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, May 27, 2011

"Asleep"

Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep. Who’d a thought a children’s movie would be pushing drugs? Maybe Oz was the result of L. Frank Baum taking opium before Sominex?

I have a love/hate relationship with sleep and dreaming. When all goes well, I get inspired. I see paintings before they happen. I have happy relationships with everyone. Passed relatives and friends come to visit. I’ve driven around with the Beatles, flown like a hawk, and had my best love affairs. But who knows what my subconscious is going to spit out at me? Body parts, rotting corpses, wars, blood, and fear can chase me through the night. It can be exhausting.

I’ve read a lot about “sleep hygiene”. Go to bed at the same time every night. Don’t eat before sleeping. Turn down the lights an hour or two before bedtime. I try. I fail. I stayed up last night rereading Harry Potter instead, and Wormtail cutting off his hand is obviously not the best way to prepare myself for peaceful dreams, especially since I already know Voldemort will rise again.

I had to resort to my fail-proof last resort – Bob Ross. I’m never getting that half hour back again. It’s not the first half hour he’s stolen from me with his soothing patter about “happy little trees” or the grateful squirrels he took in for rehab. Bob makes me nuts, and obviously, he is a guy to vent my frustrations upon, especially since he’s been dead since 1995 and was probably a really nice guy. I’m highly suspicious of someone who paints landscapes with house brushes, but his happy, soothing voice is the perfect lullaby.

I keep a dream journal for 2:13 dreams that wake me up. I don’t know why it’s always 2:13, but those are the dreams worth remembering. Okay, sometimes it 2:15, but maybe I’m just a little slow getting out of those. Do you think it’s because I was born at 2:13 in the morning? Born almost a month late too, and that seems to fit in perfectly too, because once asleep, just try waking me up again! When I was in college, the ceiling fell down in the night and I didn’t wake up even though everyone else in the building stood around laughing at the plaster dust on my face. I rolled over and ignored them.

I’ve heard about the people of some tropical culture who start every day discussing their dreams. Think of the intimacy and understanding that must foster amongst them. I watched my dog running in her sleep last night and wished she could talk about what she was seeing. I love hearing about other people’s dreams, especially children’s dreams before anyone tells them to quit telling stories or squashing their hopes and fears. I have dream-inspired drawings my brother drew when he was a kid. I can only wonder how he thought that stuff up.

Writing about sleeping is making me tired, and I feel like I’m just rambling today…

Dorothy and pals is an old piece, acrylics on illustration board. And yes, I know I forgot Toto! He must be running in his dreams or something :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

"Soaked"

The word for the week is a bit too apt for me. I handed wrenches to my brother in the pouring rain while he fixed my car. Nice brother. Pat, pat, pat him on the head this week! But who wants to hear about car problems? The sun is actually shining for once today, and “soaked” seems like a bad dream. At least my water finds a way to Lake Erie and the Atlantic Ocean and doesn’t feed into the Mississippi flood.

I’m well familiar with variations on the “soaked” theme. It’s one of the things I learned to accept growing up next to a river. Falling through the ice, swimming, slipping on algae covered rocks, sliding down the rapids, falling out of a canoe… Ah yes, falling out of a canoe! There are lots of variations of falling out of canoes too, but at least most of those stories are funny. My river is too shallow to canoe most of the year, despite the fact that it’s actually the fastest flowing river in Ohio. I guess that’s the point, the water moves on so fast there’s nothing left to canoe in – except for the spring flood.

Spring floods can be devastating if your house is in the way, but thankfully I only shoveled mud out of our neighbors’ windows. Once the major chunks of ice melted on the river banks, the water remained high enough for people brave enough (stupid enough) to canoe it. There weren’t any surprises about where people would wipe out. My neighbors and I would take our lawn chairs to a lovely spot overlooking the rapids and wait for the next victims. It was a very pleasant time. People bundled up and sipped hot chocolate or coffee and laughed about the last round of idiots who got dunked.

Guy in kayak was probably going to get through. Single canoes were about a 50/50 proposition. Groups were sure entertainment because the odds of everyone in the group actually knowing what they were doing were very slim. I remember a group of 5 canoes all going down together, and you’ve got to remember, that water was ice cold. The neighbors placed bets whenever they saw a canoe come around the bend. I didn’t bet, but I did place my opinions with the others. Hey, you’ve also got to remember that there just isn’t very much to do in the spring thaw when you live in the sticks. Wet canoers were as good as we got!

We didn’t just laugh at the foolhardy. We fished them out and gave them something hot to drink. Somebody would take them home or drive them to their cars. We weren’t entirely cruel, but getting laughed at was the price of admission to our party.

My dad bet a couple of his buddies that they couldn’t canoe the river. Dad was right. Oh, I might’ve forgotten the part about where Dad bet them they couldn’t canoe the river buck naked at night? When 2 naked men showed up with icicles in their hair, my dad wouldn’t let them in because there were young girls in the house. Dad took clothes out to them before they could come in. Their dog was just fine. I think dogs may have more sense than men placing bets?

And just so you know that I don’t consider myself entirely superior to the icy, wet idiots in canoes, Dad and I canoed that same river many times in high water. Thrilling! Cold! Brainless! A friend told me years later that she and her dad bent a canoe in two when they got snagged by a water-soaked tree. That stopped my canoeing stupidity. Now I enjoy a gentle float on a warm summer day on a river meant for water travel -- with cooler full of snacks.

