Poetry Plans for 2020 and Tips from the Book “How Poetry Can Change Your Heart”

How Poetry Can Change Your Heart Book

How Poetry Can Change Your Heart Book

I read an excellent, slim volume called “How Poetry Can Change Your Heart” by Andrea Gibson and Megan Falley, and I wanted to share some of the great tips I picked up from the book. I made a commitment to study poetry deeply this year, and a few days later, I stumbled upon this book in a bookstore. These are points that I want to remember, but I always like to share when I find content that is inspiring and useful… so here goes:

“There is a poet out there who is fluent in you (pg. 8) .” – The authors are encouraging readers to keep searching until they find the poets that resonate with them; I needed to hear this because it is often frustrating for me to find poets I really love. This reminds me not to give up hope, to keep searching for poets that know just the right words to awaken the dreamer in me.

“Ayurvedic medicine suggests the root of disease is often undigested emotion. Therefore, to feel is to heal (pg. 30).” – Writing poetry helps us to express emotions that are not always easy to express in day to day life, and in so doing, it helps to keep our energy flowing. I suspect a lot of us suffer from repressed emotions, so I loved this sentiment.

“One of the absolute coolest rules of writing is the Great Paradox, or, the fact that the more specific something is, the more universal it becomes (pg. 38).” – This helps to encourage me to write specific words related to my own unique experience. I often wonder if others will be able to relate to content that is unique to me, but this gives me permission to be uber specific – the details make the difference.

“There is no wrong way to experience poetry (pg. 49).” – The authors said that you should avoid writing the types of poems that turned you off from poetry in the first place (at least when you are first starting). For me, that is all the forms of poetry with lots of rules (i.e. couplets, tercets, quatrains, etc.) – as a result, I gravitate to free verse poetry because I want my writing to be as free as possible. Write the poetry that excites you!

“Poetry is the pen-and-paper version of paying wondrous attention (pg. 99).” – The authors talked about the importance of noticing – really, truly slowing down and paying attention to your surroundings and your life. And keeping a notebook with you at all times so you don’t forget the details.

“Make a list of things you could speak about for thirty minutes or longer. Review the list (pg. 111).” – This point addresses the age old question of “what should I write?” Well, write what you can’t stop talking about when you are given free reign to talk. And keep an ongoing list of those topics so you will always have a starting point when you sit down to write.

“Once you start to write and read every day, you will begin to think in poetics (pg. 119).” – It is important to establish a habit of reading and writing regularly if you want to get better at writing poetry – this is something we all know, but we constantly have to be reminded of it (or at least I do).

I hope you enjoyed my brief list of tips on reading and writing poetry. I would definitely recommend this book – if you like books such as “Steal Like an Artist” and “The Artist’s Way”, you will probably like this book for its straightforward, practical advice.

 

2020 Literary Calendar

Literary Calendar 2020 Literary Calendar – The Pleasures of Reading

I created a calendar with a literary theme this year entitled “The Pleasures of Reading”. I wanted to share my final calendar images with all of you. This calendar is my favorite so far! I thoroughly enjoyed focusing on painting the books and people engaged in the best activity ever (at least as far as I am concerned) of reading. I enjoyed it so much in fact that I am thinking of focusing all of my art around literary subjects – books, imaginary book covers, book spaces, and more. I used to be worried that it would be too limiting to only focus on one subject area, but it is actually helping with my creativity. Somehow having limits/boundaries for my creative work is helping me to think of a lot more possibilities. Well, enough about that – without further ado, here is my full calendar for 2020:

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If you are interested in purchasing this calendar, Click Here

A friend of mine, Rochelle, also wrote a blog post about my calendar Click Here

Thinking About Why You Create

The Blank Page by Cindy Adelle Richard

I recently read a book called “What’s Your Creative Type: Harness the Power of Your Creative Personality” by Meta Wagner, and the content was intriguing enough to share. The reason that Wagner wrote the book was to help artist know why they create so that they can maximize their creative potential. The most accomplished and prolific artists know why they create and use it as the driving force behind their work. I am going to provide a summary of each of the types and one example of an a well-known artist who embodies that type. My goal is to introduce you to the creative types and hopefully pique your interest so you will seek out more information.

