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, January 19, 2019

"Botanical"


My winter botanical effort has been growing herbs in the window.  I’m feeling pleased to have accomplished this because these herbs had a rough start.  They were leftovers from my volunteer gig where I give away produce.  The food we give is often close to expiration date so the herbs were a little tired to begin with.  On top of that, they’d been outside for hours in the freezing cold.  I decided to root them in water even though they looked pretty sad, and despite the odds, the herbs are thriving.  They make me happy when I see the snow outside.  Sometimes I brush the mint or rosemary with my hand for the cheerful scent.

I’ve discovered the majority of people who get free food from my volunteer gig don’t know what to do with herbs.  I find this rather befuddling since food without herbs can be dull, or at least I think it’s dull.  Put basil on a pizza and the pizza is better.  Make pesto and put it on pasta. Make tea with mint.  The list of ideas is only limited by imagination.

When I was a kid, I wanted to branch out from recipes, but I didn’t know how.  I opened all the herb and spice jars and smelled them.  Tasting the spices didn’t really give me a good idea of their qualities, but the aroma was very telling.  I experimented until I found the combinations I liked best.

For example, I made a couple of apple cakes the other day.  This was also courtesy of the food giveaway leftovers because there were some sad looking apples left in the box.  I made one cake for a friend who appreciates apple cake.  His cake had the proscribed amount of cinnamon and no other spices since I don’t know his feelings about experimentation.  For my own cake, I added ginger and cumin.  I think it’s yummy.

We had a lot of people at our last food giveaway even though it was really, really cold outside.  I don’t know if this has anything to do with the US government shutdown or the usual poverty.  Keep in mind we give the food away in a middle class area.  The poverty is invisible around here, but it still exists.  It warmed my heart when many people went out of their way to say how much they appreciate our efforts.  It’s nice of them to say so.  It makes me feel happy about freezing in a parking lot.

I looked for a long time for a volunteer effort that I felt drawn to helping.  Handing out vegetables makes me happy.  I’m happy talking about cooking.  I’m happy to talk with friendly volunteers and food recipients.  I figure I’m getting quite a few positives out of the experience so it feels kind of too much to also get thanked for my own happiness.  It’s an abundance of riches and I get to take home free food too.  Even freezing outside feels like a positive.  I’m getting exercise and burning calories.

At the same time, I’m concerned there are so many hungry people.  It shouldn’t be that way.  If some of these people are hungry because of the government shutdown, that’s even worse.  Trump needs to forget about his wall and deal with his legal nightmares instead.  Good people are hurting.

Smile at someone today.  It will make both of you happier!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

"Hero"

People spend too much time in fantasy worlds where good and evil are clearly defined.  Fake sword fights on computer screens won't save the world.  Life isn't like that.  The knight on the white horse isn't coming to save you.  You have to save yourself.  Make your own life.

Sometimes I think I'm too stern about these things?  I've been disappointed too many times at the non-appearance of the white knight, and yet, some part of me still hopes Disney movies can be made real where good is rewarded, evil is defeated, mice do housework, and deer and bunnies play together in a meadow full of flowers.

Maybe I'm stern because I've been the boss?  Check your personal accounts after you've done your duties.  We've got deadlines.  Hop to it!  (Yeah, that doesn't work.)  Maybe I'm feeling stern because I don't have a boss telling me to hop to it?  I absolutely check my personal accounts before digging into work projects.

This Xandaria image is something I did for Mensa's membership renewal campaign.  It wasn't my concept but I like the idea of imagining yourself conquering the Netherrealm while stuck in the office.  I think my I Spy paintings are messing with my illustration efficiency though.  I got entirely too caught up making office things.  Who cares about the briefcase under the desk?!

Messing with details is my own problem except there are 2 more illustrations to do for this campaign and they have to be in the same style.  Oops.  Next time I'm going to do something simple and graphic.

I guess all of this plays into why I try to be vigilant about fantasy and time wasting.  I'm guilty of it.  The other night I wasted time watching stupid TV and thought about the masters of the past who had to get their work done while the sun was shining.  People who had to paint their fruit before it rotted instead of looking up reference online.  People who read books by candlelight because that's the only thing to do for entertainment in the evening besides darning socks.

