#84 Love & Devotion

 

84 Love & Devotion

 #84 Love & Devotion
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Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

Leona L. DeSimone
May 26, 2016 — February 13, 2001

LEONA L. DE SIMONE
Beloved Wife, Mother and Grandmother
1916 – 2001

This piece was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in Feb­ru­ary 2017 for the anniver­sary of the pass­ing of my moth­er on Feb­ru­ary 13, 2001. It’s the per­fect piece to send again for Moth­er’s Day, for I’m proud to intro­duce you to this incred­i­ble woman who brought up four young kids on her own after our father’s ear­ly death. She was always smil­ing (except when I heard her secret­ly cry­ing as she count­ed pen­nies to feed her chil­dren). Hap­py Moth­er’s Day to every­one, for you are either a moth­er or you’ve had one.


—Feb­ru­ary 2017—

Before I release Amper­Art #100 with a big cel­e­bra­tion lat­er this year, I want­ed to include in the first 100, two specially-​numbered pieces of my art­work to hon­or my mom and dad, from whom I inher­it­ed my tal­ent:
My father, to whom I will pay trib­ute with Amper­Art #62, died at 62 years old on March 29, 1962. It will be released in March.
My moth­er, to whom I pay trib­ute with Amper­Art #84 (she died at 84 years old on Feb­ru­ary 13, 2001), which is the Amper­Art I release today.

We had huge hydrangea bush­es in our front yard, and I always asso­ciate those flow­ers with my mom. They are soft and pas­tel (ours were a mix of pink, blue, white and pur­ple), and big and round and cush­iony look­ing. I was very pleased to find this beau­ti­ful art­work which depict­ed the exact col­ors of Mom’s hydrangeas.

I always called them big bul­bous old-​lady flow­ers; today I dis­cov­ered the prop­er term (thanks to my friend JoAnn — I thought they were aza­leas). As for “old lady,” we kids were for­tu­nate our moth­er lived to a won­der­ful 84 years old, in pret­ty good health, too, all the way up until almost the very end. For the last sev­er­al weeks we took turns stay­ing with her and nurs­ing her. One thing I will always cher­ish is the hon­or, although it was very embar­rass­ing to my mom, to change her dia­pers, for that is what she did for me a long, long time ago.

Mom’s favorite col­or was deep cobalt-​navy-​indigo blue, so I chose that as the back­ground to this piece of art. The type­style is soft and friend­ly, but also a time­less face which express­es solid­i­ty and integri­ty. That’s what my mom was — nur­tur­ing, always smil­ing, but stern enough to bring her kids up as decent human beings. Well, most of us; I’m the eccen­tric black sheep. In fact I actu­al­ly hat­ed my moth­er because she would­n’t allow Dad­dy to spoil me all the time. After our dad died when I was 10 and my broth­ers and sis­ter were even younger, it did­n’t take long for me to real­ize who was real­ly keep­ing the fam­i­ly in line. I loved my dad dear­ly, but when I real­ized that his gen­er­ous and spoil­ing nature was tamed by my down-​to-​earth mom, I gained a true respect and admi­ra­tion for her. A dif­fer­ent kind of love, one that is based on sen­si­bil­i­ty, love and devo­tion to her chil­dren.

The peach col­or in the let­ter­ing is the col­or of ros­es we, specif­i­cal­ly my sis­ter Roslyn, chose for her funer­al. We expect­ed per­haps 50 – 75 peo­ple, and over 200 showed up to pay their respects. Our moth­er touched so many peo­ple with her smile and kind­ness, peo­ple we nev­er even knew, that it blew us away. How proud I felt for hav­ing such as spe­cial per­son as a moth­er that spread so much joy to strangers (well, strangers to her kids).

Mom always sang a lul­la­by to us that is still one of my favorite melodies. We had it played on the organ at her funer­al. All Through the Night (the Welsh lul­la­by, not the Cin­di Lau­per hit)You can lis­ten to it here, sung by Per­ry Como and the Ray Charles Singers in a TV broad­cast from 1958, just around the era Mom would be singing it to all us chil­dren. Appar­ent­ly it struck some­thing deep in Per­ry Como too, as you’ll notice he was­n’t able to fin­ish the song.

