Vintage Manual Typewriters, Captivating


    Typewriter Olympia SM9 frontal pic1

For writing I chose a portable manual typewriter.  The venerable writing machines are captivating old technology that still convey messages and data to others. Typewriters of this ilk are productive with only human power. The use of these machines has given me new insights into my writing process.

I do not reject the “instant”, the digital, nor the have-it-your-way-now world. I watch as words develop instantly on the monitor. I enjoy digital spell checker. I add new words to the computer’s dictionary my way. I still produce documents with typos.

That is my feint in making comparisons. From my view there are no comparisons I find compelling, digital versus manual. In short, I am a different writer when I use a typewriter.

There it is, the human aspect of humane letters or writing the latest RSVP. I could text my response to an invitation. “Write and sent. Done and done,” next task please, “and done”, very efficient, slightly cold and clammy.

I chose to type or hand write a reply since the sender used an envelope and a stamp to get my attention. I responded in kind. Also, I am engaged in a different way.

I might ride a motorcycle or I might ride a horse. I love them both. I go from point A to point “” however I can. I am a different rider on a large sentient animal than one astride a large engine connected by two wheels.

The differences make me different, that is captivating.


Typewriter Joy, Typical


SC 1951 5S Silent Rep Clean 2-16-18 1B

I wrestled the typewriter from of its crate.  I was pleased it had been so well protected, not the typical experience. The extra armor helped the venerable Smith-Corona Silent to resist a thousand dings as it bounced to my front porch.

The only ding I wanted was the brassy bell at the end of a typed line. Ding, is crisp authority as, “go to the next line”, then the metallic echo fades and the typist pauses. There it is;  the meditation of typing with a manual typewriter, cacophony, followed by silence.

As well as I can tell this typewriter was created in 1951. Typical of a machine of its age it had accumulated grime, dirty typefaces (the letters), and had parts hidden in “gunk”. All of this required gentle cleaning and downright scrubbing. It was a usual day at the work bench.

After my ministrations I added a new ribbon and closed the cover with a snap. I cranked the platen knobs and the mechanism rolled a sheet of paper up into proper position. The Smith-Corona Silent was true to its name. It waited. It also inspired me. It propelled me into the realm of writing, and as transported on a new journey, I pressed the keys.

It was a day of joy when I typed a line about a jaunty fox over-leaping a drowsy canine. *

Such a delight. I could get used to it.


*”The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

Being ready by Design

Whenever I am in the notion to work I do not want to have to struggle with tools, find things I need, clear off messy work surfaces and do double work type work to make something. I am a one person shop-studio- en plein air Artist. It is up to me to give myself every advantage I am able.

Junk in Plastic Boxes

Containers on a shelf. Like things with like things. 

On the bus I have my tools in a neat vintage Lands End™. One zipper and a snap I am ready to read or sketch. The other places I create are fairly organized, but just. I can wander between projects and return to the easel over many days. Tools line the drawers and parts and pieces fill bins, containers, and the occasional peanut butter jar.

I make it a rule to finish projects– they may not be perfect, that doesn’t matter, I complete my work. Work I’ve promised by a deadline gets to the person before the deadline. If something is needed by Thursday and I get it Monday the piece is ready on Wednesday before 5 p.m.

Because I’m cool? Nope. Because I don’t like things hanging over my head. Besides it’s my word that is worth more than the project I’m working on. If I lose my good name, even if it’s not my fault, then I cannot buy it back.

Brushes cleaned and ready

A process of brush care at the end of a session.

So I keep tools, materials, and work spaces ready for work. I won’t win any awards from minimalist decor folks. I can find anything and I can usually remember where I have filed most of my stuff. That’s my test. Keep like things with like things; label the drawers; use clear containers with labels; put up things as I go and simple processes like that. This keeps something like a mess from hanging over my head.

As I typed before, I admit I won’t win at perfection, zero mess, just a bit of wisdom in the seeming madness. I have a shop-vac, several brooms and dust pants, even a magnet on a rope when needed.

Note I didn’t say “rules”. When things are ‘supposed to be’ done a certain way, or controlled this way, or filled with judgment I usually baulk, or “buck-up” as the Aunties used to say.

