In the End, They Always Find Me

Normally I plan my projects well in advance. As I draw one subject, the back of my mind is already hunting for the next.  My brain is always on the prowl. Forever searching for inspiration in any place it can find it. My hands greedily take it and draw, knowing where I would like a drawing to go.

Snow Leopards

Like the food snow leopards search for in a stark mountain landscape, inspiration is often elusive.  It is blown off course by the wind of a strong storm. Whiteout conditions blind your vision.  All you can see is a polar bear in a snowstorm because life steps in and hurls an obstacle into your path.

 

Black Phillip GoatDark, inspirationless days turn into sleepless nights. Drawings that want nothing more than to be realized haunt your dreams relentlessly.  One dream, in particular, left the inside of my skull hurting as a temperamental black goat tried to poison my mind.

In the end, it seemed all he wanted was to be put on paper. Colored pencil layered over watercolor on a dark sheet of paper was all it took to banish him from my mind, him and that not so innocent smile he wears.

 

ViperIn depths of winter, I find myself thinking of warmer climates. The desert often comes to mind but the occasional foray into the jungle is equally tempting. I am reminded of many hikes through such places without a single encounter with a snake.  Warnings about the dangers of those that slither met my ears, but I’ve never come across one on an adventure.  Maybe next time.

 

Earth Day 2017This winter, an unusually mild one, also brought thoughts of those in the arctic.  The large herd of Canadian caribou, whose numbers are on a slow decline, have stayed with me throughout the spring.  I worry about them, as I do all the animals I draw.  One caribou (and a hummingbird) became the centerpiece of the 2017 Earth Day drawing.

Even as I write this I know many are so tired of politics that hearing about Earth Day in our current political environment makes eyes roll.  I do understand. I’m tired of it all too.  That won’t stop me from trying to save our planet in what might already be a losing battle.  I donate part of the proceeds of my animal drawing series to the World Wildlife Fund.  The WWF works to fight the effects of climate change, protects endangered species, and works to keep less vulnerable animals from the same fate. If you would like to know more about the drawings I donate, visit my Etsy page.  If you would like to read more about the WWF or donate to them directly, please visit their website.

Stupid Cupid Had a Great Fall

They come around every year. Those holidays that really aren’t holidays. You don’t get a paid day off from work. Instead you get out of bed and head to work like it is any other day. Your kids go to school with full knowledge that they will spend their day eating candy and giving out pink heart shaped cards. Stores fill their shelves with heart shaped propaganda in shades of pastel pink, magenta, and blood red. Naked baby cherubs with cute bows and arrows stare down at you with mocking whimsical smiles. Flower shops order extra roses in hopes of enticing those of us who forgot to get our loved one a dying flower on a Tuesday. Restaurants fill to capacity with couples trying for romance, which is something that they shouldn’t need a holiday to tell them they should try for. But there it is, on every calendar known to man and womankind: Valentine’s Day.

Not all of us like this love themed holiday. The dislike is not about being single or grieving a lost love. Some of us just prefer our romance not be planned out by stores and restaurants. Sometimes, romance is pizza and beer with your partner while the kids are at Grandmas. Romance can be found in the negative space that surrounds our lives, giving us the opportunity to poke fun at such a holiday. Here are some fun ways to cope with Valentine’s Day for those of us who prefer laughter and spontaneity over glossy red heart shaped pieces of 80 pound cover stock.

1. Bring a couple bags of chocolate hearts to work. Before you put them out to share with your coworkers, break all the hearts in half. If they are wrapped in foil then wrap them back up after the hearts are broken. If people expect you to be depressed about you single status, you might as well live up to the hype. An added bonus to this strategy is that people are less likely to eat all the chocolate you brought once they realized that you touched them all. It means more Dove Dark awesomeness for you.

2. Have a chick flick movie and wine night with your other single friends and watch movies about friendship. Sometimes, all it takes to lift your spirits is good company and a bottle of red. Some good choices are “Muriel’s Wedding” and “Bride Wars”. If chick flicks aren’t your thing, “The Goonies” and “Breakfast Club” are good choices from the eighties.

3. Throw condom water balloons covered in glitter at lovey-dovey couples that pass by your home. Even if the condom doesn’t break you will still get glitter on passerby and they will be reminded of your treachery for the remainder of their romantic evening. If the condom does break, it will be an ironic reminder of the benefits of the birth control pill.

4. Put a Valentine’s Day tree in your office break room (a mini Christmas tree will work, or a droopy plant). Decorate it with headless cupids, black roses, and empty condom wrappers. You did make the condom water balloons after all. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

5. Send yourself a carnivorous plant at work. Venus fly traps are relatively easy to care for. When it arrives, caress it lovingly and water it. During your lunch break feed it some bugs you bought at the pet store. Make sure at least one person is trying to eat their lunch while you do this. Talk to it like it is the love of your life and nickname it Baby. Offer your coworker a bug to eat when you catch them staring at you.

