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

Good designs sell – mine sell out!

Saturday, October 18, 2014


It's a rainy, cold Saturday.  I procrastinated my post for "trouble" and tormented myself with youtube videos.  Bawling my eyes out over singing competitions specifically.

Jonathan and Charlotte in Britain got things going.  Okay, I'm behind on these things.  They've gotten kind of famous when I wasn't looking, but having watched their videos and interviews I think I now know more about them than they know about themselves.  I'm worried about Jonathan.  He's got weight and depression problems.  What happens as life goes on and maybe Charlotte marries someone else or the stardust falls away or whatever else happens to young stars?  Sniffle.
Some super sweet kids, a little boy who fell apart, gathered himself together, then gave a great performance... More sniffles.

Sung-bong Choi on the other hand... well.  Bring on the tissues.

If you think you've got troubles, walk a mile in Sung-bong's moccasins.  He was abandoned in an orphanage when he was 3, ran away when he was 5 after a beating, then lived on the streets alone for 10 years.  He was beaten, sold, and countless other miseries until a teacher got him into school for the first time as a teenager.  He came in second on Korea's Got Talent in 2011.

I know I'm not the only female who does this to herself.  I don't know about guys.  They probably close the curtains and turn off the lights before committing themselves to this kind of misery and release.  All I can say for sure is that crying about someone else's troubles makes me more able to handle my own sometimes.

Sometimes I think of the Marcia Bradys whose biggest problems are a zit on prom day.  Those people piss me off and I can get very self righteous about their petted lives -- but I don't really know what's going on with them.  Actress Maureen McCormick became drug addicted and had all sorts of family issues.  Wouldn't want to be her.

All sorts of miseries go on in the world.  125 million females suffer genital mutilation.  How many more are beaten or raped?  Males get abused too, so there's trouble enough to go around.  Sung-bung Choi has a talent to take him out of the gutter, but how many more don't have that?  It doesn't feel right to cry for him so I can feel better. But, he survived.  While there's life, there's hope.  Malala won the Nobel Prize and I feel that hope.

Sometimes I wonder if all this abuse is part of what makes the world go round?  Without real suffering, can we have art, love, achievement, empathy?

I did this painting doodle while thinking about DNA, our collective human nature and relatedness, and especially thinking that I'd like to loosen up and do something fun and free like Chris' paintings that I showed last week.  Obviously I didn't get there, but I clearly don't have anything to complain about when orphaned children live on the street.

But perhaps, opening my heart to others' suffering creates a connection that helps them somehow in the collective unconscious?  Call it prayer or anything else you'd like, but I wish for their happiness, recovery, and peace.

Friday, October 10, 2014


I went to Chicago for a work conference.  Lectures, vendor meetings, fancy dinners (including an octopus appetizer)... but let's get the important part -- I saw a couple of my college buddies!!  Woo Hoo! YAY!!!

Chris, Alex, and I talked and laughed.  I am so glad to see them again after so many years and my heart is bursting with happiness to see them.  I would've liked to see more college friends in Chicago, but time was limited.  We are inspired by the 1981 class' reunion and blog site and want to do our own reunion.  We don't have photos from back in the day because we were too poor for luxuries like cameras and film, but if you were at Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) around the time of the graduating class of 1983 let us know if you're interested in a reunion and/or have photos. We're inclusive and would like to see everybody we knew and loved back then, including the 1981 folks.  I'll make a blog for photos if anyone sends them.

I got to see some of Chris (Koronich) Nye's recent work when I was in Chicago.  See her website here.

Chris' work is expressive and happy, and I'll admit I'm a bit jealous that she paints what she wants and has found a market for it.  She combines her other interests in interior design, faux finishes, and yoga instruction into a cohesive plan for survival and self-expression.  She does what she wants artistically and in every other way.

I roamed around her house and contemplated her paintings, which I suppose is the real beauty of them.  They are beautiful in themselves, but they're also contemplative like Japanese landscapes which are intended to be viewed during meditations.  I wandered around in Chris' yard and stroked the lavender to get the calming scent on my hands.  When I went back inside with my lavender hands and there were the paintings again with all the colors of the garden.  They're suggestive, calming, exciting, and inspiring.

