I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist
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Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Passion"

I was walking back to my car today after yet another funeral when I saw a decal on the back window of a pickup truck, "Girls like big racks too!".  Yup, that just about sums it up for Earl's funeral -- and where is your mind?!  There was a picture of deer antlers on that decal.  I'm pretty sure this is the first funeral I've been to with antler decor, but it was apropos. 

Earl was big on poaching, hunting, fishing, camping, etc.  Earl's son, my nephew, gave a heart-felt talk at the funeral and said he would see his father in the water of the river when he fishes and feel him in the breeze when he's in the woods.

My secluded childhood neighborhood in the woods didn't provide many neighbors.  When Sis married Earl it was like she married our step-brother, especially since the Glen is an inbred place where everyone is related in one way or another.  An old lady told me how the Hendershots are related to the Huggs to the Mortons... but all roads lead to the Noonans like 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon -- who is probably related to the Noonans too.

The word of the week, "Passion", caused me to journal angry thoughts about Earl.  Happy memories would force their way into my thoughts and I'd get pissed off all over again that he was messing with my clear-cut, justifiable anger, but I suppose things aren't simple when we're talking a lifetime of memories?  My moments of grief made me even more pissed off when thinking of his sudden heart attack this week at age 59.

I hate funerals, and despite my vow that I wouldn't go to any more, it seems like I've been to a lot of them lately.  This one seemed to do what funerals are supposed to do though, it helped me feel more at peace.  I hugged my nephews and caught up with people who live in my heart's memory.

I'd rather remember stuff like parties, picnics, serious talks about fishing, the halo of sunlight on Earl's red head as he played with his laughing red-headed boys in the river.  Or how he tried charming Grandma and Dad, who both looked formidable despite Earl's best efforts until he got them laughing and they had to remember to look formidable.

I want to sort people in clear slots in my mind.  Good/bad.  There's a complexity that defies classification when you've known someone always, and another loss when I realize that another piece of my childhood, my life, is dead.

I feel for my nephews.  Earl loved them, and it's hard to lose a parent.  I think he loved Sis too, despite their divorce.  I'm wishing all of you the good memories in the light of antler lamps.

It's been a hard week in more ways than one, and then I got something in the mail that made me smile and feel grateful.  Dosanko Debbie sent me a lovely New Year's piece of art that lifted my heart at a time I really needed it lifted.  I just love the jar full of little sheep!  Totally adorable, and I'm going to frame it to celebrate this ovine year of the Chinese calendar.  Even the envelope is beautiful.  Check out her website here.  Each of her paintings is a truth of life and quite a gem.  THANK YOU!!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

"Toy"

Does Play Doh count as a toy?  I love the smell and the cool feeling of the stuff.  Something I love quite a bit less is Sculpey or Fimo clay, but that has the benefit of hardening in the oven.  It doesn't smell nearly as good though, raw or cooked.

One of my coworkers has been clearing out a house lately, and she's been bringing me presents every day.  Amongst the many interesting things that she's brought me is Fimo clay, and like the child that I am, I've spent my evenings making completely useless items with oven-hardened permanence.

There's a little sadness behind the house cleaning.  The adult daughter, got cancer and died.  A couple of years later, her mom got another kind of cancer and died.  No more family, the friendly neighbor inherited, and the house full of stuff is getting cleared out by my coworker -- and I get Christmas every day in January.  Woo hoo!  I'd like to think the daughter is happy her things are going to a kindred spirit instead of to the dump.

I haven't been in the house, but there's a castle room where medals from Pennsic wars tell a silent story of medieval wars in Pennsylvania hosted by the Society of Creative Anachronisms.  I'm told the proper way to display those medals are in cleavage.  I passed the medals on to someone with more ample cleavage and actual Renaissance costumes.

I've gotten a turtle quilt, necklace, and coffee cup, a smiley cup, giant sketch pad, a pointy silver thing that I was told to use on my voodoo dolls... Just to be clear, I don't actually have voodoo dolls, but my need to vent frustrations is obviously apparent.  I may have made stabbing motions after a meeting recently.

In any case, I have some new toys, and tv time to play with them.  I made feathers.  I made an atom, a flower... who knows what else will get oven-hardened next?

