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 25, 2015

"Nature"

Get your kids muddy and let them discover lady bugs.  "Nature" is meant to be experienced and loved, not simply watched on cable tv.  This is clearly obvious to me, but just as obviously isn't being lived by enough people.

When I was little, I lived outside most of the day.  Watching morning sunlight sparkle the dew on opening flowers was magical.  I listened to the rustling ripples of the river sliding into the day amid the first bird calls.  I smelled the damp earth and the green of grass.  I felt the soft fuzz of a bumblebee walking on my leg.

We've separated ourselves from what matters.  Children are programmed from dawn to dusk, and adults scuttle about their business in climate controlled homes, cars, and offices without time to touch flowers and stop to listen to the crickets and frogs.

We make other experiences, which in our human vanity we think are more stupendous than anything "natural".  Louis XIV wanted square trees at Versailles to show man had conquered nature -- which is another way of saying that man had conquered God.  If you're rich enough, you don't have to be exposed to nature.  Nature is available to everyone, so it can't be special enough if you can afford to get out of it.

We're animals.  We live, we die, and no amount of insulation is going to prevent it.  We even embalm our dead to stave off that reality instead of letting our bodies fertilize trees.  If you spend time outside you can experience the logic and peace of it all.

All this rushing around that we do, does any of it matter?  In a 100 years, will anyone care if you won a video game, typed a great report, gave a presentation, or painted something cute?  For a very few of us, the answer might be yes.  For the rest of us, no.

Human vanity causes mountains to be pulverized for profit even though we all know "you can't take it with you".  I know a guy who won't open his windows on a nice day because a bug might find a way inside.  "You have screens on the windows to prevent that!"  Doesn't matter.  He won't run the risk of nature touching him in any form.  I have to wonder if any of our current mass shooters spent enough time outdoors.

I came home from work the other day pissed off.  My brother said, "Maybe you need a walk in the woods?"  Yeah, probably -- but I'm pissed and walking in the woods will make me feel better.  I'm angry.  I want blood!  We took a walk.  I raged for about 1/10 of a mile and got distracted by cattails, chipmunks, cute dog, cute guy, birds over a pond...

I came home and painted my floor at an average rate of 4 leaves/hr plus a leg cramp.  Since there are hundreds of leaves, this project will take 4 lifetimes, but maybe at the end there will be something that survives me in 100 years.  Maybe I'll achieve a higher peace in the meantime?  But one thing I know for sure is that in 100 years I'd rather be fertilizer for a tree that holds a bird nest than to be remembered for pulverizing a mountain.

Go outside.  It helps set your priorities straight and makes you live better and longer.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

"Treasure"

A book I've been reading says to journal our worst experiences to bring to light faulty messages we’ve absorbed that are so ingrained in our thoughts we don’t even notice they’re in the muzak of our minds.  We’ve all got these kinds of crap thoughts.  How often do we actually look at them, or consider who put them in our heads in the first place?  Why do we allow them to poison our lives?

I have been called a lot of names in my life.  I was told the bad in my life was because I "deserved it".  I certainly won't say I'm perfect, but a lot of this is just blatantly untrue and unhelpful, and mining memories can either feel like I'm suffocating in an avalanche of negativity or mining treasure, or perhaps a bit of both.  There is gold in finding a better way to think and feel, but sometimes you've got to go into a very dark cave to get it.

But, when we look at the source, and question the statements, we can get rid of the running diatribe of verbal abuse someone else started and we continue in our minds.

If I am any of the nasty things I've been called, then let me challenge myself to improve those areas -- but that's not why someone said those things in the first place.  They are/were bullies who want(ed) to make themselves feel better by knocking me down.  I'd rather take self-improvement tips from someone who sets a better example.  Since the only person I control is me, then I need to set a better example for myself.

Somewhere I heard the advice to talk to myself as if I were a child I loved and wanted to guide in helpful ways.  For instance, I wouldn't call a child selfish.  It's a normal phase of development, a time when I'd encourage the child to understand the good in sharing.  Hoarding a game of checkers is less fun than playing it with someone.  Pushing the swing is sometimes as fun as sitting on it.

Doing these kinds of mental exercises makes me aware of things I like about myself no matter how much other people have tried to contain me.  That's the real treasure.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven... For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

(Sorry for venturing into a biblical quote.  I really get enough of that at work, but it's on point and explains Dumbledore’s sister’s grave, something I’ve wondered about.)

Let's share our treasures this week.  Make the world a better place by saying nice things to others and especially to ourselves!

