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!

http://www.artbyhensley.com/index.html

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Bicycle"

It’s funny, but I was talking about bicycling this week, but let me wander to that conversation the long way...

Mary Lou, Annie (ML’s teenage daughter), and I took a drive to Akron to see the M. C. Escher exhibit. We’ve been looking forward to this for a while, and imagine our dismay when we got there and a man met us at the door to tell us the museum is closed on Mondays. Arragggghhhh!!! (I have plans to go back to the museum tomorrow, so maybe I can tell you about the exhibit in a later post.)

I thought about writing about our misadventures for the day because it all seemed really funny at the time, but less funny when I tried writing about it. There was the part where we drove the wrong way on a one-way street, for which ML claims we share 50/50 responsibility since she was driving and I was a faulty navigator. We also saw a water tower rising above the tree line through mist and rain which looked like a UFO coming in for a landing with a sign “Space Available” in the foreground. Maybe you just had to be there?

Anyway, since it was raining and cold and there wasn’t much else to do, we took the scenic route home, which led us past the polo fields, and that’s where we get to “bicycle” because I used to ride my bike to the polo field when I was a teenager, and it was especially fun for me to remember my 16-yr-old self with Annie in the car. I can’t imagine her riding her bike 20 miles round trip, up and down very steep hills, no matter how cute the guys were on the other end of the journey.

ML pointed out that I’ve always had a thing for men in tights. Yeah, Mikhail Baryshnikov set my heart aflutter at that age too. Maybe ML is right? I could write about the relative merits of uniforms and my interest in the corresponding sports, but seems like I got in enough trouble recently for talking about Harold’s swimsuit, even though nothing sexy happened in the Bahamas. Nothing sexy happened at the polo field either. I’m just saying that my teenaged self was so motivated by the sight of men in tights on ponies I rode my bike 20 difficult miles. Oh, and maybe the cucumber sandwiches too. They treated people very well at the polo field.

Cleveland isn't noted for snobby, highfaluting activities like polo. We’re better known for defunct steel mills and a burning river, but there’s a lot of money around here too. Of course I never had any of that money, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy some of its afterglow. I packed my best clothes and sunhat onto my bike and showed up with a bright smile and impeccable manners. I learned to pack an umbrella too. Not for potential rain. It was a modern parasol to protect my ever-so-white skin that was only protected at polo. Nobody there needed to know that everything about my presentation was a lie, and I was a poor kid raised in the wild woods. I learned to avoid conversations about attending public school and ate another cucumber sandwich while my favorite old guy explained the finer points of polo strategy, and the rich boys in tights smacked the ball around, or maybe each other, and my innocent lusts were satisfied.

When all was said and done, I changed back into my shorts and t-shirt, packed up the nice clothes, got back on my bike, and started riding home. A long, long ride home, which seemed to be entirely uphill.

Would it have been better to write about bicycling to church? I did that too. The door was never locked, and I used to play hymns on the piano. I liked to pray in the sanctuary by myself and see stained glass in the evening sun. Yeah, forgive us our sins for lusting after men in tights!

This is old art again. I’ve been in my archives searching for the muse of my younger self. This was a self portrait I did in college based on a photo my roommate took of me. I posted an illustration of a tricycle a couple weeks ago, and painting a bike seemed redundant. Besides, this picture reminds me of the false front I presented at the polo field. Or is it really a false front? Part of me is the girl in the picture… with skinned knees :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Lesson"

I doodle face parts. It’s a compulsion. Lots of happy eyes, angry eyes, scared eyes, surprised eyes have filled my bills, napkins, and notebooks, and I’m feeling a compulsive need to spread my compulsion. Let’s all really look at each other and maintain eye contact. Who looks away first? It’s a fun experiment, but looking at each other results in eyes that are drawn only from the front, with a nice round pupil looking back at us. Irises aren’t as round when a person looks away.

Eyeballs are called “balls” for a reason. They’re as round as a soccer ball. We just don’t see the whole ball because they’re sunk into our heads and partially covered with eyelids. Rules of perspective apply to everything, even eyeballs. As you can see in the ¾ view, the part of the iris which is closest to the viewer is wider than the part further away.

