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, July 14, 2018

"Icon"

Last night I happily settled down to what someone called "food porn", in this case, The Great British Baking Show.  The theme for this competitive cook off was "pie".  I love pie, and TV is a great way to enjoy it without calories.

I was confused right off the bat.  The contestants made Wellingtons.  That's interesting, but it isn't pie in my mind.  One of the hosts took a side trip and ate eel pie.  My face still screws up painfully at the thought of it, and I wouldn't call that a pie either.  It was kind of like a hot pocket.  Then, the contestants made a molded meat pie.  Okay?  I sort of see the "pie" in this, but not really.

I was feeling very unBritish about this point when they said the grand finale was to be "American" pies.  Yay!  I sat and ate rhubarb gooseberry sauce (which is good, but not quite as yummy as rhubarb mulberry) and scowled as the British slammed American pies as "too sweet".  Well!  They should try some of my rhubarb.

I'll admit, I didn't realize my pies were "American".  I thought a pie is a pie.  Maybe I should've realized "As American as apple pie" is often said because pie is an icon of Americanism?  But you can say the same thing about hot dogs and Germans make sausages.  I imagine they make something hot doggish.  I figured the same was true for pies.  French make tarts, and that's fairly similar, right?

I've made a lot of pies in my life.  I should go over there and teach them how it's done because British ideas of American pies is just wrong (though Ryan, the winner, clearly got it right with a key lime and ginger beauty).

I'll also admit that the more I thought of British ideas of American sweetness, the more I remembered pies that were disgustingly sweet.  Okay, if all you've ever had is that kind of thing I can understand a preconceived distaste for pie.  Block those images from your mind.  Think of the natural sweetness of fruit in a flaky pastry.  Mmmm.  I've even blogged about pies before which you can see here.

I am not about to touch the subject of current political relations with the US and Great Britain and other NATO allies because it's just an embarrassment like too sweet pies.  Just let me offer my continued apologies and express appreciation for the big balloon and your protests.  I don't think pie could even make the president behave properly.

On happier news, despite the deer and other vamints repeatedly mowing down my garden I got my first tomatoes.  Hooray!

Friday, July 6, 2018

"Funk"

I saw the word and thought, "but I'm not in a funk!" -- which made me wonder what a funk is in the first place while singing Play That Funky Music in my head and chair dancing, physically demonstrating that I'm in a decidedly good mood for no particular reason other than the weather is spectacularly pleasant after a blisteringly hot week.

1. noun, North American, a state of depression
2. noun, British, a coward. verb, avoid (a task or thing) out of fear 

Oh funk.  I like to write about happy things when I'm feeling happy.  I took time to wash gooseberries.  The bushes have sharp thorns and are one of my few deer-proof garden happinesses these days.  Have I mentioned one doe has twins??  Not to be confused with that other doe with a single fawn.  My only competition for these berries is from song birds, and I'm willing to share with them.

I use gooseberries in chocolate cake because then it's health food (obviously).  I put in cranberries and/or currants sometimes too.  Chocolate cake is clearly the best way to get vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  My latest, best cooking discovery is combining rhubarb and mulberries.  I cook it into a thick sauce to mix with plain yogurt.  The berries make it possible to drastically reduce the amount of sugar usually used with rhubarb.  I added cinnamon and ginger with just a touch of cloves.  Oh, oh, oh!!!  Mmm.

I suspect many, maybe most people don't know about these foods.  I've never seen gooseberries in the store, but I spent countless hours of my childhood laying on my back under my neighbor's bushes, carefully plucking berries off one by one and stuffing them in my mouth.  Sun warm, tart sweet, and delicious.

Perhaps I'm being a funk not to write about being in a funk?  I've been depressed.  It sucks.  I've been seriously, chronically depressed.  That sucks even more.  I found the best solution to that state of being was divorce.  It's amazing how quickly I got happy and healthy once my ex was out of my life.  This solution might not be advantageous for everyone, but I bet there are some who could benefit from it.

I've been reliving that period of time in my head recently to see what I can learn from it.  Simply, I put up with too much, waded past warning signs, allowed myself to be put down, ignored, overworked, and other unpleasantness.  I tried to resolve issues with someone who wasn't interested in resolutions.  It's no wonder I got depressed.  I was shoving every reasonable instinct and thought deep, deep underground.

I'm lax about showing works in progress so I thought I'd show a bit of my latest.  Sometimes I think showing finished pieces ignores the struggle to get there.  I found reference photos of baby food and UNICEF from the 1960s, which didn't exist the way I wanted so I pieced parts together for accuracy.  I'm not happy with where the train is so I quit working on it and will start over and repaint it -- despite putting the layout together in PhotoShop in the first place.  That stupid form in the background caused me all sorts of misery getting things to line up properly.