The A-Lister: Seeking Applause, Adoration, Fame, and Immortality

  • thrive off of adoration and attention from others
  • have a strong need to have people see what you see, feel what you feel, think what you think
  • feel alive when performing for others
  • want to be remembered after you die
  • more interested in the finished product because that is where the glory comes from
  • compete against past and present artists you admire
  • Example of an A-Lister Artist: Pablo Picasso was not only content to make art, he did everything in his power to also ensure he was famous and made money from his art.

The Artisan: Truly, Madly, Deeply Devoted to Creativity

  • just being creative provides its own satisfaction
  • lose all sense of time when deeply engaged in the creative process
  • the thrill of making something from nothing keeps you enthralled
  • love the process even more than the product
  • would keep making art even if no one paid attention to it or paid money for it
  • often look to artists who came before you for inspiration and information
  • Example of The Artisan: Vincent Van Gogh spent years learning to paint and he was quite prolific, yet he really didn’t sell much work when he was alive. He was completely driven by the creative process and making paintings.

The Game Changer: Creating Something Entirely New

  • make new, revolutionary, visionary art – originality crucial to you
  • want to expand the limits of art and get people to see the world differently
  • become restless and bored with following conventions so constantly experimenting with new approaches and techniques to keep yourself engaged
  • may have to wait years, even decades, for your ideas to be accepted
  • Example of The Game Changer: Jackson Pollock created an entirely new way of painting and changed how people looked at abstract art, and the world noticed.

The Sensitive Soul: Expressing Yourself and Helping Others

  • feel things deeply and use creative outlets to channel them
  • lots of things stir your emotions
  • can be thin-skinned, but have a great ability to empathize with the feelings of others
  • when they use art to bring themselves relief from suffering, they also help others to escape their pain
  • always seeking ways to cope with and make meaning out of life
  • often use their personal experiences as the catalyst for their art
  • Example of The Sensitive Soul: Frida Kahlo used her painful past and raw emotions to give her paintings power, and her work has emotionally affected art lovers for generations.

The Activist: Changing the World Through Art

  • desire to create art that has an impact – changes the course of people’s lives or even the course of history
  • tend to see injustices everywhere you look, and you refuse to stand idly by – you must do something
  • there is often a sense of urgency to your work
  • tendency to follow politics and world events on a consistent basis
  • art is often created for shock value and/or to send a message
  • Example of The Activist: Banksy uses street art/murals to spotlight political or moral injustices in our current world. His message is usually anti-war, anti-capitalist, or anti-establishment.

Whether you identify with one, more than one, or none of these types, I hope they will get you thinking about why you create. I do believe that it is helpful to know why you create so that you can return to it when times get tough or when you need to refocus your work. It also helps to know so that you can find the inspiration you need to keep going. I would also recommend checking out Meta Wagner’s book in its entirety – in addition to in-depth descriptions of these types, she also goes into subcategories of the types and helpful hints on how to work best with your creative personality.

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.

The Atmospheric Images of Andrew Davidson

Today, I would like to introduce you to an artist I admire by the name of Andrew Davidson. There is not a great deal of information available about Davidson because he has not conducted many interviews, but like all great artists, his work mainly speaks for itself.

Death on the Nile by Andrew Davidson

Davidson studied graphic design, and considers himself both an illustrator and designer. His eye for design is apparent when studying the composition of his illustrations. He uses gouache paint to lay down large blocks of color, but being multi-talented, he also creates wood carvings and wood engravings.

Sleeping Murder by Andrew Davidson

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Andrew Davidson

Davidson came to my attention when I noticed his artwork in the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot books for The Folio Society. As a fan of Agatha Christie, I think he really captured the atmosphere and elegance present in Christie’s books. I love his use of color and minimalist design; they provide a great deal of context and narrative despite their minimalist aesthetic.

Field of Wildflowers by Andrew Davidson

Murder on the Orient Express by Andrew Davidson

Davidson’s images are reminiscent of the beautiful travel posters created by artists during the 1920s and 1930s.

Miss Marple by Andrew Davidson

Death on the Nile by Andrew Davidson

Death on the Nile Deck by Andrew Davidson

For more information about Davidson’s work, please visit:

Andrew Davidson’s Website

The Artworks Gallery Page

 

8 Things to Know about Beryl Markham

I just finished one of the most eloquent memoirs I have ever read called West with the Night. I marked so many passages that I almost thought about giving up the task of marking my favorite passages, but I persisted. I was so impressed by this memoir that I turned to the biography at the back of the book, and immediately started thinking of ways that I could share this remarkable woman’s story. By the way, the remarkable woman of which I speak is Beryl Markham – aviatrix, horse trainer/racer, and an adventuress extraordinaire. I hope you find Ms. Markham as fascinating as I did!

