Family & Friends & Ampersands…our greatest holiday gifts

Family & Friends includes my cats!


#75 Family & Friends
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First, to my own family & friends:

I love you, I appre­ci­ate you, I respect you,
I enjoy you, I thank you.
But most of all, I love you.


About this edition

I got the idea for Amper­Art #75, Fam­i­ly & Friends, fea­tur­ing our friend the fun & fab­u­lous amper­sand, about a month ago, after a friend & a fam­i­ly mem­ber came to my res­cue. More on that lat­er. (Thanks, Joe. Thanks, Roz.) 

Fam­i­ly & Friends is a very spe­cial Amper­Art title to me & hope­ful­ly to you. I went through sev­er­al iter­a­tions to bring you a mean­ing­ful, ele­gant piece that you might want to send to oth­ers with your own sen­ti­ments, or frame for your fam­i­ly room (or Fam­i­ly & Friends Room) wall. It was issued for Thanks­giv­ing 2014, but let’s face it, Fam­i­ly & Friends are time­less.

First, you’ll meet my own fam­i­ly & friends (includ­ing my pets, of course). I am blessed with a lov­ing fam­i­ly &  friends that are the very best. That includes you, too, my awe­some read­ers & sub­scribers — you’re my Amper­Art fam­i­ly!

Then, you’ll see how the Fam­i­ly & Friends edi­tion was cre­at­ed. In response to sev­er­al requests from sub­scribers who want to see how I cre­ate Amper­Art, or how I even choose a top­ic, I’ve explained the process in the next sec­tion. (This par­tic­u­lar Fam­i­ly & Friends piece posed sev­er­al chal­lenges even though the design is quite sim­ple. It’s a per­fect exam­ple of why each Amper­Art piece can take 20 hours or more.)


My own family & friends

I am blessed with a won­der­ful fam­i­ly:

Mom & Dad (both gone but always in my heart) — both of my par­ents are the def­i­n­i­tion of integri­ty.

My sis­ter Roslyn & my broth­ers Andy & Robyou are the epit­o­me of love, friend­ship, hon­esty and gen­eros­i­ty. You’ve always been there when your eccen­tric black sheep of a broth­er need­ed a help­ing hand or a hand-​out. Thank you.

Mary Ann, you helped me get my very first van so I could start my busi­ness. You took care of us kids when Mom near­ly died. And today you com­ment on every one of my Amper­Art pieces. You’re very spe­cial to me…cuz you’re my favorite cuz.

My friends are so plen­ti­ful there prob­a­bly aren’t enough giga­bytes on the serv­er to list them all, so I’ll men­tion the old­est and dear­est, in the order they came into my life: Gary R, Gary S, Joe R (we’re talk­ing ele­men­tary and junior high on those three), Lande WGregg & Jill, Mardy D, Deb­o­rah T, Lisa S (& lat­er Sean), Jim B (if it weren’t for him I’d still be design­ing with a T‑square), Mark H (& lat­er Crys­tal), Pat B, Tara K, Mar­ty K, Sandy J, Denis W, Jeanette F. Those who have depart­ed, whom I miss dear­ly: Gilbert (the one & only!), Joe F, Pre­ston H.

My fur­ry fam­i­ly: Tiger, Bull­dog, Don­ald (yes, a duck), Woofer (my very best friend for six­teen years), Bri­quette, Amos & Andy…and my cur­rent awe­some crea­tures, Jeep­ers & Bebe.

I feel like I’m at the podi­um for the Oscars! Well, you see, that’s what my fam­i­ly & friends do for me.

Now back to what inspired this piece: Last month I had a seri­ous cir­cum­stance, and between my best friend Joe Rin­au­do and my best sis­ter Roslyn (she’d be my best sis­ter, I’m sure, if I had a dozen but she too is the one & only) they did some­thing for me as a com­plete sur­prise, sav­ing me from being home­less for the sec­ond time in my life. Imme­di­ate­ly I thought of com­bin­ing “Fam­i­ly & Friends” into one piece of art — to me they are often one and the same. My broth­ers & many friends & even a few clients have also helped me in need — tremen­dous­ly. If I did­n’t have to get this sent out right now I’d tell you about those Fam­i­ly & Friends expe­ri­ences, too. Instead, I’ll come up with some new ideas to illus­trate those episodes in future edi­tions.


How this project began…and wouldn’t end

This Fam­i­ly & Friends piece encoun­tered so many obsta­cles and mor­phed through so many changes I fig­ured it’s the per­fect exam­ple to explain how I cre­ate my Amper­Art pieces. Read More

#60 Precious & Adorable

C'mon, look at the camera!


