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, March 29, 2014


Mom said, "Don't fry bacon naked".  I can only wonder about the source of this advice, but some things are best left out of my imagination.  And just cuz she said it, I had to do it.  She was right, don't fry bacon naked... and now Mom is probably sizzling because I mentioned her.

I don't write about Mom much.  She thinks anything on the web is forever and an invasion of privacy.  Mostly I leave her be, but sometimes I poke her because it's kind of funny when she gets all perturbed about things.  Happy birthday Mom :)

Also happy birthday to Richard, Timmy, Riley, Franz, Craig, John, Mary, Jessie, Nick... and whoever else is right about now, especially anybody I've forgotten.  Seems like everybody was born around this time of year.

Now that Mom is hot and bothered, let me say she's the only thing that's hot around here.  March coming "in like a lion and out like a lamb" is a blatant lie this year.  It's actually snowing, and snowing a lot today and I'm just sick, sick, sick of it!!

In the spirit of naked bacon frying, the bad weather inspired me to get spring water and I was surprised to see that they were tapping maple trees this late in the year.  Apparently trees know better than me to hope for warm weather.  I snapped a couple of photos in the pre-snow icy rain then did the other most contrary thing I could think of which was to try out new cars while the snow started to fall.  (A+ for German engineering in snow.)

I gave up my contrariness and went home to my puppy foot warmer and blankies and looked up the Maple Fest.    I watched their slide show and thought "OMG is this Ohio!"  The kind of Ohio I completely take for granted and mostly ignore, but I have to say that it feels happy and comfortable.

When I used to ride the school bus everyday, we went past Nash's farm at the top of the hill.  I always knew when spring was coming because old man Nash tapped his trees in the front yard.  I loved those trees.  They burned a beautiful yellow, orange, red every fall and they were also the first signs of spring.  Developers knocked them down to build McMansions.  (sob)

Maybe I assume too much when I figure people outside Ohio know about tapping trees?  Maple trees hibernate in the winter.  When the trees sense spring coming, the sap inside starts to "run".  A tap is hammered carefully into the tree, just past the bark, so that the running sap is caught in the end of the tap and funneled into a bucket, or these days, into tubing that feeds into a big plastic bladder. 

Once someone has enough sap, it's boiled until you get syrup, or boiled more until you get candy.  If you sizzle it one second too long you're shopping for a new pan.  It takes 50 gazillion gallons of sap to make a teaspoon of syrup.  (Actually 40 gallons of sap = 1 gallon syrup)  If you do this inside your home, you also have to buy new wallpaper since the old stuff just got steamed off.  In case you're wondering if I've tried it, you've got to remember that I also fried bacon!

Saturday, March 22, 2014


I like red.  It's warm and fiery and comfortable.  It's cherries and berries and wine.  It's roses and hearts on Valentine's Day and poinsettias at Christmas and cardinals in the snow.  Some people really dislike red though.  Maybe because it's also the color of blood?  As someone told me, there's no good reason for a man to see blood.  I found that interesting.  Women see blood every month.  They may not like it, but it's natural.

Okay, I've seen my blood a lot more than that because some of my risk taking didn't turn out that well.  Maybe this is a family trait?  One time I took a brother to the hospital and found my nephew just outside the hospital door with his hand up in the air and blood running down his arm.  Brother and nephew were put in opposite ER rooms and I varied my time between the two of them.

When I came into my nephew's room I found him studying the red, bloodied sheets on his bed.  He said "Doesn't it look like poppies?" and I thought "Yeah, he's from my gene pool" while I laughed with him.  I went to my brother's room and listened to the doctor describe how he was going to trim some of the fat oozing from the wound so that the cut would heal up neater.  My brother joked about how he was getting "liposuction". Definitely something different in my gene pool.

Neither of these guys were too seriously hurt.  They both got stitched up, I gave a safety lecture, and as far as I know neither of them are having flashbacks about that day.*

I don't get too fussed about my own blood.  I'm liable to study my own Rorschach blood spots and see poppies too.  I've watched doctors stitch me up and studied their methods, but I don't like to see other people who are hurt.  I'd rather be hurt myself than to see someone else suffering.  If I'm hurt, then I'm in control of the pain.  If someone else hurts, then all I can do is bleed emotionally with them.