Rules of lighting apply to everything too. If you draw a white ball, it’s lighter close to the light source, and gets darker as it curves away from the light. Since an eyeball is a white ball, the same rules apply, even after you put the pupil and iris on it. When you draw eyelids, remember that they follow the curve of the eyeball too. They also cast a shadow on the eyeball. Since light comes from the top in most situations, that means the eye is usually darkest under the upper eyelid, but since the eyeball is curving under and away from the light, there will also be a lighter shadow near the bottom eyelid too.

Everyone knows that eyelashes are attached to the eye lids, but people often have a disconnect between what we know and how we think about things. Look in the mirror. Notice how far away your lower lashes actually are from your eyes. Notice that eyelashes can cause shadows too.

Paint/draw highlights last. Eyes are wet and glossy, and we can get distracted by the shine and forget all the basic rules above. If you get the structure of the eye right in the first place, the highlight(s) are just the extra detail that makes the eye come alive.

Some people view absolute realism as the holy grail in art, but these observations can apply to whatever style you want to work in. A darker line on the top of a cartoon eye suggests the longer lashes and the shadow of the eye lid. It works for everybody, even animals, in every style… except for my photographic model for this post.

Did you like my "lesson"? I'm never quite sure if people want this kind of post. If you do, I can do more of them. If not, I can go back to my usual ramblings. Or some combination of both.

M. C. Escher Exhibit at Akron Art Museum


As I said in the previous post, I went to the Escher exhibit last weekend. It was long-planned, plans thwarted, and finally, finally, I got to see it. Gotta say it was a bit anticlimactic. Most of the pieces were prints from wood cuts and lithographs, so there wasn't much difference in seeing them in person vs. seeing them printed in a book. Yes, they were somewhat crisper, but it wasn't like the first time I saw Van Gogh's paintings in person. Studying his work in art history class and out of books, I never understood why people liked Van Gogh so much until I saw his work up close and personal. The texture and color of his paint is vibrant and exciting. Escher's work is logical and disciplined. It kind of felt like looking at blueprints for a really cool project. In other words, the ideas are what excite me about Escher more than his techniques.


There were some original drawings in the exhibit. I wish there were more of them. The drawings were something that could've been pulled out of his sketchbook, but they gave me more of a sense of his thinking than the finished prints. There was also a foamcore model of one of his drawings with a peephole a few feet away to look through. If you just looked at the model, you could easily see how it just doesn't make sense. Columns that hold up nothing suddenly snap into position when viewed through the peephole.


I'm glad I finally got to see this exhibit. If you live anywhere within driving distance, I'd recommend it. It will be in Akron through the end of May.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Journey"

Didn't I do a version of “journey” last week? It’s a frustrating word for me at the moment because I’ve been unsuccessfully pestering my brother to fix my car’s wheel bearings and I feel grounded. I’m also upset because a friend of mine is taking a job in Afghanistan, and his idea of “journey” makes me think about people getting blown up. I’d like to forget about journeys at the moment and rototill my garden, but my efforts are being thwarted by a rip cord. Can we send mechanical engineers to an island with an active volcano, cannibals, and poisonous wildlife? Let’s at least threaten to send them there until they learn to make engines start with an on/off switch! My arm hurts from trying to pull the stupid cord and the garden still isn’t tilled. I suspect rip cords are man’s last attempt to show women that men are necessary, but I already got that message when the wheel bearings started making noise.

This art is ancient history. I did it when I worked at a newspaper, fresh out of college. I try to post relevant things on this blog, but I felt a need to revisit this. I used to work in this style a lot. In some ways, it's similar to the butterfly tag I made in the last post, but the process of making was much different. The landscape background in the Frontier Days art is acrylics on tissue paper, messily glued to posterboard. The man is pen and ink on wet media acetate, with acrylic painted on the back. This technique is moot since computers. It’s much faster and easier to just “fill”, but I want to get back into my younger brain for a bit. I used to see things more graphically, and was often accused of black and white thinking. Lately it seems like I see too many shades of gray, not to mention shades of all those other colors.

