Faux Magazine Covers ala "Men In Black"

One wonderfully bright autumn day in 2002 I rallied the troops and asked (translation:begged) them to get dressed in their black suits. The light and colors were incredible that day and I wanted to get some shots of my sons outdoors. I wanted to juxtapose their dressed-up figures against the less formal landscape.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the final shots, but hey, it was spontaneous and everyone agreed it was lots of fun. The twins got dressed-up, but my oldest refused to get "dressed-up for no reason", but allowed us to use his car in the shoot. He's great, but doesn't always allow me to cajole him into my silly whims. I admire his tenacity in this matter. I did manage to sneak a photo of him in anyway(inset in top mag).

The photo-shoot took place around the time of the release of the "Men In Black" movies. Since we all really enjoyed the movies, I thought it would be fun to take a couple of shots with the boys in their sunglasses posed like the MIB characters. Having myself grown up in the Cold War Era with spies and espionage tv shows and movies like 007 and lesser known offerings, such as Dean Martin's "Matt Helm" movies, I decided to do some faux magazine covers. I had a lot of fun putting these together.


Ahh... the Perils of March

Fungi in my front yard

March is such a fickle month here in the south. One day she gifts us with a beautiful warm spring day only to take it away the next. This morning, when I let the dog out, it was sort of all grayish outside. There was a fairly heavy frost covering the ground and a misty fog lingering in the trees. I love misty foggy mornings (I suppose it is the Celt in me).

My garden shed is awaiting spring cleaning and new supplies. My gardens are calling. And my camera finger is itching to get out there and record all the simple and lovely things hiding in the grass, under fallen branches, tucked against the stone wall. I hope the weather holds out on one of the few days I can allot to outdoor fun. I'm jonesing for some sun and those tired, sore muscles that say "I accomplished good things today".

Enjoy your day whatever the weather!


Stories of Another Pig

More Pig sketches for other illustrations.

The little guy looking to the right near the top reminds me of the time we went with one of my brothers to pick up a pig he had bought. The most beautiful pig I've ever seen. He had green eyes and he was a fast (did I say fast?) runner. I wish I had video footage of my sons, my dad, my brother and me chasing that little porker down. He was covered entirely in red (and I mean red) Georgia clay dust. Along with the dog and everything else that Georgia farmer owned - and us when we were finished. I've never seen anything like it. If you have never seen red Georgia clay, then you cannot imagine the vibrancy of the scene. I'll never forget it. We did capture him finally. Hauled him to my brother's where he later broke out and ran away. Did I mention he was fast?


Always Something Else

While I'm getting the finishing touches on a client's project I don't have time to finish my newest projects or drawings. So I go back to the sketchbooks for content.

This one is from around 1997-98. These are random drawings that I do when I'm bored or stuck or lacking motivation. ANYTHING - to get you back on track or to take up time until your phone rings.

The daily stuff - dishes, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, etc and so forth - that consumes a lot of our time is an irritant. I opine that the reason there seem to be more men artists than women is because of these daily chores. Sorry men. We still do the lioness' share. What most women need are good "wives" to take care of the trash, the wiping of faces, the dinners. This would allow them to work without interruption or break the flow of the muse.

Sometimes working at home is not the best place to think and ponder; we need places to escape. People have suggested a room. Pish. Rooms have doors that can be banged on over and over again. What artists really need are retreats. Either a place they can go to a few times a year or a building unattached from the house. I have dreams of such a place. I call it "Woman Hut". I wanted to give it a more unique name. Something artsier. Something biting. But while I've been searching for the perfect label "Woman Hut" has caught on with family and friends.

"Woman Hut" will be built from found materials. I have collected bricks from contractor friends, stopped on the road to get discarded building materials, accosted demolition crews to glean a few rafters or 2x4s, etc. My brother had all his windows replaced and gave me some of the old ones. I have bought unique materials at thrift stores for a song. My daughter-in-law gave me a wonderful book - "Great Backyard Cottages" that covers a lot of ideas and styles. She is an architect and I'm hoping at some point I can persuade her to help with the design "Woman Hut". (I have three sons - no daughters - so it would be lovely to have a place where my new daughter and the girlfriends can congregate for gal-fests) I borrowed my son's copy of "A Place of One's Own" and I've also bought "Woodstock Handmade Houses" which is filled with unique abodes. Plus all the periodicals I read and peruse for ideas. So "Woman Hut" has a good start. In theory and in my mind.

I only want one room. Granted a fairly large one. I want to fit it out with a velvet sofa and brick floors. Peeling paint and washed-pickled surfaces. Crocheted scarves and oil lamps. A nice sized area for doing my paintings with a place to relax and have tea or for a model to stand/sit. My dad has a potbellied woodstove for those crisp days. Rustic meets 19th century old-money-New York. Naturally, it would need to be varmint proofed since we have lots of squirrels, raccoons and possums.

I want to hang interesting works both 2D and 3D pieces for conversation and mulling over. I want shelves for books and a small porch area - screened for summer sittin' with a hammock on one end. I would love to have a small glass-enclosed end to begin new plants and grow exotic ones during the warmer months. I don't want electricity. I want to escape there during the daylight hours. Walk out my door in the morning with coffee and lunch in tow, wave bye to hubby, and go into the woods to create until twilight.



