Sunday, December 28, 2014

Serenity and Poetry

I've been struggling to get back to writing. Since our retreat in November I have done little else but journal. Now it's time to ditch the holiday madness and settle down. I have several online classes coming up in 2015 and I need to get ready. Not to mention all of my own writing projects.

I spent the morning at Barnes and Noble soaking up poetry and mindfulness books to center my erratic brain. I need to get back to poetry.

I found an interesting book by Tyler Knott Gregson called "chasers of the light." It's a collection of poems he wrote on an ancient typewriter, off the top of his head--or the top of his heart and soul, which are the places I like to believe that poems come from. Very lovely and romantic poems along with his art and photography.

So I came home, made a cup of chamomile, honey and vanilla tea, lit a candle and got out my journal. Now it's time to write some poems. It's been so long my head is not in a poetic frame of mind, but I'll get there, I know it. It's where I need to be as this year comes to a close and the dark days slowly--oh so slowly-- get longer and longer. Perhaps in the increasing moments of daylight my mind will awaken to my poetic soul.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Finding My Creative Niche

Well, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were, I must admit, a slight bit depressing as it was only the two of us. I remember all the years of holidays spent with family and the warmth and joy those times brought to my life. The preparations, decorating, cleaning, cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping and making out holiday cards seemed like so much work, yet I loved every minute of it knowing they precipitated the love and laughs that would surround us during our celebrations.

Now everyone seems to be literally in a different state and getting together has become difficult. We did make the most of our holiday though clearly something was missing.

Now those days are over and my mood has brightened a bit. Ever looking for creative projects, as if I didn't already have more than I could complete in a lifetime, I hit upon something the other day.

I've been searching for a way to incorporate my poems into art.


I've tried collage, mixed media, watercolor and though I have made some acceptable pieces I still was not satisfied that I'd found the right "voice" for these projects. Then I had the idea to turn the poems into scrapbook pages.


For a while now I've thought about going back to scrapbooking instead of using paint and so I tried it out. Instead of a photograph on the layout I printed out one of my poems and made that the focal point. I've done just these three so far and will do more and see how this goes. This might also be an idea for the art to go into my prose poem/art book since it seems my scrapbook pages come out much better than my mixed media art.


I will, for the moment, save my mixed media painting for my art journals and wait until I get better at the process before trying to make poem-art that is worthy of sending out into the world. I'm in the midst of an art journal page now that I will share here as soon as it's done.

In the meantime, I am coming out of the depression of a lonely holiday and immersing myself in art and writing. I look forward to a new year with much art in my life and more happy times with family and friends.

Happy holiday and Happy and Healthy New Year to you all.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Creative Inspiration



There's nothing like a day off to get the creative juices flowing. I was so drained from work I just could not get out of bed at 4:30 am one more time. When I finally did rouse myself from a half sleep I read for a while and then turned to an art magazine for some inspiration. Within the pages of an older issue of Somerset Studio I found lush paintings and quirky collages that prompted some visual work of my own.

The art journal page about was done a few weeks ago and I wanted to share it because I like the color flow and the movement in the piece. I also like the idea it speaks of which is that you must spread your wings and try new creative projects that stir your soul. Without that you never grow.

And I do indeed have a new project. Rose Metal Press has sponsored a contest, due in May, for a book length work of text and art. I am going with a series of prose poems that trace the life of a fictional character named Serafina from her birth to her death at the age of one hundred.

For the art work I am making collages on 5x7 inch canvas boards. In an effort to recycle and not spend more money I gessoed over several old canvas boards that I had painted but never used. I am never intimidated by a blank white canvas, or a blank notebook page either, as I see it as a world of possibilities just waiting for the right poem, or blend of papers and paint colors.

As I progress in my project I'll share a few poems and collages with you and if the book wins the contest and gets published then you will be able to view the entire piece.

Wish me luck. The deadline is only 5 months away and I have 50 poems and 10 collages to create within the limited creative minutes I have each day. I'm looking forward to long gray winter weekends in which to hibernate in my art room and get some work done!
copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gratitude and an Art Project


Thanksgiving weekend was a fabulous array of family events and lots of fun. It started with my son Robby coming from L.A. for the holiday. We spent Wednesday at the movies, having pizza (which is his necessity when he comes to NY) and playing scrabble and trivial pursuit.