I have to wonder what my pioneer ancestors were thinking when they started walking over mountains from Pennsylvania to Ohio, or for that matter when they got on a boat in Europe? Was life at home so bad, or was it the thrill of finding out what’s beyond the next tree? I also wonder how much of them is still alive in me. Is my current restlessness the same as they felt? Since I can’t take my car until the wheel bearings are fixed, maybe I should start walking?

“Frontier Days” is a local summer festival with carny rides and BBQ. It was a fun time when I was an unruly teenager, and is still fun for little kids and their families. The art was created for a special pull-out tabloid section with activities and local advertising.

I learned how to shoot with that Remington .22 rifle, and I’m an excellent shot. My pioneer ancestors passed down some useful talents. Don't mess with me when I'm cranky :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Bottled Revisited"

One of the pleasures of blogging is visiting other people's sites to see what they're doing. Heike did an illustration of bottles for this week's theme which you can see here. Apparently I liked her idea so well I dreamt of it this morning. Yeah, first Harold, now Heike. I guess I'm dreaming a lot lately :)

In my dream, I was filling jars with things I want in my life. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and I briefly thought I should do something with the idea when I woke up, but you know how life is, first one thing, then another, and then the day is mostly shot, and I didn't do anything about it. So much for divine inspiration, but I had left a comment for Heike which led to a little back and forth email today, and voila, the desire to mimic her illustration came back to me.

My first daffodils are coming up, and I need some fresh life and fresh air in my home. I had other plans for this art, but butterflies on the mantle seem like as good a thing as any to do with them. Each tag has a different word for inspiration. Thanks for the motivation Heike!!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Bottled"

I woke up this morning thinking about Harold. No, not Harry, the guy who messed with my head from 14-20, Harold was a seemingly random meeting with a guy in the Bahamas.


I was a little afraid to go to the Bahamas because whatever pigment exists in my bloodline, I didn't get any of it. While my peers baked on the beach in the noon sun, I took my floppy sun hat and walked in my long-sleeved dress under a line of trees along the beach. After a couple miles I looked back for signs of civilization and wondered if this was a really stupid thing to do, but I was committed to my stupidity by then, so I kept walking.


I was absorbed in whatever monumental thoughts I might've been having when a miniature crab skittled in front of me. I shrieked and jumped back. My natural agility barely saved me from landing on my ass, and I heard a snicker coming from the trees. I looked around, but saw nothing unusual until a white smile appeared like a Cheshire Cat amongst the shadows. My surprise only made Harold laugh harder.


He stepped forward and his enormously fit, enormously tall body separated itself from the trees like an African god. To say he was black is to say he had color. He was blacker than that. He absorbed light like a black hole, a vacuum of anti-color -- except for his blazing school bus yellow swimsuit. His very, very tiny swimsuit that looked like it was going to burst open with more astonishing blackness. Harold really laughed when he watched the direction of my eyes and expression of shock. He invited me to join him, and I looked helplessly up the beach for some sign of others. No one. Harold could rape and kill me, and nobody would know where to look for my body, which would no doubt be washed away in the ocean anyway. I sat down under the trees at a "safe" distance that only made Harold laugh more. Obviously, Harold laughed a lot.


It turned out to be a perfect, memorable day. He was a chemist taking a day off from work. He proudly told me about the Bahamas, and said not to hang glide because there's too many injuries. He foretold my future. He was kind, funny, intelligent, and so memorable I dreamt of him 20 years later. Maybe there are no "accidental" meetings?


My last trip to New York City was a work trip, and even though my boss was supposed to come, it ended up just my coworker and me. Tina is usually the friendly, talkative one. In NY, we switched roles. I talked to everyone. Everything was an experience. I made pals with everyone in the airport bar. I bonded with the guy who owns Diebold. I got a marriage proposal from a Turkish cab driver. I adopted a girl visiting from Florida and we saw "Spamalot". I got a reading from a gypsy fortune teller at 1 in the morning. Everything was happy. Everything was fun. Oh yeah, I suppose we went to the trade show and did actual work too, but nothing was going to spoil my enthusiasm for everything.


If you've read my previous posts, you'll know I'm a country girl. I like trees and the quiet to hear birds singing. NY sounds like the antithesis of everything that would make me happy, and while I would never live there, the freedom of being one of millions is something I don't often feel. Yeah, here's where we come to the point of "bottled". I feel bottled up. I need trips and new experiences and new people. I need the happy accidental meetings of memorable people like Harold, the Diebold owner, and the Turkish cab driver.


