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, April 15, 2018

"Crown"

The weather was glorious in Ohio for a couple of days this week.  I went to the park and smelled flowers.  I listened to a deafening riot of frogs trying to get lucky at the pond.  I felt the sun on my face and was feeling generally at peace with the world when a man jogged past.

Joggers are common, but this guy stopped me in my tracks.  He was shirtless and had on tight, spandex, uh, what to call it?  Let's say it was less material than underpants, and the brightly colored British flag's X was clearly marking a spot that us Ohioans keep private.  He also had on brilliant lime green spandex on his wiry calves that were sort of like rippled knee socks, or maybe neon greaves?  He smiled, and I was dimly aware that he was good looking, but it took me some moments before I could put that whole picture together in my mind.  I hope to see him again sometime.  It was kind of like seeing an exotic and fascinating insect, or maybe a Sasquatch sighting.

When I look at Jane's blog, she never has such skimpily clad and brightly colored men jogging through the English parks.  What's going on in this guy's head?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Aside from these cultural exchanges, I can say that I don't care about the upcoming US/British nuptials.  We aren't living in a Disney movie.  If Princess Di's life showed us anything, wearing a crown comes at a cost.  I hope her son and his wife fare better than Di did.  And yet, Queen Elizabeth looks a lot like my grandma.  I have red headed siblings.  It feels like a family wedding, which leaves me wondering why I didn't get invited, but thankful I don't have to buy a present.

I'd like to say that I think monarchies are obsolescent and democracy is patently superior, but I watch the news.  Current events make me doubt the wisdom of letting some people vote, besides making me question the value of humanity in general.  It's like the old curse, may you live in interesting times.  We're living it.

Oh well, I've been waging a personal war on dust lately.  This goes against my general reluctance towards housekeeping.  My house is clean and tidy enough, but I've a theory that dust is causing some of my sinus troubles and headaches and I'm working on stamping out this scourge from my life.  It may kill me.  I did a thorough cleaning of all the hidden spots in, under, and behind furniture in one room and spent the following several days coughing, wheezing, and miserable.  When recovered, I attacked everything dog-related, including the dog.  This caused a couple more miserable days.  The dog's bath seemed to only create more shedding.  I feel like I'm losing the battle, but I shall persevere!  I'm feeling considerable sympathy for whoever cleans monarchs' palaces.

Friday, April 6, 2018

"Monkey"

A friend commented on my "monkey mind" when I split our conversation into maybe a fifth or tenth tangent without completing a point about any of the subjects.  "Say what, huh?"  He quietly explained how our minds can behave like monkeys: aggressive, fearful, scattered...  At the time, his patient voice soothed and comforted my monkey brain, but the conversation stayed with me ever since.

Google "monkey mind" and you'll find lots of articles on the topic.  Here's one by Forbes.  In it, the author suggests the following 8 ways to quiet your mind:

          Meditate
          Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
          Mindfulness
          Color, count, recite, run
          Talk to someone or write
          Practice acceptance
          Help others
          Reword the rhetoric

Obviously, my first pick is "color"!  Though to be honest, on a good day I use most of these techniques.  On a bad day, well, probably none of them.  I certainly don't want to present myself as holier than thou about such things.  I'm a work in progress.  This painting is the latest in my art therapy efforts where I explore my past jobs and try to soothe my monkey mind from yelling "Die, die, die!" to people in my past.

This painting made me think about the job in different ways.  I did a lot of good work there, and I wanted to show my portfolio on the canvas -- but that wasn't the point.  It was more important to remember how many variations of stripes, dots, hollies, snowflakes, and hearts I created.  Also, the fights with China through online translation services, the complex math and technical drawings my coworkers refused to do, the number of Advils I swallowed for migraines.

 And for all of that, working my way through the painting lets me find gratitude.  I'm a far better artist for having working there.  It's just been hard for me to feel thankful when the people were so awful.  Painting lets me slow down and quiet my monkey mind enough to feel that gratitude.  It also helped me discover aspects of working that matter to me.

Actual comic by Bill Watterson which I hung in my office at that job.
I love Calvin and Hobbes!

