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

Monday, November 28, 2011

Karma Coins Continued

I’ve decided to give my little dog Penny a karma coin, even though she has received some recent demerits…

“Your dog was in my yard.”
“Yeah, I know. I’ve got her back.”
“I don’t want her to get hit by a car, so you better find her.”
“I’ve already got her. I’m sorry she bothered you.”
“I just don’t want her hit.”

This conversation with my next door neighbor John Sr. went on a while until Penny came out and wagged her tail. It was nice of John to come over, especially since he isn’t moving very well anymore and has to use a cane. He obviously can’t hear either. Then I had to listen to his wistful memories of his past dogs that were all some mix of wolf, tiger, shark, and dragon. I’m so glad John Jr. has a nice indoor cat these days.

I took Penny inside and discussed her sins…
“You have to stay in the yard.”
Penny gives me a slightly concerned look.
“Inside the fence is ours. Outside the fence is everybody else. You stay inside our yard.”
Penny thumps her tail on my leg and nestles into my side. We both sigh.

“Hey! Your dog is in my yard!”
I look up and see Penny making gleeful circles around John Jr.
“Alright, I’m coming over.”

‘Coming over’ requires slopping my way through the back 40 of my yard, through my house with muddy boots, and slopping my way through the Johns’ yard where I can’t find Penny or Jr. I slop my way back through their back 40, back through my house, and back to my back 40 – where I can now see Penny in the Johns’ back yard.

“Get over here!”
Penny obediently ducks through a previously undiscovered hole in the fence and wags her tail at me.
“You have to stay in OUR yard!”
Penny looks slightly contrite while I barricade her latest exit point, and watches while I mop muddy footprints in the house. We repeat the conversation about ‘our yard’ vs. everything else. Penny cuddles in my arms and puts her paw on my heart. I’m pretty sure she’s a slow learner, but she’s awfully cute. She breaks down my efforts at discipline.

A couple of cute little boys come to my side door.
“Did my dog get out again?”
“She’s in our yard, and our mom said we had to tell you. Can we play with her?”
I look across the street and see Penny licking the face of their little sister, who is rolling on the grass in hysterical giggles.
“Yeah. Keep her over there a minute. I’ll get my shoes.”

I point my finger in Penny’s face and explain how it’s bad enough to visit the Johns, but she is NOT allowed to cross the street. She licks my finger.

Wait a sec, am I really going to give this dog a karma coin? She’s lucky she’s so sweet and cuddly, and comes when I call her. She’s good for my heart. There’s a reason people with dogs live longer. That’s why she gets a karma coin.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Round"

I was doing my usual stuff on the computer, but left the room to take a phone call. When I came back, I was met with a black screen. This can’t be a good thing. I’m feeling like I must’ve done something terribly wrong to be punished like this, and that’s nothing compared to what John’s going to feel when he checks his messages and hears my distress call after he’s spent so much time and effort already on my last computer disaster. Ohhhhh!!!!

So… round? Maybe the circular nature of computer problems? Maybe something to take my mind off such things? What goes around, comes around? Blah, blah, blah. It’s hard to be philosophical when faced with a black computer screen, or maybe it’s necessary to be philosophical at times like this. Isn’t some of this how the idea of karma started?

I don’t remember when I first heard about karma, but it made sense to me – at least in a general way. Or maybe I just wanted karma to exist? Good is rewarded, bad is punished, and the world makes more sense than when obviously bad people get ahead in the world. Do we really want to live in a world where the robber barons buy the best seats in heaven? It’s far better to think of them working in the coal mines in their next lives to pay for their sins. Maybe my desire for karma to exist is a simple plea to the universe to make sense.

Once, I held a door open for a woman going into a store. I didn’t have to do it since she was several yards behind me, but it was raining and she looked rather miserable. Her surprise and gratitude hit me in the heart. I felt like I got a karma point that day. Well, being a collector of things, I figured one karma point was good, lots were better, so I started holding more doors open. No more karma points were awarded. Apparently you don’t get karma points by doing things for karma points. People actually started being kind of nasty to me as they walked through my open doors. I guess they caught onto the fact that I was trying to make myself feel better and they weren’t going to play my game. Serves me right.

