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!

Monday, August 27, 2018

"Jail 2"

My dog won't eat rhubarb.  It's one of life's mysteries -- like why illustrationfriday.com forgets to post a new word on Friday (or sometimes, by Monday).  Therefore, we'll revisit "jail" with a blue jay feather.  Let's just consider it a jail bird, okay?

I danced happily around my house when Paul Manafort was ruled guilty last week.  I wanted to share my happiness with a friend and was surprised she was actually depressed about it.  "It's so sad there's so much criminal behavior going on these days", she said.  "Yeah, but we knew that!", I replied.  "It's a happy moment because one of the criminals has actually been found guilty!"  It was extra icing on my cake when I discovered Michael Cohen plead guilty in court at nearly the same time.

Manafort and Cohen's tax evasions cost all of the citizens money.  They stole from us.  If all this talk of Russian collusion turns out to be true, then that's another form of stealing from the people.  We should all be glad when criminals are caught and punished.

This goes beyond politics.  Republican Senator John McCain died this week and I'm sad for his family and the country.  I gave serious thought about voting for him once.  Of course this was before he gave us Sarah Palin, but I'm mostly over that now... well no, I'm not, but I'm working on forgiveness.

The point of my happy dancing is the feeling that maybe there are enough checks and balances and good people in the system to prevent the criminals around the world who are hell-bent on destroying democracy.  I want the guilty parties in jail and better laws to protect us from this kind of mess in the future.

Despite what we see, politics isn't a game or sport.  One side winning and the other losing is like a bad marriage.  The process of deciding what's best for a family is the same for our societal family.  For instance, when I was married every disagreement was war no matter how much I tried to find a middle ground.  I resented always being the peacemaker and never getting what I wanted.  When one side won't budge, there's no armistice, and eventually, no marriage.

In the 1860s, the US was in a similar situation.  The industrial North wanted to abolish slavery and punished the agricultural South with harsh tariffs.  The country split in two and fought the country's bloodiest war, and as it's been often said, neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother.  Those resentments still fester and play a part in the continuing racial issues in the country.

I want a better world and think it's possible to avoid this kind of conflict.  Compromise.  Punish criminals and traitors.  Protect citizens.  Do what's best for the majority while defending the rights of minorities.  It's possible.  Try.

John McCain often spoke about the need for regular order and reaching across the aisle, even when you have deep, fundamental differences with each other.  One of his best friends was Ted Kennedy, one of the most liberal senators in Congress.  May their lives be examples to all of us.

Unrelated to all of this, I keep meaning to take a new picture for my profile, but I never get around to it.  I've decided to let people see my inner child for a while instead, especially since my hair is kind of like this lately.

Monday, August 20, 2018


Last week a grand jury reported 300 Catholic priests in 6 Pennsylvania dioceses sexually abused 1,000+ children over 70 years.  The church hierarchy hid this information and abetted the criminals.  If there are records of 1,000 children, you know there were many more who were abused but not recorded.

None of this is a surprise.  In 1993, it was known the Church paid about $50 million per year to settle such problems in America.  Between 2003 to 2010, $1+ billion was paid in settlements in the U.S.  In 2002, a U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) report showed that of 195 dioceses and eparchies in the study "all but seven have reported... allegations of sexual abuse."  Published Vatican documents bare policies of secrecy and destruction of evidence.  As recently as 2016 the Catholic Church told newly ordained bishops they didn't need to report abuse allegations to the police.1

This isn't an American problem.  Catholic clergy has spread its abuses across the world.  Irish orphanages were filled with hideous stories of abuse, neglect, and deaths.  Canada, Africa, South America, Asia, Australia, you name it, the same stories with different children and priests with a self-interested and/or indifferent Vatican to rule it all.

It has to stop.  The priests need to be put in jail.  Catholic parishioners need to stand up and say "No more!", and the first thing I'd suggest that you do is to stop donating money.   Do you really want to pay lawyers and hush money to victims?  Jesus is crying.

I'm also looking forward to the time U.S. political traitors are put in jail.  Maybe Paul Manafort will be sentenced this week?  That's a good start, but there are more where he came from.

I was a kid during Watergate.  I rushed home from school to watch the congressional proceedings every day.  Those events have had a life-long impact on my beliefs and votes.  I suspect current events will have a similar impact on another generation.  How ironic that "Lock her up!" was a campaign rally in the last election.  Lock them all up.

At the same time, this week's prompt reminds me of heroes imprisoned while trying to make the world a better place: Jesus, Gandhi, Mandela, civil rights activists in Russia, South America, China, and America.  I admire their bravery.  Most of us aren't as brave, but we can support the heroes.  I wish for the day when these kinds of sacrifices won't be necessary because we've become a better society for all.

To lighten things up on a dour word for the week, let me tell you I'm related by marriage to the guy who designed better handcuffs.  I want to say he was Grandma's first husband who was serving time for non-payment of child support, but I feel a bit wishy washy on my facts.2  It was a long time ago and before I existed.  I think he designed them because he didn't like getting manacled with heavy irons.  I have to chuckle about his problem-solving ingenuity.

