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!

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I had to look this word up when I saw it on Illustration Friday this week.  It’s a super difficult word that basically says “moo”.  In other words, a word that’s the same as it sounds.  Geez some people make life unnecessarily hard.

I’m actually very good at mooing.  I went to a farm with a boyfriend once and while he and his buddy showed off their knowledge of tractors they got the thing stuck in the mud.  Then they got another tractor to pull out the first and got the second tractor stuck in the mud.  All the cows surrounded them and I spent a long time sitting on the fence perfecting my mooing while the two guys pondered gravity, suction, and mud.

Cows have very little to say.  It all boils down to “moo” (hungry), “mooo” full udder, or “moooo” really hungry.  At least that’s all I’ve figured out from it.  I spent a bit of another afternoon learning goose too.  I think it’s safe to say that I mastered it, or at least “honnnk” (I’m no threat and have nothing better to do than be a part of your gaggle for a while).

When I was young, I laid under the trees and watched the crows.  They’re far more interesting than cows and geese.  The crows were peacefully eating whatever they were eating on the ground, with a juvenile in the tree watching out for the family, when I decided to “CAW!” and the crows scattered.  Cool.  I have power over birds.

I let them scold me for a while before they returned to their usual stuff, this time with an adult male as lookout.  Just when he was looking comfortable again, “CAW!” and they scattered again.  Awesome cool.  I giggled and waited for my next opportunity.  The male crow was getting annoyed with me and gave me the evil eye.  “CAW!” and he “CAW”ed back at me.  That’s okay, and I “CAW”ed back and forth until I got his voice.  Papa Crow seemed to enjoy giving me lessons after a while.

Next time I went to their area, I “CAW”ed at Papa Crow and he gave me a “CAW” back.  I went about my serious business of being a child and he went about being a crow.  We developed an understanding.  He taught me more crow words, though admittedly most of them are a variation of “CAW”.  The other crows helped with my linguistics studies.  They all went with me to the bus stop when school started again.  I left them berries and shiny things as peace offerings.

This family of crows moved south in winter.  I figured I’d have to reintegrate into their group when they came back in spring, but Papa Crow called to me the first day he was back in Ohio.  I was overjoyed and told him so.  He told me as much as he could about his travels, given that while I might understand a lot of crow, I don’t get the finer details.  I do know that he had a lot to say that first day, and felt rather urgently about telling me about it.  We understood the main point, we missed each other.

My crows told the other crows downstream that I should be watched over.  I don’t know how they did it, and I didn’t talk with the downstream crows, but all of them were my babysitters.  They warned me of dangers.  I can never be lonely in summer as long as there are crows.

This is old art.  Once it was finished I recognized that must be a really giant cow or a really short farmer.

Friday, September 20, 2013


I did some freelance work for a woman who did feng shui.  She came to my house and pointed at the walls and said “single, single, single!”  She explained that all my pictures were individuals, and if I wanted to invite a relationship into my life I should hang things in pairs.  I refrained from telling her just hanging the pictures up was a step better than their previous positions of being stacked up or leaned up against the walls.

Anyway, I rearranged my pictures and put a red sheet on the bed like she suggested because, well, why not?  That was a long time ago, and the pictures are mostly back to individuals or leaning or in stacks, but I have managed some groups.  Let’s face it, I like individuals.  Sometimes I like being individuals together with someone else, but I suppose that isn’t always the best way to have a relationship.

I see a lot of old married people at work.  They come to church and hobble down the stairs together.  It’s sweet to see them helping each other out, and I wonder who’s going to help me hobble around when I’m old.  I’ve argued for a ramp and got a grip bar put into the bathroom, but those kinds of things just aren’t the same as someone being there to catch you when you fall.

I was going to get married when I was 20, but we fought about my name.  I had long-held opinions on women’s names, ever since I handed my mom mail addressed to her as Mrs. L. Hensley.  Her first name isn’t L and neither of her parents were a Hensley.  None of that address referred to Mom as an actual human in her own right, and my 5 yr. old self was offended.  My opinion didn’t change in the 15 years leading up to planning my own nuptials.  I would not be someone’s possession and lose my personal identity.

