Possibly My Most Brilliant Idea Ever

As a self-styled artist, I get plenty of new ideas—some great and some even greater. Today I want to share possibly my most brilliant idea ever. I decided to go in an entirely different direction as an art student and buy beach umbrellas in bulk. You can get them for a song most anywhere, especially near the shore. Not being a coastal denizen, I get them at discount from https://www.justbeachthings.com/best-beach-umbrella-reviews/. I will use fabric paint to add custom designs. The plan is to give them as gifts. Maybe some of the more successful ones can be sold for a little profit. Anything to keep a starving student going forward. What a way to make a living.

A beach umbrella is an entirely new kind of canvas for me, literally and figuratively. It doesn’t make it any less challenging. But a good designer can have a field day in this new format. A plain, ordinary umbrella can be a one-of-a-kind surprise for any recipient—be it a holiday or birthday present. And why not sell them in an online boutique. There are sites for handicrafters and this is the kind of thing that appeals to an adventurous spirit. Why not stand out on your vacation at the beach with a custom umbrella? You certainly will find your spot on the sand after a dip in the water.

Fabric paint is indeed a miracle. It is waterproof and doesn’t fade in the sun. You can explore different color palettes and abstract or organic designs. Sea shells, seahorses, coral and assorted fish are all possible subjects for your patterns. Let your creativity carry you away. I love the idea of having my artwork go public in a new way. Forget the traditional gallery or exhibition; get your work out there in nature.

You can get fabric paint at any hobby or art store, and of course on the Internet if you can wait a few days for delivery. Be adventurous about colors. I like to intensify the hues to their vivid extreme. No pastels for me; they fade into oblivion. I experiment with paper at first to get an idea of the final product. These drawings can be framed for décor. You get two results for the price of one, so to speak. I blow up the imagery or reduce it to a smaller design to see the different effects. Since taste varies, I want to offer my wares to please everyone. I don’t know how long this phase will last, but for the moment I am hyped. I have a list of people to gift and then the rest of the batch is going up for sale. I envision starting with the local farmers’ market where people sell anything from soap and jewelry to homemade soup. Imagine how unique would be a display of colorful umbrellas! Come summer, this is going to be my best plan.

Biggest Project Yet!

As an artist, I work for myself and enjoy the privilege of constant creation; but I am also called upon from time to time to execute projects for the community. I find this to be a vital way to fulfill myself and add to the visual appeal of the region. It is a dual role that any artist covets. Thus I was pleased to be asked to paint a mural on the side of a school building along with a close friend. We make a good team and can work together in harmony with equal spirit. This isn’t easy since artists are notorious for being individuals first and foremost. It is the nature of the enterprise and who wants to share their talent? This blog is devoted to a new kind of attitude in the arts, especially when it comes to helping beautiful a neighborhood.

Most of you see such murals in your area done by street artists who just like to do their own thing. If it is better than graffiti, it may stay on a wall and not get destroyed by city officials. My project won’t face this kind of obliteration since it is sanctioned by the local government. No one wants to labor over a massive creation only to have it erased. The work that my friend and I are working on will be an asset to the area, at least we hope so. We are carefully crafting a concept that befits a school and the values of education. Of course, it will contain children at play because the subject has universal appeal. Colors will be vibrant and the texture rich. I want this mural to stay intact for decades. If we plan a timeless composition, this should be guaranteed.

To execute such an enormous project on a grand scale, we are going to use an airbrush gun with a mini air compressor made by Compressor Force that my friend owns. This is the perfect way to accomplish the execution quickly while maintaining craftsmanship and a personal touch. Little brushstrokes just don’t work on large surfaces. You are not working with paper or canvas so your technique shifts. We want to be proud of our final product and are taking the care and time to do things right. I am excited about the results and hope we get some good press. Publicity will help us get other commissions. This is what keeps a professional free-lance artist going. Income doesn’t just flow in on its own when you are in a creative field. You depend upon people and organizations to see the benefit of your work in their spaces. Thus, you can see that I work on a small and large plane depending upon the client. I also create for myself and have a stash of paintings and drawings that will someday be revealed. Perhaps a gallery exhibition is in the works in the near future.

Why Tattoos?