My broth­er Rob took that spec­tac­u­lar pho­to of her grave­stone. The reflec­tion of the tree and branch­es are mean­ing­ful. They’re like the strength and endurance that mom always had to with­stand some tough times, mak­ing sure we kids grew up in a nur­tur­ing and lov­ing home.

You left us one day before Valen­tine’s Day, so it’s fit­ting that I sim­ply say Mom, I love you. 


chaz sez ...

Check out the new “chaz sez” blog at Des​i​moneDesign​.com, my com­mer­cial graph­ic design web­site. It’s most­ly about design, typog­ra­phy, print­ing, pub­lish­ing & mar­ket­ing, but on occa­sion I’ll divert to a side­ways top­ic that just can’t escape my rant­i­ng & rav­ing.


Production notes for #84 Love & Devotion:
Original size: 20x30 inches

Program: Adobe Illustrator
Font: Goudy Oldstyle
Ampersand: Goudy Oldstyle
Credits:
Hydrangeas: deposit​pho​to​.com
Mom’s gravestone: Robert DeSimone
All Through the Night: The Perry Como Show /​ YouTube
You may repost the image. Please credit Amper​Art​.com.
To download a full-​size high-​resolution 11x17-​inch poster, click on the image.

For pro­fes­sion­al graph­ic design, please vis­it Des­i­mone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

#79 Love & Be Loved, a Valentine’s poem

 

Love & Be Loved


#79 Love & Be Loved
Click to view full-​size or download hi-​rez image for gallery-​quality printing and framing.
This is a high-​resolution pdf & may take a few minutes to download.
Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

Dear Amper­sand Lover,

Hap­py Valen­tine’s Day!

A love­ly poet inspired my 2015 Valen­tine’s Amper­Art piece. In fact, her poem actu­al­ly con­tains an amper­sand. Her poem’s title is also my Amper­Art title: Love & Be Loved.

How blessed
We are
To love
& be loved
For love is
God’s work
in our hearts

The poet­’s name is Saman­thi Fer­nan­do. She is a Cal­i­for­nia Poet who writes inspi­ra­tional & spir­i­tu­al poet­ry.

Her writ­ing is remark­able. I am not a huge poet­ry fan, but what Saman­thi writes — & the way she writes — touch­es my heart. Her way with words is com­pelling, suc­cinct, crisp, mod­ern. (I like mod­ern.)

Vis­it Saman­thi’s blog, where she’s writ­ten lots of poet­ry. You don’t just read her poet­ry, you feel it. The pho­tog­ra­phy in the head­ers is all hers, too. Just like her writ­ing, her visu­al com­po­si­tion is stun­ning. (If you don’t think the Valen­tine’s head­er mea­sures up to the rest, don’t blame it on Saman­thi. I con­tributed that one.)

Fall in love with Saman­thi Fer­nan­do’s poet­ic min­istry of hope & heal­ing at http://​starsafire​.star​rayz​.com/​w​o​r​d​p​r​e​ss/

rosegoldSOLIDHUEhearts

Concept & design

If you find aes­thet­ic beau­ty in this Amper­Art piece, you can thank Saman­thi for that as well. She intro­duced me to rose gold, which she says is very pop­u­lar in fash­ion & décor right now. (I should know this stuff.) I find it a valu­able addi­tion to my list of favorite col­ors. I pre­fer sil­ver over gold. Sil­ver is light, crisp, mod­ern, where gold is heavy & old (just sayin’). How­ev­er, sil­ver just does­n’t con­vey the rich­ness of gold, & that’s where rose gold comes in. Con­tem­po­rary, invit­ing, & rich.

The lock­et was orig­i­nal­ly sil­ver, so I sam­pled some acces­so­ry pho­tos (thanks, Tiffany) & lay­ered the new col­or over the sil­ver, turn­ing the heart into rose gold. I wish I could do the same to every­thing—I mean for real. Every piece of alu­minum, stain­less steel, pewter & even my sil­ver Cray­olas — open up Pho­to­shop & turn them all into real gold! (On sec­ond thought, leave the Cray­olas alone; I like them just the way they are.)