Ironically, my former fiancĂ© eventually married someone else who kept her name.  The ladies who hobble into church are proud to have their husband’s names.  Maybe I was just ahead of my time or maybe I’m just not cut out for “togetherness”, but when I later divorced someone else, I was glad I didn’t have his name.  It wasn’t mine, and I didn’t want anything to connect me to him as I moved into my future.

The word for the week is “together”, but I keep thinking about my life-long fight to be independent.  Free to think my thoughts, have my opinions, do what I want, leave my messes where I want to leave them, and lean my paintings against the wall in the order of completion or what I feel like looking at for now.

At the same time, I’d like someone else around who wouldn’t want to make me sacrifice any of those things.  Well, I guess I could hang pictures and pick up some of my projects if that meant I wouldn’t be subjected to their messes.  And then someday we’d get old and one or the other of us would help the other up and down steps.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I was a little kid the first time I heard about totems, and they made perfect sense to me.  Different animals have different types of personalities, which reflect the kinds of personalities of people. 

For instance, I am dog-like.  I protect my territory, love the people I love, and am pretty straightforward about all of it.  I like to play, lay around, take walks, cuddle..  I’ve made progress with cats in recent years, but being doglike, I bound up and cats run in the opposite direction -- which means I have to follow them since now it’s a challenge, and the cats try harder to escape.  Being doglike, I can sulk when the cat won’t play, but then I’ll forget about it because I found a ball.  Then the cat will take an experimental swipe at me when I’m not looking, and then I want to kill the cat.

Tell me people aren’t the same as animals.  I sat next to a writer at a dinner this week in Texas at a national conference on religious fundraising.  I thought it would be fun to talk with another creative.  After all, I was sick of statistics meetings, have too much to write at work, and she’s supposed to be trying to get my business -- but this woman is a cat if I ever saw one.  My direct questions aimed at drawing her out made her retreat.  I gave up after she turned mute and avoided eye contact.  Ignoring the mute was easy since I had another dinner companion who is a dog if I ever saw one, and not just any dog, she was a yappy happy beagle.

Watching the animals we feel attraction towards can tell us a lot about ourselves.  For instance, even saying I’m dog-like doesn’t mean I’m a beagle.  I had Dalmatians for years because they suit me.  They’re bigger, don’t talk as much, make beelines towards goals when they have them – and all of this is just splitting people into dogs and cats.

I saw an armadillo this week.  I thought it was a groundhog at first, but I noticed the armored plates on its back and funny face.  I also saw a giant crow chasing a bird across the sky, and a giant dragonfly protecting its territory.  They say it takes all types, and while we can split people into dogs and cats, some of us are like the armadillo, the dragonfly, or the crow.

It seemed everyone else at the conference was content in the chilly air conditioning and vast indoors of the hotel complex, but I wanted to see outside – even if outside was miserably hot and the grounds are so manicured that actual wildlife seems unlikely.  Seeing the armadillo seemed remarkable in that setting. 

I’ll admit I’m tired as I’m writing this post, so this bird is just something I did quick a while ago and never found a reason to do anything more with it.  I don’t particularly relate to little green birds, but someone out there does.
Since I’ve actually put my feet in another state, I updated my map for my invisible RV.

You never know who you’ll talk to at conferences.  Bet you didn’t know Pope Francis was in Grapevine, Texas!

Saturday, September 7, 2013


A friend asked me, “Why do you hide your light?”  This was in a long phone conversation about other stuff, mostly about work frustrations.  He didn’t even remember asking the question, but I remembered it and reworked it over and over in my mind a thousand times in a thousand different ways.

Hiding my light is my nature and training, and even hidden it’s amazing how cruel some people can be.  They say just get over it, or the classic, “You’re just too sensitive!”  Others can say and do whatever they want and it’s my problem if my feelings get hurt.

When I graduated from college, I was booted from the happiest time of my life into a period of doubt.  Would anyone hire me?  Could I go on an interview and put pieces of my soul in front of an unknown person to critique?  My nerves landed me in the hospital with internal bleeding.

I decided that there was only one way to know for sure if I could make it, and that was to start sending out resumes and picking up the phone.  I went on interviews even if I was told there weren’t any jobs.  Practice makes perfect, and I got better at it.

