December 30, 2007

Must be the 'triple weekend effect'...

So this is relaxation... the transformation of a formerly upright & workaday mind into a post-holiday blob without definition. Feeling quite a bit like a leftover plate of dried out Xmas cookies lost in the fog. Entirely too much eggnog too.

You know you've had enough Holiday cheer when you're no longer certain if today is Thursday or Sunday. I think the workaholic in me is having a nervous breakdown from all the enforced leisure time!

It's like one of those dreams where you're trying to get somewhere but never arrive... paddling in slow motion through a swamp of obstacles. Must be the 'triple weekend effect' of the last weeks.

December 24, 2007

Let's go see some salmon!

Here in the Northwest we do love our salmon. Let's go see some! We're off to the 'Locks'. That's where the water from the gigantic freshwater Lake Washington & Lake Union meets the Puget Sound.

Boats and ships of all sorts go through the locks to get to dock. And there's lots of wildlife around too.

Here's a little Kingfisher with polka dot feathers. It's almost impossible to get this close to them anywhere else, as they are so skittish. In March there is a nearby roosting tree where dozens of giant Blue Herons all nest in one tree. It's really quite a sight.

This freshwater is the gateway to many salmon that swim back from their 4 years in the ocean. I guess it's sort of like college for them. They want to return home after 4 years.

I luv this sculpture that is installed here. Usually public sculpture misses the mark, but this one is fabulous.

Fall is the best time to see the salmon. But there's usually some all year round.

It's a mesmerizing sight watching the giant salmon slowly swim past. They're getting acclimatized to the fresh water. Just imagine all the places they've been...

December 20, 2007


Why not smile a while? The Xmas chore is nearly finished! Hooray! Now I can relax and work on more book ideas...

Let's go through the Holiday chore list:

Holiday cards: check
Christmas letter written & sent: check
All 12 impossible Holiday gifts chosen, wrapped, boxed and sent: check (no line at FedEx ground!)
Tree up: check (took two trips in the rain)
Lights up: check
Christmas cookies imbibed: check
Sherry on standby waiting for sundown: check
Multiple trips to department stores completed: check
Multiple online gifts hidden away: check
Gift baskets launched online to distant recipients: check
Multiple trips to small local stores: check
Eggnog on standby: Soy egnnog! check
Holiday music loaded into iTunes: check
Holiday movies rented: check
Holiday monkeys now almost all off my back: check

As you can see... I'm nearly done.

These are some spots for a new book concept I've been pondering. And I'll use them for promotion too... even if the book idea doesn't sell. I luv digital art! The avenues for escape seem to be nearly infinite.

Who knows, maybe some bored art director or editor is clicking around blogs online instead of madly rushing through the stores trying to finish up Holiday shopping! lol!

December 15, 2007

Christmas! It's such a chore!

Basically Christmas is the one holiday of the year with the most urgent deadline. Just what the busy freelancer needs... one more deadline!

It all starts with the guilt and the procrastination... which feed off one another for weeks of pre-holiday brooding. Then when denial won't work anymore, the actual shopping must begin.

This is, of course, a nearly impossible task of searching for that one missing link that will fulfill the recipient's life. Can't be done... even after weeks of brain wracking. The perfect gift remains elusive. But we compromise. Often just buying the first thing you see is the best strategy.

Then come the letters... the standard Christmas Letter. And then the individual letters...

And finally we arrive at the Herculean task of wrapping and addressing. That's an all day job right there... sorting out the wrapped presents. Trying to find the boxes they'll fit in. And then wrapping and addressing them... takes forever.

One is soon on the floor, surrounded by bits of brown wrapping paper that aren't quite long enough to wrap all the way around. And tape that sticks to itself more quickly than sticking to anything else. A frustrating sticky mess! Did I remember to put everything inside? Which box goes to which person? Ugh!

Now comes the mailing... hoping you've met the ticking deadline clock of the countdown to the big day.

