Saturday, December 26, 2015

A POETIC NEW YEAR

As Christmas slides away I begin to ponder the coming new year. Hard to believe it will be 2016 in just a few days. Just the start of a new year and a fresh new sequence of 365 days ahead can prompt a string of creative ideas that I know I can barely keep up with. Despite being retired it seems I am extremely busy.

I look forward to the coming year because of my retirement and because Christmas was rather depressing as none of our family was around to enjoy. So we look forward to a couple of trips to see family in the coming year. We also look forward to time for creating art. Yesterday I played around with this art journal page.

artists create from emotional truth
Using gelatos for the background and decorative napkins for the flowers as well as a Donna Downey stencil I played around with a color scheme I've always liked.

I like the saying--artists create from emotional truth--because it seems that when I am creating art I am expressing my creative truth. I am most "me" when writing poetry or playing in my art journal and this year I hope to focus more on trying to combine those two creative avenues. I want to add more of my on poems to my art and develop a particular artistic style that is unique to me and recognizable as my work.

I've signed up for a few online art classes and some poetry classes. I also need to create art for the poems I have and start submitting my manuscript. 

I am very excited about the coming year, the freedom from a full time job and a chance to direct my creative ambitions in a more focused way.

I hope you all have a creative and inspiring 2016!


Thursday, December 17, 2015

PEACE ON EARTH




In this holiday season I see a lot of dichotomous images and sounds. Shoppers scurrying from store to store lugging tote bags laden with festive gifts. Store windows are festooned with bright lights and tinsel. Children are singing carols and making lists; checking them twice. There is an atmosphere of joy and gaiety in the air. And yet . . .

It's hard to feel gay what with all the death and destruction spreading throughout the world. Mass shootings, homeless men and women hunkered against buildings along New York City streets while those around them, dressed in the latest haute couture, race from Broadway theatre to exclusive restaurants to dine, while others go hungry. 

I'm not meaning to bring everyone down, I'm simply saying let's make the most of this season. Share what you have and be grateful for the little things. It doesn't matter how well you eat-but that you eat. You don't need a mansion--just a roof over your head and some heat. You don't need designer clothes--just something warm and some shoes for your feet. And let's never forget those who don't even have that and perhaps share a little from your own overflowing bags.

Yes, let's be joyous and merry. But let's not forget. 

And so my wish for everyone this season, and always, is peace on earth and that you all have family around you and good health. 

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

SING YOUR OWN SONG


The mocking bird is a very aggressive and territorial bird. He protects his nest from other birds and from people and is vigilant--or vigilante--when there are eggs in the nest or when he is teaching his young to fly.

Around 3:00 am in the summer months when the bedroom windows are opened I can hear him singing. You can pick out his repertoire of bird calls, usually in the same order each time he puffs up his feathered chest and begins to sing.

But the mocking bird is a thief as well as an aggressive protector. He doesn't have a song of his own, but mimicks the songs of other birds producing a melody copied from robins, blue jays, sparrows and wrens.

I say don't be a mocking bird. You need to create your own song and sing it as loudly as you can. Don't follow the crowd, or the fads, or most popular social group. Don't do what others do. Create your own song and your own destiny. Create your own life. 

Be you!!! Do what you love!!! Love who you are!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Varied Style of Art

Now that I have more time for art I am trying out different techniques and styles. It seems every art magazine or book I pick up, every art blog I explore and every youtube art video I watch sparks new inspiration. So many materials and so many styles. Right now I am focusing on three particular styles.

The first is the art journal style of Vicky Papaioannou using a moleskin sketchbook and various techniques and materials as a tissue paper background covered with a gesso wash, distress paints or gelatos to color the background and art stamps for the focal point image. Quotes or feelings become the launch pad for layouts.

 
The second style I've been exploring you've seen here before and that's creating paper doll layouts using Julie Nutting stamps. These layouts can also be part of art journaling since the ideas and quotes can reflect what's going on inside my heart and soul.


