Archive for POND pursuits

Public Education: Why I Believe One Means All


Usually when you come here, you find some painting or photograph I’ve taken, some bit of design work I’ve done for a client, or some interesting piece of paper or illustration that inspires me this week. Today is a little different.  The graphic up there is one I’ve been working with for Parents for Public Schools of Starkville as we advocate for a successful consolidation this year, and I have to admit it’s a very passionate effort for me. So friends, I hope you’ll permit me a more local-centered and current-event-charged post on an issue very personal to me… I’m a product of public education. In more ways than one. I went to public schools and my parents are also 30-year veterans of work in public education — a high school principal and a 3rd grade teacher. It’s just how I was brought up. I was the kid riding on the high school cheerleader van as my parents chaperoned them to every (yes, every) varsity football game. I grew up seeing my dad shuffling what seemed like hundreds of legal-sized sheets of paper on our dining table as he step-by-step created the schedules of every kid in the next year’s eleventh grade class. And then checked by hand that they would match graduation requirements. Because that’s how they did it then, before the school office had a computer. I grew up watching my mom sew Uncle Sam costumes for her 3rd grade students to wear in the class play she wrote, and cutting out various pieces of seasonal bulletin boards on our den floor. This was during all the “free time” folks say public school teachers have once they’re finished with their jobs at 3 p.m. It was our phone that rang at 6:00 a.m. when a teacher was sick and needed a substitute. And occasionally, it was our front yard that was littered with toilet paper when someone got a little too excited about graduation finally arriving.

I was a public school kid. It’s why I make myself engage in what’s happening in the public schools in Starkville, and it’s why the upcoming consolidation in our community matters to me. That, and the reality that MY children are public school kids too, and they’re being shaped by this new endeavor. If you want to know why giving opportunities to ALL the children in Oktibbeha County matters to me, and why I support our local funding measures, I can only tell my own stories…

My mom went back to work when I was just a few months old. She wasn’t planning to, but a job opened at Southside Elementary School in the spring of 1970 because Mississippi schools were finally truly integrated, and the burden of “separate but equal” gave way to a truer burden of simply “equal”. My mom tells me school happened in shifts then to allow the facilities and teachers to accommodate so many new students. Now, I can’t be sure the facts and the dates are accurate, the supreme court decisions or the state legislation. It’s just how I remember the stories in my family, and I don’t really want to research the history this morning. In fact, I’m not sure why I’m adding these details except to say that the burden of One Means All isn’t new. The process of offering the same opportunities for all the children under our charge isn’t new. It isn’t the first time it’s required sacrifice or extra effort or long days. It isn’t the first time we’ve had to provide for kids that aren’t “ours” only to learn that yes, they ARE all “ours.” It’s not the first time we’ve had to adjust our vision of “equal opportunities.” It’s not the first time we’ve realized the quest to offer those opportunities needs more work.

I’m an artist and a graphic designer. Lots of folks tell me I’m kind of good at that. It’s how I make my living and provide for my family. But, back when I was in public school, there were no fine art classes. I graduated from high school in 1987, and my school offered band and choral classes, but no art. I didn’t learn drawing or painting or sculpture or photography or art history. Not in any formal way, at least. My first opportunities for art training and my first exposure to a real “commercial artist” (as graphic designers were called back in the day) came through the work of a public school teacher. And it was outside her job description. Elizabeth Bailey, my gifted teacher (that was new then, too) knew of my interest in art and used her community contacts to find mentors — a working artist to offer me a few lessons, and the opportunity to visit a few times with a commercial artist in the marketing department of Bryan Foods. I guess Mrs. Bailey found mentors for all of us. For me, it was the first time I had the chance to see that you could actually work as an artist. That someone might actually hire you to do those sorts of things. It was kind of a new idea for me — one that’s worked out pretty well, I guess.

Today, my children have art teachers. They go to art class every week. They’re trying mediums and learning about artists I didn’t hear about until I was in college. They have an opportunity in their public school that I never had. Because the giving of opportunity isn’t a done deal. It grows and expands. Just like it expanded in 1970 for so many Mississippi communities. Just like it expanded for me in the late 1980s. And just like it continues to expand for my kids through new curriculum and technology. It’s a work in progress, and that progress demands taking steps forward. For me, it demands that One Means All. One district for our community means All the children of our community are “ours.” And all should have the opportunities that new schools and new computers and new books and new horizons can bring. I’m thankful that my children are growing up with those opportunities, and it’s not right that children on the other side of our county don’t have them. That’s what it boils down to for me. Opportunity must continue to grow and reach every child. And we must be committed to funding that opportunity as an investment in our own future.

