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 31, 2020

#inktober52, #inktober, "Stranded"

I have a book problem.  The library has partially reopened but in order to get a book I have to know what I want for curbside pickup.  How am I supposed to know what books I want?  I like to wander through my favorite sections of the library until a book or subject jumps from the shelf and begs to be taken home with me.  Sometimes I wander through my less favorite sections and learn about something else entirely.  I need recommendations if any of you have suggestions.

In the meantime, I've been reading books I already have.  I've found a few I hadn't read before hiding on the shelves.  They've mostly been disappointments, past garage sale purchases that deserve to be forgotten or given to the library to sell to some other unsuspecting reader, but there's one unread book I've pushed around on the shelf many times.  I've moved it from one house to another.  I've started it multiple times because it was my dad's and he loved it.  I wanted to understand what he saw in it but I found it antiquated and tedious.  Every time I picked it up I put it down again within a few pages.  I'm determined this time.  Read it or get rid of it.

Erewhon was published in 1872 but I was confused by my copy which has a partial copyright of 1968.  I missed the "partial" in that and thought this was a more recent book which made me take offense at the white superiority in it.  Knowing its time doesn't make the racism okay, but it does help me take it in context while making me sympathetic to people burning things down in Minneapolis this week.

I'm only about halfway through Erewhon so I can't tell you if its contemplation of machines, society, and Darwinism has much merit.  So far, I hate the book as much as the previous times I've tried to read it.  Maybe I'll change my mind.  I doubt it.  Thankfully, it isn't very long.  I'm just reading about a racist blonde guy stranded in a fictional country while I'm stranded during Covid-19 seclusion.  According to Dad's philosophy of life, this will make me a better educated and interesting person.  I hope so.  I'd like to get something out of this experience.

Dad urged me to read the classics, and because I was similarly stranded in childhood by being stuck in the woods, I dutifully read what he had on the shelves.  I learned about Victorian men's ideas of romance while painlessly absorbing history.  I read the Bible a few times, Shakespeare, Dickens, Tarzan, nature field guides, crime investigation techniques, etc.  I'm pretty sure Dad purposely put some books on the shelf to further my education.  I also read the secret book in my parents' bedroom which I was very sure had nothing to do with what they did behind that closed door.  Hey, if you want to encourage me to read then you have to suffer the consequences!

A friend of mine told me her parents never read to her when she was a child.  I felt her pain and feel fortunate my dad read to me regularly and engagingly.  He made up funny voices and cuddled me.  Reading was a warm comfort and escape.  My friend learned to love books because her neighbor took time to read to her.  It doesn't have to be a parent who passes this love onto another.  I know many of you share my pleasure of books.  Let's spread that enjoyment to others.

Monday, May 25, 2020

#inktober52, #inktober, "Robot"

Bill Mumy used to buzz past my house very regularly in a very beat up VW bug.  He honked, he waved, I smiled and waved back.  My sister growled and slammed doors.  I thought Bill was romantic and determined.  Sis thought he was a long-haired, gangly, teenaged pest.  Oh well, teenagers do what teenagers do and apparently Bill and Sis weren't meant for a happily ever after together.  He got married in 1986 so I'm pretty sure he got over his unrequited love, or maybe it was just teenaged lust.  It's just one of those episodes of childhood that invariably makes me laugh.  I'm pretty sure Sis still gets irritated at the thought of it.

Years before this teenaged stalking, Sis sat on the floor with me in front of the TV and happily watched Bill as Will in "Lost in Space".  It was an admittedly lame show that was cheaply produced and inexplicably entertaining.  There was friendly robot who exclaimed, "Warning, warning, Will Robinson!" before they were attacked by aliens and everything got resolved in 20 minutes or so.  Wasn't even bad TV better when we were kids?

I think about today's robots taking away people's jobs and all the current uncertainties and think I could spend the day watching Lost in Space on youtube.  I'm not sure this is the best use of my life, but it would be a pleasant diversion since nobody has asked me to a Memorial Day picnic, not that I would go this year even if I were invited.  Whatever you're doing this year, please do it safely.

I've moved on from my ditch digging and started attacking my house.  I sat back in my easy chair and noticed the ceiling looked kind of dingy.  I spent a day washing it.  It's sparkly white again and I'm sore again.  I sat back in my easy chair and noticed piles of projects that never got finished (or started).  I moved my project materials to their proper homes.  On and on and I'm not finished thinking about other labor-intensive things I could do.  I think I'm just taking out my frustrations on my surroundings, but also getting some exercise.  Things look better so I feel better.