The background in this layout is a very light pink and doesn't pick up when scanned and the ground is more green than it appears here. I wasn't satisfied with the stamping in the quote but it's all a journey toward better workmansip and more creativity.

The last style is a mixed media canvas. I've done these before but I'm coming up with more ideas and a more focused style for these art pieces.


I used gelatos to color the flowers and really liked the way they blend and their creamy consistency. Definitely a medium I will continue to use.

This is definitely a stage of art experimentation. I'm up for the challenges and accepting of the mistakes which are part of the process. Even those layouts or canvases that don't come out the way I want are fun to create. Because it's not about perfection it's about improving and loving what I do!


Thursday, October 22, 2015

AN ARTSY-CRAFTY RETIREMENT

Today is my first day of full retirement! Working two days a week since July I have had a taste of the free life and now I can eat the whole pie! There are many different art media and techniques I want to try on my way to developing my own style and possibly starting to sell some of my art. I still want to work on a technique to incorporate art with poetry because if I don't find a way I might have to re-title this blog--The Artsy Crafter.

Right now I have switched from doing those art journal pages to a new way to journal using quotes I find in magazines and paper doll art.


I'll play around with several ideas for awhile until I land on something I can develop into my own signature and see if poetry can be a part of it.

In the meantime I will take some time to relax and enjoy my new found freedom while making art, sipping tea or wine, sitting and walking in the crisp autumn sunshine, and generally just enjoying myself and creating!



Friday, October 16, 2015

LOVING AUTUMN

A lot of people I know dislike autumn because it makes them depressed. Everything around them seems to be dying--the flowers wither, the leaves turn brown and fall to the earth leaving naked branches crooked as an old woman's fingers. Bird flee for warmer temperatures in the south and a variety of animals seek refuge and restoration beneath the earth. But much as I hate the winter that follows, to me autumn is a season of joy and renewal.

Maybe it's because most of my life I have either been a student, a teacher or a mom sending her children off to a new and exciting school year, but autumn says new beginnings to me and it is my favorite time of year. It might also have something to do with being born in September so fall is when my own physical life began, but that's too metaphysical for me to ponder amid the flourishes of such brightly colored leaves, clear blue skies, warm sunshine and cool breezes. 


I'm also feeling fresh and ready for new beginnings as I have only 2 more days of work before I am fully retired! I waited years to be retired and have time to write. I have a new poetry collection that just came back from an editor ready for me to dive into. I am also starting a new collection of connected short stories. But writing still seems to sleep on the periphery despite these projects ready and waiting for me.

Art journaling has taken over my creative time, particularly art journal layouts using the supplies and techniques shown on Vicky Papaioannou's youtube tutorials. She is amazing and her layouts, cards and tags sing with joy and color! I have come to love working in moleskine sketchbooks. I like their size and the heavy pages.


I had this idea to do a layout using an owl image and the concept of wisdom. It seemed to fit neatly into the idea of that huge yellow-golden harvest moon that appears this time of year. This was fun to do. Originally I used gelatos for the background but it came out too light. I needed a deeper blue but without going to black. I sprayed the pages with some Dylusions spray ink in dark blue and black and it darkened it but was too dark. I took a roll of paper towels and rolled it over the whole layout and voila it turned out perfectly. One of those happy little mistakes all artists make.


Since I love fall and we are still in the midst of this glorious and colorful season I was prompted to do another layout using this cornucopia image from a cocktail napkin. Since autumn is my time for new beginnings and starting over I saw the cornucopia as a symbol of the abundance that awaits us all if we just open our eyes to the possibilities that surround us.

We took a trip to the wineries yesterday and stopped at a farm stand where I bought apples to make an apple crisp and beets to roast in the oven. I am embracing autumn and hoping to make it linger a while before the snows come!

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Monday, September 14, 2015

A CUP OF TEA AND A GOOD BOOK


Life has finally settled down and I am returning to my roots.I'm still working 2 days a week but only till mid October and then I will be completely free. Having 5 days a week to follow my heart has been a blessing.

