Friday, May 15, 2015

Mother's Day Bouquet Drawings

I've switched gears and started painting and drawing a lot more in my studio. I tend to do this as the seasons change. Seasonal change is just to darned inspirational to ignore. Spring is lovely and lush with unusual colors worth celebrating.

Just in time my son Liam bought me this lovely, full bouquet of tulips with stock and some trumpet flowers, among other tiny delights for Mother's Day. It took all week to do these drawings. It felt like a race against time. That's what happens for me with direct observation still life. The light changes greatly from day to day and the subject transforms, if it is alive, as is the case with flowers.

So here's what I did.


"Mother's Day Tulips Full Sun" c. 2015, Stephanie Rose Bird


Mixed Media Preliminary "Tulip Study" c. 2015, Stephanie Rose Bird


Close Up Pastel Study, "Tulips" c. 2015, Stephanie Rose Bird




Black and White Vine Charcoal Study, "Tulip Bouquet," c. 2015, Stephanie Rose Bird
*please do not reproduce these images without my permission.

I did approximately one drawing per day but then there was this stubborn one. I probably worked on it 15 hours all told. Ugh. I fought it and battled. I thought I'd lost it entirely because it wasn't saying what I wanted it to. It seemed like a hopeless waste of time and art supplies. Then I settled in to the fact that it was done on a cloudy part of the week, when I prefer sunny days for my work. I went with the murky impressionism brought on by the clouds. Through acceptance of what was put before me, instead of pinning away for what I wished for, I saved the drawing.


                         Pastel Drawing, "Cloudy Day Bouquet, c. 2015, Stephanie Rose Bird


Mother's Day is always bittersweet. My mother passed away suddenly and we were very close. I was also close to my paternal Grandmother and Great Grandmother. Still, life goes on and they'd want me to celebrate life. I adore my children and we have wonderful celebrations each year.




My daughter Olivia bought an incredible arrangement of orchids. They are planted so I don't have to race to capture their image, though I've started preliminary studies. Orchids up next...

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Strong Foundation



The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex Cavenaugh and has several dedicated administrators as well. You can read more about them and the group here. This group is designed to help writers overcome, deal with or vent about their insecurities. Writers who've come through the fire, share helpful tips for overcoming insecurities, which is what I'm doing in this post.

Today I'm examining insecurity in writing and sharing holistic health solutions. Insecurity has more of a chance to thrive in an unhealthy environment. Not having a healthy foundation cultivates and strengthens the shaky environment, producing the most undesirable effects.


                                     (Posted on www.wallpowerglow.com by Matt Willliams)


Spirituality

Whatever your beliefs, it's a good idea to employ them as you begin writing each day. Spiritual practices may include prayer or sacred readings, meditation, yoga, mantras or peace-inducing mudras. I am into alternative spirituality within the Earth-based Spirituality vein. I find that having reminders of the bountiful spirit of Mother Nature nearby, nourishes my soul and helps me along with the writing process. I like having fresh flowers around my work space. My children gave me a beautiful orchid plant for Ostara, and somehow I'm managing to keep it alive (fingers crossed). Collecting fresh flowers such as lilac and crab apple blossoms and putting them near your typewriter or computer, as I did this morning, also lifts the spirits through scent and sight. This sets the stage for a productive day of work. When I'm digging deep, I'll add a candle to this mix. Fire is a great energizer.



Yesterday, it was cloudy and rainy outside so I burned a brightening sandalwood incense to lift my spirits. I like Japanese Sandalwood Incense. In the Llewellyn Herbal Almanac I wrote an extensive article on the healing and soothing properties of sandalwood in relation to mood. The research for that article still inspires me.

Exercise Breaks

I've found taking replenishing breaks also creates a healthy environment conducive to confident work. I like swimming but when I can't leave my desk that long, I take short breaks to walk my dog.

Cliparts.co

Dog walking (or any type of walking) raises waning energy, lending inner strength. Looking around outside, feeling fresh air on your face, stimulates creativity and breaks creative blocks. It also reduces guilt. The reasons are: you are getting your blood flowing throughout your body, taking care of your mind, body and spirit, while also keeping your animal companion amused.

