What is Your One Word?

Art Supplies by Cindy Adelle Richard

Art Supplies by Cindy Adelle Richard

I recently attended a talk by Erik Qualman where he spoke about the digital legacy that we each create online. The brief exercise he had us complete really caught my attention, and felt compelled to share it – it was about identifying our one word. One of the aspects of leaving a positive digital legacy (simply defined as the content that you leave in cyberspace that will be there forever) should be achieving authenticity. To get at what makes us authentic, Erik had us answer a provocative question, “When you die, what is the one word you want people to use to describe you?” For me, the word “artist” immediately came to mind. It is the truest aspect of who I am, and it is how I want to be remembered on this Earth. It took me a long time to find my way back to being an artist (over 30 years). As a child, I definitely loved art – I enjoyed drawing and painting, writing stories, and reading voraciously. There is a newspaper photo of me on my first day of kindergarten (our local paper covered the first day back to school), and do you know what I was doing in the photograph? Drawing with an intense look of concentration on my little face. Being a proud mom, my mother cut it out and laminated it to keep, and I’m so glad she did because it is a lovely reminder of what I loved most as a child. And what I still love most as an adult.

I would encourage you to take some time to complete this exercise. The word you choose may be as unique as you are as an individual, or it may be as common as a character trait or social role chosen by many others. Erik only gave us a minute to think of our word, but you can take all the time you need to answer this one profound question, “When you die, what is the one word you want people to use to describe you?”

The Dream Maker

The Dream Maker by Cindy Adelle Richard An African American Woman with floating feathers and a hummingbird

The Dream Maker by Cindy Adelle Richard

Esme always had an affinity for birds – feathers, nests, eggs, and birdhouses in particular. Her favorite bird was a hummingbird because of its diminutive size and feisty spirit. She collected all of her avian treasures as a child in a little fort in the back yard, and old garden shed that her parents no longer used. Esme made it cozy with green walls, white bedding, and lots of shelves lined with bird treasures. She put three birdhouses just outside the door, each with different types of bird seed to attract different birds.

Esme’s friends would often come to visit, and there was one visit from her friend Carrie that would prove to be life changing. Carrie accidentally knocked over the contents of one shelf and all the feathers landed in a pile on the floor. Before she could bend down to pick them up, they started floating under Esme’s gaze, surprising them both. They swirled slowly in a circle as if held together by an invisible globe. Esme fell into a sort of trance, and she saw Carrie as an adult performing as a trapeze artist at a circus and loving all aspects of circus life. Carrie gasped because she had never told anyone about her secret daydreams for fear that they would think she was silly, but it thrilled her to think that what her friend said might come true. From that day forward, Esme asked her friends to choose the feathers that spoke to them and then she would make them float, go into a trance, and tell them the most vital parts of their future. Then she would give them a feather to keep as a good luck talisman to ensure that they would always remember their dream and that it would come true.

Over the years, Esme’s abilities grew to the point that she could alter the visions to fit some of the desires expressed by her clients, but only if they were in line with their big dream – their destiny. Over time, she came to be known as the Dream Maker, and was respected and beloved in her community.

This illustration is available on Etsy

The Reluctant Chef

Kitchen Magic by Cindy Adelle Richard

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 Am a Story Artist

A practice painting of Bonnie Bennett by Cindy Adelle Richard

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.

Practice painting of Damon Salvatore and Elena Gilbert by Cindy Adelle Richard.

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.

Practice painting of Damon Salvatore by Cindy Adelle Richard.

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.

Old School Tip: Get a Pen Pal

Photo Courtesy of Annick Colot

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.

Photo Courtesy of @annaremarchuk

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.

A Fun Summary of My 365 Day Art Challenge 2017

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.

D for Deusenberg

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Bessie Coleman: The First Black Fly Girl

Bessie Coleman

I took some time to watch “Amelia” today, the movie about the brave aviatrix Amelia Earhart.  It inspired me to look up information on another aviatrix who is not as well-known but who was no less brave, Bessie Coleman.  They both started flying around the same time, 1920-1921, but being black, Bessie did not receive the same level of recognition as Amelia.  Her story is just as inspiring –  here are some fast facts about Bessie:

  • The world’s first African-American pilot to receive an international license
  • One of thirteen children born to George and Susan Coleman on January 26, 1892 in Atlanta, Texas
  • Attended beauty school in Chicago and worked as a manicurist during the early years of World War I at a barber shop; this is where she started to hear stories about flying from pilots returning from the war
  • Always dreamed of flying; traveled abroad to attend aviation school in LeCrotoy, France in 1920 because no American school would accept African-Americans
  • After studying ten months in France, she was issued a license on June 15, 1921 by the Federation Aeronitique Internationale
  • Returned to the United States in 1921 with the intention of opening a flying school for blacks interested in aeronautics; during her trips she often gave lectures at colleges and churches to encourage young black men and women to enter aviation
  • Participated in many air shows and exhibitions from 1922-1925 to finance her flying career; her death-defying stunts earned her the nickname “Brave Bessie” and she became a barnstormer (pilots who roamed the country renting cow pastures where they put on shows flying low, zooming high above barns, and sometimes even flying through barns) for paying crowds
  • On April 30, 1926, she died during a test flight before a show sponsored by the Negro Welfare League in Jacksonville, Florida. About twelve minutes into the flight, the plane did not pull out of a nosedive as planned; instead, it did a somersault and dropped Bessie Coleman to her death.
  • Although her dream of establishing a flying school for black students never materialized, the Bessie Coleman Aero groups were organized after her death. On Labor Day, 1931, these flying clubs sponsored the first all black air show in America, which attracted 15,000 spectators. She also had a day named in her honor in Chicago and was featured on a commemorative stamp issued by U.S. Postal Service.
  • Famous Quotes: “The air is the only place free from prejudices.” “No one had ever heard of a black woman pilot in 1919. I refused to take no for an answer.”

Primary Resource: Doris L. Rich, Queen Bess: Daredevil Aviator (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993).

For more information on Bessie, check out this website: http://www.bessiecoleman.com/default.html

Bessie Coleman 1921

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