I've been doing a lot more art and pretty much have become obsessed with it. Here is my latest art journal page following some techniques from Vicky Papaioannou. I am addicted to her youtube videos and watch them constantly--of course taking time out to apply the techniques to my own art.

I feel that art is part of my roots as I loved it as a child but in other ways I am returning to other things I love as well. For instance I've cooked dinner twice in the past week! Sounds like a little thing, but my husband Frank is the chef and while I was working he cooked every night. Now I am slowly going back to the kitchen and I love the earthiness of fresh foods and the meditative process of cooking, mixing, chopping and making a pile of ingredients turn into something yummy--kind of what I do with art materials!

Another odd change I'm making is in the tea I drink. For years I've been an imbiber of herbal and specialty teas but now I am going back to my old Tetley tea habit. I just feel very grounded now and am looking forward to having all my time to do the homey and artistic things I enjoy with no stress.

And so, as the art piece above says, "a cup of tea and a good book" is a wonderful pleasure and so I will return to mine.

Till next time--have fun!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Setting Myself Free




This world is a huge canvas of the most beautiful art. It seduces me, inspires me, calms me and makes me want to fly free!

I believe we each have a well of artistic sensitivity within us and we are obligated to seek it out and nurture it so that it blossoms into what it is meant to be. For me I am deep into the discovery of what my artistic style will become. I'm trying out and learning about all kinds of media such as paint, drawing, collage, colored pencil and lettering. It's a long and serene learning process and I am loving the time I have now to explore and grow as an artist--something I never thought myself capable of. 

Youtube.com provides enough streaming videos to learn any kind of media and be introduced into the variety of materials out there that an artist can use to create masterpeices. As I learn more and more, I am able to view my own art and see where the mistakes are, or where something needs to be deepened or tweaked and now I know of some ways to do that. I'm feeling much more confident as an artist but there is still much to learn.

Today I completed a new art journaling page that expresses what I feel right now--that we each need to find our personal soul-song and set it free in whichever creative path intrigues us. 

Here is the new page.



And now off to create something new!
copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Friday, August 7, 2015

PLAYING WITH COLLAGE


What a lovely day we've had. 

We awoke to cool breezes and clean air and a serenade of birdsong. Enjoyed a yummy breakfast of French toast and then took a walk in the morning air, fresh and invigorating.

After that we drove to Barnes and Noble and had a second cup of coffee while browsing art and cooking magazines. Feasts for the eyes and the creative spirits that dwell inside us.

At home I went about completing two collages I began yesterday. I worked on canvas boards, one 8X10 and one 5X7. I created backgrounds by collaging scraps of coordinated scrapbook papers and then painting over them.


For this piece I used a faom brayer to apply the paint and then stenciled and stamped some designs to integrate everything. I added a copyright free image from one of the Dover design books that you can get online.


I started this piece with the same collage method then used an art sponge to add paint. I stenciled some leafy vines and flowers to bring it together. Because art in itself brings out the child in me I returned to my love of paper dolls and used ideas and techniques from Julie Nutting's book "Collage Couture."

I added butterflies and some flower stickers. Not too happy with the face, but no worries. I live and learn. I will definitely be making more pieces like this. I think I'm in love with the process tedious as making the doll and the dress may be, it's slow work and meditative. A little background jazz rounds out the day!


copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Monday, August 3, 2015

ARTISTRY AND POETRY

Blending my two passions of art and poetry is a challenge as well as a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Right now I am reworking some poems into haiku that I can incorporate in my art. I'm also experimenting with different color combinations--some dark and think, others bright and light. The piece here originated with a poem I wrote for my next poetry collection:

CONNETQUOT RIVER

Stones crunch and shift beneath my feet
Along the path that hugs the curves of shoreline.
The black ruffled surface of the river
Throws off silver reflections of sunlight
Diamonds scattered by a distraught lover.

The white heron wades in the mud
His slender beak
Stabs at unsuspecting insects
Emerging from winter’s frozen den.

Memories slip between the breezes
Remind me pain is transient
Fading in time
Like the ripe color of this fallen leaf.