Sometimes I wonder what other people feel because other people don't think I feel things "right".  Some people have said so at any rate, and that's been true throughout my life, but I can't imagine feeling less.  It's kind of like imagining yourself with less intelligence or too many fingers or something.  What I've mostly learned from those kinds of comments is that it's best to keep my feelings to myself because even if my feelings are "normal", other people don't want to be bothered with them.

I watched a woman on a talk show once.  The people on the show figured she must be lying about the trauma she had suffered because she didn't flick an eyelash in pain.  I figured she was telling the truth because it takes a lot of misery to learn that much self control.  A liar knows they're supposed to be crying and puts on a show to get sympathy.  I think about that woman on the talk show sometimes and hope she's learned some happiness, found some poppies in the blood splotches.

The pattern is just fun for fun and playing in Illustrator.  It's not my favorite program, so I thought I'd play with it a bit to brush up on my skills.

*Correction: I read this post to my brother.  When I said he wasn't having flashbacks from his injury, he looked at his hand and said "it still hurts sometimes".  Correction posted on his request :)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Spark" 2

There are a lot of campfires in my memories.  Family camping, Girl Scouts, college... and with the memories of all those fires come memories of all the people singing happy songs with pleasant melodies and guitars strumming...

It seems like life was more musical back then.  Songs were written that were meant to be sung, not only by the musician, but also by the audience, war protesters, lovers, and churches.  Songs expressed our emotions and had something to say about what we were feeling.  There was something about sharing the flickering light of a campfire that made us a group and less shy about singing with our friends.

I wonder if the best campfires of my life are in the past?  We get to where we start thinking that sitting on the ground seems impractical or painful and bring lawn chairs, or let's just put the fire in the fireplace.  Or for that matter, collecting friends for a bonfire seems harder when they're shuttling kinds to soccer or working late or whatever.

I've gone "wimpy girl camping" with friends in later years.  That means we get a cabin with plumbing and a kitchen.  Even those commodities are insufficient for some of them and we stopped doing even this, but I'm due for another trip like that.  The last time we went, we had a long covered porch.  One night we rocked in rocking chairs and watched a heavy rain fall through the forest.  There's a peacefulness in that I don't know how to find at my house or in my regular life.

What we do with our lives is up to us.  If you decide you're too old to have fun, then you are.  If you want to have new experiences, then do it.  For people who are young and aren't collecting memories, get outside!  Have a bonfire and sing with your friends.  Just put the fire out when you're done.  If you don't have friends that will join you at a campfire, get some more friends.

The whole point of living is to have a life.  When I was in my 20s, I planned a trip with a friend who bailed at the last moment.  I told my grandma I was thinking I should save my minimal money and be responsible.  She shocked me by saying that I should go on the trip and spend everything I had.  "That way you'll have memories to look back on when you're old like me."  Ranks in best advice I've ever received, and strange that it came from my very responsible grandmother.

This week my brother and I went hiking.  2.3 miles of steeply up and down in the relatively balmy 35 degrees of Ohio March.  That was 2 days ago, and I'm still feeling it, which in my mind is pitiful, especially when I can read about some of you doing mini-marathons and biking and whatever else you're always up to.

This happens every year, and every year it seems a little harder to slough off winter hibernation.  I've even had the radical idea that maybe I should do some exercise all year instead of waiting for summer.  Maybe going on my brother's forced march is the spark that will lead me to better habits, which lead to new, more, better campfires?

In case you're wondering, illustrationfriday.com didn't give a new word for the week, which is why I revisited "spark".

Saturday, March 8, 2014


I wished I was more creative when I was in college.  My classmates did wonderfully creative things, but I thought of myself as a practical problem solver who depended on technical ability and hard work to keep up.  I didn't think I had the creative spark that moves people, or enough ideas, or the necessary people skills to sell myself.  I felt like a guppy amongst piranhas for a long time.

When I was going to school K-12, I didn't think I was unusually smart either.  I got better grades for less work, but I figured that was because I had a head start and a good memory.  My friends were smart enough, and they often got into a lot less trouble because they didn't do stupid things.  I didn't understand when they didn't get something I wanted to talk about.  I figured I just wasn't explaining it right.