When I worked with naturalists, they liked to tell me to do things in "natureful colors".  I'd tell them that all colors are in nature, but they really just wanted tans, browns, and greens.  Chris' paintings have hot yellow chartreuses, purples, reds... an explosion of truly "natureful" colors.

Sometimes I throw paint around.  It's a happy activity that I don't take very seriously when I do it myself.  Sometimes I'll even hang one of those paintings, but I want people to notice things I've labored over, not the things I just had fun doing.  Another of my friends has scolded me for my wrong-headed attitude.  She says people enjoy it when I have fun with paint and also that other people can't do it.  No matter the people who say their kid could do it.  Let your kid try then.  There's a lot to be said for an expensive college education that taught us about color and design, right?

This all made crystal clear sense to me when I looked at Chris' paintings.  Sometimes I can do something similar, but it isn't the same, and I'll be the first to say Chris' paintings are better.  She understands things about interior spaces that I don't.  Her color choices are wonderful.  She brings flowers to life through suggestion.  I've got a blank canvas.  I think I'll follow her inspiration and throw some paint around!

Standing in front of the Chicago "Bean"
The octopus is just a doodle.  I don't want to take away from the beauty of Chris' art this week.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


There's a sliver of time when night is over, but it isn't morning.  The plants are weighed down by dew and the wind is still.  The bats and frogs have eaten all the mosquitoes, the crickets and frogs have found their mates, and the night animals bed down for the day while the day animals still sleep.  Silence.

I like the in between times.  When evening starts, or before morning, or the twilight between waking and sleeping, or sleeping and waking.  Those are the slices of time for feeling instead of thinking.  When fairies are possible and our wishes are realities.  When we're alone with ourselves to feel the things that we really want instead of what the world wants us to want.

These can be the times of epiphanies.  We can remember our dreams, and our dreams make sense, before the day takes away our certainties.  All things are possible.

Those of you people who pop out of bed first thing in the morning, and start the coffee, check your emails, wash your windows, or whatever it is you do with the full energy of a night's rest are missing one of the best times of the day when you could be snuggling your partner or feeling the truth of your dreams.

Morning people are self-righteous about how they get the day going and how the rest of us are lazy slugs.  It's no wonder I've wanted to throttle some of them.  I almost came to physical violence when my college roommate threw open the windows in the middle of winter to air the place out.  I think it counts as justifiable homicide when my peaceful slumbers are disturbed by snow falling on my face.

Some people hate silence, and fill it with music, and activity, and chatter.  Maybe I'm the only one who enjoys it when the power goes out.  The refrigerator stops humming, and other stuff I've learned to tune out shuts off too.  It's so quiet.  Peaceful.  Healing.

I used to lay in bed and feel the wonder of my body.  Red blood cells going one way, white blood cells going another, the thump of my heart pushing them along, my breath pulling in oxygen... breathe in healing, breathe out stress...

And then the day starts.  The dog needs out and her bowls filled.  There's stuff to do, people to see, problems to solve.  Bosses are too often extraverted morning people who think everybody else should be just like them.  People who open windows in winter, and to hell with whoever isn't keeping up with their program.

It takes all types.  The world needs the dreamers, and this dreamer needs to sleep in the silence just before morning.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Our thoughts create our world.  We have to dream possibilities before we can make them real.  I know our practical world dismisses that as fantasy and "magical thinking", but it's still true.

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about being the next Ralph William Williams, painting back covers of women's magazines for Breck Shampoo.  I spent hours and hours drawing people in preparation for my glorious future while I fantasized.  I supported my future employer by washing my hair with Breck even though the company and Williams were oblivious to my devotion -- but these dreams made my art career possible.

Dreaming, wishing, wanting, hoping, reading -- all of it expanded my world and made other things possible.  Why couldn't I be the next Breck artist?  Why limit my wishes?

Too many people have given up daydreaming because they don't think it gets you anywhere, but it's exactly the thing that can take you beyond your circumstances.  Thought creates what we think is possible.  Thought turns to action.  If you think you're limited, then you are.  If you think you can achieve something grand, you can.

What we believe draws opportunities and people into our experience.  If you believe men are abusive, you'll attract an abusive partner.  If you think men are kind, you'll attract a kind partner.  If you think all women are gold diggers, well, you get the idea.  Our thoughts create our experience.

