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, November 21, 2015


Pennsylvania was supposed to be a brief stretch of road on my way to Lake Chautauqua in New York, but there was an accident ahead of me.  I was parked on the freeway for hours.  I guess that's one way of giving me quiet time?

They closed the freeway and I had to find my way to the next exit through Erie, PA.  Erie is fond of 4-way stop signs, which is nothing compared to the 6-way stop.  2 of those ways were going about 65 mph from around blind corners too.  I'm not loving cities.

Sue loaned me her house on the lake this week.  (Thanks Sue!)  I just wanted to get away from my life and hit reset.  I took my dog and she just laid down and went to sleep through our traffic problems.  Once we actually got to the lake she was thrilled with our escape.  I was less thrilled to walk the dog in the arctic wind.  Winter is coming!  Brrr.

I suppose I'm not the first artist to go to upstate NY for an artist's retreat.  I packed a LOT of art supplies because you never know exactly what you're going to need, and I still forgot a ruler.  I made my own out of a piece of cardboard.  And then I painted.  And painted.  It felt great.  Hours of freeway fumes and city traffic fell away while I listened to the sloshing waves.  Late at night I read a book with my puppy curled up at my feet.

I wandered around Sue's house thinking "how can she do projects?!" because there's a lot of seating and ambiance, but not a whole lot in the way of work stations.  My house is full of work stations and very little ambiance.  It reminds me of a guy my mom told me about whose entire furniture consisted of one folding chair because he didn't want company.  Okay, I'm not as bad as that, but I could definitely do better?

I recovered the seats of my dining room chairs with some pretty tapestry fabric I'd gotten from a garage sale at some point.  One of the seats was in pretty bad shape, so I took it apart again, reconfigured the seat, and covered it again.  It wasn't until all the chairs were back in place that I really considered whether or not the chairs go with their surroundings.

They look okay, but I don't know if they look intentional, and that's the way of it throughout my house.  Somebody called me "eclectic".  Yeah, that's one way of putting it.  I think I'd say I have diverse tastes and dump them all into a small house without a plan -- but I'm handy enough to fix a chair.

When I was little, my grandpa fixed my chair.  It had seen generations of little butts on it before me, and Grandpa decided the best way to prevent future repair was to mend the seat with industrial strength white clothes line which he expertly wove around the rungs.  I'm sure that chair will never need reseated unless someone else has better taste and less utility.  I think I'll blame Grandpa for my frugality, practicality, and deficits in interior decorating genes.

Sue's lake house is tastefully decorated in colors that complement each other, with furniture that looks intentional.  I'm pretty sure that's never going to happen in my living space.  I'm not even sure that I want that, but I enjoyed painting at her house and it was great to get away.  Here are a couple of pictures I took before the last of the fall leaves fell.
Roots of a downed tree in the woods
Bro standing by a giant oak tree

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Mom posted a test on facebook about instinctual preferences.  I was procrastinating, so I took the 10 question quiz and found out that I transcend gender and society.  Woo hoo!

I told Bro it was an easy test.  I mean really, which is cuter, kitty or puppy?  Obviously a dog in any form always wins.  Bro said he'd pick kitties.  He then made me watch kitty flicks.  Okay, I laughed.  He likes anything on youtube by zefrank.  He smiled when I told him some of you said nice things about his elephant drawing, so he contributed more drawings for this post. 

I'm feeling much happier this week because the magazine editor who sent me the icky article about women said she respected my objections and sent me a sensitive and funny story from a dad with an autistic son.  Yay!  She approved my rough layout and I'm excited and happy again.  This way beats trying to trick or beg myself into wanting to do the other article.

I was very aware of my moods when I thought of the magazine project and work this week.  My job pays bills and adds lines to my face.  I do my best, but I sit through meetings where people disagree and leave me frustrated.  I spend a lot more time with reports and numbers than I do with creative projects, and for the creative parts, I often give art direction to people who just don't care about doing it as well as I would.

Having a real job gives me freedom to seek work for pleasure instead of the paycheck.  I felt upset when I felt my pleasure getting snatched away because of the article's content.  I was elated when I got the better, alternate article.  Hmm... are my moods telling me something about what my heart wants me to do?

Bro had to explain to me
how a dead rat = love
I felt joy at the Detroit Art Museum last year when I saw a painting by Raphael.  Another time, I was invited to the restoration area of the Cleveland Art Museum.  A painting was laying on a table, ready for repair, and my heart pounded even before I realized it was a Rembrandt.  My mouth fell open and I was literally panting.  I've never done that with a budget report.  My heart actually ached at the damage to the painting and the previous, flawed "restoration".  Seeing the painting out of its frame made me feel even closer to Rembrandt.  This is how he saw it centuries ago and I felt privileged at the intimacy.

