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Dreaming: Beaches, buzzards, buffalo…

A Llama appears

All are ink & gouache in square sketchbook

I started my dreams Friday night (after a really crazy hectic work week) with a strange series of beach scenes. First a llama appeared in the surf and splashed its way out of the water.

Shortly after that a gigantic fat buzzard with white fluffy feathers like a tutu zoomed down and picked at a dead seagull carcass.

Then a buzzard...

Then a herd of huge buffalo chased by hunky hordes of horseback riders goes thundering through the surf: first north then south, then out of the water and up a hill. Then a helicopter (in first image) lands on the water and loads up with my co-workers. Those who don’t fit get into a boat and leave too.

Then horses chasing buffalo

Meanwhile it’s my first day on the job in a different department and I’m trying to print notes for how to use my cellphone and I’m trying to make it 2-sided to keep it in my wallet but I mess up the pages and then discover I have no computer to print from anyway.

Then a woman comes over and says she needs to measure my head size. She tells me how much smaller my head is than hers and says, “that’s just one of those things that happen at our age.” I’m wondering if my head is shrinking* and I also don’t think she’s my age, but then I can’t tell how old she really is.

Head size

* Hmmmm, maybe that last dream is telling me I need a good “head shrinker?” (as psychiatrists are called in the U.S.).

At first I thought there’s no way I can draw these dreams: I don’t know what buffalo and horses and buzzards look like in enough detail to draw them. Then I wondered, if I can see them so clearly in my dream, maybe all I have to do is look at the images I see in my mind when I remember the dream. If I can see it, I should be able to draw it. (Hah!)

I started sketching hesitantly in pencil but quickly realized I needed to just go for it with my pen instead as I usually do. It’s so much more fun to be adventurous and just see what comes out of the pen.

I was able to capture the buzzard, llama and horses close to how I saw them in my dream though not the riders who were all studly stuntmen/Indiana Jones type, not these wimpy riders. But I was hopeless at drawing the buffalo.

Maybe when I finish working on perspective I’ll switch to buffalo (not).

Cartoon art Colored pencil art Life in general Sketchbook Pages Watercolor

Hamster Brain, Part Two

Silence of the Hamsters

Ink, colored pencil & watercolor in 9×12 sketchbook (Larger)

In yesterday’s post I wrote about what I call “Hamster Brain” (when my mind gets stuck spinning in a hamster wheel of “shoulds” and I can’t figure out what to do next and so do nothing). I was going through an old sketchbook and found this illustration I did in 1999 on a similar day of “my brain on hamsters.”

When I read the journal entry it was interesting to see that I’d figured out back then what was really going: a fear of not having enough: not enough time, and maybe not enough talent or skill either as I faced the artist’s version of writer’s block…that icky fear that seems to come around when I finish one project and am faced with the blank canvas/sheet of paper. I’ve learned to encourage myself and turn off those critical voices but every once in awhile they sneak up and get me when I’m not looking.

Today was so much more enjoyable,  even though it was pouring down rain. I did my errands, went to the gym, and painted. Sometimes it takes a hamster-brained day like yesterday to make me really appreciate an ordinary day that is joyous just by the absence of negativity and blocks.

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No computer – going cold turkey


This is me going cold turkey, hands shaking, reaching out for the keyboard that isn’t there. Drawn with a Sharpie on a yellow legal pad before leaving the office at 8:00 p.m. and colored in Photoshop.

My sturdy laptop crashed Friday night after I installed Outlook (I HATE MICROSOFT!). I was able to apply a bit of first aid and kept it limping along, until I could get it to the emergency room today (the computer tech’s office at work) . With his wonderful bedside manner he applied his warm stethoscope, ran a few tests and shook his head sadly.

The only solution seems to be a lobotomy…a thorough brain washing…in other words, a complete reformat of the hard drive and reinstallation of the operating system and all the software and files. It’s going to take a few days.

