Writing for Art

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My tradition the last few years has been to choose a “word” for the year, starting in January. My word for 2015 was “Write,” and while I confess that I did write a fair bit, my greatest efforts weren’t in the form I’d imagined last year. Instead of the usual creative outlets like journal entries, poetry or even that book I keep promising to self-publish, I spent a huge chunk of my time in the throes of the hardest writing of my life — along with the blinking cursor of an online grant application that I filled out last fall.

As a grizzled veteran of numerous English research papers and an agonizingly procrastinated Master’s thesis, this is no small claim. The precise language and focused nuances required in proposing my project and asking for funding threw me into a strange new world, since I struggled to accurately portray a vision that would benefit the public as well as my own personal pursuits. You see, this particular grant focuses on creating art outside in state parks, and in my case, that art will be visual rather than verbal.

That’s right, my battles with the written page have been transferred to the terrors of a blank canvas, all in the name of celebrating art in nature. And I will gladly take on that challenge if I can convert even one person to the joys of spending artistic time outdoors, whether it’s to write a poem, compose a song, dance a jig, or set up an easel to paint.

Plus, I’ll be able to travel to some of the most beautiful natural settings that Indiana has to offer with a trusty assistant (my husband), and invite the great outdoors to be my personal work space. In the weeks to come, you’ll see a new WordPress blog called Paints in the Parks detailing my journey as I paint scenic landscapes in six state parks while I research my painting subjects and interact with the park visitors who stop by my easel. I hope you’ll join me on this artistic ride, either by blog or in person.

I believe that in our modern society, we spend too much time cooped up in homes or offices that can become self-made prison cells, preoccupied with the flickering screens of fake connections and false avatars, while a sentient world lies just outside our doors, at the bus stop, on the bike trails, in the parks, and under the shade trees in our backyards; all waiting to be celebrated through ART — my word for 2016.

True Colors

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Day 25: Green

When I paint, I’m always surprised by how many other colors are found in a patch of green.

Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again. I’m looking forward to my third go at participating in Susannah Conway’s August Break by posting prompts here on the blog and on my Instagram account. There are no rules, really. Simply take a photo every day for the month of August, based on the prompts or not. I take a photo a day all year long, but you can’t lose no matter how many days you keep this up. And the more, the merrier!

Heart Art

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Day 15: Art

This is a painting I created during a retreat depicting kindness. The green hands represent earth and the heart chakra holding space for all of us, the universal One. (My daughter says it reminds her of Dr. Seuss and I accept that as the highest compliment.)

Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again. I’m looking forward to my third go at participating in Susannah Conway’s August Break by posting prompts here on the blog and on my Instagram account. There are no rules, really. Simply take a photo every day for the month of August, based on the prompts or not. I take a photo a day all year long, but you can’t lose no matter how many days you keep this up. And the more, the merrier!

There Will Be Chalk Dust

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I’m a big-time smudger. Ever since I was a child who proudly wore her grubby cuffs ringed with graphite, I’ve avoided the crisp-edged side of reality, preferring my world pushed into impressionistic blur across a page.

I like to use my fingers, really get into the grain, smoothing out wrinkles on those foreheads of landscape and still life. And while my sketch pencils need to have sharp wits about them, the pastels should lay out soft as new love.

I favor big sheets of textured paper and a long enough ruler to start out straight before a rip tide of color takes me off to faraway lands, where petals move on a slight breeze and flesh glows with every shade other than the wax of its crayola namesake.

There is no better bliss than the suggestive tint from warm afternoon windows, tunes cranked up a little too loud, a wineglass full of ruby, and time stopping to take a look at what flows from under this dusty hand. Why do I always forget how good this feels once underway, counting back the years I’ve been stalled like some stubborn old man with too many regrets in his pocket to begin again.

None of those sinkholes from the past matter when it is just for you.