Archives for October 2017

Art of the Week: Angels in the Garden

Polly Curran
Sarasota, Florida Branch

Angels In the Garden
Photography, 16 x 20

Polly Curran is an award-winning nature photographer. “The natural beauty of each individual leaf or flower becomes a work of art through the camera”. Their natural beauty gives a strong sense of intimacy in even the smallest things.

Curran photographs flowers, trees, butterflies and other garden friends. Her approach is founded on the cultural art of Ikebana and Haiku poetry; having studied these for many years while living in Japan. By using simple stroke lines and off-centered presentation, she creates work that captivates the eye.

“I try to bring out the best feature of a flower, leaf or tree to capture the soul of the image. For ‘Angels in the Garden,’ when I saw this image in the camera it was an emotional experience. Here was the beautiful orchid in the middle of unfurling it’s petals. Afterward, I created a Haiku poem to go along with it.

Angels in the Garden
Wings unfold in Nature’s beauty.
A flower blooms

This is my new focus – Haiku Photography. As I view deeply into a unique flower searching for the light, the space, the angle which elevates the image, I feel a sense of excitement when I find the ‘look’ I know is there.”


Art of the Week: The Violin-Cello Players

Susanne Schuenke
North East Florida Branch
The Violin-Cello Players, 1994
oil on canvas; (also available as a 48-colored serigraph)

… to play their score, to master the instrument, to perform life …
Seven different approaches on how to play music are depicted by this view of part of the orchestra, a detail of the bigger picture – the symphony. The vivid wood colors of the instruments dominate over the subdued black dresses and they are embedded in the swirls and movements of sheer music. The players’ portraits are very individualistic and characteristic of ways of mastering the task. The black haired lady in the center is totally involved and dedicated to performing her best. Her colleague in the front row, more experienced, disciplines her cello in a controlled but independent way. The young girl to the left struggles with difficulties, while the man 
in front of her represents a more individualistic style.
 The couple at the far right are quite the opposite; both using the same style, even the same position. Playing the same from their youth until their retirement age seems boring.
 And the one with the walnut brown instrument? Why he does not play? Is he pausing, unsure of the score, unwilling to obey the conductor, criticizing the choice? Or is it simply not his turn yet?

Click the link to enjoy a short 30 second video of Susanne’s work:
or go to her website to view more of her work or make a purchase:


Art of the Week: Hawaiian Fishes All The Way Down

Lucy Arnold
Golden Gate Marin Branch

“Hawaiian Fishes All the way Down


Hawaiian Fish ID chart

Skin diving makes me feel like I’m flying slowly over an unbelievably beautiful, alien world. Tropical fish are simply amazing in their variety of gorgeous colors, so they are irresistible as painting subjects. I chose to represent only Hawaiian fishes in this watercolor, since I’ve only been diving in Hawaiian waters. Many are long-time favorites of mine, while others are found at depths below my reach. The trick was making a composition of only fish, with no background water showing. Thus, these Hawaiian Fishes do go all the way down!

You may be interested in seeing more of Lucy Arnold’s work by visiting:

and the branch website:


Creative Inspirational Wisdom: Proprioceptive Writing—A Communication Loop

In this final blog series entry, Bobbie Panek encourages writers to try a new kind of writing to fuel creativity.


“From a voice in your head, to your arm and hand as you write, to your voice as you read what you’ve written, to your ears as you hear what your voice has to say. It’s that simple.”


As a writer, poet, and author I enjoy being inspired and motivated, and I enjoy hanging out with like-minds. I look for writing workshops where I know I will work on my favorite skill while I’m with creative people. A recent writing retreat that I attended is one that I’d like to share with others. It was so incredibly wonderful, it’s actually hard to describe—but here goes.


I’d first heard about Proprioceptive Writing from my twin sister, Beckie, who lives in the Adirondacks. She’s friends with Ann Mullen, who is a Proprioceptive Writing (PW) Teacher. Beckie had attended one of Ann’s weekend workshops and relayed to me how it “works.” I then read the book, Writing the Mind Alive, written by Linda Trichter Metcalf, PhD. and Toby Simon, PhD.