On Thursday we went to my brother and sister-in-law's for turducken and lots of other delicious snacks, sides and desserts, plus lots of good wine.

On Friday we picked up my best friend Emilia and went to the North Fork wineries and then out to dinner. Back home it was a game of Left, Right, Center and more trivial pursuit.

It was a wonderful visit and though we did do a lot of fun things it went way too fast. Now I can't wait to go out and see him and his wife Sarah in California, or have them come here for a visit, perhaps in warmer weather.

Today it was a trip to Barnes and Noble where I browsed lots of art books and magazines looking for inspiration. I bought two books, one on art journaling and one on creating a craft business, which I hope to do when I retire in seven months. The magazines are "Bella Grace" and "Artful Blogging" both from Stampington and Company.

Then back home to do some art journaling.

Let me know what you think of the result.


copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Meditation Mandalas

The combination of a cloudy cold day, some romantic violin music and an autumn scented candle are wonderful background elements to making art. I'm about to try a new painting technique but first wanted to share something else with you lovely readers.

When looking for a calming, meditative art process that doesn't involve lots of different and messy materials I turn to the mandala coloring books of Susanne Fincher. Though I have tried to draw my own mandalas they always come out lopsided and asymmetrical which totally annoys my OCD, sensory processing issues and destroys the sense of calm these perfectly balanced circles create.

I prefer using colored pencils to fill them in as they give me better control than markers or paints. I've tried pastel chalks but they tend to smear. I'll choose a palette of several colors and start filling in spaces. There is a difference between starting at the center and working outward, or starting at the edges and working toward the center. The latter order helps me get grounded and brings me close to my own center where I can sort thoughts out as I engage in the repetitive process and listen to music that further sends me into my heart and soul.

I'll begin by just coloring everything in with the colored pencils:
While the mandala can be considered finished at this point I've begun a second process that adds more to the artistic sense of the mandala and also brings me further into the soul of the process.
I use uni ball vision elite pens to add darker details and accents, sort of like zentangle designs. It draws me in deeper and helps the meditative feel of the process.


It's a bit of a stopover between art and writing. Sometimes it calms me enough to go back to the novel and knock off a new scene or revitalize a scene that's stalling. Other times it leads me to journaling or writing new poems. Nicely enough the facing page of each mandala drawing has a sentence or too describing the purpose of that particular mandala but the rest of the page is blank, leaving room for journaling based on the descriptive sentence or for jotting down poems that sprout during the coloring and detailing processes.

It brings me back to long luxurious days as a little girl when I got lost in my coloring books or with a picture from a Venus Paradise color by number set. And there's is great pleasure, at 65, being brought back to the glorious days of childhood freedom.

I suggest you try it. Can't hurt. And it's a great way to calm yourself at the end of a stressful day or center yourself before you begin your day. 

Just have fun with it!!!


copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Layers of Hope

As much as I love writing, I think I love making art even more. I'm experimenting with some art media and trying to devise a style that will allow me to incorporate my poems into the pieces. Though I haven't been a big fan of layering I am learning its magnitude and how successful a mixed media piece can be when lots of layers are incorporated.

I tend to avoid lots of layers in my art because I hate covering up pretty papers, or text tissue, or images and words, but I'm starting to see the dimension that can be created and learning to live with the hidden layers beneath the finished piece.

Here I layered pattern papers then painted over them with pale yellow craft paint. I added a butterfly from a decorative napkin (which by the way makes a really nice image for art. You peel the layers of the napkin till you have one thin layer with the image on it. Then using gel medium or white glue adhere it to your art piece. The image literally melts into the piece.) I adhered the word "hope" that I cut from a magazine and attached a copyright free image of a little girl. Then I added small cloth flowers. I used Ranger distress ink pads to edge the piece and give it an aged look.

I will try more pieces like this and share them here. Those that come out as I want them to I will use to make blank note cards.




