Archives for September 2017

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Vinnie Ream Competition

Because of the natural disasters that devastated entire areas of our nation, the deadline for submissions for the Vinnie Ream Award Competition has been extended.

 

All entries must be postmarked by October 14, 2017.

 

(See notices for all competitions at www.nlapw.org/competitions.)

 

Creative Inspirational Wisdom: Searching for Life

This week, Janis Ward reflects upon how wildlife inspires her art.


 

Birds have always been my passion since childhood. Our small yellow canary entertained us with cheery chirps from his cage in our kitchen and delighted us as he made his swing go back and forth. As a teen, I acquired a beautiful, brightly-colored parakeet who used to sit on the edges of our coffee cups and fly into the dining room mirror to join the “other bird” there.

 

My husband and boys often went duck hunting, returning home with those beautiful birds for me to cook. It almost broke my heart. We also raised ducks from babies in our atrium pond and garden. It was fascinating to watch them grow. One day, a neighborhood boy brought us an owl that had been hit by a car, which we nursed back to health and watched him fly away to freedom with great joy.

 

We winter now in Florida, as do the birds. When we first drive into the golf course condo area in Pompano Beach, we are fascinated by the activity on a small lake. Ibis, a few pelicans, and occasionally one or two storks wander freely on the grass lawn. Many are diving and swimming in the water. Often, there are so many they block the cars. Most drivers slow down to avoid contact with the beautiful white birds.

 

Having been an artist since childhood, I often paint birds. There is nothing more thrilling than a flock of 200 or so squawking parakeets following their leader, bunched together. Geese are interesting to watch as well.

 

I came upon a large white swan who’d lost his mate a few years ago. They mate for life, so it was hurtful to see him always swimming alone in his large wooded pond. What a delight, however, to find a large black Anhinga stretching his wings to dry and hanging around with this gorgeous swan.

 

The winter of 2016 in Florida brought some disastrous news to the birding lovers. The flocks of ibis were nearly nonexistent. I kept looking for them and wondering why they weren’t in their pond. Finally, a newspaper article explained it all: Because of the ocean’s rising, salt water has infiltrated the pond, killing the small fish on which the large ibis had been feeding. Where the ibis went, I don’t know, but they are missed.

 

And so, I continue to paint these beautiful creatures in their winter habitat. This is the last one I painted early this year that shows the ibis wandering among the shrubs looking for food. Whether they can survive on worms and such is a big question.

 

My watercolor is entitled “Searching for Life.” I’m certain many more paintings will come as I follow their plight.

 


Janis Ward has been an artist since childhood and has studied under inspiring artists such as Carol Barnes, Maxine Masterfield, Stan Kurth and, most extensively, with M. Douglas Walton. She says: “Watercolor is exciting to me because of the unexpected. A true artist paints life as it is around him. Because I see the beauty of nature most keenly and wish to preserve all life that supports that beauty, most of my work depicts the natural world in bright, bold color. We must preserve our wild plants and animals through conservation to prevent humanity’s complete extinction.” She is a member of Fort Lauderdale Branch NLAPW.

“Searching for Life” image provided by J. Ward

OUR GUEST BLOGGING SERIES WILL END ON OCTOBER 13th. Submissions for the series are now closed. We thank all Pen Women who submitted work for our Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business guest blogger series. We look forward to giving an update on the status of Creative Genius at Work, an anthology that will include posts from these two series, soon.

Art of the Week: Ray Walls Dune Shack

Kathryn Kleekamp
Cape Cod Branch

Ray Walls Dune Shack.
Oil on Canvas

 

Members of our Cape Cod Branch of NLAPW enjoyed a fall trip to the beautiful Provincelands at the outer tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Kathryn Kleekamp was inspired to create this painting as a result of what she calls “that magical afternoon”. Of her work, Kleekamp says:

“This is a painting of Ray Walls Dune Shack, one of seventeen ‘shacks.’ These primitive and defiant structures, battered by ocean winds and the elements, have long provided a refuge for artists and writers who seek to be surrounded by the natural world. The shacks are maintained by their original owners or their families, but two shacks are available via lottery to lucky artists or writers who apply for one week residencies.”

You will find more examples of Kathryn Kleekamp’s work at www.SandwichArt.com 

 

Creative Inspirational Wisdom: Self-Culture—Being Without Speaking

This week, Elizabeth Diane Martin explores how individuality influences creativity.


 

If there is one thing constant in human nature, it is that each of us reduces the chaos outside of us by creating a highly personal and private environment of one human being: yourself.

 

There is no straight path in the swirl held in our private premises. We are a rolling conundrum of apparent contradictions, living life at four levels—intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually—automatically and intuitively. This self-culture ensures the survival of personal identity, what distinguishes you from all other persons. It is individuality, the source of original work.

