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!

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.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


I was sitting in my sunroom once when a very large dragonfly zipped up my yard, up the back steps, did a 90ยบ turn, flew sideways through the almost shut sliding glass door, and committed suicide on my forehead, smack on my "third eye".  Its lifeless body fell neatly on my lap and didn't show any signs of damage from contact with my hard head.

I don't know how other people feel about moments like this, but I felt my world shifting.  Having spent so much time in the woods and river, I know dragonflies don't make a habit of committing suicide, and I seldom have dragonflies in my back yard.  I carefully picked up the dragonfly and thanked it for sending me a divine message.

Maybe that sounds odd to you, and I'm pretty sure dragonfly suicides aren't described in any of the major religious texts, but I notice it when animals don't behave right, or show up where they shouldn't be, or any other kind of strangeness in the natural world.

At the time of my life when the dragonfly died, I was separated from my husband, pending divorce.  I was thinking about my future and my disappointments when the dragonfly came into my life.  I looked at the lifeless body and knew the marriage was over.  New things were coming into my life.  This was the way it had to be.

When I was on my recent trip in Baltimore, a dragonfly danced around me and I thought "Oh crud!"  (Okay, maybe something a little stronger than that?)  I could blow it off and just say it was defending territory, but I knew better.  It kept flying in my face, "Look at me!" and I said "I see you.  No need to commit suicide on my head."  It flew back to its territory and did regular dragonfly things while I contemplated new acid in my stomach.

My dad told me whimsical stories about dragonflies being fairies, and there are traditions where dragonflies are angels in disguise.  If you want to put this in a more rational way, when I'm thinking of life changing events, I notice dragonflies.  Maybe they don't do anything different at all (though I don't believe that), but I notice them because of whatever's going on inside of me.  Maybe my heavy thinking makes my breathing or sweat different and there is a logical explanation, but even that's still a message to myself.  Something's changing.  I hate change.

I wasn't in a good marriage and needed out.  Ultimately, I'm a lot better off divorced than staying put because it was familiar and what I knew.  I suppose I took vacation recently because I already felt changes coming and needed time away to think about different things.  I don't know how to explain feeling change coming.  I just do.  Let's call it female intuition.  Time will tell if it works out plus or minus, but as much as I dislike change it is an opportunity for metamorphosis.  Seeing the dragonfly makes me feel like whatever's coming is inevitable, so it's up to me to make the most of it.

Sometimes I doodle dragonflies.  I think they're often as pretty as butterflies, and they go through just as an amazing metamorphosis from egg to nymph to adult.  Do you ever feel like you get dragonfly messages or messages from another animal?

Saturday, August 23, 2014


I have a very tiny bird skull in my office with a jawbone as thin as a thread.  I don't think anyone notices it or the vase of feathers.  They might see the nest with the clay bird, but I don't think they notice that either.  My natural history section is filled with things I found in the garden at work.  It gives me something real to look at when I'm stressed at work.

There was a movement in Dutch art when artists would show a dead leaf or flower, or a skull, or something to show that life is fleeting.  The Dutch were wealthy, and it was a way to remind people to focus on what mattered.  We're at a similar place these days, people are caught up with what they have materially without thinking enough about the lessons they need to learn or the legacy they'll leave behind.  It's too easy to get caught up with all the obvious things we want without thinking about what we need.

"Medieval Times" in Baltimore, MD
For me it isn't about material things.  It's getting too caught up with deadlines and other people's needs without any time for myself.  I hit an invisible wall and took a vacation, driving to DC, Baltimore, the ocean, and upstate NY.  That's a lot of driving in Pennsylvania, an endlessly interminable state with a lot of mountains just to make it even longer.  I'm sure I saw more headstones than houses in that state, and a lot of the people I saw were Amish, people who are in their way the antithesis of materialism.

All that driving by myself gave me a lot of time for thinking, but thinking wasn't making me happy.  Once in a while that little bird skull flitted through my mind.  What matters to me?  How can I arrange me life so those things that matter are a part of my daily existence?

House in Lily Dale, NY
I enjoyed seeing my friend in DC and my cousins in Baltimore, and enjoyed the activities we shared, but I was still looking for rest.  A coworker loaned me her Lake Chautauqua, NY condo and I unsuccessfully tried to force serenity.  I needed to get in touch with myself, but couldn't seem to get there.  A speeding ticket from a cop who looked like my ex-bf didn't help.  Neither did my daytrip to Lily Dale where a spiritualist told me to leave because I wasn't "receptive".  Really, who gets rejected at Lily Dale?!

