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, February 24, 2012


I moved out on my own when I was 17. I wanted to have my own space and make my own decisions. I took some truly horrible jobs just to cover my bills. Some of those early jobs were pretty funny too. I am capable of polishing the brass pole in a strip club for instance. I didn’t know what the brass pole was used for at that time, but hey, I’m capable of polishing brass. I found a lot of dollars lying around on the floor at that job too. Let’s see… what else am I capable of doing? I’ve shoveled dung from horse barns, planted crops with illegal immigrants, worked in a rubber factory, cleaned toilets at a hotel, planted and sold vegetables, changed diapers, shelved books, sold hot dogs on the street from a cart… I’m not sure why I don’t have some of these things on my resume.

Maybe my best career move in crappy jobs was production and photo retouching at a department store. I heard about the opening after a string of my fellow college students had turned it down for being “beneath” them and because it only paid $5/hour. I wasn’t so proud. I scheduled my hours around my classes and had an actual job on my first resume. In fact, that job enabled me to get my first “real” job. It also allowed me to learn important stuff that I didn’t get from my expensive college education which I’ve used in every job since.

Sometimes people will comment to me that I can do anything. Sure, why not? Can’t you do anything too? Once, a friend made that comment when I offered to fix the drywall in her house after her abusive husband went on a rampage. My remarks were: 1. leave the SOB, 2. have him fix what he tore up, and 3. I’ll teach you how to fix drywall. She said she couldn’t leave him because he made the money, couldn’t get him to fix anything, and didn’t want to learn how to fix drywall. Okay, keep your black eye and the hole in your wall.

Another friend told me she “couldn’t” get to work on time. When I pointed out that of course she “could”, she came up with a string of excuses that I kept swatting away until she admitted that okay, she didn’t “want” to get to work on time. She wanted to sleep in and fluff her hair to perfection in the mornings. The world becomes a lot different when we realize that we are capable of whatever we value. We really do create our own reality.

When I was a child, my older sisters learned how to do most things before I did. Since my sisters were very different from each other, their combined skills covered a lot of ground, but then we went to Girl Scout camp. This was an excellent proving ground for me because my sisters camped in a different area. Bliss! Freedom! Mom dropped us off early, so I got to choose my tent and cot before other girls started creating the pecking order. When my tent mates started screaming about spiders on the ceiling and mice nests in the rolled up tent flaps, I moved the unwanted wildlife outside and earned my place in the social hierarchy. My skills were put to continued good use because the mice and spiders moved back to the tent every day, and I moved them out every evening. I found I was good at a lot of stuff city girls didn’t know how to do. I baited their hooks, took their fish off the lines, did my share of mess tent chores, started the campfire, rowed them around the lake, and explained how to macramé a lanyard. I was a hit at GS camp.

Sometimes, the secret to feeling capable is knowing what we’re good at. Sometimes it’s being willing to try new things. Sometimes it’s just learning from whatever situations we find ourselves in. But mostly, I think being capable of taking care of ourselves is a form of happiness. We don’t have to feel trapped or helpless. We can make decisions towards our goals and bliss.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I was surrounded by fluid when I was growing up. “The Glen” was hugged by the river on 3 sides, an even bigger river flowed underground, and water perpetually seeped out of the cliffs. There was a long horizontal iron pipe that stuck out from the bottom of the hill, and whenever kids were thirsty, we drank the fresh spring water that poured out of the end and continued our adult-free activities. The adults preferred it that way. They didn’t want kids coming home and tracking mud in the house unless someone was bleeding. Really, if mothers had their way, the kids would go to someone else’s house when they were bleeding. Blood is worse to clean up than muddy footprints. Don’t come home unless you need stitches.

I typed that first paragraph, then rambled in multiple unsuccessful attempts to say something happy about kids playing together, or some sort of pithy social commentary, or anything that wasn’t damned depressing. Sometimes Illustration Friday gives me a word for the week that leaves me stumped. “Fluid” gives me so many associations, I have a hard time keeping my mind on one thought long enough to say anything useful about it.

I went to a reiki group last night. This is a form of hands-on healing that was developed by a Japanese Buddhist in the early 20th century. I didn’t really have any expectations when I accepted my friend’s invitation. I have received reiki before, and found it anything from simply pleasant to really helpful. I guess a lot depends on the amount of need you have and the skill of the practitioner. At the very least, the practice definitely falls under the “Do no harm” motto of the medical profession. Last night’s session was both pleasant and helpful, which doesn’t explain at all why I’m thinking so many negative associations today with “fluid”.

Hands-on healing is practiced by a lot of different people throughout the world including Jesus, who said anything he could do, we can do. I had a healing by a Native American shaman once. An interesting thing about that experience was when I called him about week later to say I felt horrible. The shaman laughed and said “Yeah, sometimes that happens”. Well, that’s helpful! I thought you’re supposed to feel better after getting “healed”? After the shaman finished laughing at my miseries, he said that we carry a lot of negative things in our bodies. By removing that negativity, we leave a void. We need to fill that void with something better. He suggested visualizing a positive light. I started feeling better, and in the end, much better than before the healing. Maybe something like that’s going on after my reiki session?

Sometimes I envision myself floating on my back in the river, letting the water slip around me and gently pull me downstream. It’s an image that I started having when I was little, and it brings me comfort when the world seems chaotic. The flow of the water makes sense to me. The current will take me wherever I’m supposed to go. I suppose it’s my personal image of chi or the Holy Ghost, or however you want to express the order of the universe. Don’t fight the current. Maybe the reason I’m having trouble with this post is because I’ve been trying to swim upstream?

