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!

Friday, March 25, 2011


My niece tries to teach me things about playing. She tucks stuffed animals into my bed and instructs me to hold them when sleeping. She encourages me to talk to them and listen to what they say. I'm sure she thinks I have a mental deficiency requiring remedial therapy. She may be right. I think my dog Penny understands toys better than I do.

There didn't seem much point to playing with inanimate objects to me when I was a child since it seemed like I was provided with a seemingly never-ending supply of younger brothers. Why diaper a doll when the baby needs changed? And what's fun about that smelly mess? It was much more satisfying housebreaking those boys, but that activity didn't seem to be represented in the toy store. Besides, I rapidly came to the decision that babies aren't that much fun to play with since all they really do is lay around or cry, and plastic dolls are even less fun than that. At least babies start walking and talking and getting more interesting eventually.

I did play cards at Grandma's, played chess with Dad, and did science projects with my uncle. I used my brother's Tonka truck to make city constructions in the sand box while contemplating a career in architecture. I learned how to shoot arrows and a rifle, and learned the finer points of boxing. I played volleyball, badminton, croquet, and tag.

Looking back on my approved play activities, it seems like everything was designed to instruct, fight, or develop athleticism. Nothing was quite for fun. I just found fun in whatever I was doing. Well, maybe pelting Dad with snowballs, but snow came free instead of from the toy store. No, come to think of it, Dad wanted to teach proper defense and offense strategies which would theoretically be useful in the future. He was especially pleased with surprise attacks.

My most real toys might've been my crayons?

I certainly knew about toys when I was little. I lived near a very wealthy area, and there were the "haves" and the "have nots", and it was pretty clear which side of things I was on. The rich kids had everything a toy store could supply. I envied them for a while, especially for the metal pedal cars they drove around their perfect lawns, but you can only pedal so much before it starts getting boring. Why don't we bake cookies or climb a tree or something?

I often think kids are too spoiled these days. They have too much plastic junk made in China, and they don't really appreciate much of it. I see it on the tree lawns on trash day and want to scream about recycling, but I repeatedly give in to my niece's requests for stuffed animals at garage sales. I guess that's recycling, right? Maybe I'm teaching her a valuable life lesson because I'm thrifty? Okay, cheap, but I'll spring 25 cents for a plush something when it makes her so happy. I wonder what they talk about when she tucks them into bed?

Friday, March 18, 2011


When I was little, gardening was a required activity. Dad spent this time of year discussing strategies with neighbors and plotting out his gardens on graph paper. When the time came to actually get out the shovel, he loudly sang Irish ballads in the back yard. If Dad was singing, the world was a happy place.

After the soil was turned and raked, my sisters and I were lined up for duties. Dad wanted mathematically perfect gardens, so our fingers and arms were measured to guarantee seeds were planted the appropriate depth and distance apart. Taut strings were stretched across the garden to ensure rows were perfect too. Despite Irish ballads, his German relatives must've had an influence on his sense of order.

I didn't care. I liked putting my hands in warm, dry dirt. I liked tucking loose worms back into the soil. I liked having a part in the new life we were inviting into the world. I liked watching things grow. I didn't like rutabagas, but I guess that topic can wait for another day.

Maybe it was an effort to get rid of excess rutabagas? I got the idea that our neighbors were in desperate need of fresh vegetables. I thought they'd be so glad to have it delivered to their door that they'd pay me for it. Dad liked that idea. Maybe he was sick of our bumper crop of rutabagas too? He allowed me to fill my red Radio Flyer wagon every week. I was allowed to keep my profits -- after "taxes". That was his somewhat arbitrary decision that he should get half of the profits to cover expenses for seeds and his labor in tilling in the first place.

To tell the truth, this was a pretty profitable venture. My old ladies loved my visits, fed me cookies, and gave me gossip for the next house. You'd think this would've made me a better gossip, but I didn't master the skill very well. I didn't see the point in telling anybody that Dottie was mad at the Hendershots or that the Taylor girl stayed out too late with her boyfriend. I think I just collected their stories so I could write about them some day. I got a lot of material from lonely old ladies.

I've sold produce as an adult too. I was onto organic gardening before anyone seemed to know what it was. I started selling produce, herbs, and flowers at a local farmers market. At some point I threw up my very tired hands and resigned, but my husband at the time contacted other growers, and we started buying and selling on a larger scale. "We" being a pretty generous term. He liked coming up with ideas, but I was the one who did the actual work.

Even so, I liked going to market every Saturday. It was kind of like having my old ladies back again. No cookies, but I still got the gossip. The patter of voices is a pleasant thing when nothing really comes out of it. People just want to feel connected, and why not connect over vegetables and flowers?