I'm not perfect.  I make mistakes.  I try to learn from those mistakes and persevere.  Then, I chair dance and revel in my happy days!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

"Outer Space"

I had trouble with this post.  I wrote about aliens, art therapy, Bobby Vinton... Everyone can see how aliens relate to "outer space", but Bobby Vinton and art therapy might be harder connections to follow.  Trust me, it all makes sense in my head.

I've gotten a lot out of my art therapy excavations of my "inner space" and this painting is the latest in these efforts.  You can jump to outer space from there.  Too much tweeting, tv, and whatnot obscures our ability to think for ourselves and own our feelings.

Bobby Vinton?  He tried to get me into his hotel room when I was a 15-year-old maid.  He was in his 40s.  His songs make me want to rip the radio out of the car.  It's a mostly repressed hatred, but that's how art therapy can be helpful.  I don't think about him until "Mr. Lonely"* comes on and I have a 15-year-old's reaction.  Back then, I was further annoyed because Mom was star-struck and a bit jealous when I vented to her about it.  She's of the generation of teeny boppers who worshipped Vinton as a teen idol, but still.

One memory leads to another, some of those memories so old and forgotten that I would never have thought that they still have power, but they do.  Remembering and seeing the past from my present helps me change the narrative of my life.  It's liberating.

I think of this series of paintings as my resume, not to be confused with my portfolio.  A portfolio is full of examples of best work.  A resume is more about what happened and what was learned.  I've got the finished paintings propped up against the back of the couch and it's interesting to see my life in such a visual way.  One more painting to go and then I'm calling this series quits.  I've even got ideas for the next series.  (In case you're looking for Vinton in this painting, he's in the painting in progress, not this one.)

This painting is full of memories of my early art career.  Yeah, triangles, T-squares, ruling pens, press type, and rubber cement.  The good old days.  Well, maybe not entirely good since I've felt a need to do art therapy about them, but there was good in those days.  There's good in all periods of time, even when it feels like there isn't, though sometimes that's hard to remember.

I miss the joy of working in an art studio full of other creative people.  We played, we laughed, we came up with really great ideas for our clients.  We built off of each other's ideas.  For instance, the Lake Metroparks logo began with two other artists.  I fished one of the ideas I out of a waste basket.  All of us were happy when the client was happy after I remodeled what they had begun.  There was so much to learn, and so many people who were willing to teach it. 

I love it when I varnish these paintings.  It's like all of the issues represented are finally addressed without a need to revisit them again.  The varnish seals them from infecting my current life.  Done, done, finis.

As for aliens, did you know about half of Americans believe in UFOs?  About 17% say they've seen one.  Of course some of those people may have been looking at Venus, but there are still quite a few sightings by credible people which aren't explained away by swamp gas.  The logo below is something I created for a local group who investigates the topic.  Their website is here.


*I was nice about the link for Mr. Lonely's song.  The clip shows him at his teen idol best, which was waaaay before my time.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

"Squirrel 2"

I took a trip to Pennsylvania this week.  I won't mislead you, getting to PA isn't far on a well-maintained freeway; it's just far enough away to feel like I did something out the ordinary.  A friend got a new car and we christened it with a day trip to Presque Isle (which is actually a peninsula).  I don't recall seeing any squirrels, but "squirrel" was last week's word without a sign of a new one.


I tried to take photos of Baltimore orioles while I was there.  I was mostly unsuccessful since they're quick and camera shy.  No problem at all to walk up to Canada geese though, even with juveniles.  They're everywhere.  It's hard to believe they were an endangered species 100 years ago.



I'm pretty sure the world knows about the recent US treatment of immigrant children.  It's heart-breaking and a disgrace.  Of course this only applies to brown or black children as far as I know.  I find it so upsetting, especially since Trump goes out of his way to insult US allies and befriend dictators.  I hope there is a significant change in leadership in the next election and nobody blows up the world.  I miss Obama.

Ohio is a bellwether state, and I live in a bellwether area of it.  Racism exists, it's stupid to think otherwise, but people generally get along.  I haven't heard overt racism for a long time -- until lately.  Now I hear it more than I can bear.  I had a week of migraines after a woman I know well vented a racist tirade at me.  She's gone from "liberal" to supporting Trump and the Republican party.  I'm shocked and horrified.  Whatever talking heads on tv say about American voters, I suspect they're underestimating the liberation racists feel under this regime.  Be warned.  Get active.