After some consideration, I decided the only real way to collect more karma points was to consistently do nice things for others and hope some good would stick along the way. It makes for a much simpler philosophy, and is much easier to maintain. I hold open doors when the person behind me is the right distance away for that to be appropriate or if they’ve got their arms full. Anything more seems to fall into some level of codependency. It’s a complicated world, and the longer I live in it, the more rules I think I understand. At least they seem clearer sometimes. The rest of the time I feel like I’m just grasping at rationality because the world is actually as insane as it seems. Even so, my ideas of karma make my path clearer, and help me walk around with my head up. More doors are opened, more people spread sunshine, and the world makes more sense.

I doodled my karma coin today with the thought that John deserves karma points for his computer help. I’m not sure how that fits into his Catholicism, but I figure he’ll understand my intent. I had already tried restarting my computer earlier today, but since that didn’t work I started unplugging things so I could force Korki’s laptop back into service. I was thinking about my gratitude to both Korki and John when the thought occurred to me to try plugging the power back into my computer. Presto!!! My computer booted up like it was just waiting for me to do exactly that. Can you hear the angels singing?

I’m not sure who’s karma points got cashed in for this latest miracle, but I’m not rocking the boat. I’m fighting the urge to go find doors to open for old people.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Vanity"

Growing up as a lonely wolf child in the woods, I didn’t develop the usual self-awareness of my appearance. It didn’t help that I went from a beautiful child to something, em, not cute. Adults made loud statements over my head. “What happened?!” “She used to be so pretty!” Nobody bothered to point out when my gawky parts started to actually work together in a more acceptable way. If a guy gave me a compliment when I got older, I dismissed his comments as an obvious attempt to get me into bed, with the understanding that guys will do anybody if given the chance. Compliments didn’t put a dent in my inner laments about my unfortunate looks.

Even so, sometimes I got dressed up and people responded well enough to me. I figured it had something to do with being pleasant and/or interesting. Since I knew what it felt like to be dismissed or insulted for my looks, I wanted people to value my insides because looks might be taken away in a car crash, or will definitely be taken away with age.

When I was 29, I put on a black velvet dress. It was long-sleeved, off the shoulder, and tea length. I wore pretty high-heeled shoes despite the fact that my date wasn’t much taller than me when we were barefoot. I painted my lips very red, and caked on black eye liner. Ta da! My date looked at me with disapproval. He had shown up in khakis and a sweater for our double date to the theater. Since he had grown up in NYC, he thought he was more sophisticated than us rubes in Cleveland, and said I was overdressed. I didn’t care. I felt like wearing black velvet and I did. I felt like Madame X in John Singer Sargent’s famous portrait.

During intermission, I raced to the restrooms before the doddering old ladies could get there and reapplied my red, red lipstick. I descended the sweeping stairs of the Palace Theater, and paused on the steps with my hand resting gently on the balustrade. I was completely unselfaware at that moment. I was just searching the crowd for my date and friends, but I noticed a lot of men looking at me. I was confused. Toilet paper on shoe? Dress tucked into pantyhose? I looked for some sort of confirmation in the wall of upturned faces and noticed a local newswoman staring up at me with absolute hatred. Her face was pitted in a way I’d never noticed on tv, and hatred made her ugly. Why did she hate me? I continued to scan the crowd, found my date, and watched the men’s faces turn towards my date with some disbelief. Ha! So much for his khakis and sweater and disapproval!

He dropped me off after the theater, but didn’t come in. My brother was living with me at the time and joked that something was wrong when I couldn’t “get lucky looking like that!” There was a mirror over the mantle, and I examined myself in it. I had an absolute consciousness that I was peaking at that very instant. It was never going to get better than this, and I’d probably never wear velvet again. Everyone should know what it feels like to be the belle of the ball, at least once. At the same time, I also felt some loss. I hadn’t understood that I looked pretty good up till that point, and now it was going to all go downhill.

Having just lived through another birthday, with the usual inventory of my wrinkles and other signs of inevitable decline, I’ve had to face my vanity. I’m not 29 anymore, but I’m not 80 yet either, and I have at least one very excellent memory. That memory keeps me a little warmer inside when I walk past a mirror and notice that I haven’t combed my hair today and my sweatshirt has a new smear of paint on the front. Internally, I’m still the wolf child.

For the record, I also have some artistic vanity, and don’t like posting my art with one of the masters, especially when I whipped this little painting out this afternoon and Sargent spent considerably more time on his masterpiece.

