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In the writing world, the sentence is sacrosanct, although we tend to take them for granted, because there will be so many of them in our writing lives. But, in the grand scheme of the history of the written word—or in the significantly smaller realm of your own career—does one single sentence matter all that much?

Well, yes.

Using all the analogies to snowflakes, grains of sand, and building blocks, sentences are the true currency of the writer. They are the precipice from which you leap into your creative work. Even the most splendiferous of words can never really be credited to any individual writer, but a sentence, yes, that is where each writer begins to create an identity.

And the most important place to use these lovingly crafted phrases is in the descriptions of characters, settings, and situations. Each writer can choose how to express something in a way that serves the story and their own creative style.

In every sentence, each word is a choice, contributing to the meaning and feeling of the sentence. Added to the next, it creates context, and then character, scene, and story—all born from that single sentence. What we do as writers, starts—and ends—with a sentence.

It takes practice, which is what today’s exercise is all about. When you’re writing your tome, start with that one sentence, whether it is the first or the last or somewhere in the middle. The idea is to take a common description and make it your own by writing something you have never heard before. In terms of process, this can be done in the first writing or the revision—as long as it makes it into the final draft.

 

EXAMPLES:

A novice writer in a workshop I taught at Lake George wrote a little piece in which she described “the knitting of the waves,” which remains one of my favorite phrases. I also recall a description from a short story presented in another workshop, “she had a face like a pie.” While you don’t need every sentence to be loaded with rich description, a well placed phrase can elevate the whole piece.

Exercise #3: Stretch your imagination to come up with new ways to describe the following in a single sentence:

  • A child playing in a sandbox
  • A wife, a husband and his mother at the dinner table.
  • A corpse at a funeral
  • A sunset
  • Someone crying
  • A bride at the alter

You can use this technique to describe characters, places, or situation from now on. In your first draft you might write “tears streamed down her face” or “his heart pounded,” but consider these placeholders, and when you revise, take the time to sculpt that sentence into something with real meaning to your story.

 

© Copyright 2014 – Arts Enclave.

 

This is a literal exercise. The use of color is a powerful tool to convey meaning and mood to the reader without having to come out and say everything. Color influences our perception of everything we experience, and writing is a visual medium in that it creates pictures in the reader’s mind of the story enfolding. Enhancing this picture with color cues can lend a great deal to the narrative, providing psychological and emotional nuance. And, it’s fun to play with.

Colors have personal meaning—and this is how I see some of them:

Red = passion, blood, excitement

Blue= sky, water, relaxation, openness

Green=spring, renewal, outdoors

Yellow= happiness, childhood, innocence

Orange = warmth, sunset, desert

Purple = rich, deep, exotic (many fruits are purple)

White = Empty, bland, bright; in painting, white is the absence of all color

Black = Rich, dark, full (in painting, black is the presence of all color)

 

You can create your own definitions, using a basis in fine art painting or even your local Sherwin Williams (my favorite house paint store) to help you. These webpages will help you to explore it a little more detail:

Empower Yourself With Colors

The Meaning of Color – Art Therapy

Color Symbolism – Color Matters

For now we are focusing on a simple writing exercise:

REMEMBER: TAKE ONLY 5 MINUTES TO DO THE WRITING!

Exercise # 2: Think of a color, then describe an opening scene in 3-5 sentences, mentioning only that one color.

Now describe the same scene again, twice more, using different colors. See how it changes the mood and intent of the character and the writing as a whole.

 

EXAMPLE: Color can become a symbol of anything you want it to be. You simply have to introduce it, and then establish in the pages what it signifies, so the reader begins to see it as you intended. You can also use established color concepts to enhance your meaning without even having to say anything more. Read the examples below, where the color chosen informs the intent of the action and the character of Jeffrey: same action, same character, same time and day, but a different impression of where things are going. 