I've been struggling with an existential crisis lately.  Are people good or evil?  I'm seeing too much horrible behavior and it's making my head explode.  I suspect I'd be happier if I quit watching the news, but I can't help myself.  The insanity is gripping because it's planned that way.  The reality tv star is just producing in a different show which he goes to great pains to keep interesting.

Let's change the tone of my lamentations.  Since I live near an international border, I see foreigners all the time.  I used to joke that Canada is our best state, but for some reason Canadians took offense.  Hey!  I'm giving you a compliment!  I said "best"!  I want health care and a smart, handsome, and sane leader.  Canada is beautiful and I really enjoy being around pleasant, polite people.

However, since the current US leader is waging a war on the borders, I suppose there's some sense in insulting Trudeau?  Watch this video about Cleveland BorderControl here.

The painting is a tidbit of my current art therapy project.  Can you identify the tools?  If you can, you're showing your age!  But I'm not judging.  These are things I know how to use and keep squirreled away.

And explain to me this... Why after bothering to drive to another state, why did my friend and I eat lunch at Applebee's?!


Friday, June 15, 2018

"Squirrel"

The many dogs of my life received simple directions.  Get as many groundhogs and bunnies as you'd like.  Leave birds and squirrels alone.  My current dog peacefully walks through the mourning doves and the robin hops out of her way.  However, my puppy is 1/2 Jack Russell.  It's constitutionally impossible for her to ignore a squirrel.

She's an old dog, so I've been without squirrels for a very long time, but the squirrels are back.  Maybe they figured out my puppy is old and can't climb trees anymore.  She's had 2 expensive surgeries to repair leg ligaments from that kind of activity.  I'm glad to see the squirrels again.  I wish they'd get the groundhogs and bunnies.  I've missed the days when my Dalmatians would bark at the squirrel and the squirrels barked back.  It was a game they played.  I think the squirrels enjoyed it as much as the dogs.

My dad had it out for squirrels.  He'd sit by his garden with his slingshot just waiting for an opportunity.  Maybe some behaviors are hereditary?  At some point he got out the .22 and cleared the trees of them.  Not the kind of guy to let anything go to waste, he cleaned the squirrels and plopped them on the kitchen counter for Mom to cook.  She gave him a memorable and scathing look and refused to touch them.

Dad wasn't deterred by Mom's attitude.  He happily whistled his way through the kitchen cupboards and banged a lot of metal things together talking about how country people would be thrilled to eat squirrel.  A horrible smell started emanating from the kitchen after a while.  It didn't get better, and actually looking at the horribly naked, splayed bodies on a platter was stomach curdling.

The house rules were to have a minimum of 3 bites of whatever was served.  Taking tiny bites resulted in being given more of the unwanted item until the minimum was satisfied with penalties.  I looked around the table at my siblings and shared their horror.  We even took extra servings of milkweed pods that day in order to scare off starvation.

Dad admitted defeat.  He didn't know how to cook and didn't intend to learn.  He left the squirrels alone after that, and I was glad to see them bouncing around in the trees unmolested.  They must've remembered the murder spree though because they left his garden alone.  Dad transferred his vendetta to bunnies.

Onto a different topic, I told a friend I hate Jane Austin, and my friend said she looooved her.  Trying to be sympathetic, maybe understand something more about my friend, self educate, or whatever, I read a couple of Austin's books.  I still hate her.  Maybe I hate her slightly less, but I'm not reading her again.  As I told my friend, it feels like interminable discussions about planning a dinner party I don't want to attend.

When I put the JA books away, I pulled out Dickens' David Copperfield.  In a way, you could say it's a lot like JA.  The depressing roles of women in 19th century England, archaic language, etc., but I love Dickens.  He's got women running off with their lovers, crotchety and interesting old people, nice people, villains, gritty and painful realities -- everything you need for a good story.  I'll have to check back with my friend to see how she feels about Dickens.

What about you?  Do you read any of these classics?  Can you explain to me the allure of Jane Austin?

Saturday, June 9, 2018

"Emoji"

You are the type of person who reads complete sentences.  I know this because you're reading one right now.  I think people like us are on the way to extinction.  I even text people with spelled out words and punctuation.

I understand that there are millions of people who don't use words anymore.  They just grab an emoji someone else has created to express the quickest thought or emotion.  They click "like" on Facebook without pausing very much to consider how much they like the post, or even bothering to watch/read the post.  Hurry up, hurry up, you have more time to waste on other things online while hoping someone likes something you've posted.  Maybe someone will even type a poorly spelled sentence in response?

