Saturday, November 20, 2010

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

My kids are always asking me what my favorite color is. I tell them I don't have one. I love all the colors equally.

There is no color that I do not find amazing and beautiful. Choosing one is like choosing my favorite child (if I had billions of children).

Now, sure there are many purple tones that (when worn close to my face) make me look as if I have a blood disorder. Purple on a a ripe plum or in the twilight sky or a healing bruise is beautiful. Purple makes the word Dioxazine sexy.

My kids will try to trip me up by asking if I like the color of poop or throw-up. I tell them I don't like the smell of those things but the colors are amazing. In fact one of my favorite sweaters was a multi-colored knit that closely resembled vomit.

I can start to get overwhelmed if I dwell on all the beautiful colors that occur in ordinary ways on ordinary objects . A slight shift of the Earth's relationship to the sun and the colors change. Awesome. When I see an actual rainbow I get pretty excited.

On the other hand, I've always been a big fan of black and white. When I was a teenager I went so far as to decorate my entire room in black and white.
I never feel the absence of color when I work in black and white or when I'm viewing black and white. It's right there in my imagination. I unconsciously fill in the colors and I am satisfied.

Color though, is my true love.
I recently learned how to "paint" with software and I am having a good time.

There are a lot of hyperlinks in this post which goes to show how excited I get when talking about color.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Opium of the People

I look at my (smart)phone first thing in the morning, before I eat breakfast or brush my teeth or get dressed.

I get the kids and myself ready for our day.

Like generations before me, I read the (online)paper while I have my morning coffee.

I spend the next eight hours or so doing my work by the soft glow of a computer screen.

During lunch, I take a break. I read the (e)mail and see how my (fb)friends are doing.

The screens go off for supper, homework and story time.

Then the grown-ups can relax and watch the wide screen for a couple of hours.

Then it's off to bed, right after I check my phone.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What I Got

"...the leading cause of wrinkles" was a phrase that caught my ear the other night as I was watching Project Runway. Through the sea of beauty product ads I heard those words . I sat up and replied, "The leading cause of wrinkles is life.".

Time on the planet, what you did with that time and genetics are the leading cause of wrinkles.

I know because I've been working on a pretty good collection of lines over the past forty years.

I've got a pair of parentheses framing my mouth, one from smiling, one from smirking.

The birdlike footprints by my eyes are from being in the sunshine as often as I can.

I've got some small ones here and there from the mistakes I've made. The cigarettes I smoked and the sunscreen I didn't apply aren't even the chief culprits.* Worrying about events that are beyond my control is a mistake I continue to make. Let's call those lines, stress fractures.

The deepest valley on my face is just above the inner part of my left eyebrow. I'm pretty sure that's from making the the quizzical, what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you face. I think this is one is genetic since my brother has the same crease.

Hey, don't get me wrong. I can be just as vain as the next woman. I often will take a too close look in the mirror to examine the topical map of my face. I then take a step back (some days way back) and remember that I am lucky to be here.

I then throw on my sunglasses and put on some lip gloss as I head out into the sunshine.

*Smoking cigarettes is a bad idea because some day you will want to quit and quitting really really sucks. I know drug addicts who had an easier time quitting drugs. So don't smoke...or do drugs. Oh, and reapply the sunscreen, that's the key not the SPF.

Monday, June 21, 2010

July, She Will Fly

We wait all year for the summer to come. We get ourselves through waiting at the bus stop in a foot of snow in January by thinking, "Someday it will be warm again.".

Don't get me wrong I love this place all year round and feel lucky to live in such a beautiful place.

The summer though.
Man, I love it.

I love eating pizza at Corporation Beach after a long day in the sun and salt water.

I love that my kids want to be outside all day and I have to drag them in at bedtime.

I love swimming in Scargo Lake on a hot day while the swans swim by and the osprey dive for their lunch.

I love eating seafood that you know just came out of the ocean and washing it down with a locally brewed beer.

I love having our house full of friends and family.

I love taking my guests to out to hear my talented friends perform.

