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, January 25, 2013


This week everyone has been telling me that I’ll find my wings at work, but I’ve been trying very hard to feel the ground beneath my feet.  In case you missed last week’s post, my boss died suddenly, and I’ve been scrambling to keep everything moving as seamlessly as possible.

I’m really lucky.  The people in my office know their jobs and care about doing them well.  My vendors have offered to help me out however they can.  Before my boss’ sudden demise, she was training me to take over her job for her eventual retirement.  Really, I couldn’t ask for a better situation.  Well, I suppose I could ask, but that would just be greedy.

Sometimes I’ve caught myself thinking everyone fantasizes about being the boss when they’re worker bees.  I’ve racked up plenty of time with those fantasies, all the way up to the last time I was the boss and getting squeezed from both above and below.  Middle management isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.  Everybody wants something and wants to know why you haven’t gotten it for them yet.

After the last management stint I did, I decided I was happier as a worker bee.  Let other people deal with problems, I’ll just do what I’m told and keep my head down.  It was kind of nice at first, but after a while I started noticing the stupid things management did, and started having managerial fantasies again.  Maybe it’s an inescapable human condition?

I won’t bore you with my multiple discussions with personnel and accounting this week, or the binders I brought home for the weekend that have inspiring titles like “Statement of Accountability”.  That isn’t sexy.  It’s better to think about the Pantone swatch book I chucked in my desk drawer today.  It’s not like I have to pick out that many colors at this job, but it’s one of those things that I have to cling onto to remember that my job isn’t entirely statistics.

I fell into this job.  I originally planned on doing some data entry as a reliable PT gig to support my art addiction.  It was close to home, and I didn’t want to tax my brain too hard.  I quickly found out data entry is hard, and my boss quickly discovered my previous fund raising was an asset.  Win/win, and I got to work with printers in developing direct mail campaigns.  I went along with the plan to teach me about data base segments, attributes, research, and other stuff that seemed suspiciously anti-art minded.

Now I’m wondering about how to have it all.  I like the idea of a real paycheck.  Money comes in handy, and there’s nothing like not having money for a while to remind us of that.  The problem with money is that it takes a lot of time and energy to earn it.  Painting a masterpiece takes a backseat to the pleasure I had today moving furniture around to make a more effective work space.

It seems like there are always trade-offs.  When I made this hawk, I made a minor salary at a park district.  I loved my job, but there never seemed to be enough $ to ever get beyond basic survival.  The ironic thing is that I made this hawk as part of a fund raising campaign for a wildlife rehab center.  Now I make more $, but I’m not doing scratchboard hawks.  Which is more important?  Can we ever really have it all?

Friday, January 18, 2013


It’s been quite a week for me.  I went to work on Monday, just like I go to work every Monday.  My boss came in and we talked about our weekends, same as every other Monday.  She went to another room, and I continued my usual Monday morning tasks.  How was I to know that all that normal Monday stuff was going to suddenly end?

The short version of events is that Cyndy had a medical emergency and died.  My coworkers and I watched helplessly, and even though the paramedics came quickly, it doesn’t seem like there’s much anyone can do in moments like that.  I called her sister, who is my long-time friend, and delivered the news.  This was all the worse because my friend just lost another sister a couple of years ago.

When someone dies you think about your own loss, or in this case, I’d try to comfort my friend.  It’s a personal grief.  When the boss dies, so many other things have to happen, and even more particularly in this case, I had to become the boss.  It was clear from the beginning that there were practical things I had to do.  There wasn’t any time for me to have a meltdown with everyone else, and I was feeling too shell-shocked in that moment to contemplate my own feelings anyway.

Cyndy was the type of person who knew everybody.  She was a devoted “Nana” and had a huge family.  She had professional relationships that spanned decades.  She knew all her neighbors and kept friends for a lifetime.  She’d be thrilled to know there was a long line for her at the funeral home.

I’ve had my moments this week thinking my irreverent thoughts about her hoarding/composting methods of handling paperwork, but I doubt that’s going to be including in her eulogy.  I’ve also thought about the times I butted heads with her and went home irritated, but in a way that just makes her feel more human, more vulnerable, more of a loss.  I found her both very likeable and maddening, but in the end, I owe her a debt for her teaching me the finer parts of her job.

On a practical blogging note, these sudden changes are undoubtedly going to impact my posts.  I’m going to try to keep posting on a regular basis, but work has to come first.  My Friday posts may become Saturdays or Sundays, or I might curl up in the fetal position and sleep away my weekends.  I enjoy blogging though.  It’s an outlet for me, and I really enjoy talking with my blogging buddies.  I’m going to do my best to keep participating.

My deepest sympathies to the Troha/Strazar/Marino family.  Cyndy’s obit is here.

What’s all this got to do with “myth”?  I suppose the biggest myth is that we can count on the boss being here tomorrow, or our sister, or even ourselves.  Sudden deaths remind us to make our lives count while we’re still here.

Friday, January 11, 2013


What am I supposed to write about oceans?  My ocean is a Great Lake.  It’s not even the greatest of the Great Lakes, and has a bad reputation for pollution – though we’ve done wonders in cleaning it up since the Cuyahoga River caught fire back when.