Since I might not be able to post or visit blogs for a few days, I made this quick sketch of me to post before leaving work. I was thinking it might be kind of nice to have no computer at home, that maybe I’d do some painting after work.

Except now, after finishing my work at around 7:00, it’s already nearly 8:00 p.m. and I’m still at work. By the time I commute home in the freezing rain and have dinner, it will practically be time for bed.

Things to be grateful for:

  1. Excellent technical support at work so I don’t have to do all the work of the reinstall, just some of it.
  2. A nice clean reinstall so the computer should be like new again.
  3. I didn’t get in trouble for installing Outlook (which I need to synch my iPhone with my calendar and address book but which my company doesn’t support because it’s too full of security holes that most viruses are specifically written for).
  4. It will be warm and cozy when I get home all wet and cold.
  5. I finally caught up on all my email at work today.
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Illustration Friday: Soar – Flying with Whales

Flying with Whales

Ink and watercolor in 5.5″ square dream sketchbook (Larger)

I love my flying dreams. In this one I was flying over the ocean and saw some whales frolicking below. I flew down and was playing with them when one bit my arm hard. I knew he meant no harm though, so once he let my arm go, I stayed and played with them some more.

The next dream wasn’t as much fun. I went into San Francisco to visit my boss (unbeknownst to her), planning to phone when I got there. But my cell phone had no reception and then I dropped it and it fell apart right over a sewer grate. I finally retrieved all the pieces and then a block away, drop it again over another sewer grate.

Then I realize I’ve forgotten my shoes and am barefoot and it’s dark and cold and I’m in a bad neighborhood. But I remember I love to run barefoot in the dark (huh?!!!) . So I run up and down the hills of San Francisco, trying to find my way to downtown Hollywood where I can catch a bus home. It goes on and on, but the rest of the story is likely to amuse only me so I’ll stop there.

I woke up with the idea that I needed to replace my cellphone and then wasted the morning researching the latest phones until I remembered that my phone hadn’t really fallen and broken and does still get reception and that I had no excuse for considering buying an iPhone, no matter how cute they are.

Cartoon art Drawing Dreams Painting People Sketchbook Pages Watercolor

Blogging about Dreams; Dreaming about Blogs

All are drawn in ink and then watercolored in 5.5″ square sketchbook

(Above) Dreamt my hairdresser shot someone and was going to jail.
The really bad part was that I was going to have to find another hairdresser.

– – –

Hillary forgot to shave her legs
(Above) Dreamt that Hillary Clinton was visiting her OB/GYN. The doctor left the door unlocked so a bunch of reporters and photographers opened the door and took pictures.
Hillary was horrified because she’d forgotten to shave her legs!
Then Kate wrote the story up and Laura published it in the S.F. Chronicle.

– – –

Gay line dancing church


(Above) Dreamt that a cute guy at a dinner party invited me to visit his church called “J.O.H.N.”.
It was for gay men who loved women, and lesbians who loved men, and where they did line dancing dressed as sailors from the 1940’s. The women had those big poufed-up, pinned-up 40s hairstyles and were wearing military uniforms.

– – –

L's Paris Car Repair Shop


(Above) I dreamt that my ex-husband was starting a blog about a car repair shop he was opening in Paris (huh?!) and he asked me to paint something representing Paris to use on the blog. First I thought of the Eiffel Tower, but knew that was trite and would be hard to draw so I decided to paint a fountain. I was working on it in my dream, trying to paint Paris fountains like Laura, and the painting wasn’t going very well.

I just realized that not only am I blogging about dreaming, now I’m dreaming about blogging! I’m so glad I’m on vacation now — I need it!

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Dream Journal: Film Crew Dinner & Sleepless Sleep Over with Laundry

Film crew dinner with Amazon Indians

Ink and watercolor in sketchbook (Larger)

I did these dream drawings right after I woke up, sitting in bed with a special SAD light (see previous post) propped up on my lap, shining on my face. My friend loaned me her spare light to see if it helped. I’m not sure if it was the lights, the sunny day, the hour at the gym and walk in the sun afterwards, but I’ve definitely been in a much better mood today than I’ve been in weeks.

