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!

Friday, November 17, 2017

"Skill"

Nobody is born a "master" at anything.  Child prodigies aren't born with skills.  The child sits in front of a piano, loves plinking at the keys, and continues to plink until the noise becomes music.  They're praised, and they plink a lot more.  Maybe the kid was born into a musical family, maybe a parent teaches them some things.  A prodigy develops over time in a fertile environment.  So too with art and any other pursuit that requires skill, even if most of us won't be child prodigies and learn our skills as adults.

I've been in the archives this week.  I'm working on another painting and was looking for reference materials.  In the hunt, I discovered these rare, preschool drawings.  To my knowledge, these are the only evidence of my early art efforts until I started saving my drawings many years later.  I can only wonder about my concepts of anatomy back then, or what was going on around me to inspire love and hate.

I tend to think art is an inheritable tendency.  I'm from an artistic family, and because they're artistic, my parents encouraged me.  I suppose they probably also appreciated the fact that art is a quiet activity and easier for adults to be around?  But, I started out like every other kid with a crayon.  I looked at my world and tried to copy my vision of it.  I got better at doing that over time.  I enjoyed doing it, so I did more of it.  I was competitive enough to want to do it better than my peers.  I wanted praise.  Eventually, I got to the point where I developed some real skills.  I studied and acquired more skills.

Now, it seems like the world doesn't care about those skills that I've spent so many hours accumulating.  The painting I'm working on could be accomplished much faster, and more technically perfect, on the computer.  I've been giving some thought to the practical stupidity of spending so much time on things that aren't going to pay the bills.

And I don't care.

It might be the first time in decades that I don't care.  I'm painting for me.  I'm working through personal issues with paint and feeling a pleasure that I haven't felt for a very long time -- and kind of stumbling into an awareness that this kind of painting is far more important than all the BS I did as an illustrator/graphic designer through the years.

It would be nice to get money for these paintings, but the paintings are more important to me than the bucks.  Of course this is only true because I still have enough money to keep the lights on.  Life would be so much easier if I had a trust fund or a patron.  (If you didn't see the other painting, you can see it here.)

This is just a part of the unfinished painting.  At the moment, it's a mostly empty box which I'm going to fill up with things.  I'm having some trouble planning out how to make things fit inside, but even that problem is a pleasure at the moment.  One thing is for sure though, this painting will go much faster than the last one!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

"Wax"

Sis ate one of my crayons.  It was a broken bit of a useless color like mustard or flesh, but still, eating non-food items was curious, and eating my crayons was criminal.  Even at my tender age of about 4, I wanted to know why she did it.  "A girl in my class eats crayons.  I wanted to know what they taste like."  Well, what did it taste like?  "Like a candle, like wax."  Sis sorted through my colors and picked up another broken bit of an expendable color.  She popped it in her mouth, chewed thoughtfully, and pronounced crayons weren't worth eating.

I waited until she was off to more exciting adventures before sampling an expendable color myself.  Blech.  I felt sorry for that girl in Sis' class.  Something wasn't right about her.  This was before I went to class and found out quite a few kids eat non-food art supplies.  I sampled glue and decided that was right up there with crayons, but paste?  Mmmm.  The paste even had a convenient plastic paddle inside for convenient licking.

"If everybody jumped off a bridge, would you follow them?" Dad asked.  Yes, as it turns out, I would jump off the bridge, but that was quite a few years later.  I felt like telling Dad it was fun too, but then I heard about kids getting paralyzed doing that kind of thing and kept quiet.  I also learned that eating my paste meant I had less paste for art.  Less art is stupid.  Don't eat paste.

Sometimes I look at people and see a world filled with lemmings running off cliffs.  Think for yourself!  I can feel superior in these moments and completely forget that I ate a crayon and jumped off a bridge (plus a plethora of other ill-advised activities).

There are other times I think being an independent minded person is punishing.  I can see the cliff coming.  I can warn others about the cliff.  We all go over the cliff anyway.  Ignorance is bliss until you hit the bottom, and then I'm pretty sure none of the lemmings are thinking about their choices anymore.  Sometimes I'd like to be ignorant too.

We've all eaten a crayon or licked paste or some equivalent action because we saw someone else doing it.  I was going to write that nothing good ever comes from it, but I remembered learning to use a computer.  I tried reading about it, but I didn't get it until I watched someone else use it.  We learn by following.  It's just the next step, tasting the crayon and deciding not to eat another that's important.  What do you do with all of the things you've learned?

