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, May 31, 2014


I've told you before about my odd childhood neighborhood.  It's hidden by cliffs, river, and woods, and summer people gardened in warm weather.  In winter their houses were closed up and a lot of forbidden things were left laying around to tempt a child.  It was like nuclear winter after all the organic beings are vaporized.

In the ways of The Glen, "The Dentist" had half a house.  Lutsch, the bastard next door, disputed the property line even though he already had a lot of land, but the powers that be redrew the property line right through the middle of The Dentist's house.  He quit coming to the Glen and I missed him.  When he still had a whole house he used to come down with his kids and we did fun projects in his workshop in the backyard.

The Dentist left a camper on his property.  It was there so long that the tropical rainforest grew all around it, but the mattresses inside were still good.  I made a nest for myself with all the pillows and opened all the windows so I could read in peace, my little dog curled up beside me.  Nature forgot I was there and I observed my universe in a naturalist's leaf green bubble with birds and grasshoppers chirping incessantly while d'Artagnan swashbuckled his way to England to save the queen's honor.

Living in so much isolation, I didn't get the usual restraints most children get.  Nobody but me knew if I broke into a summer home, and breaking and entering wasn't covered in Sunday school.  I knew I wasn't supposed to steal, but nobody said I couldn't spy on my neighbors' personal lives and property or make myself comfortable in their homes or camper.  It was up to me to decide what was right or wrong.  It wasn't always a smooth path to my moral set of ethics and I gave in to my temptations regularly.

I suppose I should probably also say that I had some terrible examples of moral behavior.  Poaching out of season was a given, as was trespassing.  Adults cheated on their spouses and the older boys operated a major drug ring.  The Glen was interesting in a multitude of ways.

I felt in my heart that Lutsch was a greedy bastard to wreck someone else's house because he didn't want to look at it.  That was clear enough.  If I coveted something in someone's summer house I had to decide for myself if the owner would miss it, or is it just wrong to take someone else's stuff?  I developed empathy by thinking it through.  How would I feel if someone took my things?

Each new ethic I laid into personal law created a platform for nuances in future laws, but in the end I decided the cardinal law was that my rights ended where someone else's began.  I haven't seen any reason to alter that basic tenet.  I wish everybody else followed it, including governments.

When I felt guilt as a child, it was because I broke my own rules.  My guilt could be devastating.  I didn't feel guilty when someone else told me I was supposed to feel guilty because their rules weren't mine.  Over time I grew into my ethics without the pain of struggling to figure out what they are.  They just are.  Now my temptations are simpler, but harder to break.  If this action only hurts me, well then...

Saturday, May 24, 2014


"D'ja see where they found a dinosaur bigger than a blue whale?  So now a blue whale isn't the largest animal in the universe anymore, but since Neil deGrasse Tyson wrecked science* I don't believe in evolution anymore."  I laughed and told my brother I was going to quote him.

Sometimes I write and feel magic channeled through my fingertips.  This is not one of those days.  I'm struggling with universal issues and questions... people are difficult, work takes up too much of my time, what am I going to do with the rest of my life, why am I here, how much time do I have left, do I matter in the universe?

I had some near death experiences (NDEs) when I was young, Dad died, and other people I knew died.  When we experience things like that we start asking those universal questions early and urgently.  Time is short.  Do what matters NOW.

But then, I was young.  I didn't have the endurance to keep that kind of urgency all the time.  Sometimes cuddling for an entire day is the best possible thing to do even if there isn't anything to show for it afterwards, but maybe those NDEs enforced my feeling that I better appreciate cuddling to the max if that's how I spend one of my numbered days.

I work around a lot of old people now.  They keep commenting on how young I am, bless their hearts :)  When the person commenting is 80-something with hips, knees, and heart valve replaced I suppose I do look pretty young.  Which makes me feel like I better get out there and DO something because the time is running out.  Climb a mountain, paint the masterpiece, write the novel, fulfill my destiny!

I don't want to spend my entire life working and thinking about work.  I'm young enough to go out and do stuff... yet my life seems to point to a long record of workaholism and sloth, either/or but never balanced, and never enough $ in the bank from the profits I've given others.  I want balance, but have a hard time if things aren't done "right" or well.

