Friday, December 07, 2007

Illustration Friday - the Zoo

Dad and me in back, Margo and Zamara in front.

Zamara being irresistibly cute.

I was busy the week of this assignment, busy in the best of ways - my daughter, Margo, and granddaughter, Zamara, visited me from New Zealand. We had Thanksgiving together, then visited my father in the south of the state. While I was there I drew my zoo illustration - and started to catch pneumonia. By the time we got back home I felt pretty crummy. I spent the weekend getting sicker, but Monday morn I made it to the doctor, got meds, and have been gradually recovering... as the visit of daughter and granddaughter drew to an end. Wednesday they were off to the airport. Thursday I rested.

Finally, over a week late, I have the energy to post my wee sketch: Zoo Giraffe, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", colored pencil on tempera.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Illustration Friday - Scales

When I think of scales, I think of snakes.

Or I think of dragons.

Or fish.

I avoid thinking of the scales for weighing, even though my weight now is acceptable. Old patterns of thought die hard.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Illustration Friday - Hats

Oops. Friday arrived again with a new topic before I was ready for it. I didn't make anything new for last week's topic, but I could have, at least, posted this something old. This was an ATC that got lost in the mail - it never did show up.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Illustration Friday - Trick or Treat

This is an atc I did a year or two ago. Since I titled it "Trick 'r Treat" it seems perfect to use here, especially since I'm feeling a bit too lazy to make a new painting to the topic.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Illustration Friday - Grow

"Grow" ink 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"

Watch the family grow. I finished this before the midnight hour, but it was late enough when I finished that I fell asleep in my chair instead of coming into the office to post it to Illustration Friday. Oh well.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Illustration Friday - Extremes

"Extreme Danger" colored pencil and ink on tempera 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"

By golly, I completed my illustration on time - well, at least before they changed the topic - this week. Good for me!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Illustration Friday - Open (2)

My idea for last week was not clever. Instead, it was literal. The jar of spaghetti sauce is open. But I cannot always be clever. Nor always on time. That's life.

"Ragu", 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", acrylics and ink.

Illustration Friday - Open

Well dang! I'm one week and five minutes late, but I was planning to try to get into IF anyhow - but Blogger won't upload my painting. "We are aware of the problem, and working on it," the note tells me. That's no help.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


One of the bright spots of my down time came when Danny gave me a creative blogger award. I feel quite honored to receive it. :-) Thank you, Danny.

The rules say I'm to pass the reward along to 6 other deserving people who might appreciate the award and pass it on. Here's my list:

1. Princess LadyBug
2. Forever Young
3. Faeorain
4. Kelli
5. Jamie
6. Cindy

All these folks add richness to my life with their blogs.

Catching Up

I haven't posted for a while, mainly because I've been sick. Being sick, I didn't have much energy, and fell behind on Illustration Friday too. Thankfully, now I feel much better, and have been catching up.

One of the Illustration Friday topics that I missed was "Wedding". Now I've got an entry - about 3 weeks late - for that.

This was an ATC (2 1/2" X 3 1/2") done in acrylics and ink. Its title is "Wedding".

Another topic that I missed was "Blues". I did a kind of doodle for that.

This also was an ATC (2 1/2" X 3 1/2") done in acrylics and ink. Its title is "Spoons".

I'm going to skip the juggle topic.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Illustration Friday - Visitors

When visitors are expected, I'm never ready on time. When the doorbell rings I'm still vacuuming, clearing the table, changing catbox litter, and hiding dirty dishes in the dishwasher. But this woman is ready. The house is clean, dip and drinks are ready, and she's at the door, looking down the road, in hopes that she will soon see her visitors.

ink, 4" x 6".

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Illustration Friday - Emergency

I wasn't coming up with a good idea for this week's IF topic, so in an emergency, you go to your files of old art. LOL! This was done a couple of years ago, and was titled, "Run".