Or maybe, what I’m fighting is the old tapes in my head that say quit talking about stuff a lot of people don’t like to talk about. Don’t talk about reiki and shamanic healings or the tragic deaths of people who used to share that spring water from the iron pipe sticking out of the hill. Keep things happy and light and mainstream, and don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. But sometimes I wonder, maybe the stuff we squash within ourselves is exactly the stuff we’re on the planet to do?

Friday, February 10, 2012


I got in my archives to find a sample of something I’ve done for Valentine’s Day. The attached product shot is a tower of boxes I did for Wolferman’s/Harry & David. I tried to mess around with hearts this week, but I guess I wasn’t feeling it after looking at Krista Hamrick’s splendid VD post. Either that, or maybe I’m being too literal about hearts since my friend is going to get his shocked to change its rhythm. I didn’t think electric hearts was quite the way to go when people are thinking about romance. (Happy thoughts for Franz are appreciated.)

While I was in my box looking for VD art, I found my niece’s drawings. I love her spontaneity and concepts. “Why so many hearts?” “Because love is all around!” “Why are these hearts attached to rays?” “Because our love touches other people!” “Why is this heart so many colors?” “Because our hearts can feel so many things!” “Why are there 3 hearts?” “This is you, and this is me, and this is the love we make between us!”

C’mon! How can I not love this child?! I have her dad’s kiddie art too, but I don’t think he ever drew me a heart. Ever. Alien, yes, but no hearts.

I felt very popular when I went back to school to substitute teach. The kids would yell “Yay!” when they saw me at the front desk. I tried to make it fun, but my ulterior motive was to teach things that weren’t on the lesson plan: life skills, self-esteem, logic, ecology, history… something that would be useful in their thinking throughout their lives. I didn’t go in with a plan. I just seized opportunities. I preferred older kids. I don’t have anything against little kids. I even love some of them, but a whole classroom full of disease-infested children who can’t go to the lavatory by themselves is just more than I want to deal with – and then some of the hoard of needy children would spontaneously make me love art. I kept those too. I even got love art from high school kids. Yep, I felt very popular.

One time, a kid walked in my class and yelled “Hey Bitch!” to a friend. I said that wasn’t acceptable and wouldn’t be permitted in my class. The kids joked and said it was just a term of friendship. I said I wouldn’t be friends with anyone who called me bitch, and why not say nice things to people they’re supposed to like? The kids laughed at me. I said, “This is a vocational class. You’re going to spend a lot of time together. You need a safe zone where everyone feels included and liked.”

I often had this class because their regular teacher had other obligations, and I got to know the kids quite well. I would’ve forgotten about this blip in time, but at the end of the year, a kid came in to give a student an office note and said “Hey Bitch!” in greeting. “We don’t say things like that here” one of my boys said. “This is our ‘safe zone’.” Be still my heart! I suppose it helped that this was the best looking, coolest, roughest boy in class. I hugged him and his cheeks went pink and I got that precious look of turned down face, hopeful eyes looking up, grateful for approval. I really felt like I had done something good in my life.

Wishing everyone lots of love on Valentine’s Day and every day!

Last week’s post on my raccoon skull reminded me of these pictures I took of my nephew. Meet the pagan warrior! That’s a deer skull he spiked onto a stick. I couldn’t decide which picture I liked best, so you can see both of them. “Why the clam shells?” “They’re money!” A true Aries. I don’t think he ever drew hearts for me either. He’s all grown up now. I should send these pictures to his friends. Okay, that’s it for animal skulls, I promise. Well, unless I find something really cool in the woods.

Friday, February 3, 2012


I’m slanted against “suspense” today because I stayed up late last night reading a suspense novel about twins, one good and one evil. People were killed, a mad race to the bank, betrayals -- the standard recipe for suspense novels. The book was slightly better than usual, but really wasn’t worth the sleep deprivation, and maybe I’m feeling a little cranky. Maybe I’ll talk about a different kind of suspense…

Last month I talked (here) about discovering a previously undiscovered fossil when I was a child. My friend Phil liked that post, and it dawned on me that since Phil is a scientist at a university, maybe he could get someone to identify an odd little skull I found by the river. I sent him photos, and he obligingly forwarded them to the biology department. I was in a happy state of anticipation until sometime later, Professor of Biology Don sent me this:

“Much of the skull is missing but a colleague and I agree that it is the skull of a raccoon.”

What?!! I had it firmly in my mind that I had discovered a prehistoric mutant rodent. Well, at least I would’ve been thrilled if it was a prehistoric mutant rodent. Raccoon?!! Professor of Biology Don must be seriously mistaken. I quickly Googled raccoon skulls to prove him wrong. Em. Hmmm. Oh all right. It’s a raccoon skull. Drat. That’s seriously disappointing. Who cares about raccoon skulls? Probably the only interesting thing about it at this point is the fact that the mice hadn’t eaten it. I thought I’d throw the skull away, but somehow my hand just wouldn’t do it. I wrapped it back up and put it tenderly in its box. Never let it be said that I’m unwilling to accept new knowledge. I thanked Don and Phil, and I am thankful to have one mystery set aside. Would’ve liked it more if wasn’t a varmint skull, but I bow to facts.

Even our disappointments can lead to new inspirations. I doodled raccoons while watching tv, and doodles turned into this Charley Harper-inspired critter. I admire Charley’s work, but it’s rather tough for me to pare things down to absolute essentials most of the time.

The suspense of discovering what the identity of the little skull is over, but I’m thinking maybe that anticipation was pleasant enough to look for something else to identify. There has to be more rock and skeleton oddities lying around in the woods…