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, June 22, 2019

"War"


I woke thinking about dodge ball.  Brains are like this, spitting out ancient, trivial data for no apparent reason.  I sometimes enjoyed playing the game.  I thought boys could be unnecessarily rough, but I wasn't particularly scarred by the experience like some.  Why would my brain regurgitate dodge ball?  Why would the smell of the medicine ball and storage locker come back to me with such vividness?

When I saw this week's IF word is "war" dodge ball made sense, though I'm not sure how my dreaming mind would know which word was coming, and I'm not sure what to say about gym classes so long ago.

The actual war I'm fighting lately is against wildlife.  I hit the deer with a rock and broke my slingshot.  Both me and the doe were surprised I actually got her.  She looked at her chest in mild confusion, then went back to eating my tree.  I jumped around on the deck and yelled while she munched.  "I'm getting bigger rocks!" but I just chucked slingshot rocks.  A couple of lazy bounces later she was in the neighbor's yard.

It's pointless.  I'm on her daily rounds.  She walks right next to my window as I work on my computer every morning.  Her spotted twins tagged after her yesterday and I was torn between, "how beautiful!" and "damned varmints".  It doesn't help that I have a vast herd of groundhogs (6) and a squirrel.  They're cute too if they weren't trash compactors of everything I want to grow in the garden.

Against my social conscience, I went to Walmart for slingshot tubing because that's the only place I know that carries it.  I looked at people in the store because I've heard the dress code at Walmart is youtube worthy.  Everybody seemed pretty normal.  I saw guns lined up next to the slingshot supplies and briefly considered buying one.  I'd have a better chance of hitting the wildlife with a bullet than a rock, but you know, city ordinances, not really wanting to kill things.  I'll stick to rocks.  The wildlife is safe.  I'm just venting frustration.

I'm willing to share with wildlife.  Eat a little, but save some for me.  No, they just destroy everything.  I haven't gotten a pear for years.  They mowed down my tomatoes over and over last year.  Selfish and destructive.

I'm glad the US didn't start a war with Iran this week, but the warmongers will keep trying.  Of course, none of them would fight it and it's a proven way to win elections and siphon money from the populace into rich people's pockets.  I don't believe anything the administration says about the situation.  I assume the drone was over Iran.  Why have it anywhere except over their territory?  There was another incident recently where the US accused Iran but those claims were disputed by the people who were actually there. 

I've already admitted I considered shooting my wildlife this week, but it only took a little thought to get past that idea, an idea I probably wouldn't have had if I hadn't seen the easily accessible gun display.  People in power need to think a little more before they make war plans.  It would be better to challenge Iran to play dodge ball.

The illustration is something I did for the June edition of Mensa's Bulletin magazine.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

"Muscles"


In elementary school, a couple of girls started to bully me.  Sis tattled at home that I was going to end up in a fight.  Dad said, "Don't fight.  But if you do fight, win!"  He brought home boxing gloves and taught my siblings and me the basics.  I got pretty good at it but didn't need those skills at school.  I resolved my issues with words and class solidarity.  The only fights I had were with my siblings, with or without boxing gloves.  I guess I got a lot of practice and some confidence.

I was in middle school when a bully slammed my face into a gym locker.  Maybe she thought it was funny, but I didn't.  When she ran past a couple of minutes later I stuck out my foot.  She did a spectacular trip and slide into a wall of lockers.  Here's a tip, don't tick off the class bully.

She had older, meaner friends.  They banded together to threaten me.  As a tall girl, I looked down at the tops of their heads while they hissed, "Your ass is grass, man!"  I wondered what does that even mean?  Why am I afraid of these midgets*?  But there were a bunch of them and only one of me, and they were all accomplished fighters.  Fear seemed logical. 

I endured a couple weeks of torment before Sis and her friend woke me up one morning.  This embarrassment had gone on long enough and they had arranged a one-on-one fight for me.  This sounded like a terrible idea.  They sang a ponderous Te Deum as they marched me to my execution.

