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, August 31, 2012


Is anything really identical?  Two silk carnations from the same manufacturer aren’t really the same.  They’re even less the same after filtered through our eyes and minds.  If I gave you these flowers, what would you do with them?  Stick them in a vase?  Decorate a hat?  Throw them away?

I pulled this drawing out of my archives and started thinking about why I did what I did.  I had bought wallpaper from an outlet store for $1/double roll.  I thought it was funny because the pattern was so big and bold.  Why not staple flowers to the wall?  It wasn’t any less strange than “Roger’s Rat Count” which had been painted on the wall by the previous tenants.  The painting of a rat had a tally of about 15 or 20 hash marks underneath it.  Roger was their cat.  I wallpapered around the rat count, because good art is good art.  I painted the thermostat to match the wallpaper, and laughed when my upstairs neighbors Pat and Matt came downstairs to change the setting and couldn’t find the camouflaged thermostat on the wall.  I hung up a basketball hoop and invited the next-door-neighbor girls to come over and play.  I glued brightly colored tissue paper on the door frame.  I painted the kitchen appliances and cupboards school bus yellow.

I was renting an old house on Franklin in Columbus, OH while going to college.  The house was built to be a speakeasy (an illegal bar) during prohibition, and the house definitely had its quirks.  I learned that everyone wore their coats at a speakeasy in case of a raid, so there weren’t any closets.  The rooms were huge, with a beautifully ceramic-tiled fireplace, and the kitchen had enough cupboards to stock plenty of liquor for the duration of the misbegotten law outlawing alcohol in the US.  There were 2 distinct advantages in renting the place, the first of which was the rent was $90/month.  The second advantage was that it backed up on the alley where all my pals liked to party.  I got real popular real quick for having a nearby bathroom.

Some years later, I have a regular house, with regular colors on the walls.  I don’t have a basketball hoop or a rat count.  While sensible colors make other people comfortable, is my life any better for sensible colors?

Growing up is a descent into conformity, and conformity sucks.  Why should we all march together in identical tempo?  Why should we get our hair cut the same way or wear the same clothes or paint our room off-white?  Oooo, live it up, paint it beige!

I don’t think most people like identical anythings.  It’s one of the reasons that people often instinctively dislike art made on the computer.  Things are too perfect to be real.  A good computer artist creates conflict and interest in that perfect medium.  A great artist does something different than the identical masses.

My original plan for this post was to write about my non-identical twin brothers, but obviously I took a sharp turn somewhere along the line.  Still, I found this picture on my computer and thought I’d share.  They were little kids when I happily living with a rat on my wall, and they shot some hoops in my bedroom.

You’ll have to excuse me now.  I’m feeling an urge to paint something yellow – or maybe red or purple or any color other than neutral…

Friday, August 24, 2012


About.com lists the average height of a woman in the US as 5’ 3.8”.  Maybe I could achieve average if I cut off my head?  The average man is 5’ 9.2”.  With my head still attached, I can look the average man in the eye.  When I was little, I envied my petite, blonde girlfriend and her nicely plumped out curves.  I liked her blue eyes, and I liked other people’s brown eyes.  What I didn’t like was my own undecided hazel eyes.  I wished for curls in my hair.  I wanted more pigment in my skin.  What I mostly wanted was to be like everybody else. 

It seems like we’re always wishing to be something we’re not.  Everybody seems to be looking at others for the stuff they themselves lack, and this is all incredibly stupid of all of us because we can’t change our genetics.  All we’re doing is making ourselves miserable, and the advertising industry is intent on keeping us miserable so we’ll keep buying miracle products. 

I wish I could have back all the time I wasted on wanting things I can’t have.  Think of the things I could’ve accomplished!  Or maybe I wouldn’t have accomplished anything at all because I would’ve been so content with everything just as it was.  Maybe we have to be a little miserable to motivate us into actually doing stuff?

When I was in college, I bemoaned the fact that I didn’t have a distinctive style.  I kept looking at my classmates’ work and only seeing the best.  The people who weren’t doing as well as me didn’t factor into my thoughts.  All I knew was that I wasn’t the best and I wanted to be.  As a result, I kept making art into defective imitations of other people’s work based on my warped perceptions.  It wasn’t until I was in my junior year when I turned in an uncharacteristically hurried homework assignment when I was illuminated by the fact that my style was what came easily to me.  My class and teacher loved my homework assignment.  By doing it quickly, I was forced to resort to my own personal style that I had been unconsciously trying to suffocate throughout my college career.  Copying someone else’s inspirational work was never going to show “my” style because they aren’t me.  If something comes easily to me, then that’s coming from my core and should be easy.

That doesn’t mean everyone should quit trying to polish their skills and just do schlop.  Try, practice, work at what you want to achieve.  Wish for the right things.  Instead of bemoaning eye color or how tall we are, let’s wish to achieve our highest potential.  Not compared to someone else’s potential or achievements, but to our own abilities and successes.

