Risk Averse

I was just looking at a post on Facebook by Humans of New York. It was a picture of a nice looking guy who was dressed well and the caption said, “I wish I’d made more mistakes.”

It struck me that while I’ve made mistakes. Plenty of them. I don’t think I’ve really risked anything that really mattered. I’ve not put everything on the line for the big payoff.

I tend to play small when it comes to things that it might really matter. Because they matter. And I think that having them a little might hurt less than not having them at all.

This is flawed logic. But I think it’s the logic my heart/brain has been using.

I’m working very hard to change that.

A new idea.

One wishes that it was possible to function easily in the world without money. Alas, it is very difficult. Especially when the financial situation changes very quickly and unexpectedly.

To that end…


Please help me help you help me.

A Portrait of A Horse, Of Course, Of Course

I’m going to take a moment to check in and say, “Buy my stuff, please.”

Here is a sample drawing I did of our horse Roux (Roo):

Roux Cartoon Collage


So, I posted last time that I was selling cartoon portraits on my Etsy shop .

My friend bought one!

My first sale on there! Woo hoo!catherineCatcatCollage

And she liked it enough to get two more!

CatherineCat2 Collage

CatherineCat3 Collage


Funny Faces

I drew this picture of myself the other day.  Just a quick doodle to use as my profile picture around the interwebs.
Self portraitDSCN8915(looks exactly like me. 🙂 not bad just from memory. I guess I sorta do remember what I look like)

So, the other day I decided to goof around on my computer to calm my brain while I was anxiously awaiting the phone’s ring. I drew a picture of my friend.

Melanie  CollageAnd then one of my uncle.

Uncle Bill Cartoon Collage

And then I thought that maybe people might like to pay me to do these for them.

So I put it on my Etsy page.

Painting, Drawing and such

I made some things.

You can buy ’em if you want.

1266142_576898632372674_437709073_oFirst I cut some stencils.


1040217_655893097755301_535380557_oThen I spray painted them.

After they had dried, I brought them in to work on them some more.

1268699_656367027707908_1460302558_o 1269181_656370754374202_199199983_oThe gold paint is so shiny that I took pictures in the sun and in the shade so it could be seen.


1277759_656368994374378_1593006742_o 1277139_656435537701057_1893808608_o

Full disclosure: I kept working on this ^one after I took the group shot.




Here’s the link to my Etsy shop if you’re interested.


I’m slowly adding things.


Driving Under The Influence

The prompt from WordPress today is this:

Is there a painting or sculpture you’re drawn to? What does it say to you? Describe the experience. (Or, if art doesn’t speak to you, tell us why.)

Photographers, artists, poets: show us ART. 

So, here’s what I think about the artist’s eye.

I’m always surprised and a little saddened when I hear someone say that they aren’t an artist or don’t “get it.”  I suppose it’s at least in part because I have trouble imagining being any other way. I am hardwired to see patterns, light, shadow, colors and other arty terms almost before I see actual objects.



Each art class that I have taken has polished and refined that quality, but it really was already there. So when someone claims they don’t have that, I vacillate between disbelief that it’s even possible and curiosity at what that might be like. But I mostly come down on the side of disbelief or, at least, skepticism.

Because I don’t believe I’ve ever met a child that wasn’t an artist, that didn’t possess the “artist’s eye.”

As those children get older they enter the “critic’s eye.” Someone will tell them that the thing that they are painting or drawing doesn’t look like the thing it is supposed to be. AS IF THAT SOMEHOW IS IMPORTANT.

Gradually, that child will internalise that critic’s eye to the point where they believe it is theirs. They put away childish things and focus on artwork that skillfully recreates actual things*. Often to the detriment of their own vision.

I recently gave a short lesson to a class of 1st graders. It was about how to be an artist. We just did a short activity where we all had the same instructions (draw 4 straight lines, draw 3 circles, color in one circle. that sort of thing). At the end, even though we had the same instructions, every single one was different. This shows us that the artist and his decisions are the difference between art and, well, not-art.

Prior to my talk, I met with my friend (the teacher) to show her some projects and also loan her some books on art that I have. It was parent/teacher conference day and she was squeezing me in between two conferences. As I was zooming through my spiel, the next mom and kid showed up and watched what I was doing. I made the comment that every child is an artist. The mom said, “Yes. but are they good?”

Later, after the class activity, that same kid said something about his not being very good.

It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. And something that no 6 year old should ever think, let alone say.

I tell you this because, to me, art and artist’s eye is like a muscle. If you don’t use it, it weakens. But you can strengthen it. It doesn’t leave. There are exercises you can do to bring it back to life.

I often ask people if they have a favorite color. Or a least favorite color. This is your art muscle showing itself in its small way.


DSCN9222So this is what I know about the artist’s eye:

You have one.

Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Even you.









*I love technically skilled artwork. I just think that it often gets too much attention in schools and young people’s education about art. There is plenty of room for every kind of art. Let’s try not to exclude whenever possible.