I didn't really have a problem with my bully.  We always got along before.  Just call off your evil friends.  No.  She put up her fists and I noticed she had a giant, face smashing ring on her finger.  That hardly seemed fair.  Give me a sec to go home and get the brass knuckles.  No to that too.  I circled and feinted to avoid that ring but she punched and caught my earring with it, ripping it right out of my ear.  I watched my earring fly through the air and lost it, both the earring and my sanity.

I pummeled her until I was pulled off by Sis and her friend.  Their Te Deum was replaced by a victorious military march to the bus stop.  I almost felt sorry for my bully since she was crying and had 2 spectacular black eyes (which stayed black a long time).  I knew she was abused at home and that her cohorts were going to abuse her for losing the fight.

I achieved some respect in school.  Others were afraid of these girls up till then.  Good for me for winning.  Nobody at school bullied me again.  I felt more relieved than proud.  Fighting isn't something to feel proud about.  I've often thought Dad gave me the best advice.  Don't fight.  If you do, win!

Winning fights isn't all about who has more muscles.  Preparation, confidence, and strategy under fire often has a lot to do with it.  Bullies eventually lose when they underestimate their victims.  It's something I think about in these crazy times.  I keep wondering who had a father who taught them to box?

The drawing is from way back from my college anatomy class.  Good muscles for boxing :)

*Apologies to little people who may be offended by my use of this term.  I used it because it was literally the word I thought in those pre-politically correct sensitivity.

Friday, June 7, 2019

"Mountains"

As I mentioned in my last post, my marriage was a bad idea.  Oatmeal was an early clue.  A later moment of clarity happened as I had an out of body experience watching myself scream like a lunatic on top of a Yellowstone National Park mountain.  A kindly seeming old lady gave me a sympathetic and understanding look as I screeched about how my head felt shattered from the air pressure and no, I was not going to go down the 10,000' mountain to go up the 12,000' mountain.  There was a grizzly bear in the distance and I welcomed it ripping me apart so I could be done with mountains.


We went fishing in a valley and the husband lived another day.  I met a nice Japanese couple and traded away my fish.  They had some fascinatingly intricate fishing flies.  There are restrictions to how many fish you can catch in a day and when my husband discovered I'd given away my share he started to set off to catch some more.  I think he understood my mountain temper tantrum was about to reemerge when I said I didn't want to eat any more fish.  Get me a #@$# hamburger.

The last straw was when I got up the next morning and found the wet pants left to dry on the picnic table the night before were now frozen solid.  That's it, I'm done, I hate camping in the cold.  We packed up and left with a blizzard at our backs across all those interminably large Western rectangle states.  It would've been nerve wracking but the husband drugged me with Dramamine.  That was his only good decision on that trip.

Frozen pants.  I was smiling, so maybe I wasn't quite as crazy as I remember?

I noticed on the drive out west that we crossed "Mad Woman's Creek" or "Crazy Lady Stream" or something along those lines every day.  I completely understand.  I don't want to leave you with the wrong impression though, I'm not normally prone to temper tantrums and screaming in front of grizzly bears and strangers.  I just came to accept I was raised in a valley and I should stay in lower elevations where I'm much sweeter.  It's best for everyone.

Relatives from out of state came to visit this week.  That was nice.  We talked about our ancestry, especially as the DNA site revised who it thinks we are and took away most of the interesting parts.  I'm feeling skeptical though because multiple relatives are interested in genealogy and I know I have more in my genes than the company says.  Nobody even mentions Neanderthals.  I've got to have some of that, right?

One of my ancestors, Bertram Cramer, was born in Eastern Pennsylvania in 1821.  When he was 18 he walked to Ohio.  That's 361 miles (581 km) as a crow flies, but a lot of it is up and down mountains so really much further.  According to "History of Wayne County Ohio" Volume 2, written in 1910, "He had an important part in the early development of this section of Ohio, as at the time he came here there had been but little improvement, the country being densely covered with the primeval forests, through which there were no roads, rough trails answering the purpose."

