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, August 26, 2011


I was minding my own business, just sitting at my computer doing the usual things when I became aware that the bottom line of my email was wavering and burning my retinas. With a quick expletive, I rapidly turned off the computer monitor, grabbed my required supplies, and ran to the couch, ramming on my sunglasses in transit. Penny happily hopped onto the couch with me and nestled against me with her happily concerned expression. She likes couch time, but can still work up a little bit of sympathy for my miseries.

No tv, no music, no computer. The technological world has ended.

The next step was to assess the actual damage. What parts of me hurt, and how badly? Would it pass, or did I need to contemplate my pharmacopoeia? I watched the pretty neon colors passing in front of my closed eyes and wondered if there was any meaning to the geometric designs flashing by. Sometimes I think the colors are the 1’s and 0’s of my internal computer system breaking down or rebooting. I’ll spare you the more unpleasant details of my misery. I rammed my thumbs into the back of my skull and hoped for the efficacy of pressure points.

That’s a migraine. That’s a light one to tell the truth. The really miserable ones are the same but worse, and often include the evil gremlin who sneaks up behind me with a blunt axe or gets in my face with a sharp ice pick. I hate that gremlin. I’m going to throttle him if I can ever catch him.

Illustration Friday’s word of the week is “disguise”, and while I made this art the other day just to record my demons, “disguise” seems kind of apt to me. Migraines can obliterate my ability to see the world, which is a much more effective disguise than someone wearing an eye patch and a pirate hat. In another way, sometimes I think migraines are my system’s way of shutting down so I can look internally instead of externally. How real are any of the things we see in our over bright world? Everyone wears their masks and we neglect to think about that until we’re reduced to throbbing blood vessels and exposed nerves.

I had been doing pretty well with migraines lately. Someone recommended taking magnesium several months back, and while I wasn’t sure if it was helping or not, I’ve been taking it until I recently ran out. I thought living without magnesium might let me know if they were actually helping or not. The answer? YES!!! Magnesium helps!!! I now have a full bottle and am resisting the temptation to swallow half of them in an attempt to rebuild a curative level in my system.

The text on migraine information in this piece is from Women's Health.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I want the days back when artists were valued as magicians. We had status through the millennia, but our collective energy has been sucked into making endless ads for erectile dysfunction pills on sale today at Walmart. Not to say that keeping men happy doesn’t have its value to society, but it’s hardly ever a spiritual pursuit, and our magical potency in the world has been lost.

When cavemen painted prayers on rocks, their people respected them. The shaman’s contribution mattered to the hunt. Their spiraling calendars of light would determine when the corn was planted or when the winter camp set up or torn down. The pictograms translated across languages and eras. When Michelangelo was painting biblical stories on ceilings, he was illustrating the path to heaven for the illiterate masses. In other words, artists have been the spokespeople for God. It’s kind of a rough downgrade to selling antidepressants. In fact we’re probably taking antidepressants to get over our collective loss of influence.

I’m not going to make any value judgments about whether the caveman or the Pope was more right about what God wanted from people. What I’m saying is that the artist had a pivotal role in the religions. If you wanted a Christian or pagan amulet, the artist would be the one to make it. If the pharaoh wanted everlasting life, the artists were the ones who designed the pyramid and sculpted the sarcophagus. Even the tattoos on head hunters were visual prayers. Monk artists copied the Bible and illuminated its pages. Really, the more you start thinking about it, has anyone gotten to the other side without the help of an artist magician?

It makes sense to me. Artists by their nature are observant and meditative. They would be the ones to notice the length of days and phases of the moon. They notice the signs of the coming hurricane. They pay attention to their dreams. They understand which images speak most strongly to their people. They’re open to magic.

Artists used to be the scientists, engineers, and architects too. There was a time when we weren’t smashed into a single function of My Little Pony accessories. We were the ones who sculpted the fountains and built the cathedrals. We were the ones who truly understood alchemy as we made paint and stained glass from stone, and then we practiced the greater alchemy of taking colored mud and turning it into art.