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ART JOURNALING

I've been in the mood to art journal again. In the blank white pages of my mixed media journal I can explore and create, experiment with new ideas, new art materials and examine the wonderful and not so wonderful times of each day. Still working on a style of art to add my poems to. Tomorrow night taking an art journal class at Scrappers Playground in Babylon and hoping to discover new materials and styles to work with.

Oh--and getting ready to do some painting too! 

For now, here is a recent art journal page to share.



copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Friday, August 1, 2014

FOOTSTEPS ART

I've been taking a poetry course online with Lorraine Mejia-Green called Poetry Inspired by World Art. The past three weeks have been a wonderful exploration of art as well as a launch pad for some new poems to include in the new collection I'm working on. Our final week of class requires making an art piece incorporating poetry--which of course is something I love to do. So here is one of my pieces. The one I will submit for our final week of class is in process. More to come on that later.


It was fun and inspiring to take a photo and then work in mixed media on a canvas board to create art and include a poem. Acrylic paints in 3 colors as well as stencils created the background. The photo was matted on white cardstock and attached to the board. The poem was printed on parchment style copy paper and adhered next to the photo. A foam dot stamp was used to stamp around the poem and blend it into the total piece. Border from the parchment paper was torn and glued to the top and the title was created with a stencil and my favorite Sharpie black marker.

The voila the piece is done and I am moving on to create the piece for our last week of class. I have several photos in mind to use and need to write the poems. I think a scrapbook style of art using patterned papers might be in order, with a little bit of trims to jazz it up. Let's see what emerges from this afternoon of creative time.
copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Saturday, July 26, 2014

FOOTSTEPS

Yesterday we took an afternoon excursion to The Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay. It's a nature preserve and historical site that never fails to fill my heart with magic. Along it's many winding and natural paths you can see flowers, little cottages and lush plantings that remind me of a primordial forest.


















That trip, as well as reading Stampington Company's new publication "Bella Grace" inspired me to take photos from which to get inspiration for poems and art pieces. I take pictures of events for fun but never considered it as an art form I would be any good at. I need a lot of practice--but I can learn and in the meantime what photos I take can prompt poems and artistic ways to display them.

For my first attempt I am using this photo. I never understood the obsession I see on blogs of people taking photos of their feet, but I tried it and wrote a poem to go with it. I want to take the two and combine them in a scrapbook style art piece that I'll share here when it's done.




curve of stones
leads into the woods,
I follow
unknown directions
hoping
around the bend
that traces a field of 
Queen Annes' lace,
my heart waits
to sing me home
to show me what passions
sleep in my future
one step
   one step
       one curve of stones
closer to my dreams





copyright by Renee Howard Cassese 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

WINE AND POETRY

On Sunday July 20 I had the pleasure of doing a book signing at Mattebella Vineyards in Southold on the North Fork of Long Island. It opened with a sprinkle of rain but then the clouds drifted by and the sunshine prevailed. Amid brilliantly green grapevines, beautiful roses and with the scent of wines kissing the air I enjoyed the company of family and friends. 

Here a few photos to share the day. Hoping to see more of friends and family at my next event.



Also, notice my license plate. I am the POETESSA and will share many more poems and pieces of art with all my blog readers. I will also be sharing information on how making poems and art can help you grow and to share research that shows the therapeutic magic of poetry, art and journaling.

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

POETRY MATTERS



Over the past two weeks I've seen several articles in newspapers and magazines asking the question "Does poetry matter?" Facebook posts have shared links to these discourses that either slam down or hike up this ancient form of writing and communication.

"Does poetry matter?" 
Well of course it matters. Maybe I'm more or less of a reliable source on that belief being a poet myself. I wouldn't ridicule this mode of expression and communication since I use it most often for myself and even have a book of poetry out in the world to share the thoughts and feelings that emerge when poems are formed in blue or purple ink.

Poetry reaches to the soul. It's a way in as well as a way out. Reading poems, with their stark and magical images and lyrical, musical lines, tucks emotions deeply under the heart. The messages seem to bypass the linear thought process and go straight to the center. A poem can buoy you up when you're down and comfort and still you when you are stressed or over excited.

Writing poems is a whole other dimension that allows the poet to negotiate the long winding labyrinth of the soul. Along the circular path of poetry the poet finds solace and freedom of expression that can be found no place else. When life seems dark and unmanageable writing poetry can carve a doorway to sunnier times. And when life is filled with joy and beauty writing poems allows the poet to share that wonderfulness with the world.