SLOW progress report on the floor, made slower my tendency to use a tiny #2 brush.  It doesn't help that I'm still a bit sore from falling off the deck and the realization that as I age the floor keeps getting harder and farther away.  I remind myself that the point of this insanity is that I wanted a long-term project for contemplation.

I told Bro I was going to paint money amongst the leaves for "treasure".  He said not to do that because he'd keep trying to pick it up.  When my friend John heard that he said I should definitely paint money on the floor.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

"Garden"

My new neighbor came over to introduce herself when I was picking gooseberries.  She's missing a cat.  Haven't seen it, but sure, I'll keep an eye out for it.  I offered her gooseberries, but I think she was confused by them.  I thought about making her a gooseberry tart in neighborly good will, but, well, you know, that would take effort.  Isn't the thought enough?

I brought the gooseberries and a colander of currants inside, then saw the deer eating my crab apples a few feet from the kitchen window.  "Scat!  Get out!!" He leisurely moved behind the garage.  I went back to my berries and he came back.  "Scat! They're not even ripe!"  Stupid deer.  My brother said he's beautiful.  Sure, majestic even -- but he eats everything.  Then the squirrel spiraled down the apple trunk and into the garden and I launched into the murderous thoughts of summer with venison fantasies.  I want a scarecrow with rocket-propelled missiles.

I like to garden, in a lazy way.  I put in seeds, watch the miracle of life, then eat the bountiful harvest.  Maybe sit and weed the garden a couple of times to make myself feel like I'm responsible and tidy about it all.  Maybe weed it a lot if I have stuff to think about.  I put all these berries in the freezer so I can put them in chocolate cakes, because you know, if chocolate cake has organic berries, it becomes health food.

I haven't made much progress on the dining room floor this week.  I took a walk in the park, obsessed about work, started reading a book about cults... You know how all this stuff goes.  I could make a lot more progress if someone would just pay my bills and leave me time for baking gooseberry tarts and creating.

When I was a kid, gooseberries were extra special because they were rare.  There were only 3 bushes of them in my pilfering range.  Now that I think of it, I was taught early to steal.  I ate berries, climbed orchards... whatever I wanted, and could get away with taking, was fair game.  It was standard, expected behavior from children in an area of summer homes and unattended gardens.  Children expected to get sworn at and occasionally threatened with firearms.  Bus stop conversations included tips for access to especially tasty treats while we waited to go to school.

We stole from adults we liked least.  Our ethics were nuanced, and had nothing to do with stuff we learned at church.  The adrenaline of possible consequences was part of the joy.  I was taught to be a risk-taker and rewarded with pie if I brought my pilfering home.

I just wandered into this bit of memory, but now that I'm thinking about it I have to wonder about how robbing summer gardens steered my life.  I feel a little conflicted, but mostly remember the sweet taste of berries on a hot summer day and laughter in the chase.

Then there's karma.  Maybe my gardening suffers from the consequences of my early pilfering?  Is that damned deer a reincarnation of one of my old neighbors?  Maybe I'm good at growing currants because I never stole them from anyone?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

"Sharp"




I took a road trip to Kentucky with my friend this week.  She got Baker's bourbon straight up.  It has a sharp taste, and I think my friend worried she’d melt her dental work.  I swapped her with my mixed drink, and I liked the straight bourbon so much that I got another.  I was pretty buzzed after that, but you know, ya gotta experience the local scene, and in KY, that means bourbon.  I also tried to cut up an apple and decided a plastic knife isn’t keen enough for the task -- which is really all I feel like saying about “sharp”.

On the way to KY we visited my old alma mater, Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD).  It’s been years since I visited, and things look entirely too clean and civilized.  It was a slum when I lived there, and it’s just not the same without the abandoned insane asylum (Deaf and Dumb Asylum). We used to get liquored up and test our nerves by roaming the derelict building.  Awesome fun, or maybe there’s just something in me that loves trespassing and exploring?

My house was to be demolished after I lived in it but someone has beautifully restored it
Party alley
Anyway, in current life, we went to my old house and I looked at the back alley where my classmates and I used to have wonderful drinking parties.  Good times!  I don’t think I burned off all of my brain cells in carousing, and I’ve kept lots of good memories.  I didn’t even bother taking a picture of the college.  They’ve added onto it, and since the bright pink Fashionetta got torn down, none of it looks the same really.

The 3 flags that matter in German Village -- America, Germany, and OSU
We abandoned the old times tour and had lunch at Schmidt’s in German Village to satisfy my Pennsylvania Dutch inner child. I had sauerbraten with spaetzels, sweet and sour red cabbage, green beans… mmmmm.  I showed a little restraint and refused the spectacular cream puffs.