Old Masters make my heart happy, so I need to spend more time with them.  I think I'll go to the art museum soon and soak up inspiration.

Mostly, I'm thinking everyone needs to do what makes them happiest.  Maybe you combine work and pleasure.  If not, hopefully you find time to do what makes you happiest when you're not working.  When we feel joy in what we're doing, we know we're doing the right things.

Maybe you prefer cats over dogs, Klimt over Rembrandt, or accounting over art.  I won't judge even if I find these things inexplicable, but something rings your bell.  Find it.  Live your life in joy.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Bro2 asked about making a blog, but after he thought about it, he decided he didn't want one.  He just likes making occasional napkin drawings for this blog, though this drawing was actually done on a fresh piece of paper.  This all works out great this week because he's far more charming and whimsical than me.  Besides that, I'm achy from shifting weather patterns and crabby about daylight savings time.

Or, maybe I'm really crabby because I just rejected work for a full-page, full-color magazine illustration?  It would've been great exposure in their 50th anniversary special edition, but the story accompanying the illustration is a feminist's nightmare.  All that great exposure would be a mess if I was connected to that article.  Sigh.  Sometimes principles really get in the way of my happiness.

The last time I rejected work on principle was for GI Joe.  I don't think we should turn our children into little soldiers.  Men have laughed at me when I've told them about this.  They don't feel scarred by their play.  One man still resents only having a knock off named Jim.  Who am I to stand between men and their dolls?  My co-worker Joe enthusiastically took on the project and had GI Joe shoot me from around corners.

Rejecting the GI Joe project got me punished with Strawberry Shortcake for a while.  I haaaated her.  I couldn't see pink without seeing red for a long time, but at least Strawberry Shortcake wasn't promoting war.  Something about her made me want donuts, so thankfully I wasn't punished too long or I really would've ended up at 400 lbs.  I got moved on to sewer lids and road maintenance manuals after that.

Who says being an artist is glamorous?  I've pretty much done the jobs I've gotten, and felt happy to get paid, even when the pay was crappy.  Maybe the magazine will give me another story to illustrate?  Or not?  Or punish me with a Strawberry Shortcake-ish alternative?  Hey, I've got a day job.  I don't have to take anything that I don't want to do at this point.  That's freedom. 

Or as Bro says, "Life is easy if your aren't an elephant".  Just so you know, he wrote that while laughing at my feminist conundrum and agreeing that I absolutely couldn't do it.  I sent the article to a friend for her opinion and she agreed -- with blue language to emphasize the point.

I wrote the editor and briefly told her why I couldn't do it, apologized, and asked if there was another story to illustrate.  We'll see how that goes.  Whatever the outcome, I'm going to see it as the right outcome.  It's part of my grand plan to use my talents in ways that I want to use them, and in ways that bring me the most happiness in the process.

Like Maria said in The Sound of Music, "Whenever God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window".  There are always more opportunities if we look for them.  If this project doesn't work out, I can find another.  One with fuzzy bunnies or something.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


There's nothing better than receiving a bent dandelion from a little kid.  My brothers used to give me flowers.  They toddled around the yard and yanked grass and weeds together for my little vases.  I proudly displayed these bouquets of love.

I'm going to a baby shower today.  It's a second try for the parents after a heartbreaking miscarriage, so this baby is anticipated even more than most first-time parents anticipate, hope, and fear.  This baby is one of 2 that will float in the fringes of my life in December.  Both of these babies will be adored by everyone in their worlds.  All of the parents are healthy, mature, nurturing, competent, smart, attractive... everything we want for children.  I see bent dandelions in their futures, and I feel happy for their happiness.

And I'll admit, a little loss that I'm not getting flowers anymore.  Dad died when I was a teenager and Mom worked 2nd shift.  My sisters were old enough to be mostly out of the house, and somebody had to care for the babies.

At 16, I did what I had to do, but I didn't really know what that was supposed to be.  I ate more teething pretzels than they did because I liked them.  A little spoonful of apricot for you, then you, (they're twins) then a big spoon for me because I liked that too.  They could have all the peas or chicken and rice.

I tore my hair with desperation when they wouldn't stop crying, and put them in warm laundry on top of the dryer until they finally, finally went to sleep.  It's a wonder they didn't smother in the laundry.  When my sisters breezed through to criticize about diaper rash, I suggested they could change some diapers too.  (There may have been some extreme swearing and objects thrown when they laughed and went out the door.)

