Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy Holidays

This month has been frantic, and I have not made the time to do some of the traditional paintings that I do each year.  However, I did find the time last night to do an envelope for a young man who just recently gave up a year of his life, under extremely trying medical challenges, serving the people in South America.  I saw him shortly after he came home and he seemed a little down for not being able to stay even longer in his service.  In my eyes, however, I felt that he was very noble for sticking with it for so long, and putting people above his own condition.
I painted this little holiday envelope for him and thanked him for his service.

This is done in gouache, an acrylic background and a bit of pen and ink.

I hope that everyone has a great holiday this year.  Find someone to serve and make their day a little brighter!

Monday, December 04, 2017

Returning Home

It has been over a month since I posted an envelope.  Unfortunately, I've been down with the flu and really didn't have much of a desire to do anything.  Thankfully, that is subsiding, and the desire to pick up the paintbrush returned last night.  While I was sick, I had a lot of time to ponder about the envelope project that I have undertaken.  I've decided, from this point on, that the letters and envelopes that I send out will be anonymous, and, for the most part, I'll send them to folks that have no clue that this blog exists.  There is something, in my opinion, a little more noble, a little less artist-centered, (something I need) by sending a gift with no expectation of thanks or reward.  I'm hoping that the motivation to do such a thing will be more receiver focused, hoping that the small letter and gift will be to warm their heart and not my ego.  Anyway, that's the plan, at least.  We'll see how it goes.  

Last night I returned to the turtle.  When I was living in Georgia, I took my son to a science camp on  Jekyll Island and stayed for a few days.  We studied sea turtles at length and I was amazed at their challenges, and their amazing qualities.  I fell in love with the loggerhead and the beautiful patterns of the shells and skin.  One interesting fact about sea turtles is that no matter how far away they swim (some going over 1000 miles) they always come back to the exact same beach and location of where they were hatched.  I love that fact.  There is something innate in some beings, including humans, for a desire to come home, to return to where things began.  

This letter is going out to a person who has a true sense of home, who has dedicated their time and effort to ennoble the family and it's importance in their life, despite not seeming to have accomplished much in the eyes of the "world."  In her late 80's, and after losing a husband within the past few years to death, she has been courageous and continues to make exemplary choices to preserve her family and the relationships therein.  I'm humbled by her good example.  This one is going out to her.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Digital Doodle

Today, I had the chance to take my son to one of his multiple and varied soccer games and sit with the other parents watching their children play.  I will confess, however, that there was this beautiful little tree, in front of my car that seemed to be begging me for a sketch.  So, I decided to try my first digital drawing, using my iPad Pro and the Procreate app.  I kept one eye on the game, and the other on the treee.  I’m not convinced that I’ve got what it takes to do things digitally, but it was fun playing aound with the strokes.  What was equally interesting is being able to watch the videos that the application automatically makes as you create your little doodle.  I’ve included it here as well.

The end of the game came so fast that I was unable to add much foliage, but I enjoyed playing around with the texture of the bark and the undulating branches.  While I am not yet the master cross-hatcher, like my friend France Van Stone, I love a good doodle with layering lines.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Smitty's Golden Fish

Back in March, I had the chance to visit some people that I have grown to love, in a city that I miss...Rome, Georgia.  There is an older gentleman that lives there who is "one in a million."  I'm not sure I've met anyone as humble, as positive, and as optimistic as he is.  He never speaks ill others, and is the quiet champion of those who need a helpful hand, a friend, or a warm embrace.  His name is James, but everyone knows him as SMITTY.  Sadly, I heard recently that his son, who was instrumental in watching over Smitty, passed away.
There are a lot of great people in the world, and then there are the gems, the people that are just golden, through and through.  I've found that there is a pattern with these amazing people...they become who they are because of the way that they choose to handle very difficult circumstances.  They let the hard times spur them to eagerly seek out those who are downtrodden and they quietly, yet sensitively tend to their needs.

I consider Smitty to be one of the GOLDEN ones. This week's letter and envelope go out to him. I painted a "Golden" fish on his envelope, to let him know that I see him as brilliant and amazing.
Here's how it came out.

Here's a picture of Smitty and I during our last visit.  This is what it feels like to be in the presence of true goodness.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

New Week, New Envelopes

I skipped a week in doing any type of artwork, and I have missed posting.  This weekend, however, I "caught up" on my goal of doing an envelope and a friendly letter to somebody weekly.  Both of the doodles this week go to people at work.

