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 28, 2011

"Scary", Giveaway, & Granola

“Scary” is the furthest thing from my mind today. I want to do my happy dance and sing about 100 posts! Woo hoo! Yay!!! Who knew when I started this blog that I would actually meet my goal of participating in Illustration Friday every week? Or that it would be so much fun to make the posts and find a community of so many interesting people around the world? Blogging is fun. Who wants to think about “scary”?

But let’s see… hm…things to be scared of…

Admitting fears, bugs with too many legs, a damp basement at night, neighbors with guns, public speaking, new computers, second dates, plumbing problems, car problems, pain, asking favors, bills, world chaos, loss, admitting defeat, blood, math problems involving trains going in different directions…

Let’s face it, we’ve all got fears. Your list is probably different than mine, but I bet you agree with at least one of my fears – which just goes to show that one is completely justified. I suppose (said with a heavy sigh), that we’re all supposed to just buck up and face those fears. Grow, live, expand our universe. Sometimes don’t you just want to shake those perpetually happy self-help gurus? Alright, alright… I’ve gotten over my basement thing. Mostly. At least I can manage to do the laundry at night once in a while if I really need that blue shirt tomorrow – but I’ll probably just wear the red shirt.

I suspect we learn all of our fears. That basement thing has got to have something to do with my skinny grandmother, not to be confused with the fat grandma who had preserves and games and a science lab in her basement. The skinny grandma probably had rotting bodies in hers. I wasn’t sure where the pull cord for the light was, and my sister screamed when she stepped on something squishy. It might have been a sock that dropped from the laundry basket, but it might have been a dead body part. Damp, dark basements probably have a lot of those bugs with too many legs too. And the angry ghosts of all those rotting bodies. Yep, completely justified fear, but it’s daytime now, and I don’t need to go to the basement. Life is good.

Thanks to everyone who played, but the congratulations go to Josh Pincus! Visit his blog where he writes interesting biographical sketches about famous people. My niece pulled the winner before her weekly horse riding lesson. I took a very cute picture of her with the horse while she held up Josh’s name, but the camera experienced technical difficulties, so I can’t share the photo with you. Let’s just imagine the moment with this scribble.

Last week I mentioned Mom’s granola, which I admitted is pretty good. She found the recipe, which I assume originally came from Quaker Oats since it’s a printed card instead of the usual handwritten variety. I see she hid sugar and honey in this recipe. No wonder I liked this!

2 ¼ cups Quaker Oats
½ cup instant non-fat dry milk
½ cup sunflower nuts
½ cup coarsely chopped nuts
½ cup wheat germ or unprocessed bran
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup butter or margarine, melted
¼ cup honey
½ cup raisins (optional)

Heat oven to 325F. In large bowl, combine all ingredients except raisins; mix well. Spread into ungreased 15” x 10” jelly roll pan. Bake 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in raisins. Spread onto ungreased cookie sheet or aluminum foil. Cool. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator. Serve as a snack or as a cereal with milk. Makes about 8 cups.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Fuel" & Giveaway!

How am I supposed to write about “fuel” without launching into a lecture about how people should use less of it? That isn’t going to endear me to anyone except Al Gore and people who wear hemp tank tops – and those kinds of people invite me to vegan potlucks. I bet Tea Partiers roast whole animals over open fires and deep fry turkeys and candy bars. At least the vegans come to the party with homemade wine to help me forget that I got a splinter in my lip eating a lentil salad with a bamboo fork.

There are different kinds of fuel, but almost all of them have some sort of problem connected with them. Talking about any of that stuff is a drag, and I don’t have the ability to solve the toxicity issues of batteries or fracking or nuclear waste or deep sea oil drilling. Obviously, the real solution to this week’s Illustration Friday prompt is to talk about food. Not texturized vegetable protein burgers either. You can’t convince me that’s much better than chewing on tree bark, and a portabella mushroom is NOT “just like meat”. It’s a mushroom. It tastes like a mushroom. It doesn’t fill my belly with happiness.

Having been raised by lunatic health freaks, my fuel of choice contains sugar, preservatives, and artificial colors. Mmmmm!! Never again will I swallow cod liver oil or drink a smoothie with raw garlic and yeast. I don’t care if it’s got a banana in it, you can’t convince me that I’m going to live longer or happier for it. Give me a banana Popsicle.