Tina came back from the NY trip and told our coworkers about the "NY Linda". They laughed and couldn't imagine my wedding plans with the cab driver and how I took note about how to impress his Muslim mother. I suppose they wouldn't understand my day with Harold either. Or that English guy at the South Carolina plantation... I know every quality I have and show when I'm away from home are qualities I have all the time if I can just find them in myself. I need to remember the path to my own happinesses. I need another trip! I need to break free!!!


The art is a print from a little linoleum cut I did a while ago. I really felt like painting something different, but this piece just insists on being posted today.

Friday, April 1, 2011

"Duet"

I have to bake a cake. Through my own stupidity, or possibly unthinking generosity, I said I'd bake a carrot cake. That's 3 cups of grated carrots, and I don't have a food processor. I don't have carrots either. Or cream cheese for frosting. Or enough confectioners sugar. Or cake pans... (Making a list, checking it twice...)


My sister Gail came up with the idea to smash Aries birthdays together and have lunch. After a flurry of emails and phone calls, I warned Mom 8 - 15 people are coming over tomorrow. I suspect Mom is now in her own flurry of activity, picking up her piles of recent auction buys -- or she's yelling at my brother to pick it all up. There's a lot of noise currently going on in my head while I imagine everyone jumping into action.

"Duet" is a great description of how Gail and I fill our roles preparing a family meal. We each know our parts well, while menfolk park themselves in front of the TV or gather around some mechanical thing outside. I count it as a personal victory to have transferred potato peeling to men, but the rest of it is on us as we dance our parts in the kitchen, sometimes breaking out in an actual musical duet as the mood strikes us. Gail has a good voice when she applies herself. Both of her sons are quite gifted musically too.

I told Gail about Jane's recipe for rutabagas, but Sis says "NO!" Obviously we're both scarred by our bumper crops of rutabagas in childhood. We're going with asparagus instead, which has the added benefit of being the only cooked vegetable we're allowed to eat with our fingers if we choose to do so. Thanks Emily Post!

Happy birthday to Riley, Mom, Timmy, and Richard! Plus happy birthday to Craig, John, Lynne, Carly, and all of the Aries Marinos. Have I remembered everyone? I know there's a bunch of Aries pals in the blogging world too, but forgive me if I don't look up everyone's birthday to remind myself. There's a cake that needs baking. Just count yourself in my general wishes for happy Aries birthdays, and a happy weekend to everyone else!


P.S. I wrote this post this morning, then went shopping and borrowed necessaries. I thought this art would go fast, but alas, it took longer than intended. I stopped to get the cake is in the oven, which required breaking almost every rule I have about cooking. The first of which is to avoid appliances like a plague. It's far better to make an entire meal with one pan and one spoon. Carrot cake requires the food processor, mixer, carrot peeler, knife, spatula, bowl, spoon, beaters for the mixer, cutting board, cake pans, cooling racks, cake plate... This is ridiculous! On top of that, it requires me to break my other essential motto -- measuring is for cowards. (Okay, maybe I just don't like being told what to do?) AND NOW, I have to wash all that stuff so I can make frosting!

P.P.S. I was thinking "never again" while I was cleaning up, and licked the beater. OMG is that good!!! Maybe I'll forget about the mess and do it again another time?

CORRECTION!

The birthday party went great and the cake was a hit. Everyone laughed when my sister read this blog while we were sitting around after lunch. However, I had said the men wouldn't help, but as you can see, my brother Chris is in the kitchen scooping out seeds from a cantaloupe. Photographic evidence that men can and sometimes do help! He's even demonstrating composting, by putting the melon guts in the appropriate container.

My brother Brian also helped by preparing the asparagus. I said I would blog about that, but he said "No! People will think I'm a wuss!" So I said I'd blog his response instead, which for some reason is more acceptable than actually snapping the ends off of asparagus??

I'm not allowed to show pictures of cute children, so I'll just show evidence of their presence instead. My niece and my nephew's daughter had a bucket of chalk in the driveway and demonstrated artistic skills run in the family :)