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, December 27, 2013


Yay!  Illustration Friday is back in action!  I reflect all the time, this post ought to be easy, right?  (That's usually about the time when everything starts getting hard, isn't it?)  I deleted my reflections on divorce and dating, contemplated wrinkles, thought about reposting my post about narcissism... Maybe reflecting is something I spend too much time contemplating?

In art, reflections are a funny thing, and most people get them wrong.  Perhaps one of the best lessons I learning in painting class is that there should be some of every color in your painting in all of the objects you're painting.  Just the idea of that opened my world to more possibilities and definitely improved my appreciation of the masters' work.

For instance, You've painted a backdrop with Alizarin Crimson in it.  You paint Aunt Becky in front of it.  The pinks of her cheeks should include Alizarin Crimson so she looks like she's actually living in the setting you've given her.  You've painted Uncle Dave in front of something Ultramarine Blue.  Uncle Dave's 5:00 shadow, or maybe the shadows in his ears, should have some Ultramarine Blue.  Or, sometimes just to keep things interesting use the exact opposite color.  Your mind understands oppositions.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people making these days is treating the object of a painting separate from its surroundings so that object feels like it's floating on a page.  Your object needs something to ground it.  A shadow helps a lot.  Reflecting colors from the ground will ground it more.

This painting is from the era when I was learning such things.  When my painting teacher told me to put orange in the blue bowl, my jaw was tight with irritation.  No way!  Orange doesn't belong on a blue object, and you're just messing with my head!  But there's nothing like a challenge, and I put orange everywhere.  More orange than necessary to tell the truth, but it served as a good lesson.  I loved learning from Mr. Larrabee.

Another thing about reflections is that they come hard or soft.  The highlights on the purple ball in this painting are very white against the dark purple.  That means it's a really shiny object.  The reflections on the ceramic pot are more subtle because the finish of the pot wasn't as shiny.  The reflections on the wooden bowl are most subtle because it wasn't shiny at all.

When you do something metallic, put your darkest blacks next to your whitest whites in the front of the object.  Let those oppositions get more subtle the farther away they are from the viewer.  I have a lot of fun with metallic things.

Here's to hoping that everyone either makes art or appreciates it in the coming year.  Wishing everyone the happiest year yet in 2014!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Holiday!

It's Saturday, it's cold and rainy outside, and I'm ready to do another blog post.  However, no word for the week yet.  Refresh the illustrationfriday.com site...  pfft, still no new word.  There's nothing really to do except take the initiative and start blogging anyway, letting you in on my rambling thoughts and activities...

Happy solstice to everyone!  This means the days will get longer for everyone north of the equator.  Yay!  Tomorrow will be 1 minute longer than today!  Yay!  Oh yeah, and happy Christmas and merry Kwanza and joyful whatever other holiday you might choose to celebrate this time of year.  May you spend this time with people you like, with good and plentiful food.

My brother got 2 large, frozen turkeys from his work last night.  I would happily stick one of them in the oven, but I think I just mentioned they're frozen.  Sigh, delayed gratification again.  I got together with friends for lunch today and had a very happy conversation about books.  I stopped at my usual neighborhood store and laughed a lot with the owners while we contemplated the coming extra minute of light.

People in other departments at work were overheard complaining about that contractor whom I complained about in my post last week.  I feel some vindication, and I'm happy that my part of the project is finally coming together.  I'm abandoning ship this week and will let them fight it out without me while I hope to take some long-overdue time off.  I'll still have work to do at home, but I can do it in sweats and messy hair.

In other words, my world is in a good place in this particular moment.  I don't have any real plans, and I don't really want to make any.  I've hit the refresh button on the IF site a couple more times, and am starting to contemplate that 2' x 4' canvas I bought a couple months ago.  Or maybe another jigsaw puzzle.  Or I could finish the book I've been reading, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  It's a good book, but I have to admit the idea of yet another book or movie with a vampire in it is irritating me, and I'm more irritated that I'm enjoying the book anyway.

I did this art for a customer who failed to fully appreciate my efforts since they didn't buy it.  I'll admit it's a bad scan, but in my attempt to relax I'm going to go with the file at hand without looking for the original.  Besides, I'm having computer problems, and generally grouchy about software engineers making my life harder than it needs to be, not to mention that the lack of an IF word caused me to do actual work instead of blogging this afternoon.  Oh well, a little less to do this week?

I could go on a side rant about how trying to have Christmas spirit is too much pressure and not enough fun, but sometimes the holidays are fun, and maybe this is your year to have everything you want?

My dog thinks it's tv time and I should quit typing.  I'm thinking about that very nice bottle of wine my boss gave me too.  Maybe sometimes it's perfectly wonderful just to ramble about nothings without any actual point?