6. You know that rotting pumpkin you forgot to throw away after Halloween? Bring it to work and set it outside the main entrance. Put a sign on it that reads “Cupids latest victim”.

7. Buy some extra small condoms. Fill them with the leftover glitter from your water balloons and tie the open end in a knot. Attach pink valentines that say “Hope your date is bigger than mine”. Give them out to random strangers.

8. Have a horror movie marathon. “Warm Bodies” is a good spin on “Romeo and Juliet” and it’s about zombies. “My Bloody Valentine” was made for Cupid’s big day. If you want something not related to Valentine’s Day then “The Bride of Frankenstein”, “Psycho”, and “The Perfect Guy” are all good examples of love gone over the deep end. Bloody Mary’s would be a good choice with this marathon.

9. Dress in all black and let your hair fall limply in your face. When your coworkers ask what is wrong, stare at them forlornly until they get uncomfortable and back slowly away. If they persist in wrangling an answer out of you, tell them you wanted your clothes to match the darkness of your mortal soul.

10. Make sugar cookies that are dyed red. Use gingerbread men cookie cutters. Before you frost with icing, casually break off random heads, arms, and legs until your cookies look like a Jack the Ripper victims. Frost the cookies, both the broken off pieces and the bodies. Neatly stack the bodies on a plate and put the body parts in a separate bowl. Put a sign next to them that reads “Stupid Cupid sat on a wall. Stupid Cupid had a big fall. All the Kings horses and all the Kings men didn’t bother putting Stupid Cupid together again”.

One Drawing at a Time

Anyone who knows me even a little knows that I am a big supporter of saving our planet from climate change. This isn’t meant to be political. It’s just the truth. I want to do what little I can to help.

penguins

I have been working on a drawing series dedicated to animals since I started my business in 2010. Since then, my photography has been added into the mix as well. It was my hope when I started the series that I could raise some awareness and help save some critters.

arabian-horse-105x16

Keeping in with that theme, I started donating 50% of the revenue from this drawing and photography series to the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF concentrates it’s efforts fighting climate change and protecting endangered animals and habitats. If you would like to know more about the WWF, please visit their website at www.worldwildlife.org.

red-fox

If you would like to know more about my animal portrait drawing series, please visit the Animal Portrait section of my Etsy page.

earth-day-2016_flattened

Now, more than ever, helping our environment feels like the right thing to do. A planet without wildlife isn’t one I want to live in. Lets give future generations a planet that is as beautiful as it is plentiful.

A MinneAdventure

It was a hot day, all those years ago, when my parents left me at my college dorm with my two new roommates. One of those women I am still friends with today, and had you told me that day that I would find a permanent home in Minneapolis, I probably would not have believed you.

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Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis

There have been ups and downs. The lowest point was my junior year at MCAD. A perfect storm of circumstances (my computer crashing and losing my entire semesters worth of work three weeks before semester end was the least of it) left me not wanting to return to school for one final year. It took a great professor to talk me down from the ledge. I would have regretted not coming back, and I would probably be back in small town Michigan working at Walmart or Quality Farm and Fleet. That lifestyle was never for me.

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Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis

The best of times ebb and flow over the years, as I have picked up some life long friends along the way. Birthdays have been celebrated. Jobs have come and gone. Apartments have been moved in and out of. Boyfriends made life better and sometimes worse. Neighborhoods have changed. I have changed too, for the better I hope.

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Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis

The Twin Cities fit my personality. St. Paul is slower paced and friendly in a Minnesota Nice kind of way, which fits my introverted side. Minneapolis fits my extroverted side, with it’s constant change and fast paced atmosphere. I love that I can get coffee at eleven o’clock at night if I need to pull an all nighter in the art studio.

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Mississippi River, Minneapolis

This summer has been especially amazing. From an eventful State Fair, to seeing people come together after Prince passed away, to walking and cycling my way around the city, and drawing and photographing everything in my path, I can honestly say that my city is amazing.

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Farm Machinery, Minnesota State Fair

Thank you, Minneapolis, for being my home for so many years. Thank you to all the amazing people I have met along the way. You have taught me a lot about myself and about life. I’m hoping the next eighteen years bring just as much enjoyment to my life as the first eighteen.

Together With Solitude

I’m not what anyone would call a religious person. I was raised in a catholic household, but do not practice the religion. Or any religion. Being spiritual but not religious (and sometimes identifying more with the agnostic persuasion)  puts me in a small group of people who don’t identify with any religion, but live our lives by simply trying to be good people. We make our own fate. We go after the things we want or need without asking a higher power for guidance. We try, but don’t always succeed, in giving as much as we take. When something bad happens, we try to do more than send thoughts and prayers to help (not that thoughts and prayers are a bad thing).