Last week’s cucumber was a realistic watercolor.  As I said then, I wanted to go make pickles, so I wasn’t taking time to paint.  I did it with a scrubby ½” brush that happened to be lying on my desk.  This week I was going to sketch my gangly younger self towering over my classmates, but somehow I ended up with towering construction paper flower instead.  Both styles are me.  Graphic, over decorated paper flowers are just as much a part of me as realistic cucumbers painted with the wrong brush, and I’m happy that they’re both part of me.  To be perfectly honest, the flowers took a lot more time than the cucumber.  Maybe I’m still hiding my wild side?

Friday, August 17, 2012


“I miss the days when I could lift my weight in wild cats!”  An old guy told me that when I bought home-grown produce from him yesterday.  Classic old guy stuff.  I have to wonder where they come up with their material.  I said, “Maybe you still could if they were dead wild cats?” and the old guy laughed because I played his game.  I looked at him closer and could almost see the young guy he used to be hiding behind his eyes.

Old guys know a lot of stuff.  Maybe I should’ve hung out for a while and let him teach me some things?  What is becoming increasingly clear to me after several failed attempts to write this post is that I don’t feel like writing about teachers today.  I want to make pickles.  The cukes are sliced up, salted, and chilling right now, just waiting for the real action of canning.  I’m making bread and butter pickles, which I realize a lot of people don’t like as much as dills, but it’s a comfort food from childhood for me sometimes.  Here’s what you do…

Slice up a bunch of cucumbers and onions.  Layer them in a big container with pickling salt and ice and let sit for an hour or two.  In a big pot, combine 2 cups sugar, 2 Tbsp mustard seed, 2 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp celery seed, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp peppercorns, and 3 cups apple cider vinegar.  Bring to a boil, then add the rinsed cukes and onions, and return to a boil.  Pack into hot canning jars with ¼” headspace, and process in hot water for 10 minutes.  The recipe says this makes 7 pints, but I pack in more than 4 pounds of cucumbers when I’m doing it, so I get more jars than that.  It sounds a lot easier than it actually is too.  That’s a lot of slicing and standing over a hot stove.  Thankfully it’s a perfect summer day, yet cool enough for canning.

If you want an easier recipe for dills, buy a jar of pickles that you like.  When all the pickles are gone, cut up some cukes, submerge them in the leftover pickle juice, and put in the refrigerator.  If you leave them alone for a week or two, they’ll taste like your store-bought pickles.  This only works about 1 ½ times, then you have to buy some new pickles and start over, or use this recipe… Cut 8 pounds of cucumbers in half lengthwise.  In a pot, combine ½ cup sugar, ½ cup canning salt, 1 quart vinegar, 1 quart water, 3 Tbsp pickling spice, fresh or dry dill.  When the mixture is hot and well dissolved, pour over cukes, seal, and put in the fridge.

I’m going to have a lot of pickles next year because I ran out in March this year.  That’s completely unacceptable.  I’m convinced eating pickles will make you live longer because an old woman told me so.  Well, okay, she said a spoonful of apple cider vinegar every day would make you live longer, but I believe in taking artistic license with such advice.  It even makes a bit of sense – the vinegar as a tonic anyway.  Vinegar is astringent, so swallowing some every day might actually keep your insides clean.

Old people are the best teachers – even if they can’t lift their weight in wild cats any more. I should go back and give that old guy a jar of pickles :)

Friday, August 10, 2012


My grandpa stayed with me for a while once.  I had a waterbed, which he was absolutely sure he couldn’t sleep on until he woke up the next day and said he had the best night’s sleep in decades.  He strongly suggested that I iron the sheets with starch during his stay, but no matter how much I loved him, I wasn’t about to iron sheets, and I’m real sure I didn’t own starch.  Then he requested “dry apple pie”, which didn’t even make sense in my mind.  Why would someone put dried apples in a pie?  He couldn’t give me a recipe, and that was before instant internet recipes, so Grandpa didn’t get his pie either.  Don’t worry, he didn’t go hungry, but ironed sheets and pies?!  Grandma spoiled him.

Since I wasn’t burning my life ironing sheets and baking, Grandpa had a lot of time to tell me about drying apples.  He grew up in Tennessee, and the late summer days had a lot of sunshine to dry out apples laid out on the barn roof.  He talked about life before stores (?!), when they had to make everything from scratch or it didn’t exist.  Pillows were stuffed with the chest feathers of geese, Clothes were made at home, and his favorite toy was a stick whittled into a gun.  He told me about that gun twice, in way too much detail.  He talked about going into the mountains in winter with the menfolk to saw up frozen lake ice.  They packed the ice in straw and loaded it onto horse-drawn wagons which they drove home to store in underground pits lined with more straw.  Grandpa said the ice often lasted through most of the summer.  They needed the ice to keep food fresh because this was life before refrigerators.  Iced tea was a luxury for company.

