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, February 27, 2016


I lived in an actual “village” when I was a child.  It became a “city” in 1970, and I remember the excitement that we were going big-time, with loads of new opportunities and growth just around the corner!  It was a time full of a retro tv sitcom kind of enthusiasm, at least a decade after all the places with actual growth potential had already grown.

Let’s face it, we had a hilly, picturesque landscape that still had quite a few farms.  It came as a surprise when the most westerly corner was deemed acceptable for shopping, and apartment buildings.  There's even a McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts now.

I preferred being a “village”.  That sounded quaint, and I liked us being quaint.  Hansel and Gretel about to be eaten by a witch in the woods was our kind of thing.  We didn't have any kind of central town.  My great-grandpa lived in what looked like an actual village to me: a cluster of houses, a blinking light in the middle, a few shops.

This week I read Levi's Will by Dale Cramer.  This book talks about the area where Great-grandpa lived, which is crazy since hardly anyone lives there (pop. 423 in 2010) and a lot of them that do are Amish, and Amish don't write books to the best of my knowledge.  Maybe more crazy is that somehow I'm related to Dale.  I've forgotten how we're related since my family is "English" (not Amish), but Great-grandma was a Cramer in the same microclimate.

I knew we were related when I picked up the book, but I mostly forgot about that as I read.  It's an interesting story with a lot of tidbits about Amishdom.  Other people must've liked it too because I see Dale has more books published.  I'm thinking of reading them.

Creativity must be inheritable, or perhaps certain families foster creativity?  I think about this when I have to communicate with people who simply don't think like me.  Rule-bound, linear thinking is an obstacle that can't be overcome.  They see no need to change their ways, which means a creative solution is required, which of course will be disregarded since they disapprove of creativity.  (Yeah, it's been like that lately.)

Sometimes I fantasize about running away to a village somewhere, or maybe to some place more isolated and buried in a forest.  I could be the evil witch in the woods luring children with candy?  Except I probably would worry about the kids' teeth and wonder why they didn't have adult supervision.  I might invite them in for tea and come up with cool art projects while I educated them about important stuff like questioning authority.  Well, maybe not that since they ran away from home in the first place, but I'm sure I could come up with other topics for their enlightenment and opposition to boxed thinking.  Maybe it's a good thing I bought tea and cookies yesterday?

On a different topic, I saw crocuses this week!  I also learned a new thing.  They close their flowers when it snows.  I was a little undecided whether to feel happy to see flowers or grumble about the snow, but ultimately the important thing is spring is coming!!

Saturday, February 20, 2016


I cleaned a closet this week, making 3 piles: trash, recycle, homeless.  I thought of the homeless in Cleveland's winter and found a couple pairs of mittens to add to the pile.  They're really nice mittens, and I hesitated.  How many mittens do I need?  Don't these people need them more?  Into the pile.  I recently bagged up old towels and blankets for them too.  They weren't great, but homeless people need these things.

I'm not Mother Theresa.  It's super easy to get my stuff to the homeless because all I have to do is take it to work.  The ease of it just makes me feel guilty and lazy.  I doubt I'd think about homeless people if Deacon Joe didn't make his rounds to them.  He recently told me that the battered women's shelter in Cleveland turns away 60 women a day.  "A DAY!"  I can't get this out of my mind.

I've tried a number of times to write something motivational about this subject.  Let's do something!  Let's make politicians accountable!  The problem with what I keep writing is that I keep sinking into dark thoughts of women and children I've known that didn't make it through the violence intact, and in some cases alive.  It's hard to be optimistic under the burden of these memories.

I saw a boy on tv who has a remarkable memory.  He can tell you all about every day of his life.  He admitted that there's a down side to that kind of memory.  He remembers all the good he's experienced, but also all the bad.  My memory isn't as detailed to the day like his, but I can relate to the ups and downs of remembering.  Sometimes it takes a lot of force of will to push myself to think of something else.

Then I'm torn.  Should I talk about sitting on a porch in the Pennsylvania mountains, sheltered from a torrential rain storm while I stayed warm and dry, laughing with friends?  I can pull up other happy memories that would let us all go about our day with pleasant thoughts.  Or, should I be single-minded like Deacon Joe?  He never passes an opportunity to make others think about homeless people.

I can't help 60 battered women a day, but together we can make a difference.  What would it take for you to help them?

Google "battered women's shelter" or "domestic violence center" and you'll find places that need your help.  Give them stuff, money, or time.  Here are some links for places near Cleveland...

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Our thoughts affect our health.  This is so obvious, I wonder why anyone still studies it as if it's an open question.  Becky died -> I moped about her and the early deaths of my other childhood friends -> I'm sick on the couch watching daytime tv and wondering who the hell watches this stuff if they aren't moping on the couch with winter germs.