I'm never going to go full Marie Kondo or anything, but I have been asking myself why I have so much stuff.  I listened to a radio program this week which posed the questions, "Are you holding onto things because you're holding onto your past?  Are you ready to make space for new things to come into your life?"  Hmm...  I think I'm ready for something new.  Clearing space sounds like an excellent idea.  Maybe I'll paint the living room walls too.  On and on and on, there's no end to the stuff I could do.

Of course we haul our past around with us whether or not we keep reminders of it.  The only thing it took for me to remember Bill Mumy buzzing by my house was the word "Robot".  I don't need to keep every gift I received from every person I've cared about to remember them.  I used to, even gifts I wasn't all that crazy about in the first place.  It felt disloyal to throw them away.  I've gotten over that.  Mostly?

Anyway, I've got to get back to my projects.  Now that the ceiling looks great I've noticed the windows need washed.

Bill was adorable, wasn't he?  He kind of looked like Sis' son.
Maybe she should've returned his affections :)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

#Inktober52, #Inktober, "Bubbles"

I was hiking around to endless historical monuments on a hot, sunny day with a friend when I said, "I need to stop for a pop" as we walked by a convenience store.  My friend burst into merry laughter.  My face rearranged itself into absolute befuddlement.  I didn't see anything funny in my declaration.  I was hot and thirsty.  My friend didn't have the faintest idea what I was talking about.  "A Pepsi, Coke, something like that", I clarified, shaking my head at the obvious.  "Oh!  A soda!"  In my mind, a soda is something from the 1950's when teenyboppers went to the soda shop for a malt, but okay.  I realize more of you out there say soda than pop, but you have to admit pop is a better word when you open the bottle.

Someone else recently reminisced with me about going to her grandparents and getting pop from the basement.  "Me too!"  Happy grandparent stories flowed back and forth and I vividly tasted Vernor's ginger ale even though I haven't tasted it in years.  It's amazing how these things stay with us, and how much little things matter down the road when it didn't seem to make that much difference at the time.  We just had practical grandparents who put soda pop in the basement because the basement was cool and brought it upstairs when the grandkids were there because they loved us.  It's these little moments that made us feel special and secure.

The other day I contemplated what to have for supper.  I seem to have gotten very vegetarian during the shutdown and I have to say I'm sick and tired of vegetables.  I flashed back to dinner at Grandma's and wished so strongly for one of her basic meals of ham, mashed potatoes, and green beans.  I wanted it so badly I could smell the ham and hear her putting a spoon down on her stainless steel kitchen counter.  I thought of Grandpa and his perennial assortment of Chex cereal and ever-present vanilla ice milk.  Tinkling dishes, cheerful laughter, and ice tea.  Vernor's pop, full of sugar and bubbles, in the middle of the day, for no real reason other than my grandparents knew I liked it.

I saw a post where a 10-year-old girl created a door screen out of a shower curtain and plastic bags so she could hug her grandma during the shutdown.  Yay for the kid!  But gee, it sucks to be separated from your grandma!  Maybe all this separation will prove to teach more of us to appreciate people while we have them?

Happy memories keep us warm inside when faced with too many vegetables, but it isn't all about looking back.  It's about thinking about your priorities and making decisions about what you want now and in the future.  Our thoughts create possibilities.

Thinking about drinking a bubbly pop on a hot summer day may not seem important at all.  Remembering merry laughter between friends is important.  It isn't about things, it's about people.  I'm really hoping that everyone appreciates their people even more when they can hug each other again.

This art is just a TV doodle around the time I was salivating over Grandma's ham :)

Sunday, May 10, 2020

#Inktober52, #Inktober, "Praying Mantis"

I was about 8 or 10 the first time I saw a praying mantis.  Who could've thought bugs could get so big?!  I ran inside to confer with Dad and showed him the insect monstrosity in the entomology book.  I was disappointed Dad already knew all about them.  We moved the mantis to a place it wouldn't be run over by the lawn mower and that was pretty much it.  I don't have a good story for this week's prompt.  I don't even have a good drawing.  I did this little sketch, thought to myself it looks like an alien, and decided that's good enough.  I have another project I want to work on.

Sometimes life is like that.  In the past, I often spent more time on what other people might want me to do instead of what I wanted to do.  I'm pretty sure nobody really cares if I spend a day creating a better mantis.  The painting I'm working on will make me happier and will have a much longer shelf life.

I've been fighting with myself about living life in balance lately.  I listen to too much news, get upset about politicians' stupid decisions, and don't focus on my own priorities while all this social distancing is providing plenty of opportunity to paint and think about better things.  Hence, I'm going to paint today.  I hope you find something to do that makes you happy today too.