The sub-title for Writing the Mind Alive, is “The Proprioceptive Method for Finding Your Authentic Voice.” Now, I know the word proprioceptive is odd. Who knows what it means, and how can it help you with your authentic voice?


According to the dictionary programmed onto my MacBook Air:


proprioceptive |prōprēəˈseptiv|

(adjective) Physiology – relating to stimuli that are produced and perceived within an organism, especially those connected with the position and movement of the body. Compare with exteroceptive and interoceptive.


There is no similar word according to the thesaurus (I told you this would be hard to describe). But here is how I learned:


  • I bought and reread the book, Writing the Mind Alive, “The Proprioceptive Method for Finding Your Authentic Voice”
  • I signed up for a 5-day Immersive PW writing retreat taught by Ann Mullen and Anne Bright
  • Seventeen of us showed up at this Retreat Center called Wisdom House in Litchfield, Connecticut. (Workshops are on both coasts of the United States and also in Holland.) Here is the website if you want to look for more:
  • I met many wonderfully creative people
  • I learned a skill which I’ll apply for the rest of my life
  • I can attest this method brings clarification and grace to my life
  • The grace happened in the room where personal writes were read aloud
  • The clarification occurs each time I write and apply the writing method, listen to each thought in my mind, write it down, question my thought when I feel the urge by asking myself, “What do I mean by…?” and then asking myself four questions at the end of each 25-minute write


Okay, now—you’re perhaps even more confused by this method of writing, but I assure you it works. I’m thrilled. I feel more grounded than ever before. I listen to my voice(s); I give them space and learn from myself what I need, want, think and truly care about.


Too often, our culture is chaotic with constant chatter on-line, at home, in the car, in our heads. It is such a balm to settle down, to slow down, to think clearly and to listen to my thoughts. Trying to describe the method is like trying to describe a “gut” feeling.


The main message I’d like to share is to try this technique. Buy the book or attend at least a weekend workshop, apply this practice to your creative life, and see what happens. It works wonders. Oh, and one more thing: I’d love to hear your feedback.


Bobbie Dumas Panek is the author of Nature Walks: Zen Meditations, short observations written while walking two miles to work during the four seasons, published by FootHills Publishing 2010 and Just Another Day, a series of 48 stories about raising four kids on a dairy farm in the 1980’s, published with CreateSpace in 2015. Her poems, articles, and short stories are in numerous publications. Bobbie is Poetry Editor for the National League of American Pen Women. Please check her out at and find her on Facebook: Bobbie Dumas Panek, author.


OUR GUEST BLOGGING SERIES HAS NOW ENDED. 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: Magic Butterfly

Anne Ring
La Jolla Branch


Resting on a petal of the crimson oleander
Lemon-coloured fragile wings
Folded to the night,
Black antennae poised alert to warn of hidden danger
Yellow wings fan out once more
In the fading light.

Once a prisoner entombed you began your transformation
From the mud upon the earth
You rose to the sky;
Gliding through the universe resplendent in your beauty
Gossamer the wings so bright
Bearing you on high.

Gentler than the snowfall on some far-off hidden mountain
Ancient symbol of the soul
Are you here by chance?
Do you simply flutter through the days in careless rapture
Hovering above the flowers
Eager for the dance.

Or is there some deeper meaning to your sojourn here on earth
Herald to me as you fly
As you whisper by
Tell me all the secrets that lie hidden in your glory
Once, just once before I die
Magic Butterfly.

Art of the Week: Summer Dunes II

Mary Lou Griffin
Diamond State Branch

Summer Dunes II

Pastel, 12” X 16”

Mary Lou Griffin is inspired by the nature she sees around herself in the beautiful back roads of the Delaware Valley and along the shoreline of the rivers, reservoirs and bays along the East Coast. Most of her work tends to be landscapes. High chroma color, as well as the drama created by high contrast, are important aspects of Griffin’s work. Pastel is her medium of choice although she also works in oils and acrylic.

