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!

http://www.artbyhensley.com/index.html

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Natural"


In the beginning I was a lonely wolf child in the woods with a father who made me eat trees and roots and stuff.  I caught dinner, killed it, cleaned it, cooked it, then washed the dishes and took the compost out back and buried fish parts in the garden. 

In my current life, my car was dying a painful death and I had to get a car fit the grown-up wolf child.  Here were my priorities:  American-made, affordable, simple, 2-door, hatchback, good on gas, 360 visibility, red.  This all seemed attainable until I went car shopping.  I started testing everything and hated everything... until that magic moment when I saw it and fell in love.

Okay, it's 4-door, but it's still a hatchback for the stuff I need to cart around.  I don't know what that stuff will be yet, but now the possibilities are endless.  It's on the "10 most American cars" list, with a Mexican engine and a Canadian something or other, but the rest of it's US and assembled in Michigan.  People laughed at me when I said I wanted an American car because they think everything is made somewhere else, but it just doesn't seem right to make a gas-efficient car then ship it around the world for me to start saving gas.

My Ford CMax is a hybrid.  I don't have to plug it in; it knows when it wants gas or electric.  So far it mostly wants electric, and my gas gauge hasn't moved off FULL even though I've been trotting around all over the place this week.  It's silent in electric mode and it gives me "efficiency leaves" for driving responsibly.  It recoups electricity from the wheels every time I brake and gives me credit for good braking too.  I love constant positive reinforcement with leaves -- it absolutely makes my inner wolf child very happy.  I think it's as "natural" as I'm going to find in a car.

And did I mention that it's red?  Not just any red; it's the absolutely perfect shade of red (ruby red metallic or PMS #201 metallic if you prefer).

I was sorry to let my old car go, but a bad transmission was the last sign that it was time for something new.  It was 10 years old, and a lot of those years were spent driving to the west side and back through Cleveland's rush hour traffic and some years when I didn't have enough $ for proper maintenance.  RIP or blessings in your new home.

I had to go through the old car for all my treasures before handing over the keys.  I put some of my lucky stones in the new car, but I'm a bit undecided if I should put my feathers in the new visor or search for new feathers.  I know I have to take my office out for a ride, so I haven't put the minnow bucket in the back yet with my nets.  My office mates don't know about my inner wolf child and I don't know if they'd understand.

Since the new car is bigger than the last, I'm considering putting the rest of my survival gear in too.  You never know when you'll need a tent and sleeping bag.  I have maps too because with 50 mpg, it seems like there are roads as yet untraveled that need exploring.  Aawoooooo!!!

Survival tip:  Dealerships sell you more car (or house) than you can comfortably pay, so they extend loans for years.  If you pay extra towards the principal, you shorten your loan because your early car payments are mostly interest on the loan.  You actually pay for what you bought at the end, but if you add even $5 or $10 to your car payment at the beginning (clearly marked "for principal"), you'll get rid of years of interest payments.  If you get a tax refund, put that on the principal too and you'll save a ton of money.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Zodiac"


I went to a birthday party when I was in high school and celebrated somewhat too heartily with 5 girlfriends who shared a birthday.  "Hmm", I thought, "birthdays might be worth noticing?"

Thus, I noticed astrology as something besides a punchline in jokes of the era and discovered an interesting way to sort people.  If you've read this blog before, you'll know I think sorting people by color is pretty stupid because it really isn't very informative.  Sorting by birthday on the other hand is completely logical -- even if I don't understand the logic.  I am considering someone else's theory that it's based on the food cycle and family activities at different times of the year.

So, now we're in Aries and I have a big clump of people with birthdays right around now.  I notice they've got some similarities and can decide whether or not I like these people, how best to get along with them, etc.  Sorting by the zodiac limits people to 12 signs, and I'm pretty capable of handling essentially 12 people, especially since I can cross off some I never willingly talk to in the first place.

It's made dating easier too.  Most of my significant relationships were born within a week of each other, even if in different years.  Sometimes I've viewed this as revisiting a situation until I can work out a solution -- though I did get fed up and branch out to Pisces men, who were born within the same week of each other.  I really didn't plan this.  It just happens, and I notice.  (Which all sounds like I date a lot and I don't.)

In my many years of noticing, I also discovered a lump of people in my life that were given to me instead of me going out and getting them.  Twin brothers obviously share a birthday, but what about what about having 2 serious relationships with men born 2 days apart who also have mothers born on the same day?  Plus that Pisces who has a son born on that day?