I love working in the garden and then washing off the sweat and the dirt in the outdoor shower with the big beautiful blue sky above.

I love a big, loud, summer, thunder storm and I don't even care if the power goes out.

I love to sit in my wicker rocking chair on the screened-in porch, smelling the lavender and feeling rich.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Ma Bell

I'm one of those people who has the sound of an old fashioned telephone as my ring tone on my cell phone (mobile? smart phone? magic phone?). I knew if I had anything else I'd be one of those people who never notices that their phone is ringing.
Despite having a recognizable tone I still don't always answer my phone when it rings. I don't feel comfortable answering it or even looking to see who it is if I am in the middle of a live conversation. I also won't answer while I'm at work or at the library or if I'm at home and the phone is in my coat pocket in the closet while I'm upstairs or outside.
For the record I am also old and crotchety enough to think it is rude to text message while you are having a live experience with a living breathing human being right in front of you.

For the most part it works out fine. People leave a message and I call them back when I am free. The only problem was that my husband sometimes need to get in touch with me in real time and I wouldn't notice his call until an hour or so later. I remedied this problem by making a special ring tone just for his calls. I used a little techno riff that came with the phone since my husband likes that kind of music and it would remind me of him. It's got a spy-movie-theme-song vibe to it.

The first time it "rang" I was in the grocery store with my daughter. We were in the toothbrush aisle. At first, I thought the sound was coming from the store's piped in music. I realised this wasn't the case when the familiar voice of Jimmy Buffett told me that he was. "wasting away again in Margaritaville". Then I thought it was the toothbrushes, you know the kind that play music while you brush. I finally noticed that it was coming from the shopping cart. I was starting to get a little freaked out because I couldn't see any products in the cart that could possibly be making music. Surely a musical device in the packaging of the frozen peas or the pudding pops wouldn't be able to withstand the extreme temperature and moisture conditions of a supermarket freezer.

I stuck my head all the way in the cart and doing my best not to sound crazy I whispered to my eight-year-old, "Can you hear that music?".
She looked at me with a casual expression and said, "I think that's your phone".

Monday, May 10, 2010

Black is Beautiful

The first drink I ever ordered in a bar was at Durty Nelly's in County Clare, Ireland.

I was eighteen years old and I was traveling with my good friend who was seventeen. We had both just graduated from high school and decided that a trip to Ireland was a great way to celebrate.

Our first hostess on our journey was my third cousin-in-law who lived in a little village in County Clare. After she picked us up at the airport and fed us dinner at her house she encouraged us to walk just up the road to the pub.

Now for those of you who don't speak Irish, "just up the road" means anywhere from one to seven miles. In this case Durty Nelly's was about a three mile walk.

By the time we got there we were pretty thirsty but no less nervous about ordering a drink like a real grown-up. In the U.S. the drinking age is 21 and unless you had a fake id. or a beard (we had neither) you couldn't get served in a bar. This is not to say we had never had an alcoholic beverage before or gotten someone who did have a beard to buy us a drink. We just had never done it ourselves.

We spent the first five minutes standing near the door of the crowded pub trying not to look conspicuous. Picture Daria and Jane Lane go to Ireland. We finally made our way to the bar and the bottle.

Lame, I know.

We went outside and drank our luke-warm beers that tasted like they had been delivered by donkey cart from Germany two years ago. But now we had liquid courage and skunked beer aftertaste, so we went back to the bar and ordered, two pints of Guinness.

It's a good thing we were feeling brave because we had to stand there for about five minutes waiting for our pints. We had our first lesson: a good pour takes time. By the time we left Ireland, two weeks and several pubs later we were experts.

That expertise would have to be suppressed until the day we were old enough to have id. and cash in our pockets. The next trick was to find an Irish pub that served Guinness by the pint.

Nowadays people are discovering Guinness, along with micro-brew stouts and Smithwicks at most places that have more than two taps. Some of us learned early though.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Do you know what that can do to a guy my age?