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The Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis

It’s simple really. I’ve found peace with it over the years. Wanting to see the world, but tired of trying to find a travel companion, I started traveling by myself. The solitude brought me peace of mind that I was never able to find before.

basilica-organ
The Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis

The Grand Canyon made me realize that I need to make my own happiness a priority. The Australian Outback taught me that the world is both bigger and smaller than I could ever imagine. Yosemite National Park brought beauty into my life. The companions I met in the National Parks of Utah proved to me that I can let people in and not get hurt. Alcatraz, of all places, showed me the ghosts of our past are meant to teach us to live better in the future. Live and learn.

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The Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis

Over the years, while living in Minneapolis, I have avoided seeing the many churches around the city for what they were. Religion made me uncomfortable. So many people in my past used religion to hate. Christian values seemed to give anyone the right to judge someone else as they perceived God would, regardless of the ignorant hatred it caused. It never sat right with me. I stayed away, missing the beauty that lay within.

basilica-7
The Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis

The last couple of years, I’ve been able to let go of that part of me. I realized the beauty of the architecture of my cities many churches were there for everyone to enjoy and feel close to. I can appreciate their beauty without feeling trapped by the constraints I felt from religion. Recently, I explored the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis for only the second time in 18 years of living here. It’s beauty is amazing, even for the spiritual but not religious and often agnostic person.

basilica-statue
The Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis

I’ve accepted who I am because I try to live my life well and do some good for others along the way. I’m not sure if whatever higher power that might be out there is okay with that, but I am. Having the Basilica to myself for an hour this week taught me that.

Daydreams About The Desert

The day was hot yesterday. Turns out, the heat makes me miss the Utah desert. I found my mind wandering into desert vistas. Hiking through awe inspiring sandstone formations and sun baked sand is where I wanted to be. The smell of sage and ponderosa pine surrounding my senses. Hiking until my legs shook and then hiking some more. A day dreamers paradise.

With the desert on my mind, today’s new featured Etsy listings include photographs of Arches National Park and Capital Reef National Park in Utah. Also, photographs of a textured leaf, a butterfly and a bromeliad (all taken recently while on some local Twin Cities walks and hikes).

bromeliad-2Bromeliad Fine Art Print

Print Sizes: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14

Medium: Macro Photography

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Found this beautiful bromeliad at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota. It made me smile when I first noticed it.


arches-devils-garden-5Devil’s Garden, Arches National Park, Fine Art Print

Print Sizes: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14

Medium: Digital Photography

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Arches National Park is huge. On of my favorite hikes was in Devil’s Garden. Trails along the edges of towering sandstone rock formations make for some lovely views.


textured-leaf-6Textured Leaf Fine Art Print

Print Sizes: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14

Medium: Digital Photography

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When walking around my Minneapolis, I often happen across gardens or cemeteries that I had no idea were there. This photo was taken recently in a garden a couple blocks from where I live.


capital-reef-treesCapital Reef National Park, Utah,  Fine Art Print

Print Sizes: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14

Medium: Digital Photography

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Looking back, Capital Reef National Park remains my favorite of Utah’s national parks. Perhaps is was the smaller crowds. Perhaps it was the sun setting over Hickman Bridge. Perhaps it was the cave I happened across. Or… Perhaps it was the awesome creepy dead trees and volcanic black rocks. Yeah… the creepy dead trees…


butterflyButterfly Fine Art Print

Print Sizes: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14

Medium: Digital Photography

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The Como Zoo in St. Paul converted the edible garden to a butterfly sanctuary this summer. I couldn’t be happier about this.

Patterns Of Summer

It’s a warm day in the city, but not as warm as the day before. A breeze blows benignly. A bird sings a new song. A fish jumps in a local lake. A cicada buzzes on nearby tree. They are the sounds that I look forward too every year while enduring the depths of winter.

petunia-pinkMonday mornings are calm at the gardens around the city, as most people make their way to air-conditioned office buildings. While they breath in their recycled air, I breath in the scents of petunias, lilies, and roses. Everything is green now,  as the summer flowers give splashes of pinks, oranges, yellows, and purples. I listen as a rabbit hops out for under a rose-bush, its escape likely since I have no desire to give chase.


textured-leaf-2Leaves of yellow and shades of green draw me in close, hypnotizing me with their calming patterns. Symmetrical and asymmetrical at the same time, my mind plays tricks as if they were a Rorschach test. I’m convinced Caladium leaves are narcissists, adding pink and white to their faces to gain the attention of others.


spider-webA spider web hangs loosely over a pond, accepting summers gifts in the form of unsuspecting insects. The thin skeleton of string reflects in the sunlight, but its master is nowhere to be found. The spider lays in wait for its next prey, hidden in shadow.

