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, December 30, 2017


I've been thinking of the meaning of life lately.  Sometimes I'm inclined to think there isn't any meaning to it at all.  I just want it to have meaning.  Other times I think my contributions to the world aren't the things I even notice.

When I saw the word for the week, my contrarian self started writing about Pams instead.  I erased all that and decided to sleep on it.  I woke up with this image in my mind and remembered one of my childhood Pams finding me as an adult.  She passionately talked about how I had said things that helped her at a time when she really needed it.

To be honest, I didn't remember doing it.  I was so uncomfortable when she was pouring out her heart to me as an adult I couldn't even take in what she was saying.  I remembered her as a nice, if rather sad, girl.  I liked talking with her on the school bus.  I missed her when she got shipped off to boarding school.

Pam credited me for preventing her suicide.  I think that's more credit than I deserve for saying I'd miss her.  I suppose I also said things about the possibilities in getting away from her domineering parents.  Maybe I even expressed some envy at getting away and having a chance at a fresh start?  I can't give myself much credit for something I barely remember.  I'm also reminded of another girl I didn't save because I felt so overwhelmed with own life that I didn't want to take on her problems.  Maybe it isn't so much what I might've done for Pam as what she did for me?  She helped me feel less guilty when I was ripping myself up with guilt.

I'd like to see the map of my life.  I want to know what matters and what it all means, but we're all like the bird who is just focused on the next seed.  Where we came from and where we're going is too vast a map for us to truly understand.  Just take the next step.  Follow the trail of seeds.  Sooner or later we'll get to the end of the trail and be able to look back and evaluate how we did.

It didn't require work to comfort Pam, it's just my nature to try to help.  If the meaning of my life is to spread some kindness, then I'm happy to do my part.  I encourage you to spread some love around too.  I'm forever grateful to the people who have extended kindness and encouragement to me.

We live in a culture that rewards our work, not who we are.  We're evaluated by how much physical stuff we amass.  Artists are rated by the quality and quantity of their artwork, but the same standards are used towards people in other professions.  Nobody seems to count how many times we hold a door for someone or stop to listen to them.

I may not have a clear view of the map of my life, but I think at least a part of it must be to spread a little sunshine around.  I don't know if I'd see it if one of my actions saves a life.  What I do know is that recognizing the possibility of making a difference for someone else in whatever ways I can is important to me and I'll try to do more of that going forward in the next year and beyond.

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 24, 2017


Merry Christmas!  (or the holiday of your choice)  I hope you enjoy the season in whatever ways make you happiest with the people you love most.

I've got to stop baking cookies.  Warm cookies fresh from the oven are irresistible and the house smells delicious.  I also made peppermint bark.  That has to count for "plant", doesn't it?  Besides the plant name, chocolate and peppermint are both plants.  It's easy to do, and sooo yummy...

Put some candy canes in a plastic bag and bash them with a hammer.  Get your frustrations out, but leave a some recognizable chunks.  Melt chocolate in the microwave, then spread it on wax paper.  Sprinkle the bashed candy canes on top.  When this is solidified, spread melted white chocolate over that and sprinkle more candy cane bits.  Mmmm.

I asked Sis1 about using whole wheat flour in the cookies.  She advised me to go 50/50 with it and regular flour.  They worked out fine.  I also made some of the cookies with stevia for my diabetic friends.  That worked alright too.  I can taste the difference, but the feedback from friends is that they don't taste it.  Maybe it's just that I know they're healthier cookies and therefore suspect?

I considered putting my cookies in tins.  I have quite a few since I've kept samples of tins I've illustrated, but I like my samples.  It's nice to be able to pick up things I designed.  The tins went back into the closet.

This tin wasn't one of my favorites.  I was given the assignment to do an ice skating scene just before lunch -- but finish that other project first.  Get the skaters done by 4:00 though.  This was about the time I slammed something on my desk and said it was impossible.  Too bad.  Do it.  Being responsible, I slapped a bunch of things together and hit send at 3:59, hoping the customer hated it and would give me more time, but no, he loved it.  I grieved over the pinecones.  Oh well, onto the next project.