Cool.  Maybe it's easier to get over mountains when you're walking?  I wonder if he screamed at the top of any of them?  At least he wouldn't have had a sympathetic old lady looking at him if he did.  Maybe a bear.  I'll try to do better to live up to the example of my pioneering ancestors.

My apologies to everyone who commented for a slow response.  I do appreciate your comments.  As expected, it was a crazy week.

The Badlands

The absolute top of the world where I was above the clouds and in the clouds
and lamenting the fact I was spending my vacation in the snow.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

"Breakfast"


Mom firmly believed children needed to eat breakfast.  I firmly believed breakfast should be anything but oatmeal.  I think you can see this was heading to conflict.  I mean sure, oatmeal is great in cookies.  It's a wonderful crunchy, sweet topping for apple crisp.  Dumping it in water and cooking it to a gluey goo is unacceptable.

I know, some of you actually like oatmeal porridge.  I don't see how you can feel that way, but I'll accept your right to your preferences.  Mom did not accept my oatmeal feelings.  "You aren't going to school until you finish it!"  Maybe this kind of pronouncement would've made other kids happy, but I actually wanted to go to school.

I had a number of oatmeal removal tactics.  I filled my napkin with it and flushed it down the toilet.  If Mom left the room long enough I'd flush the whole bowlful of it.  Mom started catching onto this so I had to find other methods.  My favorite was to sit quietly while Sis2 loudly and insistently complained while shoveling oatmeal in her mouth.  I covertly shoveled my oatmeal into Sis' bowl when she wasn't looking.  If breakfast is important for achievement in school, Sis must've been twice as smart on oatmeal days.

For some reason neither Sis nor Mom thinks this story is as funny as I think it is.  Sis feels it's my fault she's over her lifetime limit of oatmeal.

Years later, I honeymooned at a cute B&B.  The proprietor proudly brought us oatmeal for my first day of married life.  You've got to be kidding.  I asked for anything else but he said that was his specialty.  Really, don't you have toast or an egg or something?  Nope, that's all he had.  I should've taken it as a sign to get a quick annulment as I watched in disgust the newly minted husband scarf down both of our portions.  There were other signs the marriage was a bad idea, but the oatmeal should've made it clear.  Oh well, live and learn.  It was probably some kind of oatmeal karma , Sis payback thing.

For another breakfast story you can go here.  Grandma, blueberry waffles, food is love kind of happiness.  It's hard to believe I've been blogging for 9 years!  I was certain I'd run out of stories by now.  I may take a break next week, but I'm not sure yet.  What I do know is that I have activities, dogs, and relatives next weekend.  Should be interesting.  Maybe more stories will come from all of it?

My dog is blissfully unaware of next weekend's chaos or the fact that she's going to get a bath and her nails clipped to be all pretty for the other pups.  If she only knew what was coming she'd start punishing me now because I'm pretty sure she remembers the last time we dogsat.  Her world was disrupted and she didn't like it.  She's an old lady who wants a peaceful retirement.  She hardly even bothers to bark at kids and squirrels anymore.  Old dogs are so easy.

I really intended to do different art for this post but I got lost in other things.  I suddenly realized I better do something quick so I let the computer help me cut some corners this time.  I recently did some actual art that would've been perfect for breakfast but the client doesn't want me to show that yet.  Maybe we'll get another food word soon?

Wishing everyone a happy week and weekend, with a thank you to the vets this Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

"Farm"

I find it surprising that many people haven't been to a farm.  It used to be a thing that city kids were trundled off to milk a cow.  They brought goats to my elementary school so we could milk them.  I can say with authority that cow and goat teats are different, the milk is different, and goats are delightful playmates.  Cows are a little boring.

There were still a few farms around where I grew up.  Now they're cow-less housing developments, but I remember laying on a tree limb that hung over a pasture.  I waited for a hapless cow to seek shade so I could drop on her back for a wild ride across the field.  Good times.  Cows don't have to be boring.  Nobody was hurt, but it did occur to me the potential existed when I got thrown onto the sh*t filled ground and saw cow feet a bit too close to my head.  I went and petted horses instead.