Poetry--reading and writing it--is used in many therapeutic settings. I have sent my poems into the world to be read and loved or hated but not everyone needs to do that. For the clandestine poet who hides her verses in locked diaries or closed drawers, poetry can be a way to heal. It's why I have come to the conclusion I want to share this gift with others.

I intend to teach journal writing workshops but want to incorporate into each lesson a poetry component as well as an art component. For those who can't find the words they need to enter their soul there are always images. If you can't draw you can cut and paste images from magazines. And when all else fails you can play some music that reflects your mood and just spread paint across paper in abstract designs that express what dwells in your heart at that moment.

So when asked if poetry matters, I shout a loud YES!! because it matters to me, it matters to other poets and it matters to the many troubled souls who read and write poems in order to re-emerge in the world as a whole person, complete and confident and ready to move to the next step.


copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Saturday, July 19, 2014

POETRY IN MOTION

When I say Poetry in Motion I mean my poetry and my poetic life are in motion. Dropping off copies of my books, going to poetry open mics and having book signings are all part of the promotion package and I love doing it.

You can find my book "I am My Mother's Only Poem"

at this link for Book Revue




But, though I love doing all of this, I need to get back to writing because that is my first passion. And of course art. I am learning about many new avenues for poetry and art and I want to follow them all. If Robert Frost talks about a road not taken, what I see are many roads I have never taken before but that I wish to explore now as I enter what I consider the next and most creative phase of my life.

Off on the journey and hope you will travel with me.


copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Friday, July 18, 2014

AUTHOR FOR REAL



 How exciting!!!

I just dropped one copy  of each of my books off at the Walt Whitman Birthplace to be placed for sale in their gift shop. Then I went to the Book Revue in Huntington where they took six copies of the poetry book to be displayed for sale in their Local and Independent Authors Program! My books are now really for sale in brick and mortar book stores.

All that work has paid off and I am beginning to focus my future a bit more. Poetry is definitely my choice in terms of writing. And here's a picture of my new license plate to prove it!




I need to have art in my life as well so I am working toward incorporating my poems into my art but also narrowing that down to haiku and tanka poems to be made into art. 

As for my retirement years--well much more to figure out first, but when the time comes a big part of what I want to do is teach journal writing classes with a focus on poetry and art journaling. As a certified journal instructor from the Center for Journal Therapy, I will follow the Journal to the Self workshop program adding art and poetry to each lesson. It will be great fun to create and great fun to teach!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

POETIC JOURNEY


This has been an interesting week. I met the other night with a friend who clued me into a newsletter that announces poetry events on Long Island and in NYC. I never knew there was so much poetic energy right here where I live. I'll definitely have to seek these out and meet some more poets.

Today I am going to a poetry workshop and reading at Walt Whitman Birthplace in Huntington where I can network and get to know other local poets. So looking forward to it and to next weekend's book signing at Mattebella Vineyards in Southold.


Yesterday I was happy to have taken the day off. I typed up all the poems I have so far for my new collection, "Ripe Peaches." I know it will take some time to put this one together and I want to send it to small presses rather than self publishing so I have to keep up a steady flow of new poems. Today's workshop should generate a few. I have a class with Lorraine Mejia online and that is producing some new work too.

Melanie Faith is teaching a class at www.wow-womenonwriting.com that focuses on writing about nature. Not sure if I want to take it because I need to focus on poetry and this class incorporates other genres as well. I'll see. It's always hard for me to resist taking a new class.

At the end of the month I am starting a class through the Center for Journal Therapy on the poetry of Mary Oliver and I know that will stimulate the poetic juices.

What a great summer of writing--poetry--and discovery!!

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

BIRTH OF A POETESS

I have loved poetry since I was two years old and heard my first nursery rhyme while sitting on my mother's lap as she read from the pale green first volume of "My Book House Books" series.



I imagine I was even younger but memory slims as the years speed by. I know I was entranced by the musicality of rhythm and rhyme and the flow of descriptive and emotional words as my mother spoke them, and later as I recited them again and again from memory. It wasn't long after that when I picked up a lemon yellow number 2 pencil and began to scribble swirls, curves and straight lines across blank papers.