When I was a kid I looked out at Cottonwood Creek one summer day, and it was filled with enormous fish - fish 2 1/2 or 3 feet long! Usually I just caught little perch. I was filled with awe, amazement, and a burning desire to catch one of those monsters! I turned and ran as fast as I could for the house, to get my fishing pole. I remember feeling as if my feet were mired in mud - I was so excited, and just could not move fast enough!

I didn't catch any fish, though. I threw my line out - sometimes I even draped it over one of their backs, but they were not interested in my flies, my spinners, or even bait.

Dad told me later that those were carp, and were in the creek all the time. For some unknown reason they all rose to the surface that day. It never happened again, and in all twelve years we lived there I never caught a carp.

2 1/2" x 3 1/2", acrylics

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Charity auction

Do you like good deals? Would you like to help a charity? If so, you might be interested in this on-line auction for muscular distrophy:
They have some unique items.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Illustration Friday - Missing

I've got two ideas here. First, the jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. Second, endangered animals disappearing from the world, because of mankind. For example the Sumatran elephant is endangered largely because its forest habitat is being destroyed and replaced by farms.

acrylics and ink, 4" X 6".

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Illustration Friday - Moon 2

Moons ^

I had so much fun with spray painting the paper clips, that I tried spray painting some space art too. Both are 4" X 6" postcard size. Which do you like best?

3 Moons ^


About a month ago, this fellow was lounging in my front yard, so I took his picture. He looked to be about 4 feet long. I bugged him until he slithered back out through the chain link fence, which is a good thing, because my dog tends to kill intruders. I think he is a king snake or a bull snake? I just recently got around to uploading the photo.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Mostly I’m not too fond of being tagged, but this exercise isn’t too bad.

The Rules:

1. First, post these rules.
2. Post 8 random facts about yourself.
3. Write a blogspot about those facts.
(Actually, I’m not sure I see the difference between #2 and #3).
4. Tag and name 8 more bloggers.
5. Tell them that they’re tagged at their blog.

But I’m going to ignore #4 and #5. If you’re reading my blog, and would like to do this, consider yourself tagged. If you’d rather not, feel no obligation.

Eight Random Facts About Me

1. Occupation: Before I retired, for 37 1/2 years I earned my living as a high school teacher. For 37 of those years I taught at the same school, Lodi High. I taught English, art, ceramics, and English as a Second Language - mostly English and English as a second language. I loved teaching, because I was never bored while the students were there. It was always an exciting experience to go to work. I retired at age 61, for health reasons - but teaching was becoming so restrictive (teach this lesson, this way, at this time - and if any student doesn’t learn well you are liable to be sued) that I felt a little relieved to quit. My average work day as a teacher was about 12 hours long, and I generally put in another six or ten hours during each weekend.

2. Retirement: I love being retired. The two best things about retirement are that I can go to the bathroom any time I feel the urge, and that I am no longer exhausted (I’d been exhausted for most of my life from the time I entered college to the day of my retirement). Now I can take naps!

3. Marriage: I was married for 25 years. I’ve only been married once, though Bill went on to his third marriage immediately after our painful but amicable divorce. Bill died last year, so now I don’t know whether I am a divorcee or a widow.

4. Family: I have one daughter, who is intelligent, hard working, and has a loving heart. She is married, and lives in New Zealand with her husband and my granddaughter, who just turned one. I also have two middle-aged step sons. The older, Will, lives in the midwest and I rarely hear from or see him or his wife and girls. The younger, Ron, lives a little over an hour from me. He has a wonderful wife and four intelligent and delightful children, whom I am privileged to see more frequently. I have a wonderful sister who is a lawyer in Connecticut.

5. Parents: My mother died May 8, peacefully in her sleep, at age 86. She is survived by my stepdad, Larry, with whom I eat out 4, 5, or 6 times a week. My father is still alive at age 90, in Lancaster, California, and he and his wife Audrey go out dancing once or twice a week. Dad says he doesn’t need his walker when he’s dancing, because he can lean on his partner.

