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!

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Punch: orange juice, lemonade, 7-up, and sherbet.  I know this because we have to make it at work once a year.  Nobody told me I'd have to make punch when I went to college.  There's so many things nobody ever warned me about, and I bet men never have to make punch.  It's still such an unfair world.

Punch: wrap your thumb around your other fingers before punching anyone.  Otherwise you might break your thumb on impact.  I punched a wall once when I was sleeping and broke my hand.  Try to avoid punching walls.

Punch: Pulcinella, a silly, but violent, puppet nicknamed Mr. Punch of Punch and Judy.

Illustration Friday was late giving a word for the week, and I can only wonder why "punch" is the word the week of Thanksgiving?  I assume somebody punched someone in a Black Friday shopping event or maybe somebody doesn't get along with their relatives.

I'm distilling some rather horrible apple wine into something better instead.  I froze the wine, and since alcohol doesn't freeze, I'm letting it drip out of the chunk of ice.  This would all be great, but since I keep drinking the alcohol there isn't much in the glass to prove my efforts.

I also made turkey soup.  I'm adept at cooking, and there's a pleasure in that proficiency -- as long as nobody makes me do it.  I pulled turnips from the garden and feel pleased about that too.  My dog was thrilled to lick the turkey pan and hovered in hope that I'd drop something tasty.

The only way to get good at stuff is to do it, and to do it a lot.  That goes for art or cooking or anything else.  It helps to have an affinity for what you're doing, but you can learn how to do anything you want to do.  Then study and practice, practice, practice.

I wasn't thrilled about cooking when I was a kid.  It was another chore, and I wasn't into any more work.  It wasn't until I was alone in the kitchen and opened all the spices and smelled each of them that I started seeing possibilities.  The aromas were like colors to me and I could paint with them to enjoy dinner more.

Don't worry about not being good at something from the beginning.  I think too many people quit before they really start at things.  Just try.  Laugh at your failures, learn something from the experience, and try again.

The apple wine is the first time I've distilled anything.  I used a wrong shaped container and ended up with a slushy mess on my counter with my first effort since the whole thing just slid out of the tapered jar in a chunk.  Oh well, stuff happens.  Sometimes experimentation is messy.  In this case, it's also tasty -- at least tastier than the wine was.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love and good food!

Congratulations to the Flannerys for their brand new bouncing baby boy! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Pennsylvania was supposed to be a brief stretch of road on my way to Lake Chautauqua in New York, but there was an accident ahead of me.  I was parked on the freeway for hours.  I guess that's one way of giving me quiet time?

They closed the freeway and I had to find my way to the next exit through Erie, PA.  Erie is fond of 4-way stop signs, which is nothing compared to the 6-way stop.  2 of those ways were going about 65 mph from around blind corners too.  I'm not loving cities.

Sue loaned me her house on the lake this week.  (Thanks Sue!)  I just wanted to get away from my life and hit reset.  I took my dog and she just laid down and went to sleep through our traffic problems.  Once we actually got to the lake she was thrilled with our escape.  I was less thrilled to walk the dog in the arctic wind.  Winter is coming!  Brrr.

I suppose I'm not the first artist to go to upstate NY for an artist's retreat.  I packed a LOT of art supplies because you never know exactly what you're going to need, and I still forgot a ruler.  I made my own out of a piece of cardboard.  And then I painted.  And painted.  It felt great.  Hours of freeway fumes and city traffic fell away while I listened to the sloshing waves.  Late at night I read a book with my puppy curled up at my feet.

I wandered around Sue's house thinking "how can she do projects?!" because there's a lot of seating and ambiance, but not a whole lot in the way of work stations.  My house is full of work stations and very little ambiance.  It reminds me of a guy my mom told me about whose entire furniture consisted of one folding chair because he didn't want company.  Okay, I'm not as bad as that, but I could definitely do better?

I recovered the seats of my dining room chairs with some pretty tapestry fabric I'd gotten from a garage sale at some point.  One of the seats was in pretty bad shape, so I took it apart again, reconfigured the seat, and covered it again.  It wasn't until all the chairs were back in place that I really considered whether or not the chairs go with their surroundings.