It's easy to do. It happens to the best of us. It doesn't always mean you are getting old or need glasses. Most of the time it's harmless.

Toothpaste sometimes comes in the same type of packaging as hair care products.

The door of the freezer and the microwave oven are at the same height and have a similar feel.

The design on Newman's Own regular coffee looks almost exactly same as the design of the decaf coffee.
This one took me a week of headaches to figure out.

Japanese sedans in the Stop & Shop parking lot all look the same, regardless of color or year.

You can't always tell the difference between size six girl's clothing and size six women's clothing until you try to fit your head or leg through it.

Even if you don't name your kids in a rhyming fashion or with the same first letter, you are bound to yell their name loudly and incorrectly and in public.

Do be careful in the medicine cabinet. That itch might not go away.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

#9, #9, #9, #9

Nine is such a cool number. You don't need to be a numerologist to figure that out. Any cat knows that.

Nine is edgy.
It's almost.
It's, "I'm awesome but I'm not perfect".

Nine wears black t-shirts with jeans and high top sneakers.

Nine knows big things are coming.
Nine is going to live like they don't care about tomorrow.

Ask 1969 or the 1990s or the Beatles.

Ask a nine-year-old. They will give you a smirky smile and then go ride their bike.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cafes Lined Up All Along the BQE

In 1991 Hal Hartley made a great short film called, "Theory of Achievement". It's about young artists and writers trying to figure out who they are.

It takes place in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, NY just before it became the hipster art capital it is today.

The film has the characters asking themselves who they are and how do they justify their definition.

Are you what you do? Are you what you say you do? Are you are what you are? Are you what you want to be?

I say it's what you put in the "occupation" box on your taxes.

I consistently fill that little box with the word, "artist".

I have however had numerous jobs.

Here is a list of all the jobs I've held, at least the ones I could remember:

babysitter (scary)
dog sitter (scary)
face painter (wish those kids would wipe the cotton candy off first)
camp counselor (taught me among other things that teenagers can handle more responsibility than you think)
waitress (hard work and dirty)
art history slide library assistant (remember slides? remember typewriters?)
general store clerk (early hours, great way to meet the whole community)
cottage cleaner (I was too slow to make good money)
dishwasher (one of the best jobs I've ever had)
newspaper layout (learned to use a proportion wheel)
bartender (if you put in enough alcohol people won't complain)
carnival ride operator (the explanation is too long for these parenthesis)
art supply store clerk (did it for the discount)
doll buyer (got to go to the Toy Fair in NYC)
painted furniture artist (learned how to paint with paint markers)
chambermaid (worst job)
bookstore clerk (did it for the discount)
florist phone operator (similar experience to Bob Cratchit's employment)
frame shop clerk (I recommend acid free mats that go with the picture not the couch)
home design store manager (pretty place to work)
mother (lifetime appointment)
corporate treasurer (current position)

I am sure there are some that I am forgetting. I've learned a lot about life and people from these jobs that took me from a tent in the woods to a New York penthouse to a trailer in a hurricane. But if you ask me the inescapable question, "What do you do?", I will say, "I'm an artist".

I didn't post a link to a YouTube clip for the movie. I could only find one. I recommend buying the DVD, "Surviving Desire" which has the short, "Theory of Achievement" included. It's worth adding to your hip collection.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Death and Taxes

you are the tide that ebbs and flows
you are the ocean made out of clothes
cotton, linen, polyester
dry clean only woolen sweater
plaid and dots
blue and green
a pre-soak in oxyclean
sort the colors
wash in cold
empty lint traps
and then fold
into the basket to be put away
maybe tomorrow
or another day
not rocket science or math equations
only ironed for special occasions
you are not my love
yet companion are thee
you are my constant
the laundry and me