I couldn't take a bath alone because the kids would run around and get in trouble so we all took baths together.  I had to go to the bathroom?  We all go.  They were potty trained really young.  Poop in the water!  Let's all gather round and congratulate each other!  Yay!  No more diaper rash!

I canned red cabbage this week and thought about how I tried to get pack those kids with vitamins.  I added carrots, apples, and raisins to the cabbage sweeten it up and they loved it.  We'd go to the grocery store and maybe I was the only one who got requests for parsnips and broccoli?

I lost Bro3 at the mall.  I lost him at the beach.  He was always running in the wrong direction.  If I chased him, Bro4 went in another direction.  They laughed to see me running unless I blew up.  Teenagers aren't really known for having it all together in the first place, and losing children is panic for anybody.

Yesterday, Bro4 met me at the lumberyard with his buddy.  We got supplies to fix my shed.  It's not the same as a bent flower, but maybe I did some things right along the way?  He's tall and strong, so I'm thinking that eating his apricots and pretzels didn't stunt his growth.  I'll call it a success and hope someday he fathers a child who picks dandelions.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


I need a new adventure.  I'm not sure what this is going to be yet, but it has to be more exciting than making applesauce or watching Pete and Dave fixing my shed this week.

Last night I dreamt about "adventure" and remembered walking in a South Carolina plantation garden.  I am delicate in the sun, so I had on a big, floppy hat and a long, loose skirt while everyone else was dressed in Ugly American summer wear.  That's too-tight tank tops with lewd slogans and too-tight shorts.

There was a guy in a holey shirt that had faded a light salmon.  I suppose the shirt started out red?  I couldn't look away from the curly blonde fur on his shoulders while he couldn't bother to check his unruly kids.  His wife's chest oozed around all the edges.  I must've looked like another flower in the garden by comparison.

A British man pulled up in a super cute red convertible.  He was dressed impeccably, as he had a business meeting in the Big House.  Nothing more than light conversation happened with him, but I guess I've always wondered "what if".  He was clearly interested, and I was interested too, but I regretfully watched him walk away.  I was probably being responsible about something.  Sometimes I hate that about myself.

We all face moments of opportunities gained or lost.  Often those moments are as ephemeral as catching a falling leaf in the breeze.  I think most of the time we don't recognize the chance or the choice, but sometimes we do.  Not taking that chance in the moment is the choice of a different future.  Too often, the reason we don't take a risk is because of misguided inhibitions and fear.

I listened to a radio program, Reclaiming Conversation: ThePower of Talk in the Digital Age.  Psychologist author, Sherry Turkle, has researched what's happening with people who are glued to their devices.  People text instead of talking face to face, and have lost the ability to empathize.  They have so many fears, they avoid personal interactions.  How many opportunities are lost because they're hiding behind their phones?

I'm  upset that people don't know how to sit down and have a cup of tea with a friend for an afternoon or how to actually get together meaningfully in a romantic relationship.  I share lunch with the ladies in my office every day, and we talk about stuff.  We like each other, suffer each other's quirks, and support each other.  This stuff matters, and people need to put down their phones and notice that it matters.

I'm glad I drove to SC to walk in a plantation garden.  I regret not asking that man to join me for lunch.  I'm glad I'm a responsible worker.  I regret giving too much of my life to jobs.  All of these little choices end up being the sum of our lives.

I'm trying to think of ideas for my next adventure -- to go somewhere, do something new, expand my life in some way.  Maybe I'll actually fill out the paperwork for a passport?  Take a class or say "hi" to the next guy who looks at me?  Do you have any suggestions?

I'm usually terrible at remembering to show works in progress (WIP).  I thought I'd try to remember to show you this piece as I go along.  This is on a 3' x 12" canvas that my buddy Korki gave me.  Thanks!

Sunday, October 18, 2015


I have an excellent memory for certain things.  I can describe Grandma's kitchen in vivid detail.  The more I mentally step into that kitchen, the more things I'll remember, like the ceramic Donald Duck planter on the scalloped corner shelf filled with spare change.  3 kinds of Chex cereal in the white cabinet.  The shamrock and the jade tree on the window sill.  The smell of good food.  Grandpa chuckling.

Sorting apples
Since I have good recall, it's easy for me to believe I'm in control of my subconscious.  I have issues, (who doesn't?) but I know where they come from and try to deal with them accordingly.

I worked at an ice cream store when I was a teenager.  One evening I suddenly faced a boy whom I hadn't seen for a while.  He went white and stammered an apology.  "Yeah, okay.  What kind of ice cream do you want?"  I was busy and needed to keep up with orders.  I didn't know what he was apologizing for, but some part of me was sizzling.  That felt uncomfortable, so I stuffed the feelings and doubt deep inside.