The moment I slammed things on my desk is memorable, but it's over, and it doesn't really matter.  The tin sold out and the customer was happy.  I got paid, so I was happy.  Nobody but me knows all the shortcuts I took.  None of it matters.  Let it go.  A coworker tried to stab me in the back with the customer about my shortcuts, and he laughed at her.  I won.  Yay!  That exchange made this tin a much happier memory.  But that's over too.

This time of the year, I like to think about what I want to leave behind so I can move forward in the new year.  The days are getting longer.  The negatives of the past are over.  It's a time to broaden my view of past, present, and future.  What do I want to make happen in my life?  I'm not talking about New Year's resolutions which are often doomed.  What are the big goals, and how can they best be achieved?  What is a small step I can take today?  Next week?  Next month?  Sometime before summer?  It's important to dream, but dreams come true when we make them come true.

I hope everyone enjoys their holidays.  Eat cookies.  Be kind to yourself and to others and support their goals too.

Sunday, December 17, 2017


I have the best intentions.  I intend to send Christmas cards and give thoughtful gifts.  I want to make other people happy with physical evidence of my affection.  In fact, I want this so much that nothing is quite good enough.  I shop until I'm worn out and still don't have anything to wrap.  It doesn't help that I'm frugal and a bit agoraphobic.  Ten nine eight days before Christmas, I have found exactly one present.  I'm feeling pressure.

My brother took me to dinner for my birthday.  I'll take him out for his birthday.  It's simple.  We know the rules.  We're both happy.  Why can't it be that simple all the time?

A friend reminded me of gifts I gave a few years ago.  They were labor-intensive, thoughtful, and beautiful.  Damn, that's a standard I can't continue.  I was glad to make them, glad they were appreciated, but please don't expect that level of effort every year.  And I know she doesn't expect that.  Her appreciation just makes me want to give her something great again because she's a lovely friend.

(Repeat cycle in a never-ending, obsessive loop as the days count down to Christmas...)

I wrote the above and decided to quit whining and go shopping.  I now have two gifts, neither great.  They're both kind of cute to go with better gifts which obviously don't exist yet.  About $100 poorer than I started, I now have a yoga mat, cookies, chips, and a frozen pizza.  Clearly, a yoga mat requires junk food and other nonessentials.  I also got a pair of excellent shoes for $9.  Did you hear that?  $9!!!  Yay!  I intended them as replacements for my yard shoes which have a flapping sole.

I happily showed a friend my new shoes and he firmly advised against further shopping.  "Be responsible!"  Okay.  I'm thinking of getting another pair of $9 shoes though so I can use one pair for walking around and one pair for mowing the lawn.

Maybe I'll bake some cookies as gifts.  Don't get excited.  They don't exist yet.  We'll see.  I have all the best intentions so they might happen.  I know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  I'm just not cut out for holidays.  I'm also contemplating whether or not I can get away with making whole wheat cookies because I accidentally bought the wrong kind of flour.  Ten pounds of it since it was on sale.  No wonder it was on sale.  Whole wheat?  Uck.  Told you, I'm a bad shopper.

Note about flour, buy unbleached.  It tastes and behaves the same as white flour without the Clorox.

I think the cookies are going to happen.  In years past, my friend Helen made buckets and buckets of cookies to give to friends, clubs, and doctors' offices.  She was a sweetheart, but she died this year.  I'm thinking there are a lot of people in need of cookies.  I won't pretend to do this on such an industrial scale, but I can do my part.  I think I'll keep Helen's spirit alive in the process.  I even have two bags of stevia for diabetic cookies.  I wonder if people will rebel against whole wheat diabetic cookies?  Maybe dipped in chocolate?

I hope your shopping/baking is going better than mine!

Friday, December 8, 2017


I finished another painting.  Woo hoo!  This one went faster than the last, though it still took considerably longer than it feels like it should.  Maybe it would go quicker if I didn't spend hours staring at it and pondering?  Whatever.  It is what it is, and the process was the point in this case.

I wanted a beer bottle in my box, but didn't want it to dominate.  I knew it should stand in the corner, but that involved perspective and foreshortening, and I really didn't want to get into that.  I spent a few days procrastinating, avoiding, and plea bargaining with myself.  Eventually, the beer bottle ended up where it was always meant to be.