A couple of days ago, I witnessed the very sad occasion of a co-worker being informed that her father had just passed away, and that he was in a different country.  She is relatively young still, and I was heart broken to see her sadness.  I chose to include in her condolence letter the same poem that I sent to a previous recipient, about the ship and how it relates to dying.  Consequently, I felt it was appropriate to do a little painting of an old fashioned clipper, a sea ship.  This was done in gouache and I enjoyed playing with the blues and yellows.  Here is how it came out:

The second envelope that I completed this week was also for a co-worker.  This gentleman has been working at the location that I manager for over 40 years.  I think it was difficult for him to make the decision to move to the next chapter of his life, as I'm sure it is with anyone who has really dedicated him or herself to an industry for such a long time.  I chose to sketch a picture of a bird, ready to fly off to a higher perch, since I'm secretly a little jealous that he is at a point that he can step away from it, to find freedom with his family in this new part of his life.  I've still got a number of years before being able to reach such a stage, but I'm hoping to keep my wings ready for flight, for when the opportunity presents itself...
This also was done in gouache:

Saturday, September 30, 2017


Very recently, I had a friend reach out to me requesting that I paint an orchid for her, in the same format of my envelopes, (with a blank place or placard for a name) so that she could have the image somehow put onto the urn that will be used for her mother's ashes.  I was sorry to hear about her mother's passing, but intrigued with the request to 1)- do something for an urn, and 2)- paint an orchid of some kind.
Ashamedly, I'll admit, that I have never given much attention to orchids, having never really been around them much.  Yet, as I reviewed the multiplicity of types of orchids, it was impressive to see just how delicate, yet how beautiful of a flower an orchid can be.  This is the first time trying to paint such a thing...normally I stick with the critters or animals that are either climbing upon a flower, or that will eat one as lunch.  Hopefully, it does justice for the intent of the final image.

This was done in gouache and pen and ink, with a background of acrylic.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Snails and Mountains

This weekend I was able to knock out a couple more envelopes for people.  The first one is going out "SNAIL MAIL" to an unsuspecting recipient.  I spend so much time at work digitally communicating with others that it is really a joy to create something, some meaningful communication, via regular email.  I'm sure that as technology advances ever onward, the good ol' US Post office will continue to slide into irrelevance.  But, I'm happy that I'm doing my part each week to make a stamped letter retain its wonder.

The second letter is headed out to the last of the crew that I spoke of in a previous post.  It's taken me a bit, but finally have finished a letter to each of the group of friends from yester-year. I was driving the other day towards the Superstition Mountains before the sun came up and I was in awe of the multiple shades of blue and purple of the layered bluffs in contrast to the pink and every brightening sky.  I decided to try my hand at another landscape to catch those colors. Now that it's done, I'm on the hunt for new recipients.

The first was done mainly in gouache with a hint of pen and ink to outline.  The second almost entirely with acrylic, but with a slight amount of prismacolor.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Wings for a Grandmother

The paternal grandmother of my wife is a sweet, gentle and caring individual.  Over the past few years her health has declined, and a mind that was once sharp and buoyant has grown dimmer as she has ailed.  At this point someone always has to be with her to keep her safe from the affects of dementia and a weakening body.  However, she still loves to sit down and look at pictures and to sing whatever words are in front of her.
After her first husband passed away, whenever she saw a butterfly, she felt it was a sign that he was near and watching over her.  
Today's envelope and letter (to words I hope she will sing) is going out to her.

This one was done with gouache, with an acrylic background.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Complimentary Colors

My son just recently began to find a deeper interest in color, the color wheel, color theory, etc. due to an art class that he is taking in junior high.  This week we spoke about complimentary colors, how they look when they are put together in a composition, how to correctly shade by mixing the complimentary color, etc..  Because of the lesson, I chose this week to play around with blues and oranges.  Thankfully, with a little more weekend time than normal, due to the Labor Day holiday, I was able to spend a little more focus on detail.  This is the result....another envelope to be sent to an unsuspecting recipient.

I've mentioned before that I love fish.  We have a tank in the house and I find that when things are crazy, it is very therapeutic for me to just sit in front of the tank and watch the little guys float here and there.  There is so much in nature that could be enjoyed, so many indications that there is a benevolent creator who has specifically made beautiful things for us to see, touch, and be intrigued with.