My little holiday mailing secret is FedEx ground. Usually there's no line at all and it gets there in 3 days or so and you can track it's every step along the way. And it doesn't cost that much extra. Needless to say the post office line at this time of year will drive a person Postal!

Then comes the Holiday itself.

It's all those family relationships that make the Holidays such a trying time. Each year that same glaring emotional spotlight of the holidays shines all too brightly, probing the hidden places that I'm happy to just leave out of sight.

Next comes the trial of the gift exchange. I think the best metaphor for that is an intercontinental ballistic missle exchange! One answers each received volley with matching armament, and hope the desired effect is achieved!

I can offer up thanks to Amazon and online shopping for the push button ease of long distance Holiday gift exchange... I don't know how anyone could survive without it.

Ho Ho Ho... Bah Humbug!

I can't wait till the Xmas chore is all done so I can relax and watch the lights blink on the tree and enjoy a quiet eggnog & brandy.

Honestly I don't know why I keep doing it year after year. Most of my family doesn't bother sending me letters and wrapped gifts and all. Maybe just a phone call will be the perfect gift next year. But I'll probably go through the whole thing again all over.


December 9, 2007

The Artistic Brain vs. the Logic Brain

You know you're probably not working with all cylinders when it takes 3 tries to get the Blogger codes typed in correctly. I suspect that after the second failure, the computer signals to send up the 3rd grade code this time, so the persistent moron (me) can finally get through.

I've been fascinated, of late, by the phenomenon of the artistic brain vs. the logical brain.

Thinking about it, I'm a living example of this basic divide of intelligence.

I flunked college algebra 3 times... but I was at the very top my class in Geometry, where I excelled almost without effort. Although I prefer to forget everything I can remember about flunking college algebra 3 times, I remember with glowing pride how the geometry teacher would call me up to solve the real sticklers.

After all the other poor students had run out of ideas, she'd say "John, will you solve this for us please?". Then I'd waltz up to the blackboard with a prideful smugness to demonstrate how easily the various arcs would intersect to provide the correct solution to the problem.

Hard to believe its the same person who can't do Algebra. But it's good to be good at something. It's just how to make money with the Artistic brain... that's the real stickler.

December 8, 2007

The 'Beret Effect'

Whew! One must wear many hats in this line of work! I am amazed at how much time I seem to spend just scheming... instead of actually just enjoying making art... or writing.

By scheming I mean figuring out the next move in sending around dummy books, writing cover letters, making mailing lists, putting together promotional cards, printing mailing labels, working on one's web site... and probably one of my least favorite hats, changing the domain registrar of one's web server!

That one really bites.

But seeing that its wintertime, I'll talk about some real hats that keep one's head warm. Like my beret.

It's true that there exists a very real phenomenon known as the 'beret effect'. I doubt it's entirely in my imagination.

I have noticed that when one simply switches one's hat from the standard baseball cap to the wintertime beret, people act differently towards you.

Old ladies smile more readily on the sidewalks, as a sign of seasonal cheer.

The women at the grocery store seem to look up when they see a beret go past in the avacado section. And most alarming of all, the lady cashiers seem to grab one's hand and press the change & receipt into one's hand.

It's true... I'm not just making this up.

Of course the men mostly look at you a little funny... sort of like you're a harp playing choreographer. I don't get what the big deal about a beret is. It's not like I have green hair, or umpteen nose rings or tattoos. It's only a little beret.

I suppose it's that people imagine I'm an artist. That must be it.

But they don't have to imagine... I really am one.

December 2, 2007

The weather has turned inclement...

Here the weather has turned inclement...

Might even keep the postman from getting through on his appointed rounds... I notice the postmen aren't what they used to be.

But the cat knows where things are still hot & summery! She's secure at the top of her food chain after all!

Today it's just pouring down a miserable mix of gloppy rain & snow.

When the Lewis & Clark company arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 1805, they had never encountered such miserable weather. By all accounts they could hardly wait out the winter they spent here, until they could once again return to sunnier climes.

It's the damp humidity... that's what makes it so miserable.

November 29, 2007

A little ART film...

