Archive for the ‘General Art Musings’ Category

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.


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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.


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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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Accents are very much derived from the lifestyles of the people using them—and to get it right you have to first find the shape of the way they speak.  In Australia, there is a great deal of sunlight, and the people are generally good-natured and happy.  Life is good here, and they seem to know that. And so they all grin like Cheshire cats.

Think of Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Hugh Jackman or Simon Baker when they are being interviewed. Even cranky Russell Crowe grins.

So to speak the way they do, start by grinning broadly, letting your upper lip form a straight line across your face. Keep that line firm and throw out your bottom lip. This is all you have to form the words, and don’t move it much. If your lips are dry, even better.

Now squint just a bit—not too much or you’ll sound like a Kiwi.  Keep your tongue forward against the back of your teeth as you speak, and you’ll get the flat intonation we are so used to hearing.

And for a little more instruction, here’s a local comedian with some notes:

Now it’s your turn…say anything, as long as it’s not “G-day mate!” That’s a sure way to demonstrate your need to update your video collection and get satellite TV. After 10 days in Sydney I haven’t heard a single utterance of that phrase we have so come to expect. Maybe they say it in the real Outback, but only a very small percentage of people live in the Outback. The rest of the denizens live in cities—really gorgeous cities like Sydney (see my previous post for more on that).  And what they do say—all the time—is “no worries,’” which comes out as “now waries.”  I have been very concerned by this, since I wasn’t worried until they brought it up. It makes me wonder if something is about to happen or might happen or already did happen that I should, in fact, be worried about.

But the sun breaks through the winter clouds and it’s time to squint and I find I am sinking quickly into that broad Aussie sound where I’m just too lazy to move my lips. Ah, now waries.

© Arts Enclave, 2013.  

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An Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

“She’s dying,” the doctors told my grandparents back in the 1930s. “There’s only one thing we can try, and we don’t know if it works at all.” My mother was in the hospital again, hanging on through the last of a string of life-threatening illnesses that started with measles at the age of five. My grandparents, who had married and begun their family late in life, were not about to lose their firstborn at this point. My grandfather hired bums from the Bowery in lower New York City to donate blood for the many transfusions she had, and family life had revolved around trips to the hospital for years. This was just one more thing. “Do it,” they said.

And so my mother became a test case for penicillin, even before the clinical trials began in this country. And it was truly a miracle drug. She recovered completely and was never again sickly. For the rest of her life, she would make sure everybody in the room knew she had entered it—and she wasn’t going anywhere.


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Freelancing is a lifestyle that tends to appeal to people who have a somewhat unstructured approach to life (with the exception of my sister, also a freelance writer who  functions gloriously by organizing the unorganizable.) Anyway, I like the relatively free-form dance of my days, but yesterday I went on an usually light journey, just blowing in the breeze, sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.


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There was a big debate in my family last night on the drive back from NYC—was the new Pippin, which we just saw in previews at the Broadway Music Box Theatre—revamped enough from the classic Bob Fosse-directed original 1972 musical to have its own signature?


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