I LUV U

In devel­op­ment, an ear­li­er ver­sion of the art­work had a can­dy heart where the pen­dant is. I want­ed some­thing that said “I love you.” What bet­ter than those icon­ic hearts! I tried “I LUV U” but that was too friv­o­lous. In fact, I felt the can­dy heart itself was friv­o­lous and too “can­dy pink” for such a beau­ti­ful poem, which required a sophis­ti­cat­ed design. I bro­ken­heart­ed­ly (not real­ly, but it is the theme here) decid­ed to sac­ri­fice the words “I love you” for a more ele­gant image. I found sev­er­al beau­ti­ful pen­dants with gold & sil­ver & gems…then I found this. A sil­ver pen­dant, beau­ti­ful­ly hand-​tooled in an organ­ic ham­mered fin­ish, with the words “I love you” in sev­er­al lan­guages. The per­fect piece!

That is, until Saman­thi com­ment­ed on its col­or, sil­ver. No, it was­n’t the rich col­or I had con­ceived for that ele­ment of the art­work, but that’s the col­or it was, & gold would actu­al­ly clash with the oth­er col­ors of typog­ra­phy and back­ground. Then she asked if I had could pos­si­bly make it rose gold. Yes, I’m sure I could — if I knew what rose gold was. She direct­ed me to a few exam­ples & voila! Rose gold is the per­fect col­or for the lock­et and for the poem!

That just goes to show…you can teach an old design­er new tricks!

Wish­ing you a love­ly Valen­tine’s Day.
Love & Be Loved


 chaz sez ...

 

To Roslyn, Andrew & Robert:

I love you!

Actu­al­ly, the head­ing this time should say “Char­lie sez…” because that’s what I’ve always been to my sis­ter & broth­ers, and to my very old­est friends. (I acquired the name “Chaz” in my drink­ing days…I was called “Chaz the Spaz.” Some of my art­sy friends liked it so I kept it. Eas­i­er to write, too. In fact, I can’t even prop­er­ly pro­nounce my giv­en name, “Charles,” named after my Sicil­ian grand­fa­ther, Car­lo. Though I detest being called “Charles” — too for­mal! — I like the fact that it offers so many options, such as “Chuck,” “Char­lie” & “Chaz.” My sis­ter calls me “Char.”) I do digress. Chaz the Spaz.

Just the oth­er day I was think­ing, sad­ly, about the fact that as my broth­ers & sis­ter are get­ting old­er (me too — I’m the old­est) we see each oth­er less fre­quent­ly. I’ve moved 100 miles away & one of my broth­ers is plan­ning to move over­seas. Plus, my sis­ter is kept busy with work, kids and grand­kids. And my oth­er broth­er is miles away and busy, too.

We’ve always been close as a fam­i­ly, and I am extreme­ly grate­ful for that. It hurts to hear when fam­i­lies are torn apart. I think we stick togeth­er part­ly in hon­or of our great par­ents who bestowed immense love upon us; and also just because we respect and love each oth­er a great deal. Although I don’t deserve much respect for all the fuck-​ups I’ve pulled in my life, end­less­ly ask­ing my fam­i­ly to bail me out or lend me mon­ey (lend?). Still, we stick togeth­er.

But at the same time, it seems we’ve phys­i­cal­ly been drift­ing apart.

I cher­ish all the trips we took as kids to vis­it our uncles and cousins (on my dad’s side, just a few cities away; our moth­er’s fam­i­ly was in Indi­ana, sev­er­al states away). My par­ents’ sib­lings were all very close, and they vis­it­ed each oth­er fre­quent­ly — by long dis­tance tele­phone calls if not in per­son. I felt the warmth among them, the love.

When will it be too late, I was won­der­ing recent­ly, when one of us is gone before we all got togeth­er as a fam­i­ly again? It was a very sad thought.

