Molly’s Miracle Garden

Woman sitting on patio looking at flowers

Molly’s Miracle Garden by Cindy Adelle Richard

I am always inspired by beautiful gardens with impossibly large blooms, and that was my inspiration for this week’s painting. I hope you enjoy this little story about Molly.

As a young girl growing up on a farm, Molly discovered early on that she had a special gift with flowers. Better than a green thumb – more like a golden thumb. See, as soon as Molly places seeds in the ground, flowers begin to grow. Not as fast as what you see in time-lapse videos when everything is moving fast, but within 24 hours, they are in full bloom. It doesn’t matter what the soil is like or the weather, or even if they have received water. They spring up perfect and as a big as they can possibly grow in vibrant colors like cotton candy pink, indigo, and corncob yellow. Molly’s favorite flower is the dahlia – she never gets tired of gazing at its perfection. The townsfolk all know about Molly’s talent, and they flock to her floral shop to buy choice blooms for all sorts of occasions.

Molly has taken up the violin to balance out the ease with which she grows flowers. She really has to work at the violin to get it to sound decent. She squeaks and sqwacks along, breaking bow strings and assaulting the ears of her patient music instructor. It surprises her how happy it makes her to work at something that challenges her. One day, she hopes that playing the violin will come as naturally as growing flowers, and she’ll have the added satisfaction of knowing she worked hard to learn how to play.

Painting available on Etsy

The Accompanist

The Accompanist by Cindy Adelle Richard

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

Rearranging Stars

Rearranging Stars by Cindy Adelle Richard

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

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

Remembering Roses

Remembering Roses Watercolor Painting by Cindy Adelle Richard

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 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.

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.

 

 

New Beginnings

I created a new blog header for Notes on the Jazz Age:

blog-header.jpg

What do you think? It took me a few hours to set up the “photo shoot” (if you can call it that) and to take a ridiculous amount of photos. I have always loved black and white photography, and I have vowed to learn as much as possible about it through trial and error and studying the methods of others. I also used this image to create business cards; it is perfect timing too because I only have five cards left with my old blog header.

In addition to learning photography, I have decided that I need to learn to draw. I signed up for a six-week class at the museum in Boston. We shall see how it all turns out. You will definitely see the fruits of my labor because I plan to share my experiments with photography and drawing on this blog. I would love to illustrate my stories in the future. Being a visual person, I have always been drawn to books which incorporate visuals and words.

I just shared a few of my creative adventures. Have you tried something totally new and creative lately? If so, I would love to hear about it.

Jazzy Finds: Spring 2015

I survived the winter in New England…barely. I have not felt like doing much of anything except staying in the house, eating, and watching a disturbing amount of cooking shows (meals I will never attempt to make myself because I hate cooking). Well, I did read and write poetry, so I guess you could say I was somewhat productive. As always, I found some great people and places to share with you.

#1 = Wellspring House

Wellspring House

This lovely carriage is called Wellspring House, and it is located in Amherst, MA. I was fortunate to stay here for a week to work on my writing project. This six room house is owned by a retired English professor who wanted to provide an affordable place for artists to get away from their busy lives and work. In addition to having a cozy room with a large wooden desk to work, guests are able to utilize the kitchen, library, and meditation room. I enjoyed conversing with the other house guests when we happened to cross paths in the kitchen. I also explored the little town, which included a hardware store which also serves as a sort of convenience store (they serve ice cream and other things you might expect to find at a gas station) and a charming, one room library which was only open three days a week during very odd hours. My time at Wellspring was productive and relaxing – I highly recommend treating yourself to a retreat such as this if you get the opportunity. Although, you should make sure it looks like the picture above instead of like this…

Wellspring House in Winter

 

…which is exactly how it looked while I was there. I forgot to mention that we were also able to use the fireplace, and I sidled up to it with a book as often as possible. Check it out here http://www.wellspringhouse.net  Continue reading

On Writing: Summer Writing Woes

Photo courtesy of Central Home/Pinterest

Photo courtesy of Central Home/Pinterest

My writing habits got woefully off track this summer. I wrote….some, but the weather was just soooo nice, and we had suuuch a hard winter that I just had to get outside, and there was just soooo much to do, and I neeeeded a break.  Is my whining working yet?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Although I didn’t get as much writing done as I would have liked to this past summer, there is one ritual I maintained even during the most enticing days of summer – I woke up at least an hour and a half early to have time to myself before my day started. During that time, I would at least write my morning pages (for the uninitiated, morning pages are three pages of stream of consciousness freewriting proposed by Julia Cameron). The great thing about these pages is that they let me know what I am thinking about writing, reading, experiences, my responsibilities, and just life in general. The thoughts are not always fun or productive and sometimes they lead absolutely nowhere, but more often than not, they yield solid ideas for taking action. For example, I have written about needing to write more in my recent morning pages, and my exploration yielded the following actions to try:

1. Use morning pages to write about my current project to get my mental juices flowing

2. Work on one project during that time (I always have more than one writing project in play to keep me from getting bored)

3. Read something for inspiration everyday

4. Plan/schedule an artist date once per week (this is another suggestion of Julia Cameron’s – to do something fun once a week by yourself for at least two hours to inspire your inner artist; I’ve been doing this off and on for about three years, and it has changed my life)

5. Make time to just think (this is to remind myself to just be still and take time for daydreaming or pondering ideas I find intriguing)

6. Meditate before bed (while I used to enjoy doing this as part of my morning routine, it takes too much time away from my writing – I’ve decided to try flipping it to bedtime)

In case you are interested in learning more about Julia Cameron’s suggestions to do morning pages and artist dates, I have included her website http://juliacameronlive.com/ (there are two videos under the tab about the artist’s way video program).

These are the tips I have come up with so far to get my writing back on track.  What tips and tricks do you use to keep yourself writing on a regular basis?