  1. The mid-afternoon sun was slanting orange rays of light on the blistering hot road as Jeffrey scuffed toward his house. The car had broken down nearly two miles away, with very little between there and here, giving him nothing but time to think about what he had said to Katie this morning. She was not likely to be in a forgiving mood, and with each step he grew more irritated at the idea of another argument.
  1. As Jeffrey walked down the road towards home, he thought of Katie, sitting at home waiting for him. He had called her when the car broke down, and she responded monosyllabically, still upset by the names he had called her this morning, but too decent to not answer him at all. Her relative inability to hold a grudge was one of her best features, he thought, enjoying the mild afternoon breeze. That, and the way she filled out that cute little white bikini.
  1. Jeffrey moved steadily down the road toward home, having abandoned the car nearly two miles back, wondering if Katie would be waiting for him. He had said terrible things to her this morning, tossing criticisms over his shoulder as he hurried out toward his all-important job—which now seemed far less important. He wanted only to get back to her, to fix what he had broken and hope he could make her smile again. He hurried toward the traffic light in the distance, just a block from their house, watching it change colors three times as he approached, and like a sign, it flicked to green just as he reached the curb.

 

© Copyright 2014 – Arts Enclave.

 

 

 

 

Having recently signed with an agent who is now enthusiastically sending my novel, Of Yin and Yang, out to editors, I have a little time to share some of the details of cleaning the up the manuscript. Now that it’s out, I have to trust that what they read is the best of what I could show them. I think I came close, by following a lot of advice I found on various websites added to what I already knew from many years of professional medical writing. Here is a synopsis of what I’ve learned.

Yes, now that you’ve finally finished that book, you have to go back over it again looking for all the things that could be improved. This is the first clean up, and it’s important to showing agents and editors that you are professional. Specifically, you will be looking for:

- typos

- awkward phrases

- contradictions (a green car that’s now yellow)

- slow or uneven pacing and flow

- rough transitions

- credibility

- dramatic tension

Give yourself at least 2-4 weeks to get through this process. Although it sounds like just postponing getting into the marketplace, once your book is out, every little change you made for the better will matter.

 

1. Read It Out Loud

Even better, read it to someone. My best friend Anne-Marie hears the book as I write it. We’ve done this for years and it helps me gauge as I’m writing whether I’m still on track. As I read, I say out loud, ‘oh, that has to be fixed’ or ‘I forgot something here.’ I put an asterisk to remind me to go back to fix it.

Reading to someone is the best way for you to tell if the writing is the best it can be. As you read, you will hear the rhythm and flow and you will notice when it is not flowing as smoothly. You will catch repetitive phrases, problems with continuity and transitions, missed words, and sections that may run slow or not fit at all.

I find it really helpful to do this as soon as a piece is written, while it is still fresh. Annie and I talk on the phone almost daily, and as I was finishing Of Yin and Yang this spring, I read to her two or three times a week when she got home from work. Her dedicated attention and undying enthusiasm often kept me going when the writing got tough—as it often does when you a write a book.

If you don’t have a friend willing to indulge you as Anne-Marie has done for me for so many years, or you don’t feel ready to read to a person, then read to your dog, your cat, your stuffed animal or even just to the mirror. The most important part of this step is to hear it read out loud. You will learn a lot, believe me!

 

2. General Reading for Continuity and Flow

Okay, now comes the real editing work. You have to set aside a few days to a week for this, with a minimum of distractions. You want to complete this read as quickly as possible so you don’t have time to forget story points between sessions.

Read the book through, one chapter at a time, with a highlighter only, marking words, phrases or circling areas where you may have forgotten a word, made a rough transition, or something just doesn’t make sense. When you get to the end of a chapter, go back and make the corrections before moving on to the next. Continue until you finish the book. At the end, you’ll have your first edit done.

 

3. Create a Focus Group and Ask Them to Read It

Asking people to read your miracle is hard, as they are not likely to think it is a miracle. It’s like expecting strangers to think your baby’s burp is as cute as you think it is. Now comes a visit to the real world, where it’s not. This step will put you exactly where you need to be psychologically to send the manuscript out to people with power, so don’t skip it.

A focus group can include one or more people you trust to tell you the truth…nicely. Your focus group should represent the demographics you think your book appeals to. The goal is not to prove that everybody loves your book. (I’ll save you time and heartache here: there is no chance of that happening.) The goal is to find out what kind of people your book will probably appeal to—and to confirm that they actually do like it.

If you can get 5-8 people to read it before you submit, then you a have a pretty good basis for understanding the potential public reaction to your book. You can go formal and ask the readers to fill out a questionnaire, or you can just keep it casual.

I asked all of the members of my regular reading group to read my book, after the first edit. This had a distinct advantage, as I already knew each reader’s likes and dislikes from a list of over 30 books we’ve read and discussed. Their demographic was very similar, so I was also testing that.

