I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

"Family 3"

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and miraculously lost 10 pounds eating cookies.  Now that I think of it, I didn't get a single cookie.  This seems like a serious oversight since I'm pretty sure fortune cookies don't count.

The view on the way into the National Gallery of Art
I went to Washington, DC to visit a friend.  I suggested going to the White House and protesting, but 45 Christmased in Florida and there didn't seem much point to making signs if he wasn't going to see them.  My friend and I went to the National Gallery of Art instead.  Great art.  I highly recommend going if you're ever in DC.  Even if you don't travel there, the museum has art lectures on youtube.  Look them up and learn stuff. 

I inquired where to find specific paintings I wanted to see and the nice lady made a point of telling me not to miss a little room with Vermeers in it.  I was distracted when she told me this and almost missed the significance of her recommendation.  I peeked around a corner and woo!  Vermeer!  Little gems that I really did need to see, and nobody else in the room to bother my intense examination of them.  Lovely.

David's Cupid and Psyche in Cleveland beats Napoleon any day!
I spent some happy time with Titian, Rubens, on and on and on.  My only disappointment was their only Jacques Louis David painting is of Napoleon.  I mean, it's really well painted, but who wants to look at Napoleon?  The Cleveland Museum of Art has Cupid and Psyche.  Cleveland wins!

The museum has a number of Rembrandts, but I'm kind of specific in my love of his work.  I was thrilled to see his self portrait.  Nothing I can show on the web can compare to standing in front of the reality.  Imagine my little heart going pitty pat at the texture and details.

Detail of Rembrandt's self portrait, but this doesn't do the original justice.
The paint is caked on and has a fabulous texture.
I don't think it's possible to fully appreciate the whole museum in one day so I'll have to go back sometime.  I got online to find these photos of paintings for this post and realize how many things I still need to see there.  It may take me a while to forget how much I hate driving in DC first though.  Once again, I got turned around and frantic driving on illogical freeways.  At one point I had to cross 4 lanes of traffic because they put the exit ramp on the left side.  Who does freeway planning?!!  I was busy hyperventilating after this driving feat and missed my next exit which led me in all sorts of other places I didn't want to go, and they charged me tolls for the privilege.

My friend had to work some of the days I visited so I worked on a new painting.  It was pleasant to have an art retreat for the holidays.  The image at the top is just a part of my latest piece.  I'm rethinking a big chunk of the rest of it and may end up painting over some of it.  I hate it when that happens, but it's my own fault for not starting with a better plan.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday doing what you like most with the people you like best.  Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, successful New Year!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

"Family 2"

Someone asked me recently about my happiest Christmas.  I got an image of my brain as a Rolodex of memory index cards spinning around until it landed on a happy day of childhood at my grandparents' house.  We didn't usually go to their house for Christmas, but that year we did.  There was a lit up tree in the dining room decorated with fragile glass ornaments.  Some of the lights bubbled.  My cousins ran around and yelled as they played.  Aunts chatted in the kitchen.  Uncles chatted in the living room.  Dinner was perfect.  Everyone was happy.  I was happy.

One of the pleasures of going to Grandma's was after the meal was done.  Women whisked the dishes into the kitchen and men took the children to the nearby park where we burned off our excess energy and cookies.  In winter, the pond was frozen over and there was a hot fire going nearby.  People warmed their hands and laughed.  Sometimes we walked to the other end of the park with the big sledding hill where there was another big fire burning.  Up the hill, down the hill... repeat until bruised and exhausted.  Trudge our way back to Grandma's where the dishes were miraculously clean and put away.

We played cards and drank hot tea.  We had sandwiches made from leftovers and ate more cookies.  Grandma filled us all in on the extended family whom I probably never met, or maybe died 3 or 4 generations ago.  The patter of the conversation didn't matter much to me.  I just liked listening to the pleasantness of it with the tinkling of a metal spoon clinking as someone stirred sugar in their tea.  The creaking of Grandpa's oak rocking chair, his soft huh, huh chuckle when something struck him funny.  "Santa Got Run Over by a Reindeer" playing somewhere upstairs.

My wish is for every child to have a perfect holiday, whatever their religion.  I hope they are safe and loved and they feel a sense of belonging amongst the people around them.  I hope older people feel treasured by the younger generations.

Of course, I also know my happy wishes won't come true for everyone.  For some, the mashed potatoes might fly across the room or somebody pounds the table.  Some people are lonely because they don't have anyone around anymore.  For them, I wish a perfect memory of happiness that keeps them warm when things aren't like a perfect day at Grandma's.

It wasn't that my grandparents did anything so remarkable back then.  I got a small gift I don't remember anymore.  The food was great, but it wasn't gourmet fare.  It was probably a turkey, mashed potatoes, and green beans or something -- oh yeah, let's not forget the ever-present applesauce!  Pretty little dishes with pickles and olives and nuts and whatever else scattered around the table.  Talking about unknown relatives isn't exactly thrilling.  Playing cards is pretty cheap entertainment.  It's just that when all these things were combined it was magic.

Or, maybe the point of it was my own perspective?  Happiness isn't something someone can force on you.  We choose it.  Wherever you are, whoever you're with, whatever life gives you, I hope you find joy and happiness this holiday season!