This was done almost entirely in gouache, and the background is done in acrylic.

Trees, Trees and More Trees.....

Last week, a very kind couple in our neighborhood faced some challenges as the wife found that she had a blood clot in her head, rendering them both very preoccupied with health, life, etc.  This week's envelope and encouraging note went out to them.  I've been enjoying doodling trees, and playing with greens, so this was a refreshing project.  I particularly enjoyed playing with the trees in the background, and the suggestion of shape by introducing different tones and colors.

When I was a young man, and now on into my "golden years," I have learned that being in the deep of nature, especially in the heavily wooded shadows of nature brings a deep, peaceful, opportunity to reflect on life, the meaning behind it, my place in it, and just to appreciate the good things in the world....unless there are a lot of mosquitoes, and then the situation turns to other feelings of the "not so peaceful" sort.

Nonetheless, I hope you get out and enjoy nature this holiday weekend...and be sure to take your pen and pad to sketch up.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Continuing with my desire to send out an envelope to the folks that I mentioned in a previous post, this week I decided to play around with a highly "Seuss-esque" background and a big dog for my friends Boyd and Michelle.  They are, very much, animal people, and I figured they would enjoy a little fun spin on a greyhound.  While I haven't known them for as long as the other's that I have mentioned, they have certainly become part of our family and have been kind, inviting and considerate of my family over the years.  This one went out to them.

This was done in gouache, pen and ink, with an acrylic background.

The entire time I painted the background, I couldn't stop thinking of Seuss....

"You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest."
--Dr. Seuss, "Oh, the Places You'll go"

Saturday, August 19, 2017

L Train

Recently, a gentleman I know from work, was browsing through some of my doodles and asked if I would do something for him.  Apparently, his brother is getting married this week, and has an infatuation with the mass transit system in Chicago, particularly, the L Train.  He asked if I would do something on an envelope so that he can put his gift inside of it for his brother.  I don't normally get many requests, and frankly, shy away from them somewhat.  However, I was intrigued with the chance to do something a little more industrial, a little more linear, than what I normally play with.  Here is how it came out.  I put in some foliage to try to balance the mechanized with nature.  This is done in pen and ink, watercolor and some prismacolor to accentuate some of the colors.

I hope he likes it....

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Something Peaceful

Normally, I shy away from landscapes, especially when painting.  I seem to struggle with the temptation to hit every detail, capture every bit of information, which tends to make the painting labored and cumbersome.  On this week's envelope, I decided to just play with color and contrast while painting a countryside.  Instead of the normal gouache, I used acrylic because I wanted something a little more opaque and full, but the scan captures the shininess of the acrylic and left little white dots on the darker colors that really aren't there...but nonetheless, I was happy with the way it came out.
There is a fellow in my neighborhood that I sit next to, at times, in church.  He is older, and uses hearing aids to better hear what is being taught.
I notice during Sunday school, when he has his hearing aids dialed in just right to capture the volume of the instructor, he jumps and is in a startling pain whenever a baby cries or shrieks inside of the room.  This is likely due to the noise being amplified greater, giving this man a shock to the eardrum.
It happens every week, without fail, and yet, despite being frustrated, he is still kind and continues to come each week to hear what is being taught. It clearly would be easier to sit at home, be angry with his circumstances and curse the little one's that unknowingly cause him the startle. Yet, he's there every week.
It may seem like a small thing, but I'm grateful for his example of steadfastness.  When I am his age, and struggling with similar circumstances, I hope that I am as kind, as persistent, and able to "endure to the end" as gracefully.
This envelope, with a letter of thanks for his example will go out to him tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Old Black Tree

Recently, I was up at my father-in-law's house.  His backyard is full of of trees and bushes that surround his pool, but there is a wonderfully twisted, old, black-barked, tree that rises behind the pool and captures my attention every time I am there.  I drew it a couple of years ago during a previous visit, as can be seen here.
While relaxing in the backyard during this trip, I had to pull out the sketchbook, once again, and scratch out what I could.  It started to get dark, so I wasn't able to capture much, just the bark on the tree and a few limbs.

Once I got home, I wanted to continue to play with it, and embellish it a bit I continued to add the fence, a neighboring pine and a couple other embellishments...

All in pen and ink.