I printed out one copy and passed it to the group, one at a time. They were allowed to make comments in the margins, although only a few did, and they caught a number of things I had missed. I specifically tracked how long it took each person to read the book, as this told me whether it was engaging. Surprisingly, 7 out of 8 read it really fast, despite being a 400-page book. One person read it in 2 nights and another said she kept putting aside her work to read another chapter. They volunteered what they liked best about the book. What they didn’t mention told me areas of the book that might have needed a little more work later on. (Remember, this is NOT the time for rewrites)

I also asked if any parts seemed slower, and based on that, I was able to reduce about 15 pages from the manuscript that were weaker than the rest, just to keep the pace moving. The book was over 400 pages (108,000 words) to begin with, which I felt was dangerously long for a first published novel. With their help I was able to reduce it to under 400 pages and about 105,000 words, which sounds so much better on a cover letter!

 

4. Have Another Writer Read It

Not every writer has this luxury. I have been a professional freelance writer for nearly three decades, and my sister, Nancy Monson, is a magazine writer who has also written 2 books and worked as a medical writer an editor. I asked her to read the book and she did it with an editor’s eye, catching typos and pointing out weak phrases and transitions. If you don’t have a close friend or relative in the business, you might want to join a writer’s group for exactly this purpose.

And, if you are really not strong at grammar, there are many professional services that you can hire online to do a copyedit for you. My personal feeling knowledge of grammar and the ability to self-edit are the writer’s tools, and you have to make it your business to learn how sentences are structured so you can do your best work. Editing services are for people who are not really serious about the writing.

 

5. Get Rid of Excess Baggage – I Mean Language

Make a list of your most common foibles and favorite phrases and do a search of the manuscript for them. I love this. I can’t take credit for this idea—I got it from The Editor’s Blog—but I followed this advice and found I do have some bad habits that I could catch before I sent the manuscript to anybody who might be annoyed or distracted by them.

We all have things we tend to say and write without thinking too much about them. Think again. Do you always spell out action, whether it’s needed or not, telling exactly how she moved from the stove to sink? Do you use a lot of attributions (he said, she recalled, he intoned). There are millions of things we write that don’t necessarily need to be read.

In my case, I found the phrase, “she looked at him/her, he looked at her, they looked at each other” coming up waaaay too frequently. Basically, this phrase says nothing. Of course they looked at each other. That’s what people do. It’s only necessary if someone is not looking where the reader thinks they are. (I’m thinking this comes up most often in mysteries, where the clues are in what you see—and I don’t write mysteries).

I did listen to a mystery on tape by a very good author recently, where a character kept “fake” doing things. She fake-checked her watch. She fake-looked at a menu. She “fake-picked up oranges.” No she didn’t. She picked them up for real! I would have enjoyed this book even more with the simple removal of the word “fake” from the entire story.

 

6. Format the Document

Every professional you send your manuscript to will have a specific format they prefer, and most often, they will state it on their website. If they don’t, the default is the following:

Double space (always for novel manuscripts; single space a one-page query or synopsis)

Approximately 25 lines per page – don’t squeeze or leave big gaps at the tops or bottoms

FONT: either Times New Roman 12 point, or sometimes Courier New 12 point

(Courier is the original font most editors and agents read before online submissions and many still prefer it. For online submissions, Times New Roman is darker, tighter, and will paginate at about 80-85 pages for every 100 pages in Courier New).

ALIGNMENT: Left (do NOT justify)

MARGINS: 1 inch (left and right )

HEADERS AND FOOTERS: (1 – 1.25 inches to accommodate the header)

There is good information on this on other blogs, including: The Editor’s Blog and a detailed description with samples on Marlys Pearson’s Blog. Stick to the basics above, but not every rule is cardinal. For instance, I put my last name/book title in the upper right hand corner and the page numbers at the bottom.

 

7. Final Check

Do a final spell check of the entire document, print out a hard copy and eyeball the pages for proper formatting: check page numbers, gaps in spacing, alignment of chapter titles, and headers. Look also for sudden blank pages, which happen with long documents.

Now, here’s the most important part of the process: STOP TINKERING and SEND THE BOOK OUT. For help with this step, I refer you back to a previous post on looking for an agent.

 

© Copyright 2014 – Arts Enclave.

 

 

Pyramid Lake

A Writer’s Retreat – Photo by Linda Peckel

We all need a quick splash of water in our faces in the morning–think of this as waking your creative spirit!