Onto the next adventure, being the job before that, which had even more awful people.  To give you a clue, my first step for that painting was to look up prison records of a couple of them.  You can't say my life hasn't been colorful!  But it's like the reindeer jumping off the canvas, the point is to leave these people behind and to find happiness in the experiences.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

"Mushroom"

The old man next door used to pick mushrooms under the pine trees at my childhood home.  Last fall, I noticed similar mushrooms under a friend's pines.  I really wish I knew whether or not they're the same type.  I'm very nervous about eating wild mushrooms since they can kill you.  Whatever the old man ate must've had life-giving properties though.  He lived almost forever.

I used to get dried morel mushrooms in bulk from Whole Foods, but they've quit carrying them.  If anyone has a suggestion for another source, I'd appreciate your suggestions.

When my niece was little, she refused to eat "Fungus!"  I told her I like mushrooms, maybe she'd like them too.  Absolute refusal.  I said, "You don't have to like everything, but try everything so you know whether or not you actually like things or not."  She tried them.  She didn't like them.  We laughed.  I still figure it was an important life lesson for her.  She discovered other foods she did like, especially green foods and fruit.

I think about what's best for young people quite a bit.  Mostly, I think they are living like mushrooms, living in dark rooms lit by televisions or their phones.  "40% of Millennials don't know how to change a light bulb!", I exclaimed to a Millennial couple over lunch.  Neither of my friends seemed to care about this staggering statistic.  "They just wait until someone else comes over who knows how to do it, or they HIRE someone to change the bulb!"  My friend nodded like that was a sensible solution and problem solved.

I shook my head in dismay.  I tried to explain how their age group spends stupid money on all sorts of unnecessary things that could be avoided if they learned how to do simple tasks.  "They don't even know how to boil an egg!"  "That's understandable.  Making eggs is hard."  I listed other basic life skills Millennials lack.  I didn't argue my points well enough, or maybe we're just speaking different languages.  They don't see that I'm worried for the future of their peers.

Maybe all my worrying is for nothing?  Once they figure out they need to learn something, they'll probably learn it.  It just seems like too many young people are failing to launch themselves into the world.  They're too afraid of too many things.  Bad things will happen, but bad things happen to all of us.  We all have to learn how to pick ourselves up and try again.

...contemplating my first broken heart, subsequent broken hearts, current unwillingness to get involved...

Wait a minute!  Do as I say, not as I do!  At least I know how to boil an egg and change a light bulb!

Actually, I've been feeling heartened by the young people marching and organizing about gun regulations.  It's nice to see them doing things, and doing things together.  Maybe some of the other kids who are living as mushrooms will start living in the daylight too?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

"Twins 2"

Last week I said my most recent painting didn't have any twins in it so I'd post it this week instead.  Since IF has neglected to give me a new word for the week, I guess the "twin" is the title?

I happily showed Bro2 my recent creative output and he said, "Nobody's going to buy your bitch paintings."  I laughed.  Selling the paintings isn't really the point, though I wonder if maybe people would want to buy them?  I've certainly put a lot of energy into them, and I'm feeling quite pleased with myself.  When I told a friend about Bro's comment, she said nobody would know I was bitching if I didn't tell them.  "It just looks officey, and lots of people can relate to office clutter."

I've said in the past that I left my last job mad.  I decided to store my anger on canvas instead of carrying it around.  It seems to be working.  Maybe it's a petty vengeance to paint the names of sinners at a religious organization, but I feel better for having done it.  Maybe religious people will like my quotes?

The wicked are overthrown by their wickedness, but the just find refuge in their integrity." ~ Proverbs 14:32

"To trust that everything that happens to us is for our good, is hope." ~ Mother Angelica

"You see Lord, how I am wronged.  Do me justice!  You see their vindictiveness, all their plots against me.  You hear their reproach, all their plots against me, the whispered murmurings against me all day long: give them what they deserve Lord according to their deeds: give them hardness of heart: your curse be upon them.  Pursue them in wrath and destroy them from under the Lord's heaven!" ~ Lamentations 3:59-66

I had these quotes on my bulletin board at work.  One day, I saw a priest reading that quote from Lamentations.  He didn't say a word.  He knew it was justified.

The charts prove points I doubt anyone else wants to understand.  The important thing is I was right.  Life would be so much easier if people understood that from the beginning because I believe in the fortune cookie's wisdom: "When working towards the solution to a problem, it always helps if you know the answer."