My first draft for this post was describing my irritations with an artist who took my soft lavender layout and made it bright cyan blue.  I deleted that draft because I figure nobody wants to listen to me complain.  I started thinking about my high school frustrations of trying to explain politics to my peers and my envy looking at my college pals' homework.  My problems with the current artist seems to be a replay of times long gone.

When we hang out with people like ourselves (and we all do), we can't see how we're different than the average person.  We lose abilities in communicating with "average" too.  I like people who are smarter and more creative than me because that pushes me further than I can go on my own power.  As a result, sometimes my self-perception is that I'm not that creative or smart.

Someone told me her friends were diverse because she has black friends -- but her friends are at about the same level of income bracket, education, and type of career.  "Black" isn't really a descriptive word for what a person is like.  It's just a color, and a vague one at that when it's applied to people.  If she really wants diversity, she could make a friend from the slums, no matter what color -- and with her new friend she might have a different perspective on her own self image.

It's always so easy to point out this kind of thing in others, but it's harder to see it in ourselves.  I know my self-perception is skewed because in the years since college many, many people have commented on my creativity in both good and bad ways.  The positives are obvious, but the negatives are that I'm easily bored, ask "too many" questions, don't do as I'm told...

I've been thinking about all of this because I read this article about creatives (Thanks for the link Rand!)  I thought about my hectic week and decided to daydream before work because that would be more productive than running head-first into my cinder block office walls or strangling the guy who turned my lavender layout blue.

It worked.  I got a great idea and fleshed it out on the drive to work.  One less thing on my to do list, and I started to think that maybe I am creative and smart -- and even if that gets me in trouble sometimes, I don't want to be anything else.  Plus, I like talking with all of my blog buddies who are creative and smart too!

Sunday, March 2, 2014


I got more snow last night.  I can't say how much I miss hearing the sounds of birds' voices, especially the mourning doves cooing me awake every morning.  It seemed like a good day to paint feathers.

I could've been a writer instead of an artist.  I loved words and books first, but in 4th grade I wrote a poem.  The teacher made me stand up in class and read it out loud.  I thought I'd die from heart failure.  The paper shook so much when I was reading it that I could barely read it.

It wasn't the usual 4th grader's poem.  I spoke of my love for the river as if it were a real person whom I loved and who loved me back.  The poem was romantic and passionate in ways that 10-year-olds aren't supposed to feel or express.  I talked about the animals and the spring flood and everything else that was part of my intensely personal relationship.

The class was silent when I finished.  I figured that whatever chances I had of appearing "normal" were finished, when a popular, attractive boy clapped.  The rest of the class joined in.  I went from despair to surprise to gratitude, and I took that applause in and felt my heart expand and myself begin to change.  That boy will never know how much he changed my life.  He's in my permanent gratitude column.

You'd think this would've set me on the path of authorship, but there's more to the story.  The poem won a state prize and I was forced to rewrite it for the national competition.  My teacher, dad, and a sister took turns editing it despite my screams of creative pain.  I refused to write anything again that would open me to that kind of pain again.

I used to keep a diary, but another sister, mom, and a boyfriend all violated that sacred space.  I quit writing even to myself.

Many years later I told someone about another painful moment in my life.  He suggested that I write about it, and to take special attention to capturing every detail of it that I could remember.  I told him that I don't write, he pushed, I told him about the diary, and he pointed out that I was living alone and nobody could violate my thoughts on paper.

So I journaled about the poem.  It turned into 12 dense pages of painful memories, but the journaling made me start writing again.  At first it was just for myself, but now I put my thoughts and feelings on this blog and let everyone see it.  The process is freeing.  All of those words that I had bottled up inside come bubbling out.

I appreciate all of my blog buddies the same way I appreciate that nice boy in 4th grade. I see him once in a very long while.  I'm pretty sure he's long forgotten this moment in time, but he has a kindness that I hope has been rewarded.  He helped me find my voice.

A child confided to me about her shy anxieties.  I remembered the poem and told her that I think most people on your side.  Most people want you to do well, and sometimes they let you know.  Don't let the bullies change who you are.  Remember the nice people because they want to know what you have to share with the world.