I came to love the sound of language and the look of words on the page as my scribbles slowly transmuted into letters, words, sentences and eventually poetic verses.

Once I was able to read by myself I discovered the treasures that sleep in the pages of books lined up back to back, exposing their titled spines to my hungry eyes. I read these rhymes over and over and then progressed to other volumes as they increased in reading/age levels and the stories became more intricate and interesting.

The thought that I could write my own poems was a gift of magic and I created little booklets of rhymes. When I went to the bank with my mother I would collect stacks of deposit and withdrawal slips to pen my poems on and clip them together in what I later learned were called chapbooks. I added little illustrations made with Crayola crayons or Venus Paradise colored pencils.

When I discovered Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses" I think my heart stopped for an instant of complete rapture.



Over the years the activity of writing poems came and went. Sometimes edged aside by summers spent at the pool or digging in my father's gardens in the backyard. Then in the cold of snowy Long Island winters I reverted to the indoor splendor of crafting poetry.

My cutesy little rhymes gave way in adolescence to more angst ridden free verse poems and the poems I wrote in college made me sound far more depressed than I ever was in real life. Now in my sixties my poems are almost all free verse, with some little detours into haiku and tanka, and they focus outward onto nature and how each tiny seed or magenta colored blossom or furry brown chipmunk is a symbol for some universal truth or belief.

Poetry --both reading and writing it-- is a steadfast companion. I get lost in the lines whether those I write or when reading the lines of other poets. I will share all of this with you on this blog and hope you'll come along for this fantastical voyage.

For now here's a new poem for you.

inside this blade of grass
one drop of last night's rain
emerges on my tongue
when I split the green skin



copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Monday, June 30, 2014

MARY OLIVER

Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets

And this is one of my favorite poems:

The Summer Day

By Mary Oliver


Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
The grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell, me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

 **************************
            Each of her poems is a perfect prayer. Her powers of observation are remarkable and I've often said if I could write poems half as strong as hers I would be a happy poet. Only a poet who spends hours and hours of contemplative time in nature can produce such beautiful imagery and relate it to the universal in a way that touches the hearts of all her readers. I offer you a photo I took recently that reminds me of the detail in Oliver's poems and then an essay I wrote about my favorite poet.


            Though I spend my days in a windowless office inhaling recycled air, Nature’s sounds, scents and sights sing to my soul. On weekends and days off I can sit on my front stoop and watch the row of Bradford pear trees change clothes with the seasons, watch the scarlet plumage of the cardinal and hear his screech. I can count the cadre of mourning doves roosted in the bare branched maple tree. And in between those moments of wonder I turn to the poems of Mary Oliver to perk up my senses and give me a dose of fresh air.
            My favorite Oliver poem is “The Summer Day.” Oliver’s detailed description of the parts and practices of a single grasshopper, and her unique attention to the instinct, are compared to a moment of prayer. All of Oliver’s poems come from the pen of a woman who clearly has spent hours at a time, still and silent, observing the flora and fauna that live in the natural world of her home. Her attention to detail, and the poems themselves, are prayers she offers me to help me through stale days at work.
            It’s the last sentence of “The Summer Day” that thrums in my skin and in my heart. The lines are posted on the wall of my office and at home on my writing desk. I ask myself the question several times a day as I plot and plan a route out of my stagnant office and into Mary Oliver’s world of poetry and the enervating life forces of Mother Nature . . .
                        “Tell me, what is it you plan to do
                        With your one wild and precious life?”

            

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Haibun and Tanka Prose

I love writing my free-verse, stream of consciousness poems but I also like playing with different forms. I want to experiment with some truly structured poetic forms such as sonnets, villanelles, triolets, and others but at the moment I am looking toward haibun and tanka prose, two Japanese forms that I think will work well with my art. They have a magical, mystical quality that lends itself to exploring mixed media techniques in illustrating or creating backgrounds for the poems.

Here is a haiku art piece I created a while back that I'd like to share to give you an idea.



I am writing poems for a future collection and I am leaning toward making it all haibun and tanka prose or perhaps just one section will be in that form.