Saturday, August 05, 2017


Today I played around with capturing the majesty of the cardinal.  The scarlet of this bird, which doesn't dull in the winter, always captured my attention when I lived in Georgia.  The black on the face, giving it just enough contrast from the blast of crimson makes for a stunning specimen.  I could watch them jump through the brush from limb to limb all day.

This envelope goes out the the third fellow on the list of friends, as explained in my previous posts.  There are few people that I know that are as gentle and warm and inviting as Mike H.  I don't think I remember ever hearing him be judgmental of others, yet he is very liberal with his praise of those with which he encounters.  Despite reaching various areas of success in his life, he seems ever to be self-abasing and humble, and has served as another great example of what it means to "walk peaceably" with others.  At a time in my life when I was rather self-critical and didn't have much faith in my own ability, or in the brightness of my future path, his kindness contributed to my ability to see things in a different light, and to begin to trust in ones' ability to change and to grow into something different.

I chose a cardinal for him because of the color red and the deeper meanings behind that color for me. This spectacular bird is a silent witness of the reality of the gift that the color red reminds me of.

This was done entirely with gouache and an acrylic background.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Yep, another hen.....  There's something really great about the steely eyes of a rooster or hen, surrounded by the blazing comb and wattle, and the pop of the colorful and feathers.  I've done a couple other sketches of hens or roosters, and enjoy exploring their beauty.

In my last post, I spoke of my goal to send out a doodled envelope to a group of friends from my youth that had significant impact on my life. This week's post goes out to a second fellow (pictured below).  Matt and his good wife have created a friendship with us that surpasses mere friendship.  Do you have anyone in your life that are friends, but must have somehow really been family in the grand scheme of things, despite no blood relations?  These two have consistently been people with whom we feel we can be at ease, at home, loved, without pretense, and just enjoy one another.
I did a hen for them because of the hen's ability to gather in their loved ones and provide safety for the little ones.  Matt and Marlene have ever been the "gatherer's" for our little group of friends, and I'm grateful for the glue that they have been for us and that they continue to welcome us in.

This envelope was done with gouache, pen and ink, acrylic and a spot of prismacolor.

Friday, July 21, 2017


In my last post, I mentioned that my family recently had the chance to head back to my home town and spend time with a handful of different friends.  It was great to see everyone.  On one occasion, we sat down with a group of great people at The Pie Pizzaria (one of Salt Lake's best pizza joints), and my friend Terri looked at me in a dead-pan manner, and refreshingly, yet candidly said, "So, what does someone have to do to get an envelope from you?"  I had to laugh, but was grateful for the inquiry.

Little did Terri know that I had already begun thinking about series of envelopes for this very group of friends to thank them for how richly my young life was enriched to have been permitted to be absorbed into such a fine group of people.  Recognizing that I hadn't been vocal enough about my gratitude to each of them, it seemed appropriate to send out thanks via envelopes.

I took a picture of a handful of these good gentlemen (see below.).  They made a profound difference when I was teetering on some rather foolish decisions, and trying to find myself.

This first envelope for that group goes out to Mike P, and his wife Terri.  Great people!  Great examples of approachable, down to earth, honest and deeply interesting people.

Here's the envelope I did for them shortly after we returned from the trip.  This is done in gouache, with a small hint of pen and ink, with an acrylic background.

Here's a shot of the gents that have surrounded me for a long while, and that I am deeply grateful to call friends.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Today my family and I returned home from a trip to Utah to drop off our son at the Missionary Training Center for our church, in his continued preparation to serve a two year, full-time mission in Colorado Springs.  We are very proud of him for his decision to dedicate two years of his life volunteering to help others, something that seems less and less common in this world of selfies, immediate gratification and "what's in it for me?"  Aside from the neat experience going to the M.T.C., we also had a bunch of time to spend with great friends and catching up after some extended time apart.
Recognizing the importance of friends in the life of my son, and the influence they've had on him, I reflected on the power of friendship and how relationships from my youth played and continue to play such a profound role in my life.  Among many friends that we visited, were Brian and Elaine, who invited us to come and visit and spend time with their amazing family.  I doodled this envelope to them for their kindness and goodness, and for the impact that they have played in my life.

And here's a quick selfie we did on their porch just as we were leaving.  What beautiful people!