It’s less than a week since I returned from a writer’s retreat in the Adirondacks, in a place so remote you won’t hear a phone ring or a TV, but you’ll hear the loons call as you drift off to sleep. It was the perfect atmosphere for many of us to reconnect with the words and images in our heads, and we had a number of talented workshop leaders giving us prompts and brief exercises each morning to help us find that overgrown pathway to our own creative attics. By Friday morning, we could all hear the wind blow, and we were writing about moments and memories we rarely thought of.

I discovered that in the past years of finishing a novel (which is different from the early stages of developing it) while doing multiple jobs each week just to pay the bills, I had lost the ability to simply write…

My workshop guide was a wonderfully lyrical poet, writer and editor from the Baltimore Review named Lalita Noronha. Each morning she served us seemingly easy challenges to just respond to a prompt, an idea, or an approach—and to me it felt like riding a bicycle with ice skates through a lake. Despite years and years of writing all kinds of content, copy, and prose, I simply had no idea where to start.

The beauty of these exercises is they are very simple, quick, and they help you find new starting points. If nothing else, you have written something fresh.

So here, I thought I’d try a little experiment of posting a 10-Minute Workshop Exercise for you to try. Take only the first 5 minutes to write and then put it down to get some coffee—this is meant to tap into your intuitive side. Then sit down and read out loud what you have read.

Post yours in the comments—let’s see what we get!

 

TODAY’S EXERCISE: In one paragraph, describe one of your first activities this morning—and change the ending in one sentence.

EXAMPLE:

Before I can even start my day, the dog has to go out. Now in her senior years, thankfully, my once little pug sleeps in most mornings so I can take my time to get dressed and brush my teeth before reaching for the leash. She needs to ease into her morning routine too, and once we hit the street, she meanders from side to side, sniffing, as if actually considering using my neighbor’s lawns for a toilet. But we both know where we are going, and I tug at the leash, leading her further down the hill towards the open field just around the bend. As we reach the familiar curve I can see crows swooping around our usual tree, a few of them landing and then taking off again. A man’s shoe is standing upright in the grass, and a body is attached to it.

 

© Copyright 2014 – Arts Enclave.

 

 

 

As anyone who has attempted it knows, writing is deceptively hard. It takes mental acuity and acrobatic imagination, organized creativity, and tremendous patience coupled with spontaneous genius. It’s the perfect equation of personality and intelligence finding space over time. And if, by some miracle you do happen to do it—and do it well by your own standards—you want it to be read, preferably by hungry hoards of fans holding out palmfuls of money, dinero, argent or even bitcoins to read your next work.

You want to be sustained by your writing—emotionally and financially—so you can do it some more. So do I.

The secret to reaching this realm is the guidance and support of a literary agent, that Merlin of the publishing world who turns the unread and unappreciated into an author.

A literary agent will not turn you into a writer—you have to do that. They will perform the miracle of changing the world around you, by escorting your work to the best place for it to shine. And for you to continue doing exactly what you have worked so hard to do well.

Having recently finished a mainstream novel, I am in the process of seeking an agent for the book called, Of Yin and Yang. I did my research first and picked up a number of tips that are worth sharing.

Are you ready? It may be hard to tell, but here are 9 tips to help you get there:

1) Finish It

We’re not talking about the first draft–just typing ‘the end’ doesn’t mean you are done. Many writers make the mistake of sending out early drafts, thinking that agents (and sometimes even editors) will recognize the talent and want to shape a write.

Time to face facts: agents do not want to prune, parse, shape, hone, or buff your work. And they don’t want to see anything from you–including a query letter–until you have a finished novel.

2) Clean Up Your Copy

Get rid of typos, awkward phrases, weird spaces, widows and orphans, strange paginations and anything else that could be fixed.

3) Create a Master Document

This is the copy that will be replicated in many forms for submission. Make sure it is always your latest version and does not get corrupted with inconsistencies or new typos. Even better, make a master copy,  which becomes the document you derive all your samples from. And of course, print out a hard copy and store it someplace safe.

