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, December 24, 2016

"Rock 2"

Happy holiday of your choice, including Merry Christmas and happy New Year.  Illustrationfriday.com must be celebrating something already because there wasn't a new word on their site this week.  Let's just say a ribbon is a rock and call it even?  I provided a lot of extra rocks last week anyway.

I'm happy for all of you who are surrounded by people you love for the holiday.  For those who aren't, you've got my sympathies.  Too many people are reminded of their losses at this time of year while inundated by Christmas specials.  If you're missing someone, try to think grateful thoughts of how you were happy to have that person in your life in the first place.  Remember the happy times.

These are my goals.  I'm not always successful at it, but I try to be an optimistic, grateful person.  Life is better when we choose to be happy, and I do think we have some choice about it.  I saw a kid smash his toy because he didn't get what he wanted.  That meant he didn't get what his ideal toy, plus didn't have the second best toy either.  Even as a child, I knew that was stupid.  Make do.  Eat a burned cookie and laugh.  A good life isn't necessarily picture perfect.

2016 wasn't the best year for me.  I'm looking forward to the next one, even while I fear for the future with politics being what they are in the US.  Feel free to discuss that over the holiday table and see if any of the dishes get dumped over someone's head during dinner.  Make sure you take a picture.  That will make everyone else happier for years to come.

Sis1 went through a period of time when she dyed food green, all sorts of food that weren't intended to be green.  I hit the limit at a giant bowl of mashed potatoes.  Remembering green potatoes in her hair still makes me smile.  I'd almost like to see another bowl of green potatoes.

Let's face it, if holidays weren't stressful and filled with inappropriateness, we wouldn't be able to laugh so hard at the sitcoms and movies featuring these kinds of special moments.  Holidays are a reminder to all of us to exercise tolerance and/or keep our sense of humor.  If your people need some help getting into the mood, you can add alcohol or maybe bring up religion.  I can come up with more ideas for you if necessary, but I'm sure you can come up with some ideas of your own.

Wishing you all the best through the holidays and in the New Year!

Friday, December 16, 2016


Dad and I made rock paths around our house.  We loaded the wheelbarrow with rocks at the river and trudged them back home where we dumped them out on the grass and contemplated the jigsaw puzzle of potential combinations.  I sometimes wonder if this early rock fitting was key to my brain development.  I'm sure it built muscles since we did probably 3' x 200' of stone paths.  That's one heck of a lot of rocks, and they had to be basalt or granite, and those are extra heavy rocks.

Had I known that all these stupid rock paths would later require endless hours of weeding, I would've been less enthusiastic about making the paths in the first place.  A few years after we made them, Dad and I pried all the rocks back out of the ground and we poured cement under and between them.  That helped, but the cement would crack and nothing stops weeds from growing where you don't want them.  This is all my brother's problem now since he lives at our old house.  He just sprays Round Up.

I still collect rocks.  I walk along the river and seek the best lucky stones, the prettiest granite, or maybe the nicest shaped addition for my backyard pond.  (Time out to notice and rearrange my clam shell of stones on my computer desk and to wander around the house taking photos of my various rock piles.)

I like painting rocks too.  It's a freeing subject since nobody expects them to be actual portraits of specific rocks.  It's just my concept of what a rock looks like, but that statement oversimplifies what goes into painting a rock.  First, I had to study rocks to know to the core of my being what rocks look like.  Second, I have to understand how to paint mass with appropriate lighting.  Sometimes I paint things on actual rocks.  Lately, I've been wrapping stones with wire to make mobiles too.

I'm beginning to think I have an unusual rock obsession?  But if I do, it's genetic.  When my uncle introduced his future gemologist wife to various family members, we all said the same thing.  "Oh!  I collect rocks too!"  Then we showed her our rock collections, which aren't "gems", but are special anyway.

When I was older and started studying New Age kinds of things, people sang the praises of crystals.  To some, crystals are the answer to anything.  I like shiny things, so I picked up some crystals to put in the window, but it occurred to me that all my lucky stones are quartz crystals too, they just aren't shiny.  But if crystals are powerful, my hoard of lucky stones will keep me alive forever.

Sometimes, when I've had a really hard day, I lay on the couch and put a basalt rock on my forehead, or maybe on my heart.  It just makes me feel better, or perhaps just gives me something else to focus my thoughts on instead of my irritations.  Rock is solid and connects me to the river, and the river washes bad things away.

I wonder if that's also true for rock paintings?  I showed this floor painting last year, but didn't feature the rocks since I spent more time on leaves and animals.  Seems silly to paint more rocks for this post when I'm so surrounded by them.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


After spending most of two days shoveling snow, I thought it would be a good idea to put that de-icing stuff by my door.  One step outside, and shlumpf!  I was on my ass and banged my head.  Sometimes life isn't kind to me.