As I continued to waste time, I got a mental pictures of French artists drinking coffee at cafes and drinking absinthe at the Folies Bergere.  Slackers!  Or, maybe all that slacking is important to the creative process?  Or plain justification?  Whatever.  If they had the internet they'd use it too.

I have all sorts of other thoughts about heroes, most of them heavy and critical.  My first effort at this post was about people living in Nazi Germany.  My second effort was self-flagellation about the times I was a hero and risked significant injury.  Sometimes I don't want to live inside my own brain, and I don't need to spread that around.

We need entertainment and escape.  Someone should remind me of that next time I'm lecturing about time wasting.  I'm not the boss anymore.  Do whatever makes you happy :)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

"Wall"


I'm writing on a Sunday and there still isn't a Friday word.*  I made allowances for holiday distractions in December, but what's the excuse in January?  Maybe I just get too serious about things.  I doubt the world's rotation depends on another blog post.  Yet, I find my posts are a way of publicly journaling about some things, stuff I don't even remember caring about a few months later.  Was the Olympics really less than a year ago?  Did I really just start my I Spy still lifes in March?  My, how time flies!

Actually, I did 2 pre-series I Spy paintings in 2017, but they were precursors, unformed inspirations that led to the series I started in 2018.  Looking back through the blog posts I can see how my work evolved to the paintings I'm doing now.  I can read about things I was thinking then that led to my current thoughts.

I couldn't realize I'd still be blogging when I started this years ago.  I had ideas for things I thought I'd write about and I haven't written about most of those things.  I remember feeling intimidated about airing my feelings.  I thought talking about myself was egotistical.  I've gotten over that.  I found other people agree with me, or don't, and we can still make friendships around the planet.  I find myself thinking of kittens and puppies and children I'll never physically meet and feeling my life is better for it.  Even sympathizing with your illness or losses adds something to my reality.

Thank you for sharing and joining me on the journey.  You inspire me with your own creative endeavors.

There are times I look at my computer screen and think I've already written everything I've got to say.  Somehow, I always seem to find a few more words to add.  Those words lead to more words and somehow there's another post.  Sometimes I don't want to make art for the post, and yet there's always an image to post with the words.  The process keeps me in a forward motion even when I feel stalled.  It's an exercise that keeps me limber like walking in the park.

I can't imagine what I'll write and paint in 2019.  It never occurred to me that I'd talk about okra in 2018, which I pickled by the way.  It's delicious.  I regret only making 2 jars of it and giving one of the jars away.  In any case, there will be more surprises in the coming year, and time will tell whether they'll turn out as well as pickled okra.

Wishing everyone a creative, happy, and successful year!

*IF gave a new word, "Wall", on Monday afternoon.  Let's just call all the thumbnail pics as a wall of art?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

"Game"

I couldn't find my water pistols, a clear sign I haven't played with them enough in recent times.  I always enjoyed running around after my little brothers and splatting them on hot days.  This developed into something of an arms race with bigger and bigger super soakers and the garden hose.  Good times.  I'm not too old for this but maybe they are?

A different brother came over and saw this painting.  "Do you think it's appropriate to show your brother a naked Ken doll?"  I laughed.  "He doesn't have any genitalia!" I protested.  "Well, alright then."  Bro sat down and contemplated while I finished doing whatever it was I was doing.

Ken was trouble for me in this painting.  I needed reference, and I didn't know I needed a 1969 model.  I spent hours looking for my first love and learning stupid doll facts which had nothing to do with my early memories of stealing Ken from Sis1 and Barbie, or was it Tammy?  Who cares?  That bimbo didn't have anything to do with my relationship with Ken.  I envied her car though.  Ken and I had a pedestrian relationship because I was sure Sis would miss a car theft while she didn't seem to notice an absent Ken.

This painting isn't really about those early years, but clearly Ken made an impression on me in a way that manifested in later times.  I won't explain it.  Make conclusions however you'd like about him being featured on this canvas.  The larger point is that we carry our past with us.  Some of that's great, some of it's heavy baggage.

I like to think of the year end as a great time to drop that baggage so I can look forward to the new year as a fresh start.  Issues properly addressed and filed give me more head space to think about happy stuff like playing Mother May I with my sisters or squirting water at my brothers in the yard.

This painting took me a long time to do, though most of that time was spent sitting around and pondering instead of painting.  I told my brother I think it's too busy, but he said all the busyness is interesting.  What do you think?

