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, December 28, 2012


My brother had a new canvas.  He propped it against the sofa and studied it for a while.  He got up, got a cup of coffee, and sat down and studied the canvas some more.  He got up, paced around a while, got another cup of coffee, and studied some more.  This went on for a couple of hours and made someone who shall remain nameless absolutely nuts.  “It’s just a white canvas!” She thought all this contemplation was wasting time.  I thought the situation was hysterical, but neither seemed to appreciate my belly laughs about it.

I could see it from both perspectives.  My brother was painting many pictures in his head, so the canvas wasn’t blank to him.  The other person thought all those mental paintings were all well and good, but if none of them actually got painted, they didn’t really exist.  Another woman recently commented to me about how artists live in their own realities.  I knew this wasn’t a compliment, but I laughed and said that I didn’t mind as long as our personal realities could peacefully coexist.

I used to work with Ed who doodled war planes and hand grenades.  I doodled a flower, cut it out, and set it on one of his bombs.  I got called a “tree-hugger”.  Okay.  I’ve hugged my share of trees.  Besides, he didn’t say it to hurt.  I respected his personal world and didn’t mess up his bomb.  Ed tacked up my flower by his window.  Our personal worlds overlapped a little, and I felt pleased to put a flower on his battle field.

I’ve been thinking about these things because I often feel like artists get criticized for dreaming.  The world goes round because practical people do practical things, and they get impatient with dreamers.  You can’t stack up dreams on factory skids, but every major advance in society or technology started with what-if fantasies.  Suppose a lot of our fantasies are just dreams.  Tolkien created a whole world with his fantasies.  Didn’t his dreams add something more to our lives?  Or if you have to be practical, Tolkien’s world created real jobs for printers and the movie industry.  Da Vinci created useful machines along with a whole bunch of impractical contraptions.  Newton and Einstein changed the ways the rest of us understand our world.

When I started blogging, I had practical ideas about putting my art online to complement my resume because I was looking for work.  After all, dreaming is great as long as you can pay the mortgage.  Maybe my goal was a good idea, but I abandoned it almost immediately.  I found I needed to dream to create my concrete reality, and blogging provided an outlet, and by extension, maybe my perceptions can mean something to someone else.  Other people add to the conversation, and expand the ways we can all think about things.  It’s a symbiotic relationship of overlapping worlds that’s necessary in a world of too much practicality.

I’ve stared at blank canvases, and have done things for solely practical reasons.  This window is my view from my couch.  I’ve spent many hours staring at it, through it, or looking in that general direction without seeing it at all.  It’s just a glorified doodle with a ball point pen.  I was thinking of an old friend’s way of painting fabric, the birds in the yard, and how the neighbors’ house is too close to mine.  Maybe letting my mind float freely through all those associations will inspire new ideas – or not, but I think the idea of letting my mind go where it wants to go exercises an important but maligned aspect of being human and of being an artist.

Besides, I filled up some of those blank canvases.  Looking back on 2012, it feels like I filled up a lot of them!

Friday, December 21, 2012


Sometimes I forget to breathe.  I know that’s nuts.  After all, breathing is supposed to be one of those automatic things we do, but I don’t think I’m the only one who forgets to do it.  We get stressed, and our breath becomes shallow.  We don’t even notice there isn’t any oxygen in our lungs, but who hasn’t cried and ended up gulping air in dramatic sobs?  Tears trump air and actual survival.

I have an interesting uncle, the kind of uncle everybody should have.  He has a house full of mysteries that’s fun to explore.  He’s shot lightning across the basement with Tesla coils, melted glass in a kiln, and had huge tins of military surplus candy.  He also had a picture of a turbaned man lounging in a plastic recliner, which definitely wasn’t my idea of “spiritual leader”.  I couldn’t imagine Jesus in a plastic lawn chair.

My uncle was the first person I ever knew who chose a different religion than the one he was born into.  The idea was novel to me, exciting, disturbing – and I wasn’t really sure how to accept it.  I also didn’t know how to process things about that religion, especially when my uncle tried to explain how and why he meditated.  I couldn’t grasp the concept.  I simply couldn’t keep my attention on my third eye and kept thinking “this is impossible”.

When I reported back to my uncle that I couldn’t do it, he asked if I had ever looked at a cup on a table and become so absorbed by it that I forgot about everything else in the room, forgetting the table the cup was sitting on, and even forgetting about my own body?  Or, had I ever lost myself in the flame of a candle?  Well, sure, everybody’s done that, right?  Which I don’t know if that’s actually true, but it made sense to me.  “That’s meditating”, he said.

I found myself sitting at the river, watching the light bouncing off ripples of water.  I felt my heart calm, felt my breathing deepen, and realized I was great at meditating – when I actually remind myself to do it, and I didn’t have to convert to a religion with a guru sitting in plastic lawn furniture to do it.  In fact, I realized that meditation is a universal human activity when we go fishing, get lost in painting, or any other quiet, focused activity that humans do.

Today is the winter solstice.  That means the days will start getting longer again.  In many traditions, it’s time to meditate and let go of things that no longer serve us, time to look forward to new opportunities.  Breathe in good, and breathe out bad.  In is healing and universal light; out is stress, pain, disease, release. 

I’ve been distressed about the recent school shooting in Connecticut.  I don’t want to see video of stunned children forgetting to breathe, their faces white from shock.  Other people can argue what we should do about preventing events like this in the future. I’d like to remind people how to cope when bad things happen, and remind other people that while I hope you have the best of holidays this week, we also need to remember the people who are missing at the table this year.

There are candles lit all over the place right now for prayer vigils, Christmas, and Hanukah.  Let’s all remember to take some time to look into the glow of candles and remember to breathe.

