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, February 17, 2018

"House"

The closest park to my house has a pool and ball fields and too many yelling kids.  There's a tiny pond with an arching bridge and half the geese in NE Ohio, so you know even when the grass isn't green there's enough green goose poop to keep things colorful.  People like to take wedding and prom pictures by the sculpted gardens and fountains.  The police station and city hall are on the property which makes me feel over disciplined even if the only thing I'm doing is walking the dog.  Even the sculpted gardens feels overly disciplined.

The next park is a golf course so I don't think that really counts, but the park after that has actual trees and wildlife.  I like that park, but it's just far enough away to drive, and such a short drive feels wasteful.  My new exercise goal is to not only walk to the park, but to actually walk it too.  I'm either going to get healthier or have a cardiac arrest.

Maybe I should point out I live downhill from everything except Lake Erie.  This means I have to walk up 2 fairly significant hills just to get to the first park.  If I ever achieve my goal of getting to the nature park, there's 2 significant hills within the park.  The last time I walked up that second hill I stood at the top with spots in my eyes.  Uh uh uh ugh.

Yesterday, I decided the weather was crappy enough I could justify only walking the first hill, but all this stupid exercise made me feel energetic enough to walk up the second too.  Then, oh why not, I'll walk a bit more.  The freezing Canadian wind chilled by the frozen lake whipped my face raw but I persevered.  I got to the next stop on my exercise plan and saw the sign for the good park in the distance.  I turned around and walked home with the frozen wind whipping my other cheek.  It took hours to feel warm again.  My shoulders hurt.  Since when does walking make shoulders ache?

Sadly, I think walking some more might help.  Stupid exercise.  There's some sort of built in addictive process involved.  I wasn't even interested in dinner afterwards.  Unlike some of you people, I'm obviously a reluctant exerciser.  I just want miraculous physical ability without wasting my time and effort.

I'm trying to keep things interesting so I don't lose interest and give up.  The word for the week was blue not long ago.  I looked for blue things on my walk.  Now I look for other colors too.  I noticed a house with pink shutters and awnings for sale.  I looked up the price when I got home ($116,000).  I amused myself by imagining a little old lady living there.  Another house looks like it's been split into 4 or more apartments with adjoining decks.  I imagined some excellent deck parties.  The garage for someone else's house looks about the size of my entire house.  I figured out the comparison and it is.

It occurs to me that all this stupid exercise has some benefits beyond my ability to walk up hills and endure weather.  With nothing else to do other than try to avoid a heart attack, my mind is going places it hasn't gone in a long time.  Fantasy, math, and observation are as essential to the creative life as a paintbrush.  We need quiet time to hear things in our minds.  The act of creation is a physical activity.  It can help to actually live in our bodies instead of just our heads.  I'm going to keep looking at houses and making up stories for the people who live in them.

Friday, February 9, 2018

"Olympics"

My first grade class was meekly herded into the gym for a school assembly.  We obediently stayed put in our designated spot while the older classes monkeyed around.  An older girl did a cartwheel in front of us.  I was flabbergasted.  Forget the flagrant disobedience, what would possess that child to put her head at risk by jumping around upside down like that?!!

I asked my girlfriend if she had ever seen such a thing.  She had.  "Can you do it too?"  She got up and did a shaky cartwheel.  I was awed.  I had no idea my girlfriend could defy gravity.  The older girl came back and did 3 perfect cartwheels in a row.  I felt like a backwoods hick who didn't know city tricks.  (Keep in mind, these kids also lived in the boondocks.  They just weren't quite as deeply buried in the woods.)

When at home again, I told Sis1 about this amazing feat of daring.  She knew about cartwheels, but had never tried to do them before.  She gave it a try, then several tries.  She sort of had the idea, but not the actual knack.  Sis2 came home and quickly mastered it.  I got off the grass and tried too.