Just to be clear, neither of my parents would’ve been caught dead in a hemp tank top or listened to the Grateful Dead while stoned. They did, however, feed me buckwheat. I’m still resentful. Mom told me she doesn’t think she’s coming off well enough in this blog and requested revisions. I said I thought that was an unfounded accusation (with proofs), and criticism of my free speech makes me ornery and quite likely to write something else that will make her nuts. (Something like calling her a lunatic health freak?) I’ll leave it to the impartial reader whether or not she was virtuous when she made unflavored, organic yogurt, baked granola, and boiled milkweed pods. You’ll have to imagine my screwed up face remembering these things. Okay, the granola was pretty good, but Mom went along with Dad’s crazy idea that we would eat everything Euell Gibbons said was edible. Euell was wrong! I don’t want to eat every part of a pine tree!

(Oh great, now I've got the Grateful Dead stuck in my head. I'm having flashbacks to a cross-country drive with my ex where we only had one tape to play all the way to Yellowstone and all the way back... and this is after I just spent a day with Australian songs in my head thanks to Andrew Finnie.)

Anyway, I suppose this history might explain why I liked doing packaging for confectioners? I especially liked it when the samples came in!

My friend Korki was clearing out her cupboards and gave me a bag of Ramen noodles the other day. A quick glance at the ingredients told me that this was fuel that would never have been permitted in my childhood. I defiantly boiled water with rapt appreciation for the old adage “Better living through chemicals”. Yum. It takes me back to college in a salty, artificial way when Ramen noodles were 5/$1. The problem with this moment of defiance is that I’ll pay penance with lentils or something. As much as I may mock my parents’ food choices, their lessons crept into my subconscious. I can’t eat cookies and ice cream without guilt. I’ll still eat those things, but I’ll eat my broccoli first and hide lentils in my soup.

As this most holy of holidays for sugar-deprived children approaches, I wish you all every sweetness life has to offer!

eeee GIVEAWAY! eeee

I’m offering my first giveaway to celebrate my upcoming 100th post. I really appreciate all of you who stop by to see my posts. All you have to do to be in the drawing is leave a comment and become a follower. (Thanks to all of you who are already following!) The prize will be a set of 4 cards with original watercolors (6 7/8" x 5"), which are shown in detail in last week’s post. The winner will be drawn on Thursday and announced on Friday.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Scattered" and a Giveaway!

Sometimes I feel like I live in Mayberry. I went to school with the same kids grades 1-12. The same kids at church. The same neighbors. One of my childhood pals even went to college with me. I say “Hi” to someone I know most times I’m in downtown Willoughby. They will obligingly give me the latest on everyone I’ve ever known. I swear I don’t do anything interesting enough for people to gossip about, yet they know what I’ve been up to lately, including medical, dating, and job status. Sometimes I feel like screaming, but I guess I’m a cog in the whole pattern. Mom told me about Dave, and I told her about running into him at Kleifelds Restaurant. Aaaargggh! I’m part of the gossip stream. Nooooooo!!!! I’m sorry Dave.

Sometimes it feels like no one ever moves away. If my nephew mentions a pal, I recognize the last name and ask if that guy is So-and-so’s son. Of course he is. Then I can’t resist laughing about what So-and-so did at a party or something. Then I hear about what So-and-so’s son did at a party. I’ll probably repeat this at Kleifelds and hate myself for it. Though just to be clear, I don’t divulge real secrets. Passing on information about births and deaths or somebody’s latest drunk and disorderly arrest isn’t the same thing as airing someone’s private pathos. I’ll take quite a few private confidences to the grave.

Living near where I grew up gives me a sense of belonging to a larger family of often embarrassing relatives, but some people have disappeared and scattered like feathers in the wind. Of course, occasional updates of escapees will crop up. This guy is studying rocks in the desert. These two married and have an overachieving child or maybe a disabled kid. There’s a constant stream of gossip flowing through our collective unconscious.

In the olden days, my girlfriend from grades 1-12 would’ve lived her entire life in the same village. I would’ve gone to her wedding, seen her children and grandchildren grow up, watched her hair turn white, and eventually would’ve gotten buried in the same graveyard. In the real world, I lost track of her after graduation. I called, nervous about how she would remember me when my teenaged self-perception is full of self-recriminations. She was my “good” friend, the friend who stopped my bad behavior with a glance of blue eyes. In fact, I found myself sitting up rather pertly as I tapped her number into my phone. While she is still the “good” girl, within seconds the years fell away. We fast forwarded through the decades and laughed and commiserated about the turns our lives have taken. We learned the secrets of each other’s childhoods which we had both suspected but never discussed when we were actually living them. My heart filled with happiness connecting with her again.