In art, we can see when someone takes off their training wheels.  There are millions of Bob Ross knock offs, and then you see a landscape with life and colors that weren't shown on the tv how-to show.  That's the magic, when someone expresses themselves instead of simply copying.  Art mirrors life.  You can feel the joy when someone takes off the training wheels of their lives and thinks for him/herself.

I'm pretty sure we're all some mix of crayon eaters and artists.  We're all works in progress.  It keeps life interesting.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

"Women"

Harvey Weinstein's despicable behavior may have a positive outcome for women?  The fame of many of his victims has brought national attention to a subject women have known a long time.  The fact that many of the famous women, and Weinstein himself, are Democrats have Republicans excited to report it.  Democrats sin.  Take your attention off alleged presidential treason, tax evasion, and money laundering.  Republicans are also delighted about the Democratic party making a deal with pre-convention Hillary Clinton.

As a Bernie supporter, I'm seriously annoyed with the Democratic party.  I addictively watch news about the varied investigations into the Russian scandal.  T whines he wants investigations into HC's emails whenever he's in trouble though authorities have already said HC made poor decisions without breaking the law.  Let's get to the main issue that effects everybody, sexism.

I'm delighted to hear men talking about the topic.  Granted, a sorry amount of those men seem to completely miss the point of the subject, but they're talking.  It's a start.

Sexism isn't about sex.  It's domination and bullying.  Offenders are often married or in relationships.  They get consensual sex.  Harassing a woman at work makes them feel powerful.  In no way is this a "flattering" or "friendly".  Here's some statistics...

  • Nearly 1 in 5 women report being raped.
  • About 1 in 20 women experienced sexual violence other than rape in the last 12 months.
  • 20% of all US crime is domestic violence and it is the leading cause of injury for women.  The FBI estimates violence will occur in 2/3 of all marriages."
That's enough statistics.  It's a violent world.  That violence follows us through office doors.  The greatest tragedy is that the violence is tacitly condoned by the powers that be.  Human Resources departments exist to protect companies.  Policemen are often child abusers and wife beaters.  Laws are written to protect men in power.  Victims fear to band together because they are afraid they'll lose their positions.

Many otherwise good people seem blind to reality.  Maybe Weinstein's abuses finally breaks through decades of concrete bubbles around other abusers?  When Bill O'Reilly was outed, many enjoyed his downfall without much sympathy to his quickly forgotten victims.  When Anita Hill testified to Congress, she was criticized and diminished while Clarence Thomas was given a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

Sexism is a huge topic that effects women at work and at home.  I suppose it takes some famous women to make the point, but it happens to your mom, aunt, sister, daughter, niece, friend, neighbor, and maybe to you.  Also, as Kevin Spacey demonstrated, not all victims are female.

Keep talking.  Don't let this bubble fade without awareness and change.

This art is something I did for American Mensa's Bulletin magazine.  In this context, it's a reminder that the world can be a place of comfort and support between genders.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

"Spooky"

DadadaDA!!  I finished my painting.  Woo hoo!  Yay!  A painting I realize has very little to do with "spooky" -- then I remembered painting The Ghost of Dibble Hollow, so I'm clearly completely legit about following the word for the week :)

There's a lot I could say about this painting, but I'm curious about what you think of it without anymore explanation than I've already given.  I've even got another painting  or 2 in mind that will follow similar themes.  Hopefully they won't take years to complete!

As for "spooky", when we were kids, Sis2 and her friends played "Who's Afraid of Bloody Mary?"  They took turns locking each other in a closet and scaring themselves silly.  I got shoved into the closet for a turn too.  I reluctantly said the words 3x and felt torn between terror and healthy skepticism.

The other girls wouldn't let me out.  As the youngest, they thought they could get me to scream the loudest, and they kept me incarcerated for a very long time.  I amused myself by examining the contents of the closet by candlelight.  By the time I was allowed out, I'd lost most of my fear and come to the decision that the girls weren't really playing, they were just cruel.

The girls thought I lacked the proper attitude for play.  Maybe?  My 5-year-old self felt pretty sure about my conclusions though.  I told a school friend about the torture test and she agreed with me.  We polled our other playmates and everyone agreed, with an observation that most older siblings are mean.  We were sensitive middle children.

