Friday, July 31, 2009


Watercolor and ink on watercolor paper - 5" x 7" (NFS)

So earlier in the week I adopted a little baby girl. A latin cutie named Samira.


I'm kidding of course!

But if I did I sure hope she'd look like this!

My former coworker gave birth last year and brought her bundle of joy to work for all of us to see shortly thereafter.

Dark hair everywhere, deep brown eyes, and those chubby cheeks. Just adorable!!

Surprisingly, Samira was so well behaved. Very calm and quiet and she would smile a lot. A really wonderful temperament for a baby.

A couple months back the same coworker (who takes photography classes) had duplicate photos of her daughter spread along her desk. I asked if I could have one to try and do a portrait. I didn't get around to starting/finishing it until now! Ughh!

The challenge was that the photograph was black and white. Rather than guess the proper skin tone, exact eye color, etc., I went ahead and did the portrait in black ink with bright pink watercolor washes to keep the background interesting.

The last time I asked my former coworker how Samira was doing she told me her daughter put on weight and is becoming extremely grumpy! LOL....I guess they don't stay cute and sweet forever!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Impatiens on LSD!

It was just starting to drizzle (thank God) as I walked down Lake Shore Drive. The choppy lake to my left, a string of high-end hotels to my right.

While meandering downtown several days ago I spotted a series of colorful planters. Impatiens. Clusters and clusters of impatiens waiting........patiently! (lame pun)

The main thing that attracted me to these was the bright colors. I love the combination of orange-reds with pinkish-purples.

Reds and purples and greens oh my!

Here's a shot (above) of the impatiens all neatly lined up in their concrete containers. Look how they 'pop' against all that surrounding gray! Ooohhhhh!

Now I might have to do a painting with that color combination after seeing this.

Just wanted to share an unexpected burst of color with you all!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A sign of thanks.....

Watercolor with ink on watercolor paper - 4 1/4" x 6" (NFS)

Our supervisor gathered us on our last day and asked that we follow her. "I wanted to show my thanks," she said, herding the three of us down the narrow hall.

To our surprise, the small back room, once used for storage and books was now filled with tons of food and a banner hanging overhead saying how much we'll be missed.

My coworkers threw the three of us in our department that were being laid off a surprise farewell party at work!

There was soooo much to eat! Pizza, spaghetti, chicken, salad, chips, fresh fruit, cake, pie. And the staff took the time to individually sign a card for each of us. To top it all off, we were given a cash gift!

In all, our department must've spent close to $600 for the entire event last week! Wow!! We sure did feel appreciated after that.

Needless to say, a store-bought greeting card would NOT do. I folded a small piece of watercolor paper in half, painted the outside, and wrote my words of appreciation on the inside.

A butterfly seemed an appropriate choice for some reason. Maybe it's an excuse to use a lot of colors. In any case I wanted my department to know how much that send-off meant to me, putting as much detail in the wings as I could.

The thank you card was lovingly mailed this morning. Hope they like it!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

And so it ends.....

I was the last to leave my floor after the building officially closed for the night. How fitting. In the back room, what was left in my locker I stuffed into my bookbag. My key card and city of Chicago ID were gently placed in my supervisor's mailbox.

Everything was given one last look and I said a prayer of thanks. I'd worked here approximately two years and four months. The longest I had held a job. I was proud and grateful for that. This space became like a second home, the coworkers an extended family.

As the closing door behind me echoed in the hallway, down the escalators I went. Teary-eyed, I left my workplace for the final time. I was being laid off and yesterday was my last day.

God knows I hated that job. A major city department, we dealt with people every day. The redundant, tedious, and never-ending work. The regular homeless patrons and ex-convicts. Finding toenail clippings, pairs of underwear, and yes, even fecal matter. I won't be missing ANY of those things.

But it was a steady (though small) source of income. Working there got this anti-social butterfly more comfortable around people. It got me out of the house. Perhaps most importantly it allowed me to make some wonderful friends.

Once I left the building it all started to sink in and the tears started flowing. I didn't want the nighttime crowds walking about to see me boo-hooing so I went where I normally go on my late nights when I wanted to be alone.