I could go on, but the inexplicable nature of what I notice keeps me interested.  I read my horoscope in the mornings, but I don't really take that very seriously.  If it says "keep your mouth shut today or you'll tick off your boss and get fired", well, I'd probably keep my mouth shut just to be on the safe side, but otherwise it all seems pretty superficial.

One time I took my chart and a brother's chart to an astrologer and asked why he and I can't peacefully coexist on the same continent.  Our charts are remarkably similar, but he has Mars or Pluto or something in a different spot and whatever it is made a world of difference to her.  I suppose I could take it to a Chinese astrologer and find out that Ox and Dragon are combustible, which actually makes a little more sense to me.

All of this is kind of like filling in Sudoku puzzles for me.  I keep trying to figure out people, and the zodiac gives me a filing cabinet to sort things.  I'm Virgo rising.  It all makes sense if you think about it.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

"Survival"


I'm writing this on a Saturday after spending hours with work.  Part of me feels very crabby about it, and part of me feels I "ought to" be glad I've got a job at all.  I went without one for a long time after my last layoff and the economy tanked.  I've been laid off a number of times in my career.  When companies tighten belts, art is always the first thing to go.  I've been forced into learning a lot of survival skills...

1.  Live somewhere cheap.  Live with others if you can stand them and they can stand you.  Buy a cheap house when you've still got some money.  Forget about buying what will impress someone else.  If your fortune improves, you can rent out the cheap house and get a better one for yourself.

2.  Get an affordable car or live on a bus line.  If you've got a car, maintain it.  I don't believe in leases.  All you get is a bill and nothing to show for it when the lease is up.

3.  Don't charge stuff, or pay the bill in full when it comes.  If you've got a balance on credit cards, pay more than the minimum and call the credit card company for a lower interest rate.  Leave the cards at home when you're out.  If you really need something, make yourself go home and get the card to slow down your impulse to buy.  Especially, quit buying luxuries, and be honest with yourself about what a luxury is.

4.  Eat at home.  Restaurants are expensive.  Cook real ingredients instead of packaged, easy food.  The food is better and better for you too.

5.  Live with what you've got.  Odds are you already have a lot of stuff.

6.  Buy things second-hand.  I paid $5 for my winter coat at a garage sale and have worn it for years.  I got a $200 pair of hiking boots for $5 too.

7.  Turn down/turn up the thermostat.  Just a few degrees difference in summer or winter can make a lot of $ difference.  Do without the heat or AC when you can.

8.  Barter stuff and services.  If you don't have $ for something, find someone who has something you want who will trade for what you've got.

9.  Quit gifting or make your gifts.  (See #6)  The spirit of giving shouldn't put you into irreparable debt.  If people knew you put yourself in financial disaster for their baby/wedding shower, would they be happy?  (If they are, get new friends.)

10.  Admit your poverty to people who matter.  Pretending otherwise only gets you invited to things you can't afford.  Admitting your situation also opens up job opportunities and might provide new ideas and emotional support.

11.  Accept help.  We're happy to help others, but often terrible at receiving.  In a way, that's refusing to let someone else be happy in their giving, which is kind of selfish.

12.  Be grateful for what you've got and you won't spend as much time focused on what you don't have (which only leads to breaking any or all of the rules above).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

"Sizzle"


Mom said, "Don't fry bacon naked".  I can only wonder about the source of this advice, but some things are best left out of my imagination.  And just cuz she said it, I had to do it.  She was right, don't fry bacon naked... and now Mom is probably sizzling because I mentioned her.

I don't write about Mom much.  She thinks anything on the web is forever and an invasion of privacy.  Mostly I leave her be, but sometimes I poke her because it's kind of funny when she gets all perturbed about things.  Happy birthday Mom :)

Also happy birthday to Richard, Timmy, Riley, Franz, Craig, John, Mary, Jessie, Nick... and whoever else is right about now, especially anybody I've forgotten.  Seems like everybody was born around this time of year.

Now that Mom is hot and bothered, let me say she's the only thing that's hot around here.  March coming "in like a lion and out like a lamb" is a blatant lie this year.  It's actually snowing, and snowing a lot today and I'm just sick, sick, sick of it!!

In the spirit of naked bacon frying, the bad weather inspired me to get spring water and I was surprised to see that they were tapping maple trees this late in the year.  Apparently trees know better than me to hope for warm weather.  I snapped a couple of photos in the pre-snow icy rain then did the other most contrary thing I could think of which was to try out new cars while the snow started to fall.  (A+ for German engineering in snow.)