 


butterfly-8

Elsewhere, a butterfly rests on a leaf. It cannot hide in shadow. The wings made of blues and oranges stand out in a sea of green. There is no mistaking what it is. Its agile flight is gentle and whimsical. The most delicate of winged creatures, the patterns on its flying apparatus remind me once more of a Rorschach test. Perhaps this garden plays mind tricks on me today.


brassia-orchid-3As I wander aimlessly, something I do so rarely, I happen across some orchids. Brassia orchids, with their green spots and yellow petals.  Their scent invades my nostrils with the best of intentions, only to make me sneeze. Sneaky orchids, sending pollen my way. Perhaps they, too, work against me.  I know I sound mildly crazy, but would you rather I quote songs about summer lovin’ and having me a blast? It would happen so fast (sorry, I had to), me delving into that depth of madness. So, I’ll spare you anymore quotes from John Travolta musicals and leave you to enjoy your Summer Solstice. It truly is a beautiful day for it.

 

 

 

Freaky Fridays Featured Etsy Listings 6/3/16

When I left for work this morning, the sun peaking out from behind the occasional cloud. A beautiful late spring Minneapolis morning. This evening, however, has proved to be a gloomy and rainy end to Friday. It almost feels like autumn. Not that I mind. It put me in the mood for scary movies and a walk through the cemetery.

The walk came first. Lakewood Cemetery is the perfect location for a relaxing walk among the spring flowers and tombstones while overlooking Lake Calhoun. Even in the rain. The movies came second. As I sit here watching “The Grudge” and munching on some Pizzeria Lola, I also updated some Etsy listings.

Today’s featured listings include a couple macro photographs of flowers, a Freddy Krueger drawing, a photograph of some tombstones in a local jewish cemetery, and a photograph I took in Alcatraz prison (with my favorite number in it).

Freddy-KruegerFreddy Krueger Graphite Drawing, Fine Art Print

Print Size: 8×10

Medium: Graphite Pencil

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narcissusNarcissus Flower Fine Art Print

Print Size: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14

Medium: Digital Photography

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adath-yeshurun-cemetery-18Adath Yeshurun Cemetery Fine Art Print

Print Size: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14

Medium: Digital Photography

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miltonia-orchid-purpleMiltonia Orchid Macro Fine Art Print

Print Size: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14

Medium: Digital Photography

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Alcatraz-D-Block-2D Block, Alcatraz Prison, Fine Art Print

Print Size: 5×7, 8×10, 11×14

Medium: Digital Photography

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The Photographer And The Desert

DSC_0085My bags overflowed with hiking gear, photography equipment, and many pairs of socks. Utah’s national parks were all on my bucket list, and I would spend the next week traveling through them. I was expecting a week of solitude, photography, grueling hikes, slot canyons and expansive desert vistas, but what I wasn’t expecting was the friends I would make along the way.

canyonlands-upheaval-domeAnyone who knows me well knows I prefer animals to humans, which is why I was looking forward to seeing rattlesnakes instead of meeting new people. By the end of the first day, I already had a hiking buddy. One of those naturally happy people enjoy nature as much as I do, and share that competitive spirit that pushed us through tough hikes. While hiking up to Upheaval Rock in Canyonlands National Park, a group of teenage boys passed us while hiking. Neither me nor my new companion were willing to let them beat us to the top, so we kept pace with them. It’s what competitive people do.

DSC_0352Our next hike in Arches National Park the following day was up to Delicate Arch, which includes hiking up half a mile of steep slick rock and bits of trail that have huge drop offs on one side. It was the hardest hike I’ve ever done and by far the most rewarding. I wanted to give up more than once, but I was determined to see that arch, even after my new hiking friend and I ended up on the wrong trail and had to backtrack. Not that we minded. It’s so beautiful out in the desert that it was worth seeing a little more of it. We also realized, as most women with dirty minds do, that Arches is full of phallic rock spires. I’m not at all embarrassed as a 36 year old woman to admit that it sent us into fits of giggles.

DSC_0441As the week wore on, our companionship added two new members. I’ve traveled on many tour groups, but this was the first that had four female single travelers. Even more rare is to have so many who are so alike in interests and sense of humor. While our whole tour group was fun, those three ladies made a good vacation great. Even pestering our tour guide became an event in and of itself.

DSC_0728From waking before the sun made an appearance to see the sunrise over Bryce Canyon (in a 26 degree windchill), to playing like children Goblin Valley State Park, to spelunking and hiking in Capital Reef National Park, this years excursion into the wilderness was by far the most rewarding. Not sure how I’m going to top this one, but then I think that every year after my annual adventure vacation.