Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Basics

It started with the leftover Halloween pumpkin (the one no one wanted to carve). I couldn't let it go to waste, so I roasted it up. Boy, you get a lot of puree out of one of those babies.

Pumpkin + orange + chocolate chips = delicious. Just the thing to get things rolling.

Speaking of getting things rolling, look what you can make with a magazine, some glue, and a sudden burst of holiday spirit (fueled by pumpkin cake). I was planning to paint it, but I loved all the colors. It would look better against a bright red door, but mine will do.

I think my paper rolling inspired my son to do some paper folding. He made me the cool origami wreath above...

...and this awesome little tree! He has more patience than I do.

Here's a trio of frosty trees made from scraps I found in the garage,

and one with pipe-cleaner snowflakes to light up the entryway.

Sometimes it's fun to use what you've got.

It also helps to have a tree that bears gifts,

and snow in the local mountains!

Plus, I've still got four cups of pumpkin left.

Hope you are all brimming with holiday cheer! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Be Merry and Bright

From the looks of things around the neighborhood and the blogosphere, I’m way behind in holiday preparations. In an effort to muster up some extra spirit, I spent my last class period doodling snowflakes and reindeer.

Are the decorations up? Nope. Cookies made? No, and most of the chocolate chips are already gone. Maybe we can eat the ingredients separately this year. Have I gotten my holiday shopping done? Bahahaha…

What I do have is a drawing of three birdies riding on a reindeer. Yessiree, I could cross that off my holiday to-do list, if: a) I had prepared a holiday to-do list; and b) that list included a drawing of three birdies riding a reindeer.

I think I earned the right to spend my last design class doodling. Yesterday my teacher informed me that in twenty years of teaching, I’m his first student to earn a perfect score on every assignment. Aha! It turns out I do pay attention to details.

On another note, it has occurred to me that Santa pulls one all-nighter a year, and he gets all the glory. I really don’t think the elves get the credit they deserve.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Home Page...For Now

It's been forever since I posted - I thought I should at least put a link to my new portfolio.

Last semester I was enrolled in a web development class, but another one of life's little setbacks forced me to drop it. My goal of designing a website for myself had to wait - so in the meantime I decided to use one of the free portfolio websites. I looked at a few and decided I liked deviantArt's daportfolio. Their layout is clean and simple, and it's easy to use - great if you need a place to show your work (and you're short on time and money).

I'm still updating it as I finish new pieces, but you can click the link to check it out:

I still check up on my blog friends in my reader every so often, even though I don't get around to posting/commenting as much. I feel like such a lurker! Hope everyone's getting ready for a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Not What I Expected

What I like about homework files is you can steal from your own stuff. This summer I thought I’d be doing just that: picking favorite parts of old projects and turning them into portfolio pieces. I meant to sneak in beach trips and poolside reads, too. Let’s just say the summer didn’t turn out as I expected.

In last semester’s design class, our final assignment was to redesign a storefront using a fifties theme. Admittedly, my choice wouldn’t be hard to improve upon. Every time I realize someone gets paid to create a sign like this one, I whimper to myself a little:

The assignment didn’t go as expected. Before I began my digital renovations, my father passed away. The teacher gave me the option to skip the project, but somehow within the gust of funeral details and travel pains, homework seemed comforting.

My building makeover turned out okay, but again – not what I expected. Nothing I’d show off in a design portfolio. I planned to use the piece later as inspiration for another retro style illustration. Summer was coming and everything would be better, right?

From the first hum of air conditioning units being fired up to the drying of grasses by the riverbed, it was a weary summer. There were heartaches and legal hassles, along with family issues and life-sucking paperwork. Terms like ‘fiduciary’ and ‘codicils’ stabbed my brain behind the eyeballs. I tried to fend them off by remembering childhood friends and rummaging through old photos.

I discovered that no matter how old you are, when you’ve lost both parents you can feel like an orphan. In my dreams, everything is harder than it should be: I go to the store to buy dish soap and realize when my feet hit the cold floor that I’ve forgotten my shoes; I try to find my way home but I travel the wrong way down a one-way street, and all the exits on the monstrous freeways are out of reach.

Last week I stole a few moments to work on that illustration. Grief and paperwork can step outside for a smoke once in a while - the bastards don’t have to breathe down my neck every second, do they?

A project can be a breath of fresh air, a leisurely stroll. Say, for instance, in a newly renovated, retro style neighborhood. It’s even better if you have no expectations.

