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, November 30, 2019

"Brain 4"

Thanksgiving has happened so now America shops for Christmas.  Well, I don't, but it seems like everyone else does.  The economy depends on it.  It seems to me there has got to be better ways to base economies than just accumulating stuff.  I'm more inclined to give home cooked food.  People eat the cookies or whatever and they aren't burdened with more things to cram into their houses or landfills.

I recently lectured a couple of my friends about buying kids too much plastic.  I felt guilty afterwards as both friends are enthusiastic grandmas who want to spoil their grandchildren -- but maybe they are exactly the kinds of people I should lecture about plastic?

Think about it, we ship oil across the world to be turned into plastic in a third world country, or we buy oil from the Middle East with its problems, before shipping it to the third world country.  Making the plastic is a toxic mess that gets into the air and water, poisoning the underpaid workers and getting into the global environment.  Once the all-important plastic stuff is created, it's shipped back around the world where it will be used for a short time before it's thrown away.  This doesn't even factor in the excessive plastic packaging, or the trees that are cut down for all the Amazon shipping boxes, or the fact that there are oil spills and other mistakes that dump plastic in the oceans.

When I visit the homes of people with children, I'm amazed at the amount of stuff little kids have.  It's crazy.  The kids don't even play with all that stuff.  One family has a couple of T-ball stands in the back yard.  I watched the boys have a good time whacking plastic balls with plastic bats.  That's nice, except I drove home and thought about the old days.  T-ball was a wooden post nailed to a wooden X base.  The ball was leather stuffed with who knows what, rat fur as far as I know.  Renewable resources at any rate.  The kids learned to hit the ball, then they didn't need the T anymore.  The wood was used for something else or it returned to the Earth by rotting in the backyard, but the plastic T, bat, and ball exists forever and probably end us in a bird's stomach.

I know, I know, some of you adore Christmas shopping.  You love spoiling the kiddies.  I know nobody wants to be lectured.  At the same time, can I suggest that you buy more Earth-friendly gifts?  Cuddling a kid on the couch and reading a book together is good.  Every kid (and adult) loves cookies.  Maybe you could make a snuggly stuffed animal or blankie for them?  I'm not anti-gift, I'm just trying to stop people from giving their kids their weight in plastic every year.  Give them experiences and memories.  Take them to the zoo or make crafts together.

I did this Christmas art for the Mensa Bulletin's December issue.  It doesn't have much to do with "brain" other than encouraging people to use their brains a little differently when shopping.  Illustration Friday has forgotten the meaning of Friday in its name.  Oh well, if they don't follow the rules that frees me up to ignore the rules too, right?

I hope everyone has a happy, cookie filled, plastic-free holiday season!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

"Brain 3"

I guess IF wants us to keep talking about brains since our leader neglects his duties of choosing new words.  I'm not sure I want to keep talking about this though.  As I said recently, "Sometimes I'm sick and tired of being in my own brain!"  The woman I was talking with gave me an incredulous look.  I asked, "Don't you ever get sick of your own thoughts?"  Nope.  She never did.  It was my turn to look incredulous.  I can't conceive of such a thing.

Another woman told me she's had a blissed out, happy life.  No problems at all.  Perfect family, perfect husband, perfect kids.  I was certain she was deluding herself, but our mutual friend told me that it's true.  None of her people has gotten sick or died, she's always had plenty of money, never been seriously emotionally or physically hurt, and has succeeded at whatever she wanted to achieve.  How is this possible?!  I want her life.

Except in my heart of hearts, I doubt I really want her life.  Well, it would be helpful to have some of her money.  Otherwise, maybe I'd rather live in my own irritating brain?

I've had more than my share of bad experiences.  Sometimes I give myself pity parties.  Sometimes I see the positives I got from those experiences.  I'm sure I'm more sympathetic, empathetic, and interesting because of the life I've had.  I'd like an easy life like that happy woman with the perfect world, but I'm not sure I'd want to trade my intangible benefits I've gotten from living through stuff.

Or, more realistically, I've already lived through those things.  I can't give them back without getting a lobotomy.  The choice is to find positives in what I have and to find gratitude for those positives.

I'm sad this week because Rand MacIvor died.  He was one of my first followers when I started this blog.  I know some of you met Rand this way too.  I don't know how he found me, and I was surprised anybody would want to read things I had to say.  He encouraged me when I needed it.  We happily bashed politics together.  He was often silly and we traded jokes and stories of working as commercial artists in the old days.  I looked forward to his messages.

I can be critical of the virtual world we live in.  Young people are glued to their phones and tweet and repost stuff that doesn't matter.  At the same time, I valued my virtual Canadian friend.  The web gives us the chance to meet people across the world.  I think this is especially wonderful for artists who work alone and spend too much time in their own heads, and in Rand's case, even more important when he couldn't do art himself anymore. He was failing for a long time so his passing wasn't a complete surprise, but I feel the loss.