There was an interesting mix of farming in my childhood domain.  There were orchards and pleasure gardens.  Rich people had tree nurseries for tax write offs and bussed in illegal Mexican workers.  The Sheep Lady had her sheep, obviously.  The Nashes milked the maple trees for syrup.  Sometimes we had to wait for a tractor to painfully roll down the road in front of us.  I learned the advantages of different kinds of manure and could identify it by odor.

Most of the farming ops were small, family businesses.  I thought it was normal to live by food production.  I liked buying home-grown produce at an unattended stand at the end of someone's driveway.  I think all of this should be normal.

The giant cow illo was used
for a brochure for Lake Farmpark,
a demonstration farm that lets
kids pet animals
I used to sell organic produce at the Willoughby Market before anyone cared about organic, but after the farms had sprouted McMansions.  A woman asked me why my potatoes were dirty.  I apologized and said I hadn't had time to clean them.  "How did they get dirty in the first place?" she asked.  I'm sure I had a stupid look on my face.  "Uhh, because I dug them out of the ground?"  The woman laughed.  "I thought potatoes grew on trees!"

Oh my.  That kind of thinking is too far from the farm.  Here's something else you should know about potatoes and other root vegetables -- if you're going to buy anything organic, buy root vegetables.  Chemicals stay in the ground after they're sprayed and concentrate in the food.  By comparison, lettuce gets sprayed but then it rains or the farmer waters it which washes off the plants.  Things we eat that are above ground are less toxic than the root veggies.  You should still wash everything though because who knows how any of our food is handled anymore.

It's midday Saturday as I write this.  I've decided my new policy regarding IF's perpetual tardiness is to just use the word we've got when I'm ready to post.  It beats getting annoyed every week.  Ohhmmmm...

I've weeded my garden and am ready to plant.  The groundhog is ready to wipe out whatever I put in.  I haven't seen the deer lately, but I'm sure they're ready to kill everything too.  I know they're still around because they cropped my lilies.  I've already started bitching about my neighbors' lack of mowing (evidenced in photo below).  The temps were in the 40s this week but tomorrow is supposed to be in the 80s so I can stop complaining about being cold and start complaining about being hot.  In other words, yay for the change of seasons!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

"Farm"

I went to college with a guy who was a really good artist.  I felt inadequate when I saw his homework in class every week.  I aspired to get better at my craft, but also recognized some people are just superior.  Imagine going to class with Rembrandt or Caravaggio or Da Vinci.  At some point you have to acknowledge some people have a magic the rest of us can't achieve.  I settled for working hard and knowing some day I'd be able to say I knew him when.

Part of my flawed thinking of the time was that my friend and I looked at the world in very different ways.  He was an action guy.  He saw the world with a wide lens and a fast shutter.  My world is much slower.  I look at one still thing intensely.  I couldn't be him, and it was wasting my time to try.  Comparing myself to him made me feel plodding and less than, a draft horse to a gazelle, but I was determined to succeed as best as I was able.

After college, I interviewed with a man who sneered when he read my resume.  "Spoiled, self-entitled snots go to your college!"  What?!!  I remembered the experience as a lot of sleepless nights of hard work with the best of mutually supportive friends.  My interviewer named my old classmate as a guy who thought he was God's gift to the art world.  My friend did have an ego, but I thought he deserved it.  He was really a great artist.  "He doesn't respect deadlines!  There are guys who have worked 40 years who are better than him!  Nobody will hire him!"  I was shocked as I listened to about a half hour of diatribe against my old friend.

I didn't get the job either, but I learned valuable lessons.  Keep your ego in check.  Meet deadlines.  Art hirers share info about artists so keep your reputation clean.  Most employers would rather have a draft horse than a gazelle.

