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 25, 2017

"Umbrella"

A friend of mine told me about moving to the U.S.  He left his young family in the old country while he worked to establish his career and make it possible to bring them here.  His wife complained he wasn't working hard enough or fast enough, and she didn't think he sent enough money home for the family's comforts.  My friend had made so many sacrifices, he didn't even spare the money for himself for an umbrella.  He got soaked in a downpour when he was walking in a city, and had a moment of anger about his nagging wife's ingratitude, his loneliness, and the misery of how hard life can be.

I can live his moment so vividly in my mind.  It was his experience, but I think about it sometimes.  Ever since he told me about it, umbrellas have become a symbol to me.  I'm not poor if I have one.  I'm rich because I now have three.  I won't get wet, and I don't have an ungrateful, nagging spouse.  Life is good.

We choose whether or not to be happy, no matter what the weather is doing.  Lately, I've been aware of how my thoughts effect my creativity.  Am I drowning in a downpour, or sitting on a sunny beach under an umbrella's shade?

It's so easy to lose the momentum of our dreams.  We can confide our hopes to someone who blows holes through them.  Maybe they're just nasty, but often, the people who are destructive to our inspiration think they have our best interests in mind.  They want us to be practical and safe.  "Safe" never painted a masterpiece, created a vaccine, or changed the world.

You have to step out of your comfort zone to try something new.  You have to be willing to stumble and fail when you try new things.  You should even expect to stumble and experience set backs.  If it was entirely easy, and anyone could do it, would it matter?

Motivation dies when we think too much of the past, or too much about the future.  Past failures can make us believe our new efforts will fail too.  Thinking about the future can make us fear the unknown.  I think everyone can relate to fears of failure, but what about our fears of success?  What if you write the perfect book, get a publisher, and have to do public speaking on a book tour?  Or, are you so enraptured by your vision of the future that you don't sit down and do the things that make that future possible?

Most creative people have experienced the melting of time when you are so absorbed in what you're doing that hours disappear.  For those of us who have experienced this, it's a ecstatic state we're always seeking and often disappointed in finding.  We might try too hard, or avoid trying because we don't want to feel that disappointment.  Do it anyway.

Do it in your own voice, in your own way.  That's the gift that creative people give to the rest of the world, because nobody else can do what you can do.

It's something I've been telling myself a lot lately, and have been in a pretty blissed out state about it.  I wrote 10,000 words this week.  Yay!!!  There may come a time when I feel like I'm standing in a downpour without an umbrella, but why ruin today with a prospect that's only a possibility?  I'm choosing to see life as a sunny day on the beach for now :)

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".