The warmest hat ever, a gift from Angel
and made from llama wool
I watched "The View" the morning after the Democratic presidential debate and the first thing one of the women said was that Hillary Clinton's jacket was "very fabulous!".  OMG is it any wonder US women are still fighting for equality?  Love Hillary or hate her, but please don't do it based on her wardrobe.

Winter hat lovingly knitted by Josie
with a matching scarf
Before I got sick, I had lunch with a friend.  I was telling her about another conversation I'd had recently and my friend told me to quit talking about it since my face was cherry red and she didn't want me dropping dead from a heart attack.  I told myself to calm down, think puppies and summer days, but I guess I didn't talk myself down enough since I got sick.  Cause = effect.  Obviously I didn't think enough about puppies.

Last week I pestered a another friend about singing.  He has an excellent voice but doesn't sing anymore.  I dusted his guitar last time I saw him, and I think it's just collected more dust since.  I got him to sing a little.  He didn't do it with his full ability or gusto, but he did sing.  I smiled.  After I hung up the phone I did some singing myself.  This is what people can do for each other.  It doesn't have to be remarkable -- or maybe it is remarkable that he could make me smile and sing when I felt so down.

As long as I stay in the place of being grateful for having had good people in my life, how selfish is it for me that I didn't get enough time with them?  I got as much as I needed.  I got enough time with them to take some of them for granted, and that might be more than some people ever get.  I count myself lucky and know that the current blizzard will pass and the flowers will bloom again.

Blue heron, blue jay, sea gull feathers
Hats?  Back in the olden days when I was a child, women wore hats.  I loved them.  Feathers bobbing in the slight breath of church prayers were a pleasant thing.  I keep my hats on an antler hat rack.  I found the antler in the woods.  West Virginians can't see why I think that's funny.  What else would you do with an antler?  They admire how many points my antler has, but lose interest when I admit I didn't kill and eat the deer.

See, no matter how much we might be sick and brood, there's always something else in our brains that we can pull us up.  Our luck, joy, love, success, and every other good thing is the result of choosing which we'd like most to think about.

The magazine art director gave me more illustrations to do.  I'm choosing to get off the couch, play with paint, and meet the deadline.  Life is good.  Okay, it will be significantly more good once I feel better, but I'm choosing to feel better too.  We are what we think.

This art is from a tin I did for 1800Flowers.  BTW, I've been watching TED Talks on youtube.  This one seems created for this week's prompt.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


Sharon commented on my last post that I "remember every detail" of my childhood, which is ironic since I've spent a lot of this week sifting through the mystery of my brain and questioning a lot of what I've been finding in there, especially the gaps.

Becky died of cancer this week.  In a tiny, secluded neighborhood with very few children, she was the girl closest to my age.  I cried when I heard she'd died, and cried more as additional memories of the things we did together surfaced.  Little moments shared, but they were mostly quiet moments, and too easily forgotten.

Becky was the nicest girl you could meet.  I called her Becky Thatcher while I identified to Huckleberry Finn.  She laughed and liked the comparison.  She laughed a lot.  She didn't have the slightest interest in acting out with me.  She didn't understand my competitive nature with board games, and didn't want to play Tarzan by swinging on grape vines.

I couldn't get her to climb the cliff, but she went to the Great Wall of China?!
The image I have of myself as a child is as quiet and bookish, but Becky made me look like an extraverted rabble rouser.  Memories of pointless urging to get her to take risks causes me to notice that I took a lot of them.  "Let's climb the cliff!"  "Why?"  "To see if we can!"  "There's nothing up there."  "But it's 'there' instead of 'here'!"  She shook her head and went home because she refused to witness blood spilling.  She was far more sensible than me.  She was nicer.  Better?  Maybe just different?

We waited at the bus stop for 11 years together.  We rode the bus to school both ways together every single day.  We breathed on the cold windows and made handprints and pictures in the condensation together.  She's part of my DNA, and I feel like I took that so much for granted that now it's like examining a wash cloth for my missing skin cells.

It's been a while since we'd seen each other.  The last time she was with her mom at the outdoor market and I was with mine.  As the moms made polite conversation, she seemed glad to see me, friendly... and we parted ways with smiles and waves never to see each other again.  It's inexplicable to me.  53 years old and no more.

My sister has told me not to keep my "death list".  It's a sorry, sorry path I travel each time one of my peers in the Glen dies, and I've really got to stop it -- but I won't.  Remembering Becky, Donna, Melanie, Barb, Kenny, Timmy, Andy, Earl, even Vaughn is a way to make their lives still current and fool myself that our lives matter.

The more Becky memories that I drag out of my subconscious, the sadder I am to have lost her -- with a pile of regrets that we didn't make more of an effort to keep up with each other than our occasional adult accidental meetings.

Becky, I loved you so completely that there wasn't an outside edge of it for me to notice that it even existed.  It's like noticing where air stops.  A part of you will always be with me.  Thank you.  And for everyone else who loved her, you have my deepest sympathies.  We're all better for having known her.