Volunteering at the food giveaway makes me happy, and it gives me insight into people's attitudes towards Covid-19.  I'm less happy about the current attitudes.  Everyone wore a face mask in April.  This week, very few had on masks.  People apparently believe the worst is behind us and we don't have to worry about the disease since the state is opening up businesses even though the numbers in Ohio are going up.  We're less safe now than we were in April.  Wear your mask.  Social distance.  Be smart, stay safe, stay healthy.

In ditch digging news, I went out to the back 80 last Sunday and hit the ceiling when I saw the landscapers who take care of the property behind me dumped a huge pile of weeds and dirt in my ditch, effectively blocking the water flow.  I had already sent a nice letter to the owner of that property to get the landscaper under control.  I didn't receive a response.  I chastised the guy driving the lawn mower around.  I talked to the owner on the phone this week and am pretty sure this recurring landscaper problem may finally be addressed.

I walked back there to check my drainage process another day and felt stunned.  There was no water at all in the ditch.  Wet mud.  It took me a while to actually comprehend I had succeeded in ditch digging.  I felt waves of joy surrounding me.  I'm pretty sure Lake Erie is flooding Canada from all the water I've drained into it.  In more realistic terms, the ditch was about 2 feet of water in it when I started, with plenty of standing water in the yards.  I'll continue to demolish ditch obstacles through the summer, but all that is window dressing.  My ditch works!

My next project is cleaning up my neighbor's yard.  He's old and can't do it and the younger guy who helps out is stretched too thin.  I don't want to come off as all holy or anything about this.  I'll be happier to see the yard cleaned up but mostly I've been happy with my ditch digging exercise.  I'm not disciplined about regular exercise but I can be very diligent with projects.  It's a win/win for everybody :)

Sunday, May 3, 2020

#inktober52, "Train"

I used to go to a meditation group once a week.  Our leader turned down the lights and in her soothing voice told us to imagine a beautiful field of wildflowers.  I internally griped, "Why is it always a meadow?", but I complied.  I imagined pretty flowers.  Eventually, we progressed out of the meadow and my grouchy thoughts of sunburn and I found a calm in myself.  I suppose my grouchiness and fears of sunburn were a metaphor for the crap I carried in my head most days.  I got a lot of positives from meditating and our group became good friends.

The place we met was right next to train tracks.  We all giggled the first time a train went by during our meditation and rattled the windows.  Our patient leader gently suggested we could put all our problems on the train and listen to those problems being carried away.  This happened many times.  I dutifully put my cares on the trains.  I can't see or hear a train anymore without smiling and feeling my blood pressure drop.

Meditation comes in many forms.  What I've described above is a guided meditation.  Sometimes I sit at the river and watch the water go by until I find inner peace.  Art and ditch digging can be meditations.  Sometimes I just pay attention to my breathing (which is probably healthy for everyone in Covid-19 days).  Some people focus on thinking of nothing (something I find absolutely impossible).  Some people do yoga or walk.  Whatever works.  I don't think there's one right way to go about it.

For myself, I start out by checking in with myself.  How stressed am I in the moment?  I give myself a numerical grade.  A good day is a 10 or less.  Often, my score is 5,000.  I start counting backwards, sometimes jumping down 100 points at a time until I can feel the stress leaving my body and my breath evening out.  I notice places where I'm sore or tight and concentrate on relaxing those areas.

I often think of meditation as an awake dream.  I get myself relaxed enough to see where my brain will go.  Like a night dream, answers to issues can be seen through a different light.  Sometimes the answers are so obvious I wonder why I didn't see them in the first place, but I doubt I'm the only one who tells myself what I'm feeling instead of actually feeling my feelings.

For example, I go about my day and think about the things I'm doing.  Everything's fine, so why do I feel so stressed?  After calming myself I can see that I'm worried about the state of the world and individuals I care about.  In my regular thoughts, I tell myself I can't do anything about those things so quit thinking about them.  In my meditative mind, I honor these feelings.  It isn't an issue of fixing situations, it's finding my place in them.  Maybe I can't help someone with health issues or a drug problem, but I can go to my food giveaway and feed other drug addicts and elderly people.  I feel good to do that.  Those are people who want the help.  I feel more peaceful which is better for everybody because being wound like a spring about problems I can't solve just makes me testy to be around.

Yes, I have shown you this train before, but having had to paint it twice for this painting it only seems fair to post it twice.  You can see the whole painting here.  I've done more Barbie paintings but haven't seen any appropriate words to show them off yet.

I can hear trains at my house.  They're carrying away my problems.  How do you meditate?