Nobody assigned me to art therapy.  It just seemed like a healthier alternative than bombing the church (or indulging in violent fantasies) -- and I feel healthier.  I discovered that despite all the miserable people and events at that job, there were quite a few aspects I really enjoyed, looking up vengeful Bible quotes for instance.  And beyond that, I found I was really good at all those numbers, I designed pretty and effective mailings, I improved my writing skills, and maybe most important, I made real friends whom I value.

I smile when I look at my "bitch painting".  I think my art therapy worked.  Now I'm working on a painting of the nasty job before that :)

My personal prayer request

Friday, March 16, 2018

"Twins"

I was rummaging around on my shelves for something and noticed my pastels.  It's been forever since I did anything with them, so I decided to get them out and spread colored dust around my house.  Well, that wasn't my original intent, but it's what obviously happened.  I also discovered that whatever the medium, I can make myself crazy with it and waste entirely too much time.

The girl is part of an illustration I did for Mensa's monthly magazine.  The accompanying article is about grammar, specifically the sentence, "The maiden held the white lily in her delicate fist".  The point being that "fist" and "delicate" aren't usually put together.  This is what it looks like in the actual magazine...

You'd think the fist would be a bother, but it was ridiculously quick and easy.  I just tortured myself on everything else, and I don't really know why.  Perhaps at some level I can't separate my art from myself?  I still see things I'd rather fix, but sometimes you just have to be done with it.  Making her a twin was easy in PhotoShop.

Twin brothers plus an extra brother
There's a Twins Days festival near me, "the largest annual gathering of twins (& other multiples) in the world!"  I could never get my twin brothers to go to it even though twins from around the world show up.  I've got a friend who is a twin too.  He doesn't go either.  I think it must be hard to be seen as a whole human being instead of half of a set.  Heck, it's hard enough for me not to get compared to regular siblings in a big family.

I finished my latest art therapy painting, but since there isn't anything in it even remotely "twin" in it I guess I'll show you how it turned out next week.  I took the painting out drinking yesterday.  That was fun.  There was an actual reason why I did it.  The painting is about my last job and I was drinking with my friends from that job.  I sat it on the bench in the booth and my friends played Where's Waldo with it.  Our waitress told us about her frustrated art studies too.

I told you last week that while I am justifiably angry and sad about things at the last job, I actually feel like I took away more good than bad from it.  After all, I was out drinking with my buddies and talking art, laughing about the old days, shaking our heads over the stupidity that's still going on over there.  Done!  I smiled happily when I varnished the painting.  Done with the past stress, done with the painting.  Onto the next!

Preparing for my next art therapy painting, I read my folder for the job before this last.  Oh my.  That job was horrible.  It was even more horrible than the last job.  My jaw was clenched for 2 days after reading that folder.  It might still be clenched for that matter.  I suppose it didn't help to also read the folder on an interim job I had after that.

But the thing is, I'm actually looking forward to painting the next painting.  I left that job 10 years ago.  There's no good reason to still have jaw-clenching feelings about those people.  Time to speak my mind, express myself, let it go, and immortalize more sinners through art.  Yay!

Even my little girl art was art therapy in a way.  Maybe all art is?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

"Talisman"

I'm still painting obsessively tiny things, with far too much detail to be entirely sane.  Taking photos and enlarging them makes me very aware that all of this would be simpler to do in PhotoShop in the first place, or easy to fix things in PS, but that would defeat the purpose.  I want to spend time with my thoughts and paint brushes.  It's meditation.

This painting is related to my recent painting of the box.  There were too many things to put in that box so I painted some folders for topics to be addressed later.  Here, the folder on my last job is opened.  It's a work in progress.  I feel like I'm spending a stupid amount of time on what is essentially the background, but yeah, meditation.

Through the process, I own that there were parts of the job that I really loved.  I made real friends.  I got to design and write printed pieces I am proud of making.  I was very good at juggling numbers and data and people.  I saved enough of my earnings to be able to paint what I want for a while.

Glass half empty or half full?  It was also such a hostile environment I had to leave.  I obviously still have enough feelings about that to feel inspired to make a painting about it -- and even so, part of me feels grateful.  Not for the abuse, but the learning and experiencing in an environment I'd never go to if it weren't for the paycheck.

We always have a choice about where we put our attention.  I'm pretty sure there are certain people at the Shrine that I will always remember with loathing -- but why should I allow those people space in my mind?  I realize we don't get to choose our feelings, but we also don't have to let those feeling take over all the good around us.  I can think of my Shrine friends instead.  One of them recently got married and is having a second baby.  Woo hoo!  Happy, happy!