It has finally warmed up in Ohio. It could still snow again, but I saw my first buzzard yesterday and the mourning doves are back. Today I'm going to start some seeds in the window. I saved them from last year's garden, and hope to have a never-ending supply of heirloom tomatoes throughout the summer. For those of you who saw my last post, I'm thinking it's important to see new life when facing a funeral. Despite tears, life goes on. It's important to cultivate simple pleasures.

The art is a card I made for those racks of tourism destinations you can see at hotels and such. No new art today. I want to put my hands in dirt.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Geof Whitaker

I'm no good at grief. I find my best coping skills in cases like this is to pretend nothing has changed. I did that when my dad died. I went to bed one night with a super healthy 45-year-old father and woke in the dark to the news I didn't have a father any more. I just pretended Dad was at work. The thought that he was never coming home again was simply more than I could understand or bear when I was 15.

I feel myself wanting to fall on old patterns. My friend Geof has died. I saw it coming. I knew he was suffering. I wanted more time. Now all the people who loved him have to pick their ways through the shattered glass his death brings into our lives. Relationships need to be rearranged to patch the void left behind, but band-aids can't fill the hole some people leave in our lives. I want to pretend I can pick up the phone and ask Geof for his excellent advice about how to deal with his death.

Our first real conversation was a fight about abortion. We both got overheated on the topic, even though our perspectives weren't so different we couldn't have found a middle ground if either of us were trying to find one. We weren't trying. The next time I saw him, he met me at the door with "I'm so sorry!" and I responded with a fast "Me too!" More than anything else, maybe that moment cemented our friendship?

His wife Korki encouraged our friendship because she saw Geof didn't have enough creative playmates since he'd been forced to retire early from commercial photography after being savagely beaten by a lunatic with a baseball bat. Geof wasn't just a photographer, he was amongst the absolute best. He taught me things about color and lighting that will influence my work for the rest of my life. He critiqued my work without pity, but also with encouragement and praise. He was always right. When I critiqued his work, he took it in stride and I felt pleased to return his favors.

Geof quite possibly knew everything there is to know about everything. He could discuss quantum physics to politics to dandelion fluff in a seamless, amusing, educational stream of consciousness. He had opinions about all of it too, and his opinions were based on kindness and understanding. He understood me. In a world that has told me so often that I am "too much" of everything that I am, Geof understood and encouraged me to be all of those things.

Geof understood why I wanted to sit on the free side of a table, while he wanted to sit with his back planted against a wall. Korki obliged us both with good humor and sensitivity. I have tried to keep this blog a happy place with happy memories, but Geof knew about my demons, and he imparted a path towards peace with memories I couldn't see before. In the same way I didn't judge him for being beaten with a baseball bat, he took in my lifetime of traumas and praised me for surviving.

Geof came into my life at a time when I lost another dear friend, another close friend and her kids moved away, my heart was broken, and my health fell apart. It was a terrible year, and Geof helped me pick up the pieces. He let me ramble on and gave me sage advice how to deal with things. Sometimes the advice was simple, and sometimes so insightful, I couldn't understand how those ideas hadn't occurred to me before. His lengthy, daily emails were so important, I saved them in case I needed to take refresher courses in living.

He shared his own life too, which wasn't always pleasant or easy. He made sacrifices for his children that his kids will never know or appreciate. He was a complex, brilliant, sensitive man, and it was my blessing to have known him. When my friend Betty died, my sister said "Some people are irreplaceable". Geof is irreplaceable too.

The photo of cherries is Geof's work. In case you think that's an easy thing to do, try it sometime. I did. I failed. Add in the fact that he had a tremor from getting hit with that bat, and that he went blind in one eye, I think you can see Geof's knowledge and talents were remarkable. He knew when to get that shot, how to set the exposure and focus, and probably a thousand other things I'll never learn. Mostly I look at this photo with the knowledge that he gave it to me because I like cherries and because he was cheering me up one day. All I can think is that it was my honor to have known him while I cry a puddle of tears on my keyboard.

In Geof's own words...

There is a kind of mysterious way things work... By some manner of magic there are people who have entered your life who see the world the way you "know" it should be... I began living like I mattered, and suddenly I did.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I've been playing with paper fish lately. I made a cut paper robin a couple weeks ago, had fun, and thought wouldn't it be nice to do something more impressive with the technique? Sounds great, but it stopped being play a while ago.

The original idea was to make a birthday card for my Pisces people. I seem to have a school of fish, and one card for all seemed sensible. Sketching out a couple fish was quick and easy. Cutting them out was easy. Then I was stuck with a couple of blue fish that didn't seem to be swimming anywhere. Most of my Pisces give absolutely no credence to astrology, so I don't even know if any of my efforts will be appreciated.