Since I am on the friendship theme now...there are a few more envelopes in the works to thank others for the influence they have had on my life.  Stay tuned for those....

This is done in gouache with a hint of pen and ink .

Tuesday, July 04, 2017


Over the past few months, I've done some sketches of various fruits and veggies...In an attempt to make myself feel better about the ice cream that I've indulged in today, I spent a few minutes knocking out this cucumber.  Anyone ever hear of nutrition through illustration?  Hope it works.


A few months ago, while working in the yard, I happened across a bird that had recently died and was being consumed by all the little critters in the dirt that opportunistically seize such meals.  The image of the bird, once able to soar and fly, once so fleeting and difficult to catch, just laying there accessible to everything on the land, left an impression.  This morning, I decided to do a little sketch of the image (since it is too hot to go out and work in the yard today.)
There is just something unsettling about seeing a fallen bird.  It happens daily, yes, but it is sobering to see. Yet, it is also beautiful to see up close! The magnificence of the wings, the little talons and the precision of the is fascinating.
While sketching this, I was reminded of some personal writing that my father penned before he passed away.  I thought it was profound, and I'll share it below.

                                                               Mark J. Monson

Melvin stalks the sparrows with his Winchester-cock-style bee-bee gun.  I follow right behind him watching his prey hit the ground.  Now it’s your turn he encourages me handing me the gun.

Another flock circles and lands unaware of Melvin and me and the bee-bee gun.  I aim, my heart pounds...the gun discharges.  The leaves flutter and all the birds fly.  I’ve missed.

Melvin is much better at this than I am.  I think it’s because  he’s practiced with his dad.  My father died before he taught me to kill birds.  I wonder if he would have taught me had he lived...    probably  not.  Melvin is lucky I think.

Don’t worry, you’ll hit one next time Melvin assures me.

We continue our hunt.   I carry the gun.  Then I see it...a yellow canary perched on a sun flower.  The yellow image, posed against the blue sky, blazes in my eyes.

Melvin sees it also and whispers Quick or it’ll fly.

 I look at it through the “V” sight of the gun.  It’s beautiful...

Shoot! Melvin insists.  I do.

My ears hear a dull thud and the canary falls back and down.

Melvin is elated and runs toward the sun flowers.  I stand dazed, not moving.  Holding the gun.

My trance is broken as Melvin shouts I can’t find it in this darn grass.

I move toward the sun flowers looking down at the red-splattered, flaxen-colored grass.  Following the trail of blood, I see the canary looking up at me.  It appears confused and frightened.  I wonder what I’ve done.

The bee-bee has punctured the canary’s throat.  Blood and air bubbles ooze from the opening.  The bird labors to breath.  Within moments there is no movement.  The yellow is matted with red and is lifeless

Melvin is patting me on the back, for how long, I don’t know.  When I turn to face him, he’s smiling.  I hand him his gun and walk away.  He calls to me What’s wrong?

I stop and turn to face him.  The experience replays in my mind.  I walk away and he questions Don’t you want the bird?

No,  I hear myself say, still seeing the red splattered yellow, I’ve got to go home now.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Olive Tree

After the time devouring map that I recently finished, I have decided to go back to the more familiar territory of doodled envelopes for people that might need a little "pick-me-up."  Recently I discovered that a friend had been diagnosed with cancer, and I decided to spend a few hours designing something for her.
There is something intriguing to me about the beauty of trees, and the unique character that each of them have.  I've doodled a few others over the years, as can be seen here, here, here and here.  But I've never done an olive tree.  Olive trees are unique in that they can grow in the roughest terrain and undergo severe pruning, dunging, forming and cutting and yet still thrive.  In fact, it is the constant and watchful eye of the Master of the Vineyard, and his ever present arboreal husbandry that continues to push the tree to yield a desirable crop.  I think there is meaning and significant symbolism in that.  Sometimes the very pruning that we undergo in this life that come in the form of disappointment, challenges, adversity, are the very things that push us to produce our best selves, letting the unimportant stuff slough off, leaving what matters most.
Here is the envelope that I sent off today:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Insect Map, Finally Complete!

Wow!  Undertaking the map project was enlightening in a lot of different ways.  First, I didn't realize how much time it would take to produce something that large, with that much detail, especially when trying to capture something from my youth.  I'm happy to have done it, but happy that I can move back to something a little smaller and more manageable through a couple of hours.
I also learned that drawing a map of a place you once knew brought back a lot of memories, transported me back in time to almost reliving some of the things that occurred there.