While trying to write something worthwhile in this post I kept thinking about the ample knowledge I'd like to share, which some people don't want to learn.  Here's my artistic tip for the week... when designing something, have a reason for whatever you include in it.  Don't just fill up space.  When you take extra effort to do something better, people respond.  For example, if you do a fall scene, don't paint tulips in the garden because they're easier than mums.  Everybody will say "Gee, that's stupid.  Tulips bloom in spring!"  What's worse is that it'll be the first and last thing they notice about it too.

I have a lot of wisdom like that.  Now somebody might be upset with me because tulips was an actual example this week (in a different context).  At least I don't have a tulip-induced migraine this time :)

I had more little wooden veneer squares left over from the work project and then left over from last week's recipe boxes.  Bro had a table with a wrecked top but now it's all pretty and the polyurethane is drying on it out on the back deck.

*Tyson led the movement to demote Pluto to a dwarf planet.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


I decorated recipe boxes as gifts to the ladies in my office.  I won't claim to be the best at this, but I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself.  Are recipe boxes retro enough?  I usually try to cooperate with illustrationfriday's word for the week, but after all this time with little wooden pieces it seems a shame not to show off what I've been doing with my spare time.  Besides, all of these patterns are variations of themes that have existed next to forever.  Doesn't that count as "retro"?  Okay, it's a stretch, but I don't cheat very often.

I'm tired of playing nice with people this week.  I'm sick of being a responsible peacemaker with people who make me mad.  Why am I always the one who has to suck it in?  Hence, migraines.  If everyone did their share of sucking it in we'd all have a more manageable load and I wouldn't have headaches.

I've always had more than my share of responsibilities.  I got them at home, and I got them at school.  One of my early "jobs" was selling milk and ice cream at lunchtime.  This started when I was a painfully shy 5-yr-old.  The 6th graders were twice my size and I had one of my many moments of thinking that adults are lazy and nuts.

5¢ for white milk, 6¢ for chocolate, 10¢ for ice cream.  My little hand struggled to hold the coins.  Then I had to roll the coins, tally it all up, and file my report each day after reconciling the remaining dairy products against the $ amount I took in.  I'll have you know that I was never under or over in 6 years of money changing.

An older girl smiled at me and I started risking some eye contact with others.  After a while I appreciated my freedom while other kids were stuck in class through all those multiple lunch periods while I had about 2 1/2 hrs of pleasant money counting + my own lunch and recess.  Teachers didn't want me back in class, so my demonstrated ability to shoulder responsibility got me more freedom to wander halls, playground, and library.  I was best buds with the custodian and helped him roll up gym mats and climbed the rope to my heart's content.  It was a double edged sword.  I had freedom, but I didn't want the responsibility, and often felt lonely.

Making a painfully shy child speak with every kid and teacher in the school every day was rather torturous -- until it wasn't.  Maybe selling milk at such a tender age is a direct precursor to me being able to manage an office.  I learned some people skills and got some respect from my peers.

Sometimes I wonder if adult neglect allowed me to stretch my wings in ways that other kids never get to try?  That early responsibilities taught me that I really can do anything?  Or the flip side of it, which is that adults are lazy and nuts.  I'm pretty sure nobody would let this kind of thing happen nowadays, and in some ways I think that's too bad.  All I really know is that this is my life, and since I can't change it, looking at the positives beats looking at the negatives.  Just like a week of migraines forced me to turn off the tv and glue little wooden pieces on recipe boxes, which gave me much-needed time to think out better ways to handle the migraine inducing people.  See, it's all good.  The flowers are blooming and my ladies have pretty boxes too!

Friday, May 9, 2014


I used to get in a lot of trouble for losing shoes when I was little.  Mom insisted that I put them on, and I ditched them as soon as she was out of sight.  Sometimes I remembered where I put them.  Sometimes I didn't.  They usually showed up again eventually.  Or not. 

It's a lot like people.  Sometimes I forget someone has died.  I reach for the phone, sometimes even dialing, and then I realize that person isn't going to pick up the phone on the other end.  Sometimes I think my missing people are in the same layer of reality as my missing shoes, existing in an afterlife with bad phone reception.