My family was really kind of pissed about the idea of me “wasting” an art degree on something like tattooing. Granted, I consider myself lucky that my parents don’t think I’m wasting a college education by getting a degree in art, so I don’t take it all that personally. I think they were kind of hoping I would go into graphic design or become a film animator or something. The idea just never appealed to me. I take classes like that only when I have to. I’m so tired of dealing with what I call the “Pixar” people. The ones who think that if they do well enough in the CG classes, they’re going to go straight to work for the best animation company of all time. Because it really happens that way, doesn’t it? Personally, my philosophy is that if I’m going to sit at a desk in front of a computer all day, I might as well become an accountant or something. Yeah, it’d be cool to live in a treehouse and make a truckload of money, but the idea of sitting at a desk in an office all day gives me the heebie-jeebies regardless of what it’s for. I got into drawing because I was bored in school and would sit there with easy access to a pencil and paper. While the idea of getting paid to draw is absolutely appealing, I just couldn’t picture my stuff hanging in museums or galleries with price tags attached.

You can see my dilemma now, can’t you? I didn’t want to be a “fine” artistand the thought of computer anything makes me want to scream. So that left…well, stuff like cartooning and tattoos, basically. I would love to be as successful as that marathon-running, Tesla-driving Oatmeal guy, but you have to have something to say when you’re cartooning. My sister says I’m not smart enough to sustain something like that. She’d know, she’s the brains in the family (but here’s a secret: she can’t draw worth a damn, so she can go sit at her boring desk job the rest of her life and be smug about it for all I care). I have something to say maybe once a month, although I’ll make an effort for this blog, OK? Just don’t blame me if it is a post about nothing.

So anyway, I got a tattoo. I drew up a union soldier with a flag behind him and brought it to a local shop. You know that was coming with my name and childhood and all that. The owner/head artist, Jimmy, was manning the desk when I went in and he really liked my drawing. It took two incredibly painful sessions to get it on my arm but it’s there now. While Jimmy was doing his work, we really got to talking and I thought about how great it would be to have a job like his. I mean, I understand that it isn’t easy and that you live and die by the work you do and how many clients you see and all that but…. Art you put on the wall is boring. Tattoos are LIVING art. You are the canvas. My dad couldn’t even really be mad about the tattoo, which was too bad—I had this whole “you made me this way” speech prepared and everything, maybe I’ll post it here one day. Mom was pissed though. “Why’d you have to get it so big?” Because it was the only way to show some of the details, Ma. “You’re going to be stuck with that for-ever!” Now you’re getting it!

I’m here in art school learning techniques and styles in the hopes that I’ll be able to satisfy clients with anything they can think of. Plus my parents told me that I had to either get a job or go to college, and all the tattoo shops around here don’t pay tattoo apprentices, (in fact, I have found so far that it is mostly the opposite) so I figured I had better start my apprentice now while I’m blowing through the money Mom and Dad so graciously socked away for this exact purpose.

Spring Breakin’ It

My art calls to me when I am in a creative mood. Then I devote every waking minute to making aesthetic expressions. The excitement you feel when you come up with and execute a new idea is astounding. It is almost exhausting. When I am on a roll, I don’t want to stop or have anything interfere with my work. It breaks the train of creativity and sometimes it is hard to get it going again. I wanted to explain my work attitude before I tell you about spring break. I want you to be surprised that I took time off to join the throngs who celebrate this time of year at a resort or the beach. We all congregate to commemorate being young and free. We are lucky we can even go anywhere on spring break. It takes some funds, but we save up for months so we don’t miss out on the merriment. So, yes, I went on spring break in spite of my devotion to my art. So it came down to deciding where to go. I kind of took a consensus of what other people were doing and tried to match a location to my budget. We decided on a resort not more than a day’s drive from home. I picked a modest hotel but one that would be clean and comfortable since it is part of a known chain. I looked at photos online so I would be disappointed. I didn’t expect much for the price, but I wanted a room that came with a small hot tub.

When I got to the resort and entered my hotel room, I was delighted. There on the large terrace was the hot tub, beckoning me to get in. It soon became the focal point of my trip. It was the center of social activity in this hotel which many others had selected, just as I had. Not all the rooms came with a hot tub although there was a large pool behind the main building of the hotel. For a while this attracted everyone. People wanted to see who was staying there that they could meet. It was party central at night.