4) Begin Your Search

Now, you’re ready to look for an agent. Be discriminating. You are looking for someone to take on a great deal on your behalf:

  • submit to appropriate publishing houses and editors
  • negotiate for the best deal
  • help you navigate the editing process
  • champion the book throughout publication and distribution
  • help you prepare to promote it
  • guide you in choosing your next project

There are many places to look for agents, including the Writer’s Market, which has long been the quintessential tool for writers seeking publication. It is subscription-based, and there are good free resources you can try first. My suggestion is 1000literaryagents.com, which offers a free basic membership that will give you enough information for your initial list. You can then upgrade for more information. QueryTracker.net and AgentQuery are also good resources.

5) Compile Your List

Look for agents that meet your basic criteria. This needs to include the genre you are writing in—don’t even bother to send queries about your mystery novel to agents who are not interested in mysteries. It’s a waste of your time, and you will be shutting a door permanently, as they all keep records of submissions and queries.

You might want to stick to a particular region of the country. I chose to look for agents with more life experience (ie, older, like me) who would be more likely to find a novel about characters over fifty more entertaining than younger agents would.

6) Set Up Your Tracking Sheet.

This can be in Excel, Word, or you might use a tracking tool provided by the sites listed above. If you create your own tracking sheet, it should contain the following information: agent, name of agency, location, query requirements, and response time.

7) Check the Agent’s Website.

Read their submission page, and prepare to send them exactly what they ask for. Some want only a query letter, some a query and bio, others will accept sample chapters or just the first 5 pages. Some get very specific about fonts and margins, so make sure to create a new file for each—be sure not to mess up your master document when doing this.

8. Compose your Query Letter.

Draft your basic letter. There are some good examples of query letters on various websites, such as:

 

9.  Tailor Your Submission

The query letter should in some way make a personal connection with the agent and show you know what kinds of books they like to represent. Put together the other pieces, including bio, synopsis and sample pages or chapters ONLY AS STIPULATED on the submissions page of the agency website—if they don’t take attachments, don’t send any!

Now you’re ready. Push the button…and then log it by date in your tracking sheet.

This is a numbers game. Agents get a lot of submissions, and you only have one page to convince them of the extraordinary value of your book. Don’t take it to heart when they don’t respond—as most of them will not. One of the agents I spoke to said you want to send your query to as many agents as you can—at least a dozen or so.

I’ve sent queries out in batches of 5-6 every two weeks. If one agent requests the entire manuscript, they may want an exclusive of 6-8 weeks to read it. Others may not require an exclusive, but you should always acknowledge that the book is being simultaneously submitted to other agents for their consideration. If you have to juggle who gets it next, it means you’re doing something right.

Regular Mail vs. Email Queries

This seems to be a matter of personal preference–I am not sure there is a clear benefit to either method, so I recommend trying both. I think email is easier (and certainly cheaper), and many of the agents only take online submissions through their own websites. But some still prefer the old fashioned paper query. These agents often take sample chapters as well, which is an advantage, since they actually read some of your work before deciding upon it. And, a real benefit is that most agents DO respond to hard queries, even if it is only a form letter rejection.

If you submit online, most agents state they will only respond if they are interested. You can send a follow-up, but it is unlikely that you will get a response to this if you did not hear from them in 4-6 weeks on your original query. Move on to the next.

Please share your experiences in the realm, or getting there, so we all find our way. May the force be with us all! Now get back to writing!

© Copyright 2014 – Arts Enclave.

You don’t need to be in love with the world around you to paint it—Georgia O’Keeffe demonstrated that over some 15 or more extended summers in Lake George, NY, surrounded by mountains and dense woods, during which time she painted more than 200 paintings.

Starting in 1918, O’Keeffe spent 5 months each year at the Stieglitz family retreat in Lake George, as lover & protégée to famed photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, whom she married in 1924.  While Santa Fe was the place that called to her spiritually, a large part of her esthetic was developed first at Lake George, growing over the later years (1929-1934) as she traveled back and forth between the two places (chronology here).

O’Keeffe’s distinctively macro view of the natural world was quite probably formed by her unique reaction to the grand scale of the Adirondack landscape. She wrote of feeling “confined” and overwhelmed by “the green.” She may have also been overwhelmed by the size of Lake George, the largest of the Adirondack lakes at 32 miles long, or the 11 mountains that surround it, and so she reduced the forms to understand them, examining one tree, and handful of leaves, or one flower on large canvasses.

or in a running format: Georgia O’Keeffe, American (1887-1986), From the Lake, No. 3, 1924, oil on canvas, 26 x 30 in., © Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1987.