Aon Center courtyard ("my spot") looking south of the Loop

The Aon Center has a very large yet softly lit courtyard that is sort of hidden from the main streets. I love it there at night because it's private and packed with trees and plants. The surrounding skyscrapers all aglow just add to the romantic ambiance.

It has been my secret safe-haven from tourists, drunk Cubs fans, or rowdy teens roaming the Chicago streets at night while waiting two long hours for my train to arrive.

And so I sat by my spot one final time thinking about things (as always) and just cried and cried and cried.

"My spot" facing north of the Loop

Before I started this job I was in such a bad emotional state of mind. A deep, deep despair. And now I fear, almost 2 1/2 years later, that I'll fall right back into it. I can feel it creeping up for me already.

I brought just two tissues thinking maybe I'd have to blot my eyes once or twice. Oh I was wrong! I went into the "ugly cry" several times. Lips quivering. Nose running. Even the back of my neck became sore.

The time finally came to start heading to the train station. Still in the courtyard, I once again said a prayer of thanks, this time for keeping me safe on my late nights. That "my spot" may provide shelter to those who need it in the future just as it did me.

On the way home I thought about what one of my coworkers told me just two hours earlier.

She was going down the escalator as I headed into the back office. Our eyes met briefly. I smiled. Now out of view, she called out in a cracked voice, "I hope good things happen for you, Dean."

I hope so too. I hope so too.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Praying for something better.....

"I feel so sad. So weak. So lost."

After a long pause, that was how I started off my prayer.

I wasn't getting much artwork done lately. Projects would start only to stop. Feeling unmotivated and useless and depressed.

I had time to kill before work this morning and decided to go to the Cathedral District to pray. That always seems to help.

There's an outdoor labyrinth I like to visit that's located right next to St. James Cathedral. I prefer this method of praying instead of actually going inside the church. It's much more private and intimate and freeing IMHO.

The labyrinth (the entrance/exit starts at the bottom-middle)

If you've never heard of it before, a labyrinth is an ancient, maze-like design often used in church as a form of prayer or meditation. Walking the intricate pattern was considered equivalent to pilgrimage.

There is only one entrance/exit. The winding walkway leads to the center of the labyrinth. The center is said to represent God or heaven upon where one would pray. Once finished, the person would then leave using the same path.

Anxiously I entered the labyrinth and thought about my troubles.

It will be less than a week until I officially lose my job. So much uncertainty and fear. As I turned and wrapped around the meandering path I wondered what I'll do next in life. What if I can't make it? I'm so drained and down as it is, I'm not sure I can handle much more.

The labyrinth's center

When I reached the labyrinth's center, I knelt on the ground, closed my eyes, and firmly clasped my hands. Police sirens mixed with barking dogs could be heard in the distance. My tears dotted my jeans. It was the longest amount of time I'd spent there. Maybe 15 minutes or more just sitting and praying and crying.

I've prayed for the same damn things over and over, year after year.

For better opportunities to come my way. A good, dependable job that lets me make ends meet. To be great and do great things. To have great things and great people come into my life. For clarity. For wisdom. For strength. For fulfillment. For guidance. For it to begin this moment!

I can NOT keep running on empty. Something has to come my way. It has to!

Close-up detail of the pathway

I once heard that God hears you the first time and that prayers don't need to be repeated. If that's the case, then maybe what I'm asking for will stay unanswered. Or maybe God's just a negligent father and I don't need another one of those.

With the prayer finished I backtracked the trail, hands still gripped tightly, reflecting on what I asked for. Curving and winding with the design, I pondered if this time will be different. Will my prayers be answered? When I reached the exit I wiped my eyes and gave the labyrinth one last look.

Only time will tell, I guess.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"Abstract Squares" (ongoing series)

Watercolor on watercolor paper - 8" x 10" (SOLD)

I had a craving for color. Reds, Yellows, Blues, Greens. Bright hues I could sink my proverbial teeth into and whet my appetite.

This is one of my favorite abstract series to paint. It's just so simple and pleasing on the eyes. Being so colorful doesn't hurt either!

Everything is so neat and lined up yet within each square the colors are allowed to run and bleed where they like.

Time to loosen up my proverbial belt a bit. I'm feeling full now!