6. Pets: I have one cat and one dog. The dog, Jet, is an outdoor dog, a black lab, mainly. The cat, Piddles, is an indoor cat, a calico, who sleeps with me at night, sits on my lap when I’m at the computer, and hides when company comes. Piddles is doing her best to coat my house and all its contents with cat hair.

7. Home: I live in the country, in a semi-rural area between Lodi and Stockton, California. I’m a terrible house keeper. My house is always a mess, and I honestly have no interest in cleaning it. But if I know you are coming to visit me I’ll clear a path so that you can come in, sit down, and go to the bathroom if needed. If you’d like to stay over night, we can manage that too - I have a mattress leaning against the wall in my guest room, even though I no longer have a bed to put it on.

8. Life style: Sedentary. I stand and walk from computer to bathroom to couch. I turn the pages in books. I lift small paint brushes. I push buttons on the television remote. That concludes the list of exercises I do daily.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Illustration Friday - Moon 1

Here's a couple of moon images I painted as ATCs a year or so ago.
Both are acrylics, 2 1/2" x 3 1/3".

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Illustration Friday - Poem 2

This is my first attempt at spray paint art. I did it to illustrate the rhyme below. It is 2 1/2" x 12".


by Focus

© 2000 Focus, all rights reserved

Lengths of silver wire, bent but strong,
They hold together papers that to me belong.

My pockets all are bulging with paper clips.
I wiggle 'em and jiggle 'em 'tween my fingertips.

There is a world of things these clips can do.
Myriads! Let me explain a few to you.

Bend some clips and twist 'em so they're sharp and poke
Then leave on chairs to startle unsuspecting sitting folk!

Clips can clean your fingernails, clean your toenails too.
Clips free stuck computer disks, open mice gummed up with goo.

Clips set hair in pincurls, or a clip may part your hair.
Or, like barettes, they style it! Use clips everywhere!

Clip up hems that tear out. Clip the latch that wriggles free.
With a clip you pick the lock when you've mislaid the key.

Press a clip into soft clay, to get textures fair.
Get some clips just to keep. Get some clips to share!

Clips make office jewelry, like bracelet or like ring.
Clips make shiny necklaces, all hooked up in a string.

Jumbo clip can be a compass. Hold your finger at one end,
Then swing the other end about with point of ballpoint pen!

Use a clip to measure. A small clip's near an inch;
So if you don't have a ruler use a clip in a pinch.

Paperclip the cloth unto the pattern when you sew.
Use a clip as bookmark so your place you will know.

Clips make handy tools. Use a clip to punch a hole!
Use paperclips to hold a waving flag atop its pole.

Clips gleam in silver pattern on a crafty picture frame.
Lay clips out upon your desk to spell your lover's name.

Use a clip to make a handle for a paper cup.
The cup may leak a little, but you can pick it up.

A clip may be a weapon, hurtling through the air.
(Naughty boy with rubber band is who shot it there.)

A clip can bend into a toy for a child to flip.
It can be a pull for broken zipper, so that you can zip!

A clip can be quite stylish! Make a fringe on skirts or shorts.
Use clips as hooks for buttons - it really takes all sorts!

Cut it, and put a worm on. Use it as a hook!
Then bake the fish with recipe clipmarked in your cookbook!

A clip can push back cuticle. A clip can scrape off paint.
A clip can be a halo for handcrafted Christmas saint.

Use a clip to mend your glasses. Use a clip to make a spring.
Use a clip as inspiration for a song you want to sing.

Clips have added to our language. We have clipper ships at sea!
Horses trot with "clip clops"! There are news clips on TV!