When painting this map, I remembered being chastened once for not watering Dad's garden the way that he showed me, but also how he rushed to me in the garden after that reprimand when he noticed that I was tearful at the rebuke.  I remember him kneeling in the soft, dark soil and asking him to forgive me for hurting my feelings.

I remembered laying under the massive cherry trees we had in the yard and playing with my dog, "Pepper" and watching the birds come and eat the cherries that were in abundance.

I also remember tying strings in a 45 degree angle to the side of my house, staking it to the ground, and then finding tomato worms in the garden and having races up those strings as the worms slowly crawled from the bottom of the string to the top.  GOOD TIMES!

Anyway, I hope you get as much enjoyment out of the finished product as I have had making it.  It's clear that I love painting insects, studying them and finding out what makes them tick...but I think I'm going to take a pass for a while on the little critters.  I also learned that when you do big projects, its harder to document.....I couldn't really scan anything, so I just had to take pictures of various details.  Sorry about the poorer quality on the photos.

Here's a few close-ups of some of the insects:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Insect Map, Day 2

Today I continued to hammer away at the map project that I addressed in my last post.  Maybe because it is Father's Day tomorrow or maybe because I am feeling nostalgic, I decided to do a map of the place where I first remember becoming fascinated with insects; my childhood yard.  This challenge has proven more time consuming than I expected and I haven't even started in the insects or labels yet on the map, nor have I made it to the front yard.  Hopefully o can find some time in the next couple of days to keep plugging away at it.  There's lots more I want to add!
So far, this has been done largely with gouache.  I added just a hint of ink to pop some colors off of the darker paper that I'm using.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Compass Rose

This week I was challenged to make a map, something I have never done before...aside from the treasure maps I would make as a kid, trying to mimic the ones in the movies with stale paper, burnt edges, and that always lead to a buried treasure with "X" marking the spot.
But as an adult, I've never really looked at making a map as a creative project to undertake.  So, tonight I dove in and started with the compass rose.  Not sure yet what the rest of the map will look like, but it was a little intimidating to start.  I pulled out the cheapest piece of paper I could find, an old newspaper sheet, and started doodling on it.  I find that when I have "intimidation block" that it is cured quickly by working on something that doesn't hurt to throw away, hence the cheap paper. I actually liked the toned paper look, even though the scan was a little wrinkled because of the way the water from the gouache wrinkled the paper.
Anyway, here's the start to some type of map dealing with,..YEP, INSECTS!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Another Moth for a Friend

Yet another great young man that I know is about to head out to serve a mission wherein he will dedicate two entire years, all day long, looking for people that need help, and doing his best to be of service.  So, this week's envelope and letter goes out to him and hopefully it will get to him as he arrives in South America just as he is starting this new endeavor.  I chose a moth, since in South America I know he will experience his share of many colorful insects. (And, if honesty prevails...I just really like to paint insects.)
Also, as noted in other posts, I'm fascinated in the metamorphosis that certain insects make in their life span, starting first as something formless, ugly and undesirable, yet, with the potential and inborn capacity to turn into something breathtaking and amazing.
Isn't this true with all of us, to some extent or another?  We grow, we change, maybe we don't like what we see in the mirror at times, or what we see in other people....but if we could just see their full potential, catch a small glimpse of what they can become, wouldn't we be so much more accepting, kind and patient with ourselves and others?
This young man is one of those amazing moths, who has grown and continues to grow, and I have no doubt he will look for others, see their potential, and help them along the path of metamorphosis.

Saturday, June 03, 2017


This week's doodle envelope and letter goes out to someone who has been faced with recent challenges that would cause any normal person to pause and ponder just how to move forward, how to cope with the changes, and to be able to keep their head above water.  I like the image of a turtle coming up for air while swimming.  To the casual observer, it might appear that it is struggling to survive, barely able to keep the nose up where the needed air is available.  Yet, built inside of the sea turtles is capacity.  They have ability to swim, to maneuver in water that would pose as a threat to other animals, and the ability to stay under those currents for a very long time.  Even though they need air to live, to survive, they can handle being away from it for 4 to 7 hours if needed.
I did this letter to remind the individual that although it may seem like they may drown, that they have the ability to draw upon other strengths, other built in abilities, to handle something that may appear, on the surface, to be something that would harm.

