A Drawing In Honor of the Late Joan Rivers And Some Other Things

Joan Rivers was one of those figures of pop culture past that was seen and heard often in America’s living rooms.  She was loud, happy, always smiling or laughing, and not afraid to voice her opinion.  She was certainly a woman who made it to the tippy top in a male-dominated niche.  A writer, actress, comedienne, producer, and talk show host, she was a jack of all trades.  She was a role model by default, because there were almost no others like her around at the time.   (Betty White was right there too, I know).  Joan Rivers didn’t seem to feel embarrassed about herself.  She was who she was, spoke her mind clearly, often offended others, and went about her life.  I liked that about her.  I’m always wanting to be able to speak more of what’s on my mind and then simply go about my daily life.   For instance, the next time I pass that snooty mom in the hall at my kids’ school, I’d like to be able to simply say, “Look, you know me and I know you.  I mean heck, we’ve known each other for almost seven friggin’ years.  When I say hi to you, you really don’t have to act so surprised.”  I probably wont say that.  In fact I KNOW I wont say that.  But I can write it and post it!  I still have time to practice my forward attitude I suppose.

Sadly, time runs out for us all as it has for Joan Rivers.  Here’s a comic-style drawing, which I think resembles Rivers, post plastic surgery of course:



Speaking of America’s living rooms, I’ve been practicing my sketching ability.  You see, I got this AWESOME book (surprise surprise) called “Urban Sketching: the complete guide to techniques” by Thomas Thorspecken who has an equally awesome blog about sketching in the field called Analog Artist Digital World. Below are two attempts at sketching my everyday surroundings using a curved perspective, which Thorspecken does soooo well!


These two views of my American living room have wintery thoughts written on them.  I tend to psych myself up, somehow through my art making, for the impending cold (frozen) Maine winters.



I used a micron pen, watercolor, workable fixative, then colored pencil. Thorspecken does an amazing job with a micron pen. His lines are wibbly wobbly and his watercoloring is quick and almost gestural.  He doesn’t fuss.  The work that results from his technique is perfectly imperfect.  I’m in awe of it.

So, here’s to speaking your mind!

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Tutorial in Ignoring Jerks

Okay, so my title is almost vulgar.  But my message will clarify below.  My son starts middle school in a week and I think I’m reacting quite emotionally to that fact.  Adulthood is far from the social politics of middle school right?  Or is it?  I remember being horribly embarrassed 85% of the time in middle school.  I don’t remember why, but I remember that god awful feeling.  I no longer experience that saturated level of embarrassment.  In fact, I’d say little embarrasses me now.  I’ve learned (through the passing of time and a few yucky lessons) to not give a whole lot of weight to other’s opinions about me, most of the time.  Some opinions mean more than others of course.  In retrospect, along with some help from a critical thinking course in college, I see my own middle school experience in a different light.  It only took 10 or so years to get there.  The overall underlying job of my middle school was to



My son will ride the bus with high schoolers.  He will be absorbing subtle and blatant messages faster than Bounty soaks up grape juice on counters.  Who he should be, what he should do, how he should act; they are going to SHOULD all over him.  I am feeling defensive already.  But some of those messages are good right?  Some will be positive messages. Right?  I just remember feeling so damn bad about myself then.  Is that all part of growing up?  Feeling like a piece of crap for a couple of years?  I’m pretty sure the jerks felt like crap too.


Part of my issue now is I feel like I have little control over the situation.  I’m okay with my son learning about camel toes, hearing dirty jokes, and learning how to use the F word properly in a sentence.  What I’m worried about are self-esteem issues.  I see him as a quiet guy who may not readily stand up for himself.  One who will take what nasty things people have to say to heart.  Internalizing it.  Blech!!!!

As a teenager things started turning around for me.  I began to embrace the idea that in order to be happy I had to be me.  So here is my tutorial on ignoring jerks:



Easier said than done for a middle schooler, but it makes perfect sense to me, twenty five years later!

I’m drawing lately.  I’ve begun an awesome course on comic book art.  I am so humbled.  Depicting the human figure in it’s natural super hero state is HARD.  But I’m loving the challenge.  It’s super technical.



