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!

Friday, October 2, 2015


I love the drag of ink on paper.  I especially like ballpoint pens on newsprint.  I used to "correct" people's faces in the newspaper so I could indulge in the rich feel of that inky experience.  Sometimes I put makeup on people or changed their hairstyles.  Sometimes I turned them into monsters.

I remember this so vividly, the smell of the paper, the ink, the light coming through the living room window, the feel of the splintery pine floor... Memory is a strange thing, and I've been spending a lot of my time in it this week, painting a map of my childhood.

I'm amazed how many memories are vivid in my mind.  I can tell you the name of the horse that lived on the corner 40+ years ago.  Buck, which is also the name of my nephews' great uncle, and whom I met once about 30 years ago.  All of my senses remember details too small to be important for long-term memory, but they're there*.

For you young'uns who know the Glen, this is the map of my childhood, not the present.  I included houses that were built while I lived there, even though part of me wants to wipe out about 10 of them.  In my youngest years, our house was the only one on our side of the street, and the Turk's property was an overgrown lot with a row of bee hives.  I used the county property map and satellite photos, so it's as accurate as I can make it.

For those of you who don't know the Glen, plain rectangles of 2 and 3 acre lots might make you think that the land was open.  It wasn't.  The Glen is richly treed.  Everything on the other side of the river was miles of untouched forest, and our side of the river was closed off from the world by a giant hill and cliffs.

It was a clannish neighborhood of regular and crazy people, recluses, criminals, and artists -- and something I know to the bottom of my soul is that I belonged.  There were people who loved me or hated me, or who were totally apathetic to my existence, but they were my people, and I was as much a part of that landscape as the giant oak tree.

I have thought about my writing and art, and realize all of it is autobiographical -- and that's what it's supposed to be.  The subject of my life's work is my life.  Maybe in some way this is true for everyone who creates?  But for me, it's literal.  In sharing my story, I tell the lives of other people who can't or won't tell their stories themselves.  Our experiences entertain or resonate for other people.

I started this floor to decorate my home, but also to give myself time to meditate and find my way forward.  I didn't know where the path would lead, and was open to the discovery.  I'm looking forward to polyurethaning the canvas this weekend, painting over the speckles I made on the wall and baseboards, moving the furniture back, cleaning house, and living the most authentic life I can live.

I went back through my posts to see just how long this floor has taken me.  I started this in June!  Okay, I've successfully held down a full-time job and lived a regular life, but I've put a huge amount of time into this.  I used up big tubes of green, white, brown, and yellow paint and wore out brushes.

As for "ink", I used a ball point pen in early phases and I can't tell you strongly enough it's a terrible idea.  I used a lot of paint covering that up again.  I resisted the urge to use the ballpoint in later phases for that reason, but there is some ink on it.  I can also say that using a silver gel pen over acrylic means a quick death to the gel pen.

(Korki and John, "they're there" is for you!)

Friday, September 25, 2015


I thought I'd have my floor finished by now.  The only thing left was the center, and how hard could that be?  Of course it might be easier if I knew what's going in that center, but I've been enjoying the process of discovery.

It would also help if I didn't get very complicated ideas like an astrological wheel -- but a subtle wheel, because I didn't feel like making my floor all about that.  This turned into days of math and fussing, for what's basically a 1 3/8" wide ring that hugs the inside of the brick circle -- which still leaves me to ponder what goes inside of that.

This eternal calendar gave me the chance to write the names of important people's birthdays.  I won't say this will motivate me to actually give birthday gifts, or give them on time, but it improves the odds.

I noticed trends in the birthdays of people who've made a difference in my life, either for good or bad.  I'm going to look for more Virgos because they are consistently nice to me.  Grandma was a Virgo, and Grandma love is right up there with dog love in unconditional and forever.

Things would move along quicker on the center of the floor if I quit taking time out to add more animals to the outside leaves.  I keep telling myself that I'm done with that part, but then I think maybe another dragonfly?  Maybe more flowers?

My dog thinks that all of this has gone on long enough.  She paces back and forth in front of me and nags.  Soon.  We're almost there.  Really, how long can it take to paint the inside 4' center?

Then I sit on my stool and ponder, which really annoys my puppy.  Why can't we take a walk or curl up with a book?  I've been giving her dog cookies to shut her up.  She's standing in the way of my creativity and self-expression.

I won a gift certificate once for entering a story in a contest.  That $25 validation probably made it possible for me to blog because I was bunched up in a million different ways about writing.  Letting my words out into the world was hard, especially since the story was about grieving the death of someone who mattered to me.  I unexpectedly had to face another fear when I had to read the story out loud to a group.