The main thing for me is that finishing this painting was liberating, exhilarating.  I literally danced around the living room for a while in my happiness.  Issues addressed and done, a lighter load for 2019, and I get a painting to show for it!

Maybe there will come a year end when all of my issues have been addressed and I'll just paint flowers, but until then I'll keep making these paintings.  I like sorting through my thoughts and memories and especially love the happy feelings of completion and accomplishment.  May everyone find their own project they like doing as well.

And yes, I have a lot of siblings with 2 older sisters and 4 younger brothers which makes me a solidly middle child in a very noisy house.  I so envied only children, but then I wouldn't have had a sister from whom I could steal Ken.  Or, maybe Ken would've been mine in the first place?  But then I wouldn't have had anyone to shoot at with the water gun or with whom to play Mother May I.  Maybe it all comes out as a positive?

I hope everyone had a pleasant Christmas (or holiday of your choice) and has a wonderful, exciting, fulfilling, and happy New Year!


Sunday, December 23, 2018

"Winter 2"

I drove east shortly after sunrise the other day.  Snow had dusted the trees through the night and the morning sun glittered on branches like sparkling fairy dust.  It was absolutely gorgeous and shook me out of my cold morning crabbiness.  Sometimes beauty slaps us in the face to make us appreciate the world we live in.

Yesterday's fairy snow is gone and December gloom crept back on me today.  I went to the park under a warm gray #6 sky.  The pond was cool gray #8 with #7 ice floes.  The bare trees are shades of gray brown on a brown ground amid brown leaves.  A brown squirrel scampered by and brown ducks flew overhead.  I set off with determination on the gray gravel path.

"This is good for you!" I panted to myself as I trudged forward.  My shoulders and legs felt like they weren't connected properly.  I adjusted.  I considered taking a shortcut back to my car.  I found myself tense again.  I adjusted again.  And again.

Eventually all the parts started working together.  I decided that if my world is gray and brown, I'd name the shades.  I started noticing all the colors in the subtleties.  Green moss dust on tree trunks, burnt umber, raw umber, yellow ochre... green grass!  Rose brambles held a hint of green in their brown vines, a bush held some green leaves.  I walked past a pair of deer, one of whom was intently licking the contents of the other's ear.  I couldn't make up my mind whether to feel disgusted or laugh.  Maybe it's deer foreplay?

There's a couple more places where I could've abandoned my walk, but I managed to do the complete circuit, including going up and down a couple of significant hills.  The leaves on the ground didn't look brown anymore.  They were a vibrant orange.  The bare patches on a sycamore tree reflected a vivid blue.  Same leaves, same trees, different perspective.  Of course it might've had something to do with the stroke I was having coming up that last hill, but I'm thinking positive.

In the season of gifting, remember, fairy snow and shades of brown are also gifts.  All we need to do is put ourselves in a place to see them and open our eyes and minds.

Wishing everyone happiness and peace during the holidays!

Monday, December 17, 2018

"Winter"

I like making snowflakes.  I liked cutting them out and sticking them on winter windows in school and I liked sticking them on the windows at home.  I still liked cutting them out when I was designing packaging for a living.  Some things are perennially perfect activities and I don't care about all the little bits of paper that get scattered around.

Mom hated the snowflake activity.  She did care about scattered bits of paper.  She hated Legos and all sorts of things I liked to do.  That's fine.  She didn't have to cut paper or play with Legos.  Do your own thing.  Be happy.

This sounds so simple.  It is simple.  There's all sorts of aphorisms that reinforce the thought.  The problem is we talk ourselves out of it, and other people try to talk us out of it too.  For example, when I happily cut snowflakes at work, my coworkers told me to get serious and quit having fun.  I shooed them away and kept cutting.  An afternoon of quiet clipping turned into many successful package designs.

Although this supported my paycheck, I didn't consider it "important".  They weren't like Rembrandt's portraits, Van Gogh's sunflowers, or anything else the masters created.  I kept waiting for an epiphany to lead me to my own masterpieces.  I think too many of us keep waiting for an epiphany and don't even cut snowflakes in the meantime.  I'm not just talking about art.  Whatever floats your boat, do it.

Mr. Roger's "Nobody else can live the life you live" has been stuck in my head for quite a while.  “You are a very special person. There is only one like you in the whole world. There's never been anyone exactly like you before, and there will never be again."

