None of the above.

Art journal page made 11/12/16.  It is time for each and every one of us to wake up.


Our “leaders” aren’t our leaders.  They don’t care about us.  They don’t work for us.

This is a game to them.  This is a puppet show, and we are the puppets.


Turn the TV off. Put down the smartphone.  Don’t look at the news.

Take care of yourself – go for a walk, eat healthy food, read a book to learn something – not to escape.   Now is the time to awaken, not to escape.


We are waking up to the game that we are in.  we vote, but “they” pick the winner.

How about we all vote, but leave every slot on the ballot blank?  This way “they” can’t say it is voter apathy.  We didn’t forget to vote.  We didn’t just stay home.  We showed up, and we said NO.  No more of this.  We are tired of the game because “We the People” always lose.


God is in charge, not any man or woman.  Not any elected official.  God was upset with Israel when they insisted on having a king over them.  God allows us free choice, and watches, hands tied, when we make bad choices.

We will always lose when we put people over us to rule us – when we forget that God is the supreme authority – not any person.  Time to look for other ways to support ourselves, rather than relying on “The Man”.


Time to break up with government.

Time to say “It’s not me – it’s you, government.  It just isn’t working out.”


Background and construction –

Base – the back of a sample ballot – the back was printed with “Page Left Intentionally Blank”.  When I first saw this (this is from a ballot from the Spring of 2016) I thought it was funny to make the page not blank by writing that it was blank.  But now I see something different.  I turned it so “Blank” – nothing  – is up.  You can see the printing of the sample ballot through the page, so it shows that this is about an election.

I included stamps related to America – personal freedom.  Native American.  Statue of Liberty that is Blue and Red and White – not divided, but all three – so not Blue (democratic) States or Red (republican) states, but all of the Union, together. There is even Green, for Independent.  Stamps about war and liberty, about “A common Determination”, about “Industry and agriculture for defense”, about “Security, education , conservation, health for defense.”   Dog tags saying “never forgotten” and a military medal saying “Honoring those who served”.

Ephemera about quality, creativity, unique expressions of each person, of the various and unique cultural and religious traditions that make this country so great.

This is OUR country.  It is time to reclaim it as the great country of individuals who choose to live in freedom – as wide and varied as that term means.


Occhiolism1 012416

Created around 1/24/16

8.5 x 12 inch Strathmore visual journal
Paper with a word from “The dictionary of obscure sorrows” depicting “the awareness of the smallness of your perspective.”
Art paper
Glue stick
Magazine clippings
Used stamps about peace and world harmony.

Alice in the Woods of Words

Alice in the woods of words 011516

Art journal page.

Random pages from Hamlet
Distress Ink – rusty hinge applied with a sponge, allowed to dry as a base coat, then I colored with antique linen, brushed corduroy, pine needle, crushed olive, tumbled glass)
reversed copy from Alice in Wonderland
super gel pens (from “The Write dudes”)
Doodle scents markers
used stamps on paper
matte medium
scrapbooking scissors

“Travel by Stamps” is now available!

cover image

So apparently I like making books.

“Travel by Stamps” is a picture book using stamps for the illustrations. I wrote and assembled the story in a tiny travel journal first. Then I scanned the stamps and typed up the words to the story, changing the layout to suit the new format of a printed work.

This was created for fun and as an homage to art journalists. I can’t sketch very well yet, but I’m learning quite a bit about layout and design for when I do.

This is available in print and e-book from Amazon. It is only 42 pages, but because it is full color it is more expensive than would be expected for a book that size.

Travel (by) stamps

Some journeys are private…

1 …where we venture out alone, with few provisions.

2 Everything is a surprise, or a delight,or a wonder, or a challenge…

3 to be enjoyed or dealt with on our own.

But sometimes we travel with others. Then there are more decisions to make.

4 How shall we travel? How shall we move from here to there?

5 By helicopter? Or skis?

6 Or the unknown and as-yet unnamed?

7 Perhaps we will take a plane…

8 …to Spain?

9 Or a tiny boat with only room enough for five…

10 …to visit a mountainside where homes crowd atop each other.

11 Perhaps we will sail away in a ship out of the mists of time…

12 …to an island fortress long forgotten?

13 Or take a rickety, rumbling cable car up a hillside…

14 …to discover a medieval village unaffected by modernity?

15 Warmer climes, you say? Then we will travel by camel…

16 …and stay with Bedouins…

17 …perhaps enlisting the help of a local herdsman…

18 …to enjoy the wildlife…

19 …from a safe distance…

20 …for them…

21 and for us.

22 Then maybe you’ll tell me you can fly

23 …and we discover a land forgotten by time.

