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 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!!!

Friday, June 5, 2015

"Airborne"

I have a 5 mile commute to work every day.  It's a straight line on a back road, but yesterday I got caught in a traffic jam because some people just don't understand a 4-way stop.  I idly looked out at the big field of the county airport and fussed and fumed about being stuck.  A huge hawk flew past with a tiny black bird pecking its grievances out on the hawk's tail.  I figure that didn't bode well for me or the hawk.

Today I saw that same hawk flying unencumbered by a pesky lesser being with a sharp beak.  That seemed like a better sign.  I wonder why the hawk didn't just turn around and eat the little bird, but I guess it figured it was just better to leave.  Sometimes I feel like that too.  Mostly I wonder why little birds want to pester me in the first place.

This is actually something I've thought about a lot of times because I swear I've been pestered to death by little birds while I tell them to just leave me alone.  In case you're getting lost in the metaphor, I have been pestered to death by small people throughout my life.  They manipulate, nag, belittle, charm... whatever methods work best for them for whatever motivates them.  Sometimes I let my talons out and then nobody's happy.

I almost always regret losing my temper, and can self-punish about it for years afterward because I can be altogether too thorough in demolishing the source of my anger.  It's hard to stay airborne when you're eviscerating a little bird and wrapping its entrails around its head while pecking its eyes out.  See the pitiful little songbird flopping on the ground getting eaten by a bunny?  Yes, I know bunnies are herbivores.  Just makes it more sad.

I want to stay airborne.  I want to feel like I'm living my best life and in my perfect world I'd never have to get angry about anything.  I know real life includes some justifiable anger from time to time, and failing nirvana, I want to be able to express that anger without having to figure out where to hide the corpses.  It seems simple enough until a little bird pecks me one time too many.

This probably makes it sound like I'm the kind of person who lays on the horn while tailgating on the freeway and brings a machine gun to the movies.  I'm really not.  I give lots of signs that the end is near if you don't cut it out.  I think people don't believe me because I try to be nice most of the time.  I actually very seldom lose my temper -- but when I do, it's memorable.

How to express anger constructively is something a lot of people, including myself, find difficult because we haven't seen enough positive examples.  We're inundated with bad examples in every media and by the bullies on the playground or in business.  It just doesn't make for a good book or movie plot to calmly talk out differences.  The nice guy doesn't get elected or promoted.

I figure I'm a lifetime project, and this is one of my ongoing topics for improvement.  All I can really do is set my intention that this hawk is going to stay airborne as much as possible.

And just to show that I care about other people's happiness, am somewhat aware of the world, and can get over my deeply held belief that sports shouldn't overlap and basketball is supposed to be over in winter...
GO CAVS!!!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

"Monster"

Public speaking is an invisible monster for most people.  I wrote about one of my early experiences here.  I wish everyone could have an affirming experience when they face a fear, though I'll admit my fear of public speaking persisted a long time even though I've had positive experiences with it.  Nobody's booed me at any rate.

I had a boss who was absolutely wonderful: supportive, kind... challenging.  He made me lead meetings and speak at staff meetings.  That was about 250 faces looking only at a shy introvert.  I was pretty sure Leon was going to give me a stroke if he didn't succeed in helping me grow.

I survived, and reinforced one of my core beliefs that most people want us to succeed.  My coworkers may have been bored silly during my presentation, but they went out of their way to say I'd done well.  Over and over, people have affirmed my public speaking efforts even though I've done everything I could to avoid them.  This isn't to brag that I'm good at it.  I think people have been on my side because I admit I'm nervous and laugh at myself.  I make an effort and try to do better.

There was a time when I was in a bad marriage, lived as a recluse in the woods, then moved back to suburbia and got a job.  I'd forgotten how to speak.  Not just standing in front of a crowd, I mean I forgot really basic stuff.  A kid said "hi" to me and I couldn't think of a response.  He saw me choking internally and gave me a funny look, and then shrugged and skipped off.  I went to my office and had a meltdown.  I called a friend who supplied the answer, "You say 'hi' back".  Oh.  Duh.