This has often struck me as both absolutely true and impossible.  There are so many people in the world.  All the great paintings have already been painted; there are no new ideas, just variations on snowflakes that look like solid white when they get together.  And yet, no two snowflakes are alike, right?

My recent paintings are an attempt to live up to Mr. Roger's affirmations.  The paintings are about my unique life.  Nobody else could paint them because I'm telling my stories.  Someone else could paint similar objects in a similar style, or paint their own stories in their own way, and it would be something entirely different.  That's great.  Even with the billions of people on the planet there's still room for all of us to express ourselves.

It's one thing to aspire to the masters and another to be choked by their achievements.  I don't want to be Van Gogh.  He was nuts.  Rembrandt died poor.  I'm painting in a pursuit of happiness.  It doesn't matter if these men achieved more posthumous fame and fortune.  What matters is following Mr. Rogers' wisdom and being my best me.

I've been thinking of these things for a while, but maybe I'm being extra fatalistic since I found out Jason Furcsik died.  He's another of my brothers' lifelong friends from the Glen, and yet another of their friends to die far too young.  I feel so sad.

On a brighter note, Bro2 brought his new puppy over.  For a ricocheting ball of energy, he is so gentle with my ancient dog.  It's funny to watch them play together.  They're in love, and I have to say I'm in love with the adorable little thing too.


Saturday, December 8, 2018

"Chef"

I'm not a chef, but I've been telling people how to cook lately.  Okra?  Deep fry it.  Use it to thicken things.  It's just a green vegetable.  Hide it in soup or stew.  Too many peas?  They freeze well.  I freeze celery too.  Cut it up and freeze for later cooking.  Grated cauliflower?  Sauté, microwave, or add it to other things.  I bet it would be good mixed in with mashed potatoes.  I saw a creamy cauliflower soup on one of the cooking shows.

All of this cooking direction is the result of my latest volunteer efforts.  I stand in a cold parking lot and give food to people who need it.  I'm enjoying it, which seems a bit crazy since I'm freezing out there and it seems downright criminal that there are people in such a wealthy country who need food handouts, but everyone is so nice.  My fellow volunteers are nice and the recipients are nice.  They tell me how to cook things and I pass on their tips.  We all bond in the cold.

None of us have any say about what kind of food we'll be handing out, therefore, okra.  Despite its popularity in the South, very few people love it in Ohio.  We all know it's slimy and gross, even the majority who have never eaten it before.  Given a choice between okra and sugar snap peas, people took the peas.

The Canadian winds blowing off of Lake Erie are brutal.  I found my long johns and silk socks.  It helps.  I used hand warmers inside my winter gloves and sealed the leather gloves inside plastic food prep gloves.  I shiver and hop up and down while people laugh.  I never realized destitute people are so jolly, or grateful for that matter.

Oh sure, there's some crabby old women who demand butter when we don't have it that week.  Here, take some eggs.  Want some okra?  Actually, I think the brightest side of okra is the incredulous looks I got when I offered it.  The other bright spot was when an older man lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw the okra.  I gave him a lot of it since he seemed to be one of the few people who knew what to do with it.

One of my friends volunteers to serve dinners at a nearby church.  She happily stays inside where it's warm, but otherwise there are quite a few similarities: happy people, good food, camaraderie -- and the fact that there are people in the US who need free food.

It seems to me there are people who volunteer for things and many others who don't.  I think the ones who don't are missing out.  It doesn't have to be about food.  My dinner-serving friend used to volunteer as a receptionist at a children's hospital.  She's an elf for Santa's train.  I've volunteered at the parks and schools.  I tended flowers in city planters last summer.  Just pick something you like to do and find a place to do it.  The things you gain may be hard to quantify, but I'll bet it makes you feel better while making other people's lives better too.

If I haven't convinced you to volunteer somewhere, it's a good time of the year to give too.  Lots of charities need your support.  Pick one, or many, and spread some happiness.  If you want to give to Food Not Bombs, contact them at FNBeastCLE@gmail.com.  We're especially hoping someone will donate a used van, truck, or SUV for delivering food.

As for last week's deadline, yes, I got my project finished in time.  It didn't matter.  I'm in the middle of a major redirection of the project with a new short deadline.  Sigh.  Actually, before the sighs I had a temper tantrum by the latest instructions.  I've progressed to sighs.  Thankfully the only witness to my tantrum was my dog :)