I'm a bit frustrated with my atom.  I wrote recently about my bag of copper wire that's begging for an art project.  My brother whipped out a tree, and I suppressed some 3D jealousy.  The best I can say for my wire projects is that I embedded wire into my atom parts so the electron bee has a stinger and antennae and all the atom parts have copper loops to hang them.  What I really wanted was wire circles for them all to rotate around and jiggle, but I was foiled by my lack of technical expertise to make this all work.  Now I'm intimidated by my greater goal to make a copper wire mobile, perhaps with Sculpey adornments and counter weights.

He who taught me about atoms might argue with me about my atom interpretation.  The parts all have names of people who play those kinds of roles in real life.  I figure the feathers are illustration in another form because I just painted with clay instead of paint.

What kind of toys do you play with?

Friday, January 9, 2015

"Nefarious"

"Nefarious" is a tricky word.  It's unethical, evil, scheming... and I suppose I've known people like that, but they seem like light-weights compared to leaders of people who inspire others to shoot up Paris.  Sometimes I think the world sucks when we even need to have words to describe such people.  I'd rather not think about it.

I suppose that's part of the problem with the world.  I'm not the only one who'd rather not think about it, and if we aren't outraged, does anything change?  But I don't know anyone in a terrorist group, so I don't see what I can do about it.  Maybe the Germans felt that way in WWII?  I have a fascination with that period of time, not the nefarious people like Hitler and Goebels, but the regular people who let things happen.  I'd like to think I'd be brave enough to hide Jews, but would I?  Look at how many people didn't.

It's all abstract thinking anyway.  I hope never to be put to that challenge.  I feel sorry for the French victims this week, but that's abstract too.  It's not the same as when a crazy person broke into a recording studio and murdered one of my friends in a shooting spree.  One of the nicest guys ever, he'd been in my house earlier that week.  It can be a violent, sucky world.

My sis told me to quit keeping my death list, people I've known closely but died too young.  I know way too many of them, but I don't want James forgotten.  I guess I'm not the only one.  I'm glad to see him remembered in this newspaper article.  They talk about him as a "ladies' man", but I remember his shy questions about girls and his generous hugs, things I got for being a perpetual big sister to young guys with a world of potential never reached when I called my house "my home for wayward boys".  I miss the laughter and guitars, but not the tattooing on my dining room table.  Kind of funny when I think of it in retrospect, but I just might've threatened to kill them all that week for despoiling the place where I eat.  Who knew?

Well, enough of death lists like Sis says.  She and I did something fun this week, partly to celebrate her birthday.  She works at Progressive, the insurance company with Flo.  Progressive is a big deal in Cleveland, with giant campuses all over the place.  As luck would have it, Sis and I work about 2 minutes apart and she gave me a Progressive tour.

Peter B. Lewis, Progressive's founder, was married to a woman who is a big supporter of the arts, and the campuses are filled with mostly contemporary work.  I wish I'd taken more pictures now that I'm writing about it, especially the giant origami birds, but I was busy enjoying what I was seeing instead of thinking about sharing my experience.  Maybe I'll go back and take more photos.  Sis passes this giant hot tub sculpture every day and loves it.  We both like the electronic sculpture that plays music when you get close enough to it.

Peter B. Lewis was probably nefarious to make such a big and successful company, but I don't know that he was.  I might just be cynical, but I am very glad he supported his wife's passion for art.  We need more art supporters!

Friday, January 2, 2015

"Invention"

My lamp broke.  It's a cute lamp so I wanted to fix the stability of the rod holding the bulb and shade.  I've tried to fix it before but the parts are too old and worn out for a lasting repair.  This time I figured I'd fix it with copper wire because there's been a bag of old copper wire by my door ever since the electrician was here and said "Recycle this.  Copper is worth decent money these days."

I suppose he's right, but I looked at the messy pile and envisioned cool projects which would be wasted in recycling.  I encouraged my brother to do something with it, but it's just been in the doorway without becoming art.

I fixed the lamp, no problem.  A stupid amount of time later I kept asking myself why I kept stripping the insulation off the old wires, especially since it's probably asbestos or something.  When I got a blister I thought surely that's time to quit stripping wire.  I couldn't help myself.

Part of it was the vivid memory of Grandpa's basement and seeing his supple wire with cloth insulation.  The memory was so vivid that I wanted to stay in that place, smell the familiar smells, feel the immediacy that Grandpa is still alive.  It just felt good, and I kept tearing my hands up on wire, but I didn't actually create anything.