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I had been want­i­ng to fea­ture ani­mals, specif­i­cal­ly pets, in an Amper­Art piece for a long time.
A spe­cial event inspired me to cre­ate what you see here.

A birthday party to help homeless animals

In Augsm_arvee_robinson_1ust I was invit­ed to a “mile­stone” birth­day par­ty for my friend and pro­fes­sion­al speak­ing coach Arvee Robin­son (that’s her, the pret­ty lady in the pic­ture).

Arvee always does things with pizazz, flair and the most upbeat atti­tude. But what she did for her birth­day took me by sur­prise, and real­ly warmed my heart. Besides a grand par­ty with fab­u­lous food, danc­ing, and a mag­ic show, Arvee themed it with dogs and cats to dou­ble as a fundrais­er for H.O.P.E., a res­cue and rehab for home­less ani­mals. (More about H.O.P.E in a moment.) Arvee even had “dog­gie bags” which were full of swag for our pets. And she helped me select the breeds for this Amper­Art piece – she once had a siamese and a pug.

Arvee Robin­son is also the founder of the Chris­t­ian Women Speak­ers Move­ment, where her goal is to help oth­er speak­ers over­come the fear of “bring­ing God to more stages.” She asks,

Are you afraid you might be unpop­u­lar if you bring God to the sec­u­lar stage?” 

She once was, she says. Read about this spe­cial group at chris​tian​wom​en​speak​ersmove​ment​.com.


 Helping Our Pets Everyday

HOPEcalendarAt Arvee’s birth­day par­ty I had the hon­or of meet­ing Mar­garet Coff­man, the founder of H.O.P.E. – Help­ing Our Pets Every­day. Isn’t that a won­der­ful phrase? I told her I would def­i­nite­ly spread the word about her very spe­cial foun­da­tion, where Mar­garet and vol­un­teers have com­pas­sion­ate­ly saved hun­dreds of pre­cious ani­mals from aban­don­ment, star­va­tion and death. She has cared for ani­mals her entire life.

Please vis­it www​.help​in​gout​pet​sev​ery​day​.com to adopt, vol­un­teer, donate, or just be charmed! Their 2015 cal­en­dar is avail­able, shown in the pic­ture.


Big pets, too

Just look at these amaz­ing pho­tos. Who says we can’t all get along? These pic­tures are on Ron Levy’s Inner Align­ment Method web­site, where Ron shows how you can dis­cov­er your life’s mag­nif­i­cence. I urge you to read about Ron’s enlight­en­ing explo­ration of life for over 50 years, in his blog.


 

Production notes:
Original size: 10x15 inches
Program: Photoshop
Fonts: Minion, Futura
Ampersand: Futura (modified)
Images:
Siamese: Bonzami Emmanuelle /​ 123rf​.com
Pug: Copyright: Kitch Bain /​ 123rf​.com

#51 Salt & Pepper

51-salt-pepper

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Dad­dy died March 29, 1962, over a half cen­tu­ry ago. I was 10 years old. He was 62.

Now I am 62.

You can imag­ine March 29 this year has been on my mind a lot late­ly. I am healthy, still feel young and strong (until I do some­thing stu­pid at this age), so it’s hard to imag­ine my dad look­ing like such an old man when he passed away at only 62 years old.

But he always looked like an old man to me, and I loved him for it. That’s one rea­son I’ve always respect­ed my elders. You see, my dad was 51 years old when I was born. Already he had salt & pep­per hair, and still a full head of it in the cas­ket. That’s how I’ve always seen and remem­bered him: with this beau­ti­ful, wavy salt & pep­per hair that I want­ed when I grew old. Well, I have it. Mine’s more sol­id gray, but that’s okay. It still reminds me of Dad­dy. (I nev­er called him Dad, always Dad­dy as I was only 10 when he died. So if it sounds sil­ly that I still call him Dad­dy, well that’s okay…it just sounds right to me.)

I could tell you a lot about this man I loved and admired, and I will. But one thing that is absolute­ly fas­ci­nat­ing is that Andrew J. De Simone was born Decem­ber 31, 1899. That’s the last day of the cen­tu­ry before last! Which meant he was always the same exact age as what­ev­er year it was—to the day. That’s why it’s a lit­tle con­fus­ing to com­pre­hend he was 51 when I was born in 1951. And he was 62 when he died in 1962. Read More