I wrote about the same kinds of things that are now living on my floor because nature is my center.  When the snow falls, I'll have summer in my dining room.  I'll have visual cues to remind me of happy times and help chase away winter blues.  I'll see the names of important people in my life and remember that loving and being loved is the greatest prize of all.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


I loved The Little Mermaid when I was small.  I had a book of the original Hans Christian Andersen story with beautiful b/w illustrations.  I sighed over the handsome prince, and sighed over the beautiful illustrations too.  I've always valued good art.

Dad used to say that to be "cultured" and "well-educated", I had to read all the classics.  So I did.  Go ahead, ask me about Dickens or Tolstoy or whoever.  Really, somebody should ask me something about this stuff, because I'm pretty sure nobody has ever cared whether or not I'm educated or cultured.

All that reading filled my head with romanticism and idealism -- and I doubt that makes my life better.  Would you date a Musketeer?  Athos is an alcoholic who killed his wife (twice), Aramis a hypocritical slut, Porthos is stupid, and D'Artagnan... well, I guess he's okay if you didn't mind him rashly trying to get killed at any moment.  It's a great story, one of my favorites, but it doesn't provide a very good model for real life.

When I read and reread The Little Mermaid, I was swept away by the romanticism.  I couldn't see that she gave too much of herself away for a fantasy.  Forget Disney, I was reading the original story which is a lot harsher and written by Hans who never got lucky romantically in his entire life.

I've been guilty of giving too much of myself in the same ways.  Okay, an evil witch didn't cut out my tongue and tell me to stab my lover, but how often have I given more than I received?  A: too often.  And it isn't just lovers, it's all sorts of other people too.

My internal romantic has gotten me in all sorts of trouble and bad decisions.  No matter how practical or tough I can be about all sorts of things, a part of me is Ariel and nukes my own happiness.  I'm working on it.  I've been thinking about these kinds of situations a lot while I sit on the floor and paint with my smallest brush.

At the same time, I think fantasy is the root of all creation.  We need daydreams and nightdreams.  They are the source of everything we make or bring into our lives, but we can't dream anyone else into what we want them to be outside of our own fantasies.  I'm searching for balance.

"Mermaid" reminded me of this cookie jar -- except I guess it was Tinkerbell.  Oh well, close enough.  I try to block out Disney work from my mind.  To say they are picky and demanding is like saying world annihilation is inconvenient.

This cookie jar never happened even though it did get to the prototype stage.  I just thought I'd show you something other than the floor (though I have some nice butterflies and mushrooms.)  This project involved gobs of technical drawings from every angle and then many revisions on each of them before they canned the whole thing because Chinese people don't understand Tinkerbell.  Disney also wavered between using the old Tink vs. the new one, which meant I had to do the whole thing over several times that way too.

I told my brother I needed a mermaid and he obliged on a napkin while we waited for dinner.  I objected to "toe flippers" and little arms, but he just giggled.  That's worth something :)

Friday, September 11, 2015


I watched Dr. Phil yesterday.  I’m not recommending it.  My mind rebels when I see how some people treat each other.  Yesterday he talked to people who say Bill Cosby drugged and raped them.  I don't want to believe it, but I think it's true.  The man who made me laugh as a child is a sociopath.  He got away with criminal behavior for decades.

Tom went out with my friend in college.  He asked me out after they quit dating.  I asked if she minded.  She said, "Uh, well..."  "I don't need to go out with him.  I'll just say 'no'."  "It's okay."  "No, really..."  "It's fine.  Go out with him."

So I went out, but I told him I had a lot of homework and needed to be home by 10:00.  He was handsome and charming.  He had lots of money and spent close to $300 on dinner.  Considering this was back in the 80s, that really was a lot of money.

I enjoyed the evening.  Let's do it again -- but he pulled up to his house instead of mine.  Touch, grab, slap, "Take me home!"  "Do you realize how much I spent on you tonight?!"  "I'm not a prostitute!"  Wrestling match, aided on my side by his seat belt.  I escaped and slammed the car door -- as luck would have it, on his hand.  The door mechanism went around the bone in the back of his hand and effectively immobilized him.

Through his open sunroof I could hear him yelling, screaming, and threatening for a few blocks as I raged through the worst section of town in 4" heels and my best dress.  A group of very rough men stood outside a bar and watched me storm past.  An older man stifled a smirk and I almost smiled in return.  Ah, sometimes I miss my younger self.

I told my friend about my misadventure and she said, "Yeah, he did that to me too."  What??!!!  "How could you let me go out with him?"  "We--elll, I didn't think he'd do it to you too."  Thanks one hell of a lot.

Tom was at a party a couple months later with an industrial-looking sling.  Mutual friends told me he'd had to have surgery on his hand.  No regrets on my end.  He confronted me and I said if he didn't vamoose I'd tell everyone exactly how his hand got damaged.  Maybe someone would like to damage your left hand too?  I spoke loudly enough to kill his social life.  I'm not absolutely sure, but I heard he got beat up that night.

