Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hi Blog. Are you still here?

Every so often I check out one of those books about how Creative People keep a sketchbook journal. I might as well check out books about being an astronaut. The likelihood that either of those things will come to pass is about even. Zero. The books are full of artfully casual sketches of Italian plazas in ink and watercolor, attractively surrounded by inked text. Wow. Other people have excellent handwriting.

Reasons I will never keep a sketchbook journal:

1. I am far too lazy.
2. People would look over my shoulder.
3. If I ripped out all the embarrassing pages, all that would be left would be the cover.
4. Size? Seriously? How does anyone choose?

But my blog is still here. Hi blog! I missed you. Can I come back? Would it be ok if #100happydays dropped in? K. Let's do this thang.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It never hurts to add an extra dog or two.

When people hear that I write and illustrate greeting cards they always, I mean ALWAYS, say “That sounds like fun!” And I’m not going to deny that there is a lot to be said for working in your pajamas and seeing the product of your labors on the gift store card rack in the Minneapolis airport. It also doesn’t hurt to get royalty checks on work you did 5 years ago. Royalties are my friends.

The flip side of the coin is that you work very hard on products that might not, probably won’t, sell. Ask any freelance artist in any medium. And it’s surprisingly stressful. For one thing, when you're thinking, and this job requires a lot of thinking, it looks like you're not doing anything. Modern society requires that, unless you're inert in front of the tv, you need to be doing something. Something visible.

So. I was always the kid who drew pictures. In kindergarten I remember another girl asking if I would draw a horse for her. I’m fairly certain it wasn’t a very good horse, considering I still can’t draw horses worth diddly. My high school notes were liberally festooned with doodles. I drew my own cartoon Christmas cards.

But, here’s the thing. I didn’t think it was Art. I went to the University of Oregon where the painting teacher pretty much told us to express ourselves and then she went somewhere and drank coffee until the term was over. For that, my parents paid tuition? One time I asked a friend of mine who was a successful painter to tell me the difference between a painting and an illustration. She said illustration is about the subject matter. A painting is about the paint. That, I thought, is a very clear definition. My work is about the joke, son. So. I didn’t find out I was an artist until I was 37 years old. How did I know? I finally got paid for doing art. Until someone else put a value on my work, I didn’t value it myself.

In 1990 I moved in with a money-centric man who couldn’t fathom that I did elaborate greeting cards just for my loved ones. For free. He badgered me to submit my work to card companies until, just to silence the nagging, I assembled a dozen samples and mailed them out to several outfits including Recycled Paper Greetings. Imagine my astonishment when four art directors wanted to buy my stuff. Who knew? Twenty years later, the IRS thinks I’m an artist, even if my old painting teacher doesn’t.

Quite a few people have told me I should teach cartooning. My reply has always been a terrified look and the observation that no one has any idea how many false starts, how big a pile of eraser shavings, or how many embarrassing sketches it takes to produce a completed cartoon. But today I had a stab at it when I was invited to talk to a group of very funny ladies who have an annual gathering and invite someone to teach them something. Last year it was a mason bee expert. This year they got me. I told them all the stuff above and made them draw their hands without looking at the paper and heard, in turn, their hilarious senior (literally) prom and life drawing stories. And one of them offered to give me her exceedingly glamorous shoes. Today, the learning went both ways. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Are You Happy Now?

A few days ago I was awakened at six a.m. as, outside my little house, some guy yelled "Are you happy now??!" accompanied by a loud bang. Later in the morning I found a metallic green cell phone lying in my yard that had parted company with its battery. A short search in the bushes turned up the battery which I installed and which permitted us to read a few of the text messages chronicling the lead-up to the six a.m. phone-fling. The apparent owner was pictured, sans clothing, among the phone's photos, but I didn't recognize her as being from the 'hood. Her contact list included such characters as Dave(Hippy), clearly she knows a variety of Daves, and Ass-Munch Monhagen. We couldn't decide who to call to report the phone as found (Dave? Ass-Munch?), and now, sadly, a night in the rain and the dwindling battery have rendered it useless.*

* Editor's note: after this blog entry was composed the phone dried out sufficiently that I was able to call "Mom" who, when I explained the circumstances, sighed heavily and said, "I'll tell her." I swear I could hear her rolling her eyes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Town

I really have a yen
To go back once again
Back to the place where no one wears a frown.
To see once more those super-special just plain folks in my Home Town.
from My Home Town by Tom Lehrer

There's something so jolly about those dancing Statues of Liberty with the big arrow-shaped TAXES signs who gyrate on the corner from January until April 15, grooving to their iPods in their pointy green tiaras and matching robes. They're the best thing about being stuck at an interminable light during tax season.

