kissing in the dark of a specific wild and wooded area for over 100 years.

I was a kid when I first heard about melonheads.  Tough, older boys told a frightening tale of how they'd driven to a mansion in the daytime and hairy humanoids attacked their car, jumping on the hood and baring ferocious teeth.  Neighbors gathered to listen and examine deep scratches on the car.  I resolved to stay away from melonheads until my teenaged heart fluttered at a cute boy's invite to seek the monsters out.  Thankfully, he was more interested in drinking and kissing than actual cryptozoology. 

There are different stories, but the version I learned is a Dr. Crowe kept hydrocephalous (water on the brain) children.  He experimented and tortured them until they revolted and killed the bad doctor.  The poor children with melon-sized heads fled to the woods and lived there ever since.  Of course sick kids with big heads couldn't actually do those things, but keep logic out of this.  The fact is people report seeing melonheads which keeps the story alive.  I'm uncertain if I've seen them for that matter...

1. A noise woke me up when I was a very small child.  I peeked around a wall and saw a hairy monkey-like animal on the kitchen counter.  It snarled at me with a lot of sharp teeth.  I backed away and went to bed, hoping it wouldn't rip me and my family to shreds in the night.  Our house was under construction at the time, with plastic across the back to keep out the weather, but apparently not the wildlife.  Obviously, the art above should be all the evidence you need to convince you of its existence.  Okay, it's pointy ears weren't green, but other than that.

2. I was driving 35+ mph in the melonhead zone with girlfriend #1, at twilight.  A field was to our right, and something that looked almost human was running in that field.  It was going in the same direction as we were and it kept pace with us.  The light was very poor.  I can't say what I saw, but my girlfriend saw it too.  It scared both of us to death.

3. Girlfriend #2 and I drove from a party in Ashtabula (another rural place of weirdness).  I'll admit, we'd been drinking, but neither of us was impaired.  Our headlights lit up 2 humanish figures in a deep ditch at the side of the road.  It was 3-4:00 a.m. and there wasn't a house for a mile or two in either direction.  My friend absolutely, adamantly refused to go back.  I said, "What if there was an accident and they need help?"  My friend sanely pointed out we would've seen a car.  I don't want to sound crazy, but I'm real uncomfortable remembering those faces.  I'd like to think they were heavily bearded guys in a ditch where nobody in their right mind would be in the middle of the night.  I don't know what melonheads would be doing in the ditch for that matter.

Sunglasses next to print to give you sense of scale
but the black shadow they cast is kind of misleading
4. Girlfriend #3 and I found these 8 1/2" long tracks when we were walking in the woods.  We looked for the track-maker, but we couldn't find it.  It later occurred to me we should've looked up in the trees instead of at the ground.  I took my friend home, learned how to make a plaster cast, then stood nervously in the woods alone as the plaster dried.  None of the naturalists at the parks' headquarters could identify the tracks, even after poring through their reference books.

For more on melonheads go to Wikipedia or Weird Ohio (the last testimonial is very like my #2 above).  There are lots of websites on the topic which makes me wonder.  Life is strange.  Was the folklore of Dr. Crowe torturing sick children the best way for folks to make sense of animals that might actually exist, but aren't supposed to be real?  Or was it all to make girls clutch their boyfriends in the dark?

Saturday, August 10, 2019

"Street"

My knee is permanently scarred from a close encounter with a tar and chip street.  I also lost my virginity in the bicycle accident as I was riding a boy's bike and the bar slammed my pelvis in a bone crushing way.  Okay, maybe I didn't technically lose my virginity, and I didn't even know what a virgin was at the time, but tell it to my younger self as she clutches herself in the grass and tries not to vomit at the side of the road.

Other than picking tarry rocks out of my knee, I kind of liked the tar and chip road.  The tar bubbled and oozed on hot summer days.  I skipped around and popped bubbles.  I squiggled my bare feet in thick, black splotches.  It's not like there were any cars getting in the way of my fun.  I'm sure Mom loved the black tracks I made across the living room floor when I got home, but I often cleaned my feet first with gasoline.  Yeah, very healthy.  I feel kind of whoozy at the memory of the fumes.

