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 27, 2015

My blog is a happy place, so what am I supposed to with "danger"?  More butterflies?

Danger makes me think of psychos I've known and near death experiences (NDE), but danger is entertainment for a lot of people.  Kill, kill on the video game, an adrenaline rush at the movies, shootings someplace far away... Death becomes common, but I know dying is hard.  Our spirits don't want to leave our bodies.

I was at a friend's house once and someone mentioned NDEs.  My friend and I looked at each other and shared a wry laugh.  A young adult caught our reaction and excitedly asked if I'd ever had an NDE.  Her excitement was appalling to me because she clearly had no idea what she was asking.  She just wanted the fun of an eerie tale.  She didn't think gee, something really horrible happened and I almost died.  Thankfully, another person talked about his experience and I was forgotten.

It was a little moment in time.  Not NDEs obviously, but a tactless question from a person too young to know what she did, but she's the norm.  There wasn't anything special about the girl's question because her scope of experience didn't include actual death beyond the peaceful passing of her grandparents, and to her, scary movies are fun.

Her eagerness made me realize how disconnected she is to bad things.  Maybe she'll never have to deal with violence, but what about kids at a school shooting or people shot at church?  Maybe most importantly, what about the gunmen?  Because I bet those gunmen are just as disconnected to other people's feelings and the finality of death.  A lack of empathy across the vastness of society is a real problem because it effects every day interactions and how people vote (or don't).

Too many movies and video games and not enough actual playing together, kids' every activity outside of movies and games is supervised.  They never get real opportunities to fall and pick themselves up or discuss and work out problems with peers.

Of course life wasn't perfect in the old days or I wouldn't have NDEs that I don't want to talk about.  Young people are "safe", but in their safety they lose chances to learn how to protect themselves.  They don't make decisions for themselves until they're adults, and then they don't communicate well enough to function in the workplace or in a marriage.

I want everyone to be danger-free, though it's unlikely -- and since it's unlikely, I'd like people to be prepared when danger comes.  Adrenaline is for escaping the angry bear and too much will kill you eventually.  Too much violence for "fun" makes too many angry bears.  Turn it off.  Watch butterflies and share the grief of South Carolinians.

I wanted to get this art out of my closet last week when I was talking about Monarch migrations, but was too sore to get it.  The bruises are fading and I guess I'll get better.  The art was used on t-shirts, and the logo was used for the parks' gift shop.  I included the b/w version because people should remember that logos often need to be printed 1-color and it's good to plan for that from the start.

Friday, June 19, 2015


Monarch butterflies make a huge annual migration every year from Mexico to Canada, or the other way around. Interestingly, they only go one direction.  Mexican Monarchs lay eggs in Canada, then die.  Canadian butterflies lay eggs in Mexico, then die – but while Canadian butterflies are still en route, they have to fly over Lake Erie.  I’m sure you can understand that’s exhausting for a very small animal, so they hang out and rest for a while on my side of the lake.

The first time I saw this event, I didn’t understand what I was seeing at first.  I thought the trees were confused and thought it was autumn, or perhaps the trees were dying because they were orange in summer.  That just didn’t seem right.  I had to walk a bit before I was close enough to see that the orange was solid butterflies.

I went with a photographer friend to catch Canadians on film.   I took a lot of shots, then got bored because she kept shooting more pictures.  My method was find a butterfly, click.  Find another butterfly, click.  There’s only so much of that that I felt a need to do.

My friend was much more… oh, pick a derogatory adjective or adverb.  Or let’s just say she was methodical, picky, and tireless to my spontaneity.  It’s not like this was painting or something important to me – and I never ask anyone to hang out while I paint.  I just wanted a butterfly picture as filler for a newsletter or something.  I wandered off and amused myself with beach activities until she finally had enough.

We compared photos.  I got several of what I was looking for, perfect individual specimens.  She didn’t get any of those.  She took pictures of branches of Monarchs – which never occurred to me.  It didn’t occur to her to take pictures of individuals.  We both got good shots of the same event – that didn’t look remotely alike.

I sometimes think of this day as when my mind was expanded to include a different perspective.  I’d still take photos of individual Monarchs if I happened to be at the lake on the right day, but I’d take at least one photo of a whole tree too.

Maybe most important, I understood myself better.  I see small things, details, and don’t like to clutter stuff up with unnecessary items and extras.  There’s a good side to this, but sometimes I’m too Spartan too. It’s just the way I am.  I related to the butterflies and talked to them.  I felt sympathetic of their exhaustion.  My friend thought that was stupid.

It’s good to see things through someone else’s eyes sometimes.  Collaborating with someone, or getting feedback can help me see the whole tree, or maybe a branch, or at least 2 of something.  I made my friend see an individual.  I think we both grew.

Artist, know thyself –which helps me understand the clay of who I am and what I can do.

I can also warn you about the dangers of art because I was leaning off of a wet, slippery deck, stretching to pick the perfect leaf to use for leaf prints on a painting... well, you can see where this is going.  Thankfully I stopped my face from smashing into the brick patio, but I am bruised and sore.  Nobody understands how much I suffer for art!

This art was one of my first blog posts.  I know I have Monarch art somewhere, but it just seems like too much right now to dig through closets when I'm counting my boo boos, and I like this piece.  It's even my actual baby face.

