November is one of my favorite times of year because 1) I get to take a week off for Thanksgiving, and I use it to watch lots of T.V., read lots of books, and take lots of naps and 2) it is National Novel Writing Month. I attend meetups to write with the NaNo North Shore group, a wonderful group of people who encourage each other and have fun together. We always hold an event one day each November where we write all day and night (24 hours), eat lots of food, and talk in between writing (another November favorite). I never actually do what I am supposed to do during NaNoWriMo (write a novel that is at least 50,000 words); I usually use the time to work on whatever project has been brewing in my head for a while. This year I have decided to spend the month fleshing out this fictional art colony that has been taking shape in my mind since January. The paintings I have been creating this year have come about because of this fictional place which I have named The Isle of Adelle. I imagine that Adelle, the woman pictured above, founded this special art colony on an island off of the coast of France circa 1920. You will hear more about this special place after I have a chance to fully imagine what it is all about – who the people are, what they do each day, the climate, and so on. I am excited by the idea of building my own world and letting it take shape on paper. If you are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, happy writing!
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
Sayuri has always loved hats. She had the good fortune to be born to an exceptional milliner and his wife in a small Japanese village during the early part of the 20th century. Her father learned his craft from his grandparents and he passed along everything he knew to Sayuri, his only child. Her mother functioned as his assistant, helping the customers and managing the hat shop with the utmost care.
Even as a young child, Sayuri wore the finest hats with confidence and finesse. Because of her confidence, she was never teased for wearing hats – instead, they became her signature. Sayuri worked in her parents’ shop when she was not at school, and nothing made her happier. She enjoyed every part of hat making – picking the materials, stitching the hats, displaying them just so to appeal to customers.
Once Sayuri grew up, moved away, and established her own shop, she truly realized the power of her sartorial gifts. For you see, she can take one look at a customer, and know exactly what hat will suit them – the style, colors, and lifestyle. She is able to intuit their personality and preferences without them saying a word. For this reason, she tends to make custom hats. She has some hats on display just for show, but the real magic happens when she creates a hat just for the person who orders it. Each time she sees one of her hats out and about and perched just so on top of her clients’ heads, she smiles to herself and feels satisfied.
This illustration is available on Etsy
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.
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 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 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.