I picked up shells at the side of the lake and grouched to myself about the shells' dirty shades of brown.  I painted the shells blue to match the color scheme of my friend's condo, then painted words on them.  The resulting arrangement was my thanks to her for loaning me the getaway.  I supposed that was more meaningful than the inspiration I wanted to have for my next great painting, so I packed up and left.

Sunset at Lake Chautauqua, NY
I stopped at a "Cheese House" and the lady tried to sell me Finnish cheese.  I asked for something local, but she said her father quit making cheese in the 40s.  "The best cheese is from Ohio."  Not just any Ohio cheese, but from my area.  I bought some Middlefield cheese and joked with her about my mom, or was it Grandma, who liked baby swiss, saying that aged swiss was a waste of money because all you get is holes.  The Cheese House lady said the holes were free, and I felt my childhood come back to me when an old man said exactly the same thing as I watched a big ball of wet cheese wrapped in cheesecloth get pulled out of a huge stainless steel vat near the place where my ancestors lived for generations.

I spent the rest of my time chopping up a peck of (unpickled) peppers I bought at a farmer's stand, then making dill pickles.  (7 quarts)  I'm finally starting to feel that relaxation that I was trying so hard to force on my travels.  I'm glad I went visiting, but I'm glad to be home.

Happy to see a palm tree in Ocean City, MD

Friday, August 15, 2014


A lot of people have written a lot of things about Robin Williams.  I don't know that I've heard the kinds of things I've wanted to hear though.  Of course the likelihood of that happening would increase if I'd actually pay more attention to my tv, but the sampling I've gotten has left me feeling... well, I'm not sure.  Unsatisfied.

Robin Williams was an important person in my life.  I know, he wasn't even aware of my existence beyond a statistic, but I watched Mork and Mindy when it was new, I watched all of his movies.  I cried during Good Will Hunting, a movie that I own 2 copies of just in case something happens to the first copy.  It's my favorite movie of all favorite movies.

I know we don't know celebrities the way their friends and families know them, but Robin gave us so much information about himself.  Just the fact that he had to act out so outrageously so much of the time tells us a lot about his unmet needs.  He told us about addiction and depression.  He was very honest with us, in the ways that he could be honest, and told us more by the roles he chose and how he acted them.

I am nothing like Robin Williams, I am a lot like him.

I feel like the tv people are all missing the boat when they talk about Robin's death.  A lot of people struggling with demons, and sometimes people lose the will or strength to keep fighting the battle.  Give them credit for fighting the good fight as long as they have.

I want the retrospective love fest of showing Robin's work.  It's a lot like going through old photos after a breakup or after someone we really know and love dies.  It's a process of letting go and remembering, and remembering that those moments are with us for life in our memories, but the voice in my head says I want them to really talk about depression and what it is, how it feels.  If the bulk of society can't understand that, then I don't feel understood either, and I suppose that is somewhere in Robin's last thoughts too.

A long-time friend of mine tried to commit suicide a number of times.  I don't blame her.  She's had more crap in her life than most people could imagine if they tried.  Not blaming doesn't mean that I want her to die though.  I want her to somehow find a way past her torment.  I want her happy.  I help in the ways that I can think to help, but I don't know the answers a lot of the time.

I've thought about suicide.  I think a lot of people have.  I haven't tried it, but I wanted off the planet in a very serious way.  If you really want the truth, the reason I didn't do it is because I was afraid crossing into the next life would be worse as a result.  Then the clouds part, good things start happening again, someone makes you laugh, and living starts feeling possible again.

I'm so sorry that Robin Williams couldn't get to a happy place again.  I'm so sorry he's gone and won't make me laugh or cry except in retrospectives.  RIP

I'm posting another "king" because I've got things to do and don't want to wait for the next IF prompt.  Please excuse me if I don't respond right away to comments because I'm planning on doing a lot of visiting and running around this week.  Maybe one good thing that comes from Robin's passing is lighting a fire under me to get out and do things?  I'm alive, I want happy moments.  Wishing the same for all of you!