The Best Contortionist in This Circus

We've all been there. Those times when you feel like you're the only one that can get things done. And as women we multi-task better and more than most of our male counterparts. We are the finders of lost toys, the keepers of the stuff, the tradition keepers, the memory keepers, the art curators.

I have a lot of these "poem/illustrations" that I used to doodle into my sketchbooks during times when I'm feeling too rushed. I could work through the "woe is me". It helped me to see that I am important and cherished on many different levels even if at the time I felt pressured, unappreciated and tightly wound.

I usually do my best work under pressure, but I can also get overwhelmed when faced with too many projects, chores, deadlines, etc. That is when I have to vent some of the pressure off by getting those feelings down into paper and pen elements. There they are contained. I am safe for a moment and can continue in the crazy whirlagig world we exist. I'm working on several projects now and am beginning to feel the need to draw out my monsters.

This is not very much different from the Chasing Out the Monster illustrations I used to do for the boys. Get them down and tell them to go away. Everything will be calm and peaceful after the banishment.

How do you handle your monsters? How do you see yourself in the dynamics of family, work, art, business? Are you also a contortionist? Send your comments below. I'll post them for everyone to enjoy.


Unhappy Models

When my sons were young I would ask them to pose for me. At first they were very happy to do so. They were too young to sit still for very long at that time so I don't have any finished sketches from those early sittings. Later, they would finally submit, but as you can see from the two top sketches, they didn't have to like it.

These usually only took about 30 minutes, but felt like an eternity to them. I really wanted to draw from life instead of photos, so I would beg, conjole, bribe whatever it took to get them to sit for me. I would draw what was there. I have lots of pouty sons scattered in many sketchbooks.

Below the two grouchy sons is my eldest son. This one is unique because, of my three sons, he most disliked dressing-up and posing. He never got into the theatrical aspects of it all. He was a baseball player and a scholarly sort. But I caught him in a good mood one day and he dressed up for some studies of "Rip Van Winkle". Here he is as Rip doing what Rip did best - daydreaming.

I also took some photographs of him in the get-up to use for reference later. He took it all in stride, but asked me not to show them to his friends. I believe this was his first year of high school. I kept my promise and did not show them to his friends. I don't think he'll mind if I share them now.

Now everyone is too busy to pose. I've resorted to occasionally setting-up photo shoots with as many of them as I can get in costume. I now try to get the wife and girlfriends involved. I have a really great idea currently brewing in my head that I want to get reference photos for soon.

One day I'll get all the paintings finished that I've taken these photos/sketches for. It is always good to have a large reference library of photos you've taken yourself. If there is time while you're doing the shoot, sketch out a few ideas and file those away. They will come in handy at some point. And even grumpy subjects are good for sketching.

Get out a sketch something. Paint something. Just Draw! I'm headed to my canvas now.


Chasing the Monsters Away

My sons were like every child in the universe; they were occasionally visited by monsters who disrupted their slumber (not to mention the parents much needed sleep). Sometimes these creepy night visitors had no face, no descriptive form, just the power to scare the willies out of a little boy. Occasionally they did have form, and having a mom that could draw came in handy.

The boys would come to me describing the bad beast(s) that lurked in the shadows of their dreams. It was my job to get those ugly demons down on paper for all to see. Somehow, just seeing it on paper in the light of day rendered the boogeyman useless.

I remember when Drew dictated this beast to me. He was very young and we kept revising this monster until it was definitely the one chasing him. If an outsider had been looking in, they would have likened the scene to a police artist with a prime witness; "Yes, he had great long teeth that were like a saber-tooth tiger's", "No. His nose was longer with bumps all down it", "He had eyes like a snake!', "He was completely bald with red spots on his head." So he talked it out while I drew it and voila! monster banished. As far a I know this guy never plagued Drew again.

We all have monsters. What are yours?

They come in a variety of form with a plethora of malevolence directed our way. Some are childhood creations, just like the one above. Others from young adulthood, or even adult fears. In one of my theatre courses we were given the task of writing down our monsters. We were to describe them, not draw them, just as my son did for me. Then we were asked to give our descriptions to another student who would then render in 3D the habitat/terrain our monster may live in.

It is a great way to get your imaginations going and to help bring to life the fears that plague us. It was a fantastic class. And we were all amazed by the creations placed before us a couple of weeks later.

So banish your demons. Draw them out! Say a bit to them face to face. Tell them you no longer fear them since they are just doodles on a piece of paper. If you feel the need either shred or burn the paper that your beast now lives on, do it!

What are your Monsters?


The Bride and Groom

The very lovely Bride and her handsome Groom!
I'm so proud. Again, thanks John V. for these amazing photos.


Mage Two-Sketchbook

The second wizard/mage/healer concept.
Rendered on regular copy paper using a Papermate stick pen.


Current Work

I scanned this from my sketchbook this morning. I've been working on a series of mage/wizard/sorcerer/healer images.

While I have always doodled the wonderful magical characters, I owe this stream of creativity to my baby brother. He asked me to design a wizard - complete with castle and moat and other medieval accoutrements - for a tattoo.

This image is perhaps too complicated for a tattoo, but I can distill it down a bit. My best work is stippling pen and ink which isn't far from the method used to tattoo. So, if he likes this one I'll develop it for him. I have a couple more...I'll post in the next two posts.
As always have a magical day!