This experience oddly turned into a life-long interest in collecting other people's ghost stories -- not fake stories intended to frighten, but real stories.  It started that day on the playground when 2 of my classmates shared their experiences.  We were all awed and wondered together about the nature of reality and the afterlife.  I remain charmed by the unknown and magic in life.

My grandma died suddenly when I was in my 20s.  I still hadn't gotten my mind wrapped around this new reality on the day of the funeral.  My unusually well-dressed family picked up Grandpa at his house and loaded up the car.  Mom sent me back in to make sure the back door was locked.  It was.  With my mind on getting to the funeral home, I went through the kitchen, dining room...

"Linda.", Grandma said from the kitchen.

I turned around expecting to see her.  Empty air in the arch between the 2 rooms.  Uh?

"Grandma?"

Silence.

I didn't want to move.  Didn't want to break whatever just happened.  Mom tooted the horn, and I got in the car for a funeral I didn't want to attend.

For an extra oddity, Mom told me the same thing happened to Grandma when her grandma died.  She was playing piano and she heard "Laura."  That's it, nothing more.  I'm grateful Grandma said goodbye.

As for last week's rambling about giving kids candy on Halloween, Paula at Mindful Drawing shared a practice in Ireland of giving stickers out.  I think that's a great idea :)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

"Sugar"

I looked at the candy in the grocery store and waged an internal debate with myself between love of Halloween and the perils of sugar.  I like handing out candy.  I lived for Halloween when I was a sugar-deprived child.  Today's kids get sweets all the time.  They don't appreciate it.  At the rate we're going, 1 out of 3 of them are going to end up with diabetes, partly because they eat so much processed food with sugar hidden inside.

Kids should have fun.  I picked up the candy.  I don't want to be responsible for fat, diabetic children.  I put the candy back.  I started pushing my cart forward, but not very fast.  I looked back at the candy and heard myself whimpering inside.  I thought about the leftover candy I'd get to eat and started pushing the cart away in earnest.  I don't want diabetes either.

It sucks to think about such things.  I love sugar.  I want leftover candy.  I long for cakes and pies and cookies.  I'm still whimpering inside a bit.

I don't want to come across as holier than thou about dietary health.  I'm not as fit as I should be.  I indulge in sloth and brownies, partly in continued defiance of my health freak parents.  As a child, I sulked in envy as I watched my peers eating Wonder bread sandwiches with chips and Coke.  Their peanut butter had magical preservatives and other mysterious qualities that didn't require strenuous stirring before spreading, and the luckiest kids got peanut butter with stripes of jelly already in the jar.

The peanut butter currently in my cupboard requires stirring.  I pair it with unsweetened, homemade apple butter because I like it better than jelly.  When I finally got a chance to eat Wonder bread, I choked on its unnatural cotton texture.  I see the irony.  Maybe we just can't escape our early training?

But, my early training also included my grandparents' unrestricted candy dish.  Grandma was always good for desserts, pancakes with syrup, and sprinklings of sugar on tomatoes.  Grandpa kept Vernor's ginger ale in the basement and a large container of vanilla ice cream in the freezer.  My uncle had huge metal tins of Army surplus candy.  I loved all of them, and sticky sweetness and sugar comas were part of the love.

I could give out apples at Halloween, but I remember my feelings when the neighbors down the street gave apples.  Don't get me wrong, they were really nice apples, but apples in an orchard community aren't all that special.  I didn't complain when Dad confiscated them with warnings about razor blades hidden inside.  I honestly thought Dad made that up as justification for inspecting and confiscating Halloween candy, but then the news reported on it.  How sick do you have to be to tamper with children's candy?

I have 10 days as of this writing to argue with myself about buying kids candy this year.  Sadly, I will argue with myself about it up till the 31st.  I'm pretty sure I'm the only one having this internal dialogue.  Maybe I should make caramel apples?

This apple is another bit of the painting I've been working on.  After such a long period of avoidance, I've come to love working on it.  I think I'll also love it when it's finally finished!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

"Safety"

I stuck my thumb with a pin when I was diapering my brother.  My thumb swelled 3 or 4 times its usual size, giving off enough heat to toast bread.  I wondered if I'd lose my thumb from gangrene while cursing the false advertising of "safety" pins.  Thankfully, my brothers all made it to adulthood and I kept my thumb.

Walter Hunt invented safety pins as a way to pay a $15 debt and got a US patent in 1849.  He sold the patent for $400 to W. R. Grace and Co. who made millions from his invention.  (I'll refrain from commenting on the exploitation of creative output and speculation about how many people lost thumbs diapering babies.)

