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, May 30, 2015


Public speaking is an invisible monster for most people.  I wrote about one of my early experiences here.  I wish everyone could have an affirming experience when they face a fear, though I'll admit my fear of public speaking persisted a long time even though I've had positive experiences with it.  Nobody's booed me at any rate.

I had a boss who was absolutely wonderful: supportive, kind... challenging.  He made me lead meetings and speak at staff meetings.  That was about 250 faces looking only at a shy introvert.  I was pretty sure Leon was going to give me a stroke if he didn't succeed in helping me grow.

I survived, and reinforced one of my core beliefs that most people want us to succeed.  My coworkers may have been bored silly during my presentation, but they went out of their way to say I'd done well.  Over and over, people have affirmed my public speaking efforts even though I've done everything I could to avoid them.  This isn't to brag that I'm good at it.  I think people have been on my side because I admit I'm nervous and laugh at myself.  I make an effort and try to do better.

There was a time when I was in a bad marriage, lived as a recluse in the woods, then moved back to suburbia and got a job.  I'd forgotten how to speak.  Not just standing in front of a crowd, I mean I forgot really basic stuff.  A kid said "hi" to me and I couldn't think of a response.  He saw me choking internally and gave me a funny look, and then shrugged and skipped off.  I went to my office and had a meltdown.  I called a friend who supplied the answer, "You say 'hi' back".  Oh.  Duh.

Next time I saw a kid I said "hi".  I remembered to smile too.  I got better at it, which was a really good thing because I had to get on stage and talk to hundreds of people at a time for that job.  I had to teach classes too.  I dealt with it.

I think most fears are like this.  People really don't die when they have to give an oral report at school or present something in a meeting.  A monster isn't going to come from under the bed and a bear isn't going to maul you.

We're afraid of mistakes that will in some way ruin our lives or subject us to criticism.  Here's a hard fact, criticism doesn't kill you either.  Unless someone is coming at you with a knife, you're probably safe to try tackling one of your invisible monsters.  Start with an easy one.  If the people around you don't support your effort, find someone who will.  That doesn't mean find someone who just says you're always wonderful.  Find someone who is willing to be there for you while you try.  Find a Leon who helps push you to do better.

I'm grateful to the people who have helped me through my life.  I feel fortunate, even when I'll be the first to say that I've had more than my share of crap in life too.  I think the point of living is taking our talents and experiences and doing something with them, learning to do better as we go.  That's true of painting a picture, and it's true of creating our lives.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


"Melt" reminds me of a treat I used to get when I lived in Indianapolis -- really good bread with garlic and olive oil, basil leaves, the freshest tomato, and cheese melted under the broiler until it was bubbly and brown.  Mmm...

I may have mentioned that I hated Indiana?  But the bruschetta was good.  All I had to do is walk around the corner.  Around another corner I listened to Hogeye Navvy, a group who sang ballads and pirate songs.  Here's a bad video of them at the actual restaurant where I used to sing, shout, and thump my glass on cue.  Maybe you had to be there, but this video makes me smile and sent me searching youtube for Waltzing with Bears.  It's actually a good band so go to youtube if you want to hear better samples of their harmonies.

Remembering the girl in Indianapolis is like remembering another person.  She was like me, but terribly depressed and lonely, putting all her energy into home repair (which you can see here) because there was absolutely nothing else to do.

I didn't paint.  You'd think that I'd have lots of time to produce masterpieces, but I didn't.  I tried a few times to do something, anything on canvas, but I hated what came out of me.  A knife dripping blood is just one example.  I don't know who'd want that hanging in their living room.  I shoved it in the closet and was kind of relieved when the ex took it in the divorce.  I just melted into bed and became best friends with Oprah.

This too is part of the artistic temperament.  Sometimes I think the price of a painting should include the time spent in the fetal position and the cost of therapy and bon bons.

I've had a few creative deserts in my life.  It's painful.  There came a time when I didn't know if I could paint even if I could force myself to pick up a brush.  I wondered if I had lost my talent, and didn't have enough support to express my fears.