“How can anybody learn anything from an artwork when the piece of art only reflects the vanity of the artist and not reality?” ~ Lou Reed

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Silent"

“Silent” seems appropriate for my time of continued computer disaster. My friend John has rigged me up to the internet again, but it’s routed through my friend Korki’s old laptop. The laptop is not happy about the things I ask of it, so I’m keeping communications to the bare minimum with continued hopes that John will be able to rescue my hard drive and all those files I neglected to back up. He’s put in a lot of hours trying to help and I’m very grateful, and grateful to Korki for the loaner too. Forced inaction has led me to painting rocks, and there can’t be anything more silent than rocks. It’s an obsessive thing. Maybe I just want the stability they represent? In a way, rocks are a meditative subject for me. I don’t have to think very hard about what they look like. It reminds me of the beginning of one of my previous jobs…

I was assigned a quail illustration. I asked the art director where they kept reference photos of such things. They didn’t keep reference photos. Hm. Okay? ‘How am I supposed to draw it if I didn’t know what it looks like?” “You know what it looks like. ‘Real artists’ don’t need reference.” UH?!! What does a quail look like anyway? Grr… I did a search online, printed a very crappy reference photo, and growled through my painting. This was the first phase of the next couple of weeks where I said at least 30 or 40 times a day “I’m losing my f***ing mind!” It wasn’t a good start to a miserable job, but I was getting paid to paint, so I kept my swearing inside, to be vented in full steam to my friends on the phone when I got home.

Next assignment was a bow. I got a piece of ribbon, tied a bow, and sustained the almost continual criticism from the AD about how I was weak for needing reference. He stood over my shoulder and remarked about almost every color choice, every brush stroke. “Don’t you have your own work to do?” I smiled at him through clenched teeth. When I dropped my brush, he said it was because I held my paintbrush too lightly, and started to demonstrate the proper way for me to hold it. I picked up my brush, slammed it on my desk, and near tears, stormed into the big boss' office. “I can’t work this way!” By this time, I knew that the big boss and the AD screamed at each other at least 3 times a week, so I knew I had an ally. “Ignore him. Learn what you can from him, and ignore the rest.”

After taking a break outside for a silent primal scream, I went back to the office I shared with the AD, and resumed painting. He wanted birds painted without reference? Fine. Cardinals are red, right? Who cares about subtleties or accuracy? Here’s a red bird. Done. Next assignment. French horn? Sure, why not? I dimly remembered that they have 3 or maybe 4 places for fingers, a big bell at the end, and a whole bunch of tubing in between. Done. Who cares if that French horn would sound like a screaming cat if it actually existed? This was all the more ironic for me because in my previous job naturalists held me up arguing about the number of toes a salamander had on its front feet vs. its back feet. (5 and 4.)

In case you can’t tell, I’d rather deal with naturalists arguing over toes than fly blind over quail. Whenever possible, I did research at home before starting new projects in the morning. Eventually I reduced my mental F words to a mere 5 to 10 times a day. I got better, faster, stronger than I had ever been before. Now I feel annoyed when I actually need to take time out of my life to look up reference before starting something. It’s easy to get hooked on the instant gratification of picking up the paintbrush as soon as I have a new thought. Therefore, rocks. No research, and all the effort is in the color and form. It’s a silent meditation of stability.

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Stripes"

I wished for more light in my garden. A huge tree fell down. I expressed my dread of new computers. My computer crashed. Obviously, I am all-powerful and inanimate objects bend to my will. I'm starting to think it isn't safe to have random thoughts any more. Let's hope none of my other "scary" ideas manifest any time soon. Through clenched teeth I've already faced more of my scary thoughts, admitting defeat and asking favors, plus generally breaking into uncharacteristic pleas to the deity for successful computer repair.

My poor computer is awaiting life flight and paramedic (thanks John!), so I can't scan anything new for IF this week. So much for my 100 posts celebration last week! I think the universe might be punishing me for something, but I'm not exactly sure what I did to unbalance the delicate tree/computer ecosystem. Um, well, I think maybe I was supposed to vacuum out the insides of my computer once in a while, and I'm real sure I should've backed up my files last week when I thought of it, but that really doesn't explain how I can cause trees to fall down. I'm also feeling the retribution for making fun of vegans and Mom at the moment since John is vegan and I'm borrowing Mom's computer to make this post. Okay, okay!!! I won't tease anybody any more, ever -- well, at least this week. Now I have to find a recipe for lentil cookies or something to express my appreciation to John...

I don't know when I'll be up and running again, so my apologies to everyone since I can't make return visits at the moment.