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Toward a Clearer Vision
Don Berry self-portrait
Self-portrait therapy

January 1—This painting is an attempt to shed pretense and look at myself freshly and objectively, as if observing another person. It's a form of art therapy—an exercise in seeing clearly what is there rather than what one wants to be there or believes is or should be there.

My illustration and drawing classes usually included a self-portrait assignment. Critiques of final work were entertaining and revealing for everyone despite scattered groans when the assignment was given.





Inauguration Cartoon

This cartoon is an impression left with me after watching the recent inauguration day events.

Rebranding Washington

A suggestion:

The new Apple Campus under construction (photo: Reuters/ Noah Berger) is impressive and ambitious, but a geodesic dome clad with light-responsive panels would create a world of new possibilities for the inner courtyard.

Apple Campus Dome

Journal entry, 6March2017:

12:37 a.m.—A half-moon is muted by an overcast sky. I'm sitting in the loft bed on this mild night while the mind streams thoughts of the stark contrast between a calm, inner world and an outer world fraught with division and delusion.


There seems to be no resolution to that outer battle—so many people are committed to a train of thought without awareness that it is an illustion— what is accepted as real is actually a mental concoction, especially the self-image so fiercely defended.

But there is peace in an individual life when there is peace within—the peace that comes from recognizing and detaching from collected ideas of who we are. Real freedom exists then—real contentment, real ease, real confidence abide when the imaginary self loses the power given by one's identification with it.

Unintended imagery

This is an example of the creative process triggered by random colors and forms. On the left is a composition of quickly painted colors done late one night with my tablet. On the left is an enlarged section where I saw the suggestion of a face that had formed completely by accident.

Flame experiment Flame-1

That section was greatly enlarged in Photoshop and refined to reveal this portrait of the "Flame Princess".

Flame Woman

Sea Creature

The character in this animation was also suggested by unintended, accidental imagery in the corner of a photo that I was processessing. I don't remember which photo it was, but the image took off in my imagination and, after much playful revision, became the creature in the video.

This project places 2D components in 3D space to give the scene more depth (note how the character reveals its flatness when it turns). It is also the first time I've used the Adobe AfterEffectsCC program to make a complete production that includes title, captions and credits without using another video editing program to add those components.

Reviving the Studio Exterior

The exterior paint on my studio was looking a bit untidy after 25 years or so. this was the condition of the south wall.

South wall "before"

In May, I went to Gersons in Tucson for their Eco-Paint, an inexpensive, recycled exterior paint. Color selection is limited, so I used left-over paints from past projects for the stripe and to tone down their "red" to a dusty rose.

Wall "after"

The west side includes a wall section and a front porch with a small deck and bench made from old fence posts.

West wall

The old deck lumber was deteriorating, so I removed it all and built a new bench using small pieces of scrap lumber topped with a 2x12x8' board purchased from Home Depot.

West bench

The paint theme on the south wall continues on the west wall section.

West wall

The art piece in the old window and the 18-year-old porch mural are also in need of repair and revitalization, but those will wait until cooler weather in the fall. The front of the studio, the north side, may also get a new paint job then.

Another Trump Cartoon

A news article mentioned that there have been complaints from some club members that a certain President was driving his golf cart onto the greens. That inspired this image of a President who ignores rules and traditions to do things his way.

Presidential Golf

I Try The Ugee tablet

In April, there was a flash sale on Gear Best that offerred a 16" Ugee HK1560 display tablet for under $300US. It is similar to the Wacom pen display tablets and has the same sensitivity level as the Intuous Pro I got over a year ago. The Ugee works quite well and seems a tremendous bargain compared to pricey Wacom products.

Ugee tablet

After alternating and comparing the Ugee with the Wacom Intuous Pro pen tablets I'd been using for the last 15 years, I keep coming back to the Ugee.

Repeat Business

While in the last stages of the exterior work In May, I was contacted by Marjorie Gettys, one of the first authors I'd worked with when I began my internet-based illustration & design service in 2003. After three years with no book projects, this was quite a surprise.

Initially, she just wanted to increase the size of the type in the original book to make it easier for children to read. Since I stll had those files, I thought it would be a relatively simple job that would only take a few days and bring in a few hundred dollars, so I agreed. However, as work proceeded, Marjorie kept expanding the project until it became a complete transformation to a larger book with a revised storyline and more, larger illustrations. I wasn't expecting that and found myself committed to a much more time-consuming job that would stretch through June and into July.

The story was inspired by a personal, mystical experience the author had. This is one of the simpler 2-page spreads in the new 40-page, 8"x10" booklet, but may be my favorite. It somewhat captures the mood of a spiritual revelation.

Book illustration_01

Since all the old artwork had to be re-done to fit the new format, the project allowed direct comparison of my current knowledge and skills with what they were 14 years ago. Needlless to say, a lot has been learned since then, and equipment and software are also much better. The resulting artwork has noticeably improved while being produced more efficiently.

Although extra income is needed and welcome, this kind of work can be taxing. I missed the freedom of waking up each day to dive into my own projects rather than dealing with the needs of a client.

Studio Exterior, cont.

After finishing the book project, I got back to the studio exterior. A brutally hot June into early July took a heavy toll on the ivy that had covered the front wall. In the middle of that heat wave was a stretch of several days when the daytime high was 110 or higher! The late p.m. sun baked the leaves.

This is the front, street-facing wall of Sala Grande before the heat wave.


After the heat wave, leaves died and fell off


The vines were removed and the wall scraped and patched


It's the same colors as the other walls now, except the stripe is a bit more vivid. The ivy will eventually grow back, unless super-hot summers are the new normal as the climate changes.


R.I.P. Polla the Cat
Polla the cat

Polla, my roomie for the past 9 years, fell asleep for the last time on the night of Septermber 11. He was 19 years old.

He was the inspiration for a kid's book, "Must Be A Cat!", and generally kept life interesting. It will certainly be different around the casita without him.

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