I know my blogging has fallen off of late... what can I do? I'm out of ideas! Yes, the bottomless pit has run dry.

Although I'd like to claim it's because my inner soul is trying to hibernate, I can only make feeble excuses. But here's just what you've been waiting for... an ART film!

I've been playing around with iMovie and my ancient Oympus Camera, which really isn't much of a movie making device. But it's mostly just for fun.

My only hope is that the viewer won't fall asleep halfway though. It was filmed down at the Montlake Fill, a wild place that used to be a dump, but now it's like a place in the country, even though it's quite nearby. And it's filled with wildlife... amazing birds & critters of every sort..

red tailed hawks,
harrier hawks,
bald eages,
golden eagles,
canada geese,
downy woodpeckers,
wood ducks,
virginia rails,
blue winged teals,
box turtles,
soft shelled turtles,
and giant great blue herons....

And crows, of course... lots of crows.

(actually I do have some new ideas... but like they say, Bees make honey in the dark)

November 25, 2007

Out & About... Looking at Art!

It's time to be out and about! Gallery hopping with my brother Dave, who is a fine artist. These are some of the steep downtown hills. Seattle's downtown was built directly on an earthquake escarpment, hence the sudden change of altitude.

A downtown waterfall! How unexpected...

Finally, some Art. Let's give it a proper look now... very interesting!

Better and better! I luv it!

This is good too! I'd have never thought of that.

And finally a Museum exhibit. Something to think about... well I guess it's home to my acrylics for me.

November 19, 2007

Some things I like...

I like the sound of storms outside when snug under a blanket...
and the smell of Christmas trees inside on the first day.
I like the light indoors in the evening on snowy days... and of course I like snowy days in general.

I like the smell of pancakes on Saturday mornings...
Saturdays in general... a day without any obligations and you know there's another weekend day behind it... (though I can't abide Sundays for some reason)

I like the smell of freshly painted empty rooms... with newspapers on the floor... especially when mixed in with the aroma of brewing coffee
and one very peculiar feeling that I absolutely relish is being trapped in a room behind large boxes or the refridgerator (like on moving day). I've read that autistic people like that too...

I like opening cans of coffee and remembering things I haven't thought of in years...
I like brand new shiny bicycles... and new tennis shoes...
I like how chocolate bars look when they're all wrapped up in shiny foil and unopened... they're almost like gold bullion

I like how the grass smells after it's cut...
I like when the bird feeder gets crowded with dozens of excited birds
I like my hummingbirds... I like everything there is about hummingbirds

I like the warm rattly sound that the fan in my electric room heater makes on days like this.

November 13, 2007

New Year's Resolution Checkup

Well the year is almost up and it's time to check up and see how I did. *The resolutions are marked with an asterisk:


*I will use only the freshest brand of Wax Paper.
(check - this I achieved with little effort)

*I will spend more time painting on canvas and think BIG.
(half check - I could have painted more. I've put Donald Trump's book on hold 'How to Think Big and Kick Ass'... maybe that will help)

*I will work harder to avoid all nagging details and keep after my dreams.
(half check - could have tried harder. The Devil is in the details...)

*I will paint my way through the forgotten back roads of the West, driving a 1947 Ford. I will sleep in the back seat and eat at picturesque diners.
(no check at all, Dang! And this one sounded really good too.)

*I will search looking for landscapes to capture on canvas in simple shapes with no more than 3 simple colors.
(half a check)

*I will spend two weeks in a moss covered woods, watching owls... I will keep a campfire going day and night.
(check - I did spend 3 days in the moss covered woods... and I saw some owls!)


*I will spend more time living in the past and only occasionally drift into the present.
(check, check and re-check)

*I will wear plaid shirts or blue cotton shirts for weeks on end.
(check - this I achieved with little effort. Boxers changed more frequently, of course.)

*I will unplug my telephone and look for wooded property in the country... with a view.
(check - I did scan the real estate listings. Phone is frequently left off hook.)

*I will visit Paris and London dressed in corduroy and visit out of the way museums and cafes.
(no check at all. And this one sounded really good too.)