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Remember the clip-on Koalas (notice I didn't say Koala Bear? turns out they aren't bears at all)? They were about 3" long stuffed animals that had a metal clip built into it's arms. You could clip them to your pocketbook or backpack or radio antenna.
They were all the rage back in the early 1980s. This time period was the peak of my attempt to follow all trends.
When I tried to conform, I failed miserably.
My hair didn't feather.
Blue eyeshadow gave an anemic look and not in a good way. People often asked me if I was feeling alright.
Bradlees brand "designer" jeans don't look good on anyone, definitely not a sixty pound no butt seventh-grader.
Failing at trendiness taught me a lot about myself and life. Perhaps the most important lesson came from the clip-on Koala that I kept attached to my lampshade.
The Koala was a little too heavy and the weight caused the shade to tilt and make contact with the hot bulb which started to melt and then smoke while no one was in the room.
Mom caught it in time before it went up in flames. The shade and Koala were a loss.
Since then I have done my own thing because it's a disaster when I don't.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Play Ball

I signed my son up for baseball this year. He's in the youngest group and they have had one practice so far. He loves it. He can't wait until the next practice.
Back in February I filled the registration form out, made a copy of his birth certificate and wrote a modest check. This is all pretty standard stuff that we're all use to these days. We are constantly re-identifying ourselves and signing waivers that we agree to not hold anyone responsible for anything that can possibly go wrong.
So when I got to the bottom of the form and read a line that my child would not be able to participate without the signed parental agreement on the back of the form I was not surprised.
I get it. No one wants to get sued in case Owen Meany comes up to bat.
I was surprised though when I turned the page over to find that this was a parental behavior agreement.
There were about 15 numbered statements of parental expectations including, volunteering at the snack shack and picking the kids up on time.
Most of the points however, were a lengthy pledge that as a parent of a little league participant, you will not be a jerk. No swearing, drinking, coaching, booing, taunting, humiliating, etc.
I don't really want to work the snack shack and I'm often a couple minutes late. I do pledge though, that I will do my best to not start a fistfight in the bleachers.

Here's an example of one from the Little League website. I didn't save a copy of ours.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

You can not go wrong giving an artist art supplies or gift certificates to art supply stores. Even if you give us something that is not our medium we will find a way to use it or play with it.
A gift certificate though, that's a beautiful thing. You can't buy groceries or shoes for the kids at the art supply store. What you can get is that item that you have talked yourself out of. "I can make do with what I've got."
In my case, that item was a drafting table.
I had one years ago from my high school days that I toted around from apartment to apartment. I was mostly painting then and didn't use it enough to justify moving it again, this time to another state. So I gave it away.
I didn't really miss it. I was still living in small apartments and focused only on painting.
My old drawing board from college, propped up on a box worked fine when I needed it.
Flash forward to the past few years. I live in a house with an actual art studio and illustration is back on my radar.
I still didn't think I needed the table but then I had a birthday.
And then I had a gift card.
And now I have a drafting table.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Do You Believe in Fairies?

There's something about a toothless smile that is endearing. It reminds us of that first grader bliss, just before a kid gets self-concious about how they look or how they sound as their tongue gets stuck in the empty space of their missing tooth.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New and Improved

Last year, I made a video of the book I illustrated for Kathleen Healy's song, "Clouds". At the time I used the only recorded version of the song that I had. I didn't realize until after I posted it on the World Wide Web that the vocals didn't exactly match the text in the book.

I now have an updated recording from the CD, "Songs for a Cloudy Day" (available with the purchase of the book). So here is an updated video with matching text and vocals.

If you are interested in purchasing the Book/CD, send me an email

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fisherman's Blues

When my husband saw this picture he said, "He looks angry".

I told him that wasn't the look of anger.

What you see in the bird's narrow eyed, as-if-they-can-see-through-you look is the look of a fisherman.

He spends most of his life out over the water hunting for fish. He has a biological imperative to stay out there.