Well, a hap­py thought came in as a text a few days ago. It was a mes­sage from my sis­ter — wait, let me find it so you can read it your­self…

Hey there Broth­ers,  i am hop­ing the 4 of us can get togeth­er for din­ner on either Feb­ru­ary 6 or 8.  I spoke to Rob awhile ago and I told him it would be great for just the four of us to “man­ga” (is that spelled right) togeth­er.  I will cook Mom’s spaghet­ti snd meat­balls with all the fix­ins.  Rob is in so hope u two can join.  It will be a De Simone Hap­py New Year din­ner!  ♥♥♥♥♥ Roz

And…

I even have Mom’s spaghet­ti bowl to serve our main dish :)

I felt an immense warmth read­ing that. I felt our close­ness. I felt…love & be loved. I look for­ward to this din­ner very much. Yes, the din­ner itself, as Roz is a fan­tas­tic cook and if she can pull off just a smidgen (one of Mom’s words) of what our moth­er would have made, it will be a real feast. (I’ll bring the Ital­ian cook­ies.) Note: Our moth­er was full Ger­man, but Dad­dy made sure she could cook Ital­ian, and mama mia she could!

By the way, Roz,  it’s spelled “Man­gia!” and you got­ta shout it and use your hands.

Even if just peanut but­ter & jel­ly sand­wich­es were served, being with the best sib­ling friends that I grew up with for the past 60 years is one joy­ous occa­sion I’m real­ly look­ing for­ward to. I miss them very much as the kids we once were (okay, they’d say I am still the same irre­spon­si­ble child­ish brat).

I am very hap­py to tell you, my Amper­Art friends, how much this occa­sion means to me. I want­ed to make some sort of pro­found state­ment at this very spe­cial din­ner with­out sound­ing too pompous or sap­py, but thanks to you, my readers…I think I just said it. Hope­ful­ly my broth­ers & sis­ter will open this Amper­Art & read it.

So, whether it’s “Char” or “Char­lie” or even “Chaz the Spaz”…I want to say I deeply love, & I know I’m loved by, my incred­i­ble sis­ter & my two mag­nif­i­cent broth­ers.

UPDATE: Din­ner was mag­nif­i­cent! My sis­ter out­did her­self. After the antipas­to, the Ital­ian appe­tiz­ers, olives, meats & cheeses, as well as Ital­ian cook­ies & bread­sticks, there was hard­ly enough room for the spaghet­ti, meat­balls & sausage. But we man­aged to stuff quite a bit down, as it was so incred­i­ble to taste “Mom’s spaghet­ti” again. Then there was dessert: can­no­lis, cheese­cake and gela­to. Plus an Ital­ian almond nougat can­dy which dou­bled as a charm­ing place­hold­er.

There was still one more course: the fam­i­ly gath­er­ing itself: just my sis­ter, two broth­ers & myself. We laughed, rem­i­nisced, played triv­ia games like who could remem­ber all the streets in order to the left and right of our house — a good test for senil­i­ty. We all dis­cov­ered, or were at least remind­ed, of events in our child­hood we’d for­got­ten about, and some we nev­er knew.

This meant more to me than the typ­i­cal hol­i­day feasts. That night was a lot of fun & a lot of food, but it did­n’t end when we depart­ed. I still feel the warmth and love that my sis­ter & broth­ers brought to that spe­cial evening, and to my child­hood, and to our fam­i­ly as a whole. I know our par­ents would be very proud that we have stayed so close as a fam­i­ly.

My deep­est grat­i­tude and love to Roz, AJ & Rob­bie (the names they had as kids).

Love & Be Loved…absolutely!


Production notes for #79 Love & Be Loved:
Original size: 10x15 inches
Program: InDesign, Photoshop
Font: Eras
Ampersand: A silver pendant turned into solid rose gold, thanks to Samanthi’s fashion sense
Credits:
Poem: Samanthi Fernando, starsafire​.star​rayz​.com/​w​o​r​d​p​r​e​ss/
Pendant: Андрей Гивель (Ukraine photographer, aka Trionis), 123rf​.com
Background: vec​tor​tuts​.com
Reference for rose gold hue: Tiffany (where else?)
 

For pro­fes­sion­al graph­ic design, please vis­it Des­i­mone Design.

Desimone Design

#61 Father & Daughter

Click to download hi-rez image


Click to view full-​size or download hi-​rez image for gallery-​quality printing and framing. 
This is a high-​resolution pdf & may take a few minutes to download.
Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

I wish my sis­ter could have expe­ri­enced that spe­cial occa­sion called the “Father-​Daughter Dance” when she was in ele­men­tary school, but our father died from emphy­se­ma when she was 7 years old. The father-​daughter dance, also called “Father & Daugh­ter Dance,” “Dad­dy Dance,” or “Dad & Daugh­ter Dance,” is usu­al­ly held in 5th or 6th grade.