Next time I saw a kid I said "hi".  I remembered to smile too.  I got better at it, which was a really good thing because I had to get on stage and talk to hundreds of people at a time for that job.  I had to teach classes too.  I dealt with it.

I think most fears are like this.  People really don't die when they have to give an oral report at school or present something in a meeting.  A monster isn't going to come from under the bed and a bear isn't going to maul you.

We're afraid of mistakes that will in some way ruin our lives or subject us to criticism.  Here's a hard fact, criticism doesn't kill you either.  Unless someone is coming at you with a knife, you're probably safe to try tackling one of your invisible monsters.  Start with an easy one.  If the people around you don't support your effort, find someone who will.  That doesn't mean find someone who just says you're always wonderful.  Find someone who is willing to be there for you while you try.  Find a Leon who helps push you to do better.

I'm grateful to the people who have helped me through my life.  I feel fortunate, even when I'll be the first to say that I've had more than my share of crap in life too.  I think the point of living is taking our talents and experiences and doing something with them, learning to do better as we go.  That's true of painting a picture, and it's true of creating our lives.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"Melt"

"Melt" reminds me of a treat I used to get when I lived in Indianapolis -- really good bread with garlic and olive oil, basil leaves, the freshest tomato, and cheese melted under the broiler until it was bubbly and brown.  Mmm...

I may have mentioned that I hated Indiana?  But the bruschetta was good.  All I had to do is walk around the corner.  Around another corner I listened to Hogeye Navvy, a group who sang ballads and pirate songs.  Here's a bad video of them at the actual restaurant where I used to sing, shout, and thump my glass on cue.  Maybe you had to be there, but this video makes me smile and sent me searching youtube for Waltzing with Bears.  It's actually a good band so go to youtube if you want to hear better samples of their harmonies.

Remembering the girl in Indianapolis is like remembering another person.  She was like me, but terribly depressed and lonely, putting all her energy into home repair (which you can see here) because there was absolutely nothing else to do.

I didn't paint.  You'd think that I'd have lots of time to produce masterpieces, but I didn't.  I tried a few times to do something, anything on canvas, but I hated what came out of me.  A knife dripping blood is just one example.  I don't know who'd want that hanging in their living room.  I shoved it in the closet and was kind of relieved when the ex took it in the divorce.  I just melted into bed and became best friends with Oprah.

This too is part of the artistic temperament.  Sometimes I think the price of a painting should include the time spent in the fetal position and the cost of therapy and bon bons.

I've had a few creative deserts in my life.  It's painful.  There came a time when I didn't know if I could paint even if I could force myself to pick up a brush.  I wondered if I had lost my talent, and didn't have enough support to express my fears.

I eventually got back to Ohio, and lived in a big house with an art studio.  You'd think that would unplug the creative block, but it didn't.  It wasn't until I abandoned the studio and pushed a table against a 3-story glass wall facing the woods that I was able to draw -- and then I couldn't stop.  Piles of watercolors started happening even though I'd never mastered watercolors before.  Dog and I took long walks amongst the trees and listened to the hidden waterfall.  I made violet jelly and picked mushrooms.  I talked to ghosts and kept painting.  A man I admire bought one of those paintings and I felt validated.

Art is a joy when things are flowing right, and agonizing when it doesn't.  There's no way to know for sure if a painting will work out until you do it, and it requires courage to find out which it's going to be.  It takes more strength to face the reactions of people who see it, hoping someone will buy it.  I lift my glass and pound the table to all my fellow creatives who face those fears and bring new things into the world.

Apart from creative meltdowns, I melted frozen butter in the microwave, and made rhubarb apple crisp with the last of my apples and the first of my rhubarb.  I'm so glad things are growing again!