Hardly anyone uses cloth diapers anymore.  Disposable diapers (and similar products) are a huge problem in landfills.  I diapered a baby with cloth more recently and was surprised there weren't any pins.  Just wrap the baby with the diaper, then a plastic wrapper fastened with velcro.  Voila!  Seriously, that's an even better idea than safety pins.

It may be hard to believe, but shitty diapers is actually the my better thoughts when considering "safety".  The news has been one tragedy after another.  Mass shootings, wildfires, hurricanes, genocides... None of these are simple issues with easy answers, and my president isn't invested in solving any of them anyway.  He wants 10x more nuclear weapons.  I'll agree with Rex Tillerson on at least one thing, T is a f-ing moron.

Safety is an illusion.  Bad things happen whether by accident, nature, or evil intent.  Should we live our lives locked in a safe room with an arsenal of guns?

Here some hard wisdom I've acquired through the years...

I am safe right now.  What I fear hasn't happened yet, and may never happen.

The more I focus on what I dread, the more likely I'll cause it to happen.

Fear often comes from putting other's needs, demands, and criticisms ahead of my own best interests.  Other's thoughts and priorities aren't mine and don't serve me.

All pain, emotional or physical, is temporary.  Even if you have to die to get out of it, sooner or later it's going to end.  The partner(s) I thought I couldn't live without got on with his life, and eventually, so did I.  At some point I even realized I was much happier without him (them).  My throbbing, infected thumb healed.  Lots of other physical miseries eventually passed.  Repeat "I am safe right now".

Breathe.  Deep breath in... I'm bringing healing into my life.  Deep breath out... I'm releasing what doesn't serve me.  In healing, out releasing...

The painting I've been working on is all about releasing.  This pin is another tiny part of it.  I have a freelance project to do and I keep whining to myself that I don't want to be responsible.  I want to work on my painting.  Naturally, neither the painting nor the assignment is getting done -- and it's a gorgeous day outside.  There aren't that many more sunny, summery days left this year...

Saturday, October 7, 2017

"Opulent"

This earring is a tiny part of a 2'x4' painting I started in the beginning of 2016.  You can tell the earring is tiny from the size of the canvas weave.  I painted it with 1 hair of a brush.  That's just too tiny for me to paint, let alone see!

This painting leaned against the wall, the bookcase, the fireplace for months.  I  started to resent the damned thing because I didn't know what to do with it.  I had an idea; I just didn't know how to bring the idea into reality.  I leaned it up against a heavy chair that I had also started to resent, and varied my time between ignoring both or glaring at both.

One day, I decided to move the chair to the basement.  This was something I'd been afraid to try because when I say the chair is heavy, I mean it's really heavy with cast iron parts inside.  It's also big and awkward, with legs which prevented me from using a dolly.  There's also doors and corners to negotiate from the living room to the basement.

I shoved and hefted the thing to the top of the stairs, then realized the only way to get it down to the next step was to lean over the high back of the chair to grasp the arms, then lift, then drop, lift, drop... with visions of tumbling head over heels to the cement floor at the bottom.  I debated the pure stupidity of the risks, and did it anyway.

Somehow, the removal of the red chair made me feel more kindly towards my red painting.  I painted over some of the red with blue and felt more kindly still.  I started working on the painting in earnest.  Perhaps some people can't understand how furniture moving can have a lot to do with creative expression, but I'm pretty sure others will understand painting the living room walls might help even more.  How many artists through the ages painted glittering jewelry for those living opulent lifestyles while the artists starved and shivered in their studios while glaring at something intrusive in their spaces?

This painting has been hard for me to do because the point of it is to address negatives -- and I don't enjoy dwelling on negatives.  I want to force bad memories into the darkest places in my mind.  Elina St-Onge wrote, "Every painful emotion... is like a child in distress. When we repress them, it is as if we purposely lock this child self into a room, forcing it to relive a trauma alone and behind closed doors while we look the other way. In other words, it is self-abuse."

What if all of those painful emotions are precious inspirations?

If I ever complete this painting, you can tell me what you see in it.  In the meantime, painting it has been a journey of looking for abandoned children in locked rooms.  It's a process of discovering what really matters to me, which is often wrapped around my worst memories.  Perhaps, the only real path to happiness is through the places we avoid?