Realistic Scheduling

It's self-defeating to think you'll sit down and write the magnum opus in a week. Setting aside manageable blocks of time where you can see them written down helps keep your goals reasonable. You feel accomplished when you can say to yourself, yes I did my 3 hours of writing I'd planned for today, and then move on to other issues in need of tending. I use my google calendar and a daily (hard copy) planner.



Beverage Breaks

Any type of beverage, hot or cold, caffeinated or not, keeps energy from stagnating. Depending on my mood, I will have Japanese twig tea, chamomile and rose herb tea, Darjeeling, coffee or cold water with lemon.

Masala Chai from wikipedia tea entry


These are just a few of my tips for building a strong foundation so insecurity doesn't have a chance to take root.

What do you do to build a healthy foundation for your writing?


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Reflecting on Blogging from A to Z 2015



The opportunity to reflect as an integral post for the Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge, is a sign that this event is well thought out. Going through a challenging event with a large group of people lends itself perfectly to reflection. It is because of the organizing of A to Z from the Theme Reveal, through the 26 days of alphabetically organized blogging, through to the summarizing reflection that I decided to participate for 2 years in a row. In my "S" post Stick-to-it-ive-ness post I thanked Arlee Bird and the countless minions and assistants for their organizational work and support before and during the challenge. Bravo and thanks again!




Planning

My regular readers know I'm fond of divination and am never too far from a crystal ball of one sort or another, I had no idea of the process or outcome of this challenge. I say this even though I participated last year. 

Process





With my life being incredibly full, to the point of being hectic at times, I had no choice but to take a leap into this event. I decided on a theme and then wrote on that theme on blogging days. I didn't have the time or inclination to prepare my posts ahead a time. My blogging is always spontaneous. Apart from one post, which was scheduled just to give it a try, I blogged as the day arrived. Using this method I only missing a handful of days because I was called away to address more pressing issues.


Clarity





As the days progressed I grew into my theme. I took ownership, realizing I could interpret the theme of exclamation points and their overuse in anyway I desired. My process led to great clarity and by the end I saw new things about myself as a blogger.




Camaraderie

I'm seeing now, each year is different, with unique visitors, readers, comments and bands of people coming together through a sense of camaraderie. 
  • Thank you to my regular readers who stuck around for this somewhat specialized series of posts.
  • Thanks to the folks who I linked up with last year, who came and read, as well as commented on every post!
  • Welcome to new members and followers through a variety of platforms. Thank you too for sticking around, reading, commenting and sharing your unique insights.
I'm so happy to have found a new audience and new people whose blogs I enjoy. I wasn't so sure about this A to Z stuff by mid-alphabet as a blogger. I'm glad I stuck around and saw it through.




Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Zzz's Have Arrived

All good things come to an end.

I've survived the April 2015 A to Z Blogger's Challenge. I don't use a lot of "Z" words so no need to try to force any out now. One aspect of "Z" I thoroughly enjoy is catching my Zzz's and now is as good a time as any to catch them, regarding my blogging.


Salvadore Dali, "Sleep"

This challenge, with its request that you blog six days a week, with just one day off, is a blogging marathon alright. A marathon is set up to push you to your maximum.

Maximum reached.

I've never been shy about catching my Zzz's. I love a good rest, call it beauty sleep if you want. Whatever, I know my body and mind well and realize when the Zzz's are needed. My body and mind have requested a rest.

Z Request noted.

So listening to my body, mind and tapped spirit, I'm off for a bit, taking my blogging Zzz's.


William Powell Frith, "Asleep while Reading"


Nighty night.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Say Yes

Yes is such an affirming word and it does appear to be helped along in that area by the "!". Last year on this day, I wrote a post about Saying No to Being a Yes Woman. I was in a different place, struggling to let my authentic voice breathe.




This year I'm in a totally different mind frame. I'm contradicting myself, by asking you to say "Yes." It's okay to let the "yes" be; hang it out, in its perfect form and shape as a concept and a word.