I often wonder if other people, especially younger people, have given up self-directed fantasy because they are so busy in group activities or being passively entertained.  There's no time left over to dream their lives into being.  If they're too comfortable where they're at, then there's no reason to dream for more.

The other side of fantasy can sometimes be that we spend too much time thinking about the unpleasant situations and people who interfere with our happiness and success.  I'm pretty sure we've all thought about the justice we'd like to rain down on the heads of people who have wronged us.  The more time we think our hateful and/or depressing thoughts, the less time we have to think the world we want to live in.

When I was young, I didn't have much choice about living in my fantasy world.  I didn't have other kids to play with and tv was limited.  I read to my heart's content, and imagined heroes who always said and did the right things.  Real people are flawed in ways I couldn't imagine.  We can't make other people share our fantasies or play the roles we assign to them -- which makes life infinitely more interesting.

I've been thinking about all of these things a lot lately.  I hope I'm never too old to dream and create.  What's next beyond the next achievement or loss?  How do you want to leave your mark on the world?

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Companies keep telling us that they've got something "NEW!", but I'm not so sure there's anything new under the sun.  Everything is a variation on a theme, and sometimes the old stuff is way cooler.  The latest IPad is just a chalkboard without the chalk.  Might we be better off with the chalk?

I liked hula hoops for a while.  I could hula hoop forever around my waist, long time on my leg, even longer on my arm, a while on my neck.  I hula hooped 3 circles at a time making them spin in different orbits on my waist, or a couple of limbs and a waist.  Geez, I was bored with nothing to do.  I showed off to Grandpa and fell down laughing when he hula hooped too.

Grandpa was born in the 1800s and was retired by the time I was born.  He was from a small town in central Tennessee.  Our family is supposed to be related to Robert E. Lee, but folks down there make sure you know that there are 2 Lee families in the area, the rich ones and us.

I tried to get Grandpa to talk about his growing up, but he wasn't a story teller.  He was a doer.  The rush seat of my child's chair wore out?  Grandpa wove a new one on it with nylon cord.  Durable.  Cotton would've looked nicer, but nylon is forever.  Nobody would ever need to weave a new seat for that particular chair.  He made lye soap that could take the skin off you.  Effective.  Grandma used it for laundry and kids were threatened with that soap if we got too dirty.  I tried to stay clean when we visited.

I got an unusual email this week.  A woman wrote to say that she had my great grandfather's bed and is willing to sell it.  She said I was the only one of the family she could locate, I'm guessing because I wrote about my great aunt Ila Rhea on this blog.  Cool!  A side benefit I never expected from blogging.  Any family interested in the bed and dresser, let me know.  I've asked how much they're asking, but don't have an answer yet.  The furniture is currently in Florida, so you'd also have to figure out how to get it.  (I suppose I shouldn't mention my naughty wondering whether or not the owner of this bed has to do things Presbyterian missionary style or S&M?)  The "history" referred to in the note is the genealogy that my great grandfather wrote.  If there's any family that wants to read it, I've scanned it and can send it to you.

I suppose my great grandfather must've been studious to write a genealogy.  I know he wrote a lot of letters in order to write it because that was before ancestry.com.  He was a mailman, riding his horse around the county. "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."  I suppose he got all of that on a horse, but I like to imagine that it was a good job for someone who liked to visit with people.

I can't really say much about him since he was before my time, but I imagine him a lot like his son, my grandpa.  The kind of man who'd use nylon cord for a child's seat, and who would do the twist with a hula hoop.

Just playing with PhotoShop brushes to make the hula hoop today :)

Note ~ Mom says the bed was part of a bigger bedroom set and was supposed to go to my grandpa, but he didn't know how to bring to Ohio so it was willed to Ila Rhea instead.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


My neighbor offered me $5 to draw her cat.  I said no.  My sister ripped into me for it because I should’ve been grateful for the opportunity.  “I don’t want to draw her cat and $5 isn’t enough!”  Sis stomped off muttering, swearing about my uppity nature.  I was a teenager then, but I can’t say how many times I’ve lived moments like that since then.  I recognize exploitation.

I’ve been thinking about the way artists market themselves these days, and I don’t like any of it.  Somebody always makes more money than me when all is said and done – studios, businesses, galleries, websites, framers, art supply stores, whoever.  They all get a piece of me and I feel prostituted by a gang of abusive pimps.