Ohio gets snow, sometimes a lot of it, but most of the snow usually falls to the east and/or south of me.  This time, I got all of it.  I shoveled my drive 3x Friday, about 4-6" each time.  By the time my puppy had to do her last night piddle, the snow was so deep she got buried in snow.  She and I agree winter sucks.  Saturday, the snow was deeper than my knee boots are tall.  I repeatedly worked up a sweat while simultaneously freezing.

I stare out the window and type very few words, hypnotized by fat, spiraling snowflakes.  Griping about shoveling is just recreational.  The weather report said I'm not getting a thaw before Monday to erase all this white stuff.  I had to shovel it, and I accepted that.  It's my winter exercise plan.  The sore knot in my shoulder is just a reminder that I'm healthy enough to move mountains, or in this case, create 5' mountains of white matter.

I watched my neighbors handling their snow problems.  A teenaged boy tentatively poked at the stuff and weakly tossed a couple cups worth of snow onto the pile, resting for a few minutes before doing it again.  His dad cleared yards in the time the kid did a foot.  Meanwhile, the woman next to them spent hours with her snow blower.  She was extra considerate and neat.  My crabby neighbor actually joked with me while we shoveled.  A guy drove down the road with a plow, saw me shoveling, and cleared the apron of my drive.  Bless that guy.  I'm not even sure who he is, but he seemed to think my grateful wave of thanks was payment enough for his kindness.

The roads were awful when all this snow was coming down, and I didn't have a choice about being in the mess.  People were understanding and resigned.  Someone got stuck, and a woman jumped out of her car and helped push, leaving her car in the middle of the backed up street.  Nobody honked.  I think we were all glad helping each other still exists.

Lately, I've seen too much in the news about how divided the US is.  I've been appalled at how many people want women barefoot and pregnant and how some people talk so hatefully about women, minorities, and gay people.  Get rid of environmental protections, public school, and overtime pay.  Yet, there are still people willing to help a stranger stuck in snow.  Just as more people voted for Clinton in the election, I have to think that most people are decent and cooperative.

There's something about nature dumping a load of snow to make us stop our usual self-interested vanities and become a community again.  Sitting inside and watching snow spiral down from the sky lowers my blood pressure and gives me a little hope that things have a natural order, that human nature isn't as bad as it seems to be on tv.  Maybe things would be better if Washington, DC got more snow?

Sunday, December 4, 2016


I make soup when I'm stressed.  The mindless chopping calms my mind.  My freezer is full of it: chili, lentil, potato, squash/bean, chicken/turkey.  There isn't room for more varieties, though I contemplate making some split pea soup and clam chowder anyway.  It doesn't help that I make gallons of each variety.  At this point my dog loves soup more than I do.

Besides eating soup, I've been reading a lot because I don't think TV is improving my life and I might as well learn something.  I went to the library and really thought about my childhood experience of being surrounded by books.  How I had made sense of the place?  How did I choose my books?  I stood in the library entry, really looking at the place for once.

There are displays all over the place.  Sometimes I borrow a book from a display, but this time I noticed a sampling pointed me to books beginning with numbers 300-500.  Oh.  Seems kind of obvious now.  I dutifully went to those bookshelves where I skipped wars and found a couple of books on childhood trauma.

Did you know victims of child abuse suffer long-term physical effects from their experiences?  People who suffered multiple types of abuse including physical, sexual, neglect, verbal, etc. are likely to die years before their more blessed peers.  They can die 20 years earlier, often from heart attacks, cancer, addictions, and adult abuse.  The experts are saying we need to quit sweeping the topic under the rug as the long-term effects of childhood trauma are the leading cause of death.

I'm not just reading heavy topics like this.  I've been switching back and forth between escapist fiction and learning new stuff.  I don't know what else I'll be learning.  There are a lot of books in 300-500 and I almost went back for history books in another section as I was heading to the check out counter.  I already had 4 books and I've decided that 4 is enough for the library's 3 week borrowing window.  If I use them up, I'll just get more and start a new 3 week window.

I've gotten old enough to be ingrained in some of my ways.  Looking at the library with fresh eyes makes my world bigger and better, as does learning new things.  When I put myself in my younger self, I can feel the excitement the library meant to me.  Every aisle was an adventure, and every book an opportunity.  Reading about other people, real or imaginary, let me try on their lives to see if I wanted to be like them when I grew up.

Maybe I still want to look at the lives of others to see what I want to be?  We're only limited by our imaginations.  I could study Buddhism or Jane Goodall or who knows what.  May everyone spend some time wandering their library.  And eat soup.  It's good for you.  I meant to put soup in the bowl but after this art existed it just felt better to let the bowl either be waiting for a serving or empty because the soup has been eaten and enjoyed.  Your choice, half empty or half full? :)