Say:

  1. Yes to increasing your vocabulary
  2. Yes to widening your ways of expressing yourself through that vocabulary
  3. Yes to expression of the affirmative
  4. Yes to the possibilities of language and the many forms of punctuation to frames it

Perhaps all this agreeableness is a result of the fact that I'm writing and blogging more. Through those expressive activities my abilities to embrace, challenge, re-frame, and most of all express, is very affirmative.

So, it's Hump Day. For what reasons would you say Yes! or just a plain old yes. What are you accepting, inviting, nurturing and allowing to take form and shape in your life in the spring of 2015 that is different from 2014?

Interesting concept, yes?





Also "Y"? Yay me. Today is my 200th blog post.


Notes on my Theme:

This post is written for the 2015 A to Z Challenge. During this challenge, participating bloggers post once a day, in alphabetical order. This is done 6 days per week. Sundays are off. My theme presents words that are exciting. These words serve as thematic motifs in my writing. My theme also revolves around exclamation points. The words I've chosen to explore can replace or stand alone from the dreaded exclamation point, which writers are urged to avoid.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Writing

Writing. When I think of it I'm excited. It deserves an exclamation point right behind it. But I'll restrain myself. After all that is my theme for this month's blogger's A to Z Challenge.

I've going out on a limb lately with my writing, blogging six days a week being but one of the activities. I'm working on those four books I've mentioned as being in the fire and that's a handful. I'm also submitting to writing journals and going out for grants.

Recently, I applied for a grant wherein we had to create an artistic statement. I've done that plenty for my fine art but writing? No. So when I created one I was quite excited by what came out of me. Here's a bit of it, sans exclamation points.



My identity and background color many aspects of my work. I have written the first draft of a novel, which began as a memoir. I moved away from creative nonfiction when I found fiction would allow the exploration of imagined psychological landscapes, impossible to tap through memoir. Now I am working on my second novel, called “Out of the Blue." Both novels have protagonists whose lives are set back in time, living in rural areas (similar to mine) from underprivileged and limiting backgrounds.
My protagonists are both teenagers dealing with issues of identity; sorting it out for themselves in relation to those around them. They are challenged by superimposed limits, which are broken during the course of the novel.
My writing features marginalized and down-trodden main characters that go through extensive transformation during the course of the books. I've found fertile ground where I explore themes and motifs of interest in the genres of Young Adult Paranormal Literary Fantasy.
The realm of my characters contains a hefty helping of mythology, folklore and magic. Placing the stories back in time allows the presentation of cultural information and little known aspects of our history—histories shared by all, regardless of where the reader lives or from which country they hail.

It is my intention to create fiction that enlightens and stretches boundaries. I want my readers to understand: no matter where they come from or what challenges they face, transformation and healing is within reach.


So my question for you dear visitor to my blog, what do you like to write or read about? Have you ever had to write an artistic statement? Did you learn from it or was it a great big pain in the butt?  Looking forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vixen

All was going well, as well as it could for an underprivileged Negro living in the deep south during the 1940's. I'm talking about Earnestine's life. I was excited to share tidbits of her story with you, writing about her for the letter "E" of the A to Z Challenge.

As I was saying, all was reasonably well, until Kyane came to town. Earnestine didn't know what to make of her. Was she black or white, rich or poor, human or not--who knew. She seemed around her age but so different from the other girls she knew.

Quickly Kyane inserted herself into Earnestine's family life, cracking it wide open like an ornery walnut. From that time forward, she had her own name for Kyane, as derogatory as it was. This girl, that was part animal, woman and thing, was forever to be known as the Vixen to Earnestine, her mother, aunts, uncles and cousins. Her brother and sister, the twins, were much too young to grasp the full meaning of a vixen. The unpleasant name tripped awkwardly off their tongues too.

Thumbing through the English Oxford Dictionary to the "V" section, you'll see the second definition of a vixen is a spiteful or quarrelsome woman. Merriam Webster calls a vixen a sexually attractive woman. Kyane was that and so much more. All you'd have to do is to listen to what her father had to say to be sure.