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!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

"Giant"

Have you ever felt sorry for Goliath?  Maybe you don't really know the story, just that the young hero David triumphed over the giant with a rock.  In a nutshell, the Jews and Philistines had a war, Goliath was a giant, the Philistines' biggest, most fearsome warrior.  Goliath waged a psychological war by coming out every morning and challenging the Jews to send a champion to fight him one on one, victor wins the war.  David, a shepherd, hears the challenge.  Instead of fighting hand to hand, he uses his sling to kill Goliath with a rock.  David cut off Goliath's head and David is a hero forever more.

Maybe Goliath was just a braggart?  Maybe he just wanted the war to end?  Maybe he knew that taunting the Jews was keeping his side alive?  Since victors always write the history, the Jews tell this story as the true religion triumphing over the infidels.

David was brave, but maybe he was an idiotic young kid who hadn't seen enough of life to know he might be in over his head, but since his tactics won nobody seems to question whether or not he played fair.  He was clever and God was on his side.

I'm not preaching religion by talking about David and Goliath.  Whatever the religious ramifications, this is an old story which is believed by Jews, Muslims, and Christians.  I suspect most believe the story as it's told without looking very deeply into it, if they bother to read it at all.  What I'm trying to say is there's always more than one side to the story, even if the losers don't get to write it.

The war between the Jews and Philistines never ended.  We just call the Philistines Palestinians now and they're David at this point and the Jews are Goliath.  The Palestinians literally threw rocks this week while the Jews mowed them down with gunfire.  We're still fighting the same religious wars that we've been fighting for millennium.  I sincerely wish it would stop.

Every side of every war, each side thinks God is with them and not the enemy.  In most cases, both sides are praying to the same God.  Horrific things are done.  Whatever bad things happen because of us, well, that's unfortunate but forgivable.  Whatever bad things happen because of our enemies, they're evil.  Kill them.

What if Jews welcomed Palestinians as equals?  What if they shared power and worked towards agreements?  What if they just got together and honestly tried to get to know each other without weapons?  What if others stayed out of the fight?

I reshaped the flower beds in front of my house this week.  A neighbor went out of his way to tell me I'd done a good job.  It cost him nothing, but it made me feel good.  I gave him tomato plants.  He feels good.  I volunteered to plant the city's planters.  That's a task off a city worker and we're both happier.  What if more people looked outside of themselves to see what they can do to spread some happiness?

Power shifts and morphs.  If you're Goliath now, be careful, you might meet a David.  Maybe you'll become a David.  Plan ahead by getting along with your neighbors.  Send them some love.  Compliment their flowers.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

"Hairy"

I almost varnished a hair into my latest art therapy project, which if it had escaped my notice would've irritated me until the end of time.  Maybe my OCD tendencies require some attention?  I feel like I've been working on this piece forever, but I guess it's been just over a month.  Keep in mind, I wasn't actual painting all that time.  Sometimes I ignored it or just carried the painting around my house and pondered it and the issues I wanted to resolve.  My dog follows me around and sleeps when I settle somewhere.

The composition turned into a hairy nightmare because I'm letting these paintings grow in their own ways as I discover new ideas about the issues I'm pondering.  It's so much easier when I know what I want to paint in the first place, but I'm loving the challenge of these projects, and when I get to the point when I actually sign them I feel joy.  I even enjoy looking at these paintings when they're done, which I think is an odd result when I'm painting about unpleasant events in my life.

Part of the pleasure is finding good times during periods I've remembered as blanket negativity.  I racked up quite a few honors and accomplishments.  I met really interesting and influential people.  I helped kids rack up honors and accomplishments too.  I stood on a stage and gave speeches to hundreds of people without passing out.

At the same time, the people were truly terrible.  Two of them are currently in prison.  I was repeatedly threatened, assaulted, harassed, and stalked.  My house and office were repeatedly broken into.  I couldn't get support from anyone including legal authorities, relatives, or friends.  And oh yeah, one of those friends was having an affair with my husband.  Bleak times.  My health suffered.

In times like this it's hard to see life getting better, yet it did -- and then the cycle repeated, which is often the case because when I shut the door on that past I failed to examine some critical lessons.  I kept people in my life who failed me when I needed them, so it shouldn't have been a surprise they didn't help me when new problems entered my life.  I was still surprised and disappointed.