24 Maybe you’ll prove to have secret talents and we will travel in a small black box…

25 …to visit a large black box.

26 While there, we fall in love with minarets…

27 …and towers…

28 …even discovering that we now notice towers (bell, clock, and otherwise) in Western climes.

29 We are grateful for the new eyes our travels have given us.

30 We can fly to islands…

31 …where animals outnumber people.

32 There, we can ride a horse into the forest…

33 …to discover those who stand out …

34 …and those who hide.

35 Or we can take a canoe…

36 …along the shore…

37 …to see animals at a safe distance,
both large…

38 …and small.

39 Even America has undiscovered lands…

40 …filled with animals who are majestic and rare,

41 or common and equally beautiful.

42 p42

43 Travelling further, we see beauty everywhere we look.

44 Some of it stark…

45 …some of it serene.

46 We decide to take some of the beauty home with us, to decorate our table.

(This was assembled by hand in a 65 x 80 centimeter travel book. I wrote the words on the left side, and glued the stamps to the right. The book was purchased at least 12 years ago as a Christmas gift, yet it never found a home. It stayed in my gift basket all that time. Most of the stamps were given to me by a friend in a massive box from an estate – it was a man’s entire lifetime collection, unsorted, some glued together from damp. I sorted them into categories over a long weekend. That alone took at least 10 hours. Then I sorted out the stamps for this and worked on it over the course of a few weeks. I scanned, cropped, and uploaded this in a day – that took another three hours.)

Island adventure (with stamps)

My friend Kate and I decided that we wanted to go explore the Island across from us. We live on the mainland, and going to the Island has always been our dream. Nobody that we knew had been, so we wanted to be the first in our group of friends.

It isn’t something that is done casually, we discovered. It turns out that you have to apply for permission to go there. We didn’t know this and almost got into a lot of trouble.

We set sail on a sunny morning in September. We paid our fare to ride on a sailboat out to the Island. The captain must have thought that we had all of our papers in order because he didn’t ask us any questions. He could have saved us a lot of trouble.


There were many different kinds of sailboats in the water between the mainland and the island. When we got closer, we noticed that there were actually two islands. From the mainland, it looked like there was only one. We sailed for about an hour, enjoying the salt air and the sound of seagulls. The captain offered us tea and cookies but we declined. Having never sailed before, we were a bit queasy. Also, we’d packed a lunch for later that we were looking forward to.

The captain expertly steered his sailboat right up to a dock and waves us off. We thanked him and started to look around. There wasn’t much activity going on here. This must not be the commercial area. Perhaps this side of the island was just for tourists like us. It looked like we were the only ones today. This was surprising, since it was such a beautiful day and school was out. Where were the families? Where were the young couples?

Then these guards came up to us.


It was hard to take them seriously with their huge coconut helmets. They must be twins too. Look at all those awards! They have to be wearing these for show. No real soldier who means business would wear all of that nonsense on duty. We relax. Maybe everything is going to be fine.

He takes us to the guard booth and makes us wait. We can’t go further on the island until he can confirm our story, and he can’t do that until he can get a translator. He picks up a phone and tries it.


No signal. He picks up an older one. He has the same result. He picks up the oldest style and it works.

After about ten minutes another guard comes.


He looks at us suspiciously and speaks to us in a language we’ve never heard. When he sees that we don’t understand it, he tries another. And yet another. It is just like with the phones – no connection. By the fourth try we have something that will work. It isn’t a first language for any of us, but it will do.

He interrogated us for about thirty minutes. Somehow we managed to say all the right things and we are free to wander the island without an escort. This is the best possible outcome. We were afraid we’d be sent back home. Maybe he thought we weren’t a security risk because we were school age. Whatever the reason, we were grateful that our adventure could continue.

They had a few rules we weren’t aware of. We weren’t allowed to take pictures. They took away our cameras while we were on the Island, only letting the captain of the ship give them back to us when we were back at sea. We weren’t even allowed to draw pictures of what we saw. They are sure secretive! They didn’t exactly swear us to secrecy, but they sure didn’t want us talking too much about what we saw. Maybe some of our friends had been here, but just had been too afraid to tell us.

I decided to write letters back to myself on the mainland, and use their stamps to illustrate what we saw. They are certainly different about keeping in touch here! They don’t use phones very often. Nobody has a computer. They communicate in person or by mail. They are really thrifty too – they use stamps from all over. They don’t make their own. There is probably something about security in this idea too, but I haven’t thought about it much.

There are no maps for this island. It isn’t very big so you can’t get lost for long. We decided that we wanted to see as much variety as possible, so we went wandering. We went walking into the forest first.

