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.

 

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?”

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.

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Your Curiosity

I watched an inspiring video by Elizabeth Gilbert about following one’s curiosity to figure out pathways in life here . Up until now, Gilbert has always been an advocate of the philosophy to “follow your passion” because that has always worked for her. A letter from a frustrated reader caused her to change her perspective; the reader had been searching for a passion for years, and had reached the point of being depressed because she did not seem to have one. It caused Gilbert to take a step back and think about the pathways of various people in her life that did not know their passions, but discovered them over time. She has now revised her theory about passion to accommodate people who are like hummingbirds – people who flit from interest to interest, and then eventually they are able to look over the field of their lives to see what they caused to bloom. I am one of those hummingbirds. I went through life for years frustrated by the fact that I could not seem to find one passion that really rang true for me. Now the dots of my life are finally starting to come together to reveal what I am trying to do.

One concrete example of how I have followed my curiosity has to do with drawing. Over the summer, I went to visit the National Museum of American Illustration in Newport because I was curious to see how they would present the work of illustrators in a house museum National Museum of American Illustration .

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National Illustration Museum

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