They look okay, but I don't know if they look intentional, and that's the way of it throughout my house.  Somebody called me "eclectic".  Yeah, that's one way of putting it.  I think I'd say I have diverse tastes and dump them all into a small house without a plan -- but I'm handy enough to fix a chair.

When I was little, my grandpa fixed my chair.  It had seen generations of little butts on it before me, and Grandpa decided the best way to prevent future repair was to mend the seat with industrial strength white clothes line which he expertly wove around the rungs.  I'm sure that chair will never need reseated unless someone else has better taste and less utility.  I think I'll blame Grandpa for my frugality, practicality, and deficits in interior decorating genes.

Sue's lake house is tastefully decorated in colors that complement each other, with furniture that looks intentional.  I'm pretty sure that's never going to happen in my living space.  I'm not even sure that I want that, but I enjoyed painting at her house and it was great to get away.  Here are a couple of pictures I took before the last of the fall leaves fell.
Roots of a downed tree in the woods
Bro standing by a giant oak tree

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Mom posted a test on facebook about instinctual preferences.  I was procrastinating, so I took the 10 question quiz and found out that I transcend gender and society.  Woo hoo!

I told Bro it was an easy test.  I mean really, which is cuter, kitty or puppy?  Obviously a dog in any form always wins.  Bro said he'd pick kitties.  He then made me watch kitty flicks.  Okay, I laughed.  He likes anything on youtube by zefrank.  He smiled when I told him some of you said nice things about his elephant drawing, so he contributed more drawings for this post. 

I'm feeling much happier this week because the magazine editor who sent me the icky article about women said she respected my objections and sent me a sensitive and funny story from a dad with an autistic son.  Yay!  She approved my rough layout and I'm excited and happy again.  This way beats trying to trick or beg myself into wanting to do the other article.

I was very aware of my moods when I thought of the magazine project and work this week.  My job pays bills and adds lines to my face.  I do my best, but I sit through meetings where people disagree and leave me frustrated.  I spend a lot more time with reports and numbers than I do with creative projects, and for the creative parts, I often give art direction to people who just don't care about doing it as well as I would.

Having a real job gives me freedom to seek work for pleasure instead of the paycheck.  I felt upset when I felt my pleasure getting snatched away because of the article's content.  I was elated when I got the better, alternate article.  Hmm... are my moods telling me something about what my heart wants me to do?

Bro had to explain to me
how a dead rat = love
I felt joy at the Detroit Art Museum last year when I saw a painting by Raphael.  Another time, I was invited to the restoration area of the Cleveland Art Museum.  A painting was laying on a table, ready for repair, and my heart pounded even before I realized it was a Rembrandt.  My mouth fell open and I was literally panting.  I've never done that with a budget report.  My heart actually ached at the damage to the painting and the previous, flawed "restoration".  Seeing the painting out of its frame made me feel even closer to Rembrandt.  This is how he saw it centuries ago and I felt privileged at the intimacy.

Old Masters make my heart happy, so I need to spend more time with them.  I think I'll go to the art museum soon and soak up inspiration.

Mostly, I'm thinking everyone needs to do what makes them happiest.  Maybe you combine work and pleasure.  If not, hopefully you find time to do what makes you happiest when you're not working.  When we feel joy in what we're doing, we know we're doing the right things.

Maybe you prefer cats over dogs, Klimt over Rembrandt, or accounting over art.  I won't judge even if I find these things inexplicable, but something rings your bell.  Find it.  Live your life in joy.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Bro2 asked about making a blog, but after he thought about it, he decided he didn't want one.  He just likes making occasional napkin drawings for this blog, though this drawing was actually done on a fresh piece of paper.  This all works out great this week because he's far more charming and whimsical than me.  Besides that, I'm achy from shifting weather patterns and crabby about daylight savings time.

Or, maybe I'm really crabby because I just rejected work for a full-page, full-color magazine illustration?  It would've been great exposure in their 50th anniversary special edition, but the story accompanying the illustration is a feminist's nightmare.  All that great exposure would be a mess if I was connected to that article.  Sigh.  Sometimes principles really get in the way of my happiness.