The Illustration Friday word for the week is “influence”. I have been influenced by thousands of years of artists before me. I am also influenced by the artists who come after me. This piece is the result of a conversation with my 9-year-old niece about pictograms, and her purple crayon drawing of a turtle while we discussed the associations we have with turtles: wisdom, longevity, patience. I love drawing with kids. They seem to have an innate understanding that art is magic :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A $5 Circle

I got an email saying an employer was looking for illustrators and will pay $5/illustration. Okay. Here’s a circle. It seems like a fair trade for $5. After all, let’s think about the actual progression of events if I were to actually try to get my $5.

First, I have to turn on the computer, read the email, open Illustrator or PhotoShop, draw the circle, save it in both a jpeg and a final format, then compose and send my email with my bill for $5. I would also have to keep records of this munificence so I can properly pay my taxes – which means that I wouldn’t really be making $5 once I’ve paid my taxes on it. The customer might also want some revisions, so here are some alternate choices.

After deducting my time for more emails and bills, and assuming they won’t pay for 3 billing cycles (minimum), how much time could go into my hypothetical circle? Certainly more than 1 hour, and since minimum wage in the US is $7.25/hour, this isn’t a legally fair price to offer. We might as well pay these people for the pleasure of doing work for them.

“But”, you say, “I need printed samples for my portfolio!” Oh sure. Do you think a company willing to spring $5/illustration is going to treat your work with loving care or even cough up the $5? If you’re willing to essentially work for free, at least do it for a good cause instead of for blood-sucking vampires. There are lots of good causes out there who will praise you, thank you, and give you something for your portfolio – which also makes potential employers notice what a nice person you are since you do volunteer work for good causes.

Nothing good comes from $5/illustrations. You lose the rights to your work when you sell it, and they can profit as much as they’d like while you look for half-eaten hamburgers in the dumpster. When they get away with this kind of payment for services, it drives down the price of more legitimate employers. The only people who win in this are the employers, and artists are screwed as a group. Don’t do it.

I reluctantly deleted the email address for this particular vampire. I wanted to suggest sending the "Art Director” hate mail, but I suspect they could probably sue me and steal my circles in the process. Let’s just all think mean thoughts at the same time... Oh, alright, that’s probably not a good suggestion either. Let’s just hope karma works these things out, but somehow that feels an awful lot like believing in the “trickle down” theory. Maybe I’ll just put out an open invitation to vent your personal horror stories?

Friday, August 12, 2011


Ivory, my Dalmatian, had a hysterical pregnancy. Her tummy swelled and she nested with stuffed animals. I was a complete novice on the subject, so I took her to the vet. That’s where I learned Ivory’s puppies were wishful thinking. Ivory didn’t make the vet visit any easier when she stole a puppy while I was paying the bill, and the office became absolute mayhem with screaming people jumping onto chairs away from the rabid Rottweiler mother. Ivory let me take the puppy back, but I wasn’t going near that huge dog who looked like she wanted to tear me to shreds with her very large white fangs. We eventually worked it out by sacrificing the vet tech as a go-between.

When Ivory’s tummy swelled again about 6 months later, I obviously didn’t take it very seriously. Technically she had had opportunity because I’d gotten a male puppy, but he didn’t seem too skilled at love. I wouldn’t have bothered to take her to the vet at all this time, but I figured I better go just to make sure, and sure enough, the vet said it was another hysterical pregnancy. I let Ivory build her nest of stuffed animals again and tried to reason with her.

As I was getting ready for work one morning, Ivory kept trying to sneak into my bed and walking around in circles. I called the vet. Was she having hysterical labor too? “No. Dogs don’t have hysterical labor.” Oops, oops, oops. If I had realized we were going to have actual puppies, I might’ve read up about how to be a midwife, but now I didn’t know a thing about helping. The only thing I was absolutely sure about was that she wasn’t going to have puppies in my bed, so I found an old blanket for her to lay on while the vet tech tried to penetrate my anxiety with helpful facts. “Something’s coming out of her!” I shrieked as what I was sure was Ivory’s innards started oozing out her back end. “Catch it!” yelled the vet tech. I quickly put my hand under her and briefly saw a puppy head inside a bubble sticking out of Ivory’s butt before a bloody blob of puppy sack fell into my hand. Ewwwwwwwww!!!! I sat on the floor in shock while Ivory ate the bloody sack off the puppy and licked her clean. Oh yuck, yuck, yuck. Somewhere in the back of my mind the vet tech’s voice penetrated through my brain enough for me to realize that this wasn’t over, and I was going to see this again, very soon. Ohhhh yuck!