Photo courtesy of ladyfanciful.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of ladyfanciful.blogspot.com

Beryl Markham was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. Her flight took off from Abingdon England on September 4, 1936, and crash landed into a peat bog in Nova Scotia about 22 hours later. Although her target was New York, she still achieved a record by making it to North America.

Photo courtesy of likesuccess.com

Photo courtesy of likesuccess.com

Markham was the first licensed female racehorse trainer in Kenya. She was successful and well-known throughout the colony. Some of the most memorable passages in West with the Night relate to her work with these thoroughbred horses.

Denys Finch Hatton - Photo courtesy of alchetron.com

Denys Finch Hatton – Photo courtesy of alchetron.com

Karen Blixen - Photo courtesy of atterata.com

Karen Blixen – Photo courtesy of atterata.com

Markham was friends with Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton from the well-loved book and film Out of Africa. The outspoken character  named Felicity in the film version is based on Markham. She also had an intimate relationship with Denys; in fact, she was scheduled to be on the flight that killed Denys. However, Tom Black, her flight instructor and friend, had a premonition that things would not go well and asked her not to fly with Denys that day. It was a good thing she listened.

Prince Henry - Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Prince Henry – Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Markham was rumored to have had an affair with Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and son of George V. They became acquainted when Prince Henry, and his brother Prince David, came for a royal visit to Nairobi and visited her father’s horse farm for riding lessons. Needless to say, his family cut the romance short once it was discovered.

Ernest Hemingway - Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Ernest Hemingway – Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Ernest Hemingway spoke highly of Markham’s writing. Hemingway met Markham on a safari in 1934, and obtained a copy of her book. In a letter to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, he wrote:

Did you read Beryl Markham’s book, “West with the Night”? I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could and would put pen to paper except to write in her flyer’s log book. As it is, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and some times making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers.

After reading this quote in one of Hemingway’s letters, George Gutekunst (a friend of the family) sought out Markham’s book, loved it, and helped to get it reissued so that more people would be able to read it. It became a bestseller and allowed Markham, who was living in poverty in Africa at the time, to spend the rest of her years in comfort.

Photo courtesy of glanews.com

Photo courtesy of glanews.com

As a child, Markham used to hunt with African warriors who were part of her community in Nairobi. She was one of very few women allowed to go along on expeditions; women from the tribe were expected to stay at home and take care of the domestic sphere. They called her Lakweit,  which means “little girl” in Swahili, but they respected her in the same way they respected the young boys being trained as warriors.

Photo courtesy of wsj.com

Photo courtesy of wsj.com

Markham was attacked by a neighbor’s “pet” lion when she was an adolescent, and lived to tell the story. There is a humorous antidote in her memoir where one of the African men who helped to save her told her father that she was only eaten a little bit by a lion in an attempt to try to minimize his panic.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Paula McLain wrote a fictional account of Markham’s life in 2015 called Circling the Sun. I read the book as soon as it was released, and I loved the poetic descriptions of her life and the sweeping landscapes of Africa. That was actually the first time I encountered Markham, and I just had to know more after reading all about her singular life. If this post has intrigued you, then I recommend starting with McLain’s website and reading her book to learn more.

I included a few of the most striking quotes from the book West with the Night to give you a preview:

Fitful splashes of crimson light from crude-oil torches set round the field stain the dark cloth of African night and play upon his alert, high-boned face. Pg. 14

There was nothing but the distinguishing formation of high, grey rocks piled against each other, jutting from the earth like the weather-worn ruins of a desert cathedral. Pg. 36

Delamare’s character had as many facets as a cut stone, but each facet shown with individual brightness. Pg. 71

The distant roar of a waking lion rolls against the stillness of the night, and we listen. It is the voice of Africa bringing memories that do not exist in our minds or in our hearts – perhaps not even in our blood. It is out of time, but it is there, and it spans a chasm whose other side we cannot see. Pg. 98

The automobile so sharply sketched against this simple canvas was an intrusion; it was as if a child had pasted the picture of a foolish toy over a painting you had known for years. Pg. 152

I hope I have sufficiently piqued your interest about Ms. Markham. If you know of any details I failed to include or find out anything else fascinating, please let us know.