I originally thought painting negative issues would be seriously depressing and I'd be left with paintings I wouldn't want to look at.  I'm finding the opposite to be true.  I'm loving my paintings.  Instead of feeling down, I'm happier.  Wrap it up, tie it with a bow, and get rid of the sh*t.  Yay!  Documenting past ills lets me quit carrying them.  Even naming my anger is liberating.  Maybe I should become an art therapist?

Anyway, talisman... "an object thought to have magic powers and bring good luck."

Saint Ann's Shrine has 1st-class relics Pope-certified as pieces of bone of Jesus' grandmother.  The chapel and relics fell under my department, and while my title was officially "Development Director", I preferred to call myself "Shrine Keeper".  The Church didn't need to know I was inspired by Merlin in Mary Stewart's books*.  I was pleased shrine keeping is an actual job in the 21st century

Religion can be fascinating when viewed from an inside seat without the indoctrination.  I said I'd put energy into getting my book on the subject published.  I'm rather ashamed to say that I haven't done it.  I've been painting, and that seems more important right now.  However, I have followed through with my walking and actually made it to my park.  I even walked the flattish bit of the park.  I then walked home and discovered impressive blisters on my feet, preventing me from walking anymore this week.  Are we sure exercise is actually good for us?

*Mary Stewart's Merlin books are some of my all-time favorites.  They are:  The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, and The Wicked Day.

Friday, March 2, 2018

"Piano"

I'm an enthusiastic yet terrible pianist.  On my best day I can use 3 fingers on a song.  It doesn't stop me from playing.  Sometimes I sing too, but that's asking for quite a bit out of me at a time, like skipping and crocheting at the same time.

My dog isn't picky about my musical efforts unless I howl.  She's not quite sure what to make of that.  The howling started on a date at his suggestion.  He seemed to think I need loosened up.  I think he was right.  I discovered I like howling.  I can make myself belly laugh all by myself, well sort of by myself since the dog is here looking at me with worried eyes.  She's getting old, 17 this week in fact.  Maybe I should quit worrying her with howling?  Oh well, she's pretty deaf at this point anyway.  I'm not giving it up.

I'm lousy at the piano because I never had any lessons.  Ironically, I used to be in charge of the music program at the local civic center.  I kept meaning to take lessons with the very nice young man who taught piano, but you know, one thing or another got in the way.  I'm not sure being responsible has ever brought real joy into my life?

My favorite part of the pianos at the civic center was when the piano tuner came.  He's from Sparta,Tennessee, the same miniscule town where my grandpa was from.  I could listen to the piano tuner all day, and he's a talker.  It was kind of like having Grandpa back for a while.  Now that I'm thinking of it, a day with the piano tuner was kind of like a year with Grandpa, who was definitely not a talker.

Near the end of Grandpa's life, I went to see him when he was just getting up in the morning.  He was still rubbing the sleep from his eyes when he said something, but it was hard to figure out what he was saying.  The accent was so thick you'd think he'd just come from the woods a couple hundred years ago, not at all like the mellowed accent I knew from his 70-some years living in Ohio.  The more he woke up, the more he lost that heavy accent, but I wished he'd talk that way a while longer.  I found it fascinating.

It's one of the things I never understood about "My Fair Lady".  Why change her accent?  I thought she was fun to listen to, while the Professor Higgins' accent was kind of dull.

I, on the other hand, don't have an accent.  You can listen to people on tv and they talk like me.  Sort of.  Mostly.  I asked my dog, "Dja wanna ga out?"  Okay, maybe I hear it.  Even I have never understood why there's a J in "did you".  A guy I know from Michigan likes to say "Djeat?" which is an invitation to get food.  That's nice.  Sure, let's eat.

I suppose none of this says much about pianos except nice memories of the tuner, but I'm in a merry mood today for no particular reason.  I started another painting, the intention being to work out some negative issues.  I kept thinking of pleasant associations instead, and I scolded myself for not sticking to the point.  Pfft.  Isn't the point to get rid of the sh*t so I can be happy?  If I'm already there, why mine sh*t?

I finished my tool painting.  This is small, 14" x 11", and no point to it at all other than to say everybody needs to own these basic things even if you don't know how to fix anything.  Bro2 says it should include a staple gun, but I didn't have room for that.  What tool do you think is essential?