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!

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?

Saturday, September 30, 2017

"Time Travel"

I had a dream once...  I was told by an unknown force that time didn't behave the way I thought.  I was shown a flat piece of paper.  "You think time starts here and progresses to there."  A point on the left was indicated for the beginning, and a spot on the right for later.  "Time isn't like that."  The paper was crumpled up and a place was marked with a black marker where 2 folds touched.  "In reality, these times are close together."  The paper was smoothed out.  The black dots were far apart when the paper was flat.  "The universe has folds in it like the paper.  Some times are easily touched from the present, and the present isn't as absolute as you think."

Well!  Mess with my reality!  I couldn't imagine coming up with this idea on my own and wondered who was teaching me such things.

I woke up feeling like I ought to inform NASA or someone in authority about how time works.  Of course, I didn't.  Who needs a folder on themselves at a government agency documenting radical thinking?  (It's so much better to blog about it!)

Sometimes I think novels about time travel wouldn't exist if there wasn't some part of our minds that believes it's possible.  Why can't we peek through the veil at the past or future events?  Maybe it's just a deep desire to correct the tragedies of the past?  Anticipate the tragedies of the future?

Mostly, I try to avoid politics on this blog.  I have opinions.  I'm pretty sure regular visitors can guess my opinions.  I just want this to be a pleasant place instead of foot stomping rants about the general public's stupidity and ignorance.  Sometimes I wonder if I'd spoken up more before the last election whether or not I could've had an influence?  Probably not -- yet, what if all the sane people had spoken up more?  Maybe collectively we could've changed things?

Current events in the US and in other democracies are comparable to watching the destruction of Rome or the Nazi-fication of Germany.  Except, the present stupidity is worse than the fall of an empire or murder of specific types of people.  It will be in the 80s (F) this week in Ohio, that's not right.  People are dying in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands because the strength of hurricanes is part of climate change, and the government is slow to help these people because they're not white enough.  (...deleting obscenities...)  US officials aren't working to protect the safety of our elections because Russian interference worked out for Republicans.

If I could time travel, I'd like to peek ahead 50 years to see whether or not Earth still exists as we know it.  I'd go back in time and try to argue more persuasively to the idjits.

Unrelated, I have ranted about wildlife decimating my gardening efforts.  Since the groundhog kept eating my Swiss chard, I planted some in an indoor pot.  I couldn't understand why it didn't grow very well despite my best efforts.  I wondered if the groundhog had found a way inside -- and then I caught my dog eating it.  Varmints inside and out!

Friday, September 22, 2017

"Juice"

When I went to the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), my classmates and I were welcomed and illuminated by the president of the college, Joseph Canzani.  "We will teach you to see what you've never seen before!"  My classmates got years of humor from his pompous and pretentious speech, but there was some truth to it.  If you really want to understand something, you've really got to look.

I know we've all seen the inside of a tomato.  Maybe you've studied it a little.  The act of reproducing what we see forces us to study it quite a bit more.  We think we know what it looks like, and what we think we know can overshadow what's really true.  We have to be willing to let go of what we think we know in order to truly learn what is.

For instance, I "knew" tomatoes are symmetrical.  They aren't.  They're approximately similar from side to side.  They have veins.  The seeds aren't mathematically perfect.  The inner jelly is an alien mix of red, brown, purple, and phosphorescent green.  I could go on.  Get to know your own tomatoes.  See what you've never seen before!

Once you've studied all of the wonders of tomato-ness, what then?  Do you share your new-found tomato awareness?  Don't get stuck on the tomato example.  Whether it's a tomato or listening to the other side of a political argument, have you truly looked at the issue, or are you just operating on your assumptions about it?

This week, I've been watching the Public Broadcast Service's (PBS) documentary on the Vietnam War.  I lived through these events when I was a child, and I've always been aware that the war greatly effects my world view.  I'm watching the series to get another look at those times.  In essence, to test my assumptions about the tomato.

The other night, I watched a Buddhist monk set himself on fire and burn to death.  Imagine what that was like when I was a small child.  I saw other children crying, old people crying, soldiers crying, houses burning, piles of bodies, stacks of coffins, mutilated POWs.

This Ken Burns series is excessively long in my opinion, but it's nothing like my childhood when tv was war all the time.  It wasn't like 9/11 when people acknowledged the PTSD generated by one day's footage.  People, especially kids, got counseling.  In my day, kids didn't have any real thoughts or feelings to worry about.  They'll grow out of it, and counseling is hippy dippy crap anyway.