Monday, July 18, 2011

When Snails Overindulge

HOO-boy! Those peppers were spiiiiii-cy!! Sprinkle me with garlic and toss me in butter, ‘cuz I’m on F-I-R-E fire!

Phew. I knew I shoulda stuck with the cilantro.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What I've Been Up To

I did this illustration just for fun, because summer's on the way. I'm looking forward to squeezing in some beach time. I will not be squeezing into a two-piece; not even a modest one like the one pictured.

I started a new album with some of my recent illustrations. Just click on the two birds over there to the right, and see what I've been up to. Since most were class assignments, the styles are a bit of a mix, but lately I've been gravitating towards a fun retro look. I'm looking forward to adding to the album, too.

So, what have you been up to? What are you looking forward to?

Friday, April 22, 2011


Here I go tossing out a crumb, in the hope that anyone might wander over here. I just got back from a short trip where I was reminded of a visit years ago to my parents’ house in New York.

My dad had just returned from the grocery store. If my mom had done the shopping, the bags would’ve cradled items like gourmet dried salami and Kalamata olives. My Dad usually came bearing things like a drum of mayonnaise and multiple packs of Oscar Meyer bologna. But one thing my parents shared was a craving for Entenmann’s baked goods.

This time, my Dad reported, he approached the bakery aisle to hear two women arguing over the dessert items. Finally the older woman declared, in her thick Long Island-y accent,

“We’d beddah get a crumb cake for a BACK-up!”

I don’t know why, but we found the idea of a backup crumb cake absolutely brilliant.

There’s dessert, and then there’s backup dessert.

Oh yeah.

Now that I think of it, that might have been the summer I coined the term “breakfast dessert.” As in: “That was a delicious cheese omelet. What’s for breakfast dessert?”

And while I’m on the subject of desserts, here’s an Illustrator drawing I finished recently:

It was one of four pieces of mine that my teacher chose to include in the student art show. One of my other illustrations won an award (and fifty bucks). Yay for me! I think I deserve a piece of pie.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Wrong Place

I’m taking an Illustrator class this semester. When the instructor showed samples of what was expected, I panicked. I’ve never actually done a drawing in Illustrator, and my first attempts made me think I might be in the wrong place.

Our first assignment was to make an illustrated graph. It could be on any subject, as long as it showed a comparison of data using illustration. As the student next to me started drawing up some lovely French fries, I struggled to make this:

Unless I could come up with statistics on paper clip catastrophes, I was in the wrong place.

The teacher worked his way around the classroom. One student had already formed a slice of pizza complete with toppings, another had a perfectly proportioned hamburger on a sesame seed bun, and the guy next to me was now coloring a box for his French fries (can you tell this class is just before lunch?). By the time the teacher came up behind me, I had managed to create this masterpiece:

Oh yeah I might be in the wrong place.

The teacher frowned. “Is that supposed to by candy?” The only lame response I could come up with was to state the obvious.

“I’m new at this.”

The teacher didn’t look surprised. What I meant was I’m really sorry for taking up space in your classroom. I wanted to redeem myself, but by the end of the class period, the best I could come up with was this sucky rose:

I’m in the wrong place, and that rose looks like it could hurt someone.

Fortunately I had time to work on this at home. It turns out when I’m not hungry or surrounded by people who’ve been using computers since they were in diapers, things start making sense to me. I might not be in the wrong place after all. Even my bees don’t look like they’d hurt anyone!

Just pay no attention to those numbers. They’re totally made up.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stuffed Love

My brothers and I were not easy on our stuffed friends. I still have a few of mine. Believe me, they won’t be crowned in any beauty competitions.

My little brother had a monkey (cleverly named Monkey) that smelled like a combination of steak and salad dressing. I don’t know what Monkey had gotten into, but I do know it’s not a good idea to go around smelling your brother’s things. My older brother had a fuzzy dog we called Risko. We had a tagline for Risko…Risko RISKS HIS LIFE to SAVE the others!! Proof that poor Risko lived up to that motto is that none of us can remember what happened to him. Wherever he ended up, he had to be carrying out a valiant rescue attempt.

I had a bear that underwent so many neck ‘surgeries’ that my mom finally had to crochet a collar just to keep his head on. I also had a stuffed chipmunk with tire marks on his tail. When your stuffed animals start resembling road kill, I think you’ve pretty much reached the pinnacle of toy abuse. The chipmunk and bear duo had the dubious honor of being my all-time favorites.