Can you really remember being a child?  Not just a mental picture like a snapshot in a photo album, can you feel the sun on your head?  Smell the pine trees and tar?  Hear the crickets chirping and the breeze blowing?  Taste Grandma's cooking?  See your own small body by looking down?

Creativity seems magical.  Ideas can feel like divine inspirations we draw from outside of ourselves.  Yet, I think most of creativity has real, tangible sources like observation and memory, skills all of us can develop.

I have to think a minute to remember what I had for dinner last night.  Pea soup.  Why bother remembering?  It doesn't matter unless I want to describe it to someone else -- and creating is all about sharing something.  If you want someone else to like your creations, appeal to a person's senses, the more senses the better.  My pea soup has a lot of potatoes in it, carrots, snow peas... This is a shopping list.  My stomach growled when the microwave dinged and I burned my fingers when I lifted the hot, creamy soup amidst the wafting cloud of thyme and tarragon... You see, more senses, more details, more interesting.

It's the same with painting.  Many people draw something floating on a white piece of paper.  Give it a background!  Give it a shadow!  Remember how things look in real life.  Memory isn't magical.  We all have it.  Look around in your brain and see what's in there.  Maybe your childhood street was cement.  Maybe you chalked pictures on it?  Can you taste the smell of chalk dust?

Then, after you've worked so hard to remember things and add details, start eliminating.  If it doesn't add to the story you want to tell, erase it.  In writing, I've decided I don't need the word "that".  It's often a waste of space and I use it a lot.  Delete.  In a painting, maybe I put too many petals on a flower.  Be willing to paint over, write over, everything unhelpful to your project.  When I first wrote board reports, I thought I had to tell board members and bosses everything I thought was important.  They don't care and don't have time to read it.  I changed my ways and got praise for my 1-page, bulleted reports.

The painting above wasn't meant to be anything, and I just photoshopped street lines on it for IF's word for the week.  I created the painting by fooling around with some cheap supplies and thought I'd use it as a background to something else.  I like bits of it though, and now I'm not sure what to do with it.  Maybe I'll use parts of it in something else, which is part of creativity too.  Experiment, play, pop tar bubbles on the street and see where the road takes you.

Friday, August 2, 2019

"Politician"

I effected government this week!  There was an emergency city council meeting for community feedback about erecting an apartment building for seriously disturbed and/or addicted people a couple of blocks from the schools and public library.  I had misgivings and went to city hall to find out more.

I didn't have much notice so I couldn't research anything to form an opinion.  No one else had much notice either.  All were outraged council tried to slide this by without public input.  The emergency meeting was only held due to quick actions by 2 council members.  I've never seen city hall so crowded.  People were jammed shoulder to shoulder, butts to tummies, and most couldn't even get in the room -- but they shouted and clapped from the jammed lobby.  It was hot in more ways than one, but we all stood for hours in a crowded room without air conditioning during suffocating high temps and humidity.

The pretty spokeswomen for the project appealed to our empathy.  Sick people need a place to live.  Are we a hard-hearted community who would turn these unfortunate people away?  I think most of us care about mental health and caring for those who need help, but the pretty women lectured us so long the angry horde started yelling at them to shut up with their sales pitch.  This is unusual in my town.  We're polite, not like our neighboring city and my hometown.  Those council meetings are legendary.

It turned out the residents would be very minimally supervised and could come and go as they pleased.  The city would get a 1-time payment of $100,000, no property tax would be charged.  No income tax would be earned as the residents would be too sick to hold jobs.

The citizens were allowed to speak, and some spoke really well.  I felt a sense of community with people who've lived here for decades and even generations.  At the very end, I  spoke up and said I'd listened to what everyone had to say.  Others had voiced my immediate concerns when I heard about the proposal and I summarized their points, dinging the mayor for his lack of research and community involvement. 

I raised a point others were too nice to say about the geography of my town.  We're close to the big city, but just inside the county line of suburbia.  With easy freeway access, we already struggle to deal with the drugs and crime leaking over the border.  We're a tiny city and our police have too much to handle.  (The police chief loves me now.)  The money offered by this for-profit company would be gone in no time for police, roads, etc.  The company didn't offer guarantees the residents would take their meds.  If one of them committed suicide, it would be our people cleaning up the mess. 