I eventually got back to Ohio, and lived in a big house with an art studio.  You'd think that would unplug the creative block, but it didn't.  It wasn't until I abandoned the studio and pushed a table against a 3-story glass wall facing the woods that I was able to draw -- and then I couldn't stop.  Piles of watercolors started happening even though I'd never mastered watercolors before.  Dog and I took long walks amongst the trees and listened to the hidden waterfall.  I made violet jelly and picked mushrooms.  I talked to ghosts and kept painting.  A man I admire bought one of those paintings and I felt validated.

Art is a joy when things are flowing right, and agonizing when it doesn't.  There's no way to know for sure if a painting will work out until you do it, and it requires courage to find out which it's going to be.  It takes more strength to face the reactions of people who see it, hoping someone will buy it.  I lift my glass and pound the table to all my fellow creatives who face those fears and bring new things into the world.

Apart from creative meltdowns, I melted frozen butter in the microwave, and made rhubarb apple crisp with the last of my apples and the first of my rhubarb.  I'm so glad things are growing again!

Saturday, May 16, 2015


The family had a dog when I was little.  She loved me, I loved her, and that's pretty much the way it is with dogs.  She was a rather smelly little dog to tell the truth because she spent most of her time in the river and woods and lived outside, but I didn't care too much.  Her little heart was full to bursting with unconditional love, the only problem with that is she unconditionally loved others too.  I wanted a pet all of my own.

I collected animals.  I tried to save motherless birds, caught critters in the woods, netted fish... but none of them gave me the love I craved.  Wild animals stay wild even if you contain them.  Sure, the fish in my fish tank perked up when I showed up, but they might've just been hungry.

Dad had a big fish tank with tropical fish.  I enjoyed the bright fish but they were Dad's, and quite frankly, not as smart as my river fish.  Even so, I enjoyed going to the fish store to look at the exotics.  One day Dad said I could pick the fish we'd take home.  Now I'm not stupid, even though I was a pretty small little kid at that time.  I could pick something out, but unless it was something Dad felt like buying we weren't going to get it.

I picked a turtle.

If you're old enough, you'll remember the little green turtles they used to sell.  They don't sell them any more because they carry salmonella.  Damned shame.  They're adorable, and when I made eye contact through the glass it was love at first sight for both of us.

I tugged and pulled at Dad and showed him my heart's desire.  He wavered.  I could tell he was tempted to give in to me.  Mom made it quite clear that turtles weren't fish.  She can be just plain wrong-headed about pets, but I am nothing if not single-minded sometimes.  I wanted the turtle.  I needed the turtle.  The turtle wanted and needed me.

First real victory of my life was cradling my Chinese food container with said turtle looking up at me on the ride home.  Love.  It cradled my finger with its gentle claws.

Yeah, yeah, yeah parental instructions about food, water, all your responsibility, don't blame us if it dies... blah, blah, blah.  I already fed and watered the dog every day for my nickel/week allowance.  I understood daily care.  More than that, I needed someone to care for, and the turtle allowed me to pour my love into it.

I hunted for my turtle every day.  I gave it worms, grubs, minnow, and berries.  We took walks together.  It basked on my forehead.  I kissed it on the mouth and didn't die of salmonella.  It was the best loved turtle ever, and I gave it the best life a captured turtle can live.  I cried at the compost pile funeral years later.

That little green turtle will always be a part of my heart.  Maybe all of my turtle art is a tribute to it.  This piece is cut paper and hangs on my wall where I can see it every day.

Thank you to everyone who sent out good wishes and prayers for Danny.  He is recovering, and is doing so well they sent him home.  I was focused on my concerns for him when I was shaken this week by the sudden death my brother's life-long friend.  You can see Gary's obit hereI can't express how sorry I am for everyone who loved him.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


I was about 6 or 7 and ironing my Brownie uniform when I reached across the blazing hot iron to reposition the fabric.  Pssssizzzzle and some serious pain.  I was left with a burn on my forearm that blistered, and eventually healed, but a triangular scar marked the event forever.

Or so I thought.  Every decade or so I noticed it seemed a little fainter and was slowly working its way down towards my wrist.  Eventually it disappeared.  I almost felt sad it disappeared.  The scar was part of my identity and physical justification of my Mom grudge for not ironing things for me.  I guess I got over it in more ways than one.