He is cold and tired. He is on the brink of death and ruin. Yet when he returns to land (usually to mate) all he can think about is going back to sea.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

All the Live Long Day

On the first day of drawing class in college we had the nude model. Baptism of fire was how our professors handled it.
The room was big enough for two classes with a temporary wall dividing us. My class had the female model and the other class had the male model. For some students this was the first naked adult of the opposite sex that they had seen this up-close for this long (it was a three hour class, by junior year it was a six hour class).
For the first few minutes there was some giggling and red faces. Not long after that all you could hear was charcoal on paper with the occasional sound of furious erasing. There was no time for ogling, too much concentration was need. Suddenly, being named "Most Artistic" in your high school year book didn't mean much.
After what seemed like an eternity the professor would call a break. We'd all come up for air (or cigarettes) and then get right back to our intense focus of drawing the human figure. In the meantime the professor would walk around and point out what we were all doing wrong by drawing right on our pad or even crumpling up our masterpiece and telling us to start over.
I remember my friends who weren't art majors would think we had it easy coloring all day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

I don't know what it is about eyes. They are my favorite thing to draw. When I was a teenager I was especially compulsive about it. I didn't have a book cover or notebook that wasn't covered in eyeballs. This could explain why I didn't do so well in algebra.

Someday I might figure it out, like those people in that movie. They felt compelled to create images of a mysterious mountain. When they got to the mountain and saw the aliens land it was such a relief.

"I get it now. Whew, I thought I was going crazy. Now, it all makes sense".

Friday, March 26, 2010

Caroline Laughs and It's Raining All Day

I'm taking a little detour from the alphabet series.
This is a design I did for a friend who walks the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.
It's hard to be on the planet too long before you know someone affected by this disease, so many mothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, friends, grandmothers.
The walking events are a great way to raise money and awareness. The walk is also a beautiful, public, physical expression of love and support.
Team Pink Princess has reached their fundraising goal this year. Congratulations!
If you would like to donate to another worthy team, click on "team" and follow the instructions.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stick a Needle In My Eye

When I was eight years old I found a twenty dollar bill on the school bus. Even though my friends told me to keep it I turned it in to the bus driver.

She told me that if no one claimed it within a week I would get to keep it. I asked her every day if anyone claimed it. After a week the money was mine and since then I took that as a universal test that being honest was the right thing to do.

This of course did not always work in my favor (speeding tickets for example)and although I never lied to my parents I did leave out quite a few possiblly important details about where I was and who I was with.

Also, April Fool's Day type of lying doesn't count.

Occasionally, there is a lying or strong bending of the truth emergency. In these rare instances I cross my fingers .

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

See a Man About a Horse

I think centaurs are funny.
I know they are meant to be strong and sexy. I get the giggles every time I see a depiction of one.

Monday, March 22, 2010


My daughter and her friend joined me in the studio to make some art. They asked what I was working on and I told them about my alphabet project.
The girls got very excited and asked if I would do a picture of them for the project.
So, I had them pose and here they are representing the letter B.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Next Time Won't You Sing With Me

Here is the first in a series of b&w spot illustrations I did using each letter of the alphabet.
I started by randomly choosing a word from our big-fat-dictionary.
After two letters I changed the rule to whatever word I or someone in my family suggested.
It was a fun experience and nice to have an illustration "job" to do every day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bear on Board

This is one of my favorite pages from the recent book.
If you knew Bear like I do you'd understand why.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Life Is But A Dream

Here's the illustrated book jacket for another song by Kathleen Healy.
I decided to scan the black and white ink drawings and color them with Photoshop. It took a bit of trial and error. I have many tutorials bookmarked.
I am starting to get the hang of it.
There was much debate between the blonde girl and the brunette boy at our house about what color the character's hair should be.
Next book is going to have a redhead.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shoes for the Cobbler's Children

Here's a photo of the new logo, sawdust and all. The logo was inspired by a blueprint detail of a rake.
D & M has been in business since 2001. It's nice to see a distinctive image to go along with the type, finally.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Blog, Blog, Blog

I decided to create a new blog to separate the illustration and design work from the paintings.
I don't on principle believe in separating the genres. I did it for two reasons. 1. It's easier to find the illustration work if it's all on one page. 2. I can blog about the process of creating illustrations that is very different from how I think about painting.