The pretty women spoke about how we should care for the troubled in our community, but these weren't "our" people.  We're happy to take responsibility for those in our small city, but we can't take on the big city's problems.  I talked for my whole 5 minutes, and I'm pretty sure everything I said was on point.  The council president nodded as I spoke and I got a round of applause from the angry horde.  I'm patting myself on the head for speaking well at the right time.  Yay!!!  I was flushed with the joy of accomplishment, or maybe heat stroke?  Did I mention there wasn't any AC?  Plus, I hate public speaking.

The police chief gave the grim stats of another city with one of these facilities.  He reemphasized my point the company wasn't offering enough to cover our costs to host them.  Then, it turns out the property is a cemetery without head stones.  You want to dig up a graveyard to put unsupervised severely mentally ill people by a school?!

Some councilmen still voted for this mess despite the angry horde.  I think they got together with the company's pretty women over drinks and forgot politicians work for us.  Now I know who to vote against next time, but the majority of council voted it down.  Yay for the people!!!

Let me add a point about caring for mentally ill people.  We should.  It's the right thing to do.  People who need help should have a place to get it.  It's just city planners need to use their brains about where such facilities are placed and listen to the people.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

"Mysterious 2"


There were quite a few white apricots left over from the last food giveaway.  I took them home and canned them.  Since some people seem to hoard my pint-sized canning jars, I had to put the apricots in quarts.  I dislike doing quarts as it takes more hot water and everyone eating my bounty is a single person.  A quart of anything is a lot for 1 person.  Whatever.  The apricots went into the quarts and my single people snatched them up.

I also canned some papayas, but that meant I had to do 2 batches of canning.  When I took the jars of apricots out of the hot water, the water level dropped when I put in fewer jars of papaya.  Again, whatever.  I was hot and tired.  I just wanted to finish the steam bath I was getting on the hottest day of the year.  The jars looked sealed when I was done.  Since I'd run out of room in the kitchen, I put them in the outside sunroom to cool.

A couple of days later, I decided the sunroom was probably too hot for the jars.  I brought them inside and ignored them for a few days.  After a while, a not quite unpleasant and mysterious odor seemed to be in the kitchen and I couldn't find the source.  I also got invaded by carpenter ants.  Now, I'm betting you see the connections in this story.  I didn't.  I went on an increasingly frantic ant murdering spree until I picked up a jar of papaya and saw it was swarmed with ants.  The lid had popped off and there was an interesting, bubbling science experiment inside.

Stomp, stomp, stomp, compost fermenting papaya, wash everything... there were still ants.  I was losing my mind about then.  I finally found a second jar had exploded papaya all over the crowded table, the chair, the floor... There might've been some cussing.  Sooo, lesson for the week as stated by one of my apricot recipients, "Don't experiment with the rules of canning!"  Excellent lesson.  I'm hoping the ants died from botulism.

Properly canned papaya and apricots

On a happier note, I've been painting more flowers.  Bro2 said my other flower painting made him think of chakras, so I did this painting with that in mind.  Per Google, chakras are "(in Indian thought) each of the centers of spiritual power in the human body".  You can think of that as energy flowing through your body.  When all is healthy and good, it flows in a direct line bottom to top and you radiate joy.

You may have noticed some people aren't radiating joy.  They probably have a blocked chakra(s) and ought to meditate on the blockage.  Chakras are like Maslow's hierarchy of needs.  Each chakra is color coded.  From bottom to top:

root (red) - safety, stability
sacral (orange) - joy, sensuality, emotion
solar plexus (yellow) - will, power
heart (green) - relationship, love
throat (blue) - expression, communication
3rd eye (purple) - clarity, wisdom
crown (white) - transcendence

I have to wonder where black carpenter ants fit into the pretty chakra rainbow?  My flower has quite a bit of white in it though, so maybe I've transcended my cussing ant murdering spree?

Just in case

Saturday, July 20, 2019

"Mysterious"

I'm sure a lot of mysteries will be explored with this week's word, but I guarantee you there is nothing more mysterious than plumbing, and I'll bet you didn't even think about it lately.  Your plumbing probably works as intended.  It's like aliens, you don't have to think about them unless you see a UFO.  You can go to church and the preacher doesn't even mention the subject that knocks grown men to their knees with muttered or shouted exhortations and imprecations at God.