I used to argue with my college roommate about ocean vs. lake.  She said I hadn’t lived until I’d seen the ocean.  I told her Lake Erie was better than the ocean.  It doesn’t have scary Linda-eating things living in it like the limitless depths of the ocean.  The lake is fresh water and you can’t see across it.  It has seagulls and waves.  We’ve got ocean-sized ships, and the Coast Guard protects us from unruly Canadians – okay, I’m pretty sure the Coast Guard’s main job is rescuing drunk boaters since Canadians seldom get unruly, but it is an international border.  What was different about the ocean, and why did I need to go?

One summer I went to the ocean, she went to the lake, and afterwards we both exclaimed enthusiastically about how right the other was about ocean vs. lake.  It just goes to show that we can have more joys and fewer prejudices the more we get out and live in the world.

When we look at the world from a narrow perspective, we might not be able to tell what we’re really seeing.  Is that the eyeball of something that would rip off your leg, or is it just a baby fish?

From an artistic point of view, sometimes we forget to let viewers figure things out on their own.  We don’t have to spell everything out.  It can be really boring when we do.  It’s like writing a murder mystery where the author tells you upfront who got killed by whom and why, and then you read the story.  Or maybe you tell someone the punch line of a joke, and then you tell the joke.  Okay, I’ve done that.  Telling jokes is harder for me than painting.

Sometimes the joy of living is being willing to see something from a different perspective.  One time I was having dinner with an extended family, one of whom I didn’t like very much.  He was one of those bombastic blowhards who eats all the mashed potatoes before anybody else gets a turn.  My buddy at the other end of the table took a different slant on the conversation, and just to be companionable, I took the other.  At some point, I said he had completely convinced me that he was right.  My buddy said “No, no, you’ve convinced me!” and we traded sides of the argument.  The mashed potato eater didn’t understand us at all.

Every argument has two sides, and there’s usually something worthwhile in each of those sides.  When we forget that, we dig in our heels and we don’t know how to find a common ground any more.

I’ll be the first to admit that I can be stubborn.  If I have an opinion, it’s usually because I’ve thought it over.  If I accept someone else’s opinion, then I have to do a lot of rewiring in my brain, and that seems like an awful lot of work when I thought I already had that issue settled.  It starts throwing in more questions about what is actually true, but it’s something we all ought to learn to do more often.  What if you took the other side of the argument?

Friday, January 4, 2013


My sisters and I used to climb our wild cherry tree.  I’m the little one that still needed help.  I remember it as a big tree, but it doesn’t really look very big in the photo.  Maybe everything looks big when you’re small.  The tree got hit by lightning in the historic 4th of July storm when I was 8.  The tragic tree death was reduced to firewood stacked up on the side of the shed, and Dad kept handling it and commenting that it was a good, hard wood with a pretty color.  He started carving.

We had an old anvil bolted onto the workbench in the garage.  The anvil was a relic from Mom’s string of blacksmith ancestors.  Dad clamped a chunk of our tree in the vise, and happily banged at it for hours.  The first attempts weren’t spectacular, but they were interesting and functional.  He got better at it the more years he banged away in the garage, and at some point the wild cherry wood wasn’t used in the fireplace any more.

This hawk, or maybe eagle, wasn’t his best, but it wasn’t his worst either.  Mostly it’s mine, and I’m glad to have something my dad made with his own hands out of our tree on an anvil of my ancestors.  Maybe part of its significance to me is that it helps me understand my father better.  Dad died in an accident when I was a teenager.  My memories are of paternal dictatorship, sometimes a benign dictatorship and sometimes not, but never equal – and even so, we were compatible.  I understand his carving, his need to do it, his sense of accomplishment when he managed to make thin wings out of wood.

…Which is not to say that I have Dad’s skill with things with sharp edges.  When I was little, Dad gave me a jackknife, and Mom took it away.  This happened a bunch of times, and I’ll admit Mom had good reason to take my knives away even if Dad seemed to think whittling was a necessary part of childhood.  It just isn’t one of my better skills.  I’ve quit counting my hospital visits and figure my artistic endeavors should remain 2-dimensional.

That doesn’t mean I don’t ignore this lesson sometimes.  I used to live at a place that had a big barn full of feral cats and lumber.  I’m from the era when girls weren’t allowed to take woodshop, so my only training for the table saw was from public tv shows and an ex-boyfriend who told me I wasn’t allowed near his tools.  He was probably right about that, but when confronted with a barnful of wood, I decided to give it a shot and made a plant stand.

I suppose if I actually had taken woodshop, I might have a better idea how to make a plant stand, but no, I learned how to make peanut butter cookies and a blue stuffed dolphin in home economics.  I nailed my creation together and felt pretty pleased with myself – until I picked it up by its top and the top popped off.  I found wood glue, screws, and screw plugs in the barn and made more plant stands.  Just like Dad’s carving, I got better.

After the world was littered with plant stands, I made bookshelves, ottomans, and a coffee table.  I’m not claiming that any of this stuff was good, but I made them and felt happy.  The pinnacle of my woodworking success was a bench.  I was feeling so pleased with myself, I decided to carve it too.  7 stitches later, the bench looked pretty good and I quit woodworking.  I feel the temptations sometimes.  The wood calls to me.  I can envision really great walking sticks in it, but somebody else will have to make them.  I really don’t enjoy getting stitches.