Years ago I was reading a book about Attention Deficit Disorder and one of the things she talked about was not to always be negative about the things you struggle with. She recommended trying to put a positive spin on things. For example, don’t dwell on being bad at organization, but consider that you are really good at taking things apart and rearranging them.

I wish I was able to remember what book it was so I could go back and find out what word she used. It was a specific word for that creative disorder and reorder that some of us are so good at. It may have been an art term, but I haven’t come across it in my art studies. Over the last few years, I’ve tried to look it up in other places because I feel that as an artist and as a human my main function is to blur those lines of demarcation that are so boldly etched between divisive labels, categories, or so-called boxes.

Many (uh, all) of the these divisions are not as clear cut as you might think. There is a lot of crisscrossing and overlap if you only look a little harder. People and things that don’t fit strongly into a clearly marked box are often overlooked or rejected in favor of clarity and ease of description. Which is fine if you are willing to reject reality. Because the truth is that messy and disordered and uncategorizable is the essence of life. In life, in art, in science, and in nature you can always find things and people and behaviors that don’t follow the mainstream and the usual “rules.”

I feel that a militant stance on any one rule or set of rules usually covers a fear of the unknown and where you might fit into that unknown, new hierarchy if the status quo is status quashed. Take, for example,  Art vs Craft. I understand the need to elevate the role of the artist to something beyond the ordinary. I benefit highly from that distinction and do not treat it cavalierly. The trouble comes when an artist, or a fine craftsman, as they like to say, takes skill and imagination to a place that is not inside those categories, but somewhere in the middle. I wield glue nearly as often as I do a brush or pencil. Other artists use what are traditionally considered crafts in such new and innovative ways, or at such a “high level” that they bump Craft into the category of Art.

There is plenty of room inside Art for everything. For all of it.

When I was a teen I was in love with the bartender character in the movie Cocktail. I was planning to do what he did. Bartend in the islands somewhere during the winter and back here the rest of the time. After a detour or two, I did eventually become a bartender. While I wasn’t the jetsetting bartender that I had envisioned, I did learn about mixing and pouring drinks and some of what it takes to run a bar.

I wasn’t a bad bartender. But, to be honest, I am not quite social enough to do it for very long before I get burned out. Some people are hardwired in a way that makes them ideal for it.  A really good bartender is one part accountant, one part scientist, and three parts showman, with a shot of flair and a splash of crazy. Mix with ice, shake, pour and watch the magic unfold.

But they don’t all invent new drinks. I think that a mixologist is a bartender who can envision how things might taste together and tinkers and tries it until it comes to fruition. This way of seeing is a unique gift to have. The ability to look out past the is to the can be and then to follow your line of sight out into the future is kinda magical.

That’s why I’ve decided that I already have my word for someone who mixes, blends, blurs, connects, rearranges, reassembles, remakes, creates, invents, explores, and just generally muddles things around until they are a new being.
I am a mixologist.

Bar’s open.

How To Be An Artist*

My friend is an elementary school teacher. She invited me in to her 1st grade class to give a lesson about art. The entire school (except 4th grade.grr)  is doing a study block on Great Masters of Art.  I had nearly free reign (no nudity or gore, these people are 6).

It was pretty hard to decide what to do, but I settled on an activity where I gave directions and they followed the steps and we’d see how alike or different they turned out.

After that I gave a short talk about some important things you can do to be an artist. I drew up some pictures to go along with it.

Here they are:


Ask questions.

Look at stuff. Figure things out.

Take things apart. Put things together.

Don’t forget the other side, the back, the top, underneath.



Be brave.

You don’t have to be superhero brave, just regular brave.

Someone might tell you that they don’t like your artwork because “you did it wrong.” DSCN4619

Maybe they think that the sun in your drawing shouldn’t be red.

But, art is mostly about your ideas and your imagination,

so you get to make up your own rules about what you put in it.

So be a little brave and tell them,


“I appreciate your opinion, but I like my sun red and I’m going to keep it that way.”


Be passionate.

Play. Dance. Sing.


(So you can improve at doing the things you love doing.)

Try new things.


Fill up your toolbox.

Take lessons.

Go to school.


Try to fill up your brain’s toolbox

so that you have lots of things in your imagination

to use in your art

and in your life.


The most important thing you can do to be an artist is to be you.

Robots don’t make very good artists,

because they can’t make decisions

and show their feelings in new and exciting ways.

As one of my favorite artists, Dr. Seuss, says:

“Today you are you,

that is truer than true.

There is no one alive

who is youer than you”.



*These are also good tips on how to be a human.







The child had to do a project for school on some aspect of Lewis and Clark. He chose the bighorn sheep. One of the requirements was a “visual component” completely open to interpretation. He decided that we should do a sculpture of a ram. Out of clay. Life sized.

After I vetoed the extremely heavy and ridiculously expensive clay option, we put out heads together and came up with paper mache.

This is what we made:
























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