I see people selling things on Etsy and other websites.  I also read the fees that go along with that, and read about how to push further up in line when customers search sites.  I got tired just reading about it.  I really just want to paint pretty pictures instead of selling all the time, and I strongly suspect that most of the artists selling have another source of income.

The median household income is $53,046 nationally.  That means if I only aspired to average, I should net $1,000+/week every week after paying off my pimps.  If I spent a couple of months on a painting, I’d have to net that $1,000+/week x the number of weeks I worked on that painting.  I’d have to include time spent gathering reference, buying art supplies, cleaning my palette, getting it framed, etc.  Keep in mind that if I didn’t have a “real job”, I’d have to pay for my health insurance out of pocket too, so factor that in too.

Then, think about the in between time of paintings.  What if I had a dry spell without ideas?  I’d have to figure out how much recuperation time I need and divide that into the weeks of the year and add that into the price of a painting as well, plus remember all that time I’d have to spend selling paintings too.

I’m really glad the internet lets us all post our work for free and lets us talk to each other about what we’re doing creatively.  People can buy cheap prints of a painting and feel happy.  On the other hand, there are so many people online that I don’t know if anything really looks that special to art buyers any more, or if they understand the difference between a print and an original.  How many people are out there who can afford a $25,000 painting?

I've been poor often enough that I can make do when funds are tight, but why are artists expected to live so poor?  We have skills that other people don't have, and why shouldn't those skills be compensated sufficiently to keep us sheltered and fed?

I would really like to know if anybody out there is actually painting what they want to paint AND earning enough with their art to live comfortably?  Please tell me how you’re doing it.  In the meantime, I’m keeping my day job.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


It was a big deal when Dad brought home a radio.  Woo hoo!  I know, the rest of the world had music and radio from the beginning of time, but I lived in the boonies behind cliffs.  TV and radio signals were hard to get, lost in the swirling upper atmosphere.  Richer people could get antennas and better equipment, but I had to do my own singing until I was about 10 or so.  Well, Dad sang a lot, but other than that I didn't realize how bleak my life was until the magic day of radio.

Okay, so the radio was limited and often full of static.  Strangely, polka music always came in really well with Slovenians jabbering on about something or other, probably polkas, but at some point I heard the Beatles and Herman's Hermits and my world got a lot bigger.  I walked around the Glen singing "What do you get when you fall in love?  You get enough germs to cause pneumonia!"  Which I thought was really funny and wistful wishful.  Did I mention I was about 10?

Before radio we had big vinyl disks called "records".  I played the Christmas or John Gary records as often as I liked.  Danny Kaye read me stories.  I miss him.  He put me to sleep many times with Myrtle the Turtle and Hans Christian Andersen stories.

We weren't allowed to listen to the radio if Dad was sleeping.  We also couldn't play current music unless the parents were out.  Dad thought all that was garbage except Elvis ballads.  I think I valued the radio more because we couldn't have it all the time, even when all we could get were polkas -- which must be a Cleveland thing because I can still get Slovenians talking about polkas on the radio.  Yay?  Home of Frankie Yankovic and the National Polka Hall of Fame.

...side trip to youtube.  You can listen to Yankovic here.  Dad danced me around the living room with my feet on his feet, something all dads should do with their little girls.

I keep typing wondering where the point of all these remembrances might be leading, but maybe they don't need to lead anywhere?  The music of our childhoods stays with us and maybe that's all there is to it.  It's just part of who we are in ways we're too close to see.

I grew up listening to big band WWII heroism, Viet Nam anti-war songs, and songs about innocent love, or heartbreak, and Broadway musicals.  All of those lyrics are me.  How much of what I think, or aspire to, or dream about is because of the radio?

By the time I was a teenager, rock was angry and urgent, and musicals were dead.  It's been a long time since I danced a polka.  I went back to youtube and watched a bunch of Danny Kaye things to get the #@&# polkas out of my head.  Here'sThumbelina.

I actually messed around with the radio picture a lot in PhotoShop and then decided I didn't feel like posting it.  Here's my original scribble instead because it just looks like that radio that Dad brought home and put on the top shelf, hoping to catch a radio wave.