Don's Blog

Latest DS Art Blog Posts

Posted on Tue, October 21, 2014

For more recent blog entries, visit

Spreading the Nonsense, Unto the Second Generation

Posted on Tue, March 19, 2013

“You're here!” she exclaimed, rushing into my booth that the craft show.

I acknowledged, after a quick look around, that I was.

“Yes, I am!” I said, mimicking, honestly, her infectious enthusiasm.

“You don't remember me,” she continued, “I’m sure you don't but you came to my class a long time ago to talk about your art, back when I was in middle school, even, a long time ago, and I promised myself then that when I grew up and became an art teacher I would find you and ask you to come talk to my class, too! And now here you are, and I got my first teaching job this year, and could you come for a visit – are you still doing that?” And she did it all...Continue Reading »

Leadership Tools

Posted on Tue, March 19, 2013

James B. Stewart was lucky to have a steady job. Born on a hardscrabble farm in western Arkansas, orphaned at 12, he knew what it meant to be hungry, and relied on the work ethic and experience that came from a living earned tilling the land to make sure he didn't miss many meals.

Transplanted to the city, he found employment as a seed vendor, a florist, and finally the floor manager for a wholesale grocery warehouse. Stewart and his crew of laborers spent the day unloading produce from railroad cars and farm wagons, and reloading them into delivery trucks bound for grocery stores across the state. It was hard work, but it paid enough to feed a man and his family. Barely.

During the noontime break, J.B. noticed that while some of his men sat down and ate from lunch pails...Continue Reading »

First Grade, First Day

Posted on Tue, March 19, 2013

Following Mrs. Brown’s instructions, we reached into our school bags and got out our new Big Chief blue-lined manila paper tablets, along with our giant First Grade pencils - the fat ones intended to fit snugly into clumsy First Grade fists - each fitted with a bubble-gum pink eraser the size of a gumdrop, anticipating an abundance of First Grade mistakes. These we placed in front of us, the pencils laid to rest in smooth grooves cut neatly into the tops of our desks. We would need them later, Mrs. Brown said.

For now, we would use our colors, big cigar-sized crayons in the standard eight-pack of primary and secondary hues, plus brown and black. Take out the red one, and do as I do.

Open your tablets, she said, her taught straight back turned to us, her hand raised to...Continue Reading »

So Your Kid Wants to be an Artist

Posted on Tue, March 19, 2013

One of the things I hear frequently from enthusiastic parents goes something like this:

My son/daughter loves to draw (He/she draws all the time… always has a pencil in her/his hand… can just look at something in a magazine and draw it… doodles on everything… draws so well, it looks just like they took a picture with a camera… has turned our refrigerator into an art gallery, etc.).

Then comes the inevitable question, the one that makes me wince:

“What Art School should my child attend?”

First of all, let me say that these parents are already doing perhaps the most important thing they can do to assure success for their aspiring creative. They’re allowing their children to be creative, and, beyond that, to actually consider...Continue Reading »

Fifty Shades of Beer

Posted on Tue, March 19, 2013

I’m a black & white artist. It’s just easier that way. And sometimes lots harder.

  When I made the switch from respectable employment to art, I did so precipitously. There was no time to master any of the painterly media. I had to go with what I knew.

What I knew was the ballpoint pen. It had been my companion through nine years of higher education, and most of my lower schooling, too. I used it to write, to draw, to pry open stuck desk drawers, to puncture soda cans when the pop-top popped off. I had used a ballpoint pen for so long, on so many pages of lecture notes and patient charts, that I already had a permanent groove pressed into the middle finger of my right hand.

And after nearly thirty years ofContinue Reading »

Valentine Wine

Posted on Tue, March 19, 2013

I try to make sure that a print of my drawing Paint Brushes sits near the front of my display at art shows, with a sign attached that asks, ‘What Color Is The Paint?’ This subtle ploy draws a small audience of curiosity seekers throughout the day, some of whom, it is hoped, will stick around to see the rest of my work, and maybe take some home with them.

The answer is Burgundy, but I’d accept any of the wine colors from rose´ to claret, including purple, maroon, scarlet, sanguine, or just plain red.

When first planning this harmless ruse, I expected people to puzzle over the black & white design for a while, and, once they were convinced they'd missed the hidden clues, either give...Continue Reading »


Posted on Tue, February 12, 2013

For several holiday seasons I was privileged to set up my booth next to an accomplished craftsman, known widely for his hand-carved wooden figurines, particularly his expressive Santas, elves and gnomes, any of which could have been jolly s’elf-portraits.

He had a hard time keeping up with demand, especially at Christmastime, so he spent the entire show carving as an entertainment to his customers, staying out of the way of his charming wife, who busied herself taking payments, bagging merchandise, and constantly rearranging their festive holiday display.

His habit was to use an assortment of short-bladed knives to shape each bare block of wood, paring away the chips and curls of shavings until the details of his impish figures began to emerge. At that point he would take up a small, hand-size electric crafters’ drill, the high-pitched buzzing kind, with multiple attachments,...Continue Reading »

Top Brass

Posted on Thu, February 07, 2013


My Sax drawing unfolded like a dream. I woke up one morning with the image floating just beyond my visual field, a saxophone writhing with fishes, little shellfish for the mouthpiece and valve covers, abalone for the bell, a hammerhead shark for the sinuous neck.

It was a beautiful idea, but it made no sense, no sense at all. What did fish have to do with jazz? I drew it anyway, fleshing out the instrument with the Gulf coast creatures I studied in college Zoology.

Even though it wasn’t funny at the time, it made a great picture. The humor came later, in a cascade of titles and subtitles: Musical Scales, Harmony in the Key of Sea, Sax on the Beach. You can’t tuna fish. I couldn't...Continue Reading »

What We’re Here For

Posted on Thu, February 07, 2013

Back then I was still new at this business, presenting my work to the public in a bona fide art show. I busied myself with setting up a folding table and a couple of easels, balancing anticipation with anxiety, trying to act like I knew what I was doing.

An older man knelt in the space across from mine, fitting together the pre-formed sections of an expensive, professional-looking display. He looked up and smiled.

“What are you here for?” he asked.

“To sell pictures,” I replied confidently.

“No you're not,” he said, his expression now matter-of-fact, the smile still dancing in his eyes.

Is he kidding? What else would I be doing here?

“Then what am I here for?” I asked, a little incredulously.

...Continue Reading »