So much for you people who blog your vacation photos of spectacular places in Europe!  I’ve seen Columbus and Louisville!!  Okay, maybe not exciting, but I did get out of my rut this week.

My puppy is helping with this painting by finger painting with puppy prints
This painting may not be very “sharp”, but it is what I’ve been working on.  Maybe the sharp points of negative space between bricks?  This painting is going take some time, so thought I’d show it in phases.

I sewed some canvas together to make it large enough to cover the floor to my dining room, stapling the edges to the floor and stretching the canvas to make it lay flat enough.  A very washy raw sienna base coat helped start things off.

The only real idea I started with is the brick circle.  This will be under the dining room table and is centered under the light fixture.  It’s a high traffic area from the kitchen, outside, and to other parts of the house so I made stone paths.  The dining room is open to the kitchen, so I carried the square tile of the kitchen floor to the background of the stone paths.

I like the idea of bringing in the outside nature, so I made leaf prints in the outside corners.  I’m going to lighten them up a lot in the future, which is going to take a ton of time, but this painting is my new hobby.  I’m planning on spending a lot of time thinking/meditating about stuff while I work on it.  I’ll give you another look when I get to a new phase.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My blog is a happy place, so what am I supposed to with "danger"?  More butterflies?

Danger makes me think of psychos I've known and near death experiences (NDE), but danger is entertainment for a lot of people.  Kill, kill on the video game, an adrenaline rush at the movies, shootings someplace far away... Death becomes common, but I know dying is hard.  Our spirits don't want to leave our bodies.

I was at a friend's house once and someone mentioned NDEs.  My friend and I looked at each other and shared a wry laugh.  A young adult caught our reaction and excitedly asked if I'd ever had an NDE.  Her excitement was appalling to me because she clearly had no idea what she was asking.  She just wanted the fun of an eerie tale.  She didn't think gee, something really horrible happened and I almost died.  Thankfully, another person talked about his experience and I was forgotten.

It was a little moment in time.  Not NDEs obviously, but a tactless question from a person too young to know what she did, but she's the norm.  There wasn't anything special about the girl's question because her scope of experience didn't include actual death beyond the peaceful passing of her grandparents, and to her, scary movies are fun.

Her eagerness made me realize how disconnected she is to bad things.  Maybe she'll never have to deal with violence, but what about kids at a school shooting or people shot at church?  Maybe most importantly, what about the gunmen?  Because I bet those gunmen are just as disconnected to other people's feelings and the finality of death.  A lack of empathy across the vastness of society is a real problem because it effects every day interactions and how people vote (or don't).

Too many movies and video games and not enough actual playing together, kids' every activity outside of movies and games is supervised.  They never get real opportunities to fall and pick themselves up or discuss and work out problems with peers.

Of course life wasn't perfect in the old days or I wouldn't have NDEs that I don't want to talk about.  Young people are "safe", but in their safety they lose chances to learn how to protect themselves.  They don't make decisions for themselves until they're adults, and then they don't communicate well enough to function in the workplace or in a marriage.

I want everyone to be danger-free, though it's unlikely -- and since it's unlikely, I'd like people to be prepared when danger comes.  Adrenaline is for escaping the angry bear and too much will kill you eventually.  Too much violence for "fun" makes too many angry bears.  Turn it off.  Watch butterflies and share the grief of South Carolinians.

I wanted to get this art out of my closet last week when I was talking about Monarch migrations, but was too sore to get it.  The bruises are fading and I guess I'll get better.  The art was used on t-shirts, and the logo was used for the parks' gift shop.  I included the b/w version because people should remember that logos often need to be printed 1-color and it's good to plan for that from the start.

Friday, June 19, 2015

"Small"

Monarch butterflies make a huge annual migration every year from Mexico to Canada, or the other way around. Interestingly, they only go one direction.  Mexican Monarchs lay eggs in Canada, then die.  Canadian butterflies lay eggs in Mexico, then die – but while Canadian butterflies are still en route, they have to fly over Lake Erie.  I’m sure you can understand that’s exhausting for a very small animal, so they hang out and rest for a while on my side of the lake.

The first time I saw this event, I didn’t understand what I was seeing at first.  I thought the trees were confused and thought it was autumn, or perhaps the trees were dying because they were orange in summer.  That just didn’t seem right.  I had to walk a bit before I was close enough to see that the orange was solid butterflies.

I went with a photographer friend to catch Canadians on film.   I took a lot of shots, then got bored because she kept shooting more pictures.  My method was find a butterfly, click.  Find another butterfly, click.  There’s only so much of that that I felt a need to do.