Haibun are a combination of prose poem and haiku linked together to tell one story. I've seen them with one prose piece followed by one haiku, or a series of alternating prose poems and haiku.

Tanka prose is similar except instead of having haiku intertwined with the prose poems, there are tanka, which are essentially  five line poems starting with a haiku and expanding by two lines of roughly seven syllables.

I want to read more of all these forms, read about them, and try my hand at mastering the technique and incorporating my art in the pieces. I can't say perfecting the poems because in eastern practices there is no perfect, simply a process moving toward the perfect. In fact, it is happy little mistakes that create the most engaging poems and most fascinating pieces of art.

Here's to mistakes and exploring new territory.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

TRYING TO DEFINE MY STYLE

I am attempting to develop an art style to use when combining my art and my poems and I am getting closer. I think mixed media will work--using a combination of paint and collage and interweaving several layers to get a final look I'm happy with. I want to work toward some consistent look to the pieces and perhaps narrow down the palette to two or three different color combinations. I'm considering maybe a peach-beige-brown combo and a blue-purple-mauve look. Considering some others too. I'm not so happy with this one as it's a bit too brightly yellow, but the composition seems right and I took the lines from one of my poems that still needs a bit of work but I liked how these fit. 

I'd love comments and suggestions and hope you'll come back to see what else is brewing.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

BRAVE POETRY READING







On June 12 I held my first book signing event. It was hosted by Julie Hernandez, a good friend and fellow Tapestries Writers' Group member. The signing was held in Julie's space in the yoga studio in Huntington Station and was attended by close friends. It's a good start. Maybe one day my signings will be attended by other poets, new and established writers, and others who will become my future friends.

I am very thankful to Julie and to all who came to see my book, share in some wine and cheese and hear me read. I had not planned to read at the event as I am a bit shy about speaking in front of groups of people. It's a phobia of mine even though I have taught classes of adults and children and presented workshops to my staff and to parents at the special education preschool where I work. In the end it was pretty easy and I'm glad Karen, Lori and Julie encouraged me to do it. Once I got started it was so natural and not anxiety producing at all. I just let myself enter the poem and share the words that come from my heart and soul.

I need to practice doing this so in the future I can be more comfortable and choose my poems and presentation with a purpose in mind. I also want to share some personal stories as background to the poems I read. I should have been better prepared.

From my poetry and art will come a journal writing workshop. It is in the planning stages, but I have a year until I retire to get this business launched. In the meantime my new short story collection is now available at

http://www.amazon.com/Looking-Through-Windows-Howard-Cassese/dp/1500129623/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402760139&sr=1-2&keywords=looking+through+windows

I look forward to having signings for both books and reading from each book as well.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

BREWING SOME IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE


a page from my art journal-not my real artistic work but more informal and laid back processes of using magazine pictures, simple background and doodling


A few ideas have been swirling in my head and beginning to come together to make a plan. I've been listening to Jack Canfield's audio CDs of his book "The Success Principles." Lots of great and encouraging information and it makes the commute to work seem shorter and much more interesting. Listening to him speak really encourages the listener to shoot for the moon and aim for the farthest stars. I am beginning to believe I can do what I set out to do.

One of the most telling "principles" in Canfield's book is the one about "being willing to pay the price," meaning implementing the time and effort and energy required to achieve your goals. And it means being willing to give up doing and having all the other things in your life that do not catapult you in the direction you want to go. That's difficult for me and will take discipline and effort, but I am starting to gain some focus so that will help.

I've been looking for a retirement career and always thought I'd like to teach "Journal to the Self" workshops, which is something I've been trained in and am now a Certified Journal Instructor through the Center for Journal Therapy. But of course I also love writing poetry and making art to go with my poems. Yesterday the idea began to gel about how I can bring this all together.

I want to create workshops that empower women through journal writing, art journaling and poetry. I can form a curriculum around the techniques in the Journal to the Self program and some point in the future further train at the Center for Journal Therapy to be a Facilitator which would allow me to create my own curriculum.