At the job I did land, a big part of the job was paint cans.  Have you even bothered to notice art on paint cans?  Of course not, but somebody has to do it.  Hand with paint brush, hand with paint roller, hand with paint scraper... oooh!  A full body illustration of improper use on a ladder!  Yes, my ego was definitely kept in check.  I stayed employed.  I was grateful when my reliability led to better projects and eventually better jobs.

I don't know what happened to my old friend.  From the sound of it, he probably had to move to the other side of the world to get a job.  Maybe he paints houses now?  I thought he would be the one to become famous but I haven't seen his name or work again.

The point is you don't have to be best.  In the billions of people on the planet there is only one "best", and since art is subjective, we don't even know who that person is who will be remembered a couple hundred years from now.  Just do your best at whatever you do.

This painting is my latest.  You may notice there's a Grimm's Fairy Tales in the background, but don't confuse this with what I told you about my childhood Grimm trauma.  After our book burning, Dad got me an album where Danny Kaye gently told me stories with less mutilation and blood.  Well, it's still Grimm, but it was better.  I don't really understand why Dad thought I needed Grimm in my life.  Do any of you remember record albums?

It's Sunday as I write this and once again there wasn't a word on Friday.  Start a new tally for lateness.  Did I mention anything about deadlines and reliability?  Let's count my Schwinn Racer (which was the best bike ever) and the canoe license towards last week's prompt of "transportation".

Revision... Monday has given us a new word, "Farm".  Okay, same art but let's say the stick with string counts because it's used to make straight planting lines in the garden :)

Friday, May 3, 2019

"Transportation"

We finally got a new word!  Wipe 3 weeks from the last lateness tally and hope for future Friday reliability.  Let me briefly shift my irritation to Ohio politicians who passed a $100/year fee for hybrids (electric cars $200) because roads are financed with a gas tax.  I spend about $100/year in gas to give you an idea of how harsh this is.  I suspect the main reason for this tax is fuel-efficient cars are driven by Earth-friendly Democrats.  Grrr.

It's one of those days when the last thing I want to blog about is what's heaviest on my mind.  I notice my burdened brain keeps saying negative things.  Even positive things come out negatively.  Nobody wants to read a depressing post so I keep deleting and starting over -- but maybe negative words is the thing to talk about?

I had a boss who was horrible in so many ways she was called in front of the state board of ethics committee.  Even so, she actually taught me something, which goes to show you can learn from anyone.  She told me to only use positive words.  I was standardizing signs for the park system and thought her directive was impossible to achieve.  "Danger!  Don't lean on the fence" is straightforward.  Everyone understands it, but I wasn't allowed to use words like danger, don't, no, not, etc.  You try it.  What words would you use?*

Some people have the knack for this.  They're perpetually sunny and decorate in pinks and yellows.  They get on my nerves after a while, but they're kind of nice to have around too.  It beats being around people who decorate in black anyway.

It took time to get my mind around positive words, especially when I was around the horrible boss.  I kept thinking she was just making my life unnecessarily hard and words are only words.  I grumbled she only used positive words to manipulate people.  I kept tinkering with my signs and eventually managed to solve the positivity Rubik's cube.  I started making an effort to change the way I speak.  They're only words, but words can make a difference.  Thinking in positives makes for a better life.

I had a later job where I worked with very nice women.  When they talked about TV programs of the night before, they remarked how pretty someone looked, how nice someone seemed to be, how talented, how smart, how wonderful!  I'll admit I looked at these pleasant women with some suspicion at first.  I was used to women sniping at the TV women.  "Can you believe she wore that!"

One of the nice women told me she used to be like that because she grew up with a mother who was depressed and nasty.  The whole family talked in negatives and this nice woman spoke like her mom until she caught herself at it.  She was dismayed and decided to change her ways and spread good around instead.  She said it took her quite a while to master, and now she's a ray of sunshine in the world.  Her positive approach is echoed by others.  We need more people like this.  It's a skill we can all learn and use.

As for my burdened mind, I'll try to think more optimistically.  For those of you who pray, please include Chris in your thoughts.



The model train art is Ad #2 of Mensa's membership renewal campaign.

*Answer:  "Please stay on trail"