You’re probably considering how resilient you’re business is right now, and how flexible it can be. Me too. It’s the right thing to do. During times of immense challenges, creativity thrives and innovation is born – My business exists to assist your business in navigating a quickly evolving landscape.

Many of my projects are completely coordinated via phone, messaging, and conferencing. I will continue to operate normal business hours, via home studio. Time to reflect? Time to pivot? Time to refine? Time to evolve?  I can help.

Most of all, take care of yourself.  I’ll see you on the other side.


I just learned about What 3 Words

W3W has divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and assigned each one a unique 3 word address. It used an algorithm that takes complex GPS coordinates and converts them into unique 3 word addresses.  It means anyone can pinpoint any location with 3 simple words.

Of course, the first thing I did was look up what 3 words are designated to the exact location where I’m sitting and working right now.  Brew. Displayed. Imparts.

Ok, I don’t get to pick em so there it is.  That’s where public office is located.  Here’s how it looks:

what3words gives every 3m x 3m in the world a unique 3 word address.

Why should anyone care?

what3words is useful where street addresses don’t exist and provides a level of specificity when they are not accurate enough.  I work in a shared workspace environment so the building address won’t even get you close to my office inside the space but What 3 Words nails pinpoints my exact location.  Very cool.

It’s accurate, consistent, memorable, multilingual, works offline (as long as you can store 20mb of data), works great with voice input, and has built in error detection.

It’s a design thing

You might also be wondering why I’m blogging about this.  I’ll tell you.  Design is largely about making things clear and accessible.  The What 3 Words system is all of that and they’ve built a beautiful interface to deliver it.  I get excited about cleaning up clutter and making systems efficient.  It clears our minds to stuff more clutter in there.

One small problem

The only issue I see with this system, in it’s current state, is that it can’t indicate elevation. So, if you are in a highrise building, you’d share the same 3 words with everyone above and below you. Perhaps they are working on a solution for this?
Discover your What 3 Words address HERE.

This list will evolve. New pens keep coming out and I keep discovering old ones. First off, I should say I love technical line drawings. I look for pens that can handle tight consistent even flow line work. Some handle smooth and painted surfaces better than others so I’ll create a category for those.

The blue circles indicate where I tested a water wash over the ink to test it’s “proof”:


Best All-Around Writing and Drawing Pen

(1) Pilot Precise v5 & v7

Rolling ball
(v5 is extra-fine / v7 is fine) Both are great
It’s called “precise” because this pen has a rolling tungsten carbide ball for dependability. Its large liquid ink reservoir holds twice as much ink as regular disposables, and there is a convenient window to view how much is left. Comes in various colors. Unfortunately, it’s not waterproof so will bleed if watercoloring over it.

Best Waterproof Pens

Uni-Ball Signo UM-153
Pigma Micron
Copic Multiliner SP
Sharpie Industrial Extra Fine

Best Permanent Marker

Sharpie, no question. But which sharpie? Have you tried a Sharpie Professional. They are a very large pen but hold up to the elements well in my initial tests. I tried writing on glass and putting it through the dishwasher. It survived. Scary, actually. I use it for outdoor and tricky surfaces that are slick, damp, or tricky.

Best White Ink Pen

Uni-Ball Signo UM-153
Love this pen! It’s very opaque and go over painted surfaces like watercolor or mixed media. Helps to lay down a layer of matte medium if the surface gets too glossy/smooth.

(2) Pentel EnerGel
Similar to above but not quite as consistent and durable. Seems to jam up a little easier.

best technical pen
Rotring rapidograph

anyone tried this one?
Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica 0.3 mm Pen

This winter has been brutal! It’s expected to drop to -15 tonight. I love to sketch in nature but just can’t hardly hold a pencil outside in these temperatures! Not to mention, Iowa looks a bit like a winter wasteland this time of year (I love you Iowa). So… I’ve been drawing objects on my desk and crispy leaves that are blowing around on top of the snow. Here are some of my dead leaf studies.

These 3 leaves came attached to a handy branch for easy study and display. I wish I still had the original leaves in a glass case. They were gorgeous.



Love the spiraling veins of “dead” leaves. The dried skeletal remains accentuate the energetic flow that formed them, in a sense, making them appear even more animated and revealing more unique personality than was evident during their living days.
leaf watercolor kevin riley Feb2014

This painting was made by boiling leaves and then laying them on watercolor paper and pouring paint and ink onto them. I sometimes have to wait days for things to dry up enough to peel up the leaves and see what’s been created. I’ve ruined more than a few trying to rush the process with forced air and blow dryers.

Eames Lounge ChairIn case you were wondering what to get me for Christmas… This Eames Lounge Chair will do nicely.  Don’t forget the footrest – I can’t imagine the chair surviving without it.  A perfect union of originality and “if-it-aint-broke-don’t-fix-it-ness”.  Yep, that’s a word.   Google it.  I wouldn’t even have to work anymore… just sit and think about how comfortable my chair is.  Ahhhhhhh… shhhhhhhhh…… don’t ruin this moment.

Anyhow, gorgeous design deserves sharing so I’m putting this up.

2012 GreenhouseI’m in the process of developing a new website to share some of my projects in the areas of permaculture / sustainability. I’m a passionate organic gardener food lover with a growing collection of successful building, gardening and landscaping projects. I aim to share my successes and struggles to give back to the online “community” that has provided me with infinite ideas and inspiration while trying to find solutions to my problems. Lots of these projects relate to the challenges of extending the growing season in the midwest (Iowa) amid constantly unpredictable weather. I’ll post a link to the new site soon!

BeachyIllustratorBlogIf you’re like me and feel like there is always more to learn then you’ll dig this article. I found it too good not to share. Whether you use Adobe Illustrator daily or are just getting started, you’ll find some gems in William Beachy’s article about the “6 Essentials to Setting Up Your Illustrator Documents“:

What makes this article stand out is Beachy’s natural ability to concisely work through the most common technical aspects of Illustrator, from setup to saving, with easily scanned copy and great screen-shots. He also does a great job of keeping the editorial banter to a minimum. Speaking of which, I better just leave it at that. Design on, my friends!

If it’s Google that your asking, the answer is really the same as if you asked me… QUALITY!

Google wants to share relevant links to high quality, well-written, organized content. Sound simple. I guess we’d better define quality first..

Here’s Google’s bulleted checklist to test your own content: (Or, as they put it… “What counts as a high quality site?”):


  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

You can read the whole article here:

Linoleum Man

Since the beginning of the human experience, we have been seeing things our own way.   Two cavemen looking at a cloud are likely going to see two different things when their mind’s eye tries to make sense of the abstract or “random” shapes.  The trick as an artist (yes you are all artists!), is to act on shapes, colors, feelings, and ideas that get your attention.  How you act is completely up to you.  Today, the linoleum on a “random” bathroom wall was alive with interesting characters and I wanted everyone else to see them too.  This little guy to the left was one of my favorites.


I took a photo with my iPhone and then modified it to highlight the part that grabbed me.  Here is the progression of the image as I worked to extract my favorite little monster from the wall.

I’m really enjoying WordPress lately! Launched this new website today! I’ve been developing so many of my clients websites on WordPress that I figured I better try to keep up with my own. It’s been a long time coming!

I love the WordPress development “community”. If you can’t figure it out, Google it! About 27 people have posted a solution and about 490 people have commented on how to improve their solution. This platform is not a lonely road but it does take focus and filtering to get to the good stuff. Just like any platform or collaborative venture, you are going to get some ideas that appeal to you and many that don’t.