Rules are fine but if I make a process that functions well, it will not be perfect. I might leave my acrylic paints all out, in trays that go into a cabinet when I’m finished, but I want to see my materials. It’s like when I get new color pencils–that excites me. I can’t wait to use the new pencil. I’ll even start a new page just to incorporate it into the composition or just go crazy mono-chrome.

Leaving an organized neat area dedicated to acrylics, or oils, or wood-block, or just my easels helps me organize my day-week-month. It’s like my “visual-control” for my project management. I can manage what I see and I “go-and-see” continuously as “walk-around-management” of myself. Big job.

Raygun Build Parts

Selected items ready for  a project.

I know by working with materials on a daily basis, seeing them regularly, and monitoring my progress what I need to replenish. I don’t have duplicated materials, nor do I run out of 20% gray pencils at 3:00 am Sunday morning. I don’t waste time looking for materials and resources; I don’t have waste in duplicated items–6 pounds of “sinker” nails is more than I need for this project–and I keep a re-order list and make a time to order as needed. I also keep a list of items to trade, give away, or sell.

These concepts help me keep my spaces ready to work. Organized for production is what I like to call it. It’s also a fun way to engage with the materials, to bring an idea or inspiration to the front and spring-board into the work.

I have to make the most of every opportunity I make or every time I get the chance to make something that I think is cool. When I’m ready to get busy I am more motivated to do just that.

Going to the shop or to the studio not a struggle, it’s a pleasure.  By design.

Art is My Super-Power


I Artist


I have fears. I think this is common among us humans. Perhaps that is why we crave the created beings with “super-powers” so universally. The sources I cite are our myths and legends as much as a nod to modern creators around the world.

These Super-Beings have flaws, just as I do. I so-identify with their weaker bits. One observation I made early in my reading, even at their weakest they do not quit. They command their fear and they overcome.

Art has a major villain is Fear. It is crippling.

  • What if I fail?
  • Beginnings I fear the most….
  • What if no one likes what I make?
  • “This is rubbish, therefore, I am rubbish.”
  • That is that “mess” supposed to be?

Fear makes Artists “settle”, take fewer risks, make a cocoon and wrap up in it knowing, “I knew I couldn’t make it as an Artist.” So the tools and materials are put up in a cupboard where dust can collect and a comfortable forgetfulness settles.

I propose to laugh in my fears. Laughing at fear is a great way to begin an Art session.

Round One, the Sound of Laughing

  • Stand up
  • Breathe deeply
  • Smile
  • Spread out your arms so you look like a “T”
  • Rotate your arms in a close circle
  • And, Laugh for 45 seconds.

Round Two, the Sound of Laughing some more

  • Sit down
  • Breathe deeply
  • Smile
  • Stamp your feet
  • And, Laugh for 45 seconds

Now after a minute and a half I am on my way to being my Art.

Being my Art? Right, I used to consider my Art as separate from me, Art is something I do. Art is me, my spirit, my mind and its eye, my joy, and my hope. I guard so my Art is not my fear.

Laugh at fear. My Art is my Super-Power.


Next post: I Artist: Be Limitless, Stray from the Path

I Artist, Making the Foundation Good


I need some mercy on my soul
Right now–
Gimme what you got.


Why submit to fear?

  • Other people are counting on your fear. Your anxiety feeds them somehow. Maybe they can sense it on you.
  • That’s why clients are reluctant to pay. And why they ‘micro-manage’.
  • That’s why other Artists are salivating at their shot at what should have been yours.
  • Denying fear isn’t my suggestion. Face it. That maybe the best start. You’ll have to design the next steps.

Re-design yourself.

  • Jettison old bad habits. Heck, give yourself every break you deserve.
  • Have your work space ready for work. Pre-stage your materials.
  • Be ready to burst forth from the gate. Otherwise you’ve hobbled yourself to the ground and it’s 1:00 PM (1300 hours) and you’re staring at a blank some more.
  • Make a list. Do the list. Move forward.
  • Tell them you want more time, more money, more share. Then earn it.
  • Nothing is cheap, excellent, and on-time. Choose two. It’s a good guideline for yourself, for your studio, for us all, and for your clients

Carve out your productive time.

  • Know the cost you pay for every hour in your day. Same as with your rents, your materials, insurance, or any other cost. TIME IS MONEY.
  • Don’t put things off. I know creative people “procrastinate” but when you do, keep it on your project. If you’ve convinced yourself procrastinating puts you in a ‘highly pressurized zone where you do your best work” and that’s working for you. Okay with that. But, if that ‘highly pressurized zone’ is not where you’re getting you the results you want then, d’oh!
  • Manage your time. Work. Rest. Repeat.
  • Production is not equal to Perfect. Better done on-time than perfect.