2bonsai forest

There certainly was no fear of getting lost in this forest. It was composed entirely of bonsai trees. These beautiful old trees only reached to our knees. After about ten minutes walk the trees started to get bigger, but still not so tall that we couldn’t see our way through. There were wide easy paths to walk on as well. It was beautifully laid out and made for an easy stroll.

While walking in the tiny forest, I noticed this huge blue dragonfly.


He sat calmly on an immense fern and let me get really close to him. I marveled at how shiny he was and how he sparkled. He looked like he was made of gemstones, but he was alive. Maybe this was why this island is so well guarded.

Shortly afterwards I saw a lovely box turtle.


He was walking away from an unusual orange flower. I think he was trying to eat it, but didn’t like the taste. The turtle reminded me when I was a child. I used to rescue turtles who were crossing the road. Sometimes they didn’t make it to the other side. Sometimes they made it to my house instead. Boy, were they surprised! I left this one where he was. If they didn’t want me taking pictures, I’m pretty sure they didn’t want me taking wildlife.

We came upon a hillside covered with castles.


Normally hillsides are covered with flowers. These weren’t anywhere near as welcoming as flowers. Maybe this is what they were trying to protect. There were five huge stone castles, stacked almost on top of each other. We turned away, sure that we’d not be welcome here.

By this point, we were getting very hungry. We sat on the hillside that had the castles, but not in view of them. I put down my poncho so Kate and I could have a sort of a picnic. She took out our peanut butter and jam sandwiches from her satchel and we quietly ate them, thinking about how unusual our trip had gone. Our lemonade had gotten warm, and it wasn’t that sweet anymore. We looked around and saw just over the hill a large field of strawberries –

2 strawberries

and blueberries.


We ate ourselves sick on them, and curled under a normal-sized tree for a nap.

When we woke, we were being stared at by a bunch of black birds.


They were all the same, and all chirping animatedly at us. They looked a little ominous, with their sharp beaks and shiny black feathers. More started coming so we left the area and kept on exploring. We were concerned that their cries would draw attention to us and we’d not be allowed to stay all day.

Soon we found another tree to sit under. This one had three birds sitting on the same branch.

2tree birds

We liked the fact that they were all different and all getting along. We thought maybe this was the nicer part of the island.

Then we went to the shoreline and looked at the fish. We saw some large fish that looked like they were fencing with each other. I wonder how they decide who won, with three of the fencing at the same time?

2sword fish

Then we saw a huge school of fish, all swimming in the same direction.

2peace fish

We wandered on a little further and found a cove with only pink sea life.

2pink fish

Well, they all looked pink. Maybe it was just the light at that time of day. The sun was starting to go down, so we knew it was time to leave. We were told when we arrived that we had to leave before the sun set – no exceptions. There were no hotels on the island, and they didn’t like the idea of putting us up in a private house. We wondered how (or why) anybody moved here.

As the sun’s light was fading, we sailed back to our home. We loved the fact that the island was so large that it took two stamps to illustrate it.


One day wasn’t enough to explore all of this island. I’m sure there were more curious parts to it. If only we had more time. If only we were allowed to stay. If only never gets you anywhere, though. I’m just grateful there was a way to show you what we’d seen that honored their requests.

Fortunate stamps – the background

I’ve got a lot of stamps, and a lot of fortune cookie messages. The stamps were easy to come by – I bought bags of them from craft stores. The fortune cookies weren’t so easy. I like Chinese food. I eat it at least once a week. And once a week I get a fortune. I get a little overwhelmed when I think of how many meals my collection of fortunes represents.

Recently I started to go through both of these sets and sort them into themes. From that I’ve been making art. I’ve done some of this over the years, but after sorting them I have a bit more focus. I found an “empty” book that I bought years ago and started arranging some of them there. I’m only filling the right-hand pages.

Of course, I’m doing this amid all my other craft projects. Either I’m getting distracted or I’m clearing my head so I can finish the other main project (my book). Perhaps I really am into the “jigsaw” method of life – do a little here, and a little there, and then it all comes together.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do this, to put them together like this. I thought I was going to paint and put them in art, kind of like Nick Bantock does. But this empty book seems to be a good way to hold it all together. It is clean and simple too. All the focus is on the subject. It isn’t “busy”.

I had a bit of a pause – what if I put it in the “wrong” order? Then I realized I can scan it and re-sort it later. Sometimes I over think things, but I think that is part of being an artist. What matters is that I won that argument by deciding to just do it anyway. Half the part of making art is getting over the need for things to be perfect. Something is better than an imagined thing that ends up being nothing because I over thought it and was too scared to start.

I’ll post the pages in a separate post so I can add to it later and have the whole thing together for you. But I want you to see what I’ve been creating.