The first thing I did was get a notebook to work out my plan in. Now the next steps are:

  • map out my goals for one year
  • start posting things on this blog about this journey and about the processes I will teach in my workshops
  • read all I can about marketing and promoting this business
  • network
  • write a book that follows the workshop sessions through the "Blog-a Book" method.
  • come up with a title for the workshops and a website
  • get a website for the business that attaches to my blog
  • read "The Success Principles" book chapter by chapter and complete the tasks
  • look into "kickstarter" and other avenues to get funding for this project

will keep you posted on my progress and share more poetry and art.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

CREATIVE DREAMING

Still figuring out different ways to incorporate art and poetry. Sometimes the poems lend themselves to certain artistic styles, other times it takes some manipulating and pondering. Not totally happy with this particular piece but I want to share the process with you.

I began by painting a base of ivory acrylic to the paper then stamped the script background using tan and gold paint. I used a flower stencil to add another layer and outlined the petals with a black permanent Sharpie marker in fine point. I also used a stencil that created polka dots in a blend of dark coral and orange in the underlying background.

I searched through a journal of my poems to find something that hit me as usable in an art piece and ended up choosing a few lines of one poem. I had to do a bit of revision even on those till it felt right. I was drawn to this poem because it speaks to the mode I'm in right now in my life. Exploring different avenues for creativity and growing some sort of retirement business where I can make art and share it with the world. As ideas flow and I begin to plan for my retirement I see that I am a story with many chapters and as the poem says, I don't want to skip a single one.

I printed the lines of the poem on beige cardstock and cut out each line separately with a deckle edge scissors. Then I chalked the edges with bronze Color-Bok ink. 

As I was pulling out cardstock I came across some acetate images of women from years ago when I was making more collage pieces and decided this face needed to be in the piece as it emphasizes the idea of a woman telling her story.

The butterflies were an added afterthought that I cut from some specialty paper I had laying around. I think they convey my belief that we are all free to pursue our dreams.

Creating pieces like this is a fun process and it always surprises me how parts of a piece are planned and other parts just sort of emerge during the process. 

Today I'm off to a preserve to take some photos of nature. I'll write poems to go with them and then create some collage pieces. I love interweaving art with words and I'm grateful my creative mind offers lots of inspiration. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

ANCHORS

I'm getting into focus again with poetry and art. Yesterday I reorganized my art supplies and started a layered background piece to mount a poem on. Art and poetry are definitely anchors for me. They bring me closer to my heart and soul and I turn to them for grounding and support. But today I want to talk about other anchors in my life.

Last week at a Weight Watchers meeting my leader Patty asked us to choose an anchor to use when we encounter struggles with staying on program. At first I couldn't come up with anything. Later that night it dawned on me that of course I could use my mother's wedding band and diamond ring that I have been wearing for the past six years. I often spin them around my right hand ring finger or play with them when trying to figure out a puzzle or make a decision. So I decided to use that anchor to also help me stay on track. It was a good choice because I can still here Mom's voice telling me to lose weight so I can be healthy.

That night I had a dream that further reminded me of who my true anchors are. I dreamed about Mom and Dad, not together but in separate dreams. Each dream was vivid and memorable. I woke up at 4:00 at the end of the dream about my father when he was fading away and I was begging him not to leave. I got up right away, wanting to get to my journal and write all the details of the dreams down so I wouldn't forget them. And it came to me like a cliched bolt of lightning.


MY ANCHORS ARE MOM AND DAD



Not only do I have imaginary conversations with them when I'm looking for guidance and answers to life's questions but when Mom passed my brother Lee and I both said we lost our anchor. How much clearer could it be? When Patty asked us to choose an anchor I should have immediately gone to Mom and Dad. But those dreams came to remind me who my anchors still are even though they are gone, they are still here in spirit leading me in good directions.

I've printed a picture of Mom and Dad and also one of them with Lee and I in front of the house in Levittown to carry with me and be my anchors when I need a bit of stability to keep me on target.





Monday, May 26, 2014

Playing with Watercolor

I keep searching for different ways to incorporate my poetry with art. I've tried mixed media and scrapbook designs as well as collage and art journal techniques. Though I have enjoyed the process and product in every one of these methods I've wanted to explore using watercolors.

