Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mini Bouquet

Taking a breather from fall festivities and assorted things that were occupying my mind this past week, today I'm all about the quick and easy, reverting to a "ready- made" from the art files to submit to Illustration Friday. This is one of the comps in a series of mini framed prints I submitted for an assignment a few years back. As I recall, this one was rejected, but some of the others were developed further and eventually made it to market. Unfortunately, I never saw the completed product. This was not the first time and certainly not the last.

The rejection process sounds harsher than it actually is. If I could count all the times my efforts were not accepted for whatever reasons, I'd have huge armloads of the stuff. Oh wait, I do...And this tiny teacup bouquet is just a sampling! ;o)

So here you go, I'm sharing a few blooms with you today. Even if we recognize a few flaws or tatters among the petals, we keep moving along, don't we? Hope your week is filled to the brim with goodness!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Halloween Adventure, for Illustration Friday
A nice little witch flew by to announce that it's almost time to light the jack o' lanterns again. Then she and her little kitty sailed off for a spooky adventure way out into the charcoal sky.
Are you ready for the goblins to wander by?
Happy Halloween, wherever the night takes you!

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Seasonal Stuff!
Is it just me, or do you agree that scarecrows are sort of creepy?  I mean, they're created to sit silently out in the cornfield with the intent of scaring birds or other creatures. Then in the autumn, faded and tattered they remain, with fixed expressions staring off into space. Like morbid mannequins, they bide their time, content to stay and seemingly unfazed whether their duties were accomplished or not.

Cornfields were few and far between when I was a kid growing up in suburban Southern California, so these guys randomly appeared in small backyard gardens or as novel, holiday props.  Some of our older and creative neighbors had fun with Halloween, setting up elaborate seasonal displays on the path towards the doorstep. Most of these were just to create a little atmosphere and amusement before the trick or treaters could get to the goodies. Of course, there was always the trickster in the neighborhood who would be sitting there unmoving, dressed as a scarecrow or some other stuffed dummy, just waiting for the unsuspecting kid to walk by so he could jump out and scare the living bejeezus out of that poor soul. Having two older brothers, I was pretty used to being tortured like this and expected to be frightened at every turn. But I did take an extra glance any time there was the possibility that a human being was inside any part of the Halloween decor. Just a quick glance though, because ultimately there was a nice person waiting at the front door ready to hand out treats.

You might have guessed, the theme at Illustration Friday is "Stuffed." Rather than thoughts of settling into cushy, comfortable chairs after a full meal or cuddly, fuzzy animals, I'll be waiting with my friendly (hopefully not too scary!) scarecrow. We're almost ready to fill a few bags with treats, here. And I promise, no tricks! ;o)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Autumn Moon and Stars
I once worked in an art department where the person who signed the checks was convinced that there were certain shapes that none of us clumsy, hired hands would ever be able to execute the degree of perfection which was required to create the production patterns for this product. So each time these shapes appeared in one of the designs, rather than sending our inferior efforts back (to the check signer) for a series of rejections, we tediously spliced copies of one or more of these computer generated shapes into our otherwise very exact, precise and hand inked vellum patterns. To add insult to injury, once these patterns arrived at the factory overseas, their employees would interpret them by very primitive hand painted methods and the results weren't always so pretty. They, too would always throw it back to us, to try to cast blame on the patterns they were given to follow.

Anyway, one of these standard shapes happened to be a star. The check signer had this idea that there existed a uniform and perfect five pointed model, similar to the old fashioned gummed, foil types one might get as a reward if such a thing existed. But we were rewarded richly- with vellum sheets of these stars printed by the row, in every imaginable size, waiting in our flat files for the next design that summoned the surgical precision and dreaded honor of wielding the golden Xacto. Needless to say, we avoided including these shapes in our designs if we could help it!