Grandpa was born in 1896.  He served in WWI, but got the flu in the great epidemic so he didn’t go to Europe to fight.  He was disappointed about that when he was young because he liked traveling.  He was of a generation after the Civil War, and that war wiped out the family finances since they were on the losing side.  Grandpa said they were “land rich and money poor”, so he hopped on a train to Detroit for work.  The train stopped in Akron, Ohio and he and his brother stayed because they were told there was work in Akron.  He worked for Goodyear until his retirement, which all happened before I was born.  Grandpa was always old in my mind, but I suppose he was young once.  He talked about parties he attended in the neighboring county, drinking and carousing, and all sorts of stuff I couldn’t imagine of my completely sober Grandpa.

I thought he was handsome, and women seemed to think it too.  When I see pictures of Matthew McConaughey, I think Grandpa.  Well, maybe not quite as buff, but for all I know, Matthew has a place in my family tree, and Grandpa was buff in his day before Grandma was fattening him up with pies.  Or perhaps white people all look alike?  Or Southerners are all related?

I wanted Grandpa to tell me stories about the people he knew when he was young, but he just didn’t.  He talked about activities, like sawing the ice or watching his grandma plucking feathers from very mad geese.  I knew he loved his grandma, but I don’t have any details about why he loved her except that she made dried apple pies.  I don’t know if it matters.  The way he told stories, or didn’t tell them, was part of who he was.  The fact that he took pictures of steam engines, or the tv during the moon landing, was a reflection of the fact that he lived through a lifetime of miracles.  We talk about the wonders of the internet, but what about living in a life before electricity, cars, vaccines, tv… when ice in tea was precious?

Friday, August 3, 2012


When we’re kids, we hear old people saying things like “In my day…” and we roll our eyes and think they’re just old people who aren’t adapting to inevitable changes in the world.  So sad for them, but old people aren’t going to hold us back from embracing the future… and then we become old people too.  I feel an overwhelming urge to tell some young snot about how life was like in the olden days, before handheld gaming devices, when Super Balls were a cool, new thing.

My childhood was an era of optimism, and contrasts.  Hippies painted flowers on themselves and made love while politicians and ministers and older brother soldiers got killed in industrial numbers.  Disney had a weekly tv show with talking animals, and Jim on Wild Kingdom wrestled alligators.  Things were simple.  I laughed at my mom’s post WWII compulsion of thrift to collect twisties… and then I realize I have somehow become an adult with a stash of twisties too.  Something feels seriously wrong.

I often write about growing up in “The Glen” as idyllic.  In a lot of ways it was.  It was an isolated neighborhood in the woods, and my fellow “River Rats” knew everybody else’s business in an extended, dysfunctional family.  One of my old ladies used to play her own version of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon by explaining how almost everyone was in some way related to the Noonans, either by genetics or marriage.  I have Noonan nephews, so I’ve even been sucked into that vortex.  It’s inescapable, like collecting twisties.

I meet a group of friends once a month at a local restaurant.  Sometimes new people come, and the new people get absorbed into our group in such a seamless way that I forget about how or when they showed up originally.  It’s a “now” group.  We talk about stuff going on in the world, and what’s going on in our lives now.  Ed talked about working on his boat > canoeing the river > used to live in the Glen… say what?!!  Suddenly my past and present slammed together in a way I hadn’t expected.  It was like finding out I was friends with a cousin I didn’t know I had.  A distant image of an older boy running across his front yard popped into my head, drinking lemonade with an old woman sitting next to a stone fireplace, a periscope in the yard…

One thought races after another, and I felt the river calling me this week.  I watched minnows and found a sucker under a rock (that’s a fish), who let me examine its stripes and colors and details before I gently covered it with the slab of shale again.  There’s nothing like watching the ripples of the water for making me realize that my now life is stressing me out and I need to take time to breathe and be quiet.  I sat on the front porch of the old homestead with my brother and counted all of 2 cars go by in an hour.  Bro is going to live at that house forever, so in some ways I’ll always be able to go home again.  Someday maybe I’ll sit on that porch and tell a kid how everyone is in some way related to the Noonans.

In the meantime, I think I need a Super Ball.

I had a more brilliant idea for art this week, but it didn’t work out.  Sometimes that happens, and usually, I pitch my Quasimodos without anyone knowing, but maybe the world looks a little too perfect and unattainable if we only see the best people can produce?  That doesn’t mean I’m going to actually show you my hideously ugly mistake, but hey, it happens to all of us.  I kind of like the simplicity of a single bouncing ball.  I made the blue ball in penance :)