 

You have a natural inner navigation system that always works for you to maintain ownership of your own identity. In hindsight, we see this more clearly. To get a feel for the path your life unconsciously indicates, divide your life into 12-year segments: birth to age 12; age 13-24; age 25-36, and so on. Reflect on how you felt at the end of each phase, and identify a major decision you formed about life, based on your experiences up to that point.

 

By making these 12-year jumps, major points rise above the run of years, forming a logical sequence. The shape and intention of your self-culture comes out of what life gave you and what you made of it.

 

CREATING FLOW

 

The flow of life comes when the heart, mind, soul and body are united in purpose. The heart and spirit are anchored outside of time, and that attachment to timeless intangible values keeps us on course with meaning. It is a reaching that goes beyond the physical world and draws us toward the inspiration that fuels life.

 

You may have thoughts in the back of your mind about something others couldn’t imagine possible. But it seems feasible to you. Secret hopes give you a sense of autonomy, and prepare you to follow your dream.

 

The heart skips the intent of the mind and triggers action that is spontaneous, genuine, capable and easy. You have greater impact through the things you love to do, more than in the things you have to do. We don’t call it ‘work’ when it’s a thing that we love to do. The unseen action of heart-and-spirit infuses your mind, emotions and strength with purpose.

 

Our natural tendency is to lean forward, toward the future. It’s that leaning forward that is the basis of love. What stirs the heart toward love is unconscious, self-renewing, positive and unquenchable. You are willing to extend yourself in the direction your heart is stirred. Extending yourself – exposing your true self – increases love. Beauty in art, music and artful writing cultivates love; childlike innocence, kindness, friendship are things that encourage us to “lean forward,” to take chances in life.

 

Leaning forward is the subtle guiding influence in your heart, and it speaks to your unconscious mind in whispers. Unrealized intentions are held in the subconscious, waiting for an opportunity or the right time to be carried out. Involuntary response is love that acts without checking in with your conscious mind, and love will always win, no matter how long it takes.

 

NATURAL, INSTINCTIVE CREATIVITY

 

Inspiration breathes life into your heart, first, and then invigorates your whole being. Heart motivation makes work light, and you become renewed as you work. This is the life of a creative person.

 

Workers in the arts find that life’s downs enhance its ups, in a way that refines our perception of good, or identifies the un-good, in contrast. In the arts, we feature one or the other, or put joy and loss together in a place where they complement each other.

 

There are times when you follow your inspiration, regardless of the obstacles, because you cannot do otherwise. For others, there may be a choice, but when your heart compels you, you will eventually yield or become increasingly unhappy with yourself. Creativity is the reward of living.

 

Our faculties work best, and contentment is achievable, when we are inspired – when we live and work out of creative impulse, with the spontaneity of breathing. All that you are fits perfectly in your life. Allow it. Lean into the good and create!

 


Elizabeth Diane Garcia Martin of Pikes Peak Branch NLAPW writes about the attributes of originality. If creativity is to be understood, the internal experience of the person must be understood. Whether it is in the arts, or in the more subtle expressions of love and devotion, originality is the gift each woman brings to her life and out into the lives of others. Elizabeth uses insight as an artist, and knowledge as a system analyst, to understand the design of human nature. In the raw design of her own nature, she discovered the natural system that follows the first breath of original thought. 

Elizabeth will release her first major publication in January 2018, a book that explores the spontaneity that characterizes a person’s unique life path. Stay in touch with Elizabeth through her website and The Art of Perspective business page on Facebook.

 

 “Open Old Book Page On Wood Table With Flying Books…” by khunaspix / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

OUR GUEST BLOGGING SERIES WILL END ON OCTOBER 13th. Submissions for the series are now closed. We thank all Pen Women who submitted work for our Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business guest blogger series. We look forward to giving an update on the status of Creative Genius at Work, an anthology that will include posts from these two series, soon.

 

Poem of the Week: When Night Falls

by Barbara Menghini Whitmarsh
Bayou II, Texas Branch

painting for poem, When Night Falls

Leo J. Menghini, artist

 

When Night Falls

When night falls at the foot of the mountains

Red men from Pueblos

Climb ladders

To mingle in galaxies

Challenge Sagittarius in archery

Feed pieces of the Ram to the Dog Star

Then chase him from camp

His tail a cowering comet

They declaw Ursa Major

To make necklaces for their chiefs

Rub the dust of stars

On the bites of Scorpio

Topple the Northern Cross

Pray again to old gods

Then descend in moonlight

And rise again with the dawn

 


Note from Barb: The painting is by my father who painted it years before I wrote the poem at 16. I was all into astronomy back then. When my father died in 1994 my brother Joe got the painting. I got a few of his other pieces. His hobby was painting but he ran the corporate graphic art department at McGraw Hill for 40 years. My husband surprised me by combining the two. I never even thought of it.

