Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ticket to Paradise

I had an out-of-body experience the other day. I didn't exactly leave my body, but I seemed to leave my house. I was transported out of my neighborhood - out of the U.S! And I wasn't doing anything stronger than my first cup of homemade French Roast coffee.

I was sitting on my sofa, staring out the window, and here is a photo of my window. Not exactly a great view, is it? But I like it, I've been staring at it for the last 15 years. Just a bunch of old trees now blocking the view of my neighbors' homes and not much else to see unless a squirrel makes an appearance.

All of a sudden the view looked different. A mist was rising from behind the neighbor's house, the sun broke through after a morning rain, and I thought I had been transported to somewhere totally foreign. Somehow the view lost it's familiarity, and it looked totally strange and exotic to me. Magical. I knew it was my own neighborhood, but still, I felt like I was in a rain forest or some tropical faraway place. It wasn't that it LOOKED different to me, it WAS different. I sat there for ten minutes, knowing that I was enjoying something very strange and special.

Eventually the curtain fell, and I was staring at my neighbor's lawn again. I keep sitting on my sofa now, drinking endless cups of that French Roast coffee, waiting for this spontaneous vacation to happen again, but so far no luck. But it is nice to know that our minds have the ability to make such a drastic positive difference in how we view our situation/environment.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Trotting the Dog

I was feeling a bit blue this morning, just tired from the previous week, and not getting a good night sleep for weeks on end takes its toll. So I decided to take Suzi-Q for a walk. But that is not correct terminology. She never walks around the house (she trots) so why would she walk in the Great Outdoors? So we don't go for walks, we go for trots. Totally out of control trots. She's had 6 months of obedience training, will do anything you ask her, was awarded best doggie and used as a model for the class, etc. But take her outside, and all that training just evaporates.

Actually, I'm fine with that. When we go for our trots, it's great exercise, and she enjoys her explorations, which is what being outside is all about for us. We both come back tired and restored at the same time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The AWE-SUM Award!

This lovely honor was awarded to me by my friend Donna of The Good, Bad, and Ugly, a blog that has inspired me and given me comfort as I travel down the rocky road of caretaking.

The award comes with the very tall order to list 7 things about myself that make me AWE-SUM. Hmmmmmm. I had to think about that for a few days, so here goes:

1. I'm the world's best keeper of secrets. I never ever tell, so I have a huge library of amazing personal stories! I think this is because I am a good listener.

2. I've been able to make a living (eeeeek out a living) as an artist for the last 20 years.

3. I'm resourceful. I'll figure it out.

4. I'm persistent. I don't stop until I figure it out.

5. I'm great with animals. I love them, they love me. I also have a slightly uncanny ability to re-connected stray dogs with their owners.

6. I can't sing, but I do it anyway. This probably belongs on an Annoying List, not an Awesome List.

7. Best for last, I once saved someone from choking to death.

I was working as a waitress in a noisy rowdy restaurant during my college days. It was a very dramatic scene - the customer stood up with a blue face, clawing at his neck. He was a very big man. Ok , he was a really, really fat man. I had seen a poster of the Heimlich maneuver posted on the back of the kitchen door, and even though I had not taken the time to study it, it must have seeped into my subconscious, because I immediately stepped behind him and proceeded to try and do it. But the man was so wide my fingers wouldn't link together, and nothing happened! Meanwhile, the entire restaurant became hushed. I could feel all eyes on me. I thought, "Why doesn't someone bigger than me step up to help?" No one did. So I tried pounding him on the back, which I now hear is NOT the thing to do. That didn't work either. So I went back to attempting the H. maneuver. Somewhere in the back of the restaurant, I heard someone say, "I think she's getting it!" and sure enough, out popped a piece of steak! I don't know who was more shook up, me or the customer!

The irony of this story is that I got fired the very next week for being too slow. I was never a good waitress. But I think it's better to save someone from choking on the food than to serve up it up quickly.

The Awe-Sum Award comes with the instructions to pass it along to 7 other bloggers, so here's my list:

Claudine Hellmuth

Anahata Katkin


Gennine's Art Blog

Penelope Dullaghan

Julia Rothman

That's it for now. I'm not adding a seventh blog yet, because I just KNOW I've forgotten someone very important, and it will come to me soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

July Cover




Here's how it all turned out. I added that distracting label area just to extract some sympathy from you the viewer - it's so annoying to have to plan an illustration around a label, but an illustrator's gotta do what an illustrator's gotta do!

The big challenge with this illustration was combining the copyright-free vintage images and maintaining consistency. Unfortunately, some of the images I found were cropped, which really made it difficult to arrange the composition, unless I chose to finish the images with my own drawing. This proved to be impossible to match since the original images were woodcuts and would require more skill and time than I possessed. So I tried to solve this dilemma with backgrounds on some of the figures. I left some of the figures "out of the box" because it made for a more interesting composition, but I'm afraid I sacrificed consistency in doing so.

Nevertheless, I think using vintage images was a good way to illustrate the difficult subject matter the physicians wrote about in their essays featured within the magazine, as well as evoking the essence of memories and the past.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

July Cover - Thumbnails

Another cover for the Minnesota Medicine magazine, July issue - YAHOO! These are the 4 thumbnails that I submitted. The theme of the cover was to announce the winners and other entries of the annual writing contest. Once a year the magazine invites physicians to submit their essays reflecting their experiences in the field of medicine. This year's essays had such bleak (it seemed to me) subject matter: illness, death, abuse, violence, impact of war, difficult patients, aging, etc. But when you think about it, that's exactly what a physician deals with daily! Initially, I submitted thumbnails that were somewhat generic in outlook - just addressing the issue of a writing contest, or keeping the visuals to symbols or medical icons. That's the Pollyanna in me, I guess, the eternal optimist not wanting to face the dark side. But that was not what the editors wanted - they wanted specifics! And the thumbnail they chose was the most difficult for me to realize, the collage. (But I must say, my favorite of them). So I'll show you how I changed it around when I post the final tomorrow.