Will moves so fast that anyone watching from the shore would only see a blur when he glides by in his trusty canoe. He canoes early in the morning before others get on the lake so he can go as fast as he chooses to go. He is not interested in competitions; he just enjoys being out on the lake slicing his canoe through the water as dawn breaks just beyond the pine trees. While he is moving, he does not think about anything – he just enjoys the quiet, calming sounds of nature.
About a year ago, I read about Wendy Chidester’s paintings in an art magazine and found out that a gallery in Boston was showing them in person. After seeing the vibrant images in the magazine, I just had to see and experience them in person. I was not disappointed! They were even more captivating in person because you can see the variations in colors and brushstrokes. I was amazed out how inanimate objects could look so alive.
Wendy’s work causes the viewer to pause and linger a little while, to reflect upon simpler times, and most importantly, to smile when positive memories flood one’s consciousness. Even though her paintings are of relics and antiques, they still have a contemporary feel plus a touch of playfulness and whimsy. I certainly felt a little happier when I walked away from the gallery.
After my visit to the gallery, I wanted to know more about Wendy. Wendy actually started her career as a landscape and figurative artist. One rainy afternoon, she ended up painting an antique camera that she borrowed from a local antique shop, and something clicked. She has been painting items from a bygone era ever since. Her goal is to show appreciation and respect for their years for service.
Wendy loves imagining the story behind all of these old things – who they belonged to, where they might have been, or how the person used them. She wants to honor the human ingenuity and craftsmanship that went into making each piece. She finds color fascinating and often uses saturated colors that she adds patina to so she can gracefully show their age.
Wendy usually paints from life, borrowing pieces from antique shops or inheriting old pieces from family and friends. She works out of her studio in Draper, a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah.
If you are interested in learning more about this artist, please visit http://www.wendychidester.com/
This painting really came about because I wanted to do a piece featuring a Victrola. I am still on the hunt for the perfect one to add to my vintage collection, and I am hoping to score one at the Brimfield Antique Fair that I will be attending in September. I hope you enjoy this little story and the painting:
Lily had a tough week at work. But now, among the hedges, Lily sets up stool in her favorite spot to relax – the one where the birds gather and complement her playing. She does not play a normal instrument – instead she plays a Victrola given to her by her Grandma Esther. This Victrola doesn’t even have a place for records or a needle, for the music comes from within Lily. She simply holds the Victrola close to her body, closes her eyes, and lets what she thinks and feels flow through the Victrola. Lily is partial to jazzy tunes, but sometimes she’ll play classical music. No matter what she chooses, the birds always seem to know and cheerfully accompany her. This is Lily’s definition of a perfect, relaxing afternoon.
This painting is available on Etsy: adellecirca1920.etsy.com
This painting was inspired by the song featured in THE GREATEST SHOWMAN called “Rewrite the Stars”. I wrote the following mini story for this painting:
Rearranging the Stars
Claire woke up with the moon shining on her face. After a night of dancing, she was still dressed in her green gown. Led by the moon, she walked outside barefoot to get a better view of the night sky. Dew was just starting to form on the grass and it caused her feet to make a slight squishing sound. She walked to an open field and started to survey the stars. Claire realized that something did not seem quite right. She closed her eyes and floated toward the stars, letting her intuition guide her to the exact star that needed changing. She realized that this star had been causing the recent bout of clumsiness she had been experiencing in her life. Claire moved it just to the right of the moon so it could benefit from its light and steadiness. Once she finished rearranging the star, she returned to the ground. Claire walked back home and settled into her bed by the window to examine her celestial handiwork. She smiled and fell into a deep sleep knowing that things would be better tomorrow.
I hope you enjoyed this mini story. This painting is available in my Etsy shop adellecirca1920.etsy.com
This painting was inspired by my shameless binge watching of CHARMED. There was an episode where Piper first learned to freeze time, and she was cooking at the time. As I was watching it, this image popped into my head. I also created a little story which conveys my feelings about cooking. I love food. I love the idea of cooking. I even love cookware and utensils. My problem is with the act of cooking. I hope you will get the picture after reading this mini-story.
The Reluctant Chef
The ingredients rested on the counter in pristine condition – homemade pasta, ripe tomatoes, crisp carrots, onions, and basil leaves – all ready to chop, boil, and release heavenly aromas. The chef, Penelope, seemingly ready in her white coat and red scarf, sharpened knives, shiny pots, leans on the counter with her head propped in her hands loathing the process required to make these ingredients edible. She daydreams about how the meal will taste, how her friends and family will applaud and rave about her meal. Then she sighs, and once again she puts the ingredients in the refrigerator, the cooking implements in the cabinets and drawers; then she picks up the phone to dial Luigi’s Italian Kitchen.
This watercolor painting is available in my shop adellecirca1920.etsy.com
I have started creating mini-stories and poems inspired by my paintings. Here is the poem for this painting:
Remembering Roses by Cindy Adelle Richard
A morning walk ripe with dew
shards of light reflecting you
butterflies swirling matching your pace
roses shimmering caressing your face
Nature’s canvas framed just for you
etched in your memory like cellular glue
love in your heart nothing to fear
enjoying the magic we all hold dear.
I hope you enjoyed my little poem. This painting is now available in my Etsy shop as well adellecirca1920.etsy.com
I have been taking a little hiatus from social media to do some deep thinking about my brand and my art business. I seem to think best by writing by hand with no interference from technology, and I used my time journaling and reflecting on my vocation productively. The series of practice paintings I posted today are based on characters from THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. Rewatching six seasons of the show and creating these paintings helped me to realize how much I love art that tells a story. I finally found something I can happily do for the rest of my life without getting tired of it. However, these paintings were based on photographs, and I decided I really want to create original art using my favorite stories as inspiration instead.
