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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Friday, March 17, 2017

"Snail"

I enjoyed some spectacular spring-like days in February before getting socked with more snow and cold in March.  I used those unusually lovely days taking out my frustrations on my yard, whacking on a slowly rotting tree.  I stirred up a lot of angry ants and a bunch of mildly inconvenienced armadillos.

"We don't have armadillos in Ohio!" my friend said.  Well, yeah we do.  What would you call them?  Um, maybe potato bugs?  Pill bugs?

I looked up potato bug images and found some ugly, icky things.  Quite unlike the cute little armadillos.  Further research informs me my armadillos are actually woodlice, which doesn't sound cute either.  My friend pointed out what I already knew, if I had armadillos, I had rotting wood.  Since they're living in a slowly disintegrating tree in the back 40, I don't really care.

And yeah, my friend the eternal ray of sunshine pointed out that when the tree is gone, the armadillos are going to move somewhere, most likely my garage.  That's probably an astute, practical observation, but I'll deal with that at some unspecified time in the future.

I know I'm not the only person with affection for armadillos (woodlice, not the mammals that can give you leprosy).  Lots of little children have cupped the gentle little bugs in their hands and pretended to gobble the pill bugs.  They curl up into little balls, and neatly tuck in their legs so they're not creepy on ticklish hands.  Well, sometimes their little legs flutter like a feather, but that's just cute.

I also find tiny snail shells in my garden, but I have never found a living snail.  I find this very mysterious.  I have plenty of slugs though.  I think slugs and snails must be related, but the snails seem far more considerate about enclosing their slime in their own self-contained packaging.

I gently moved some worms out of my way and think I must not have changed very much since I was an intent child examining the local fauna in my environment?  My dad was good at encouraging my interests.  We had a lot of field guides to study, and sometimes he took my study subjects away for bait.

I'm just rambling with pleasant memories and associations.  The book I've been working on has a much different tone, and maybe I just need to contemplate quiet, childish play?  I was going to write a novel, but my non-fiction idea insists on coming into existence.

I looked up how many pages I have to type to create a book, but the advice is not to count pages, count words.  That's easy to do in a Word document under "tools".  Average books have 55,000 to 175,000 words, with the average about 80,000 words.  So far I'm over 21,000.  Woo hoo!  1/4 of the way there!  Okay, not all of these words are the best words, so it's going to take a lot more work, but I'm humming and happy about the process.

I've actually been pleased the weather turned back to winter.  It keeps me inside and typing.  I'm worried my budding pear trees are in trouble, but we all need to sacrifice a little in creating.  If I lose them, I guess the armadillos and tree snails will have something to eat instead of my garage?

Friday, March 10, 2017

"Punk"

A friend of mine dated a band promoter when we were in college.  He was a nice guy, and I enjoyed hanging out with him on my porch, drinking and talking.  Pleasant as this was, he would be completely forgettable in her long string of boyfriends if he hadn't asked us to go to Chicago for a concert.  We could get a ride with the band on their bus.

"Thanks, but that's a long drive, and I have a lot of homework."

Responsible words I'll regret the rest of my life.  The next time we were drinking on my porch, the radio drifting through the open window, my friend's bf exclaimed, "That's the band!  That's who I took to Chicago!"  The Talking Heads.  I could've taken a bus trip with the Talking Heads.  NOoooooo!!!  Some head pounding and aauurrgh!!!

Well, let's chalk it up to a life lesson.  When someone invites you to do novel things, go.  As sung in "Once in aLifetime" by The Talking Heads...

And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
And you may say yourself,
"My God! What have I done?"

Wikipedia says this band was post-punk, but close enough for "punk".  I've been happily chair dancing to their music while putting this bus together.  I try to avoid swimming in regrets.

I called another friend last night to bubble about my recent productivity in writing.  I tamped down my self-congratulations when I learned he just missed passing a state exam he needs for a mid-life career change.  It's not the first time he just missed passing it.  The last time, he bumped his head and got a concussion before the test and was only 2 points shy of his certificate.  This time, on the way to the test he got flagged down by a couple of young people who had just been robbed at knifepoint.  He called 911 and had to fill out a police report, making him worry he'd miss the test altogether.

"Are you sure you really want this career ?  It seems like there are unusual obstacles cropping up whenever you try to take the test."

He talked a lot about getting older, it's a safer career, wanting a 401k plan.

"Yeah, but are you psyched about doing it?"

He talked more about sensible choices, but in the end, well, he doesn't like some critical aspects of this career choice.  He just has so much time and money already invested in this career change, doesn't he have to carry through?  No.  Not really.  He's reassessing.