Accord­ing to this arti­cle,

The first strong male bond girls have is with their father’s and this event teach­es young girls what it means to be treat­ed with love and respect.  The goal is that father’s will con­tin­ue to be pos­i­tive role mod­els and that these girls will have healthy rela­tion­ships as teens and adults as a result.

For­tu­nate­ly, my sis­ter did have a pos­i­tive child­hood and mar­ried a won­der­ful man who proud­ly took his daugh­ter to their Father-​Daughter Dance … or should I say, she took him?

One last thing about this Amper­Art piece, is that our dad was a bar­ber, so I select­ed a lock of my sis­ter’s brunette hair (via com­put­er graph­ics) as the amper­sand. Dad­dy would have sure­ly been proud of her hair.


listen up!Shoebox Letters: a precious gift for Father’s Day

I had the priv­i­lege of set­ting the type in a very spe­cial book for author Clay­ton Brizen­dine. This book is a col­lec­tion of actu­al let­ters writ­ten from daugh­ters to their fathers. It is pure raw emo­tion, stat­ing every­thing from admi­ra­tion to fun times to bit­ter upsets, but always men­tion­ing love.

 

Shoebox Letters: Daughters to Dads

Every review is 5 stars, includ­ing mine:

I did­n’t buy this book, and I did­n’t read it as a nor­mal per­son would. I set the type.

As I was design­ing this book for the author, I found myself laugh­ing out loud at some of the expe­ri­ences the daugh­ters relayed about the dumb things their dads would do, and found myself sob­bing at tear-​jerking moments of deep love and bond­ing, or of loss and hurt. The most endear­ing part was retouch­ing the pre­cious old pho­tographs and plac­ing them next to words that described the daugh­ters’ most cher­ished moments with their dads. Final­ly, in proof­ing the text, I did read the entire piece front to back, and it was a tru­ly aston­ish­ing com­pi­la­tion of let­ters that range from the great­est love and devo­tion and pride for fathers to sor­row­ful accounts of resent­ment and bro­ken­ness. Every let­ter, how­ev­er, does express a love of some sort for each dad from his daugh­ter.

Clay Brizendine’s pro­found essay for each set of let­ters — and his pas­sion for enlight­en­ing his read­ers, show­ing how to heal and bond rela­tion­ships through the pow­er of let­ter writ­ing — makes this book a real joy to read and to learn from. This is the ulti­mate Father’s Day gift.

Final­ly, in work­ing with Clay I have real­ized he is tru­ly a man of char­ac­ter, hon­est and sin­cere, and wish­es most of all to give his read­ers an enlight­en­ing, enter­tain­ing and mem­o­rable expe­ri­ence.

This could have gone to press soon­er, if tears had­n’t cloud­ed this design­er’s work­space.

Am I pro­mot­ing Clay’s book? You bet I am! This book  is one of the most pre­cious gifts you could give your dad this Father’s Day, whether you’re a teen, mid-​age or a senior daugh­ter your­self. There’s bound to be a sto­ry that both of you relate to.

Read all the mov­ing tes­ti­mo­ni­als, or order a copy for your dad, here.

To all fathers, Hap­py Father’s Day. And to my sis­ter and broth­ers, you turned out real good, even with­out a dad for most of your child­hood. (For­tu­nate­ly, our fam­i­ly was rich with friends and rel­a­tives who stepped in when need­ed. Thanks espe­cial­ly to Gilbert. He deserves his own Amper­Art piece!)


PRODUCTION NOTES:
Original size: 20×30 inches
Programs: Illustrator, Photoshop
Font: Vladimir Script
CREDITS:
Bow image: www​.hawai​ikawaii​.net (a blog by a student in Sweden about “kawaii, unicorns, flamingos, rainbows, and cupcakes…cute and fun in any shape or form”)
Hair color reference: www​.lat​est​-hair​styles​.com (My sister’s a brunette; I think I got the color pretty close.)