I gave up my contrariness and went home to my puppy foot warmer and blankies and looked up the Maple Fest.    I watched their slide show and thought "OMG is this Ohio!"  The kind of Ohio I completely take for granted and mostly ignore, but I have to say that it feels happy and comfortable.

When I used to ride the school bus everyday, we went past Nash's farm at the top of the hill.  I always knew when spring was coming because old man Nash tapped his trees in the front yard.  I loved those trees.  They burned a beautiful yellow, orange, red every fall and they were also the first signs of spring.  Developers knocked them down to build McMansions.  (sob)

Maybe I assume too much when I figure people outside Ohio know about tapping trees?  Maple trees hibernate in the winter.  When the trees sense spring coming, the sap inside starts to "run".  A tap is hammered carefully into the tree, just past the bark, so that the running sap is caught in the end of the tap and funneled into a bucket, or these days, into tubing that feeds into a big plastic bladder. 

Once someone has enough sap, it's boiled until you get syrup, or boiled more until you get candy.  If you sizzle it one second too long you're shopping for a new pan.  It takes 50 gazillion gallons of sap to make a teaspoon of syrup.  (Actually 40 gallons of sap = 1 gallon syrup)  If you do this inside your home, you also have to buy new wallpaper since the old stuff just got steamed off.  In case you're wondering if I've tried it, you've got to remember that I also fried bacon!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Red"


I like red.  It's warm and fiery and comfortable.  It's cherries and berries and wine.  It's roses and hearts on Valentine's Day and poinsettias at Christmas and cardinals in the snow.  Some people really dislike red though.  Maybe because it's also the color of blood?  As someone told me, there's no good reason for a man to see blood.  I found that interesting.  Women see blood every month.  They may not like it, but it's natural.

Okay, I've seen my blood a lot more than that because some of my risk taking didn't turn out that well.  Maybe this is a family trait?  One time I took a brother to the hospital and found my nephew just outside the hospital door with his hand up in the air and blood running down his arm.  Brother and nephew were put in opposite ER rooms and I varied my time between the two of them.

When I came into my nephew's room I found him studying the red, bloodied sheets on his bed.  He said "Doesn't it look like poppies?" and I thought "Yeah, he's from my gene pool" while I laughed with him.  I went to my brother's room and listened to the doctor describe how he was going to trim some of the fat oozing from the wound so that the cut would heal up neater.  My brother joked about how he was getting "liposuction". Definitely something different in my gene pool.

Neither of these guys were too seriously hurt.  They both got stitched up, I gave a safety lecture, and as far as I know neither of them are having flashbacks about that day.*

I don't get too fussed about my own blood.  I'm liable to study my own Rorschach blood spots and see poppies too.  I've watched doctors stitch me up and studied their methods, but I don't like to see other people who are hurt.  I'd rather be hurt myself than to see someone else suffering.  If I'm hurt, then I'm in control of the pain.  If someone else hurts, then all I can do is bleed emotionally with them.

Sometimes I wonder what other people feel because other people don't think I feel things "right".  Some people have said so at any rate, and that's been true throughout my life, but I can't imagine feeling less.  It's kind of like imagining yourself with less intelligence or too many fingers or something.  What I've mostly learned from those kinds of comments is that it's best to keep my feelings to myself because even if my feelings are "normal", other people don't want to be bothered with them.

I watched a woman on a talk show once.  The people on the show figured she must be lying about the trauma she had suffered because she didn't flick an eyelash in pain.  I figured she was telling the truth because it takes a lot of misery to learn that much self control.  A liar knows they're supposed to be crying and puts on a show to get sympathy.  I think about that woman on the talk show sometimes and hope she's learned some happiness, found some poppies in the blood splotches.

The pattern is just fun for fun and playing in Illustrator.  It's not my favorite program, so I thought I'd play with it a bit to brush up on my skills.

*Correction: I read this post to my brother.  When I said he wasn't having flashbacks from his injury, he looked at his hand and said "it still hurts sometimes".  Correction posted on his request :)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Spark" 2


There are a lot of campfires in my memories.  Family camping, Girl Scouts, college... and with the memories of all those fires come memories of all the people singing happy songs with pleasant melodies and guitars strumming...

It seems like life was more musical back then.  Songs were written that were meant to be sung, not only by the musician, but also by the audience, war protesters, lovers, and churches.  Songs expressed our emotions and had something to say about what we were feeling.  There was something about sharing the flickering light of a campfire that made us a group and less shy about singing with our friends.