Victims are told not to talk about negatives.  Think happy thoughts.  Quit dwelling on the past.  Forgive.  No.  Perhaps these advisors live rosy lives without this kind of grief, but I suspect a lot of people can relate to some of my miseries after witnessing the Me Too movement.  Me Too gives victims a voice they've been denied, and I think there's something very healing about hearing their stories and empathizing with their pain.

I boohooed about getting divorced and found the sun shone more brightly on the other side of the courthouse.  I worried about money and earned more after getting out of that hellhole.  Life gets better, and bad cycles don't have to repeat when we own the cycles of the past.  It takes some honest soul searching and effort, but it's worth it.

I think it's time for me to take a break from art therapy though.  Something happy?  Less intense?  But let me encourage everyone to find their own self expression and growth.  Maybe something that doesn't include itsy bitsy portraits?

And yes, I stretched the "hairy" topic this week even though I have lots of art with hairy subjects.  Sometimes it's just better to follow our own music!

Friday, May 4, 2018

"Utopia"

I think I'm pretty easy to get along with.  If you believe and do things differently than me, okay.  Live and let live.  All I ask is that you treat me with the same liberty.  Of course, people aren't like that.  They want you to believe and do the same as themselves, and anything other than that is seen as a challenge that must be overcome or destroyed.  I can't change my inquisitive, questing temperament, so I imagine you can see the difficulties I've encountered.

I was the same as a child.  I went to church every week and did my best to follow the rules, but then they described heaven as a glimmering city with streets paved in gold.  I was horrified.  There was no way I wanted to spend eternity in a city on my knees saying endless hosannas -- without dogs!  Sounded like a hell to me.  My adults had an impossible task in trying to make this sound like a reward for good behavior.

I went back home to my utopian woods and river and pondered deeply why God wanted me to live in a city on my knees.  It was just one thing of many that didn't make sense.  So, even though I'm easy to get along with, I was sometimes called a difficult child.  I suppose I still am?  Perhaps we all are until the adults force us into conformity?  Then, we become the adults forcing conformity.  I don't think any of this makes us happy.

This isn't just about religion; it's everything.  Everybody says you should want to be married.  Tried that; it didn't work for me.  Everybody told me to be an engineer.  I became an artist.  On and on and on.  I'm sure you have your own list of "ought tos", "have tos".  What I've come to realize is that the advice others push on us is the advice they'd like to take themselves.  It's what they want, and they want you do it for them.

I've always thought the golden rule should be do unto others as they would have you do unto them.  Not how you want to be treated, how they want to be treated.  Otherwise, it's extraverts forcing shy people to parties or introverts forcing extraverts to sit quietly.  Or simcity civil engineers forcing me into an eternity of their concept of heaven when I need trees and dogs.

I was asked a while ago to describe my perfect life.  I spent weeks considering my answer.  Eventually, I came to understand that perhaps I'm living it.  Well, keep in mind this was before I spent so much time scrubbing my basement free of mold and mouse poop, but still.  (And for the record, I'm still scrubbing.  My allergies won't allow me to work on it any faster.)

The point is, decide for yourself what you want, and appreciate it when you have it.  If your ideal afterlife is a golden city, mazel tov.  I'd like to think God will provide a place in the woods for people like me -- with dogs.  And paint.  I would hope that making art would count towards my hosannas :D 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

"Transformation"

There's odd satisfaction to seeing people scavenge stuff piled on my tree lawn for garbage pick up.  I felt I should run out and say it's all been contaminated with mouse poop and mold, but it rained.  Nature protected them by washing it.  I was also tempted to ask somebody to help me carry out bigger pieces of furniture, but I was tired.  Maybe next week?

I've been trying to transform my basement, but it's a slow go since I'm very sensitive to whatever lurks down there.  I suspect the worst culprit is mold I found on the rafters once the mouse poop ceiling came down.  My eyes have been red and swollen.  My tip for the week is to put used teabags on them to suck out the evil spirits.

When not washing rafters (spiking my delicate hands with a nail and splinters), I've been washing endless basement stuff.  There's a lot of it.  You wouldn't know it to walk through the main part of my house, but I collect and hoard things.  For instance, 8 teapots -- and I never use a teapot.  They're just pretty.  One was Grandma's.  I can't get rid of a Grandma thing, even if it's contaminated with mouse poop and mold dust.  I carefully washed it and packed it nicely in a new box.  Some of the others have unpleasant memories attached though.  I'm debating whether or not to start selling things.