Georgia O’Keeffe, American (1887-1986), From the Lake, No. 3, 1924, oil on canvas, 26 x 30 in., © Philadelphia Museum of Art: Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1987.

Her 1924 painting, From The Lake, captures the movement and abstract color pattern of Lake George without rendering its likeness as so many other painters did before her. Her palette, from the start, was a rich canopy of color that stood out instantly from the muted parade of paintings coming out of the Hudson River School. O’Keeffe gravitated towards the bright blues of the sky, the bright purples and reds of the flowers, and especially the browns and golds of the trees in fall.

The one color she developed an aversion to was the green that papered the entire Adirondack landscape. By the 1930s, she wrote to another painter that, “I walk much and endure the green and that is about all there is to it.”

As a lover of both the Adirondacks and landscape painting in general, I have to admit that the appeal of O’Keeffe’s work was lost on me for some time. That was, until the extraordinary exhibit now showing at The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, NY, just a few miles from where the Stieglitz summer home once stood.

It’s hard to imagine that the fluidity of these paintings, the sloping, rolling, curling and twisting lines that so invoke her style could have been formed in the harsh landscape of the New Mexico desert, for these are the lines of the Adirondacks, old mountains and natural lakes, winding rivers and trees that curve to meet the shores.

The exhibit captures all of this through several important series of O’Keefe’s paintings. The tree series are a collection of large paintings in surprisingly soft colors, painted in summer and fall. Rather than the angled lines so often associated with trees, in O’Keeffe’s vision the boughs spiral. She also painted a leaf series, examining closely the fabrics of each kind of foliage. There are the usual barns and longer landscapes, including some clever aerial views, suggesting her early experiments with abstract forms.

But her brilliance really begins to shine with the giant flower paintings she began while at Lake George in the early to mid 1920s. Two of her most provocative series are exhibited at the Hyde, the petunias, and my personal favorite, a 5-canvas series of Jacks in the Pulpit. She also began her famous exploration of red, discovering the true heart of her palette—or maybe the palette of her heart, with her paintings of the red canna flower.

Georgia O’Keeffe, American (1887-1986), Petunias, 1925, oil on hardboard panel, 18 x 30 in., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Gift of the M. H. de Young Family, © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Georgia O’Keeffe, American (1887-1986), Petunias, 1925, oil on hardboard panel, 18 x 30 in., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Gift of the M. H. de Young Family, © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Her understanding of the nature of color and form becomes intuitively obvious when you stand at various distances to the life-sized paintings. The exotic linear patterns and curvatures form spectacularly beautiful shapes of color, which as you move closer, separate.  And her continuous exploration through multiple vantage points and focal lengths also becomes clear, suggesting she was something of a scientist in her approach.

As a museum, it’s worth noting that the Hyde Collection is one of the true little gems among art museums in the northeast. It is situated in the former home of Louis Fiske Hyde and Charlotte Pruyn Hyde, designed by Boston architect Henry Forbes Bigelow at 161 Warren Street in downtown Glens Falls.  And one of the great delights to this museum is to wander the fully appointed rooms with guest beds, night stands, tabolets, etc., all so completely preserved that you feel as if you might be staying there yourself….until you look up and see the original Winslow Homer next to the closet, or the El Greco, the two Rubens (one of which is stunning), the Rembrandt, the two Renoirs—quite the personal collection.

The “Georgia O’Keeffe on Lake George” show is at the Hyde Collection for the summer of 2013. closing on September 15th to move on to its next natural stop at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum of Santa Fe, NM for the winter before concluding at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

Suggested Reading:  “Modern Nature—Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George,” compiled and edited by Erin B. Coe, Gwendolyn Owens and Bruce Robertson. Thames and Hudson, 2013.

© Copyright 2013 – Arts Enclave.

All photos reprinted with permission from the Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, NY.

 

My creative friend Anne-Marie reminded me today that the “right” to practice art was on the minds of our early leaders with this quote from John Adams, our 2nd President and one of the framers of the Constitution:

 

“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”    

 

It was built into the fabric of our existence as Americans to celebrate being human in every way, and to express it uncensored through the arts. The fight for independence was of the mind and heart—they preserved our spirits so we could be free to think and feel as we must. And so today we have to honor the creative force we were given the “right” to express, and use it at every turn.

 

Happy 4th America!

Let freedom and creativity reign!

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