Till now I haven't been able to get the right blending of different colors and the right balance between transparency and the intensity of color that I want. After a few tries I finally discovered that the trick of blending is to paint wet-on-wet and getting the right color depth is just a matter of trial and error, being careful not to end up with a muddy effect.

I like the idea of adding some stencil work for detail and will continue to try different designs and patterns. I also want to experiment with layers of materials and background stamps and stencils to get more depth to the finished pictures. I'll keep working at it and try different things to see which I like best but my ultimate goal is to develop a style of my own I can employ in all my poem-art work.

I found the poem for this piece in an old notebook. There were a few keepers in it, given a bit of tweaking and twisting, that I can work with in future poem-art projects. 

This is tantalizing fun!!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

RIPE PEACHES






pink and yellow
flower fans
wave to the sun


I am beginning a new collection of poetry and plan to add even more art than I had in "I am My Mother's Only Poem." One section of poems will be titled "Arboretum" and will incorporate photographs of flowers and scenes from our trips to the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Oakdale. The poems will focus on my connection to nature as a spiritual path.

The photo above was taken of batches of daffodils and tulips that were quite abundant when we visited on Mother's Day. It prompted a haiku I wanted to share with you as a bit of sneak peak at the book that is merely in a fetal stage at the moment.

Flowers, sunshine, the dramatic light of a clouded afternoon, along with misty paths, magical herons, and sunning turtles, will grace the pages of the Arboretum section of this upcoming poetry collection. Along the border of the arboretum is the Connetquot River whose power and gentility run together showing us just one of nature's gifts we need to take care of and protect.

Mother Nature is a goddess who gives us offerings every day--pink sunrises, purple sunsets, majestic mountains and lush forests. I am grateful for her gifts and want to honor them by sharing them through art and poetry.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Book Contest Giveaway

Today's the day!
I want to give away 2 copies of my book "I am My Mother's Only Poem"
The date is 5/23 so I will send a book to the fifth and twenty third person to comment on the blog.
Since this is all about poetry I will also send a bookmark to the winners if they add a poem to the comment.
Hurry!
I'll be looking for your comments!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

INSPIRATION

The word inspire:
~~ to inhale
~~ to fill someone with the desire to create

So many people approach writers and artists with the question, "where do you get your ideas?" While I do understand why they want to know where stories, paintings, poems, sculptures come from the question still amazes me. That's because ideas seem to find me, rather than my having to seek them in the world around me.

Writers find ideas in places like

  • a budding flower
  • an overheard conversation
  • a news article
  • another story or poem
  • dreams
  • images
For me they come fast and furious all the time. And I find that the more ideas I have the more I get. It's a self priming pump of images, words, thoughts, beliefs, and yes dreams too. Just this morning ideas followed me, causing me to be late leaving for work as I had to jot them down in my inspiration journal or on post-its that I am never without. Because though ideas come to me easily and unbidden they are ephemeral and disappear like clouds on a sunny day. They evaporate into thin air in seconds. I need to grasp them quickly and record them for later use. 

So I hope you will venture out and capture some ideas for yourself. Inhale-inspire-than exhale all that creativity onto a page or canvas and come share your creations here.

Also--keep an eye out for my book giveaway contest on Friday!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Spring thaw

It's been a tremendously long and frigid winter. Spring has been cool and rainy, stretching out the weeks of torture toward warm sunshine. But Mother's Day brought wonderful warmth and sun and last weekend Mother Nature finally shone her light full force and covered us with the warm blanket of her love. 

Trees are budding and flowers are blossoming and the birds wake bright and early to lure me from dreams with their happy songs. And all of this has drawn out the poet in me. It is bringing me back to the heart and soul of what I love--poetry and art. And returning me to this blog where I should be as I create a new poetry collection to follow "I am My Mother's Only Poem"

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1494962535/ref=rdr_ext_tmb


I feel my heart tempted by the stacks of canvas board and art journals waiting with their wonderful blank white surfaces. I feel the pull toward my bins of paint, oil pastels, rubber stamps and brushes. 

I will be back here to share new poems and new art work--hopefully on a more regular basis and hope with my heart you will join me in this journey.

For now:

purple crocus
push through black earth
weeping promises
calling me home
to summer's heat