Though... it seems a little ironic that I'm writing of heroes and sacrifice when I've obviously been pretty lazy drawing this week's word.  Hey, it's summer.  And hot.  Maybe next week?  :)

1The Vatican released these guidelines prepared by French Monsignor Tony Anatrella, consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family.  Some links you may find interesting on the topic of Catholic clergy abuse: bishopaccountability.org, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Frontline: The Silence 

2Cousins, feel free to correct me if necessary.

Friday, August 10, 2018


I've changed themes.  My first series was to think out issues in my work history.  I've moved onto romance.  This is basically a portrait through symbols.  Like the first series, all of the images are specific to me, and I made the painting for my own reasons, but now that it's done I'm curious what other people think of it.  Bro2 walked in my house the other day and burst out laughing at Darth Vader.

It would portray "rainbow" better if all the Trivial Pursuits wedges were in it, but that wasn't the point.  And maybe it would be more rainbow-like if it weren't so black, but obviously wasn't the point either.  It has all the rainbow colors and a prism, so it counts.

All of these paintings have a pretty limited palette.  Two hues each of red, yellow, green, blue, and brown.  One hue each of black, white, orange, and metallic gold.  I could do it with less if I had to, but I don't see a point in making life harder.  The quality of the acrylic paints are both expensive and cheap.  My favorite brush cost $1.  I had to break open a new one for this painting because I wore out a couple on the last series.

I met a friend for lunch and took the painting with me.  I propped it on the wall of our booth and we talked about it and other things.  The waitress came and went quite a few times before she asked why we had Darth Vader.  My friend told her I had painted it.

"Wow!  I can't paint a straight line.  I don't have any talent (imagine much more along these lines...), but this is great!  It's like as good as you can buy at Hobby Lobby!

I give my friend credit.  She didn't burst into laughter until we left the restaurant.  For those of you who don't know about Hobby Lobby, it's a store that sells really cheap arts and crafts stuff and fought against women's access to contraceptives because of the owner's Southern Baptist religious beliefs.  They were also fined $3,000,000 for smuggling religious artifacts from Iraq and Caesarea and ordered to return the items.  I won't shop at this store no matter how cheap their stuff is.

While I bemoan the fact that too many people are like the waitress and don't get the difference between a Chinese printed image on sale for $9.99 and a real painting, I do appreciate the compliment.  I'll probably always remember it (and laugh).

This incident reminds me of another time with another woman whom I had shown a painting.  I asked her how much she thought I should charge for it.  She said $20.  I asked her how much she earned per hour and how many hours did she think I'd put in the painting?  Didn't matter.  "I can buy a real print by a famous artist from the store for $20.  I was giving you a compliment!"

Thanks.  I appreciate compliments, I really do.  I'd like some money too.

But for all that, I haven't been painting these for the money (though I'd sell them if anyone gave me a good enough offer).  They are visual reminders and meditations of lessons I've learned.  I feel lighter every time I finish one.  I'm going to keep making them and looking for the rainbows within.

To give you a sense of the scale of this 16" x 20" painting, that stamp is smaller
than the USPS stamp of Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World"

Sunday, August 5, 2018


I play computer games while thinking about how much I dislike lazy people, specifically my neighbor, pushing aside thoughts of the illustration I need to finish.  I give myself freedom to procrastinate while remembering more lazy people who don't do their fair share.  I try to whip myself into writing a blog post and play more computer games.

The neighbor issue is simple.  We had a storm.  Her tree came down in her yard.  The electric company cut up the tree (free!) so they could get their equipment in to free up the line.  Tree was piled on my lawn.  I glared at the pile for a week.  The neighbor sat on the front porch for days watching other people clean up after the storm.

The night before the city's last pick up of storm damage I dragged the pile to her tree lawn.  She came out when I had the last limb in my hand to spew negativity.  The neighbor 2 doors down (2DD) cuts her back yard.  I cut her side yard.  She does nothing and the world accommodates her.  I could go on, but you get the point.  People like this make my blood boil.  I have to cut her grass and move her tree or I'll have to look at it forever with elevated blood pressure.  It's easier to mow and move the pile.

Lazy people depend on people like me and 2DD.  Why should they do anything when they don't have to?  2DD says our hypocritical church lady has never said thank you or offered him $10 for gas for cutting her grass for years.  Come to think of it, she's never thanked me either.  She's entitled.  She doesn't care if other people are put out or that her weeds migrate to our yards.  I'm not even getting into the mess of her far back yard that has wrecked the drainage for the rest of us and is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

This is all recreational bitching over what is a recurring but insignificant inconvenience with occasional peaks of irritation which provide bonding moments with 2DD.  The greater point is that I'd like to think of people as a hive of bees, each doing what they're supposed to do for the benefit of the hive.  What do bees do when they have a lazy member?  I bet they just get on with the work that needs to be done.  I wonder if they get irritated about it too?

Sometimes I think I should keep bees, and then I discovered I'm already keeping bees since a bumblebee is living under my front step.  I suspect that if there's 1 there's probably more.  I don't know if I should be bothered by this or not?  (Please advise if you know best actions.)  The brick steps are attached to the front of the house, not really part of it.  Bumblebees pollinate the flowers and garden.  I feel only mild concern for the mail man since bumble bees are pretty mild, but I'd hate to be responsible if he got stung.

Are you lazy or a busy bee?  What do you do when you have to do the work of someone who won't do their bit?