There were some positive things that came out of all this televised violence.  I understood people of different races and places had feelings.  They bleed, they die.  Old white guys in government can be dead wrong, self-absorbed, and power hungry.  The war made me more empathetic and a committed pacifist.  In some ways, maybe it would be better if we still showed the sins of war on tv?  Maybe we'd stop the wars we're currently fighting and put that money into health care and education.

Watching the show is unpleasant for me, but I think there's a chance that it will let me see those times more clearly, to see as I've never seen before.  Though I have to admit, I'd rather study tomatoes.

Friday, September 15, 2017

"Jazz"

This week's word instantly had me singing "Come on babe, why don't we paint the town?  And all that jazz."  I've been known to burst into musicals when circumstances require it.  There's a lyric for every human experience or weather condition.  "Oh, what a beautiful morning!"  "Soon it's gonna rain.  I can feel it."  I fondly remember sitting on a fence with Beth having a boisterous musicals sing-off while her future husband shook his head and laughed.  Hey, he knew what he was getting into.

I produced musicals and other entertainments at a community theater.  I hired directors, put in my 2¢ during auditions, sold advertising, begged donations, wrote PSAs, researched lighting and sound upgrades, maintained databases, corralled volunteers, and handed out drinks backstage.  That's just the surface tasks.  There were a lot more things to do.  I never wanted to be a producer, but I loved it.

Art is a poor career for anyone who likes big paychecks and steady employment, but it was the only career I wanted.  I've been laid off numerous times, and I've done whatever I had to do when I had to do it.  Sometimes I've been happily surprised that I liked the other jobs.  Some sucked and I sang "Working in the chain gang" (Jim Croce version).

This week, I watched a PBS show about Tyrus Wong, the artist behind "Bambi".  His influence was especially unusual since he was a Chinese immigrant, and the movie was released in 1942.  That was a hard time to be Chinese in America.

He was an awesome artist.  Think of all those beautiful backgrounds and emotional colors in Bambi.  He got screwed out of full credit for his work on the film.  He lost his job and picked asparagus to feed his family, which I have to imagine is right up there with my shoveling horse manure in unpleasantness.  Maybe worse?  At least I wasn't hunched over in a field all day every day in the blazing sun, but he didn't have to smell manure and listen to opera.  Tyrus got a job at another studio and set the visual tone for many famous movies.  He painted dishes.  He made kites.  He lived a very long and fulfilling life.

There comes a time when many of us find ourselves wondering why life is hard.  Why isn't it going the way I thought it would, or why don't I get the rewards I've earned?

Many notables through history had their own asparagus or manure periods.  Sometimes the side paths we take are unexpectedly fun like managing a theater.  Whatever we do, we take those experiences with us into our future adventures, and I think they make us better, stronger in the end.  At the very least, they can make us more humble and interesting.

I spent a stupid amount of time painting 3 large backgrounds yesterday.  At least, the plan was for them to be backgrounds.  I keep contemplating my choices.  I think I've been influenced by Tyrus Wong's less is more style and keep wondering if maybe I should let the paintings be what they are without embellishments?  I also considered putting a trumpet on one of them to fit "jazz" better, but that's just silly -- but no less silly that the paw print my puppy added at the bottom.

Friday, September 8, 2017

"Recipe"

I went to a farmer's market and bought an eggplant.  I don't like eggplant.  I couldn't resist its purple beauty, or maybe its sensuous texture?  I don't know.  All I knew was that I had an eggplant without a plan.  I dimly thought I could make an eggplant lasagna, which is a travesty of lasagna, but the best I could think of for an eggplant.

I ignored the eggplant while making a giant pot of potato/cauliflower soup.  This was too much soup for my freezer, so I spent time defrosting and reorganizing, contemplating a previous impulse purchase of squid.  I had gone to an Italian grocery store with an Italian.  Maybe I got swept up with her enthusiasm for cooking?  I plunked the squid into the sink to defrost with the vague thought that squid was somewhat like clams, so maybe it would work in the potato soup like clam chowder.