To learn more about local funding, visit:
How Local Funding Supports Public Education: A Tax Breakdown By The Numbers

To learn more about the work of Parents for Public Schools of Starkville, visit:

print shop . Personalized Halloween Tags


I’ve been having some fun getting into the Autumn spirit over the last week, and I’m excited to share some new Halloween tags available with personalization! The tags can be printed with your preferred name and are $10 for a set of 12 — just pick one design or an assortment! See individual images of each tag below. You can order by sending me a message with your PayPal email address (for invoicing), your personalization text and the breakdown of your design/quantities.

boo_for_you broom_owl candy_corn frank happy_ghost jack owl_o_ween smashing_pumpkin witching

print shop . Kids’ Worship Posters


This summer, Crosspoint Baptist Church commissioned me to create a series of prints to hang in our new children’s worship area. They gave me four Bible verses they wanted to include, and it was very fun to work on depicting them in watercolor paintings and painted lettering! You may recognize some of the inspiration from this year’s Summer of Water painting adventure! I decided to add a couple of them to the Etsy print shop. You can check out the art prints here!

client work . Downtown Block Party 2014

I wanted to share a little client design work this week. I’ve been excited to work on a few new projects this year for the Starkville Convention & Visitors Bureau, and one is the design suite for the annual Downtown Block Party. The event serves as the kick-off the Fall football season and includes a pep rally, so we wanted it to have a bit of a “fan” feel. It was fun to use a photo of the Mississippi State University cheerleaders I had taken at a previous block party and convert it to a more “posterized” look similar to the New South Weekends campaign. [It was also kind of fun to sneak a little hot pink in with the typical maroon around here :)]

Enjoy! And, if you’re in the Starkville area, I hope to see you at Downtown Block Party this Friday night!



client work . Starkville’s New South Weekends 2014

No, watercolor painting is ALL I’ve been doing this summer! I thought it might be good to share some of the client work that has recently launched. This is my fourth year to have the opportunity to design the New South Weekends design suite for the Starkville Convention & Visitors Bureau. The Fall series centers around annual Friday evening events held during Mississippi State University home game weekends.

This year, I wanted to design something that had a very “college football” look, but also a little edgy to follow some of the flavor of the Starkville brand we’ve established. I went on a search for vintage football imagery for inspiration – very fun. I ended up taking an illustration from a 1938 Amhearst College football program that I found in the public domain, and giving it a more maroon (go Dawgs!) and modern feel. Here’s a look at the vintage illustration and a couple of the 2014 New South Weekends pieces. I hope to see you in Starkville this Fall for some of the great events!


[1938 Amherst College Football Program]


[2014 New South Weekends Poster – Starkville, MS]


[Mobile Site Graphics]


client work . 2014 Starkville Community Market


We’re getting into farmer’s market season, and I’ve been very excited to work with Starkville Main Street to produce graphics and this poster for the Starkville Community Market. It was particularly fun this year because we decided to use watercolor imagery. I was able to do some hand-painted lettering and watercolor sketches of produce to use for the pieces. If you’re in the Starkville area, I hope you’ll stop by opening day for the Market this Saturday. I know it will be fun! Meanwhile, I thought I would share a few of the process illustrations for this year’s graphics. I started with a quick mock-up pencil sketch for the arrangement of the poster before painting various sketches of fruits and vegetables. For the lettering, I began with light pencil guides and very sketchy graphite letter structures on the largest elements and mostly freehand strokes on the other words. Through the wonder of Photoshop, I’ve been able to use the paintings in different variations and arrangements.

market14sketch market14water market14water2 market14water3

Best of Botanicals Exhibition

I’m very pleased to share that one of my photographs has been accepted for the Best of Botanicals exhibition opening on May 22 at PHOTO, a fine art photography gallery in Oakland, California. The national juried exhibition will benefit the San Francisco Botanical Garden. It will be on display until July 12, so if you’re in the San Francisco/Oakland area I’m totally jealous! I hope you’ll visit the gallery and tell me all about the beautiful botanical imagery.

“Winter Fencerow” ~ Haley Montgomery

client work . King Cotton Crawfish Boil

Happy Monday! Today I thought I would share some recent graphics created for a brand new event in
Starkville — the King Cotton Crawfish Boil. I had a good time with this little mudbug! The event is going to be a fun one and it benefits the Starkville Main Street Association. So if you’re in the Starkville area, be sure to get your advance tickets for April 26!


print shop . Easter Cards


If you’ve followed Small Pond Graphics on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll recall seeing some of these watercolor images. I had a great time experimenting with them over our spring break trip to the farm a few weeks ago. I’m offering some Easter card designs this year that can be personalized. If you are interested in placing an order, just email me the information listed on the images.


This little white bunny was a favorite with the Facebook commenters, and I love it as all-season sweetness for girls and boys. Below are several personalized calling card designs. Let me know what you think. I’d love to create some for your little bunny!


Insta-Artist Exhibit


Today, I’m excited to share that one of my photographs was accepted in the Insta-Artist exhibit currently on display at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center in Dowell, Maryland. The exhibit features 142 amazing digital photographs — all taken and edited with smart phone apps — and I am honored to have this shot included in the show. The exhibit was juried by Ryan Hill of the Smithsonian Institute’s Hirshhorn Museum and will be on display through June 1 in the Annmarie

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main gallery. I haven’t been able to travel to see it, but if you’re in the Maryland area, the Annmarie Center looks amazing. You can view all the exhibit photos online in this Facebook Album. Prepare to say Wow!

Happy Tuesday!


“Rainy Farmday”
Taken with Hipstamatic iPhone App

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