Last night’s dreams were quite strange. The one illustrated above was about a dinner party with a film crew, including the director (at the head of the table) and two Amazonian Indian women who had just participated in a ritual that the crew filmed for a documentary.

One woman was displaying the scratches/lashes on her back she proudly received during the ritual. The other was mostly just displaying her boobs.

Maybe I’ve been watching too much of the TV show Bones on DVD about a forensic anthropologist? Or maybe it’s from listening to the National Public Radio series about the Ganges River (that I converted into the Amazon) and combined it with the interview on NPR’s Fresh Air with film director Jason Reitman and scriptwriter Diablo Cody.

Sleepless sleepover with pile of laundry

Ink and watercolor in sketchbook (Larger)

In this dream I invited Martha over for a little slumber party (huh?) and then remembered that I needed to vacuum because there was cat hair everywhere. I was still cleaning when she arrived so she hung out downstairs helping my mom plan some wonderful menus involving roasted pork. (I have no upstairs, my mom doesn’t live here, and she doesn’t cook, especially not pork.)

I still hadn’t finished vacuuming but realized there was laundry everywhere and so started piling it up on the spare bed to get it out of the way. Finally we said goodnight and Martha went right to sleep. I didn’t.

This dream happened right after Kate and I talked about meeting in person the next time she comes out to San Francisco (Kate turned into Martha in my dream). Having guests always seems to bring up those darn insecurities about not having a fancy home and other general unworthiness (that I can usually overcome with a little pep talk to myself).

In reality, my house is usually tidy, organized and there are no piles of laundry. There is the cat fur problem though, which I tend to ignore longer than I should…but I just warn people not to wear black to my house since it’s a cat-fur magnet.

Cartoon art Digital art Illustration Friday

Illustration Friday: Geeky (Computer Geek/Circus Freak)


Sketched on paper, traced manually in Painter and then automatically in Illustrator, colored in Painter, converted to Photoshop and “saved for web”.
Click here to see larger.

This weeks Illustration Friday challenge is “Geeky.” The original definition of a geek is someone from a circus or carnival freak show who ate live animals such as mice, including biting the heads off live chickens. How the word Geek came to mean someone who is into computers and nerdy, I don’t know. I guess it’s the social outsider thing. So I just took it a step further and made it a freak show guy who eats computer mice and other computer parts. I made myself stop playing with this illustration so that I’d still have time to do some real painting today, so it’s not as clean as I’d like it to be.

I’m a bit of a computer geek myself, and have recently been studying color management theory and practice between devices and software programs. It’s really complicated. This time I was able to embed my monitor and color profile in Painter so that when I converted it to Photoshop they had fairly similar color.

Refrigerator Update
For someone who prides herself on being a techno-geek, I definitely don’t have it when comes to large appliances. It turns out that whole disaster with my fridge was caused by the dial in the freezer (which I didn’t even realized existed) being turned to OFF. I don’t know how it got turned off, but that’s all that was wrong. The skinny, weasel-faced jerk of a repairman tried to charge me $98 instead of the $65 I was quoted over the phone for a diagnosis, claiming he had to charge for his (5 minutes of “labor” too).

I told him the guy on the phone said there’d be an estimate before any labor was charged and he said, oh yeah, they always tell you that. But I have to charge for my time starting with when I walk in the door.” I called Sears back and the guy on the phone confirmed I was right so I asked him to talk to the repairman. They chatted for a bit, the repairman said “OK” and handed me the phone, which I hung up. He said, “No, you were supposed to talk to him–he was going to tell you to pay the $98 and take it up with Customer Service later.”

I thought for a moment and said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you the $65 I was quoted and YOU take it up with Customer Service” and crossed my arms and stared him down. He realized there was no point arguing any further and gave me a “discount” back to the original quoted price and left. Sheesh! What a scam!

Here’s the original sketch on a decorative notepad.
Original sketch for Geek