*I will move into a houseboat with a mysterious, attractive foreigner who speaks only dutch
(no check at all, Dang! I knew this one sounded too good to be true!)

*I will finally get a new futon frame to put in the basement and toss out the old couch!
(check, check and re-check. However it must be noted that I failed to paint the south side of the house. Must leave something for next year!)

November 11, 2007

Autumnal Pix at Random

Might autumn be the most poetic of seasons?

It's pointless trying to compete with Nature with a paintbrush...

A path diverged in the Woods...

The days are short... the light is fleeting

And back by popular demand... the Totem Poles!

November 6, 2007

Ring, Ring... Don't Ring!

Ring, Ring... Don't Ring!

That's the freelancer's dilemma. When you're busy, the last thing anyone wants is one more call. When you're not busy, the telephone starts growing cobwebs and assumes the timeless pose of the Sphinx.

The problem is, there's only one of me... I'm the bottleneck in the workflow. Lately I've been working so hard my whole arm & hand ache... shoulder pains, fingers aching... you name it. All from just pushing a pencil around for hours every day.

So at this point I'm thinking definitely 'Don't Ring!'... but of course things can change so quickly.

The photos are the work of the local artists who lived in the rich rain forests of the Northwest 150 years ago. I suppose instead of just deadlines they had things like grizzly bears and cougars and marauding tribes to contend with.

Their carvings are amazing... along with their weaving, baskets, carved ivory, beadwork and all.

They lived in giant cedar houses with totem poles near the entrance... and each family had their own little room around the edges of the communal lodge.

Of course there was a fireplace in the center... must have been something living like that.
There's a gorgeous museum up in Vancouver that really does their artwork justice.

November 2, 2007

My bike ride...

The choice is simple in this line of work... excercise or die!

I choose bike riding & walking... an amiable mix. It accomadates both excercise, scenery and utility in doing errands. And it's heaven to get out of the studio after being trapped all day long pushing around pencils, erasers and wacoms.

First I go down a big hill and a mile along this bike trail...

Then go up a big hill to arrive at this fountain reminiscent of Rome... where I meditate on all of life's travails.

The outlook is classic. Faux Elizabethan mixed with an english country church. Is that Notre Dame in the distance?

A little political strife livens up the forum...

And a final bit of relaxation in a sequestered courtyard... so that's why I like my bike ride.

Nothing quite so nice as the wind in one's face, zipping along at speed, getting along somewhere.
The best way to get errands done too... getting all the frustrations of driving out by zipping
through red lights, cutting corners, sneaking up on sidewalks, going the wrong way on streets,
and generally being a rule-breaking-traffic guerilla.

It's the ideal form of excercise, since it's so much fun it requires little in the way of will power.

October 27, 2007

My Place in Publishing

That's me! You probably didn't notice... but it is me.
There, near the back... almost all the way in the back.
The one with the hat on.

The area in the lower left is reserved for 'Prize Winners'.
I didn't quite manage somehow.
The yellowish area is for 'Notable Books of Merit'. Doggone! I tried... really I did! Don't we all try our best?

Actually I think everyone in publishing has to feel fairly overwhelmed most of the time. I sure got that impression at the ALA convention last year, surrounded by zillions of books. It's almost impossible for anyone to stand out, I think.

The other photo features some of my latest rejection letters. I had a spare 5 minutes one sunny morning, and I felt like spreading them all out to take a picture of.

Sometimes I feel like giving up... but that's just par for the course. Somehow I manage to regain a new foothold and persist in my folly. I think the trick is you're supposed to enjoy the process... or something like that.

The problem is that its so easy to imagine other pursuits of folly. Follies that might be even more fun & rewarding.

October 24, 2007

The Photographer's Food Chain

The Hunters... swarming like sharks in the shallows, tripods set for the quarry.

The Hunted... a blaze of autumnal color. Like moths to the flame they come.

The wonders of Nature are everywhere... even hiding under bushes.

A serene set of sails departs for sunnier ports in the distance...