Eventually, all of us mastered it.  I thought that was enough gymnastics to last a lifetime, but Sis1 enjoyed athletic things.  She started coming home with more ideas of things for us to practice.  I managed to bend over backwards until I could put my hands on the ground, then I eventually managed to get my legs over too.  I walked the railroad ties next to the driveway and pretended it was a balance beam.  The Olympics gave us ideas for more balance beam tricks.  I found a nice broken tree in the woods so I could swoop my legs further down than on the railroad ties.  I did forward and backwards somersaults on that tree too.

Sis1 often spotted me during some of the more difficult maneuvers.  If she wasn't around, I might get a concussion.  I decided gymnastics was stupid, but by the time I got to middle school gymnastics were required.  Those city kids had been collecting more sophisticated tricks in the intervening years too.  I eyed the parallel bars with the same mistrust as I had felt when witnessing my first cartwheel.

I was out in my back yard a few weeks ago when I had a random thought about cartwheels.  Could I still do one?  I almost gave it a shot, but my rational mind quickly shut down that idiocy.  My 5-year-old and 50-something brains are in complete agreement about the rules of my body's verticality and risk.  Perhaps I'll watch some of the Olympics from the safe harbor of my couch.

My wish for this year's Olympics is that North and South Koreans build positive relationships with each other.  I also hope their combined team wins something together creating hope for that region and for the rest of the world.

Friday, February 2, 2018

"Mythology"

The Greek gods were so human.  I love them.  They make me feel so superior, while lazily avoiding life-threatening quests.  If you have kids, you've probably seen Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books.  I like the way Rick captures the humanity of the gods: haughty, selfish, spoiled, sexual, jealous, vain, and every other elevated and base emotion.  Rick also wrote about Roman and Egyptian gods, but they just don't speak to me at the same level.  They're more into law and order and being god-like.  The Greeks were just plain raunchy and fun.

The latest book I'm reading is Drawing Blood by Molly Crabapple.  I think she would have a hell of a good time with the Greek gods.  She supported herself in art school by posting risqué photos of herself online, nude modeling, and dancing.  She got into burlesque entertainment, which strongly influenced the subjects in her art.  She's also into social activism and travel.  It's an interesting read with interesting art.  I'm surprised I found it at my small and conservative local library.

Molly writes of her struggles to make it in the art world.  She's finding success by paving her own path and excellently using social media.  Good for her.  Her energy makes me feel ancient and tired.  Like I said, I want to be lazy and avoid quests.  After all, I've been on my art quest longer than Molly and have had more fights with Gorgons.  Sometimes a successful quest is continuing to put one foot after the other.

I like Molly's expressive style, but I've been in an ultra realistic mood lately.  I sometimes wonder why I'm doing it since nobody will pay me enough for the time I spend on these things, but it's what my heart wants to do right now.  One thing I've discovered is that when I fight what I want to do nothing good happens.  It's like my internal creativity seizes up.  Maybe there's a good reason for me to contemplate the end of a toothbrush?  Maybe Molly will inspire me to use it to flick more paint on a canvas?

The art I've been making for me lately has been art therapy.  I need the realism to make me slow down and really think about things.  This painting is the result of a challenge someone gave me to paint something just for fun.  I didn't look very far for the subject.  It's just stuff in my desk drawer.  At some point I started thinking all I was doing was exposing my messes and hanging them on a wall instead of hiding them in the drawer.  I had to push through my reluctance to finish it, and now I'm happily self-satisfied that I did.  I'm also thinking it was just a gentler therapy than the last couple of paintings.  Exposing our internal messes can make our work (and ourselves) more interesting.  The real myth these days is that everyone should put on a perfect, photoshopped face to the world.

I'm also noticing that I'm not being as nitpicky as I was in the past.  I painted my eraser very quickly.  If you stop to look at it, you can see I didn't fuss it to death.  Yet, I kept trying to pick it up once it was painted.  That's plenty realistic enough.

I've got an illustration project due next week.  I think I'll do some Molly-inspired paint splatters on that.  There's room for everything and all creative expression is good.