Years ago I did another little turtle sketch, also exploring the same ideas as expressed above.

Monday, May 29, 2017


Normally, I only knock out one envelope per week.  At least, that is my goal.  But, since today is a holiday and I am not at work, why not do another?  This envelope will go out soon to an individual who has been silently, and without fanfare, helping our family in multiple ways for a long time.  A great example of work, service and kindness, and to top it off, he loves to fish (hence the trout themed envelope).  This one is done in gouache, pen and ink and acrylic.

After looking at previous posts, I've realized that there are a handful of fish related entries...I guess I'm a fish guy as well as an insect guy.  You can see others here, here, here and here.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Recently I have had an opportunity to reflect on individuals that were placed in my life which served as great influences which turned on lights inside of my soul by their mentoring and their kindness and patience with me.  Todays letter goes out to such a man, Richard Summers, who affected my trajectory in ways that I probably still do not fully understand.  This envelope was done in acrylic, gouach and pen and ink.

Friday, May 19, 2017

...on Eagle's Wings

The majority of the recent "doodled mail" that I have sent out were to great young men and women that I had the chance to get to know while serving in Rome, Georgia.  These people chose to go out of their comfort zones and serve full time missions for their church throughout the world.  The envelope I finished tonight, however, goes to another outstanding young man, also from that part of the country, who is embarking on a different, yet no less important type of mission.  He has chosen to serve our country in the armed forces, and just recently left to Parris Island, South Carolina for boot camp.  I'm grateful for him, and for all the other brave men and women that put on the uniform to defend my liberties.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

...more Japanese mail

A few months ago I sent off a little doodled envelope to a friend serving a mission in Japan.  He's an amazing young man.  His sister, who is equally amazing, is also serving as a missionary there currently. I feel blessed to know them.  This was the envelope I just sent off to her in Fukuoaka.  Background is in acrylic, to get a little bolder color, and the koi is in gouache.  

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Red Completed

Alas, I am finished with least for a while.  I added a tomato, some Chinese maple leaves, and a curious little chicken head to continue the study of the color red, but I can say that I am happy now to move onto another color.  Here are a few details, and then the final painting.

Now it's time to go mow the law and pick weeds...I'm sure I'll find other colors and critters to inspire.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Red, continued...

I stated in the previous post that there is something deeply satisfying for me to paint in red.  Continuing with the "red" theme, I added this little fella to the Umbrella Monk doodle that I did the other night.  Lady bugs are such a beautiful little insect.  The bright color is actually a warning to predators that they don't taste too good.  But, OH, how fun they are to paint!

What's coming next on the "Red" page?  Not sure yet, but it will be fun to paint, whatever it is.....

Sunday, April 30, 2017


This weekend, I had more time than isual to fiddle around in the studio, and felt a longing to paint red.  There is a joy thay comes in painting crimsons and reds...  I love adding the greens to make shadows, popping the orange to pull out highlights.  To quench the "red" fever, I started this little buddhist monk with umbrella, and will add more and more red items in the future....who doesnt love a nice, flowing RED?   As I painted this, I was reminded of my little Tibetan children painting I did a while ago.  There are so many awesome colors in the orient....let's move there!

...and that is dying.

This week I was reminded of an individual in my neighborhood that recently lost her mother.  Years ago, at a funeral of a loved one, a thought, or poem of sorts, was shared.  It was penned by Henry Van Dyke years ago, but it was insightful, and I remember it often.   This week's envelope was to this person who lost her mother.  In it I put this thought, and doodled the ship on the frront.  

Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.


Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."


Gone where?


Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"


And that is dying...


Saturday, April 22, 2017

...more value than many sparrows

Confession Time:  The past few weeks have been rough with various pressures, challenges which consequently bring me to a place where I face a crossroads of fear or faith.  Normally when I get into these circumstances, I become grumpy, even unapproachable at times.  Last night as I lay in bed  I pondered my circumstances.  I reviewed how I have reacted to them, and recognized that I could do better, be better, and trust more, I came upon a pleasant reminder in Matthew 10:28 - 31 that circumstance does not determine personal worth.

"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.   Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."
So I decided to watch the sparrows today, and think of someone who is needing reassurance more than myself.  I decided to sketch out this envelope for a friend who has been asked to face a very challenging circumstance recently.