Saturday, December 14, 2019


I was told I died.  You'd think I would've noticed that, but my friend told me he had it on good authority.  I guess I should've asked when and how, and maybe most especially, who came up with this?!  It reminds me when I was a teenager and told Mike had died.  I was with the distraught family when Mike walked in after a weekend of carousing.  He was concerned to see his mom crying.  He put his hand on her shoulder and asked, "Who died?".  Scared her to death herself!  Everybody had a good laugh.  Turned out Mike's wallet had been stolen and the thief had it when he totaled his car.  I guess it wasn't a good ending for the thief, but was a happy relief for Mike's family and me.

My premature death notice was one of those things when you learn the world is smaller than we notice most of the time.  A friend of mine mentioned an acquaintance's name.  "I know him!  I was best friends with his sister when we were in school!"  I happily gossiped and mentioned other classmates from days gone by.  I salivated at the memory of Dave's mom's homemade apple strudel.  My friend repeated some of these names to Dave and eventually passed on my greetings for me.  That's when Dave said I was dead.  Our mutual friend assured him I looked alive last week.  I poked myself and said I was pretty sure that was still true.  I feel ripped off I didn't get a glowing obituary in the paper and condolence cards, though I feel kind of sorry if anyone actually grieved over my premature death.

I might be more fussed about Dave's belief in my non-existence if I hadn't lived through that time when it happened to Mike.  I saw Mike a few years ago and I know a mistaken obit isn't a harbinger of something to come.  Maybe Dave got me mixed up with someone else?  Maybe my ex still spreads lies about me?  Whatever.  Maybe I should have lunch at Kleifeld's Restaurant in Willoughby where I always see someone I know from the old days to prove I'm still here and still trying to make the most out of the time I have on the planet.

Sometimes I'm happy to be included in a large family and the hometown community.  Sometimes it makes me want to scream.  Really, people -- gossip about someone else!  Oh, but didn't I gossip a bit about Dave and others to my friend?  Oops.  Well, yeah, but, you know, public service announcements or something, as I mutter to myself about hypocrisy and try to think up a good rationalization to excuse myself.  I don't spill all the dirt I know about people at any rate.  That's got to count for something, right?  Um, yeah.  Glass houses.

None of this seems apropos to the holiday, but it is the current gossip.  I thought it was funnier than my non-successful trip to the store in search of gifts.  I walked out with a $1 desk calendar for myself and nothing else.  I hate shopping.  I don't know how all the rest of you manage this every year.  I think I'll be taking my own advice from last week and bake some presents.

I'll take suggestions.  What are your favorite sweets to receive?

Monday, December 9, 2019


Dr. Phil says "Food isn't love", but he's wrong.  It can be.  Cooking for those you love is a loving gift.  I think back to Grandma and taste her applesauce even though I haven't had it for many years.  The apples came from Grandpa's apple tree in the back yard, a tree that bloomed in many colors every spring, and drooped with many colored apples every fall.  He took cuttings from heirloom trees when he took trips and grafted them on his tree when he got home.  We had applesauce so often when I was a kid I got sick of it.  What I wouldn't give to have a jar of Grandma's applesauce again!

$83 of groceries didn't look like very much food when I brought it home from my last shopping trip.  This made me think about those who spend a lot of their lives working for groceries and how many people count their pennies so they can buy holiday gifts.  Like my grandparents' applesauce, cooking doesn't have to be expensive. 

I bought a ham.  Ham is affordable and useful.  I'll make sandwiches and freeze extra slices for future sandwiches.  I'll cube the less pretty parts and use that meat and the ham bone for soup.  Into the freezer it all goes.  I'll melt the fat for lard which I'll later use as a flavor and grease in cooking other things and top my bowl of soup with cracklings.  Many future meals for $18.  Thank you pig.

Sometimes I'm aware I eat better and don't spend as much money as other people.  A young woman told me recently she'd like to be a vegetarian, but isn't, because she thinks vegetables are too expensive.  I gave her a confused look.  Buying ham is more expensive than carrots.  I seldom make lentil or pea soup, but I'll toss dried peas and lentils into other soups.  Lentils and peas are about $1 per bag.  Easy, cheap, good for us.  I pick herbs in the garden.  These are perennials, so free.  Grow them in pots if you don't have a yard.

Yeah, but cooking takes too much time!  Well, sorta, but I like chopping vegetables for soup.  It's my meditation.  You could use a food processor if it makes you happy.  I make big batches so I can freeze it in single serving bags for later because I don't feel like cooking every day.  I freeze them flat so they thaw out fast, then microwave them in a glass bowl for an easy, healthy supper.

I drink a lot of Red Rose tea, but they stopped putting little porcelain figurines in the box.  This made me ornery and gave me insight into early Americans dumping tea in the harbor when they were mad at King George.  I started looking around my yard for tea substitutes.  Well, I didn't give up all my tea, I was looking for things to lessen my tea dependence.  I picked clover blossoms and raspberry leaves.  I grew chamomile, mint, lemon balm, hibiscus, and lemon verbena.  My tea has gotten tastier and healthier, and I saved money.  I miss getting porcelain turtles though.  I'm hoping my protest will result in the reappearance of little figurines some day.

When I started volunteering at the food giveaway I hadn't thought about getting food from the gig.  It's just something I like to do.  This week, an old lady encouraged me to try persimmons.  I love them! (The old lady warned me they have to be very ripe or they'll pucker your mouth though).  I often take home defective, rejected produce and can it.  Canning takes time too, but I like canning.  It's like a science project in the kitchen and I get yummy fruit for dessert.  I gift jars of it to nice people too.

You don't have to cook all the time, but give it a shot.  Give the gift of home cooking to someone you love :)