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, September 28, 2012


I went to Nashville for a work conference this week which means I lost 2 days of my life in airports and might die from cancer from TSA x-rays or possibly from germs from that kid who kicked my seat from Atlanta to Cleveland.  Sorry, I can be a crabby traveler when the prize at the end of the trip is lectures with religious leaders, statisticians, and computer experts.  I took Harry Potter #1 with me because HP is always a comfort in uncontrollable situations. 

About the 4th day I realized I should’ve taken pictures like Jane does on her blog, but here’s a map of the posh complex where I stayed.  The place is vast.  The only time I got out of the hotel’s bubble was when I took a bus for dinner and walked about 3 blocks with throngs of happy bar hoppers.  Live music was playing everywhere.  Someday I’m going to visit Nashville for fun, even if they do like country music.  My previous trips involved funerals and cleaning out a storage unit, but I’ve seen enough of Tennessee to know it’s very pretty.  I’m also going to diet for about 3 years after all the very excellent food I ate this week.

Food aside, I was glad when I boarded the plane for Cleveland.  Everyone seemed too shiny in the south.  The stewardess had on 2 shades of vivid blue eyeshadow, 1” long eyelashes, and strange pink/purple lipstick on her extra-poufed lips.  Cleveland people are less technicolored, and I was glad when I collected my dog from my brother (Thanks Pete!) and went to couch with her in our quiet home.  We nestled under the blankies and I finished off HP in peace.

One time, my niece got into my car and did the usual obligatory shifting of reading material so she could sit down.  “Why do you drive around with all these?” she asked.  I said that I liked to read something short at lunch time when I was at work, or sometimes something longer when I go to the river or had to wait for an appointment. “No, why do you have them at all?”  “Why do I read?”  “Yes.”  It was one of those magical moments when I was suddenly eloquent and said exactly the right things.  I explained how books can teach us more than tv, they allow us to see into other people’s lives in cultures we’re never going to experience, and how reading allows us to use our imaginations to visualize characters and settings in ways that speak to us more personally than whatever the director of a movie envisions for us.  The more I spoke, the more my love of books poured out of me and into her.  She started reading.

Families who own books have more literate children than families without books, even if the parents are never seen reading.  That makes sense.  Having books shows that parents value them, even if it’s only for decorating.  At least it shows the parents know they’re supposed to value books.

My parents filled a bookcase in the living room, and my siblings and I looked at the big Time/Life nature books.  That sounds like a nice, quiet activity for children doesn’t it?  “That’s me!” was screamed while jabbing a cute otter, “That’s YOU!” was screamed with the orangutan.  My sister’s hair was unfortunately for her exactly the color of the orangutan’s.  She hated that.  Everybody wanted to be a lion, but nobody wanted to be the warthog.  It was a race to stab the pictures with our fingers.  It’s a good thing the pages were made of heavy paper.  Those books took a beating.

The lower right shelf was Arch books full of Jesus parables.  I read them all, then read the Bible, then the Koran too.  I don’t know why Dad had a Koran, but if it was there, it must be read.  Ditto for the classics on the upper shelves and Tolkien and yoga and whatever else my parents collected.  Dad thought the classics were necessary to be properly cultured.

Every book we read makes our world a little bit bigger and makes us more knowledgeable, interesting, empathetic, or something we weren’t before – and traveling through books is a whole lot more comfortable than flying from Atlanta with a kid kicking your back.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I can walk past waist-high messes without batting an eye, but a crooked picture makes me anxious for a chance to straighten it.  I do it when nobody’s looking because I don’t want anyone to feel bad about their crooked pictures, or maybe I don’t want anybody to know I’m like “Rain Man” about such things.  In a disordered world, I look for symmetry and consistency when I feel stressed.  I guess that’s why I make patterns as a meditation.

It also makes me good at framing, which I did recently for a friend.  I was glad to do it because her husband died a while back, and he was a tremendous photographer.  It makes my heart happy to see his life’s work hanging on walls instead of hiding in boxes.  It made me even happier when my friend had a party and more people got to see Geof’s work. 

I usually think of framing as a necessary evil of creating.  It’s just something you do, like painting walls.  I’m conscientious about it; I just don’t expect anybody to notice, and it never occurs to me that someone else might find it hard to do.  As a result, I thought I’d give some tips…

Standard-sized frames are cheaper than custom-made frames.  Save money by making your art or photos adapt to the frame.  Garage sales and thrift stores are cheaper yet.  I like these because I can study odd frames for inspirations about what to put in them and make the art to match.

Cutting your own mats saves money too.  With a little initial investment, a compact mat cutter will pay for itself.  Mats keep the glass from touching the image and give your eyes a rest before the frame, plus, the color of the mat can complement the image.  Buy acid-free mat board.  Think about the color of the room and the color of the image when choosing your mat board.  If you’re really unsure what works, white, black, gray, or beige are always safe.

Visualize how much space you need around the image before the edge of the frame.  11” x 14” frames usually get about 2” around the image.  18” x 24” frames usually get about 3”.  I lay the mat board on the table, put the frame over it, then the art/photo over that to get an idea of how it will look when it’s all put together.

If you buy a mat cutter, I’m pretty sure it will give instructions on how to use it.  In addition, I find it helpful to put a piece of scrap mat board under the mat I’m cutting.  This makes for a cleaner cut and prevents tearing.  I test my measurements in pencil before cutting, and I change my blade often.  Yucky cuts are hard to fix, though I have used an X-acto knife and/or sandpaper for minor repairs.

