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, May 29, 2016


I think I'll claim artists as my tribe.  Good and bad, sane or not, whatever the medium, we're kin.  We might be kissing cousins to some other types, but artists are my people.  We may enjoy kissing even more types than that for that matter, but you know, we can be friendly people :)  Or completely antisocial too.  We are what we are, and the world should be glad that we're in it because I think we make things more interesting.

Except I don't feel all that interesting lately.  I've been intent on cleaning, painting, rearranging my home.  This is clearly important to me, but I doubt it's very interesting to anyone else.  Let's just all rejoice that my computer is finally back in the computer room!

I'm feeling very pleased with the results.  The room is lighter and simpler than it used to be.  Things match, I've got a better chair, life is good.  Now all I have to do is quit staring out the window and watching my new neighbor landscape her yard and clean up all the messes I made in the other rooms.

The living room is messed up because I've been matting, framing, and spreading out paintings to consider what I feel like hanging up.  In the midst of all this clutter is a painting I started before tackling the computer room.  It's big and red, so it draws my attention, but I think it would catch my attention anyway.  I certainly think about it a lot when I collapse on the couch after all my nesting.

Behind the red painting you can see part of the green friends painting I made last year.  On it, I journaled all of the friends I've had in my life and grateful things I think about them.  It was a heart-opening experience for me to paint and I wanted to re-explore that idea, but to tackle the difficult people in my life.  This is far less pleasant, and maybe there's a bit of avoidance in my decision to redo the computer room?

The goal is to wade through the unpleasantness and get to the happy part where I can look at the villains in my life with gratitude too.  After all, they created "opportunities to grow" by making my life challenging.  I'm not there yet.  I want to erase them.

I find myself wanting to edit what I write because somebody will see this painting, perhaps someone I'm writing about?  I don't want to deal with the backlash of a moment like that.  It's not like when my friend Leanne came over and was pleased to see her name on my friends painting.  But, I think facing that dread is something I need to do, and beyond that, helps me keep the door closed to people who hurt me.

I wonder if I really want to hang a painting of negativity, but the negativity happened.  I carry it around with me all the time.  I'm trying to offload it onto canvas instead.  I'd like to see the finished painting as growth and success, which would be something I'd want to see on the wall, and would reinforce things I've learned.

Most of what you see here is the underpainting.  I've got plans for what goes on top of this.  If all goes well, I'll show you how it turns out.  I'm hoping for beautiful.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Last week I wrote, "I finished painting my computer room this weekend.  It was a lot of work for such a small room, and my stuff is still scattered around the rest of the house.  I'm tired and sore."  This is all still true, except I'm still painting that room. 

I had painted three walls light gray and the fourth lavender.  It looked pretty good, but I just couldn't bring myself to love the lavender wall.  I bought fabric to make curtains, but couldn't love the idea of curtains either.  I kept handling the fabric and decided I wanted pull down shades instead, but I don't know how to get my fabric to be a pull down shade (and washable).  I noticed that lavender wall again and decided what I really wanted was to paint the pattern on the wall.

Still painting leaves.
Planning to cover the whole wall.
Sometimes my ideas are a bother.  I hate painting walls -- though for those of you who like doing it, there's always someone who wants a mural and will pay for it.  I became a "professional" artist in high school painting walls and window signs.

My dislike of wall painting hasn't stopped me.  I'm using the gray paint to paint the leaf pattern on the lavender and loving the results.  Hopefully at some point I'll stop fussing around in that room and actually put the computer back in the computer room.

The jeep is another piece I did for the Mensa magazine.  I only intended to do one illustration for them, but the art editor kept getting me to do "just one more".  I was enjoying myself so I let her talk me into it.  The article was about action in Vietnam and I conferred with a vet pal because the art editor made a point of saying I had to get the right model year.

My pal and I talked on the phone and Googled photos together.  Reference is so much easier now than when I started out  In the olden days I might've had to go to the library, use the card catalog and everything.  (Which I know only makes sense to people over 50.) 

I had to make a "morgue" for one of my teachers when I was in school, photos I painstakingly cut out of magazines and filed for future reference.  It's in the pile of stuff that I'm debating about whether or not to return to my computer room.  I also have folders of ideas and inspiration, folders of artists I like, "how to" instructions, etc., etc., etc.  I almost never use any of this stuff and probably don't need it.  The idea of throwing it away feels like ripping my security blanket away though.  What if I need to make an origami alligator sometime?!

The more I think about this, the more I'm thinking that it's time to let some of this go -- or revive it.  Sometimes we come across a great picture online.  Sure, we could come back to it -- if we remember where we saw it in the first place.  We may not need that picture now, but some day we may want a face that's lit in just that way or a spotted toad or whatever.

Let me say that "reference" is a tool to help us, but isn't something we should copy faithfully.  We should do something new with the inspiration because the original already exists.  I don't remember the exact copyright law, but it's something like changing 60% or more from the original.  Copying can be a good tool when we're starting out and learning, but the result isn't something you can sell.