I thought I had a good idea in using a fish scale pattern in the background. That's a lot of cut/paste in PhotoShop, and I thought it would be extra cool to make the fish scales into a round pattern. Um, let's think about the mechanics of that for a moment. The first circle is only 4 scales. That's easy. 90 degree rotations for each. Next round is 8 scales. That's easy too. 45 degree turns for each. By the time I got to the biggest circle I was trying to figure out how many degrees I need to turn things for 44 scales, or maybe 48, and to make things worse my calculator wouldn't work and my keyboard is still mad at me for spilling tea on it a couple weeks ago.

Okay, duplicate file and start over. Stripes will be better, right? Seemed a little dull, but maybe I'm just mad at Pisces people. Okay, maybe I'm just mad at one specific Pisces person?

I wasn't thrilled with the stripes, so I wiped out the background altogether. That really looked dull. I made some circles to represent bubbles. Copy/paste some more. I'm not going to admit how long I spent stirring all these elements together, and I really hate to admit that I like the bubble version best when it was the easiest to do.
I think I'll go back to scratchboard or watercolors or something -- except I know me. I'll probably keep banging my head on cut paper for a while. What's any of this got to do with "stir"? Well, there's the stirring of elements, but it also looks like the water is stirred by the swimming fish. Oh, okay, it's a stretch, but it's what I've been working on, and it's what I feel like posting :)

In other news, I had an opening at a gallery last Friday. It was a nice event, lots of people came, and almost nothing sold. Multiple artists showed their work, so it doesn't feel personal. The gallery owner is pulling his hair out about the economy. The economy isn't my fault, so that doesn't feel personal either. I did my part in dressing up, inviting people, shaking hands and passing out business cards.

I met the owner of another gallery at the opening. He likes my work and made helpful observations and suggestions about it. I met with him yesterday, and discussed terms of showing my work at his place. I'm feeling very torn about this. Gallery #2 is at a prime location in the big city, and my costs go up as a result. Galleries want to charge a monthly fee for wall space plus a healthy commission. When you figure in art supplies, framing, and printing, I'll be lucky to get half of the selling price of a piece. Not to mention that all of the upfront expenses are on my end.

It's been recommended that I keep my originals and just sell prints and giclees. That means I can sell multiple copies of my images, but since copies sell for roughly 1/4 the price of originals, I'd need to sell in volume -- and no guarantees anything will sell in this previously mentioned economy.

Like I said, I'm feeling torn, and would like feedback. I'm thinking of trying the new gallery for 3 months, but wonder is it worthwhile to pursue sales in galleries?

Friday, March 4, 2011


I've gotten a lot of warnings in my life, usually with that sick feeling in my gut that all is not well in the world. I've been thinking about that quite a bit this week because I've been trying to collect money from someone who doesn't want to pay, and I keep thinking of that moment when I set her key down on a table while my insides screamed to hold it hostage. I want to think the best of people, but I've seen this kind of thing before.

When I was a kid, a handsome young man pulled up near me and waved me over to his car. He looked as fresh and perfect as any image I had ever seen of the idealized All-American, but my insides spewed acid, and I didn't trust him. He talked me over, but I also hung back. "Closer! I've got something to show you!" he said, and I angled behind him so he couldn't grab me. More requests and demands to get me closer, and I eventually saw over his shoulder a porn magazine on his lap. He tossed it aside and was naked underneath. I ran.

I wasn't hurt by this event, but I've thought of it through the years. Trust my gut when it says "Warning!" I don't know how I knew the guy was dangerous. I don't know why I knew Stacey was going to rip me off when I turned in the key. I just knew it.

Maybe I should say that I know about contracts, and clear agreements are always a good thing. I've written lots of them. Most people behave decently, but there are those who seem to think the rules don't apply to them. I did web design for a guy with a clear contract, but didn't know his working methods would end up as a raw deal for me. When I tried to renegotiate, he was unavailable, but still managed to send more work while I kept saying "We need to talk!"

I'm imagining a very hot volcano where we can push these people in to save humanity, and artists in particular.

I'm also trying to push these thoughts out of my mind because I have an opening at a gallery this evening. I'm trying not to think about previous patrons who've tried to rip me off in a different way by negotiating prices down. The gallery gets its cut, the companies making frames and art supplies get their cut, and the only one who loses in the negotiation is the artist. Do plumbers have to deal with any of this? They work. They get paid. Nobody says that since the plumber loves his work he should give his time away.

Even so, my gut is peaceful today. The opening will be fine. I guess I needed to vent a bit, and I'm shoving these negative thoughts aside because it's like dwelling on the last bad boyfriend's behavior and projecting his actions on the new guy. Each boyfriend and job has been a learning experience, and in the end, each painting needs to find its home.

This illustration is on scratchboard. I added the red in PhotoShop because I felt like having some red today, but I'm thinking about hanging the original in my office as a reminder to get the money before turning in the key!