Coincidentally, "Star" is also the posted topic at Illustration Friday this week. From the heavens above, the sparkly radiant objects that inspire poetry, songs and dreams also stir dark memories of living nightmares. So I'm just here to have some fun with watercolor today- Imagining star shaped leaves in autumn, wobbly, little hand painted stars and a kind and gentle moon nestled in the clouds.  I never set out to be perfect. And I think that is universal knowledge by now. ;o)

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Ink, for Illustration Friday
Some things are indelible and can't be erased or covered up, no matter how badly we'd like them to disappear.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Mermaid and Friend
I can't believe it's not summer any more. September is tricky that way. But as long as it's going to be warm outside, then we're still thinking about the beach and cooling off in the ocean. 
Illustration Friday, how did you know that it's still mermaid season here?

No, we're not going to cast any nets or harm any sea creatures this week, real or imagined. I just thought I'd try to capture one in colored pencil this week, maybe just to take a quick dip into the coloring craze that seems to have snared the creative world. 
So don't put those pencils and crayons away- It looks like autumn also promises to be a colorful season!

Happy fall, y'all!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Oh, you expected to be PAID for that?

Depending on your perspective, this guy might not be the most insidious or dangerous of all the bad guys out there. But let me tell you, he can be one of the most annoying. He began with a simple pencil sketch, inked and scanned, then a little color added via Photoshop. He's been bugging me for weeks, so I felt compelled to let him escape and get him out there on Illustration Friday to illustrate "Villain."

I'm not here to preach or judge, of course. But you've probably noticed that I might sneak in a mini-sermonette here and there. Whatever possesses us to do the "creative" things we do, let our consciences be our guides. Sharing inspiration is priceless. But the execution of those ideas really shine, especially when you can honestly claim the sum of those efforts as your very own. (Avoiding straying deeper into the discussion of copyright issues now, for everyone's benefit.)

OK, stepping down from that soapbox... ;o) I just want to keep things light here.

As always, it's a joy to receive visitors and your comments are appreciated. 
If you've been with me the past few posts, I've started replying to your comments directly below.  And if we've been in touch through email, I can continue to reply directly that way, too. The season is changing, and I'm simply trying to stir my pot a little differently!

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Getting old is for old people. No matter what outer "packages" we're currently in, we've all come equipped with our own internal fountains of youth. We just have to remember to drink like we're thirsty, every now and then. 
Bottoms up!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I have to admit that my heart fluttered when I learned that this week's theme over at Illustration Friday would have us rushing to check our pulses for signs of creative life. Thankfully, it wasn't related to actual health concerns. After all, I try to show a bit of restraint when I order that small cone, not double- dipped in chocolate, no matter what either I or the devil desires. ;o)
Motifs associated with hearts and love figure prominently and obviously on Valentine's Day, weddings, anniversaries or any joyful occasion or expression of endearment, so this should be an easy topic to conceptualize!
But I don't intend to go overboard emoting, wear my feelings on my sleeve and get all touchy- feely- kissy- face with this one. Messages sent from beneath the surface are often ambiguous anyway, open to interpretation, good or bad, clear or murky.
Do you see disappointment here in this picture? A sinking heart? Heaven forbid, is love something to constrain, to slowly drown underwater? Or is it something steadily anchored, yet easily let loose from deep within your heart?

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Certain descriptive terms seemed odd to me when I was a kid, like "prickly heat," for one. I envisioned sharp pointy things protruding from a person's skin, much like the spines on a cactus or  the scaly hide like one might find on the back of an alligator.  I don't recall ever knowing anybody who actually suffered from this condition, at least not as I imagined it to be.
Pokey things just seem to be a part of the scenery in a desert landscape such as southern California. Things are still pretty dry, and somewhere, someone is probably experiencing the symptoms of varying degrees of heat rash here and there. But mostly "there," as in that place where my mind seems to be wandering off to today. It could be that the heat is getting to me, but let's not focus on thorny barbs and brambles, OK? It's making my skin crawl and this is beach season, after all...
When Illustration Friday provided the prompt "Pointy" this week, instead of sharp objects, it made me think of enjoying this summery sunshine while it lasts and maybe an ice cream cone to cool off.
It's still August, isn't it? Let's enjoy it while it lasts!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


