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, 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


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


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


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?

Friday, February 23, 2018


There are a lot of people who think they'd be the knight in shining armor if they ever faced danger.  Most of those people would fail to be heroic.  It isn't like the movies or video games.  Quite a few people would freeze or piss their pants, and the rest would run or hide which is the most sensible thing to do.

The news has been non-stop about the school shooting in Florida.  Whatever the actions of the individuals in that crisis, I think the kids who are facing down the politicians are on a quest we can all admire.

Guns aren't my issue.  I've been more active in promoting actual education in schools than worrying about school safety.  I grew up with guns, know people who are rabid about having them, others who are rabid to get rid of them.  I feel like the last moderate.

I'm aware the NRA owns politicians, and the NRA isn't a responsible owner of the people.  It's an organization that profits from gun sales and therefore death and injury.  I don't care (much) if hunters want to hunt.  Come to my house and take out the deer and groundhogs.  I'll feel bad about it, but also rejoice to have a decent garden again where I can feel bad about shoveling a worm in half.  But knowing hunters, I also know you don't need a semi-automatic to take out a deer.  Stop BSing us.  You just want the most lethal guns to cover your insecurities.

The facts are against gun owners.  A gun in your house makes you and your loved ones more likely to getting shot either by accident, suicide, or domestic violence.  Countries that have banned guns have less gun violence.  Arming teachers isn't going to happen.  Pay for proper security and school supplies instead.  Having responsible background checks isn't going to change your life unless you can't pass a background check -- and then I think everyone else would agree you shouldn't have a gun.  I also think we can all agree that if someone is on the do not fly list they shouldn't have a gun either.

I can sort of understand gun owners' statements about rights, but at some point your rights end where they infringe on someone else.  Your freedom of speech doesn't allow you to shout "Fire!" in the movie theater.  Public safety has to be taken into consideration.

I'm glad the Florida kids are speaking up and protesting, yet at some point the adults need to take over to pass reasonable restrictions.  Pressure needs to be put on the politicians and companies which support the NRA dictatorship.  Mental health care needs to happen when someone is at risk of becoming violent (and in general for a happy society).  Movies and games should quit glorifying violence in ever increasing realism.  There are many things we can do, and must do, including having reasonable conversations.

I don't want to romanticize knights who made games of violence.  More than anything, we need to address our violent culture which is rife with child abuse, spousal abuse, rape, harassment, misogyny, murder, war, etc., etc., etc.  A better world is possible.  Let's work together to make it happen.

The tools are part of a work in progress.  Right now I'm thinking of using them to dismantle and bang up military grade weapons.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


The closest park to my house has a pool and ball fields and too many yelling kids.  There's a tiny pond with an arching bridge and half the geese in NE Ohio, so you know even when the grass isn't green there's enough green goose poop to keep things colorful.  People like to take wedding and prom pictures by the sculpted gardens and fountains.  The police station and city hall are on the property which makes me feel over disciplined even if the only thing I'm doing is walking the dog.  Even the sculpted gardens feels overly disciplined.

The next park is a golf course so I don't think that really counts, but the park after that has actual trees and wildlife.  I like that park, but it's just far enough away to drive, and such a short drive feels wasteful.  My new exercise goal is to not only walk to the park, but to actually walk it too.  I'm either going to get healthier or have a cardiac arrest.

Maybe I should point out I live downhill from everything except Lake Erie.  This means I have to walk up 2 fairly significant hills just to get to the first park.  If I ever achieve my goal of getting to the nature park, there's 2 significant hills within the park.  The last time I walked up that second hill I stood at the top with spots in my eyes.  Uh uh uh ugh.

Yesterday, I decided the weather was crappy enough I could justify only walking the first hill, but all this stupid exercise made me feel energetic enough to walk up the second too.  Then, oh why not, I'll walk a bit more.  The freezing Canadian wind chilled by the frozen lake whipped my face raw but I persevered.  I got to the next stop on my exercise plan and saw the sign for the good park in the distance.  I turned around and walked home with the frozen wind whipping my other cheek.  It took hours to feel warm again.  My shoulders hurt.  Since when does walking make shoulders ache?

Sadly, I think walking some more might help.  Stupid exercise.  There's some sort of built in addictive process involved.  I wasn't even interested in dinner afterwards.  Unlike some of you people, I'm obviously a reluctant exerciser.  I just want miraculous physical ability without wasting my time and effort.

I'm trying to keep things interesting so I don't lose interest and give up.  The word for the week was blue not long ago.  I looked for blue things on my walk.  Now I look for other colors too.  I noticed a house with pink shutters and awnings for sale.  I looked up the price when I got home ($116,000).  I amused myself by imagining a little old lady living there.  Another house looks like it's been split into 4 or more apartments with adjoining decks.  I imagined some excellent deck parties.  The garage for someone else's house looks about the size of my entire house.  I figured out the comparison and it is.

It occurs to me that all this stupid exercise has some benefits beyond my ability to walk up hills and endure weather.  With nothing else to do other than try to avoid a heart attack, my mind is going places it hasn't gone in a long time.  Fantasy, math, and observation are as essential to the creative life as a paintbrush.  We need quiet time to hear things in our minds.  The act of creation is a physical activity.  It can help to actually live in our bodies instead of just our heads.  I'm going to keep looking at houses and making up stories for the people who live in them.

Friday, February 9, 2018


My first grade class was meekly herded into the gym for a school assembly.  We obediently stayed put in our designated spot while the older classes monkeyed around.  An older girl did a cartwheel in front of us.  I was flabbergasted.  Forget the flagrant disobedience, what would possess that child to put her head at risk by jumping around upside down like that?!!

I asked my girlfriend if she had ever seen such a thing.  She had.  "Can you do it too?"  She got up and did a shaky cartwheel.  I was awed.  I had no idea my girlfriend could defy gravity.  The older girl came back and did 3 perfect cartwheels in a row.  I felt like a backwoods hick who didn't know city tricks.  (Keep in mind, these kids also lived in the boondocks.  They just weren't quite as deeply buried in the woods.)

When at home again, I told Sis1 about this amazing feat of daring.  She knew about cartwheels, but had never tried to do them before.  She gave it a try, then several tries.  She sort of had the idea, but not the actual knack.  Sis2 came home and quickly mastered it.  I got off the grass and tried too.

Eventually, all of us mastered it.  I thought that was enough gymnastics to last a lifetime, but Sis1 enjoyed athletic things.  She started coming home with more ideas of things for us to practice.  I managed to bend over backwards until I could put my hands on the ground, then I eventually managed to get my legs over too.  I walked the railroad ties next to the driveway and pretended it was a balance beam.  The Olympics gave us ideas for more balance beam tricks.  I found a nice broken tree in the woods so I could swoop my legs further down than on the railroad ties.  I did forward and backwards somersaults on that tree too.

Sis1 often spotted me during some of the more difficult maneuvers.  If she wasn't around, I might get a concussion.  I decided gymnastics was stupid, but by the time I got to middle school gymnastics were required.  Those city kids had been collecting more sophisticated tricks in the intervening years too.  I eyed the parallel bars with the same mistrust as I had felt when witnessing my first cartwheel.

I was out in my back yard a few weeks ago when I had a random thought about cartwheels.  Could I still do one?  I almost gave it a shot, but my rational mind quickly shut down that idiocy.  My 5-year-old and 50-something brains are in complete agreement about the rules of my body's verticality and risk.  Perhaps I'll watch some of the Olympics from the safe harbor of my couch.

My wish for this year's Olympics is that North and South Koreans build positive relationships with each other.  I also hope their combined team wins something together creating hope for that region and for the rest of the world.