I think they're still out there though.  The people for sure, and maybe the shoes too.  When people die they go on a long voyage and forget to send postcards.  Sometimes I see them in my dreams.  People go on their journey, but they're still here too.  I don't know the laws of physics in the afterlife; I just know what I know, or feel what I feel.

Sometimes I think a bit of an anonymous poem... "People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime"... or sometimes I think "We're born alone, we die alone".  Depends on my general frame of mind.

It comes down to the fact that we have to make our own lives.  Nobody else can do it for us.  Sometimes we have people who help us on our personal journeys.  Sometimes we get to have those people in our lives for a little bit or a lot, but it still comes down to our life, our problems.

We want to feel we're important, that our lives mean something.  We want to feel that we're important to someone else, and maybe to a bigger reality, but it still comes down to the fact that nobody else can live our lives for us or tell us what is best for living our own destinies.  The people who matter to us are gifts that make the journey worthwhile.

I can still remember the red canvas shoes I had that were splashed with river mud.  They were missing for a week or two, and then all of a sudden, there they were on that flat slab of gray shale under the tall grasses.  I often feel like my missing people are going to show up like that too.  I just don't know which rock I left them on.

None of this was stuff I meant to write.  It just came out, and I figure why not?  Let it occupy electrons on the web.  Let me spend some time thinking about the people I've loved and lost, and feel gratitude in their memories.

This art is a re-post.  I've got a migraine today and can't see well enough to paint today.  You can see the original story of canoeing with Dad HERE.  What better way to think myself out of a headache than remembering dip... drip... of a paddle on a predawn summer morning?

Friday, May 2, 2014


I'll be the first to admit I've had vengeful thoughts.  A lot of them.  Don't bother telling me that you haven't.  What about when some kid hit you with a Tonka truck when you were playing in the sandbox?  When you're really small you might just cry.  When you're a little older you probably struck back with a bigger truck.  Such is humanity's nature.

On the other hand, I think the best revenge is living well -- and I'll tell you honestly, that bit of wisdom took me a long time to come around to accepting.  There's some people I still want to hit with a Tonka truck.  In fact, forget Tonka. I'm thinking Mack truck.  (That's a big semi truck for moving stuff for those of you who don't know.)  But hitting them with a truck of any size doesn't make my problems go away, and dwelling on how much I hate them only uses up the energy I could otherwise be using to improve my life.  Besides, adults who do revenge-worthy activities are doing those things to keep others down.  Refusing to allow them to keep us down is the ultimate win.

But yes, I've had angry thoughts.  I've had so much anger inside with no place for it to go that I turned it at myself, which is the ultimate win for people who wanted to hurt me.  They don't have to keep hurting me if I'll do it for them.

My first boyfriend was an older man.  He was 18 to my 13 or 14.  He was a sweet farm boy, and I liked holding hands and kissing.  I thought that was all there was to a relationship and daydreamed our future of perpetual handholding, marriage, and perfect babies.  This continued on in a very pleasant way for several months until he pawed at me in his truck and I expressed outrage about him invading my private space.

Okay, now I'm able to wonder about his restraint up to that memorable night while laughing at myself for ever having that level of innocence.  Poor Dave.  Poor next girlfriend of Dave.  I bet he quit being so patient after that, and I made it worse by leaving a dead snake in his truck.  Maybe if I were older I would've discussed boundaries and expectations, but I wasn't older.  My body was more mature than my mind.

Sometimes I send out happy thoughts for Dave.  I hope I didn't mess him up because I really did care about him, and he was a nice guy.  I was just too young to date.  The snake was an impulsive, childish whim egged on by a spiteful friend.  I'm ashamed of myself, but there's no changing it.  The only thing left is to learn the lesson from the experience.

No more dead snakes.  (Which I didn't kill by the way.  I just found it on the road.)  No more Tonka trucks.  It's not like I haven't gotten provocations, and a lot worse than a teenaged boy trying to get in my shirt, but revenge doesn't take me anywhere I want to be.

I used to draw a lot of trucks for Sherwin-Williams.  My trucks were templates for companies' logos and such.  I laughed at the irony of getting these jobs despite my complete lack of interest in vehicles while my male coworkers sighed and salivated after those opportunities.  Maybe it all worked out in the universe through some Tonka karma?