One Man's Trash is Another Cat's Treasure

Hey all you flea market junkies, thrift shoppers and garage sale addicts out there! Are you the type who can't walk past a great bargain or a see the potential in something that can be repurposed? Do you worship the junker's patron saint, Fred Sanford? Or do you just love to see old objects live out their lives 'til it hurts?
Illustration Friday posted the word and "One man's trash is another man's treasure" immediately came to mind. Not admitting guilt by any means...Ahem. But do you understand how the concept of spring cleaning can morph into a four season, life long affair?
Gotta go now- I have to throw a few things out today. Swing by and see if you'd like any of it! ;o)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Hanging Around In The Garden
I've been thinking (again). And sometimes that can be a dangerous thing. 
This week over at Illustration Friday, they posted the theme, "Garden." That's a nice word, conjuring up images of lush, beautiful green spaces, happy scenes of watering cans and pretty flowers. I've done some of those illustrations for various products over the years, but they won't appear here today, as they're mostly tucked away and covered up in the past tense now.
Excited as I was about this theme, I sat down and quickly banged this one out, but it sat on my desk for most of the week once the nagging doubts began. ("Why did you put THAT in it?" "You shoulda..." etc.) I struggled with the decision whether to even publish one this week. But really, this little watercolor might be more representative of the word "garden" for me. Not as a noun, but a verb. 
Gardening here at my place means planting, weeding, watching, watering. OK, maybe not so much watering during this drought! 
In the years I've been here tending my little patch of landscape, it's been a process very much like painting. Sometimes things just work and everything's beautiful, and sometimes the results are haphazard with much less success than anticipated or hoped for. But all in all, it's always an effort or expression that nobody else will approach in the same way. Sometimes it has to be done quickly, down and dirty without any real instructions or recipe for any of it. It's ongoing trial and many errors, and that in itself is what brings the joy. 
Here's a sampling of a scene from my backyard, just throwing it out there like nobody's looking. This isn't the Garden of Eden- no need to be embarrassed for me. That "shame" thing isn't going to work on me today!

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Sharp As A Tack
Late spring and early summer have taken me here and there and everywhere. With many family obligations to meet and related opportunities for tasks, to do's and related errands, there's been a lot of multi- tasking in the way of happiness, sadness, hellos and goodbyes, much soul searching in mind but not a lot of "free" time for just staying put, blogging or participating in the weekly Illustration Friday challenges.
On one of the trips I recently took, I had the opportunity to take my dad to visit his aunt, a retired schoolteacher who celebrated her 100th birthday earlier this spring. As the younger sister of my grandmother, there was a noticeably strong family resemblance. Even her soft voice reminded me of her. We couldn't stay for too long, as it was difficult for her to speak, but her quick responses to our questions and comments made it as clear as her blue eyes, that her mind was as sharp as ever. Up until recently, she was still able to drive around town, and wasn't relying on glasses in order to read during our visit. So mentally alert, with a complexion smooth and unlined for a woman who's seen so many changes in a century, I'm guessing there's something good in the water that she's been drinking, or could it simply be years of wholesome living in and among small towns and farms that compose the prairies of the midwestern US?
Whatever it is, I doubt I'll ever discover her secret for longevity. But one thing's for sure, that listening to my dad's detailed accounts of incidents that happened so long ago, there is at least a family gene for memory, tucked somewhere deep in the creases of our brains. Hopefully, I'll be as alert and retain the ability to edit some of what's been stored in mine, if I'm ever as lucky to be so blessed with a long and fruitful life!

Thursday, April 30, 2015


When I was in elementary school many years ago, Friday afternoons were set aside as "Art Days." The whole class was able to put aside all of the books and lessons for a determined amount of time and work on creative projects of a semi- structured nature. That might have been one of the many defining moments when I decided that I might like to pursue art as a career. All the pressure was off, we listened to records (yes real vinyl records, if you can remember those) and immersed ourselves in a "no rules" zone as we began to shut down the week and prepare for a weekend away from our studies.