So when I think of the woman with the perfect life who has never lost anyone special to her?  Well, that's nice for her.  At the same time, I'm glad I got to know Rand.  I'm willing to have today's sadness because it's a sign we actually connected in a meaningful way.  And to all my other blog buddies, I value you too.  Thank you!

Monday, November 11, 2019

"Brain 2"

I got a project this summer with a vague deadline of "Sometime before Christmas".  Great!  I even started the 4 paintings in the summer but I ran into an obstacle.  I needed to go back to a previous project and take photos so old and new paintings would go together.  But you know how it is.  There was always something better to do, more urgent projects, my growing resentment that these started paintings laid around my living room and nagged me to finish them

I procrastinated and started writing a blog post about motivation.  I saw the irony.  I abandoned the effort to motivate others and can happily report I finally finished the before Christmas paintings, but maybe some of the following points can help you motivate too.

1. Make yourself responsible.  For my project, I know I would've finished it sooner if I'd set a better deadline.  I could've told a friend about my procrastinating and requested a friendly nudge in a week.  Knowing myself, I'd get it done before my friend would have to nag me because that's only considerate.  I'd call and proclaim victory instead.  I could write a deadline on my calendar.  You may figure out a way that work better for you -- then do it.

2.  Show up and set a routine.  When I went to work every day I worked every day whether I felt like it or not.  Maybe I chatted with coworkers over a cup of tea first, but I'd buckle down at some point.  An object in motion stays in motion.  An object at rest stays at rest.  If you want to accomplish things, do something.  Even the masters had days when they were just grinding out the day's work.  The grind work pays off too.  You get better at it and it becomes less of an obstacle on future days.

3. Don't get ahead of yourself by thinking into the future or hoping for a masterpiece.  Every project starts by picking up a pencil, opening a file, or some other very easy action anyone can do.  In the case of my delayed project, I didn't want to work on it because I knew it would to take a lot of time to do.  I quit thinking about that and opened my reference photos.  I just did a bit of the task before me.  After that there was less to do and that was less intimidating.

I'm pretty sure all of us procrastinate from time to time.  The point is we need to find ways that help us do the things we want or have to do.  What do you tell yourself when you're dragging your heels on a project?  I'll be happy to learn more ways to kick myself in motion when I need it.

Saturday, November 2, 2019


I managed more than 1/2 of the Inktober list which is more than I've managed previously so I'm counting it a victory.  Congrats to everyone who played!  Are we all more creative and disciplined now?

I always remember my great grandpa's advice, "To keep your brain you have to use your brain!".  His was working great even in his late 90s.  He learned new words from the dictionary, studied encyclopedias, read the Bible, and happily debated anyone who'd indulge him.  I adored him.  I snuggled against him, held his hand, and listened to anything he wanted to teach me.

I don't know if Great Grandpa was right about fighting senility.  Maybe?  Probably?  What I know for sure is there was a long period of my life where I wasn't very mentally challenged.  My friends talked a lot about diapers and school schedules.  I spent a lot of time focused on the bumper in front of me in my daily commute to work.  You know, all the basic stuff in life that doesn't really stretch us very much.  I had creative jobs, but even that's routine after a while.  I didn't notice my brain had gotten mushy.

National Public Radio (NPR) has existed since 1970, but I didn't discover it until much later.  Beyond politics, it has hour-long programs on subjects I didn't know about or care about.  One day, a host announced the subject was corn.  He said he didn't know how to fill the show with such a limited topic, yet the following hour was fascinating with history, selective breeding, farming, chemicals... I had no idea I wanted to learn about corn until then, and I was disappointed my friends didn't want to hear about it too.

Corn needs rich soil to grow.  Brains are like that too.  I didn't know my brain was mushy until I dated a guy who actually wanted to talk about the corn program.  It was like someone plugging in the Christmas lights.  Look at all the colors!  Look at all the other interesting things we can learn about and discuss!

My friends eventually got their kids housebroken and quit being sleep-deprived, diaper-obsessed zombies, yet some of them still didn't care about discussing corn or whatever topic was interesting me at the moment.  That's okay.  They laugh at me and we bond over other things.  I had room in my life for more friends who do enjoy NPR topics. 

I thought my brain was safe from mushiness until my boss died several years ago and I had to instantly learn how to do her job which included math I hadn't considered since I was in school.  I had to learn computer programs.  My brain hurt, I mean literally.  It actually hurt.  I think it was shorting out and I was the sleep-deprived zombie.  I self-pityingly repeated Great Grandpa's maxim in my mind as I fought senility with math.  I realized that while all learning is good, learning new things in new ways is even better.

The point is we aren't set in stone unless we want to be fossils.  We can teach old dogs new tricks.  We don't have to accept a 3rd grade teacher's assessment of our intelligence as a mandate for our entire lives.  It can be good to make ourselves uncomfortable in order to grow.

I drew the thistle for Inktober's "injury" because I pulled thistles out of my garden without putting on gloves.  Duh!  Clearly, I am not that smart about some things!  I picked thistle slivers out of my hands for a week.  Maybe I've learned to use gloves next time?


Doodling my brakes and calipers on an estimate for brakes for "Tread"