Tom was handsome, smart, charming, and wealthy.  Why did he think he could buy me, and failing that, rape me?  I'm thankful I got away.  I wish Bill Cosby's victims had gotten away too.  Sadly, I believe them.  There are villains in the world.  Sometimes the villains are handsome, charming, wealthy, and famous.  I wish the victims had felt safe enough to speak up sooner so there would be fewer women hurt.

Salamanders aren't villains.  They won't hurt anyone.  This one's for Sue who had a spotted salamander in a terrarium on the dresser when we were kids :)

Saturday, September 5, 2015


I took my ladies out for margaritas in thanks for everything they did in moving our office this week.  The new office looks good although there are still a lot of piles.  I also don't know why one computer monitor doesn't work, but all that can wait until next week.  Margaritas were important.

When I told them the word for the week is "old", M said a doctor told her that if you're going to have a health problem, it'll show up between the ages of 50-60.  If nothing crops up, you're golden.  So far so good?  She's in her 70s and skateboarded a computer stand down the hallway.  I hope I'm doing that well when I'm her age.  No, I wish I was doing as well as her now.

I have creaky knees and sore feet from a lot of walking, climbing, hefting, and shoving this week.  It reminds me of my 30s when I felt old, fat, and depressed from an unhappy marriage and divorce.

I sat at a picnic table in the park with Betty, watching a flock of girls run across a field.  Betty sighed.  She was old enough to be my mother and said she'd never run like that again.  She used to love running and Scottish dancing.  She even took a trip to Scotland to dance.  Her loss of ability hit me in a powerful way.

Added dogwood flowers
Not long afterwards, my dalmatian ran across a field.  I thought "Why not?" and ran with her.  I wasn't sure if I could do it any more, but we made it across the very big field.  I wasn't even that winded on the other side.  We ran some more.  I played with her.  I pushed thoughts about breaking my ankle in a rabbit hole out of my surface thoughts.  We waded in the river for a while, and ran around the field some more.

Something major shifted in my thoughts that day.  I was sorry Betty couldn't run, but I still could.  I didn't have to limit myself, and Betty was thrilled for me when I told her about it.  She laughed and clapped when I danced with her son around the living room.

I put myself on a diet and got out and lived.  I looked and felt better in my 40s than in my 30s.  I danced a lot.  Once in a while I run in the backyard just to keep proving to myself that I still can, and I remember Betty and thank her for teaching me a valuable life lesson.

Painting my floor vividly reminds me that deep knee bends should happen more than once a decade.  The floor has gotten farther away than it used to be and I'm unwilling to say this is the last project like this that I'll be able to do because I'm getting too old.  It's time to take my physical life in hand again.

I have all the leaves painted!  Woo hoo!!!  This is the least exciting part visually because it's repetitious and basically just the background, but I've thoroughly enjoyed doing it.  I look forward to coming home from work so I can paint and think about things.  I've been sorting out things that I've had shelved in my brain and seeing whether or not I need to throw things away, recycle, or rearrange them in another box.

I've got ideas for the next phase, and I'm excited at the prospect of a 3-day Labor Day weekend which I can fill with dragonflies and flowers.

BTW, the floor is obviously a compass which points north.  The dragonfly is a correction pointing to big water (Lake Erie).

Friday, August 28, 2015


Bro4 was out of work several years ago and slowly taking on every attribute of the couch.  The remote control melted into his hand, and his depression was a black fog staining the walls and shortening the life span of anyone who breathed it very long.

"Get a job!"
"Nobody's hiring."

That conversation went around in circles.  I snapped "There's more than one reason to have a job!"  It's grounding, gives you a reason to brush your teeth and get dressed.  It's a place to go every day and be social with others.  You can do something useful and feel accomplishment...

To be honest, I don't really remember which gems of wisdom I spit out in frustration, but I can be really eloquent when I lose it.  Wish I could remember all of it and could be that eloquent without the emotions.  Also wish I'd follow my own advice when I've melted in the couch.  I know about the importance of work because I've been laid off too.

This morning one of my ladies listed why I like my job.  I love my ladies, close to home, use my writing and design skills, use my mind.  Thanks for the reminder and a voice of sanity!  (Especially important since we're still in the process of office moving.)

Anyway, Bro took the lesson to heart and got himself a job.  He was better for it because in the end he agreed with me; he likes to work and likes accomplishing things.

I've thought about this conversation through the years because I've been laid off a time or two since then.  It's hard to think about the other rewards of employment when you can't pay the bills, but once you have a job it's easy to get mired in the situation and forget about those other things that make work important.