Wishing everyone happiness this holiday!

Saturday, December 14, 2013


A saw a woman die.  We were in a large room with a lot of people when she slid down her chair and fell on the floor.  The paramedics were there in no time, and my companion took a potty break while the evening's activities were sidetracked by the medical drama.  While she was gone I tried to tune into what was going on with the old lady.  I was close enough to see activity without details, and not close enough to hear anything. 

It looked like they were going to load her up and take her to the hospital when I "saw" her spirit leave her body.  It was like a white, twisting mist that pulled away and zipped out the open door.  My companion ran into the room and whispered "Did you see that?!  She just died!"  We both "saw" that white wisp.

I don't know how to explain seeing something invisible, or why a spirit would twist out of a body like that, or why it would go out a doorway when a spirit shouldn't need doorways anymore.  There's a whole lot of things that I don't understand at all.

Somebody sent around an email a while ago that asked a bunch of questions intended to make us all get to know each other better.  One of the questions was "Have you ever seen someone die?"  I was surprised how many people said yes.  Have you?  Did it change what you think of dying and/or the afterlife?

Seeing that old lady's spirit was an affirmation to me that there is more to life that what we see around us, that something survives the body.

This topic reminds me a lot of work since I work for Religion, but I value my job sufficiently to keep my endless questions to myself.  I remember how many times I got in trouble when I was little for all my whys and hows and whats, and I know I'll never change.  I'll always ask questions.

In a conversation with a religious person over a project I was told, "Quit thinking so much.  Put your experience on the back burner.  Just trust the process."  Them's fighting words, and the project is making me insane.  Let me vent a little...

Recently, I've had a couple of contractors repeatedly refuse to follow directions.  This floors me.  What happened to "the customer is always right"?  I've worked on plenty of projects where I thought the customer was dead wrong, said so, then did what they wanted -- sometimes finding out their way wasn't so awful after all.  (Though sometimes it was.)

Have I just gotten unlucky recently, or do you think this kind of refusal amongst designers is a trend?  Do you think perhaps it's because we've lost studios where other artists saw and critiqued each other's work?  Because software knowledge trumps design?

I'm really curious about what other people think on this, and if anyone has learned ways to deal with it.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


I used to look at my bedroom ceiling and mentally measure the uneven spaces between the dark wood beams that slanted upwards to 15' on one side.  I'd contemplate the texture of the wood grain in each beam and the diseased white paint between each.  It was a humid disaster in the Glen, so Dad covered the paint with acoustic ceiling tiles.  Then I contemplated the textures of the ceiling tiles instead.

I was bed-ridden more than once as a kid, and we didn't have TV when I was really young.  That didn't leave much more to do than study ceiling tiles and beams.  I listened to my heart beat and my breath go in and out, then decided to see how few breaths and heart beats I really needed.  Thdump, thdump became baa... dumm.  Baa... dumm.  In ever widening spaces between each.  I think I accidentally discovered Yogic methods of meditation and healing.

Mom likes to say that boredom is good for kids.  It forces them to amuse themselves, even to the exquisite boredom of slowing down heartbeats.  I counted the dimples in the ceiling tiles and learned to count even through my dreams, waking up and finding the time on the clock with radioactive numbers was exactly what I expected it to be.

Sometimes I miss that kind of boredom.  Not in a way of actually wanting to be that bored again, but missing the control I had over myself.  It's harder for me now to pay attention to the times when I need to slow down the pattern of my breathing, and I can't slow my heart like I did back then.  As we get older, it seems more and more like life happens to us instead of creating it as we go along.

When we learn something for the first time, we don't know that we learned to do something hard or impossible.  When we're older, someone has already told us that you can't do that kind of thing so we probably won't try, or we give up too easily because we don't expect it to work anyway.  Or we have already figured out that there's absolutely no value in counting dimples in ceiling tiles.

Sometimes I think art is the same kind of thing.  Exquisite boredom and focus in a world of possibilities and mysteries.  For me, the joy of art is the process, and sometimes I'm happy to have something pleasant to hang on a wall afterwards.  People who buy art are buying an experience.

I often make patterns when I'm stressed.  It's more useful than examining ceilings, plus I end up with patterns to put in the backgrounds of other things.  I had a job that actually paid me for doing that kind of thing too.  Some of my old clients still carry my designs.  I swear I should've gotten royalties for this stuff.  I'm  only taking credit for the good designs on this site, and I still bemoan this company's product shots.

If you're interested in the production side of things, I created the page of patterns for Williams & Bennett to show how the patterns of a 5-high tower of gift boxes would look in either red or green backgrounds and with metallic gold ink.