I also keep things I call "art starts".  These are painted backgrounds, textures, objects, whatever that I can use again.  I still use these a lot.  Why should I paint a graduated blue watercolor background again when I've already painted that once and can PhotoShop it into a new piece?  I have lots of patterns that I can drop in when I need them and a deadline looms.

These are things I learned from old guys when I started out.  I miss being in a studio with them teaching me things and laughing.  I wish newer artists got the benefit of their wisdom.  I'm grateful I got to live the experience.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


I finished painting my computer room this weekend.  It was a lot of work for such a small room, and my stuff is still scattered around the rest of the house.  I'm tired and sore.

This project has me both nostalgic and completely not.  Cobwebs behind the bookcase had to go, and I've felt the same way about a lot of other things that I had stored in that room, like bitchy correspondence I had with certain people that I kept "in case", but those times are long gone and never to return.  At some point I kept these things to remind myself never again.  Now it just seems like reminders of crappy people to whom I don't want to give another second of my life.

My goal is to only return things to the room that have actual value to me.  Maybe this room is even more important because it's the spirituality sector of my house according to feng shui.  I know this because I used to do freelance for a feng shui instructor/counselor.  I don't need that file either.  The pile of recyclables keeps stacking up.

I went through a stack of old phone bills last night.  Almost all of my long-distance calls involved my love life, and that makes me nostalgic and not too.  There have been some kisses worth remembering, but the relationships went sour.  Cleaning this room has made my thoughts swing back and forth, and I remind myself that the purpose of the room is work stuff, not kisses -- but art is love, so it all goes together.

The phone bills went into the discard pile too, but I wrote down the numbers and gave myself a time line.  I was a little torn about the sign manual I created for Lake Metroparks.  I was pretty pleased to come up with all these standards and procedures, but I know I'm never going to actually need this document.  My hoarding/purging qualities are at war.  Keeping the sign manual.

Ultimately, maybe all of this is telling me what I value most?  I'll spend quite a bit of money for long distance phone calls and eventual kisses.  I'm unwilling to let go of good work I did, and the things I learned while doing it.  I enjoyed working at the parks.  Loved the people I worked with.  That's the nostalgia worth keeping.

This illustration is another I did for Mensa.  I'll admit I gave more of myself to the colored illustrations I did for them, but I suppose this goes into the keeping pile too.

Sunday, May 8, 2016


I suppose we should all be happy that so many people have tattoos.  They're supporting art.  Unfortunately a lot of it's bad art and can interfere with getting an x-ray, but the trend lets more people suffer for their art and since I sometimes suffer making art, I like feeling understood.  If you've got a tattoo and you're happy, then I'm happy for you.

Onto other things.  I'm going to paint my computer room, the room where I store the bulk of my art supplies, reams of paper, rocks, etc., etc.  I've spent my weekend moving most of it into other rooms for the duration.  Moving some of this stuff brought up emotions, memories, dust, and dog hair.  I swear I'll move out of the house before painting this room again!  Today, I'm moving onto spackling water damage from a previously faulty gutter.  I watched a nice Australian man's video about how to do it.  I wish he were here to do it for me.

What I really want to do is show another piece that got printed in Mensa's 50th anniversary magazine.  The article is about word play, including "peppering Saracens".  I showed the magazine to the ladies who work in my department.  I got my atta girls and considered my bragging done.  Another woman came in so I showed her too.  She was excited and asked to show it around the building.  I let her do my bragging for me.

Maybe you get lots of positive reinforcement.  Betty showing off my work made me face that I've gotten a lot of negatives.  Art can be a competitive, brutal business.  You often get lots of criticism and revisions, and "good job!" is seldom in the vocabulary.

I spend my days with data at work.  The ladies in my dept know I've worked as an illustrator, but the other people didn't.  I liked it that way, maybe because I've spent so much of my life identifying myself first and foremost as an artist.  It was/is so much of how I think of myself, it's nice to be known for other traits -- or maybe I just didn't want to deal with more criticism and suggestions?

I went home that day feeling mighty pleased with myself.  People stopped me in the hall to say they were impressed.  I've been waiting a long time to be able to show this magazine and it felt good to be praised for it.  I felt a flicker of life and hope inside. They especially liked the parts that I spent stupid amounts of time doing.  (They loved my forks!)  Joy, joy, joy and I started to remember I really like getting this kind of feedback.  It motivated me to go into art for a living.

I've often been told to be demure.  Don't be so full of yourself.  Fact is, I think most of us beat ourselves up instead of bragging, and abuse isn't a good motivator.  If you want to get anywhere, sometimes you have to sing your own praises.  People who have my best interests at heart will sing them with me and share in the happiness I feel in my accomplishments.

Lots of people want to break into the art field.  Go for it.  I wish you happiness and success.  Don't let my artistic PTSD stop you.  I'm enjoying having a paycheck doing other things and exploring art as a pleasure again.  I'm happy for doing art I wanted to do for this magazine and pleased to cash the check!