Clips are metal or they're plastic; clips are big or small.
We have a close relationship. I love them, love them all!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Illustration Friday - Poem 1

So the word for Illustration Friday this week is "Poem". I notice most folks are illustrating a specific poem, rather than the general concept of poetry, so I decided to do the same. This is a poem I wrote about 5 years before I retired, rather a dark period of my life.


by Focus

© 2000 Focus, all rights reserved

Tired, I stumble to shower.
Tired, drive yawning to work.
Tired, drag home to grade papers,
Tired, and slightly berserk!

Tired, I answer phone's ringing.
Tired, tell slick salesmen "No Thanks."
Tired, "No, this is wrong number."
Tired, I growl at phone pranks.

Tired, I balance bank statement.
Tired, sort bills in tall stacks.
Tired, appease bill collectors.
Tired, I write out the checks.

Tired of my worry, and weary.
Tired of dark blame thrown my way.
Tired of dirt, dust and laundry.
Bone tired, in a life gone dull gray.

And here is the illustration I just did for the poem:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Illustration Friday - Geeky

Geek training should begin early. Indeed, geek training for my granddaughter has already begun. Less than a year old, she already has her own keyboard! Obviously, the black t-shirt with pocket protectors comes later.

acrylics, 4" x 6".

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Illustration Friday - Twist

Predator & Prey, colored pencils and ink, 4" x 6". The prey twists and turns, leaving twisted streams of bubbles in his wake, as he tries to escape that vicious predator.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Illustration Friday - Camouflage 2

This topic is right up my alley! Here's another of nature's camouflaged animals: Jaguar, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", acrylics.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Illustration Friday - Camouflage

I'm often impressed by the lovely camouflage nature creates. As an artist, I find myself doing things to decrease the effectiveness of nature's camouflage, so that the image shows up better. For example, in this painting of a bobwhite, I added a touch of green to the background to make the bird stand out better.

Acrylics, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2".

Illustration Friday - Rejection

This one is really late, and I'm not terribly pleased with it at that. I like the concept, just not thrilled with my rendition thereof. Still, it was fun to paint. It is titled "No More", was painted in acrylics, and is 4" x 6".

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Illustration Friday - Suits

"Suits" was not a topic I found inspiring. Looking at everyone else's work, I was impressed by other artists' cleverness and skill and originality - but my own product is disappointingly mundane. Oh well, at least I did something. The work was done with colored pencils and ink.

Computer Art?

Last week I had a frustrating experience, attempting computer art.

The Illustration Friday topic was My Paradise, and I worked on it all day. My idea of paradise is being surrounded by nature and loved ones. So my idea was to pull a photo I'd taken of a beautiful landscape in Alaska, then use it as a background, putting photos of myself and family here and there among the trees, and perhaps toss in a few birds and animals I've painted as well. I was totally unable to succeed in that endeavor.

The first problem was that although I found my Alaska landscape in iphoto, I simply could not figure out how to get it OUT of iphoto. I couldn't even manage to see it large within iphoto! All I could get was different arrangements of thumbnails. Grrrrrr. Finally, after hours of frustration, I gave up on that idea and attempted to simply make a wreathe of family members. At the end of the day I did have something - but it was definitely NOT anything I liked.

Consequently, you see no lovely computer art image here on the topic of Paradise. Now I have a new vision of paradise, which includes my understanding the programs on my own computer. Far out vision!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Illustration Friday - Cars 2

I finally finished this more realistic painting of a car. I snapped a photo of this volkswagon (with a different license plate) in a parking lot, and decided to paint it. The painting, VW, is 4" by 6", and done in acrylics. I've never owned a VW, but I think they simply look like a car should look.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Illustration Friday - Cars

I don't often do cars, but I do have these two in stock. The ink on pink doodle is "Jalopy", while the one done with markers is "Road Trip". I'll put these up for now, but perhaps I can do another car in paint this week.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Illustration Friday - Signs

This painting is entitled "Burma Shave". It honors the little signs which used to be placed along the roadways to entertain (and elicit business from) travelers, but which have now faded into the sunset. There would be a short poem, a few words at a time, painted on little signs in a series of 5 or 6. We'd all read every sign aloud as we passed. You young folks who don't remember can read about them here: and see some examples of the rhymes. They were fun, and I miss them.