Minimize distractions.

  • Clear out your calendar.
  • Set your phone aside for a while.

Put yourself into your work. After all it’s why the client, gallery, consumer, or peers chose us.

  • You and I may be unique but there are imitators and copy-cats
  • Only you can do what you do—and that involves being the first one in the door. After that you have to hope © and ™ will protect you.

Keep your promises.

  • Just no compromise here, okay! You don’t have enough treasure to buy a good reputation.
  • Climbing back up from that hole that is ‘broken promises’ or ‘he doesn’t care’ or what a lousy reputation is what was made by not keeping your promises.

If you fail, face it. Who said your should pretend to be super-human? Failure is when you quit. Don’t quit. You’ll never be super-human, okay?

  • Make the adjustments. Get back up. Go again.
  • Improve your work habits. Only you can over-come You.
  • Work so you can feel good about your project.
  • Create that energy, that excitement where you can’t wait to see what amazing Art you’re going to make today.

Take care of your body and your mind. Not an exhaustive list, but hey, work with it for your own life.

  • Rest & Work
  • Nourishment
  • Exercise
  • Cleanliness
  • Relationship time
  • Reflection time

No excuses.

  • Get back up if you fail. Put yourself into all your work.
  • Re-design yourself when needed. Improve your serve: Be your time manager. Don’t throw flexibility out the window. Limit distractions—close your studio for certain hours.
  • Be good to your word. Do what only you can do–produce your Art in a timely manner.
  • Stand up for yourself. Ask for more of everything you can.
  • You are the adult in charge of you. Own that.
  • Be a self-starter. Then do your Art until it is finished. And finished on time.

Art Maketh the Man

Sometimes a person needs another person to be whole. The sweet life.

One more round of billiards is a cool end to the weekend. Fine good friends.

Run one more mile before calling it a workout. Stick to it.

Nail bent1

That won’t do.

Art requires much of me. On one side,  I am filling my notebook with reminders to correct errors. In that book I record the blunders, the almost-but-not-good-enoughs, all the lessons I am learning are in there. “That’s one for the Notebook” is a common phrase around me.

I started over each time.  Ate the mistakes, went around the breakdowns, and overcame the log-jams.

That is design. The stylish well-pressed clothes and perfect hair under the lights, well, that is glamour. I hope someone else is paying for that.

On the other side, I am stocking my toolbox with tools that will help me to continuously improve over time, every day.

Attitude is part of my tool box, it is a mental process of improvement. Improvement makes me more efficient and less likely to blunder (so much).

The Fundamentals have been banged in to me from first memories:

  • Show up to work
  • Do the Beginning
  • Stick to it through the Middle
  • Be there for the End
  • Turn out the lights, day is done

Marketing is essential, but I must have something to trade on, something to grasp someone’s imagination and I must communicate clearly and simply.


Nails Just Right1

Just right, those nails have held well.

Talk is cheap. I must rock my art.

That is why I work every day. Art makes sense that way to me or else it is a hobby. Nothing sideways about that, go for it if that is your gig.

Art is my Fire.

Art makes me whole.


If you would like to comment feel free.  I usually respond within 24-hours during the week. 

Stopping Sooner


I sat down at a table with another artist.  The last three seats in the room were at our table all the way “up front”. I was present for an “artists advisory” exercise that was supposed to help me overcome some of my obstacles and they featured Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Two for one is good in my book.

Our project was to make a fifteen minute sketch. Use a provided reference or not. At the end of the time we were to trade drawings and go into critique mode.

I fill up Field Notes notebooks with drawings. Sometimes I doodle in what is supposed to be my writing journal. It’s automatic I am going to draw.

I imagine typography or logos on handouts and napkins while I wait for my food.

That day I had a bad case of bashful pencil for some reason.

When time was up we traded sketches.

My table neighbor told me I over-rendered my sketch, “Try simpler pencil strokes, looser lines, and reduce the texturing.”

“But I like all of that stuff,” as if I had channeled a seven-year old whiner.

“Just like it a little less.”

So I guess I will.

Morrey Gape Mouth

Eel, graphite on paper