Sometimes I think that I'm neither creative nor inventive, and respect the people who are these things.  Then I realize that since I know a lot of creative and inventive people, my comparisons are skewed.  I'm more inventive than some people in the wider world, I just don't notice it in myself because my inventions are little, problem-solving things.

The handle on my tea kettle broke?  No problem, I'll make a new handle.  I want to put all my computer stuff in a tiny room?  That's not a problem either.  I'll make some shelves out of boards and metal electric boxes.  And so on.  See, I'm cheap and won't go out and buy a new tea kettle or a custom shelving unit, therefore I have to be inventive.

It's part of the fun for me at garage sales.  I saw a metal grate with a heron on it and liked it.  Maybe everyone else who went to that garage sale just saw something heavy and impractical.  I turned it into a garden gate which I see every time I pull into my driveway.

Grandpa was like this, Mom's like that too, and so I figure it's in my genes or in my examples that there's no good reason to spend money on stuff that you can do for cheap or free.  And then I spend too much time stripping insulation off copper wires with some vague thought that there's a gem in the mess.  I also think wouldn't it be cool if I electrified my unknown gem. 

Yeah, sure.  The wire is back in its bag by the side door.

Not sure how the snowflake factors in, but IF took too long to give me a word and I made this while waiting.  Now I have other things to do and figure we'll just call snowflakes one of God's inventions.

Friday, December 26, 2014

"Home" 2

The big day is over and the garbage truck has already come and taken away the ripped up wrapping paper and turkey bones.  I thought I'd take a moment to look back in the splinter of time before the new year and my new broken resolutions.  This is a stretch for "home", but Illustration Friday didn't give me a new word for the week -- which is a real shame since I had a day off and could've spent some time on it.

I've done an index like this every year since I started blogging.  The original idea being that I needed a way to glance back at what I'd posted, then it just seemed like a good idea and I continued doing it.  Though to be perfectly honest I didn't keep up with it this year, which meant that I had to go back through a year of posts to pick up all my thumbnails.

It was a good way to spend the day.  2014 at a glance seems like a really long year, but I had some good moments along the way.  I took trips and saw important people I hadn't seen in too long of a time.  I made some new art, some of which I'm really proud of making.  I had some insights, relived some memories, enjoyed my friends, got through work irritations.  That's all life.

We all do some variation of the same kinds of things within a year, but I think we mostly go through the steps unconsciously, just doing and living without really taking stock of any of it all that much.  Individual days just aren't that important or exciting.  Yet that's all our lives are, isn't it?  A long series of uninteresting days which are hopefully pleasant enough to make our lives generally enjoyable.

I guess I'm starting to understand a little of the themes that I've blogged?  Individual days, past or present, that are easily overlooked and forgotten.  But within those days, there's something which makes that day matter.  We just have to make them memorable or important in order to keep learning and growing. 

Today I had lunch with Tim.  I told him about the idjit at another restaurant who fell apart when I gave $20.05 for a bill of $10.03.  The manager had to handle the transaction since I wanted a 10 dollar bill and 2 pennies instead of a mess of change and small bills.  After Tim and I laughed about the past idjit, today's cashier tried to give me the wrong change three times.  The humor wasn't lost on Tim.  The manager had to take over the cash register at this restaurant too.

See it's a little thing, but I could write a whole post about people lacking basic math skills, America's dismal education, the fact that we let people like this vote -- or I can laugh.  All those little moments are opportunities to decide whether or not we're going to be happy people, and we get those moments all the time.

But I gotta admit 2014 was a hard year.  Too many deaths, too many challenges, and I'm glad it's over.  Looking forward to 2015!!  Wishing everyone a good year!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

"Home"


I wrote about my house last week.  Maybe I should’ve talked about it as “home”?  It’s definitely lived in.  I have great plans to clean it this weekend too.  I’ll see what actually gets done by Monday.

I don’t know if I think of my house as my home most of the time.  This is where I live and keep all my stuff.  Having lived here a long time, I do have memories of cooking holiday dinners for family, puppies piddling on my floors, my little brothers curled up on the couch watching Disney movies – back when they were actually little and still cuddled up to each other.

I had a deep need for a home when I was a young adult, maybe a deeper need than any of my peers.  I need a place that’s mine, a place to rest between my interactions with the world.  A friend of mine always wants to travel and views his apartment as a place to be in between trips.  We’re at opposite sides of a spectrum – but he relishes his trips to his sister’s house during holidays.  That gives him enough of a center.  We all need a safe place where we belong, even if it’s not our own place.

