The Washington Post: My elderly mom was treated in the ER, recovered and came home. Then the surprise medical bills started coming in.

The Washington Post: My elderly mom was treated in the ER, recovered and came home. Then the surprise medical bills started coming in..

Ain’t No Sunshine When…

Ain’t No Sunshine When..
Baby, I’m Coming Home
Oil on canvas
A most recent completed oil painting. You’ll see, there are two images…of the same painting. The first photo, the darker image, is more in line with how I intended to present the composition: overcast, brooding, lonely. I took this photo with the piece hung in our living room in a small alcove with no lights on and away from windows with little natural light. The second photo is in my studio with the window blinds open and a ton of natural light–an exercise I do regularly to check to see the true values of the colors and shading as I proceed in composing the piece. The mood and tone of each image, because of the lighting, are basically that of opposites. The darker image is of someone who is alone and hopeless, who longs to see someone but can’t likely due to hubris while the brighter image, to me, denotes someone who is hopeful and longing to see someone close and is on the path to get there.
Be mindful when purchasing art, about how much the setting and lighting in your home will express the mood of a piece.
I learned a lesson from the this project, myself. The degree of lighting WHILE painting can influence the outcome of a painting and my ability to achieve what was in my mind; in the end it didn’t turn our as dark, lonely and brooding as I had originally envisioned. I should have painted under a spotlight in order to better achieve the much darker tones as I had hoped. Life is learning. What will you create today?

Being a grinder…has actually been the way of the world.

The golden hour photo above is of a porch screen project I completed some years ago. In 2007 after several years of doing home repairs to make supplement income, I started Houston Honey Do as a primary gig, to keep the bills paid. Though art and creativity are and have been a substantive part of my persona for decades, the economics of my endeavors have, like most in similar self-employed situations, pushed me toward more stable streams of income outside of just art. I presume many of you can relate.

I’ve heard and read in the news about how younger generations speak of the new “gig” economy or the need for a “side hustle” in order to make ends meet; that life and specifically college is a burden like never before. The sentiment seems to be that this is a new phenomenon—the gig economy—something that only came to light as a result of the financial crisis or the downfall of modern capitalism. The struggle is real I’ve heard it said.

I cannot speak to their experience exactly for I am from an older demographic and thus, not only do I not truly understand what it is really like to be a kid these days—I am also biased. And though my experience wasn’t shared by most of the people I knew at the time, for the sake of comparison–during the fall of 1991, after graduating high school and while in my first semester of junior college, I worked part-time (18-28 hrs per week) for HEB–a Texas grocery chain. I also worked part time for BEALL’S department stores (18-28 hrs a week). I had 5-6 lawns that I mowed each week in and around the neighborhood; and I painted the full interior and exterior of a client’s rental property on the south side of the city. Keep in mind, all was accomplished while not having my own vehicle and while fully funding my own college education, most of the food I ate, gas when needed, and liability insurance on my parents car. And naturally, at the time, neither employer wanted to give me full-time employment, steady hours, and insurance nor did they bestow the subsequent additional benefits that everyone seems entitled to these days. The tasks changed over time as well as the employers and circumstances, but on the whole, it was a grind like this for 6 years. Is it similar today? Do most college kids who are in debt now, do they work this hard–hard enough to stay out of debt?

For those who have ever been a “full-time” artist or have spent any time developing a craft or creating a market for your unique offering or business, such individuals would testify that the gig economy has been going on since, well–the dawn of civilization; many self-employed individuals or those fully invested in the art-world would say that though they are “full-time” artists, they likely spend most of their time pushing their “side hustle”, working multiple jobs or something of the such in order to spend a little time actually being an ARTIST.

On the whole, maybe things have changed, or maybe the internet just makes it seem like everything is new again; or maybe it is an issue of “if you do not study history you are doomed to repeat it? Being a study of history, myself, I don’t think so. Leonardo De Vince–as interpreted by me from my reading of Ross King’s “Leonardo and the Last Supper”—even the great Leonardo spent a majority of his time not on the masterpieces but rather doing “odd jobs” (as an event coordinator, wedding planner, consultant, interior designer, etc.) and bid his time until the big commissions came into focus. Working hard, being patient, and grinding it out may not be very posh and wholly ill-received in modern times but historically speaking it seems—hustling and being a grinder has actually been the way of the world for millennia.

Perpetual blossoms blooming

Green thumb? If you can’t grow flowers in your garden, the next best thing may be a steel garden gate of vines and perpetual blossoms that lasts from season to season. Kim and Gregg, who a are a-couple-of-photographers (, kept these blossoms blooming for more than a decade.
And guess what…you can too! To place your order, send a message to and I’ll make you some flowers that’ll convince your neighbors it’s already Springtime in Texas!
Yeeeehaaaaaa. 😉

“Ohhhh! You want to go…over the arch?”

In the early 2000’s, when I was nearing the end of grad school, Linda (who was a classmate of mine) asked if I would be interested in a commission to craft a wine rack for her new home. Of the 20-30 individuals in the weekend MBA program at the time, I was the only self employed individual…much less the only self employed craftsperson and artist. So unlike the rest– predictable, steady income was not a part of my usual experience. Consequently, only 2.5 seconds past before I told Linda an emphatic YES and subsequently asked, “what is the address?” 😁

A week later, Linda opened the door and guided me through to the newly constructed home, all the while describing her ideas of what she was looking for; maybe a nine bottle countertop rack. Not something too big and keep in mind that she would need to open the cabinet door….

Thinking to myself–wow, this is going to be a waste of time; she had me drive out an hour from the city for a table top rack?

I said, “you can buy a nine bottle table top rack at the store,” and before I finished, she replied, “yeah, they don’t fit. Can you design something to fit the space?”

The countertop and cabinets were actually going to make it almost impossible to achieve. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, I turned around and paused a while. As I began to say, “I can’t make one to fit under that cabinet, but I can…,” she interjected, “OHHHHH!, you want to go up the wall and over the arch?”