Blog Posts 3.0: Reading, Learning, Trying, Seeing

I love blogging, but my approach to date has been a bit inconsistent. I began with writing little anecdotes related to the writing practice. These contributions were short-lived. I returned to posting after about five years of parenting and getting through the demands typical of infancy and toddlerhood. My inspiration for Take 2? A renewed sense of creativity upon reaching middle age—a more profound attention to and appreciation for art in all of its forms. 

I fell off the grid again last winter. I don’t really know why. I didn’t check out from engaging in creative pursuits and adventures. I didn’t stop reading and learning and trying and seeing. Aha! Perhaps the method to my creative madness is method indeed—that intrinsic method of how I ride the current of my creative flow. Reading. Learning. Trying. Seeing. This revelation gives me new motivation. So, today, I’m going to recommit to blogging and to posting regularly, probably weekly, on those very topics:

What I’m reading
I fell in love with the non-fiction work of Madeline L’Engle over the past several months. I discovered other authors, books, periodicals, instruction manuals, etc., that have enlightened my artistic knowledge and experience. My nightstand always features some kind of art-related read. 

What I’m learning
Earlier this summer, I invested in a three-month ninety-nine-cent Creative Bug membership. Through that resource and other online videos, I’ve watched people paint watercolor landscapes, stretch canvases, make collages—you name it! Such learning prepares me for the things I eventually take the time to try…

What I’m trying
Over the past year, I’ve dabbled in pour painting, poetry writing, graphic design, woodburning, etc. It’s fun to try new things and, as a result, I further discern my creative calling. I look forward to sharing my experiments here. 

What I’m seeing
I’m blessed to live in a city with such a rich offering of museums, exhibits, performances and all things creative. Such visits often spur what I read, learn and try next! 

I’m excited about picking up the ball of blogging again and approaching it with some more intentionality. Thank you for joining me on the journey!

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An Artist’s Bookshelf – November 2018

It’s Election Day…

Despite the divisive political climate of our nation these days, I choose to celebrate with a smile over the simple and awesome right to cast my vote. In that spirit, I’ve collected a few works for my bookshelf that are inspired by my gratitude for my home country, as well as my growing interest in all things creative. Here’s what I’m reading in November:

It Occurs to Me That I Am America edited by Jonathan Santlofer – The editor compiled the works of 50 well-known writers and visual artists for this collection showing “the variety and diversity that is America now.” I’m hopeful this book will be not only a good read in and of itself, but also a catalog of creatives for my further investigation.

Abstract City by Christoph Niemann – Since my last bookshelf entry in which I mentioned Neimann, I read his book Sunday Sketching. I loved it–I didn’t put it down from start to finish–and it looks to me like Abstract City features similar visual playfulness and clever writing. On the cover? One of America’s iconic structures–the Chrysler Building in New York City–being used as a pencil.

Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer – His book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is one of my all-time favorites. For me, it captures the deep and personal pain caused by the events of 9-11 in a way that completely touches and wrings my heart. Not only that, the book is an experience, complete with quirky photos that parallel the story. Once again, Safran Foer makes Tree of Codes an experience, this time in a more tactile sense since each page appears like a censored letter. It reminds me of Newspaper Blackout, which I read earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed.

Exercise your rights. Cast your vote. Join me in appreciating our colorful and creative homeland and the contributions of our fellow citizens!

An Artist’s Bookshelf – October 2018

Once again, I’m traveling the “mixed media” route when it comes to my learning more about artists and artistic practices. Here’s what’s on my bookshelf, screen, etc., this month:

“Abstract: The Art of Design” series on Netflix
In short, this series is so cool! The first episode is about Christoph Niemann, a German illustrator who has many New Yorker covers and several books to his credit. I love the observation he makes at the beginning of the episode: given how it’s produced, the show is both by and about him; Niemann’s illustrations actually sew the documentary together. It’s hard to explain but so worth a look. I can’t wait to follow Niemann’s work from now on and to check out the next artists featured in the series. 

The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer
This book was described to me as The Artist’s Way for Christians. It promises “creative renewal” through readings, journaling, and other exercises focused on getting closer to God and, at the same time, discovering what He designed me to be and do. I look forward to seeing how this book will speak into my artistic endeavors and their intersection with my faith.

Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity by J. Scott McElroy
Like The Creative Call, this book and study guide duo is focused on harnessing the spiritual capacity of art. “Collaborate with God,” reads the back cover of the study guide. What I specifically like about this collection is how it offers real-life examples of other people who have attempted this and, by all appearances, who have done it well. I can pray to add myself to their number.

 

An Artist’s Bookshelf – September 2018

So it’s not all books this time, but I can’t wait to dig into the resources I’ve got ready for the coming month…

Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order) by Bridget Quinn & illustrated by Lisa Congdon – This book provides a natural segue into my continued creative discussions with my friend Tami over Skype. We finished A Glorious Freedom recently (we both give it glowing remarks), and by Tami’s recommendation, we’re trying Broad Strokes next. It just happens to be illustrated by Lisa Congdon, author of A Glorious Freedom, and the first pages of our latest book quickly reveal Quinn’s wit, creativity and breadth of knowledge.

Wyeth (PBS) – I can’t tell you how pumped I am to watch this film tonight on PBS! I’ve been fascinated with Wyeth’s work ever since being exposed to it through Coursera.org’s “Modern Art & Ideas” class and the fictional book A Piece of the World inspired by Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World.” And I obviously have some catching up to do with the entire American Masters series “Artists Flight.”

The New Yorker – Through a sweet deal I spotted on Facebook, I’m getting twelve issues of this popular art-filled magazine for just $6. The first article I read today—“What We Know About Art and the Mind” by Paul Bloom—introduced me to a book that will likely make a future bookshelf post: How Art Works by Ellen Winner. More on that—as well as other New Yorker discoveries—later!

An Artist’s Bookshelf – May 2018

img_1248This month’s reads are the “next chapters,” so to speak, of other works I’ve read or seen recently. Here’s what’s on my bookshelf in May…

Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel by Iris Barrel Apfel & Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon by Iris Barrel Apfel
When I was a relatively new Netflix subscriber, I came across the documentary “Iris” about a spicy older woman with colorful clothes and accessories from all over the world. She has a magical knack for layering, be it bangle upon bangle, or feathers upon hound’s tooth, or chunky chain link necklaces upon 19th Century vestments. It’s fun to page through these two biographies by Iris Apfel’s own hand and really study her sense of style and talents in color and texture. A truly unique brand of artist!

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this book suggestion by my local library is based on a painting that I remember from the “Modern Art & Ideas” Coursera course I finished last month. The author was inspired by “Christina’s World,” a piece by Andrew Wyeth; Baker Kline recreates the life of Christina Olson who experienced the physical limitations brought on by polio. The book reminds me of one of my favorites from years ago—Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland—that revolves around one of Vermeer’s masterpieces. Such writings further prove that creativity begets creativity!

Living the Creative Life: Ideas and Inspiration by Working Artists by Ricë Freeman-Zachary
I so enjoyed reading Freeman-Zachary’s Creative Time & Space: Making Room for Making Art in March that I picked up another one of her books! Once again, the author showcases the stories and artwork of all kinds of artists and offers exercises that can help the rest of us to collect ideas and to pursue projects, too. So far, I really like the simple tip of collecting paint-sample cards and mixing them together to test different combinations of colors. I’m totally going to do this!