The last time I rejected work on principle was for GI Joe.  I don't think we should turn our children into little soldiers.  Men have laughed at me when I've told them about this.  They don't feel scarred by their play.  One man still resents only having a knock off named Jim.  Who am I to stand between men and their dolls?  My co-worker Joe enthusiastically took on the project and had GI Joe shoot me from around corners.

Rejecting the GI Joe project got me punished with Strawberry Shortcake for a while.  I haaaated her.  I couldn't see pink without seeing red for a long time, but at least Strawberry Shortcake wasn't promoting war.  Something about her made me want donuts, so thankfully I wasn't punished too long or I really would've ended up at 400 lbs.  I got moved on to sewer lids and road maintenance manuals after that.

Who says being an artist is glamorous?  I've pretty much done the jobs I've gotten, and felt happy to get paid, even when the pay was crappy.  Maybe the magazine will give me another story to illustrate?  Or not?  Or punish me with a Strawberry Shortcake-ish alternative?  Hey, I've got a day job.  I don't have to take anything that I don't want to do at this point.  That's freedom. 

Or as Bro says, "Life is easy if your aren't an elephant".  Just so you know, he wrote that while laughing at my feminist conundrum and agreeing that I absolutely couldn't do it.  I sent the article to a friend for her opinion and she agreed -- with blue language to emphasize the point.

I wrote the editor and briefly told her why I couldn't do it, apologized, and asked if there was another story to illustrate.  We'll see how that goes.  Whatever the outcome, I'm going to see it as the right outcome.  It's part of my grand plan to use my talents in ways that I want to use them, and in ways that bring me the most happiness in the process.

Like Maria said in The Sound of Music, "Whenever God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window".  There are always more opportunities if we look for them.  If this project doesn't work out, I can find another.  One with fuzzy bunnies or something.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


There's nothing better than receiving a bent dandelion from a little kid.  My brothers used to give me flowers.  They toddled around the yard and yanked grass and weeds together for my little vases.  I proudly displayed these bouquets of love.

I'm going to a baby shower today.  It's a second try for the parents after a heartbreaking miscarriage, so this baby is anticipated even more than most first-time parents anticipate, hope, and fear.  This baby is one of 2 that will float in the fringes of my life in December.  Both of these babies will be adored by everyone in their worlds.  All of the parents are healthy, mature, nurturing, competent, smart, attractive... everything we want for children.  I see bent dandelions in their futures, and I feel happy for their happiness.

And I'll admit, a little loss that I'm not getting flowers anymore.  Dad died when I was a teenager and Mom worked 2nd shift.  My sisters were old enough to be mostly out of the house, and somebody had to care for the babies.

At 16, I did what I had to do, but I didn't really know what that was supposed to be.  I ate more teething pretzels than they did because I liked them.  A little spoonful of apricot for you, then you, (they're twins) then a big spoon for me because I liked that too.  They could have all the peas or chicken and rice.

I tore my hair with desperation when they wouldn't stop crying, and put them in warm laundry on top of the dryer until they finally, finally went to sleep.  It's a wonder they didn't smother in the laundry.  When my sisters breezed through to criticize about diaper rash, I suggested they could change some diapers too.  (There may have been some extreme swearing and objects thrown when they laughed and went out the door.)

I couldn't take a bath alone because the kids would run around and get in trouble so we all took baths together.  I had to go to the bathroom?  We all go.  They were potty trained really young.  Poop in the water!  Let's all gather round and congratulate each other!  Yay!  No more diaper rash!

I canned red cabbage this week and thought about how I tried to get pack those kids with vitamins.  I added carrots, apples, and raisins to the cabbage sweeten it up and they loved it.  We'd go to the grocery store and maybe I was the only one who got requests for parsnips and broccoli?

I lost Bro3 at the mall.  I lost him at the beach.  He was always running in the wrong direction.  If I chased him, Bro4 went in another direction.  They laughed to see me running unless I blew up.  Teenagers aren't really known for having it all together in the first place, and losing children is panic for anybody.

Yesterday, Bro4 met me at the lumberyard with his buddy.  We got supplies to fix my shed.  It's not the same as a bent flower, but maybe I did some things right along the way?  He's tall and strong, so I'm thinking that eating his apricots and pretzels didn't stunt his growth.  I'll call it a success and hope someday he fathers a child who picks dandelions.