I'm reassessing too.  I started writing a book that wasn't going anywhere.  I kept trying to force myself to work on it.  I finally gave up and starting writing one of my alternate book ideas.  Now I've been having a hard time leaving the computer long enough for lunch.  When we're doing what the heart loves, ideas flow, and time stops -- whether the heart loves sensible choices or not.  I'm hoping the universe will eventually reward me with a book deal for following my heart's desires.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

"Scoop"

A long time ago, when I was still naive about many aspects of advertising, I walked down a hall at a new job and saw a giant pile of ice cream.  Scoops of every flavor of the rainbow looked especially luscious under the photographer's studio lights.  The owner of the business witnessed my Pavlovian reaction and laughed at me in his wicked way.  The "ice cream" was mashed potatoes stiffened with sawdust and glue with lacquer on top.

Once in on the joke, I considered specializing in setting up food shoots.  I devoted a good 15-20 minutes of watching a pretty woman adjusting acrylic blobs of fake condensation on the bowl and decided I'd rather scrape up road kill than work in food staging.

Moments like this have been popping into my mind because I've been backing up old files, including stuff from past jobs.  Do you know that flash drives have to be plugged in once in a while to keep them valid?  Or that DVDs eventually fail?  Plus, store them flat or the data can leak out.  I don't want to lose things because I can often rework something instead of starting from scratch.  I've also been taking time to go clean up some files so they take less memory. 

In the process, I found old art that didn't work out but has some potential.  This is a rework of one of those pieces.  I've always had an interest in this style of patterning, but never felt satisfied with my efforts.  I fussed it and am feeling much better about my approach to the style.  I'm contemplating making it a linoleum print -- or maybe fuss it some more before committing to cutting print.

I mentioned the "ice cream" experience to a photographer friend once, and he waxed nostalgic about other "food" concoctions.  I expanded my road kill fantasies to include listening to food photography methods.  All the same, the initial experience was cool and I like working with photographers.  I just can't bear the tedium of their business -- which of course can't be confused with the delightful hours I've spent on art.  You've just got to find your medium.

Sometimes I'm baffled by people who don't find their calling.  They should do different things until they find something they like.  I suppose trying new things means you'll be a rank amateur at all of those things until you've learned some skills in one of them.  You've got to be willing to suck at something, and I happily admit I'm lousy at a lot of things.  There's lots of things I can still learn, and learning is fun.

Dad used to say "You can do whatever you set your mind to", which I viewed as an open horizon of possibilities.  Sis viewed it as a punishment if she didn't achieve success.  Dad followed up with "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"  Sis looked dangerous about then, but Dad was right.

Play, experiment, try, and try again.  Don't let short-term defeats limit you.  We savor the successes we fight to achieve.  Looking back on my early pattern work, well, some of it wasn't good, but I enjoyed doing it in a way making sawdust potatoes pleased my friend.  I got better at patterns and still enjoy them enough to play around with previous rejects.  I hope everyone finds their scoop of "ice cream".

Sunday, February 26, 2017

"Heroic"

Neville Longbottom won the house championship for Gryffindor at Hogwarts.  He was a clumsy, pudgy, forgetful, unlikely hero, but he was willing to fight his friends to do what was right.

"There are all kinds of courage," said Dumbledore, smiling. "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."

Sometimes I think Harry Potter was a stupid, arrogant child to think he could save the world.  But he was destined to be the hero, which makes me angry at destiny playing with people's insignificant, little lives.  Perhaps I identify a little too strongly with Harry?  However, we need Nevilles.  The US really needs Republican Nevilles right now.

We also clearly need Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Keith Olbermann, John Oliver, Rachel Maddow, Stephen Colbert, moms fighting for kids' education and school lunches,  old people with hiking sticks, scientists with pocket protectors, and people with pussy hats.  They are all heroes, yet we also need people on the other side of the fight to be heroes too because with all branches of the US government in the hands of one party, these are the people who can best stand up to the current insanity.

Most Americans agree on major issues.  Dumping sludge in streams is a bad idea.  Kids need to go to school.  Old people and the disabled need social security.  Issue after issue, Americans agree about our major goals.  We can disagree about some specifics, but our goals are mostly the same.

There are Republicans in Congress and on the courts who know that the current fascist moves of the T white house are wrong.  A few have spoken up, but how many others are waiting and fearing on the sidelines without truly representing the people?  How many representatives avoid home town hall meetings because they know the voters are mad and afraid?

I'm asking Republicans to do what's right.  Be informed of what's going on beyond Fox News.  Encourage nonpartisan reviews of illegal, unpatriotic actions.