Continuing with my art studies, I eventually found myself working in the creative field. I know there are people who say that they love working as artists, that when you do something you love, that it's not like working at all. That might be true to a degree, but this Libra gal feels compelled to share a little reality check. Actually, I can write a whole other series of blog entries on this topic, the flip side of all that "play time" but I'll try to keep it brief. While art is fun, it is also work, especially when money is being exchanged. There are sometimes insane deadlines, bills to pay, colleagues, clients and employers (some also insane) and their expectations, all the while juggling assorted family obligations (which always come first) and doing it all with a smile on one's face and with as much grace as can be mustered, even if through gritted teeth. No wonder they call it the daily grind!

Maybe that's what I love about Illustration Friday- The name in itself brings back fond, relaxing memories of "Art Day." No real pressure, all are welcome to participate or not, and nobody gets all bent out of shape when some of us go off on conceptual tangents. For anybody who frequents this blog, they might have noticed that I take that to heart- I don't always post as regularly as I could, sometimes I veer off course, style- wise, and color the way I want, with or without rambling narratives. Today I decided that I was just going to put the obligations aside and paint for the fun of it (minus the vinyl records, but music is playing in the background). The soft gray, introverted mourning dove sitting among the sometimes menacing cactus pads was chosen to illustrate this theme-  Familiar inhabitants of our yards, they seem to like it here, but always appear wary,  a little bit tense and poised to take off, depending on the circumstances.

Hope your "Art Days" are purely for fun!

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Soft Drinks
I didn't raise the alarms when the nice folks over at Illustration Friday got around to changing the week's word a little late. In case you missed it that was "Warrior," and I was enjoying a little break in the action. Not the most inspiring topic when there's plenty of fighting going on all around the world, you know? Depending on who's being asked and when, it's been noted that I can be stubborn- But that's just when I need to hold my ground in my own small scale clashes. Some of those same people will also say I have a very quiet voice. As a whole, I prefer things to be low key and peaceful. 

When they switched the theme over to "Soft," you could almost hear the "Whew!" as I breathed a sigh of relief. To celebrate, I thought I'd offer up a batch of old fashioned soda pops- As in soft drinks. Cheers!

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Hello Bloggers, it's time to make some noise again with this little one for Illustration Friday
The hungry baby birds are making a ruckus in the trees around here- 
Spring has sprung!

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Eau de Aroma

There must be something in the air- Two posts in two weeks. But here I am, trying to sneak another pic in for Illustration Friday on a Thursday afternoon. If we want to stay strong, we have to keep moving, right? That goes for paintbrushes, too. (Swish, swish!)

This little stinker couldn't resist sharing that mini motivational pep talk for anyone who's visiting today, and a quick "scent"-iment as the season officially changes. 
Happy Spring to all! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015


I'm not sure if this old sentiment is actually an Irish blessing, but since it's close to St. Patrick's Day, I just gave it a few shamrocks and will stick with it as this week's contribution for Illustration Friday
My alternate, unabridged version of this saying adds "...It's just that all the sociopaths and psychopaths along the way create extra- long detours." (OK, maybe that was inappropriate, but that's what was on my mind. "Paths," get it?) A wee bit of mischief always comes naturally- I do have a little Irish ancestry and the leprechauns were calling again! 

Besides, if you're reading this, you're not too far away for me to wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day!  

P.S. I'd like to add that this was an experimental effort, a quick mixed media piece. I rarely discuss my process here, but lately I've been changing it up a bit for my own sanity's sake. Experi- "mental," maybe? This began as a really rough thumbnail sketch, hand lettered and then enlarged as a copy, painted over with diluted white acrylic paint (mainly to fade the sketch) and colored with pens on semi- wet paint, building up the color as it was still appearing pretty transparent. The final stage was to go over it with Prismacolor pencils. The paint gave the inexpensive paper a little more "tooth," grabbing the pigment more favorably. I might like to try this technique again using a heavier weight paper and with more concentration on my part. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Looking back, I see reflections of some places, faces and things that I don't recognize anymore. 
The truth is not always as pretty as we want it to be, so we just get fitted with some rose colored glasses and keep moving along as we always do, as long as we're able.
You see, spring is on its way and there is still much beauty to behold...
Hope you're catching a glimpse of that beauty, too.