It doesn't have to be a job with a paycheck, but we need to do something to feel fulfilled.  One of my volunteers asked for a raise a while ago.  "Sure!  We love you and will give you anything you want.  50% raise for you!"  Which of course made everyone laugh because 50% of 0 is still 0, but we do love and appreciate her.  That's the important thing.

I currently work around a lot of older people.  Many can't get around very well, but they're involved and contribute.  They do what they want and what they can.  It makes me very aware how long people actually live and how important their contributions can be.  I really want to keep this in mind when I'm their age.

I'll always work in some way, but I hope at some point my "work" is stuff I choose like painting my floor, saving trees, baking pies for orphans, or something.  No matter what your abilities, there's always work worth doing -- and you will be better off for doing it.

This spider posed in the bathroom for a couple of days.  I was concerned Bro2 would evict it, but he asked "Why would I get rid of it?"  Clearly, we're from the same pod.  I wonder if anyone will try to kill the painted version when they come to visit, or if other spiders will run away or try to mate with it.  I'll admit I got creeped out after printing full-page reference of it, but generally, I get along with them as long as they eat the bugs I don't like.  Besides, my spider is only 1 1/2" long instead of filling a full piece of paper.  My camera doesn't like taking pictures of my floor, especially details.  Sorry things are a little blurry.

Completely unrelated, but connected to last week's word "people", I went to a slip and slide kickball party last weekend.  It was hosted by my nephew and his wife at the house where I grew up and where Bro3 currently lives.  No, I'm not stupid enough to actually play, but I had fun watching.

Big ball for the game because this certainly wasn't about athletic skill

Hostess makes first base!
Host makes second base!
Great nephew and his girlfriends, playing games of their own choosing

And then there's this last photo of my great niece in the apple tree where I spent quite a bit of my childhood escaping things.  The party was a bit rowdy for her and she went up the tree, just like I would've done.  Stretching out on a branch I used to stretch out on.  She's an absolutely adorable child, beautiful in both appearance and personality.  The sun came through the trees just right and all she needs is to unfurl her fairy wings.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Last week I gave a link for a paper describing "super feelers" and was struck by the part about rescuing others and denying my own needs.  A cascade of self-harming decisions flowed through my mind, and I thought about how ungrateful a lot of the recipients were when I fell on the sword for them.  Obviously, not one of my better life strategies.

This has been a very current concern for me this week because my office is downsizing space and I had to move my office into a large, busy room (with 30 yrs of hoarding).  Adding to my concerns, this room was the domain of a very nice woman who has been getting her hours cut.  I really, really didn't want to add to her unhappiness and I have been sleepless with worries about how to make the space work for everybody.  I sternly kept telling myself not to sacrifice myself in office design, but so dreaded the disappointment  or tears when my coworker found herself shoved in a dark corner.

The construction leader yelled at me to vacate the other office immediately or he'd put all my stuff in storage, despite the fact that there wasn't room to turn around in the other room.  It was jammed as we tried to take things out of it to make space for me.  That super feeler paper clearly says I don't respond well to raised voices.  Then I wrenched my shoulder.  Yeah, this week sucked.

But, I managed to situate both myself and my coworker by the windows, and she's thrilled with the new arrangement.  I'm not happy to lose my privacy, but I feel like it's the best I can do.  Our desks face each other, and she chattered happily while drills and saws echoed through the wall in my previous sanctuary.

...Carefully arrange bird skull, feathers, and nest on my shelf...

For my facebook friends who saw that one of the priests gave me blanket absolution for swearing, well, can you see why?  Someone told the construction leader to lay off.  His workers gave me a hand with some things behind his back.  A coworker helped figure out how to make the space work.  Someone gave me a shot of bourbon.  I don't approve of drinking at work, but I felt gratitude and the warmth of kindness spread through my bloodstream.  Another coworker loaned me a book by David Sedaris which actually made me laugh out loud while cuddling my puppy in our cocoon at home.

It's a moment in time, but it shows people in their true form.  There was no need for yelling and adding to the stress of things.  One person behaved badly, but all the other people either stayed out of the way or helped.  Sometimes it's hard to remember percentages, but small acts of kindness go a long way. When multiple people do them they add up to a larger quantity of kindness.

We can choose whether our experiences are positive or negative based on which people we focus on.  When we choose our side, it effects everyone else.  We either gripe and complain, or we smile and pat an arm in sympathy.  We all have the power to effect someone else's life.  Choose to make their lives better.

Just to show you a better sense of scale
Still on corner 3 of my floor project.  This is not a snake in the grass, because clearly, there's no grass.  This is a garter snake, and they won't bite unless you abuse them and stick your finger in their mouths.  (Which I know from personal experience.)  I think I must've done a good job on this corner so far because a mosquito got in the house last night and it was disturbed by the snake and tried to hide under a leaf :)