Do you really want to be remembered for being in Voldemort's party?  Remember, the different Hogwarts houses came together in the end.  Slitheran Severus Snape is remembered in the end as one of the greatest heroes.  I'm not asking you to sing Kumbaya, wear a pussy hat, and agree with Democrats on everything.  Just speak up against insanity.


Bro2 and I lunched and this is his contribution to "heroic".  We didn't vote the same  in the election, but I totally agree with his take on the topic.  We're both engrossed and disgusted with current events.  Let's all of us, on every side of it, speak up and do what we can whether we're Neville, Harry, or Severus.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Stomp"

My friend gave me a riding lawn mower.  This is a very nice gift even though the mower didn't work, but Bro4 agreed to fix it, not to mention going to get it in his pickup truck.  Just putting the mower in the truck was entertaining as he backed his truck into a steep ditch, blocking the road horizontally, dropping the tail gate, and 3 people shoving said mower into truck.  Did I mention the mower had flat tires and it was a cold, slippery day?  Neighbor John told me later that he really enjoyed the show.

I got a new battery as the mower has been sitting in a shed for a few years.  Turn key.  Nothing, but Bro is great at fixing things.  It didn't take long before he found a pulse and gave it CPR.  Yippee!  Of course there was more fiddling and issues, but some open heart massage eventually kicked it back to life.  Thanks Korki and thanks Pete!

I was sent to the store with a shopping list where I definitely had an urge to stomp my foot at people with less pulse than the lawnmower.  The man stared dimly at his female coworker who was doing nothing.  "She's the one who knows how to look things up."  Okay, I reined in my impatience and stared at the woman staring into space too.  Eventually, a customer spoke to the woman and it became clear that she was helping him with something.  He went off again, she went back to staring into space.  More of my life ticked past as our triangle of passivity stretched my patience.

"Couldn't you get the air filter or something while we're waiting?" I asked.  The man said that he didn't know which air filter to get.  "It's the same as this one."  (Which is in the bag I've already shown you and which remains open an inch from your hand.)  He clearly had an internal struggle about taking this kind of initiative, but eventually got the air filter.  I suggested he get the rest of the things on the list.  He did, reluctantly, shuffling slowly, one item at a time, even though all of these items were in the same place.

The woman remained statuesque, not in any aesthetic sense, just in absolute immobility.  Eventually, eventually, the other customer came back and she eventually, (did I say "eventually"?) completed the other customer's order and her opaque stare turned to me.  I explained my need for a drive belt and showed the worn belt I'd brought with me.

"We need the mower information."  I pointed at the info written at the bottom of the list.  "We need the size of the mower deck."  I explained that the belt wasn't for the mower blades, just to lower the deck, but since she insisted on needing the size I called Bro and got the info.  She maintained she still needed the actual model number, but after a lot of insistence on my part, the man eventually shuffled off for a belt.  I compared it to the worn belt.  "They're not the same size."  "Yes, they are!"  Absolutely not.  I held the two together to show there was about a foot difference.  "Well, it's your fault for not having the model number.  We don't know anything..."  "Clearly!"

I didn't stomp my foot, but I wanted to.  I took my stuff and wasted more of my life essence in the check out line where there were only 2 customers ahead of me, but it took another 15 minutes.  I drove to another store to get the belt.  The store is missing.  After fruitlessly driving around, I discovered they moved the store.  But of course, it was closed by the time I found it.  I hate shopping.

This is unintentional art.  I've decided to retire a pair of my sweatpants and liked the paint smears on the thighs.  I scanned it thinking I might use it as a background for something.  Somehow paint-smeared sweatpants seems apropos for my foot-stomping day?

Unrelated to any of this, for those of the praying type, please remember Sue in your prayers.  She has health issues.

Friday, February 10, 2017

"Tea"

English medics used to give gut-shot soldiers tea when they were wounded.  It seems like a comforting thing to do, but it often killed the wounded soldiers.  Somehow, death by tea seems like a good way to go?  Probably not, but it does highlight the importance of tea.  After all, Americans started a revolution by throwing tea in Boston Harbor.


I did a blog search to see if I'd posted this art for 1800flowers before (not) and discovered I've mentioned tea a lot, most often as an aspect of companionship and/or contemplation.  Dad and I drank tea as we did our many projects.  My family drank gallons of it when we visited our grandparents.  Hasn't everyone sat on the front porch with iced tea in a Currier and Ives glass?

I've designed a lot of tins, but this is the only one I keep in my kitchen, appropriately stocked full of tea.  I got sidetracked while in the kitchen while taking the tin pic and took some pics of Grandma's every day china.  This set was made at Hall China where my Great Grandpa Winters worked.

I love this set of dishes, especially all the hidden roses.  I don't use them very often though because they're rimmed with gold.  That means no microwave or dishwasher.  I have a set of plain white Hall dishes for every day.  Somehow, I think we've lost something important with all our modern conveniences.