I've also continued to try to transform myself by plodding along on my latest art therapy painting.  This latest has been dragging, but it is accomplishing its purpose.  Slowing down and really thinking about a hard period of my past helps me see things differently.  I can see positives.  I can sew negatives together in a different way.

I think most of us create a shorthand in our minds about the past.  For instance, my ex-husband is a narcissist.  He hurt my self-esteem.  Bad husband.  Slam the door on the past.  The painting isn't about him, but I can't think about that period of time without remembering the part he played, and throwing out the mental shorthand, really spending time thinking through things, I discover new truths that I can actually feel in my body.  Fiddling with the painting layout, I actually laughed when I came up with a moment of gratitude towards him.  I didn't think it was possible.

We can't ignore the past.  We carry it around all the time, even when we refuse to acknowledge it.  It effects our decisions and behavior.  It creates who we are now.  It becomes our choice what we're going to do with it.

We can't change the past, but we can change the narrative.  The fact that this painting is taking me a long time to create is an indication of how complicated the issue is for me.  It gives me something to think about when I'm washing rafters and dishes.  And like cleaning physical things, I feel like I'm scrubbing my mind.  I think I'll be a lot happier when all the mold and mouse poop is gone, really and metaphorically.

BTW, the keys are just a part of the painting.  I'll post the whole thing if it ever gets finished.

"Adding wings to caterpillars does not create butterflies, it creates awkward and dysfunctional caterpillars. Butterflies are created through transformation." ~ Stephanie Marshall

Friday, April 20, 2018

"Pink"

I love pink.  Not the plastic pink in the girls' aisle in a store, but pink flowers and pink cheeks, pink awnings, pink lipstick, pink puppy bellies, pink, pink, pretty pink.  It's a living, happy color -- which has very little to do with what I've been up to lately other than the pretty pink scarf I tie on my head before descending into the pits of hell.

You may remember that I mentioned I've been on a dust elimination quest.  This has helped my sinus issues, but it didn't solve them, and I was running out of things to dust.  Then, a ceiling tile fell down in the basement.  I noticed a hint of an odd, indefinable smell and studied the old, crappy ceiling.  I've never liked these acoustical tiles, but I never felt like getting into the mess of tearing it down.  I don't spend any time in the basement other than wash clothes and store things anyway.

The tile on the floor looked disgusting.  I mentioned this to a buddy who reminded me of my plumbing disaster a few years ago.  He suggested that the mold in the basement may have gotten into the ceiling.  Ugh.  I went back to the basement and studied.  On my friend's advice, I put on a face mask before reaching up and pulling down another tile.

Mouse poop!  Eeks!  Disgusting!  My house has been defiled!!!

I knew I had a mouse a few years ago.  It got into the dog food and gnawed on a couple of my sweaters, but I found its corpse before I got around to murdering it.  Mouse problem over, at least that's what I thought.

I decided the ceiling had to go and started pulling down more tiles.  There wasn't a little mouse poop, there was a lot of it.  Eeks, eeks, yuck, ew!  Since it was trash day, I loaded up the bin and stopped for the day.

I woke up the next day obsessed about mouse poop.  Could it really be the thing that has been making feel lousy?  I looked it up online and found out it can actually kill you.  No wonder I feel so icky about the situation.  I pulled the rest of the ceilings down, loaded up the trash bin again, and bagged the rest where they are piled in the driveway awaiting next week's trash truck.  Included in that trash is mammal poop, mouse nest, and a bird skeleton.  I feel like I can't wash my hands enough at this point.  I've bought plastic gloves and disinfectant to wash everything I own.

In an odd way, I'm actually feeling good about all of this.  First and foremost, because I'm getting rid of something disgusting, but also because it feels symbolic.  I sometimes think of my house as a mirror.  The first floor is everyday life.  Upstairs is higher ideals.  The basement is subconscious.  I didn't know I had mouse poop and a dead bird in my subconscious, but I'm glad to discover it and eliminate it.  And in an odd synchronicity, my current art therapy painting recently made me aware of the disgust I feel towards some people in my past.  It feels like cleaning mouse poop is cleaning my brain too.