My grandparents provided that kind of oasis.  In a discussion with my siblings, all of us said we felt loved, and none of us claimed that we felt loved more than anyone else.  The kitchen always smelled of good things, and Grandpa gave us ice cream and Vernor’s.  The rules were clear and sane, and we were encouraged to play.

We played Rook at the dining room table in the evenings, which according to Wikipedia is a card game “played with a specialized deck of cards. Sometimes referred to as "Christian cards" or "missionary poker"… introduced by Parker Brothers in 1906 as an alternative for those in the Puritan tradition or Mennonite culture who considered face cards in a regular deck inappropriate because of their association with gambling and cartomancy."

Well, I learn new things every day.  It makes perfect sense though.  Grandma was from an area of Ohio with a lot of Amish and Mennonites.  Even though she wasn’t one of them, she was pretty straight-laced Christian, though not in any kind of irritating way.

Anyway, the quiet evenings of pleasant cards and tea is a part of my life, a place where I felt home.  The candy dish was always full, my uncle always had new projects to try, and the sheets on the bed were always crisp and soft.  The soap smelled of roses and the quiet rustle of fabric was loud in the quiet.  I can still hear Grandma laughing and Grandpa chuckling.

“Over the river and through the woods, to Gramma’s house we go!” And the long drive we took every month passed quickly enough because we knew the drive was worth it.

Whatever your beliefs, wherever you’re going during the holidays, I wish for you a place that you find special with people you love.  And if you can’t have these things this year, may you have memories that keep you warm.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Sea"




I wrote a post this morning when I was fresh as a daisy and eager for the day.  Now I’m trying to work up energy to take a bath.  The earlier post just doesn’t feel as pertinent any more.

The original idea had to do with the sea of leaves in my backyard with hopes that my brother Pete would blow them away.  That didn’t happen.  He started the lawnmower and set me to mulching the damned things while I cursed my younger self for teaching him about self-sufficiency and female empowerment.  My hands are bruised from the stupid mower and I worked up a sweat while freezing to death.  You wouldn’t know it from these photos, but it’s a big backyard.  Mulching took hours.  I’m thinking of letting the back 40 reforest.

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Peter came over with his bud Dave to take down a couple of trees.  One was dead, the other growing way too enthusiastically too close to the house.  The gas company came out and ripped up the front of my yard fixing gas leaks recently.  I’m not sure if the gas leaks killed the birch tree and nearly killed a rhododendron, but any way you look at it, my front yard is a mess.  My house looks blank without the trees.

This is where I think I ought to be good at landscaping, but I’m not.  Just because I’m an artist with some creative ability doesn’t mean I’m good at this.  My goals are simple enough.  I want the birds to hop around in shrubs or trees just outside my windows.  If the replacement flora provides food for me and/or birds, even better, and pretty flowers, best yet.  Oh yeah, and no weeding.  I want a perpetual garden without effort.

The front yard is tiny, so I think this should all be possible, or it would be possible if I knew how to put it together.  I suppose that’s why somebody planted rhododendrons and pachysandra there in the first place.

I’ve been in this house a long time.  It was my 5-year plan to get $ together enough to buy a real house.  I was renting a 1-bedroom apartment in a haunted Willoughby house for $350/mo when I decided I might as well pay a mortgage and have something to show for it after a while.

5 years came and went, but I was comfortable.  I moved to another state for a while and let some friends move in.  I came back when I got divorced and was really glad to have a home to come back to, especially when I hear what other people pay for mortgages and property taxes.

I got laid off the day the realtor gave me the keys, and spent the first day in my house crying in the basement because I didn’t know how I’d be able to keep it.  Hard work, sacrifice, and a lot of scrimping, but I kept it.  Now I own it.  The letter came from the bank one day, and I felt prouder than you can imagine.

I suppose this post is a stretch for “sea”, but whether it’s a sea of leaves or a sea of debt, or any other kinds of seas, this is my little bit of world where I am the queen of my universe.  I could point out that I’m 2 miles from Lake Erie as the crow flies, and that’s an inland sea.

Peter wouldn’t cooperate with blog photos today, but thanks to him and Dave today!!  BTW, both Dave and Pete are available and have useful skills.  Any takers?