My house is nearly 100 years old, and the plumbing is just as ancient.  Quality stuff for its time, but that time is long gone.  Though not usually a praying type, I said a stream of fearful prayers as I turned off the shutoff valves in the basement.  It worked on the hot.  It took some cussing, muscle, and tools (including a hammer) to force the cold.  Heavy sigh of relief.  Okay then.  More whispered prayers as I trudged upstairs to the tub.

I've had a minor drip.  I figured something needed a new washer.  This should be easy, but I know from past experience it isn't.  I took off the handles, then the escutcheons.  I'm showing off here because I know the right word for the decorative piece that hides the hole in the wall, something I learned from previously humbling experiences.  Anyway, I removed the escutcheons and recoiled in horror.  Someone had filled them with plumbers putty which was impregnated with black mold.  I knew I'd smelled mold before!  I'd cleaned everything and thought I was going crazy.

I disposed of the moldy putty and peroxided any remaining toxins.  I took apart the hot faucet, screwed in a new washer and breathed a sigh of relief.  I took apart the cold faucet and put on my puzzled face.  That doesn't look right.  It's not the same as the hot faucet.  Be that as it may, I replaced the washer and put the faucet back in the wall.

I suspected the center handle was where my problems really lay.  I took that apart and it looked like the cold faucet...  I won't bore you with all the details and the much trudging up and down basement stairs.  I replaced the washers in the sink since the water was off.  I got everything back together and prayed some more as I turned the handles on the shut off valves...  and panicked because the cold handle wouldn't turn on.  More muscle and tools... I have a minor drip in the tub which is slightly more minor than when I started.  If I really use muscle I can turn it off entirely.

The sink faucets shrieked when I turned on the water, but they worked fine.  I considered living with the shrieking, but I went to the hardware store to buy different washers.  A helpful man opened a drawer and showed me his array of brightly colored circles.  "1/4", 1/4",1/4",1/4"" he said as he pointed to 4 different sized washers.  "That makes no sense!" I exclaimed.  Nonetheless, each is 1/4" even though I don't understand why.  The nice man offered to sell me a variety package for $5, 1 washer looking to be about the right size.  That meant $10 of washers to fix my sink?  Grrr.  But far be it for me to question the divine rules of plumbing.  I picked 2 sizes from the tray and spent 29¢ each instead.  The sink no longer screeches.

I don't know if I can handle tempting fate again on the tub mysteries.  I'm certainly not calling the last plumber who must've been the one to pack my escutcheons with moldy plumbers putty.  My best advice is if you can relate to any of this it's time to brush up on your prayers or buy a new house.

The part used for both the cold water faucet and the shower diverter.
I'll happily accept advice from plumbers who know if I should replace it on the cold water.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

"Electricity 2"

For idle entertainment, I did this flower over a previously rejected painting.  I took it with me when I went out for drinks with a couple of my buddies.  They're going through issues and I thought we all could lighten up.  My friends enthusiastically told me to paint more of this kind of thing.  Hmm... I pondered.  They like this, but they studied my hide and seek paintings much longer.  I put heart and soul into those paintings where the flower was just for fun.  Fun doesn't feel important (except it is).

Bro2 went back to an old job where he's appreciated and happy and has time for philosophical conversations.  Bro agreed with my friends.  He likes this painting too.  He said he can imagine someone filling a wall with my flowers.  I saidI find this ironic as he often paints over his whimsical efforts, and I like his happy paintings.  I snatched one before he finished it because I was afraid he'd paint something black and dismal over it, bleeding dragons or something.  Aren't you the pot calling the kettle black?  Bro said my brain was unloading subconscious thoughts, chakra colors... Besides, the flower wasn't hard to make so make more of them.  Maybe?  What do you think?

Our conversation led to politics, a subject on which we don't agree -- except we do in most things except for whom we actually vote.  We both value environmental issues and education.  We agree our government isn't working for us little people.  We believe in the separation of church and state.  We agree President Doofus is a narcissistic liar.