Friday, June 12, 2015


I went to the grocery store and the girl behind the counter bubbled over with friendliness.  I gave her a look of "I just got off from work and could care less. Get me out of here so I can go home and eat."  She was oblivious.

She's never been on a plane, never been anywhere, but she's going to California!!  Have I ever been?!  Did I like it?  Is it wonderful?!!  I sighed defeat to her friendliness.  I heard all about her plans and watched her half-assed scanning of my food.  I'm pretty sure she scanned some of it 3x in her uncontrolled jubilation.  Talking to the effervescent cashier made me miss a friend in LA and think about getting a plane ticket... ?

I've been thinking of friends a lot lately.  I brooded and kept staring at a 2' x 4' canvas that I've been carrying around the house for about a year.  I'm sure I had a plan for it at one time, but whatever that was is anybody's guess.  I decided to make a friend painting after my friend Korki suggested a zen painting where you just paint lines, and every line is "right" because it's there.

What resulted from her suggestion is clearly a for-me kind of thing that veered from the original suggestion.  I painted names of every friend I could remember -- which looked like a pre-teen autograph book.  I journaled around the edges and over names.  I had awesome insights and wrote over older entries.  I put subtle dots over all of it, covering some people and more entries...I started seeing patterns in my friendships.  zzzzZENnnnnn and growth.

I came to some decisions, or maybe it would be better to say affirmations/intentions.  I want to hang out with fun people.  Kind, caring, interesting, supportive, creative... and avoid people who don't foster those things in me.  I want to focus on good people, and there are a lot more of them than the bad ones.  I started feeling bad memories fade away in the sunlight of good people's influence in my life.

Things I know to be true:  It is always right to love.  I don't have to justify loving anyone to anyone else.  It doesn't even matter if they love me back.  Having an open heart is the most important thing.

I put the most influential "friends" in the row of whitest dots.  Friends is in quotes because they include exes and siblings, but those kinds of relationships are friendships too.  Each of these people taught me a major life lesson(s).  It was hard to limit this list because there are other people who also matter a lot.  If you're on the list, thank you.  If you've been my friend, thank you for that too.

I think I got about 5 years of therapy out of one painting.  The center color is the same as my living room wall.  I wanted this to be a subtle thing I see every day to remind myself what I value.

When the friendly cashier bubbled over at me I had to remind myself that I'm open to friendliness.  New lessons, new optimism, positivity!!  More fun!!!  More exclamation marks!!!  I walked out of the store chuckling and shaking my head over her exuberance, and grew some more.  I'm going to do more of this kind of painting and recommend it to everybody!!!

Friday, June 5, 2015


I have a 5 mile commute to work every day.  It's a straight line on a back road, but yesterday I got caught in a traffic jam because some people just don't understand a 4-way stop.  I idly looked out at the big field of the county airport and fussed and fumed about being stuck.  A huge hawk flew past with a tiny black bird pecking its grievances out on the hawk's tail.  I figure that didn't bode well for me or the hawk.

Today I saw that same hawk flying unencumbered by a pesky lesser being with a sharp beak.  That seemed like a better sign.  I wonder why the hawk didn't just turn around and eat the little bird, but I guess it figured it was just better to leave.  Sometimes I feel like that too.  Mostly I wonder why little birds want to pester me in the first place.

This is actually something I've thought about a lot of times because I swear I've been pestered to death by little birds while I tell them to just leave me alone.  In case you're getting lost in the metaphor, I have been pestered to death by small people throughout my life.  They manipulate, nag, belittle, charm... whatever methods work best for them for whatever motivates them.  Sometimes I let my talons out and then nobody's happy.

I almost always regret losing my temper, and can self-punish about it for years afterward because I can be altogether too thorough in demolishing the source of my anger.  It's hard to stay airborne when you're eviscerating a little bird and wrapping its entrails around its head while pecking its eyes out.  See the pitiful little songbird flopping on the ground getting eaten by a bunny?  Yes, I know bunnies are herbivores.  Just makes it more sad.

I want to stay airborne.  I want to feel like I'm living my best life and in my perfect world I'd never have to get angry about anything.  I know real life includes some justifiable anger from time to time, and failing nirvana, I want to be able to express that anger without having to figure out where to hide the corpses.  It seems simple enough until a little bird pecks me one time too many.

This probably makes it sound like I'm the kind of person who lays on the horn while tailgating on the freeway and brings a machine gun to the movies.  I'm really not.  I give lots of signs that the end is near if you don't cut it out.  I think people don't believe me because I try to be nice most of the time.  I actually very seldom lose my temper -- but when I do, it's memorable.

How to express anger constructively is something a lot of people, including myself, find difficult because we haven't seen enough positive examples.  We're inundated with bad examples in every media and by the bullies on the playground or in business.  It just doesn't make for a good book or movie plot to calmly talk out differences.  The nice guy doesn't get elected or promoted.

I figure I'm a lifetime project, and this is one of my ongoing topics for improvement.  All I can really do is set my intention that this hawk is going to stay airborne as much as possible.

And just to show that I care about other people's happiness, am somewhat aware of the world, and can get over my deeply held belief that sports shouldn't overlap and basketball is supposed to be over in winter...