Drawing is such a great way to create the life you love.  Literally, on the page in front of you.  It’s kind of like playing god, as the very talented comic book art instructor said.  He is right.  And it only takes a piece of paper and a pencil.  How easy is that?  You can take it anywhere too.


Inside joke.  I’m terrified of port-a-potties.  They invoke a carnal fear in me.  A claustrophobic, sweaty, awful fear.  Blech!!!



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Stuck on Pods…Seed Pods That Is!

I seem to be stuck on painting seed pods.  My garden has given me lots of inspiration.  Seed pods come in the weirdest shapes.  Some are truly bizarre.  Like the peony seed pod.  It’s alien-like!  I guess I prefer depicting the poppy type of seed pod.  My mother loved her garden and especially poppies.  I remember her saving the dried poppy seed heads to plant the following year… Seed pods represent the uncertainty of the future.  They contain hundreds of positive possibilities but only a few of those possibilities will fulfill their potential.  Like promises that are meant to be broken maybe?   Anyhoo, below is my most precious seed pod painting thus far.

Sweet Sixteen

It’s a big canvas, about 4′ x 4.’  I had so much fun painting it.  Pushing and pulling the lights and darks.  I’m totally in LOVE with the dramatic, moody color palette.   I just gotta shout it loud:  I LOVE THIS PAINTING!  Before the birth of this big beauty, titled “Sweet Sixteen,” (can you guess why?) I took a most wonderful painting class were I became a real pod-ophile.   Here is my work from that class on fluid acrylic painting taught by the lovely and talented Linda Murray in her gorgeous studio.


I like this one above a lot but it seems a bit too all-over-warm.  I love it’s texture, which is accomplished by dripping on Clear Tar gel by Golden on a cradled wood panel.  The next few were all done on cold press water color paper.







Have I gotten it out of my system?  We’ll see.  I never know.  I just follow where the art making muse takes me.  If I had to guess I’d say that I still have to paint a few more pods.


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A Macro World of Inspiration

I often go through these periods of time where I’m feeling so overwhelmingly grateful, lucky, or blessed, if you will.  I realize how fortunate I am to have such great access to art and craft tools and materials.  Thank goodness or goddess or coincidence or the universe for aligning the way it has for the amazing access to all this delicious STUFF.

A while back I did some creative work for my uncle.  He’s a hard working single guy who has showed great generosity to me before.  (For instance, when I was a struggling college student he helped me pay rent several times)  Anywho, the deal for the creative work I did was that he would buy me a macro lens for my new DSLR camera, a most lovely Canon Rebel t3i.   I still have so much to learn about this camera.  I’ve really just been playing around with this amazing new lens, always set on autofocus!  The following photos, taken in and of my garden, are inspiration for near future paintings.


A darling BRIGHT green grasshopper.  Just look at his little undeveloped wings!


And then there are my daylillies.  So beautiful.  A bit daunting to paint, to say the least!





And then there is this lovely little Beebalm.  With a tiny worm residing inside the bloom.


I’m actually beginning an intensive painting course with the amazingly talented Linda Murray for which I am to bring in a flower photo to work from.  I think I’ve covered that part.  We’ll see what emerges.

Thanks for this amazing new set of eyes, Uncle Steve!


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I Think I’m Addicted to Being Obsessed

Now more than ever I’m on back on a major book making kick.  I believe it would be wise if I bought some stock in a waxed linen thread manufacturer.  Does such a stock even exist?  I’m making at the moment some Button Card Books.


With a coptic or chain stitch binding, these little gems are pretty easy to construct.


I still need a bit of practice with my macro lens, that’s a bit too blurry..

I’ve been so absorbed in this and other book making processes that I need to tear myself away from it all just to do things like living life!  For instance,  taking a pack walk with a bunch of German Shepherds (okay, some black lab mixes are thrown in there too!)



My dog stands fourth from the right.  He’s my third baby!

Or taking a Nature Journaling class at the local library.  This little sketch of a just-about-to-bloom Lamb’s Ear would never have existed if it weren’t for my need to get away from my punching cradle and awl.



I actually became so inspired with the whole Nature Journaling thing that it could definitely be my next addiction.  It’s so peaceful and rejuvenating.  Sitting and drawing a plant in the warm sun is just AMAZING.

My kids are pretty good at diverting my attention.  In fact, it’s time to go make them lunch!



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