Holiday Memories


“Nutcracker at the Ohio Theatre,” mixed media (48 x 30) by Robie Benve featured on the cover of The Pen Woman, Winter 2022


By Lucy Arnold, Art Editor

Robie Benve of Central Ohio Branch painted “Nutcracker at the Ohio Theatre” to represent holiday cheer and family traditions, capturing the excitement and lights in a semi-abstract style. The painting inspired Brenda Layman’s poem, “Cities in Winter” (below).

“Robie captured magic in her painting, and I tried to bring it into my poem as well,” Layman says. “I incorporated a musical rhythm into the poem, along with visual imagery that echoes Robie’s composition, to evoke memories of attending much-loved holiday performances.”

Benve was born and raised in Italy, then relocated to Columbus, Ohio, in 2010 and began painting daily. After working for several years with oils, she discovered the potential of acrylic and mixed media. She followed her passion to create bold, colorful, textured paintings that promote positive emotions.

She begins with an abstract, mixed-media base that may include paint, papers, fabric, ink, charcoal, and other media. These elements guide her intuitive process as she adds layers of opaque and transparent paint using brushes, palette knife, and hand-cut stencils. Benve loves meaningful art, but most of all, she loves to surround herself with things and images that make her smile. When not creating art, Benve writes about the creative process and publishes articles for and other sites. See her work at

Layman, writer and poet, is also an award-winning photographer and artist. A member of Central Ohio Branch, she has published hundreds of magazine articles, short stories, and poems. She is an award-winning member of The Outdoor Writers of Ohio. Her short story, “Kentucky Wonder Beans,” won honorable mention in the Vinnie Ream Letters Competition in 2017.


Cities in Winter

By Brenda Layman

Cities have beauty in winter too
As night draws over the scene,
Streets that are wet with soil and slush
Take on a lovely sheen.

Lights that look faded in day’s weak rays
Grow brilliant when darkness greets
The colors that glow and shadows that throw
Silhouettes on the walls and streets.

Green and red and yellow and blue
Glow both above and below,
From the cars that glide down the avenue
To the marquee that heralds a show.

My feet in their boots are wet,
My hands in their gloves are cold,
But the city still enchants me
When the streetlights turn to gold.