But soon cliques formed and people wanted a bit for privacy and quiet. They found out about my hot tub and I was more than willing to extend an invitation to join me. I provided food and wine and soon we had a coterie of kindred souls. We relished the warmth of the circulating water and the stimulating of the jet sprays. Then we sat for hours and talked, getting to know one another. For many people, this is the point of spring break. It is not about novel experiences since it was a rather mundane hotel; rather, it is about connecting with people, some of which you can see when you get home. Friendship is important at my age and with all the time I spend on art, it is hard to make friends. Spring break came to the rescue.

All the Coolness, None of the Pain

I was wracking my brain for an idea for a suitable gift for a friend who just graduated from nursing school. I couldn’t afford a stethoscope, although it is a great symbol of the medical profession. I wanted to get something personal but not traditional like perfume or cosmetics. She isn’t really the girlie type. But I was set on a practical item that she could use every day. I don’t know much about nurses, but I do understand that they are on their feet all day on long shifts. I know they are careful about selecting comfortable shoes that have extra insole padding. They either wear sneakers that are flexible or slip on clogs. Shoes are more important for them than their uniforms which are prescribed by the hospital. They do have some flexibility about colors and styles, however, and I imagine it applies to socks. If everything else is just regulation and boring, you can spice things up with colorful socks.

Nurses don’t wear just any socks I am told. They prefer what are called compression socks that provide comfort and promote better circulation. They are essential for workers on their feet, no matter how great are the shoes. Here was my answer. I would get some fun compression socks, not just black or brown. They would provide style and comfort both at the same time. I looked around for something interesting but I didn’t even know where to get the plain socks. I asked a friend and they suggested the usual place: the Internet. She also knew of a medical supply company nearby that carried uniforms and accessories. I thought it would be best to see the socks in person. I headed in the direction of the store. It was loaded with clothing, but in terms of a gift, a uniform didn’t make sense. I surveyed the scene and finally got to the socks and there were plenty of the compression type. Some came in plain colors but my eye caught one pair that made me laugh. It looked like a tattoo was around your ankle and lower calf. Was this too funny? My friend who just graduated had a sense of humor so I thought I would add this to my growing pile of examples. I included some solid bright colors and the tattoo version to make up an array for the gift. I wasn’t going to end it with one lonely pair.

When the gift was unwrapped, I enjoyed the smile on my friend’s face. Apparently, I had made a good choice. I can’t wait until the other nurses see them, she exclaimed. She added that no doubt everyone would want to start wearing the stylish compression socks, not to mention the fact that they keep your feet and legs cool while they reduce pain from strain after standing up for hours. She could indeed start a new trend. I was happy to be the one to suggest it.

My Favorite Styles of Ink

Every artist has a style that they are most comfortable with and is their preferred medium. Makes sense, right? I would rather not put a drawing permanently on somebody in a style I suck at. Some people get so well known for their work in a particular style, they are able to focus on it exclusively, honing their skills and charging a premium rate. How great does that sound? I have not picked up a tattoo machine yet, but I am practicing various styles to create a portfolio that shows I am a versatile artist. And to be honest, I could use the practice. I would much rather experiment with pencil and paper instead of on someone’s skin, you know? Yeah, sorry, not sure how to draw lotus flowers yet, whoops!

I think my favorite style is American Traditional. I just love the colors and the style. The clipper ships, in particular, amaze me. I would love to be able to draw those well enough to do Sailor Jerry proud. Did you know he made them nautically accurate? Talk about putting pride into your work! I like the fact that this style has themes and rules but that there is a lot you can do within those constraints. The history and pride within traditional American tattoos are something I never get tired of researching. This style of tattoo in the States is equivalent to cave paintings in the art world. This is where it started, and everything else from artists here comes from that imagery. Once I am finally in an apprenticeship, I am really going to hit these hard. It will definitely get my outlining work in shape in no time!