One of the big revelations for me while going this process was the role I came up with for myself – being a Story Artist. The two pastimes that have occupied my time throughout my life have been stories and art. From the time I was three years old, I have been obsessed with reading, and my favorite events were book fairs, weekly trips to the school library or the bookmobile, and story time in my classrooms. Eventually my love of stories expanded into movies, television shows, plays, operas, and ballets. I also started to pay attention to the arts as I grew up – painting, playing the drums, and dancing specifically. During the years that I was in college and building a career as a young person, I had forgotten how important these art forms were to me, and I am grateful that I have reconnected to my love of stories and art over the past ten years.
I have decided to use my favorite stories in various forms and genres as the starting point for the watercolor paintings I produce. This blog will be about my life behind the stories – my life as a Story Artist. In addition to creating and sharing my art, I am still in the process of writing a novel set in the 1920s, so you will still see content based on my discoveries from that glorious era. I am truly excited about this new direction my art and writing are taking, and I hope you will stick around to be a part of my creative journey. Thank you for reading and supporting this blog, and I look forward to sharing more story art and content with you.
I created a 2018 circus calendar inspired by the film THE GREATEST SHOWMAN. I adored the film from start to finish – the performers, the costumes, the music, and much more. I felt great after leaving this movie, and I went home and got right to work on some sketches of a vintage circus straight from my imagination.
This calendar is available on my Etsy shop at http://adellecirca1920.etsy.com
Here is the full gallery for the calendar:
I have a friend, Ellen, who recently moved to Vermont. To stay connected, we started sending cards/letters back and forth. I absolutely love having a pen pal, and receiving cards/letters via snail mail. I love it so much in fact that I thought it was worthy of a post to inspire others to try it with their friends and loved ones.
Why do I love receiving posts in the mail so much? Nothing beats receiving handwritten notes, especially since so much of our correspondence nowadays is digital. The pleasure of receiving something you actually want in the mail (instead of bills, junk mail, and all sorts of other nonsense) cannot be overemphasized. I also love that it slows me down and makes me reflect on the recent details in my life so that I will be able to share tidbits with Ellen. I also adore using beautiful stationary which is either store-bought or hand created. Plus, given my love of nostalgia, it reminds me of simpler times when I used to write notes during summer camp or sending letters home while visiting relatives from far away.
There is really no right or wrong way to write letters, and that makes it even more fabulous. It really depends on the personalities and quirks of the individuals involved. My one tip (because I am a planner by nature) is to jot down a quick list of the topics you want to include so you don’t forget anything and you will be able to fit in all of the content in the space allotted.
Handwritten cards/letters are truly a gift of your time and affection. The next time you need to communicate with someone, try sending a handwritten note instead. Whether they are far away or just down the street, I bet he/she would appreciate it, and maybe even respond with a handwritten missive of his/her own.
I am happy to report that I successfully completed my 365 day art challenge in 2017! The challenge I set for myself was to draw or paint 365 original pieces of art and post them on Instagram. I decided to embark on this challenge to improve my drawing skills and establish a regular studio routine. I accomplished these goals and a whole lot more. I thought it would be fun to share a quick summary of some of the highlights from this past year.
First Picture – This was the picture I posted on Day #1 of the challenge.
Last Picture – This was the picture I posted on Day #365 of the challenge. I recreated the first picture as a watercolor painting. I think it shows that I have learned quite a bit over the year.
Favorite Painting – I created this painting of a woman with flowers in her hair, and to this day, she is still my favorite painting out of all the ones I produced in 2017. I think she embodies the vintage spirit, simplicity, and joy that I hope to convey in all of my paintings. I decided to choose her for my business logo for Adelle Circa 1920, so you will see much more of her (her name is Adelle by the way).
Biggest Surprise – The fact that I started painting. When I started this project, I only intended to work on my drawing skills and to continue creating graphite works of art. However, I got the idea to try painting at the end of April 2017; I picked up a cheap watercolor set I had in the closet, and made my first clumsy attempt at painting. Now, I adore painting and I can’t believe I waited this long to start. This is the first painting I completed.
Second Biggest Surprise – The number of people who were inspired by my challenge and told me so. It is always a nice bonus when your work helps others in some way.
Best Comment on Instagram About My Art – This comment came from my former coworker, Lynsie, and she said, “I do believe you have found your calling.” I was feeling that way, but to have someone else say it and affirm it felt amazing.
Shortest Time to Complete a Painting – 10 minutes (the woman in the blue and white dress)
Longest Time to Complete a Painting – 3.5 hours (the woman with the mask)
Best Project – I completed a Jazz Age Style Alphabet which I loved. I discovered that I like completing projects with a clear focus. Here is one of my favorite paintings from that project.
Greatest Lesson Learned – The greatest lesson I learned was to follow my intuition. When I received an inner nudge to create a certain painting or try a new technique, I just went for it. In the past, I would have wondered if I was doing the right things, but when you have limited time to make decisions and complete the work, you learn to listen to your intuition and trust your instincts.
Best Outcome – I learned that painting watercolor illustrations is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I’ve been searching for the right vocation for years, so discovering that I finally found the right one for me as a result of this project was wonderful. I also used some of the paintings I created this year to open an Etsy shop, and I am excited to continue creating new works of art and putting them out into the world.
I am planning to write a longer account of what I learned this year as a result of this project, but this was a nice summary for now. I hope that you all have a wonderful new year, and that you will choose a creative project in the new year that will bring you joy.