Wash both sides of the glass and check for cat/dog hair before finishing up.  You can use glazing points or small nails from the hardware store to hold everything together on garage sale frames.  Be consistent when putting on the hardware for hanging on the frames, especially if you’re framing a series that will be hung together.

It makes me crazy that people will spend as much, or more, on framing than they will for art.  If you save money by doing it yourself, you’ll end up with more money for creating – and if you’re not an artist, it gives you more money to support the arts!

Friday, September 14, 2012


Sometimes the world is against me, and I know this to be true because sometimes people say such negative things to me that I have to retreat to my corner and lick my wounds and feel sorry for myself.  In those moments, it doesn’t matter that my little dog nestles against me with her concerned worried face or that somebody said something nice to me yesterday.  Today, this person is trying to ruin my self-esteem and destroy my accomplishments.  I can feel the waves of negative energy hitting my skin like standing in a sandstorm while frying bacon naked.

I’ve had a running conversation for a couple of years with a friend of mine.  He’s a physicist, so he thinks about energy in a physical way.  I’m not a physicist, so I think about energy as an invisible cloud of gnats that moves with me wherever I go, or sometimes like a swarm of stinging yellow jackets.

Our conversation goes something like this… I say something about “negative energy”.  He says there is no negative energy, there’s just energy.  (There might be a digression about the charge of electrons here, but anyway...) He says I’m just getting caught up in the delivery package.  Imagine everyone’s thoughts as red or blue balloons.  Red balloons are positive thoughts towards me, and blue balloons are negative thoughts, and the only difference between red and blue balloons is the color of the balloons.  If I burst the balloons, there’s just energy inside, and all energy is good.  He says I should just be glad to have so many balloons.

I tend to think of this as a nice theory, but in practice I find it just as impossible to accomplish as clearing my mind of thoughts and meditating on my third eye; a practice which makes me internally rage against Hindu mysticism while simultaneously seeking inner peace.  I’ve given up on the whole third eye thing, but for some reason my mind sticks on this balloon concept, which is why my friend and I keep revisiting the topic.

He says that if I’m still having problems with the balloons, start popping them before they hit me.  That way I don’t have to worry about the color of the balloons, I just get the benefit of the energy.  As a result, I’ve quit trying to empty my mind and spend some of my meditation time mentally popping balloons.  Someone tries to undermine me?  Pop.  Someone talks behind my back?  Pop.  Someone takes credit for my work?  Po…  GRRRRR…  Okay, I haven’t mastered balloon popping.

My friend suggested that I create a mental barrier that lets the red balloons in, but screens out the blue ones.  I imagined a barbed wire fence catching the blue balloons, but my red balloons kept getting caught on my mental construction.  He said that was okay, the energy that was in the balloons will still get to me, sans the colored containers.

I felt like I was littering up the world with popped balloons, so my friend suggested blowing the blue balloons back to their senders.  I suspect the blue balloon senders have already received a lot of blue balloons from their dementors though, and getting more blue balloons might just make them meaner.  I suppose I should send them red balloons, but I don’t really feel like sending red balloons to my dementors. 

It’s no wonder world peace has eluded humanity for so long.  I’ll keep working on it.

Friday, September 7, 2012


I have been accused of “magical thinking” by engineers and the kinds of people who protest Harry Potter, and the only problem I have with that is that there are people who protest Harry Potter.  Why shouldn’t I think magically?  Why should my reality conform to someone else’s ideas?

When I was little, I fantasized about my future.  I saw myself going to college, working as an illustrator, becoming an art director.  I put every ounce of my productive time into achieving those ends, and there were plenty of obstacles along the way.  I worked, I saved, I hoped, and I dreamed my dreams – then I lived those dreams.  Just having the fantasies would not have gotten me where I wanted to go, but I couldn’t have worked towards my goals without first having the imagination to build my fantasies.

I have often talked to people who don’t know what they want to do for a living.  I’ll ask, “What brings you happiness?”  It seems to me that the people who feel lost in their career goals often start answering that question with their desire to make money, or their need for security, or what their parents think.  None of that answers the real question, “What kind of pursuit will make you happy enough that you will pursue it with the kind of drive that will eventually bring success?”

Oprah likes to say “Do what you love and the money will follow”.  Yeah, easy for Oprah to say, but I think it’s essentially true.  I’m also inclined to agree with a bumper sticker I saw that said “Real musicians have day jobs”, and that often goes for artists too.  The demand for money to support my art addiction is often in conflict with my need to create.  But I, and everybody else, have the talents we need to fully live the lives we’re meant to live.  We just have to start with the right fantasy.

Indigene has been doing a colorful journal project that inspired me to dust off a stack of old women’s magazines and start cutting out phrases and words that spoke to me.  I glued them on a scrap of mat board and put it on my desk for motivation.  What do I really want?  Sometimes I forget that art is the center of my circle or that singing and being happy is something I have to remember to do.  I should quit complaining about my current bed and buy a new one, or at least a new mattress.  Sometimes we don’t know how much we want something until it’s kind of randomly put in front of us when we’re in a hypnotized state from flipping through women’s magazines.

Is it magical thinking to create the intention, and then make that intention reality?  What have you dreamed into reality?

I thought I was done writing for today, and then I went to Sharon’s blog, and found she gave me a prize.  Woo hoo!  Okay, I’ll admit it once again, I love awards.  I’m shameless that way :)  Check out her site.  She’s always got something interesting to look at or cook or inspire.

Part of the love in awards is the joys of passing it along, so my picks are below.  (See, I wanted to manifest “love”, “share”, “smile”, “friends”, etc. and it’s coming true already!)  Pass the love along!