My second favorite style has got to be New School. I love that basically anything goes in this style and you can be as wacky with the color scheme and image as the client will let you. It’s a cross between so many different styles that it can almost be hard to pull off. I’ve been drawing boardwalk-style caricatures of people and animals to learn the exaggerated proportions that set this style apart from others. My drawings so far have been pretty goofy looking, but that is kind of the point. It definitely has made studying color theory less boring, since I am learning a lot about what colors go together and which are gonna look terrible. It can only help me improve, right?

The last style that I have been practicing is photorealism. Let me tell you, that stuff is HARD. It’s really obvious when you make a mistake. I’ve started with flowers. I sit down with a reference photo and try my best to replicate the image I see as far as lines, colors, and shading. It has been slow going and a huge challenge but I think this is something that is very important to get right. From here I will move up to animals, which are a little more complex, and then people. This will help me when it comes time to practice the one I am dreading: portraits. That’s one that you really CANNOT screw up, right? If somebody cares enough to get someone immortalized on their skin, the least I can do is make it look like that person. Yeah. I would much rather draw Japanese dragons for the rest of my life (hahahanot really. I am still tracing that stuff. I have no ability to understand the anatomy of them yet, very possibly because they are not real) than mess up a portrait tattoo.

So that’s basically what I do all day long. Practice, practice, practice. My parents would be impressed with my diligence if they didn’t think this was such a bad idea in the first place.

That’s Just Gross

I get entranced in my art projects and sometimes it is at the expense of noticing life around me. Such is the nature of art and creative endeavors. They have a pull on you until they are complete. I get so involved that I am practically riveted to whatever it is I am doing. If someone calls, I often don’t answer. If someone wants to go out, I beg off and ask for a rain check. I don’t like to be interrupted until I am either well into it or finished. It breaks the train of thought I have developed. I wonder if this is normal for artists or just for all people who are focused. So I get a lot of criticism for ignoring friends, not to mention the house and all the chores associated with living in it. Then necessity takes over eventually and I get to things in the order or normal importance. Yes, that would be the refrigerator which needs to be cleansed of rotten food. I find surprising things still in there from months ago. I then tackle my bedroom closet and rearrange everything, putting away the clothes that were on the floor. I gave the sink a good scouring along with the sticky countertops. The floors all needed attention of various kinds. The linoleum gets mop and the carpets get vacuumed. This is an area that was so neglected you could practically trace footprints in the floor.

Since I had just about finished an art project and had given the house the once over, I decided to invite a friend for coffee and cake. When she arrived she noticed how clean everything was. Not a trace of dust or grime. However, this didn’t last for long. When she needed to use the restroom, she came back in shock. She dragged me there with her and pointed out the unsightly mold. I had definitely missed something. I had to make apologies and promise to attend to it in no time. She laughed but knew I meant what I said given the fine condition of the rest of the house.

The afternoon after she left, I got to work on the mold. It was a rather tough job. Mold takes certain cleaning products, often containing powerful chemicals and bleach. I put on rubber gloves and hoped for the best. It took a while, but finally I got some results. The bathroom was presentable now for guests. How embarrassing to be found out. It was almost pointless to make excuses. I just couldn’t let it happen again. How to do that? Here’s the problem. I take long, hot, steamy showers which over a short time encourages the growth of mold. I wasn’t going to give up one of my favorite practices. I used my brain and thought of a great idea. I would buy a dehumidifier to take the moisture out of the air after a shower. My little “humidity helper”.

I looked online and found the perfect one on Amazon. I read the reviews, making sure that it would cope with the task of removing the steam from my bathroom to stop it from getting moldy, and it was up to the task. Two days later, it arrived. I plugged it in and it’s been great ever since. The dehumidifier that I bought is a great appliance that fits easily into most bathrooms. Now it is a permanent fixture of mine.

Eat My Dust

I have been so busy with projects lately that I am oblivious to changes in my health. I write every sneeze and sniffle off to a potential cold. So I keep warm and avoid drafts. I try to keep my body temperature steady. I don’t want to develop something more serious like pneumonia. I would take the flu over that. It can be very debilitating and require hospitalization. So I try to eat right, exercise, and keep tabs on what is happening. After a while the sneezing got worse and I developed dry, itchy eyes. It was time to visit the doctor, and not the one people consult online. Most people get symptoms of some kind and they start searching for answers. You get a lot of misinformation that can steer you in the wrong direction. Sometimes you get close, but when you are not sure, it is time to see a professional.