I called work and explained I wouldn’t be in that day. By the time we got to Puppy #7, I felt like I had mastered midwifery 101. When Ivory started spinning in circles, I gathered the born puppies until the new one was clean, then gave them all back. They were adorable once they were clean and dry and before they started pooping and peeing on my hardwood floors. I love the smell of clean, milk-fed puppies.

Ivory was a good mother and had 3 more litters. She only had a problem once, when the sack broke before the baby was born, and the puppy got stuck in transit. A midnight call to the vet made it clear that there was no choice but to stick my hand inside her and retrieve the doomed baby. Ivory tried to lick it to life, but it was no good. I put the baby in a shoebox for later burial, but Ivory refused to have any more babies. I eventually had to take the shoebox outside and sacrifice a new blanket that didn’t smell like dead puppy before she resumed deliveries. Her last litter was a litter of 1. I figured that dead puppy was destined to be born, even as an only child.

This is pencil on vellum. I love the soft texture of drawing on vellum. It’s gentle like puppies :)

Friday, August 5, 2011


I’m all for personal growth, but some ideas seem to be asking an awful lot. Debbie at Dosankodebbie’s Etegami Notebook wrote about painting bugs because they bother her, and I thought I’d give it a stab. Debbie’s idea actually made me want to wage an all-out chemical assault on creepy crawlies, but since I wrote about perfectionism last week, let’s talk about human imperfections in a different way this time…

My brother was staying with his friend in Columbus, Ohio. As fate would have it, they were living in the dorm across the hall from where I lived my first year at Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD). It’s a long drive to Columbus from Cleveland, my car didn’t have AC, and I was hot and tired when I got there. The door was open, so I went in and was vividly reminded of the squalor that young guys seem to thrive in. I gingerly shoved a lump of disgusting laundry onto the floor and collapsed into the contaminated chair while trying not to think about death by bacteria. After a while I cooled off enough to contemplate the fact that the hospital wasn’t too far away and I should probably get a tetanus shot before continuing my drive to Indianapolis, Indiana, especially after studying the smudged fingerprints and smear of lead white paint on the outside of the iced tea glass one of them handed me. I wondered if these guys knew about the existence of dish soap or how to use it. It’s really a marvel that males survive their first few years out of the nest without succumbing to foot rot or some other terrible disease.

Maybe this is a good place to insert that both of these guys are older and more sanitary now. I’m pretty sure they’ve both managed to master laundry and dish washing. I should also say that I really like my brother’s friend. I always enjoy talking with him and looking at his art – I’ve even watched him tattoo people, but maybe tattoos are a topic for another day. On the day in Columbus, I enjoyed looking at my old stomping grounds. The apartment was the exact floor plan as my old apartment except in reverse, and it was fun to remember old times while making a mental note to avoid all male dorm rooms in the future.

Eventually we decided to go out for dinner. Okey dokey! Back to the world of air conditioning and people who know how to use dish soap! We got up to leave and I hit a dead stop at the door. When I had come in, the door was open and I was tired. I didn’t fully take in my surroundings at that time because I was rather overwhelmed by the mountains of clutter inside the apartment. Now I was on the wrong side of a door with a variety of dead cockroaches nailed to it, arranged by size. The largest was hammered in with a nail about the size of a railroad spike. Uh, uh, uh, oh...

I eventually managed to force myself past them, towards the pizza and air conditioning. The dead carcasses quivered when the door shut, and I could hear the whispering crackling of their wings against the door. I don’t know Debbie, is drawing roaches really going to help me overcome this experience??? I have to admit that I got creeped out just looking up reference online. Ew, ew, ew, yuck!!!

BTW, it is probably obvious to all of you guys out there, but just to state the obvious, my brother and his friend were delighted at my bile-filled near fainting fit. They made plans to add to their collection and joyfully described their method of asphyxiating the victims with spray fixative before nailing them to the door. They still giggle over it. Guys are sick.