The top illustration is scratchboard with some screwing around in PhotoShop.  The painting is something I did when I was first learning how to breathe on purpose and before I understood what cats look like.  It’s also my first oil painting, when I decided I hate sticky paint.

Wishing everyone the joy and peace of the season!

Friday, December 14, 2012


In my first year of college, my roommate ran into our apartment and shouted “You have to come outside!”  I was reluctant since I was diligently doing homework.  (Notice my halo.)  When I asked what was going on, she exclaimed “It’s snowing!!!”  I kept doing my homework, but her enthusiasm would not shut up, so I dragged myself away from my latest masterpiece and went outside.  There might’ve been about 10 airborne flakes in the sky.  It was October, and I wasn’t pleased.

“Isn’t it beautiful?!”  Yeah, okay, maybe it was, slightly, but I had to get my homework done.  She danced around in circles, I laughed at her, and it was a nice moment.  She had grown up in the South, and didn’t know snow.  By the end of winter, she was kicking piles of pissed on, pollution-streaked city snow and admitted it wasn’t fun anymore, just like the rest of us who had to trudge to school with wet oil paintings in the icy wind.

Except for a few noticeable weirdos, most people in Ohio have my attitude towards snow.  Aside from wishing for a white Christmas, most of us could do without it for the rest of the year.  I don’t want to hear naturalists and menopausal women rhapsodizing about dressing in layers.  Snow is an obstacle to be borne or overcome.

Sometimes we get one of those absolutely silent days where the world has been transformed into a white on white on blue spectacular that catches your breath.  I’ve been enraptured by the beauty of individual snowflakes clinging to my brightly colored coat.  Individual snowflakes are wonders, but they get together with their pals and make life hard.

Given my surly attitude towards winter, it might surprise you that I’m concerned about climate change.  I should just be happy that it’s mid-December and haven’t had much snow yet.  Okay, I am kind of glad I haven’t had to shovel the driveway, but the lack of winter worries me.  Every year is a little warmer, a little less like winter as I remember it.

When I was a kid, the river froze solid.  I ice skated up and down the river, but kids haven’t skated on the river since I was a kid.  One year my dad shoveled paths through the snow, and I couldn’t see over it.  It was like walking through white tunnels.  The winters of my childhood were white from November to April, with some extra white in October and May.  It just isn’t like that anymore.  It’s mid-December, and I can still pick things in my garden.  Instead of shoveling snow, I should probably cut the grass.

People seem to spend so little time outside these days, I don’t think very many people notice.  Food comes from the grocery store, so they aren’t worried about whether or not bees die off or crops failed last summer.  People notice that oranges cost more this year, but they aren’t connecting the dots that oranges are expensive because fruit trees bloomed too early last spring. 

The US elections are over, and maybe we can start talking again about the things that matter.  I know it was politically useful to deny science and say climate change hasn’t been proven yet, but it just isn’t true.  Scientists do agree that our weather is changing.  We can live without oranges and ice skating, but it’s time to quit the political games and start doing something to protect our home and our future.  I never thought I’d say it, but I want snow.

Friday, December 7, 2012


I remember a woman from church visiting my mother when I was little.  I sat on the floor in the living room with my wooden blocks and listened to them talk.  I looked up at the woman and knew she was plotting and lying, and my childish self did not approve.  She looked down at me and knew I didn’t approve too.  She got rather snappy and irritable and started suggesting improvements for me.  I continued to play with my blocks, but I watched the women out of the corner of my eye.  I knew nothing good was going to come from “improvements”.

I don’t know why I remember this.  My memory is littered with little moments like this.  I’m just a little kid playing with blocks.  I’m not a threat to you, but if your actions can’t take the light of a little kid’s observations, you need to look inside and fix something about yourself.  It’s not like I said anything to that woman either, so I didn’t figure I merited improvements, but I started to catch on that I might be different.

Kids are wells that absorb all the groundwater.  They see everything, but they’re still close to creation, and have an innate sense of right and wrong.  A friend’s infant son gave me a look once when my friend and I parted ways for a while.  His look was sorrowful, with a little bit of the “you could fix this if you tried hard enough” thrown in for extra guilt.  He was right too, but it took us grownups a while to figure that out for ourselves.

Exploring isn’t just covering ground; it’s noticing what’s on the ground we’re covering.  Being an artist, and just being human, is a growth process.  First we learn how to repeat what we see, then we realize that just duplicating something isn’t enough.  We have to share our observations, and those observations aren’t just the surface of a perfectly painted canvas.  This is the same as saying that what someone looks like isn’t the same as knowing who that person is.

This was a very fast painting, or at least very fast for me. I was in a phase when I didn’t want to paint at all, and I had mixed feelings about the person I was painting. His dad asked why I made his forehead red. I laughed. “Why do you think his forehead is red?” Poor dad of the subject got a disturbed look on his face and didn’t answer. I think he had conflicted feelings too.

The painting is what it is.  Most of the time it hibernates in my box of stuff I don’t look at very often, and when I do see it, I get a little annoyed that it exists, or maybe that he exists.  But at the same time, the painting and the subject were lessons for me, something I explored – and every painting I’ve made is a part of the journal I keep of my life.

I look at this painting now and wonder how much of what I painted was subliminal or intentional.  When I’m in the zen of painting, they are often the same thing, and the act of it can lead me to greater understandings of things I don’t know how to understand without going through the process.  I need the deep meditations of making things with my hands and letting my mind get “into the flow” when I lose track of time and the present.

Non-artists often ask what’s going in artists’ heads, or what makes them different.  Maybe it’s as simple as artists have to observe and explore?