I went to the doctor who confirmed what I suspected. I had severe allergies and I had to change my life style. I could take pills every day, but I had to do more. I had to live in a clean environment and try to keep the windows closed in spring and summer when pollen is in the air. I didn’t have to eliminate being near pets although it wouldn’t hurt. Usually if you don’t own one, you aren’t exposed that much to friends’ pets. The doctor said that if I started to react to being near cats, for example, I could just avoid them. He said I can really help my allergies myself. I don’t have to fear a walk in the park on a glorious sunny day will trigger symptoms. The most important thing I can do is to attend to the house and vacuum regularly. He also suggested buying a hepa air purifier for my home. He suspected it could be of great help. Patients attest to its efficacy and keep them running in most rooms of the house. He said that the bedroom was most important if I couldn’t buy the large whole-house model which can run into some money. Having it on while you sleep can help you wake up with a clear head. Your sinus won’t be as blocked as before. I dashed out and bought a good unit to heed his advice. It made perfect sense. Relief was in sight.

After using the heap filter in the bedroom for a couple of weeks, I felt so much better. All this while I was cleaning the house as suggested and taking the antihistamine pills. Let me tell you, these are a must. So in this blog is most of what you need to know to handle allergies. The proportion of the population that suffers from them is astounding. The drug company must be making a killing. As for the air purifier, I imagine the companies sell quite a few. I would never had known if I hadn’t gone to the doctor. Now I am happier and wiser.

Tattooing as Wearable Art


I don’t really think tattooing is much different than fashion in clothing. It is an expression of an artistic ideal that you wear on your body. The only difference is that those stupid overalls you think are sooo in right now can end up in a thrift shop but you’re totally stuck with that portrait of your ex-girlfriend forever. I don’t think that is a problem with tattoos or tattoo artists, the problem there is you and your stupid idea.

I mean, my aunt tried to talk me out of getting a tattoo by telling me about how when she was my age she got a tattoo of one of the seven dwarves on her shoulder blade. Let’s just say it was not one of the smart ones. When she was younger, she thought it was cute and funny. She wasn’t known as the sharpest crayon in the box, so it felt very personal and appropriate to her. Then she had kids and decided she didn’t want them thinking of her as an idiot. She decided to get it removed and it cost a fortune. It also took forever and isn’t really gone per se, just super hard to see. Once she pointed it out to me, I could see it and now I can’t un-see the dang thing. I know she was trying to spin a cautionary tale of regret or whatever, but it really just made me think she was an idiot to get that particular image in the first place. Some people get impulsive designs and that might work for them, I’m just not one of those people. And if I become a tattoo artist, I would do my best to make sure people understand the ramifications of getting something like the name of a girl they met three weeks ago tattooed across their chest.

I think, if done properly, tattoos can be incredibly cool or beautiful looking. If there is something that truly appeals to you, it is a pretty awesome concept to have it physically drawn on you permanently. I’ve seen some Japanese type pieces that would look totally at home in an art exhibit and Celtic knot work or Mandalas that are incredibly precise and fantastic to look at. Your skin is a blank canvas. People dye their hair, pierce their ears, put on crazy garments, and wear all kinds of makeup to draw attention to themselves. What about making yourself a walking art gallery?

I especially love cultural art tattoos for this reason. Flags, folk art, and other cultural symbols can really showcase someone’s background or beliefs. I think it is cool to have something so personal—something that makes you who you are—on display forever for all to see. I don’t really care if it something that I personally identify with or matches my own heritage. If it is something you believe in strongly enough to have it with you wherever you go, forever, I think that’s pretty cool.

I think it is just a different way to look at something that many would call taboo. What about you? What do you think?

Choosing an Artist


I think it is important that if you’re going to get a tattoo, you do your homework on shops and artists to be sure you’re getting the best tattoo possible. While your artist’s drawing skills are only half the story on how the end result is going to look—they also have to be able to execute the stencil—if you start with a bad drawing, you’re guaranteed to get a bad tattoo. Whether you’re walking in on a whim or you’ve been planning your visit for a long time, look at the artist’s portfolio. Most artists nowadays have social media accounts (I have found Instagram to be the most helpful) you can browse in addition to albums at their shop.