I cut squid rings and lightly sautéed them.  Mmm.  I don't like the way squid tentacles look, so I chopped them up into indistinguishable bits, then considered my counter full of tomatoes.  I got out the eggplant and considered... yep, sauce.  More chopping... onions, garlic, pepper... oregano and basil from the garden... OMG!  I made a wonderful, accidental thing out of food I don't really like.  My dog confirmed my assessment of this sauce.  She danced in ecstatic circles.

The end result is that I have a lot of healthy food, and I spent very little money.  The only part that took any real time was chopping, but somebody else could've used a food processor and have been done in no time.  While I chopped, I thought about young'uns who don't know how to cook.  They're forever dependent on restaurants and processed foods.  That's fattening, expensive, and vitamin-deficient.  They'll never taste calamari eggplant sauce -- which I know they think they don't want, but they're missing out.

I worry about the health of young people.  They don't seem to understand food at all.  They're obviously fatter than they should be.  Okay, I'm fatter than I should be too, but they're fat and malnourished.  Or, they're anorexic or bulimic and malnourished.  They're going to suffer unnecessarily and die too young without money in the bank.

Cooking doesn't have to be hard.  Yesterday, I put a little water in a pot, added Swiss chard, put on the lid, turned on the heat... 10 minutes later, food.  To tell the truth, I grazed on the chard before it was even cooked.  Whatever.  Swiss chard is good for you and really easy.  I have a couple of squashes.  Cut in half, scoop out seeds, bake until soft.  Add butter.  These will go in the freezer too for days that I don't feel like cooking.  I nuked an ear of corn in its husk.  Done.  More butter.

Eat real food.  Stop Monsanto from genetically modifying our food.  Buy local.  Buy what's in season.  Grow something.  Learn to cook.

BTW, I figured out why I've been especially plagued by wildlife this year.  My neighbor a couple doors down used to keep a big garden, but he didn't put one in this year.  I guess it's up to me to feed all the critters.  To make matters worse, my groundhog got a girlfriend.  She's the biggest groundhog I've ever seen, brimming with health, with a shimmering coat.  She eats vegetables.  My vegetables.  I'll admit I took time to admire her and even forgot to send her death rays for a few minutes.  My original groundhog looks at her with absolute adoration.  I dread the inevitable babies, who will also be terribly cute and glistening with (my) vegetable health.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

"Samurai"

There will be a lot of swords in response to "Samurai", so I thought I'd go with armor.  Self-defense is good, and Samurai armor is interesting.  It's light-weight, flexible, and ingeniously designed to baffle weapons.  It certainly beats the heavy steel cans European knights wore.  Japanese soldiers could even perform basic toilet functions without the help of a squire.

While making my samurai armor, I've been thinking about what to say about self-defense.  It's a touchy subject for me because I've been attacked in various ways throughout my life.  Discussing my armor feels like admitting vulnerabilities that I don't want to share.

Yet... being vulnerable is important to communicating.  I listened to a program the other day that talked about how people addicted to their smart phones are more anxious and depressed people than those who aren't glued to their devices.  Think about it, if all you're doing is reading about others' perfect lives and inspirational retweets, or if your sharing is limited to 140 characters, how much of yourself have you shared?  Why would someone care about you?  You haven't given them much to care about.

The same is true with creative expression.  Aren't you touched when a singer breaks down during a song because the lyrics touch something vital inside?  The singer's sobs might cause you to cry too.  The touching lyrics were written about the most moving or painful experiences.  It takes courage to share those feelings.  Whatever your medium, if you want to be great, you've got to be vulnerable.

When you're vulnerable, there will be people who will take that as a sign to attack.  Think of any person who is widely admired and you will find trolls in the margins.  It's a balancing act to be both open and protected.  You don't have to be a movie star to have malicious stalkers.  Maybe they won't shoot you dead as happened to John Lennon, or chase you to your death like Princess Diana, but they can still do their best to make you miserable.  Will others' malicious behaviors still your voice?

It's oft-said that you are unique.  No one else was born with exactly your talents, living in the same time and circumstances.  You have something to express in your own unique way.  Will you?

We have to look at the armor we've grown so accustomed to wearing.  Are we protecting ourselves from others, or are we protecting ourselves from ourselves?  Are we brave enough to let others see what we have inside?  Can we face our own fears?

It seems to me the ideal way to live is akin to samurai armor.  Light-weight and comfortable, it served its purpose without limiting movement.  In other words, you don't have to let all of your vulnerabilities go unprotected.  Have armor, but have armor that lets your light shine through.