Obviously, dad wasn’t in NLAPW, but when I became a member he was very proud. His name was Leo J. Menghini, a proud and dutiful man.

Barb W.

 

Creative Inspirational Wisdom: My Creative Workspace

This week, Marsha Perlman shares how natural beauty inspires her creativity and her process.


 

My inspiration for writing comes from the vast natural environment that surrounds me. My work space is the outdoors, and I am an “outdoors person.”

 

Living part of the year in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains assures me no shortage of poetry subjects. My backpack carries a notebook, pencils, a ruler, a small shovel, a covered plastic container, a canteen, a snack, a rain jacket and a camera.

 

I choose a topic and spend blocks of time observing and taking notes as I move around the area by bike and foot. Or I choose a destination that is more flexible and allows for returning often to view changes that occur.

 

When I take many notes in the field, there is occasionally the problem of not recalling the sensory data. Therefore I immediately describe the words that I can’t retrace later, such as bird songs. Before I leave my subject, I scan my notes to be certain I have all the information I need. Sometimes, I take a few photos.
Once at home I sit at my desk and in pencil, write the first draft of my new poem. I read it aloud several times for obvious changes in grammar, spelling, punctuation or repetitive words. Printing is next and then I set the work aside for a week.

 

When I am ready to revise, I ask another person to read the poem aloud. Then I reread and rethink the text several times again, each time with a fresh eye for accepting, eliminating or adding another new word choice, better sentence structure or organization.

 

I often return to the location of the poem, if it is available and ask myself if I need to rework any lines. If so, I repeat the process. I want to be certain all my ideas are clear to the reader.

 


Marsha J. Perlman writes poetry and non-fiction. Her environmental poetry book, SPIRIT LIFE, received 1st Place at NLAPW’s Florida State Conference. TASTE LIFE TWICE, a memoir of her evolution from reticent and acquiescent to assertive and empowered, continues to receive excellent reviews. Her work appears in Until They Have Faces, Unraveling Mysteries, and Women’s Voices in the 21st C. As a photojournalist, she received awards from Colorado Press Women and has also co-produced a Latin American FM program. She participated in ArtPoems as an active member of Southwest Florida Branch NLAPW. Learn more about her at www.marshajperlman.com.

 

“Colorado Mountains” by Liz Noffsinger / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

OUR GUEST BLOGGING SERIES WILL END ON OCTOBER 13th. Submissions for the series are now closed. We thank all Pen Women who submitted work for our Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business guest blogger series. We look forward to giving an update on the status of Creative Genius at Work, an anthology that will include posts from these two series, soon.

 

 

Art of the Week: Dancers

Mara Viksnins

Pensacola Branch

Dancers

16” X 20” Acrylic

 

 

Mara Viksnins received her art degree from the University of West Florida twenty years ago. It has always been her belief that one needs to strive forward by creating new and exciting works.

 

Recently, she has rediscovered old works and given them new life. One work was a mixed media piece called “Dancers 1,” which was juried into/first displayed in an earlier NLAPW Biennial. The Pensacola Branch published an art and poetry book called Nobis: Making Others See in 2016 and used that work for the cover.

 

Now, fast forward to a call to artists for a juried show called “Digital Schmigital.” Obviously, this show required a digital work. Viksnins had never entered a digital show, so she challenged herself to create a digital representation of “Dancers.” She was honored to have her digital representation accepted into the show:

 

 

Viknins quotes Henry Ward Beecher in explaining the moral of this story: “Don’t forget those old works that set you on fire the first time! ‘Home should be an oratorio of the memory, singing to all our afterlife melodies and harmonies of old remembered joy.’”

 


Attention Pen Women! We’d love to see your best work for possible publication as Art of the Week. Please review the general submission guidelines on our web site and send only one work per email as a low resolution file. Put Art of the Week Submission in the subject line and provide the information seen in the posts (title/medium/name/branch). Your submission may then be made to Darlene Yeager-Torre at arteditor@nlapw.org. Thank you!

 

Creative Inspirational Wisdom: From Lullabies to Gap Years

This week, Sheila Firestone, Composer, discusses how her grandchildren provide inspiration for her creativity.


 

From the days of their births, to the daily conversations, I do not know exactly when or how the new composition ideas will arrive, but they do. Staring at Lital’s birth picture, in the Sylvester Cancer Center doctors’ waiting room, the words and melody for “I’ve Stamped your Picture on my Heart,” arrives. This song later becomes part of a curriculum and series of songs, a Songs for a New Day program called Sing and Think.