I messed up an interview by missing my appointment.  I got the directions wrong and had to call and say I couldn’t get there in time.  The creative director rescheduled, but he wasn’t nice about it.  When I managed to get to the right place at the right time, he ripped my portfolio apart page by page and told me I was an amateur.  I sat white faced with hands clenched in my lap for an hour for his amusement.  I felt the internal bleeding when he finally said “You should count yourself lucky.  I see some promise.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have bothered to give you this much time.”  I managed to say thank you and get to my car without passing out.  Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

Even though the guy was a bastard, he taught me a lot in that hour.  Nobody wants to see figure drawings in a portfolio.  It makes sense since you hardly ever see drawings of naked people in ads and everybody should know how to do a figure drawing by the end of college.  He wanted to see something printed, even if it was crappy so he’d be able to see that I could get a paying customer, meet deadlines, and handle printing requirements.

Sometimes I think about the famous artists who are famous because they put themselves out there – Warhol, Picasso, whoever.  If their personalities weren’t so interesting, would we care as much about their art?  It’s not to say they didn’t have good ideas and some good paintings, but in my opinion more talented and modest artists have been passed over.

Artists are often introverts, and getting work is an extraverted activity.  We can’t get work if we keep ourselves hidden.  Once we get the jobs, we can’t get promoted or raises without tooting our own horns once in a while.  I hate doing it.

In my current job, I have an officeful of people who need me to speak up for them.  However much I’d like the powers that be to just recognize we’re all wonderful, sometimes they have to be told the obvious.  I can't say that I'm a natural at that kind of thing, but as I said, practice makes perfect and at least my stomach doesn't bleed over it anymore.  Let’s all quit hiding our light and speak up for ourselves!

Monday, September 2, 2013


The first time I ate tamarind, all the electrical paths in my head lit up like a Christmas tree.  Maybe this is what happens to people when they do crack?  I wanted more, but it was in a tiny dish, obviously meant for dipping.  I wanted a soup bowl full of it, but manners are manners and I hid my greed.  At least it’s legal and I don’t have to rip off a liquor store to get more.

I have an Indian friend who is quite inconveniently moving away to the west coast.  I’m sure he’s oblivious to the fact that I always have internal meltdowns when people I care about go away.  I’m not even sure if he’s paid attention to the fact that I care about him in the first place.  Kind of reminds me of my mom’s oft-stated observation “for such a smart kid, you sure are stupid!”  Well, fair enough.  We were often in the hospital when she said things like that.

My friend and I have discussed tamarind multiple times.  He told me about a store where I can get it and I bought a block of it.  I wondered what I was supposed to do to it to turn it into the soup bowlful of ambrosia.  He says he just eats it as is – which is all he can really do since he’s made clear that cooking isn’t a skill he’s going to acquire in this lifetime.

As for leavings and my meltdowns regarding them, I suppose it started when Great Grandpa died.  My uncle moved away, my cousins, my first girlfriend, my second, my third, my other cousins.  Every year people left my life, hardly ever to return.  Some of these leavings were especially tragic like when my dad died in an accident when I was a teenager or my friends in more recent years.

Since my Indian friend has already shown he’s capable of moving halfway around the Earth, I suppose he’s especially clueless that not all of us are capable of such things.  I couldn’t manage life in Indiana very well, let alone India – though I suspect India might be more interesting.  And they have tamarind.  All Indiana has is corn and soybeans, and to repeat an Indiana joke, corn is the state tree.

I’ve been thinking for a while that I should give my friend a parting gift, but I couldn’t think what to give.  “Lush” made me think of tamarind and the green, cultivated city on the other side of the world my friend knew as a child.

Yes, I know the world has gotten smaller with the internet, but it can’t replace drinking tea and eating bagels together while he opens my eyes to new ways of thinking about different things.  I’ll miss seeing his flush of happiness when he comes in after his dance class, still full of energy.  I’ll miss laughing with him when he makes another of our friends laugh, and I’ll miss laughing when he doesn’t get my teasing.  I’ll miss his calm and tolerant approach to life.

So here’s to my friend that he be successful and happy in California, knowing that when I eat tamarind, I’ll be thinking of you J