Art here

r-shadow-artI was amazed when I saw Rachel doing this the other day – she was tracing the shadows with chalk on our porch. I never would have thought of doing that – but (I thought) it was very creative.


Advice that should be given

horse-head2One of the most memorable moments of design school was when the lead professor (Frank Cheatham) said, “If you are here to learn to draw better horses, then you are in the wrong place.”

That always stuck with me. When we enter a learning experience with too strong an idea of what we want to get out of it, we will probably not learn very much.

Somehow I wanted to work that thought around to my next idea, but I couldn’t figure out how. Maybe it’s that the above advice should have been given a long time ago to a young person I know. They are in a program that is just not suited to them. They are so far down the road that it’s too late to do something else. They seem to be happy enough (though the course of study is quite a challenge), but no one has ever given that advice.

They are (proverbially) drawing a lot of horses. Hours and hours, days and days, spent drawing more horses.

I’m a bit ashamed that I did not have the courage to say something.

Would you have said something?

The horse painting – it’s copyright-free from Dover Publications. And the artist must have enjoyed creating it.


Spam art

spam-art2This glorious symmetrical juxtaposition of spam subjects was too good to ignore.

I never open these messages, but I do check my spam folders on occasion – inevitably, there is a real email in there from a real friend that I would regret not reading. (But no one I know ever writes about things shown in this random spam art.)

Takeaway: Look for the beauty in unexpected places. (That’s a central part of the Shiny Bits of Life ethos.)


Pitch in for the sake of art


You may remember my post on labels. Well, my friend Lee is now collecting labels to create a work of art from. I’m also collecting for her.

If you would like to send me your labels, I’ll pass them on to Lee. I think I can convince her to let me post a picture of what she creates.

Just leave a comment. I can grab your email address from there, and I’ll send you my physical address. Or send me an email at phmerrill at g mail dot com.


Consider the context


This cougar lives in downtown Boulder, Colorado. He is a very active guy, as fixed sculptures go.

The artist did not consider the whole… the base is very high-tech, while the cougar is very hand-done-showing-the-artist’s-touch.

Takeaway: Consider the frame for what you are presenting. It could distract from your message.


Napoleon Dynamite (times too-many)


This Subaru lives in our neighborhood.

Maybe its owner has never heard of masking tape? Or maybe it’s a rebellion against coloring within the lines. In any case, I think the owner has seen Napoleon Dynamite one too many times. (That might be the car Napoleon would drive – and the owner secretly wants to be like him. But now I’ve let the cat out of the bag.)

And I guess it just struck me, because it seemed like something Napoleon Dynamite would do to his car if he had a Subaru.


You can’t keep everything


Rachel created this lovely piece of art. My urge was to keep it. Somewhere. Instead, I “kept” it by taking this photo.

When I was a kid, we didn’t create as much art as kids do today. My parents were blessed by not having to face the dilemma of which of the many many pieces of art to hang on to.

By the time we reached child number three (Rachel), we collected even less. That’s one of those unfairness-of-life things. But since she’s the most artistic of our kids, perhaps our rate of collection evened out.

Takeaway? Digitize.


Dying for a drink


I was amused at this sculpture that lies (sleeps?) in downtown Denver.

The man is lying face down, sipping from the pool he is doing push-ups in.

Happy Monday. Go grab a drink of water – but don’t die doing so.


A little history


I’ve spent most of my adult working life doing graphic design. I’ve done a lot of print, some web and a little interactive.

So as I was going through photos from my mom’s apartment, I came across this one. My dad took it sometime when I was in either high school or college. I was working on an art project. You’ll note the headphones. (Music has often been significant fuel for my art.)

When I went off to college, I majored in art because I was always the best artist in my small class. Soon I learned that I was a small fish in a big pond.

I chose graphic design because it was a tangible way to make a living with art. I minored in illustration because I could draw. I switched to package design after I realized that every time I created an illustration, it was like having a baby. I’m not a woman, so having babies is quite difficult.

I have done both illustration and package design during my career. These days, my life has very little of either.


Frustration with wanting perfection


My family got me a lovely present for Christmas… custom design-my-own stamps from It took me a while to figure out which image to use. I finally settled on something from my Rubbish Art series.

So I got them back and they weren’t perfect. The image was offset, even though it had appeared perfectly via the website interface. I thought I might send them back, but then I realized they probably wouldn’t get it right the second time. Then I thought of getting a refund. (It was easy enough to do.) In the end, Heather convinced me to keep them and use them.

So, my frustration? That I wasn’t happy with less than perfection. Being picky is sometimes a good thing. In this case it wasn’t.