In a way, it's all just fun for fun.  I read your blogs, you read mine, it's a happy, international sharing community -- but we're the grownups who actually have thoughts and the patience to read complete sentences, and I'll be the first to admit that I spend way too much time hitting "like" or other useless online endeavors.

I think the emoji world of desperately seeking likes is another story.  Conversations are limited.  People are isolated and lonely.  Young people have never lived in the world where people actually had verbal conversations with ideas and feelings communicated and commiserated.

I'm saddened this week that Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.  You'd think they would've been happy given their successes?  They both seem to have had people who loved them.  I'm sure they both racked up tons of likes along the way, and yet they were clearly miserable.

Misery has existed as long as humans have existed.  Suicide has also always existed, but the rate has increased 25% in the US since 1999.  Globally, it increased 60% in the last 45 years with a death every 40 seconds.  The World Health Organization says it will be every 20 seconds by 2020.  That's a lot of miserable, hopeless people -- and you aren't going to cheer them up sufficiently with an emoji.  They need real conversation with an empathetic person, and they aren't getting it from an eggplant cartoon.

Everybody knows this, and still, every suicide is a shock.  It shouldn't be at this point, but it is.

Maybe you're the unhappy one.  Reach out.  Talk to someone without emojis.  Use words and sentences to really communicate what you feel and what you need.

If you're happy, spread that around.  Reach out to someone who could use a helping hand.  Listen.  Care.  Avoid telling others how they "should" feel or what they "ought to" do unless that's really what the other person is hoping from you.  Listen some more.

Projected statistics aren't an unavoidable eventuality.  We can change them.  My hope is that all of us will contribute to a better future where those who want to escape life can see happiness shining through.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

"Green"

A friend of mine fixed my slingshot yesterday.  I am now armed and dangerous.  I'm just waiting for the deer or groundhog to show up.  I've acquired a squirrel and bunny too.  Forget all my earlier warm and fuzzy feelings for wildlife.  I'm feeling murderous.

I was weeding my garden the other day when a fawn jumped up and leapt away.  I briefly thought "How beautiful!", then lamented the fact that I hadn't hit it on the head with my shovel.  To make things worse, I found a tick on my leg.  This is a new thing for my part of the world, and I know the deer brought it.  The tick hadn't attached itself yet so I picked it off of me and the damned thing bit me, which hurt far more than you'd think a little bug could hurt, except I'm still suffering from spider bites from my basement so I know small beings can create a world of misery.  Nature is against me!

My turnips are thriving and the rhubarb is doing great.  Sigh.  Really, how many people want to survive on turnips and rhubarb?  The happiest thing I can report on my garden is that my peonies have finally decided to bloom after 3 or 4 years of disappointment and my slingshot fixing friend gave me a new idea for deer obstacles.  I'm also very pleased that the caretaker of my next-door neighbor is clearing that backyard of years of neglect.  The view from my back windows is a very happy green and I'm trying really hard not to let the incessant sound of the chainsaw or tractor drive me insane.

My city had a garage sale day and I lugged lots of things to my garage.  About 10 people showed up because apparently all the other sales were on the other side of town.  I don't think I can even count all of my visitors because that included a neighbor and Mom.  I'm torn between putting all my stuff back in the basement or donating it to a good cause.  I also wonder about leaving it all in the garage and having another sale later in the year.  I did manage to sell 3 large and heavy objects so even with such a poor turnout I'm counting my sale as a success.  Besides, a few friends came over and kept me company, and that always makes for a pleasant day.

The sentence which spawned this illustration for the Mensa Bulletin is "For dinner, the Girl Scouts ate steak, onions and ice cream."  Well, that's just silly.  It sounds like the ice cream has onions in it, and that isn't an ice cream any of us wants to eat. 

I am not a grammarian.  I know some of the rules, and I've read a lot, but I'll admit I just put in commas where they feel right.  I think I get it mostly right?  Sometimes I ask my friend the former English teacher for advice.  Despite my lack of conviction about most grammar rules, I'm certain that I fully agree with the article's author, Richard Lederer, in the use of the serial comma (also called the Harvard or Oxford comma).  Example:  The groundhog ate my basil, Swiss chard, and tomatoes.  The comma we're talking about is after "chard".  It has become a popular trend to leave that comma out, but that trend needs to be stopped!

It feels like I should say something nice about Girl Scouting, but I have to stop writing and rearrange the garage sufficiently to get the lawnmower back into it.  Maybe I'll help the noisy neighbor for a while too, but especially, I'm going to find some time to just look out the window at the lovely green of the season :)


Another green thing, though not an original idea, a cactus I made by painting rocks as a gift to someone who hates taking care of houseplants.  She was thrilled with it.