Bad apple
More time went by, and I watched a tv show about teenaged violence.  I suddenly understood that apology so easily, it was like I'd never repressed getting attacked by my guy "friends" because I'd turned one of them down.  Andrew hadn't helped them, but he hadn't helped me either.  He just watched me knock a guy out and stun another while the rest piled on me until another friend came roaring to my rescue.

I wonder when there's news stories about repressed memories.  Clearly, it happens.  I lived it.  Yet, too often it seems like people are making things up, or following the misguided directions of a therapist.  I began to doubt my reclamation of this memory, so I asked witnesses if it really happened.  It did.  Drat.  I wished it was a bad dream.

But, if we know what we've experienced, we can work on it.  Refusing to think of something doesn't make it go away.  It affects our lives.  Not talking about something because it makes other people uncomfortable is trading their temporary comfort for a more permanent disability within ourselves.  Reclaiming my memory and giving myself permission to talk about it gives me power over my own life and decisions.  In a backwards way, I live more consciously now because I stuffed those memories then.

I make better friends now, and I value them.  John (and Mom) gave me organic apples from their trees.  Thanks!  I've been happily canning applesauce and gave some of it to other friends.  My brother asked for apple cupcakes, big cupcakes, like muffins at the coffee shop with crystallized sugar on top.  I threw in a couple of past prime bananas too.  I'd show you a picture, but they were ALL gone in one night.  I seriously don't know how he managed to digest that many apples without severe stomach distress.  The ladies at work suggested they'd like apple cake too.

Itsy bitsy 4 oz. single serve canning jars
I don't know if we have to experience the bad in life to appreciate the good, but I remind myself the good people in our lives make life sweet -- and the applesauce sweeter too.

This is why I have to get apples from others.
Sorry for the photo quality, it was taken through my kitchen window
and the window screen.  This is just 2 of a large flock of the varmints.
The snowman has a stuffed head.  This is another tower of cookies I made for Mrs. Fields.

"An unexamined life is not worth living." ~ Socrates

Friday, October 9, 2015


I was freezing to death my first time in "sunny California" and went to a department store to buy a scarf.  A very nice lady struck up a conversation with me and helped me shop.  I was pleased that she liked my choices, but I was a little confused because she didn't seem to be a salesperson.  She was just friendly, and since I was on my own in the big city, I enjoyed her company.

We talked about this and that.  She seemed curious about my life and what had brought me to the frigid state.  She suggested sites of interest that I might enjoy during my visit.  If I lived around there I would've asked her to join me for lunch, but a man came and took her away.  She climbed a podium with "Christie Brinkley!" in 4' letters across the front and I felt a little stupid that I hadn't recognized her.  I noticed posters of her on the store doors when I left and felt even more stupid.

I wonder if Christie ever thinks of me?  I imagine she seldom meets anyone who doesn't know who she is.  I bet she very seldom gets a chance to just be buddies with a regular girl.  This happened a long time ago, back when she was on every magazine cover and her husband Billy Joel was always on the radio.

Back home in Ohio, and a lot of years later, I went to a party and was a little disappointed because I heard that Matt Dillon was going to be there, but he wasn't.  I spent a lot of the evening talking to a friend of Matt's whom I wasn't interested in because that guy liked to go to exotic places and gamble.  I don't gamble.  I like my money too much and don't have extra to throw around on chance.

At work on Monday, my intern fell all over herself because I got to meet that guy.  She had a full-size shirtless poster of him in her bedroom.  I have to admit that I still don't know who he is.  He and his brother are both famous for being in some war movie, but I don't watch those kinds of things.  Just one more reason I wasn't compatible with him.

I guess the one thing I can offer famous people is anonymity?  I'm pretty clueless about entertainment trivia.  I know other people are crazy for it, but to me it's mostly fluff for when I don't have something more interesting to do.  I watched a PBS show about an entomologist who studies ants, and I thought "I'd love to meet that old man!"  Or, you know, Matt Dillon because he's pretty.

This art is from a project I did for Mrs. Fields.  There were a lot of parts: wine tubes, bell-shaped boxes, tins, towers of boxes.  The whole series did very well, even though my boss fought me every step of the way about presenting it to the customer since she didn't like it.  Just goes to show that you've got to sell the salesperson before you can get to the customer.  Or sell your own stuff.

The stars had 3 different colors of backgrounds which helped mix it up without re-creating new art for every part.  I miss working for Mrs. Fields.  Well, to be perfectly honest, I miss the cookies :)