Here’s to the brave softies. They’re cute. They’re cuddly. They comfort us and keep us company. We repay them by biting off their noses and dropping them in the toilet.

We might have it rough. But it’s gotta be tough to be stuffed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Skinny White Dog

I’ve always been partial to dogs that are black or brown or a mixture of the two. I like big dogs that look a little intimidating. When we first considered getting another dog, I had in mind a black or chocolate lab.

Then one day while looking at shelter ads online, I came across a picture that seemed to have a message for me.

So I did what I had to do. I secretly stashed a leash, collar, and the exact adoption fee in cash into the glove compartment of my car, and told my family, “Let’s go for a ride!”

And then I said, “As long as we’re close by, why don’t we stop in the pet store and look at the puppies?” And, “Well, look at that, they’re having an adoption event today!”

And just like that, my desire to own a majestic and slightly imposing animal gave way to a new reality.

I was the owner of a skinny white dog.

By the time the skinny white dog was curled up in the back seat of my car and named Luna, the only thing left to do was to convince myself of the merits of having a white dog.

You know what’ll be great? I told myself. We won’t have any of those big piles of dark hair all over the place. No evil black dust bunnies gathering in the corners.

And you know what?

I was right.

It’s great not having dark furry tumbleweeds to sweep up. I don’t know how, but people always seem to be able to tell I own a white dog. They can sense it somehow.

I am thinking of brushing Luna outside from now on.

If I could just find the leash.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Kitchen Help

There must be something to learn from this. One evening I pose the question: What should I make for dinner tonight?

To which CHILD #1 (a.k.a. Daughter) responds: Nothing.
Which probably means: Please do not bother me with mundane things. I am far too busy to be inconvenienced by such pedestrian matters. Can’t you see I’m texting? Geez. U r so lame.

And then CHILD #2 (a.k.a. Son) answers: FOOD!
Translation: FOOD! What else? Can’t you see I’m in the middle of an EPIC video game battle?

Die, zombie robot, die!!

(Question – Is it just me, or is it really necessary to have a being that is both a zombie AND a robot? Aren’t robots already kinda dead? Anyhoo…)

At this point THE FEATHERED ONE (a.k.a. Corfu) says:

Translation: Pizza! Pizza pizza pizza pizza! PEEEEEEEEEEEEEET-Zuh!!!

And that outburst is quickly followed up with:

Meaning: Head rub now? Promise I won’t bite. This time. Heh heh.

And then I give up and rummage through the freezer for Hot Pockets.

NOTE: I should explain the sloppy art: I just bought new software so I can do my homework at home, and I need to learn it. So now goofing around = practice. And practice = dumb stuff I can post on my blog! Hooray!

Also, I should point out that my kids are actually pretty helpful. But boy, timing is everything. Corfu, on the other hand, hardly ever lifts a finger around here (but occasionally bites one).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Barber is In

Here we are at the beginning of a new year. It’s a relief to put the last one behind me. If last year were a hairstyle, it’d be a Mohawk: scary all around and just plain ugly in the middle.

The year wasn’t totally without highlights. There IS an upside to having your life turned upside down. You’re compelled to take personal inventories, to appreciate things differently. Nothing like being flipped hip pockets over split ends to make you sit up and take notice.

I’ve enjoyed taking classes again. After sweating out some fears in computer workshops, I took a semester length class (got an A!). I signed up for two more this coming semester. It’s surreal to be in that environment after so many years, but I like being there. How often do people take a hard look at their lives, realize their dissatisfaction, and keep on doing the exact same things? It’s like watering a dead plant every day and hoping an orchid will pop up. But who am I to talk? Without a good kick in the pants, I fall into the category of stick waterers.

Being forced to set aside writing/illustrating pursuits brought an unexpected revelation, too. Even though I enjoyed what I was doing, I had a nagging feeling I wasn’t representing myself in a very authentic way. I doubt nagging feelings lead to wild success and utter bliss, so I’m okay with letting it all simmer on the back burner for now.

That leaves me with a question -what to do with this blog? It hangs in the blogosphere and in the back of my mind. I miss the camaraderie. I just haven’t quite figured out a way to keep it up.

So, no resolutions …just faith that this year is going to be better. It’s off to a pretty good start. I’d say so far it’s more like a bowl haircut: kinda funny looking, but ready for that awkward growing-out stage.

Happy New Year. Hope it has the right amount of bounce to it.