A few weeks ago I discussed forgiveness with a friend.  He said forgiving is bullsh*t, and suggested working on acceptance instead.  That feels right in ways "forgiveness" does not.  We can accept all sorts of things happen in the world.  From genocides to rumpled uniforms, I accept those things happened.  Doesn't make them right, or equal, but they did happen -- and this idea helps me feel more at peace.

I've been called "unforgiving" too many times to count.  I feel like saying "judge not lest ye be judged", but I suppose on a good day this unwanted advice might be intended to be helpful.  It isn't, but they might mean well.  On a bad day it's a perpetrator telling me to "get over it" because he/she doesn't want to deal with my messy feelings.

The friend advising acceptance spoke from his personal struggles, and that makes his advice more valid to me because he's trying to rectify things in his head too.  We support each other in the journey.  Maybe we'll both get to a place where we feel entirely at peace with the world and our experiences?  Hey, it's a goal at any rate.

Danny is doing much better than he was last week.  He gave us quite a scare, but he's been transferred to a regular room and his blood count is much better.  Thanks to all who sent out good wishes for him.  Hopefully he's on the road to recovery.

I've been sick and crabby most of the week, which in no way compares to the life and death struggle Danny has been faced with.  Hack, hack, cough, yuck.  I suppose I could look at the bright side of it and be grateful for the down time to contemplate complex thoughts like acceptance?  Or vociferously complain that I was hit with this pestilence?  I guess I should work on grace with acceptance.

My triangle art is the back side of a game board I made.  It hangs in my living room with this side facing out.  It was hard to get a decent photo of it since the colors are subtle and the gloss goes in different directions making the light hit it in all sorts of crazy ways.  I guess it falls into the category of never meant much by it, but it pleases me to look at it.  Doing geometric things like this is calming to me, like painting a mandala.

For the record, the Brownie isn't me.  I don't think I was ever this well-pressed, but I did have white gloves!  The Boynton cartoon is my friend John's contribution for "triangle" :)

Saturday, May 2, 2015


I took a vacation day Friday.  That's the first vacation day I've taken in 2015, so of course I ended up on the couch, hacking, coughing, sneezing, aching, and sweating a fever.  This has all made me less than generous with the rest of humanity because you know some person out there was a carrier for this pestilence.  You can't trust anybody.

I want to write an uplifting post, but it's hard to do when I'm feeling pitiful.  I started writing of a morbid bluegill incident.  Hardly uplifting.  Try again.  Sleeping with my sister at Grandma's house?  Sis punched me for straying to her side of the bed.  There's the amusing side story of Sis listening outside Grandma and Grandpa's bedroom doing a play-by-play of them rastling in there, but I didn't understand the first thing about it.  I was just glad that they still played at their age, and innocent voyeurism isn't really a whole post.

I talked with another friend who is enthused about a book she's been reading about organizing time for creativity.  That's exactly her kind of book, but I doubt it's something I'd ever read.  I think if you want to have time to create, you have to set it as a priority.  That's it.  Laundry, children, whatever has to get put to the back of the line for a while.

I talked about jobs I've had and how working makes idealism and perfectionism into luxuries.  There's deadlines to meet.  Just do what you can in the time that you have.  Get paid.  Move onto the next project.  Sooner or later you'll do stuff that makes you proud and all that experience starts making all of your efforts better.

I guess I've been thinking about relationships the same way lately.  Too often the relationships that get the most attention are the troublesome ones, and that means there's no time for more fulfilling relationships.  We prevent ourselves from learning from good relationships if we're stuck in bad ones.  Priorities need re-evaluated.

There will never be enough time to do everything, and to do everything well.  What matters most?  Who matters most?

When I was a kid I felt bad when my shovel in the garden cut a worm in half.  Sis told me that just made 2 worms, each complete in their wormness.  I decided to make more worms and purposely cut them in half with no idea that I'd launched a worm genocide.

How many beliefs have we been taught that simply aren't true?  How do those fallacies effect our creativity or our relationships?

Part of my brooding this week is because Danny is fighting cancer.  He developed a lung infection and is dire condition since the doctors wiped out his resistance with the latest chemotherapy.  He's one of the nicest people you could ever meet and is only 26 years old.  Prayers and good wishes appreciated.

Kind of puts my crabbiness about the flu into perspective.  We all have limited time.  Make the most of what you get.