 

From photos of little girls growing up in Northern, Israel, to “Welcome Little Wonder” (a song for Emily), “Berceuse” for Noah, and lullabies for Maya and Allie, six grandchildren have become my sources of inspiration. The oldest, now 22, is on a fellowship, in another country. Three others recently had their first work experiences. Their challenges often become my musical challenges, works derived from the joy of savoring who they are, what they face, their delights and how each meets and greets the day. A recent event in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the oldest received her master’s degree and taught, another’s struggles to achieve excellence on the job, other internships, and gap years with studies abroad have all become part of my musical collections.

 

 

Works are begun by nothing more than a touch, a photo, a Facebook moment, a tug of the heart, a tear, a smile, a skip and a Hi, Grandma. How are you? text message. I hear this story repeated by many grandparents. We tell the stories, and paint their moments in our works.  We are filled with the joy of expectation and the hope that our grandchildren’s lives will impact the world.

 

Lital’s third birthday present brings “The Peace Patch” dance suite and curriculum. The premiere was planned for our visit to the Israeli “Gan” preschool. “The Grandchildren’s Suite,” piano anthology, commemorates the budding interests of the six, as does the arrival of “The Cat Sarah,” who plays Kitten on the Keys quite well.

 

“Miriam and the Women of the Desert,” a musical/operetta, includes several lullabies originally written for the grandchildren. “Peace Child,” was created for Allie’s birth. I use it in the Miriam work to depict Mother Yocheved singing her hopes to the baby Moses. Batya, his Egyptian mother, sings “In the Cradle of Mankind.” The opening Prologue, begins with the search for God. It calls chorally on a number of modern Hebrew names given to God. It was inspired by a small child’s private conversation with God outside. An internship or a first job with its challenges now becomes a sonata or symphony.

 

These are my tributes to youth and my hopes for their success. I am grateful that the ideas translate into musical ideas to play with when I am not with these young people as they continue on their paths. So thank you, dear Grandchildren, for a lifetime of inspiration. I am always with you, continuing to be filled with wonder by your actions. May you always find joy as you use your energies to fulfill your dreams.

 

 


Sheila Meyerowitz – Firestone was born in the Bronx and has been a student of musical composition since 1987.  She retired after twenty-five years of teaching Communications to gifted elementary students in North Miami Beach, FL.  Firestone studied in the studios of Joseph Dillon Ford, and with Dr. Tom McKinley at Lynn University Conservatory of Music and Dr. Keith Paulson Thorpe. In 2016, Sheila won the NLAPW, 2nd Place, Vinnie Ream Award in Music for Waters of Transformation. She is President of the Boca Raton Branch NLAPW. Learn more about her at her web site, sheilafirestone.com.   


“Berceuse” sheet music provided by S. Firestone.

OUR GUEST BLOGGING SERIES WILL END ON OCTOBER 13th. Submissions for the series are now closed. We thank all Pen Women who submitted work for our Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business guest blogger series. We look forward to giving an update on the status of Creative Genius at Work, an anthology that will include posts from these two series, soon.

Poem of the Week: Trust

Elizabeth Sharon
Bayou City Branch 2

 

it’s a relationship with a greenish hue

old copper rust through time

a penny awash in the sea of hands

ole miss Liberty in the sun

 

when it was new, shiny, freshly minted

there was trust in what was seen

in what lay beneath the gleam

but sorely still the glimmer fades

 

each broken trust and confidence

an oxidized splotch, a leaking flue

and in the process, sore through life

trust lost a part and fell to rust

 

Art of the Week: Dark Woman

Dorothy Atkins

Santa Clara County Branch NLAPW

Dark Woman

Acrylic, 18” x 22”

 

Dorothy Atkins comes from a family of wonderful story tellers and has been creating her own stories with words and color since she was a child. Her grandmother would often tell her “to not only look but to see.” Self taught, Atkins has mainly concentrated her efforts in acrylics and oils but has recently taken up watercolors too.

 

Atkins is inspired by her colorful dreams of the people and places that left an impression on her. “Being surrounded by a lifetime of wonderful, intelligent, courageous, beautiful, strong and gentle women, Dark Woman presented herself to me in different forms. I painted her because I had to.”

 

Several of her paintings have won awards and are in the homes of collectors around the world.

 


Attention Pen Women! We’d love to see your best work for possible publication as Art of the Week. Please review the general submission guidelines on our web site and send only one work per email as a low resolution file. Put Art of the Week Submission in the subject line and provide the information seen in the posts (title/medium/name/branch). Your submission may then be made to Darlene Yeager-Torre at arteditor@nlapw.org. Thank you!