It's been a while since I actually had to map out such things correctly, and the process made me think that it was a good tutorial, especially since this piece is comparatively simple perspective with only one vanishing point.  I'm also aware some people have nightmares about perspective.  (Yeah, I know, that's a stretch for this week's word.)  You can click on the pics to make them larger to see details.

1. Establish the vanishing point by following the corners of the box until all the lines meet.  (I changed the vanishing point later, so don't get confused by that.  I also broke the rules in one area for my own reasons, but that's why we get artistic license.)

2. In one-point perspective, all vertical lines (things that move away from the viewer) will go to the vanishing point.  All things facing the viewer will be flat circles and rectangles.

3. For the beer bottle, draw a circle where it will sit, then draw a square around the circle because it's easier to plot squares in perspective than circles.  Draw lines from the vanishing point to the corners of the square.

4. Draw another square where the bottle is fattest near the top.  Line up the corners of the square with the same vanishing points as used for the first square.  Put a circle in the square, and draw lines from the vanishing point to the edges of the circles.  Congratulations!  You've just drawn a cylinder in space!

5. The process is the same for the bottle neck.  Find the center of your first circle and draw a line to the vanishing point.  This will be the center of your neck too.  Of course, beer bottles aren't quite as simple as 2 cylinders floating in space.  They're full of curves, but after placing the cylinders you can tidy it up within a framework of logic.

In reality, I made this all harder than it needed to be when I was actually painting the bottle.  I made the tutorial afterwards and could smack myself for all extra work I put into it.  But, my extra work is an opportunity for a lesson.  Don't get caught up with the details.  What is the basic form of what you're trying to reproduce?  Start there.  It's like drawing a face.  Don't start with an eyelash.  Start with an oval and figure out where the eyes go first.  Maybe I should do a tutorial on faces sometime?  This painting was a whole lot of itsy bitsy portraits on bumpy canvas.  The finished painting is 18" x 24".

Saturday, December 2, 2017


Did you know a fortune cookie has 27 ½ calories?  That's ridiculous.  A ½ cup serving of Sylvia's turnip greens is 50, which includes actual food value and bacon bits.  I was sidelined with migraines this week and had some extra time to contemplate my food labels.  After some careful consideration, I decided 27 of the calories in a fortune cookie is in the fortune, so I didn't eat that part.

(...drumming my fingers on my keyboards trying very hard not to type anything about my traitor-filled, racist, misogynist government passing a bill to rob the poor and middle-class to give more wealth to the wealthy since I just ranted about sexual harassment last week.  The news may have been a contributing factor in my migraines?)

I've been privileged to live near or with wealthy people even though I never had any of that wealth myself.  It's nice to share their perks.  They have cool toys, great food, more land, house, privacy, and other stuff.  The thing is, they don't seem very happy.  They're often very lonely.  They don't trust anyone likes them for themselves, just for what others are trying to get from them.  They can feel guilty and inadequate for being over-blessed.

I sometimes call my childhood home "the slum of Willoughby Hills" because flood plain houses are often inexpensive, converted summer cottages while the uphill areas are generally middle to upper middle class, and my nearest neighbors had extreme wealth.  As a lonely child, I often visited the lonely old people ensconced in their mansions surrounded by their manicured and spacious estates.  I picked flowers for the old man with the golf cart.  I drank tea with the old lady amongst her doilies and fragile figurines.  I listened to their stories because nobody else listened to them anymore.

I made my rounds to the old people in The Glen too.  I wasn't particular about perks.  I enjoyed perks when I got them, didn't miss them when I didn't.  In some way I thought my rounds were my charity work.  In another way, I was getting friendship and attention.

I don't want to portray myself as somehow sainted for my charity visits.  I was bored.  When my childish energy couldn't take the echoing halls of mansions anymore, I ran around the grounds and I petted sheep and goats and fed apples to horses.  I liked being privileged enough to have the freedom to enjoy these special places that were worked by hired hands and admired only through windows.

Maybe the lesson I received from all my old people is patience?  Maybe it was the art of conversation?  To listen, to try to understand, to find common ground?

I hate seeing people ignoring each other while texting garbage on their phones.  Talk and listen with each other.  Share cookies.  Find ways to bridge differences and explore common ground.  I'll try to remember that when I'm incensed about the news.