But only in my neighborhood, home of two murders in the last three years and a recent police shoot-out over a stolen squad car, have I seen a guy in a conical purple wizard hat, adorned with silver stars and crescent moons, dancing his heart out with a sign reading Guns and Ammo.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Keeping the Marmaduke in Christmas

I would be the first to admit that I'm not a big fan of Christmas. Just when we had all had it up to here with political ads, shazam, Christmas ads. The newspaper weighs 10 pounds.

But everything has a silver lining and by silver lining I mean giant, internally lit, inflatable yard decor. Within dog walking distance of my house there's a rooftop Santa on a motorcycle, Frosty the enormous inflatable Snowman, a six-foot snow globe, and best of all, Marmaduke. I mean, what's more Christmasy than Marmaduke? Second best is the potentially-inflatable Santa down the road apiece who has yet to be inflated. He lies, face down, in a capacious field as though he has overdosed on sugarplums. All that's lacking is crime scene tape.

Fa la la la la.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

But Do I Need to Know the Secret Handshake?

From an online review of a local Portland Eagles Lodge, posted August, 2009:
"Okay, seriously. I don't know why the rest of you don't join the lodge. We raise $$ for charities like the Oregon Food Bank and the Giving Tree; the booze is cheap; friendly service; free wife, and very soon a public computer terminal; pool tables, shuffleboard, Golden Tee; and hey, if you're not sold yet, we've got live bingo action and square dancing."

Now, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't require the live bingo and square dancing as long as I got the free wife. No more vacuuming for me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

It's the Little Things

Falling asleep on an airplane and, when the flight attendant comes by, the guy on the aisle doesn't get any cheese crackers for you. Or maybe, just maybe, he gets your crackers and eats them himself.

The guy who is just too important to shut off his electronic devices when it's time to take off (phone) and land (laptop). Incidentally, this guy probably has cheese cracker breath.

TV news that promises "Next! Exclusive video of the amazing rescue of a camel from a sink hole!" and then plays another entire segment with commercials at both ends before you get to see the camel video.

A center-seat passenger on a plane, age, oh, maybe 25 or 30, who feels compelled to put together a Lego® jet plane that requires pages and pages of instructions and involves cocking her elbows in the faces of her fellow travelers as she roots for the requisite Lego® and much rummaging around her fellow row-mate's collective feet for parts that zing into orbit during the deconstruction phase.

Coworkers who sing along with their iPods.

People who repeatedly say "maybe I'll be there", but can't expend enough energy to call to say they're not coming.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Product Placement

Those Dirt Devils®, they really do the job when you have a big mess to take care of.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Marketing 101

Heard as I drove along, half listening to NPR, my attention mostly elsewhere, "This segment brought to you by Barnes and Noble, offering the Nookie Reader." Say, what? Did I hear that correctly? The Nookie Reader? What? You can only download Jackie Collins novels? If I had been paying attention to popular culture and its attendant gizmos, I'd have been aware of the Nook eReader, a recent addition to the proliferating family of digital book devices. But I don't (pay attention, that is). Someone, somewhere, in the B and N marketing department must be giggling.

Menu item for the upcoming "Senior Prom" at the local senior center "Herb Roasted Airline Chicken". No kidding. Airline Chicken. Will they serve it on a styrofoam tray? Does it bounce? Will the next event feature "Elementary School Cafeteria Weiner Wraps"? It turns out, if I had been paying attention to food (which I don't, pay attention, that is), I'd have known that airline chicken is a type of cut that fits nicely on airline food trays. Regular people can get it without getting on a plane. Who knew?

Lately I have been obsessed with all things diaper. Pee containment has come a long way in the last thirty years. So far, in fact, that it seems to have come full circle. Almost. The young women in my life are having babies and, bless their environmentally responsible hearts, they are going to upholster them in cloth diapers which, in the modern world, are a little elusive. Babys R Us has them, but you know what they don't have? Pins. Or "snappies". Or any other way to keep them on the baby. The clerk suggested I look for pins at Fred Meyer (One stop shopping!) I haven't checked Freddies for diaper pins yet. But I know they have duct tape.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

All We Have is Now

Since there exists in this four dimensional structure [space-time] no longer any sections which represent "now" objectively, the concepts of happening and becoming are indeed not completely suspended, but yet complicated. It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence. Albert Einstein, 1952
A few days ago my companion and I were following a car adorned with a bumper sticker that read:

That's not as pretty as "Today is not yesterday, today is not tomorrow" or "The journey is the reward", big favorites I saved from my 2005 Little Zen Calendar, and I was moderately disappointed when I found out it's actually a song by the Flaming Lips. Nonetheless, it's a darn good philosophy, particularly if you want to justify polishing off the leftover chocolate chips. Carpe Nestles.