If you are looking for somebody to do some flash you like off the wall, make sure you find someone who traces well, especially if the original design isn’t theirs. Not everyone is good at everything, so you need somebody who is familiar with the style and can mimic the design well. If they have been apprenticed well, this is something they’ve been doing for awhile already. This is going to be my life for some time and I’ve already accepted it.

On the other hand, if you have a specific concept in mind but not the actual drawing, you might be better off going into a shop and talking to the different artists. Somebody might be a great artist, but if they’re not excited about your idea, maybe you go to the next person. The idea is to find somebody who gets fired up by your concept because they’re going to expand on it and totally knock that idea out of the park. Others might do a good job but will simply give you what you want instead of making it a collaborative project. And if all you have is an idea, you’re going to want that professional eye to talk to you about placement, size, colors, and that kind of thing. Some places require you to book a consultation with an artist, others will make you pay to see the stencil. It all depends on where you go and what you ask for.

But what if you already have the complete package? Maybe you have a similar image already or the exact picture you want. This can actually be the hardest because it means you have to do the most research beforehand. If it is a specific style you’re looking for, scout around online prior to even going to a shop for a consultation. Be sure that whoever you choose already has some experience in the style you want if it is crucial to your design. See how they draw. Does it work with what you want? Do you see a theme immerging from their portfolio that is in the same vein as what you want? Just because they are a great artist doesn’t mean that they will do your picture justice. Maybe the artist is more comfortable in black and greys and does some killer work that way. But he or she might not do a great job on the vibrant sugar skull you’re picturing in your head.

Finally, pick somebody you’re comfortable with. They are going to be touching you (and inflicting pain) and you’re going to be spending a nice chunk of time together depending on the size of your tattoo. Pick somebody you are OK with getting that close to you. Check out their procedures: make sure they’re wearing gloves, that the shop is clean, that they are using sterilized equipment. While yes, you might be paying them quite a bit and they might have huge reputations, you’re still the customer. So make sure that you’re happy with the stencil and its location. If you aren’t comfortable asking the artist a question, this is not the person for you.

Good luck and I want to hear all about your tattoo experience!


I Dream in Color


When I first started going to school here, I thought color theory classes were going to be boring as all get out. I mean, really. Let’s all sit around and talk about why these colors look pretty next to each other. Excuse me while I take a nap. I figured that if I wasn’t going into interior design, what the heck was I going to do with this stuff? Kind of the same way I sat through math. Like, yeah, OK, I can figure out the square footage I would need to buy if I had to put up my own chain link fence. Why should I care?

But color theory is actually very cool. You probably already know the basic idea that all colors stem from only three colors: red, blue, and yellow. They are primary because you can’t mix any other colors together and create those three colors. However, by mixing any combination of those three, you can make just about any color you can think of. You can imagine how helpful the study of color theory can be to a future tattoo artist, can’t you?

For example, there is such a thing as color harmony. That means that the colors you choose all look like they go together. The colors are all pleasing to the eye instead of warring with each other for visual attention. You have a few choices on how to accomplish this, and none of it involves how you “feel”. Colors next to each other on the color wheel work well together because they are analogous colors.  This is why yellows and greens are appealing together. Then there are colors on opposite side of the wheel from one another; these complement each other. Think purple and green. Then there are combinations you already see in nature, like the orange and white of a koi fish or the black and yellow of a bumblebee. These are color combinations that we recognize, so we like them too. Just because a tattoo is a drawing, whether it is an artist depiction of a real thing or something entirely made up, it still has to apply the idea of color harmony or it isn’t going to look good.

Another problem is that just because two colors work together on a color wheel that does not mean that they will work together well in a tattoo. You have to factor in the color of the person’s skin and how it will affect the hue of the ink. You also have to look at the color context, too. Just because orange and red are next to each other on the color wheel doesn’t necessarily mean they will look good together on someone. They may muddy each other and make your art look ill-defined. You might need something in a bigger contrast in order to make each color stand out depending on what you’re trying to do.

So it turns out color theory is actually both interesting and useful. That was a pleasant surprise. I don’t even sleep through class anymore.