I have a lot of scrubbing to do.  I think I'll play some P!nk to make the chore go happily.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

"Crown"

The weather was glorious in Ohio for a couple of days this week.  I went to the park and smelled flowers.  I listened to a deafening riot of frogs trying to get lucky at the pond.  I felt the sun on my face and was feeling generally at peace with the world when a man jogged past.

Joggers are common, but this guy stopped me in my tracks.  He was shirtless and had on tight, spandex, uh, what to call it?  Let's say it was less material than underpants, and the brightly colored British flag's X was clearly marking a spot that us Ohioans keep private.  He also had on brilliant lime green spandex on his wiry calves that were sort of like rippled knee socks, or maybe neon greaves?  He smiled, and I was dimly aware that he was good looking, but it took me some moments before I could put that whole picture together in my mind.  I hope to see him again sometime.  It was kind of like seeing an exotic and fascinating insect, or maybe a Sasquatch sighting.

When I look at Jane's blog, she never has such skimpily clad and brightly colored men jogging through the English parks.  What's going on in this guy's head?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Aside from these cultural exchanges, I can say that I don't care about the upcoming US/British nuptials.  We aren't living in a Disney movie.  If Princess Di's life showed us anything, wearing a crown comes at a cost.  I hope her son and his wife fare better than Di did.  And yet, Queen Elizabeth looks a lot like my grandma.  I have red headed siblings.  It feels like a family wedding, which leaves me wondering why I didn't get invited, but thankful I don't have to buy a present.

I'd like to say that I think monarchies are obsolescent and democracy is patently superior, but I watch the news.  Current events make me doubt the wisdom of letting some people vote, besides making me question the value of humanity in general.  It's like the old curse, may you live in interesting times.  We're living it.

Oh well, I've been waging a personal war on dust lately.  This goes against my general reluctance towards housekeeping.  My house is clean and tidy enough, but I've a theory that dust is causing some of my sinus troubles and headaches and I'm working on stamping out this scourge from my life.  It may kill me.  I did a thorough cleaning of all the hidden spots in, under, and behind furniture in one room and spent the following several days coughing, wheezing, and miserable.  When recovered, I attacked everything dog-related, including the dog.  This caused a couple more miserable days.  The dog's bath seemed to only create more shedding.  I feel like I'm losing the battle, but I shall persevere!  I'm feeling considerable sympathy for whoever cleans monarchs' palaces.

Friday, April 6, 2018

"Monkey"

A friend commented on my "monkey mind" when I split our conversation into maybe a fifth or tenth tangent without completing a point about any of the subjects.  "Say what, huh?"  He quietly explained how our minds can behave like monkeys: aggressive, fearful, scattered...  At the time, his patient voice soothed and comforted my monkey brain, but the conversation stayed with me ever since.

Google "monkey mind" and you'll find lots of articles on the topic.  Here's one by Forbes.  In it, the author suggests the following 8 ways to quiet your mind:

          Meditate
          Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
          Mindfulness
          Color, count, recite, run
          Talk to someone or write
          Practice acceptance
          Help others
          Reword the rhetoric

Obviously, my first pick is "color"!  Though to be honest, on a good day I use most of these techniques.  On a bad day, well, probably none of them.  I certainly don't want to present myself as holier than thou about such things.  I'm a work in progress.  This painting is the latest in my art therapy efforts where I explore my past jobs and try to soothe my monkey mind from yelling "Die, die, die!" to people in my past.

This painting made me think about the job in different ways.  I did a lot of good work there, and I wanted to show my portfolio on the canvas -- but that wasn't the point.  It was more important to remember how many variations of stripes, dots, hollies, snowflakes, and hearts I created.  Also, the fights with China through online translation services, the complex math and technical drawings my coworkers refused to do, the number of Advils I swallowed for migraines.

 And for all of that, working my way through the painting lets me find gratitude.  I'm a far better artist for having working there.  It's just been hard for me to feel thankful when the people were so awful.  Painting lets me slow down and quiet my monkey mind enough to feel that gratitude.  It also helped me discover aspects of working that matter to me.

Actual comic by Bill Watterson which I hung in my office at that job.
I love Calvin and Hobbes!

Onto the next adventure, being the job before that, which had even more awful people.  To give you a clue, my first step for that painting was to look up prison records of a couple of them.  You can't say my life hasn't been colorful!  But it's like the reindeer jumping off the canvas, the point is to leave these people behind and to find happiness in the experiences.