My friend was much more… oh, pick a derogatory adjective or adverb.  Or let’s just say she was methodical, picky, and tireless to my spontaneity.  It’s not like this was painting or something important to me – and I never ask anyone to hang out while I paint.  I just wanted a butterfly picture as filler for a newsletter or something.  I wandered off and amused myself with beach activities until she finally had enough.

We compared photos.  I got several of what I was looking for, perfect individual specimens.  She didn’t get any of those.  She took pictures of branches of Monarchs – which never occurred to me.  It didn’t occur to her to take pictures of individuals.  We both got good shots of the same event – that didn’t look remotely alike.

I sometimes think of this day as when my mind was expanded to include a different perspective.  I’d still take photos of individual Monarchs if I happened to be at the lake on the right day, but I’d take at least one photo of a whole tree too.

Maybe most important, I understood myself better.  I see small things, details, and don’t like to clutter stuff up with unnecessary items and extras.  There’s a good side to this, but sometimes I’m too Spartan too. It’s just the way I am.  I related to the butterflies and talked to them.  I felt sympathetic of their exhaustion.  My friend thought that was stupid.

It’s good to see things through someone else’s eyes sometimes.  Collaborating with someone, or getting feedback can help me see the whole tree, or maybe a branch, or at least 2 of something.  I made my friend see an individual.  I think we both grew.

Artist, know thyself –which helps me understand the clay of who I am and what I can do.

I can also warn you about the dangers of art because I was leaning off of a wet, slippery deck, stretching to pick the perfect leaf to use for leaf prints on a painting... well, you can see where this is going.  Thankfully I stopped my face from smashing into the brick patio, but I am bruised and sore.  Nobody understands how much I suffer for art!

This art was one of my first blog posts.  I know I have Monarch art somewhere, but it just seems like too much right now to dig through closets when I'm counting my boo boos, and I like this piece.  It's even my actual baby face.

Friday, June 12, 2015

"Vacation"

I went to the grocery store and the girl behind the counter bubbled over with friendliness.  I gave her a look of "I just got off from work and could care less. Get me out of here so I can go home and eat."  She was oblivious.

She's never been on a plane, never been anywhere, but she's going to California!!  Have I ever been?!  Did I like it?  Is it wonderful?!!  I sighed defeat to her friendliness.  I heard all about her plans and watched her half-assed scanning of my food.  I'm pretty sure she scanned some of it 3x in her uncontrolled jubilation.  Talking to the effervescent cashier made me miss a friend in LA and think about getting a plane ticket... ?

I've been thinking of friends a lot lately.  I brooded and kept staring at a 2' x 4' canvas that I've been carrying around the house for about a year.  I'm sure I had a plan for it at one time, but whatever that was is anybody's guess.  I decided to make a friend painting after my friend Korki suggested a zen painting where you just paint lines, and every line is "right" because it's there.

What resulted from her suggestion is clearly a for-me kind of thing that veered from the original suggestion.  I painted names of every friend I could remember -- which looked like a pre-teen autograph book.  I journaled around the edges and over names.  I had awesome insights and wrote over older entries.  I put subtle dots over all of it, covering some people and more entries...I started seeing patterns in my friendships.  zzzzZENnnnnn and growth.

I came to some decisions, or maybe it would be better to say affirmations/intentions.  I want to hang out with fun people.  Kind, caring, interesting, supportive, creative... and avoid people who don't foster those things in me.  I want to focus on good people, and there are a lot more of them than the bad ones.  I started feeling bad memories fade away in the sunlight of good people's influence in my life.

Things I know to be true:  It is always right to love.  I don't have to justify loving anyone to anyone else.  It doesn't even matter if they love me back.  Having an open heart is the most important thing.

I put the most influential "friends" in the row of whitest dots.  Friends is in quotes because they include exes and siblings, but those kinds of relationships are friendships too.  Each of these people taught me a major life lesson(s).  It was hard to limit this list because there are other people who also matter a lot.  If you're on the list, thank you.  If you've been my friend, thank you for that too.

I think I got about 5 years of therapy out of one painting.  The center color is the same as my living room wall.  I wanted this to be a subtle thing I see every day to remind myself what I value.

When the friendly cashier bubbled over at me I had to remind myself that I'm open to friendliness.  New lessons, new optimism, positivity!!  More fun!!!  More exclamation marks!!!  I walked out of the store chuckling and shaking my head over her exuberance, and grew some more.  I'm going to do more of this kind of painting and recommend it to everybody!!!