Of her process, Griffin says,

“I tend to paint quickly so I can pick up a color and use it with no mixing required. I spend a long time thinking about the painting, about what and how I want to say with it before I start. When I have a clearer picture of what I want to do, I dive in and become absorbed with it. I cannot paint a bit and walk away. I tend to work in long stretches until I am happy with what is there. It is at that time I will let it rest and come back to it a day or so later with fresh eyes. There will always be some minor adjustments before I am happy with the result. “

You may see more of her work at


Creative Inspirational Wisdom: My Parkinson’s Muse

This week, Linda A. Mohr shares how a diagnosis brought a desire to write poetry.


Lexie Lee

I was like a graduate student researching primary sources. The starting point was the end—my poetry collection to uncover what inspires me. As I reviewed content, the answer slid into nature, objects and grief categories.


I started writing poetry in 2013 after attending a haiku lecture at the North Palm Beach Library.  The myriad of sensory delights while vacationing at the Missouri family farm inspired me to create over fifty haiku poems in two weeks. Bobwhite, amber wheat, alfalfa bale, honeysuckle, cockle bur, sweet pea tendrils and tasseled corn images along with chirp, chatter, squawk, screech and meow sounds found poetic expression. My first prose poem, “The Rocking Chair,” was created on the same trip in response to an empty lawn chair swaying to and fro. I imagined my spiritual mother visiting her homestead, and we were rocking side by side in conversation. The companion chair sits vacant. Or is it?


During this time frame, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. A fascinating twist of this progressive neurological movement disorder is creativity. Research studies find some patients suddenly begin a new art pursuit such as painting or sculpting or become more prolific in writing books. Although I published a memoir in 2008 and maintained a blog, poetry was not in my toolbox. Perhaps it was coincidental, but without formal education in poetry, I simply wrote about what touched my heart.


Intrigued by how my mother’s medical alert system talked to her in response to buttons being pushed, I wrote “The Magic Button” poem. More than anything I wanted the machine to answer my question. My mother is in heaven. I want to talk to her. What button do I push?


On an autumn trip to Lake Toxaway in North Carolina, my cabin was surrounded by trees showing and shedding their beauty. As I sat on the deck and watched leaves in various shapes and sizes falling in different ways, the leaves reminded me of people. Later I spread the dried reminders out on a table and created “Fallen Leaves, Fallen Lives” poem. Doubled over leaf drops, Mottled and worn out.


After the devastating loss of my beloved Maine Coon, I penned “Morning Visitor” poem. She had a unique way of communicating (including Lexie Lee’s Meowlogue) in life, so I was certain she would send me a message in spirit. She did not disappoint! Unexplained lightness on bed. Spot where you use to snuggle.


The most astounding outpouring of poetry occurred when I was on a long flight to Portland, Oregon in 2016 to attend a Parkinson’s Congress. Fourteen poems on loss, death and grief relating to my boyfriend’s passing twenty-seven years ago were created. Two by two they came. Carrying food trays.


Although more study is needed on Parkinson’s and creativity, I am grateful for whatever force drives me to write poetry. The results of creating over fifty prose poems in four years, winning awards, being published, and studying under presidential inaugural poet Richard Blanco bring a smile to my masked Parkinson’s face.


Linda A. Mohr of Boca Raton Branch NLAPW is author of award-winning Tatianna—Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend. Her poetry, essays and Catnip Connection blog have received Cat Writers’ Muse Medallions and Pen Women awards. Essays have appeared in five anthologies, including Thin Threads—Women and Friendship and The Light Between Us. She studied under presidential inaugural poet Richard Blanco at Omega Institute. Poetry can be found in laJoie, River Poets Journal and The Light Within. When not writing, she runs an eBay business, teaches strategic planning and collects brooches while living well with Parkinson’s and felines. Her website is

Photo provided by Linda Mohr

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.