Life would be more agreeable if we stuck to our agreements, but no, we talked about guns.  Bro owns them and wants to keep them.  I don't think he's going to shoot anyone, so I don't care he has them.  I care about is psychopaths shooting up schools and children who die because their idiot parents don't practice gun safety.  I think background checks and reasonable restrictions are appropriate.  Bro thinks Democrats want to take away his guns.  My hunting relatives share his fear.  I don't think the politicians understand this is a make it or break it issue for a lot of people in my neck of the woods, and Ohio is a battleground state.  Gun control people push moderates to vote for Doofus.

At some point in our conversation, I passionately talked about the connection between prior domestic abuse and spousal murder.  Background checks can save lives.  Guns isn't my issue, but protecting people is.  I'm furious Epstein got off so easily when he was previously convicted for abusing girls.  I hope he rots in prison for the rest of his life on the current charges against him.  It's just a matter of time before we get evidence Doofus knew about, or even participated in, Epstein's pedophilia...

Bro made the point that my outrage gets in the way of making an effective argument and I'm not going to win anyone to my way of thinking with this approach.  Harrumpf.  I sputtered about how nobody cares about facts anymore.  Doofus says no collusion or obstruction a million times and people believe him despite Mueller's report citing hundreds of Russian contacts by the Doofus campaign and many, many instances of obstruction of justice...

Bro is right.  This isn't a winning approach.  We agreed gun education would be helpful in a country that's going to keep having guns whether we like it or not.  I'm thinking of painting flowers.  I'm glad Bro is at a happier job where he has time to challenge me on both art and politics.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

"Electricity"


Back in the early days of electricity, my grandma's small town had a community refrigerator.  Each family contributed to its purchase, and each had a designated area in a chilled room which was the size of a small store.  This fascinates me.  Can you imagine leaving your supper someplace where anyone could touch it, take it, sneeze on it?  I imagine everyone was considerate and cooperative.  Those people knew how to work together and helped each other in a million different ways.  Some people fantasize about living in a castle, I think about the community refrigerator.

I obviously don't want to sacrifice my personal fridge to walk to a store for my food every day.  I just want to experience a gentler time when people are nicer.  Maybe I'm dreaming as much as the people who want to be Cleopatra in a past life.  Maybe people have been and always will be a combination of saints and psychopaths, but I bet they at least acted nice if they needed help to raise a barn?

I was instructed to create a 70s kitchen for this illustration in "Mensa Bulletin" magazine (which printed in the same article with the boy I posted a couple of weeks ago).  This isn't the kitchen I grew up with.  Our kitchen was from the 50s or before.  I aspired to a 70s kitchen.  I wanted a Harvest Gold side by side refrigerator with ice cube and water dispensers in the door, but the multi-generational wisdom of my family is all appliances should be white.  White is always in style, goes with everything, cleans easily, and matches replacement appliances.  This is ultimately sensible and kind of boring.  I admired my friends' colorful kitchens.  I wanted to be in style too.

Suddenly, Harvest Gold was out.  Eyes were rolled when anyone saw it.  So passé!  How long are you going to keep that?!  Something significant clunked in my mind.  If the refrigerator is still good, why replace it?  Because some nameless person decreed you had to spend money?  And it wasn't just the appliances, you had to buy new clothes too, and probably a car.  Throw out everything you own and get new stuff that looks exactly like everyone else's new stuff!  Conform!

Except for a wild college moment when I painted my rusty refrigerator with school bus yellow Rust-Oleum, all my appliances have been white.  Maybe boring practicality is in my DNA.  I still get ice from a tray and water from the tap.  I don't want a Harvest Gold anything.  Certainly not an orange countertop.

Grandma said ignore popular styles.  Buy classics of quality.  They last forever and you'll always look right.  Excellent advice.  A little boring like the white appliances, but very sensible on a budget.  She said the key was to accessorize and dazzle with a sparkling personality.  She was a very smart woman.

Maybe part of her wisdom came from growing up with a communal refrigerator where it was bad taste to show off?  Neighbors had to get along.  If someone else was having a hard time, give them a hand.  Grandma kept her values when she moved to the big city of Akron, Ohio and was happy hobos marked her sidewalk during The Great Depression indicating she'd give them something good to eat.

Grandpa thankfully had a solid job, but maybe Grandma could afford to hand out sandwiches because she didn't follow fashions?