This art is a tiny acrylic painting, about the size of a business card.

Friday, May 13, 2011

"Safari"

I imagine other people will create darling caravans of cuteness for this week’s Illustration Friday challenge, but I hear echoes of the old Japanese guy I used to work with telling me “You not cute!” Once in a while I did cute just to prove him wrong, but I don’t feel cute today. It’s dark and raining, AGAIN. Besides, I made this art this week, and would like some suggestions for what to do with it. I’ve been making a series of square, graphic things with the computer based on my nighttime tv doodles. I feel kind of compulsive about it, but I don’t really know what to do with them when they’re done.

Maybe this art is kind of like “safari” because I was thinking about Homer’s Odyssey when I was making it. It may not be the same thing as packing everything you own on a camel, but Odysseus basically had a nautical safari. The moon phases show the passing of time, and the suns show multiple days and seasons.

In a different way, isn’t “safari” a lot like questing? I don’t always know why I make the art I do, I just know it’s compulsory. I may not be after elephant tusks or Jason’s Golden Fleece; I just know I’m searching for something. Maybe all of the comments of “You not cute” or the judgments of others who try to identify me into a neat little box have created a need for me to make square art? It seems like people who try to put me in a box often have lists of things I “should” do too, and that just makes me contrary about their suggestions. Why don’t people say what we “could” do instead of “should” when they’re handing out advice? “Could” is full of possibilities. “Should” is full of restrictions, and I don’t want to live in a box someone else created.

Vive la différence!

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Beginner"

We start out as beginners at everything. The only things babies know is how to breathe, eat, cry, and mess themselves. Everything else is learned behavior. We don’t care about the color of our president or the size of our house. All we want is to be fed and cuddled. I like to write happy stories, but I need to rant because good people aren’t speaking up to rhetoric in the media and in politics, and I’m hearing otherwise intelligent people repeating shocking things. Specifically, I had a disagreement with a friend. Now obviously, I’m going to tell you I was right. It’s my blog, so I get to be Grand Poobah of this virtual world and it’s important to speak against evil, no matter if the evil comes from the voice of a friend.

The topic was school lunches. I think schools should provide healthy lunches for poor kids. My pal thinks that there shouldn’t be any school food at all. Parents should pack lunches, and be punished for bad food choices. (She also thinks parents should be punished if they don’t supervise their children through 6 hours of homework every night.) She asserts feeding children is not the tax payers’ problem because their poverty is the fault of the parents. If parents can’t feed their kids then put the parents in jail and take away the kids. Problem solved.

Grrrrr…

Some people living comfortable lives don’t feel responsible for the less fortunate. They want to keep all their “hard earned” money, and too bad for everyone else. Take away the social safety nets for anybody unwilling to work as hard as they think they have worked. It’s easier to blame poor people for their problems instead of looking at the decades of political decisions that have led to the miserable lives of people who don’t know how to change their situations.

I want to live in a kind society where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Many people think that’s what we’ve got, but how many of them have spent time in the inner city or a trailer park? Sure, every now and then someone rises from the dregs of society and succeeds, but what about the vast majority of kids who never get the chance? Their schools suck, their teenaged parents never got an education to help with homework, Dad is in jail, Mom works 2 jobs, and the kids are so hungry they can’t concentrate on classes. That’s a reality. Not everyone comes from a “good” family. How can anyone look at a hungry child and say “I don’t want to feed you”?

When I was in college, I worked for the Columbus Tenants Union. I went to poverty-stricken neighborhoods and tried to get people to cough up $20 for membership with promises that by banding together, they could change their living situations. I sat on a woman’s couch looking through the car-sized hole in the brick wall of her living room and watched children playing on overfilled dumpsters with rats. The woman had already lived through an Ohio winter with that depressing view. The woman was disabled and on public assistance. What could I tell that woman? What could I tell the children playing in the dumpster? Can my friend understand their reality?

There but by the grace of God, go I. Or my friend. She just doesn’t recognize it. She credits her parents for a good example and herself for working hard without factoring in that she’s attractive, intelligent, and went to good schools. She never had to deal with a hole in her wall with no way to fix it. Is it fair for my friend to say too bad you didn’t choose better parents?

I don’t know how to teach people empathy, but I certainly know Jesus-loving people need shamed into behaving more Jesus-like. What would Jesus do? He’d feed hungry children!! If our society has gotten to a point where it’s socially acceptable to say “let children starve”, we deserve to fail. If good people allow others to make statements like that, we deserve to fail too. Children are more important than what’s in your bank account, and it’s more than school lunches. It’s also important to have social workers to protect children and seniors from abuse, good teachers in schools, and a lot of other programs that the Republicans are trying to cut while the wealthiest segment of the population gets wealthier. Of course it’s important to cut waste in spending, but let’s use sense and stop hurting the most vulnerable people!

Each time a new child enters our lives, we have a new opportunity to see life through their eyes. Kids have an innate sense of right and wrong. We need to go back to the beginning and learn better lessons. Most of all, the “Silent Majority” needs to find our voices and speak up!