I wonder if the best campfires of my life are in the past?  We get to where we start thinking that sitting on the ground seems impractical or painful and bring lawn chairs, or let's just put the fire in the fireplace.  Or for that matter, collecting friends for a bonfire seems harder when they're shuttling kinds to soccer or working late or whatever.

I've gone "wimpy girl camping" with friends in later years.  That means we get a cabin with plumbing and a kitchen.  Even those commodities are insufficient for some of them and we stopped doing even this, but I'm due for another trip like that.  The last time we went, we had a long covered porch.  One night we rocked in rocking chairs and watched a heavy rain fall through the forest.  There's a peacefulness in that I don't know how to find at my house or in my regular life.

What we do with our lives is up to us.  If you decide you're too old to have fun, then you are.  If you want to have new experiences, then do it.  For people who are young and aren't collecting memories, get outside!  Have a bonfire and sing with your friends.  Just put the fire out when you're done.  If you don't have friends that will join you at a campfire, get some more friends.

The whole point of living is to have a life.  When I was in my 20s, I planned a trip with a friend who bailed at the last moment.  I told my grandma I was thinking I should save my minimal money and be responsible.  She shocked me by saying that I should go on the trip and spend everything I had.  "That way you'll have memories to look back on when you're old like me."  Ranks in best advice I've ever received, and strange that it came from my very responsible grandmother.

This week my brother and I went hiking.  2.3 miles of steeply up and down in the relatively balmy 35 degrees of Ohio March.  That was 2 days ago, and I'm still feeling it, which in my mind is pitiful, especially when I can read about some of you doing mini-marathons and biking and whatever else you're always up to.

This happens every year, and every year it seems a little harder to slough off winter hibernation.  I've even had the radical idea that maybe I should do some exercise all year instead of waiting for summer.  Maybe going on my brother's forced march is the spark that will lead me to better habits, which lead to new, more, better campfires?

In case you're wondering, illustrationfriday.com didn't give a new word for the week, which is why I revisited "spark".

Saturday, March 8, 2014

"Spark"


I wished I was more creative when I was in college.  My classmates did wonderfully creative things, but I thought of myself as a practical problem solver who depended on technical ability and hard work to keep up.  I didn't think I had the creative spark that moves people, or enough ideas, or the necessary people skills to sell myself.  I felt like a guppy amongst piranhas for a long time.

When I was going to school K-12, I didn't think I was unusually smart either.  I got better grades for less work, but I figured that was because I had a head start and a good memory.  My friends were smart enough, and they often got into a lot less trouble because they didn't do stupid things.  I didn't understand when they didn't get something I wanted to talk about.  I figured I just wasn't explaining it right.

My first draft for this post was describing my irritations with an artist who took my soft lavender layout and made it bright cyan blue.  I deleted that draft because I figure nobody wants to listen to me complain.  I started thinking about my high school frustrations of trying to explain politics to my peers and my envy looking at my college pals' homework.  My problems with the current artist seems to be a replay of times long gone.

When we hang out with people like ourselves (and we all do), we can't see how we're different than the average person.  We lose abilities in communicating with "average" too.  I like people who are smarter and more creative than me because that pushes me further than I can go on my own power.  As a result, sometimes my self-perception is that I'm not that creative or smart.

Someone told me her friends were diverse because she has black friends -- but her friends are at about the same level of income bracket, education, and type of career.  "Black" isn't really a descriptive word for what a person is like.  It's just a color, and a vague one at that when it's applied to people.  If she really wants diversity, she could make a friend from the slums, no matter what color -- and with her new friend she might have a different perspective on her own self image.

It's always so easy to point out this kind of thing in others, but it's harder to see it in ourselves.  I know my self-perception is skewed because in the years since college many, many people have commented on my creativity in both good and bad ways.  The positives are obvious, but the negatives are that I'm easily bored, ask "too many" questions, don't do as I'm told...

I've been thinking about all of this because I read this article about creatives (Thanks for the link Rand!)  I thought about my hectic week and decided to daydream before work because that would be more productive than running head-first into my cinder block office walls or strangling the guy who turned my lavender layout blue.

It worked.  I got a great idea and fleshed it out on the drive to work.  One less thing on my to do list, and I started to think that maybe I am creative and smart -- and even if that gets me in trouble sometimes, I don't want to be anything else.  Plus, I like talking with all of my blog buddies who are creative and smart too!