I took the middle stanza and honed it down to a viable haiku. I really have worked this image over a number of times to get a poem I could live with. It so fascinating to go to the arboretum and watch the heron wading through the banks of the river, or into the water to go fishing.

I began with a lovely blank white page of my watercolor art journal and added pastel colors with stencils and collaged a few pieces of tissue paper. I used a script stamp to get some detail into the background. I made the heron with a stencil and molding paste and gesso.


 I'm looking forward to creating more art and poetry like this and hopefully an altered board book of haiku and art. I'm also looking forward to seeing your comments and thoughts on my process.



copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Sunday, August 2, 2015

CHANGE YOUR STORY

Yes, it's time to change my story. I had a little glitch in my retirement plans and am working two days a week now, but only until October 21 when I will be fully retired. Having essentially 5 day weekends now gives me time to find myself and I'm doing that in my art work.

When anyone asks me what I will do when I retire I have to chuckle to myself. Anyone who knows me will know there are so many things to do that I still won't have enough time. But at the moment I am making a transition from writing to art, from work to leisure. I'm exploring a lot of different art media, styles, and techniques and will slowly develop my own style and my own preferred set of media. For now it's a lot of learning and discovery. Different approaches to art such as art journaling, floral painting, Chinese brush painting and calligraphy are grabbing my interest.

The world of art journaling itself holds a vast array of media and styles. So far this has been my favored method. This weekend I experimented with the method of layering paints, using brushes and stencils, tissue paper and images from napkins, along with stamping and words and images cut from magazines. Here is what I created during this experiment.


When I first created the layered background I was disappointed. I thought it looked too messy and dark. I added the stamped flowers which seemed to pull it together but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it from there. I hunted through my stash of magazine words and pictures and the words "change your story, change your life" spoke to me since that is what's happening to me now as I transition from career to retirement.The image of the girl is a print of one of Degas' bronze statues and she seemed to be ready to step forward into her new life, just like me. Once I added the words and image to the page and highlighted them with charcoal I felt the piece came together.

So off I go to work on the next art journal page!
copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Saturday, June 6, 2015

AN ARTISTIC DAY

As I approach my retirement in 3 weeks I am drawn back into the world of art. A comforting place I've been too long away from. So busy with writing I had stored away my art supplies. But now I took them out of the dark attic, and pulled them out from under the bed. Opening my art journal I emabarked on a relaxing day of art with my husband Frank


While he set about sketching and beginning to paint a new watercolor landscape I began two new projects. One a simple art journal page. I painted the background and set it to dry.


Still a lot to do with it. I will post the finished art journal page as soon as the details are done. But the feel of the brush in my hand and the smear of 3 tones of blue paint on the page got my artistic heart racing. I'm so happy to be back at this again.

Since this blog is about the marriage of art and poetry I will share my next project in process. While I am writing a new poetry collection I see how my poems tend to go on into too much generaliztion so I am revising them by cutting lines and revealing the sparkiling kernel of the poem hidden between the lines. Many times the result is a short five line tanka; a Japanese form of poem that is like a haiku with 2 lines of explanation at the end. I've decided to create an altered board book of art and tanka poems. Today I gessoed the book and will next add collage elements before painting over it. I'll share that as I go through each layer until the book is finished.

I hope you'll come along with me and see how each piece of art progresses. And, oh yes, I'll share Frank's progress on his painting as well.




copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

National Poetry Month




In honor of National Poetry Month in April, every year I like to give myself a challenge. Usually I connect the poetry to some art form since that's what this blog is all about. This year I will focus only on poetry since I've been doing more writing than art lately. (Of course I will add art to my creative time soon.)

I've been taking online classes in two forms of Japanese poetry, tanka and haibun, and so will follow those forms for this year's challenge.

I'm beginning a series of tanka called "Third Marriage" and here are the first two poems:

November chill
unexpected phone call
early dinner meeting
after 5 cups of coffee
relationship is born


harvest moon
color of autumn trees
my heart round
full as the cratered orb
lighting a cobalt sky


copyright by Renee Howard Cassese