This web of connections is visible when I look at Facebook and LinkedIn. Young faces cascade through my mind in a vivid waterfall. I feel joy when I find an old friend from public school, or college, or an old job. I loved these people, and they took part of my heart when they disappeared across the country or across the world. Collecting them lets me collect parts of myself and to give back parts of them too. It’s too easy to lose ourselves in the process of living and paying bills, and we often don’t see what we’ve lost, or recognize where we should look for those aspects of ourselves.

Finding old friends is a chance to say “You matter to me, and I’ve wished you well through the years.” As we age, we collect our scars and disappointments and lose sight of the fact that our lives have an impact on people we seldom think about any more. Some people I’ve known are doing terrific things. I smile at their postings on Facebook and feel hope for the world.

eeee GIVEAWAY! eeee

In this attitude of gratitude, I’m going to offer my first giveaway to celebrate my upcoming 100th post. Woo hoo!! Just 2 more to go! I really appreciate all of you who stop by to see my posts. All you have to do to be in the drawing is leave a comment in the next two weeks and become a follower. (Thanks to all of you who are already following!) The prize will be a set of 4 cards with original watercolors (6 7/8" x 5"), which are shown in this post.

Friday, October 7, 2011


“Necessity is the mother of invention.” I suspect that you have to be poor at some point in your life to become a true inventor, but some people are just born with an inventive spirit. I went to lunch with Mom today and told her I was having trouble writing this post. It seems like this ought to be a really easy word for me. I make stuff all the time. I just can’t think of anything interesting that I’ve made lately.

Mom says a “contraption” should include moving parts. Ooookay…? I suppose that rules out the brass eagle I turned into a lamp finial or my bookcase – though I did put sliding doors on the bookcase. I told Mom that I’ve made whirligigs, with pantomimed arm movements while I was driving. She told me “pin wheel and put-your-hands-back-on-the-steering-wheel”. Good point. This moved into a wistful memory of Grandpa’s weather vane that we should’ve taken when we moved him from his house and the supposition that Great Grandpa Winter must've invented a lot of contraptions because he was a contraption kind of guy. Uncle John was working on a perpetual motion machine before he died. Maybe this kind of thing runs in families?

People with money just buy the parts they need or hire someone with the right parts and actual knowledge of what to do with them. Poor people come up with different answers. For example, there was a time when I wanted my brothers to fix a lawn tractor. Brother #1 admitted that work was at a stoppage until Brother #2 arrived, took apart a ball point pen, inserted the little spring, waved his magic wand, and the motor began to purr again. I’m pretty sure that taking apart a pen wasn’t written into the owner’s manual.

I admire this kind of cleverness, and I might even have influenced my brother’s alternative solutions to mechanical issues. I had a house with problems when brothers #1 and #2 were little. We spent a lot of happy weekends over projects. Since we didn’t have brawn, I said we needed to think smarter. Pipes won’t come apart? Let’s discuss levers. Let’s discuss fulcrums too or the advantages of a longer lever. Maybe we needed to discuss a &*#*^$% sledge hammer too, but more often we opted for persistence (stubbornness) and teamwork. Our planning sessions were fun and intense. We gained an appreciation for proper tools, which often led to networking and finding someone who would lend them to us – and of course, tools are always a good excuse for garage sales.

These ads have been sitting in a box for a long time without any real reason for their existence any more, and the sewer rings were cleverness along the lines of ballpoint pen springs. Prior to this innovation, the ring that held sewer lids in the street were a set made of solid cast iron. There wasn’t a standard size for sewer lids, so if you needed to replace the ring, you had to custom cast it, which was expensive and difficult. Making an adjustable ring meant easier and less expensive road repairs. Sewer lid technology may have grown by leaps and bounds since I did these, but at the time, I was pleased to get the chance to do illustrations for a big art studio. Cleveland is an industrial kind of town, so I didn’t get to paint cute little bunnies very often – though I can show you endless how-to illustrations of hands holding wrenches, paint brushes, paint rollers, utility knives… Hey, if nothing else, ya gotta admit that’s a great tire!