Grandpa's bowls for Chex and currants,
or mounded with ice cream
I survived my experience with the justice system this week, though testifying in court was stressful even though everyone was very nice.  Some jurists smiled encouragingly at me when I was on the stand.  I suppose my nerves were pretty obvious.  I didn't get cross-examined, so that was good.

Large serving dish has roses inside too
I couldn't sleep the night after testifying.  I kept going over what I said, what I should've said better, round and around and around in my mind.  I was just a character witness for my friend who died and her surviving husband (who is waiting for the outcome at the courthouse as I'm typing this).  Telling myself to stop obsessing didn't work, and neither did telling myself that I'd done my best and that was good enough.

Consomme bowl -- not that I ever have consomme, but
how cool is it to have bowls specifically for that?
The lawyer made me identify Toby in a photo he put up on a big screen.  She was life-size, smiling, and happy.  Once in a while I ignored everyone in the courtroom and just looked at her.  She wouldn't be judging my performance.  She'd be full of support and give me a hug.  Thinking of her warmth and friendship so apparent in the photo, I finally drifted asleep.

Multiple gravy boats, plus creamer, sugar, and a whole lot of other unnecessary pieces
Grandma's dishes are just something on the top shelf of the hardest to reach cupboard in the kitchen -- but when I'm particularly blue or sick, I get out a teacup and saucer and think of her love and laughter while sipping a cup of tea.  I bet that's the kind of thing the wounded British soldiers thought too while they were dying because it's not about the china, or the tea, or what exact words were spoken.  It's the feelings we carry with us of the people who may not be with us physically anymore, but who have written on our hearts and made us who we are.

Happy Valentine's Day!  Let's celebrate love in all its forms :)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

"Up"

I used to spend a lot of time "up".  I climbed very, very tall pine trees and observed my empire with wind whistling in my ears.  Squirrels were far below me, and very few birds soared above.  I climbed as high as I could, the tree top swaying wildly in the wind.

God, that was nuts.  Pine trees are brittle, temperamental things, even for a small, skinny child.  I knew it was reckless, even before a branch broke under my foot and I slid 20-30 feet with my arms desperately wrapped around the tree trunk, my face pulverized by rough pine bark, and branches breaking and scraping every other part of my tender young self until I reached a branch solid enough to thunk me to a pelvis shattering stop.  Picking pine sap out of a scraped face can teach you a thing or two about safety.

I switched to a slightly sturdier blue spruce, a vantage point allowing better unobstructed views of people in my empire.  There was some kissing that wasn't exactly private.

I'm going to court this week as a character witness for my friend who is seeking justice for the school bus accident which killed his wife a couple of years ago.  I've had multiple lawyer conversations about wife/husband/their marriage, and my/her husband's loss.  The lawyer is pleasant, but I want to shove these pesky feelings aside and get on with life.

Even so, there's something about the structure of the questions that forces me to recognize exactly what I lost and what I still have.  Why was I friends with her, and why do I remain friends with him?  I laughed with him the other day.  Oh yeah, he's funny.  Add that to my list of stuff to say in court.  He showed up on time when we met for lunch.  Add "reliable" and "considerate".

Before the accident, the three of us used to get together for dinner, sometimes with another friend.  I took a great deal of pleasure observing their happy marriage.  They liked and loved each other.  How many of us are lucky enough to achieve that?  What could I learn about relationships from their excellent example?

Maybe my adult self isn't that much different from the childish voyeur?  I wanted, then and now, insights in how people make their relationships work.  Back in the day, we had a party line.  That's a phone line that has 2 or 3 homes connected to the same number.  I listened to the Taylor girl talk to her boyfriend with my hand over the receiver so they couldn't hear my breathing.  I was enthusiastic about their relationship.

See, I was never mean-spirited about my spying.  I wanted happy people.  I didn't really appreciate "invasion of privacy" until I was older.  And while I avidly watched chaste kissing, I was uncomfortable if there was fondling.  I wasn't that kind of voyeur.  I just enjoyed the love and romance of it all.  I was so innocent, I didn't even know anything came after kissing, hugs, and hand holding.

In the spirit of wishing others happiness, multiple people have told me they're stressed about US politics.  I'd suggest we limit how much news we watch, and do what we can to relax and enjoy life.  I'm going to go to a meeting this week to see what I can do in a practical way to stop/limit chaos.  Let me offer an American apology to Mexico, Canada, Australia, Muslims, Jews, and anybody else already, or soon to be, insulted.  Most of us still appreciate our friends.  Set us a good example, and some of us will learn about making relationships work.