My Mother died May 8. She passed away peacefully in her sleep, at age 86. She was an important part of my life. I'll miss her. But I know she was ready to go, and is now in a better place, where pain no longer exists.

Above is the last picture taken of Mom and me. It was snapped at Larry's birthday luncheon, a little over a week before Mom died. My mother is the one wearing the bright red sweater.

For the last couple years of her life, Mom suffered constant pain and discomfort. Worse, because of her amputation, she had lost her independence, and she hated that. But she was a courageous woman who rarely complained. To the last day of her life she strove to be cheerful, and to express her love for her family.

One way she expressed her love for me was by showing interest in my art. She really did NOT have an artistic eye, nor did she have much love or understanding of fine art. But she did know I like art, and that was what mattered to her. She always wanted to see every piece of artwork I created. Toward the end, her macular degeneration made it difficult for her to decipher the art I showed her, but she still wanted to see. And that motivated me to create as much art as I could - I needed to have something to show my mother when I visited, or she would worry about me.

She was a big worrier. When my daughter Margo flew across country to visit a pen-pal friend, Margo made a joke of that, sending an "arrived safely" letter that said something like,

Dear Grandma Margo,
I was not kidnapped. My plane did not crash. I did not get lost. I have arrived safely.
Please send cash.

We all laughed about that note, but Mom still worried, all the time, about the people she loved. I will miss having her prayers and caring at my back.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Illustration Friday - Neighbor

The Robert Frost poem, "Mending Wall", says "Good fences make good neighbors". A variety of annoyances and of good things have passed over our fence, but mostly we each keep to our side nowadays. Mostly I just see the top of my neighbor's graying head.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Illustration Friday - Remember

"Tropical Memories" is done with Sharpie Markers on bleached photo paper. I was thinking of the two years I spent in Barbados, specifically, though I think the images are vague enough to represent any tropical site.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Illustration Friday - Polar (done)

Okay. This iceberg painting looks polar to me - without being a bear. And, for once, I finished it in time!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Illustration Friday - Polar

Oh my! The Illustration Friday topic for this week is "Polar". I've already painted so many polar bears that it is VERY tempting to just go with one of them.

But I think perhaps I'll try something else.

Illustration Friday - Green

As usual, my Illustration Friday art was finished a week late; but at least I finished it. I think I'll skip the "treasure" assignment that was due yesterday, and attempt to get back on schedule.

Friday, April 06, 2007


The movers came last week to collect Margo’s goodies. She had a lot of goodies. I was impressed by how carefully each thing was wrapped. I was impressed by what a big stack the things made when boxed and stacked in my living room. I was impressed by how little space they filled in the truck. I was impressed by how much room I had when everything was gone!

There were three men. One was deligated to stay in the house, pack little stuff, and wrap it. He worked quickly and very steadily. The sound of taping is a sort of rasping sound - and I heard it steadily the entire time they were here.

It took all three of the guys to get the piano out to the driveway. Two of them stayed out to wrap the piano, and those same two carried out and wrapped the clock.

The inside guy pulled the recliner apart to wrap it in two separate pieces. I didn't realize recliners are made to come apart like that!

The inside guy had to make each box. Then he put paper inside. He wrapped the goodies in paper, and put them inside. When it was all packed, he closed the box. He even wrapped the boxes that Don and Margo had already packed!

As each box was readied, he stacked it on top of the previous box. The stacks grew, and filled my living room.

Once the outside guys finished wrapping the piano and clock, they started carrying boxes out to the truck.
Next they stuck labels on the boxes, according to which room they'd come from.

When everything was stacked outside and ready to go, they began to load it. The piano and bedsprings were the last items to go onto the truck.

I'm not sure how to flip the photos, especially as they were upright until I posted them, so turn your head, okay?