Monday, August 3, 2015


Blending my two passions of art and poetry is a challenge as well as a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Right now I am reworking some poems into haiku that I can incorporate in my art. I'm also experimenting with different color combinations--some dark and think, others bright and light. The piece here originated with a poem I wrote for my next poetry collection:


Stones crunch and shift beneath my feet
Along the path that hugs the curves of shoreline.
The black ruffled surface of the river
Throws off silver reflections of sunlight
Diamonds scattered by a distraught lover.

The white heron wades in the mud
His slender beak
Stabs at unsuspecting insects
Emerging from winter’s frozen den.

Memories slip between the breezes
Remind me pain is transient
Fading in time
Like the ripe color of this fallen leaf.

I took the middle stanza and honed it down to a viable haiku. I really have worked this image over a number of times to get a poem I could live with. It so fascinating to go to the arboretum and watch the heron wading through the banks of the river, or into the water to go fishing.

I began with a lovely blank white page of my watercolor art journal and added pastel colors with stencils and collaged a few pieces of tissue paper. I used a script stamp to get some detail into the background. I made the heron with a stencil and molding paste and gesso.

 I'm looking forward to creating more art and poetry like this and hopefully an altered board book of haiku and art. I'm also looking forward to seeing your comments and thoughts on my process.

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Yes, it's time to change my story. I had a little glitch in my retirement plans and am working two days a week now, but only until October 21 when I will be fully retired. Having essentially 5 day weekends now gives me time to find myself and I'm doing that in my art work.

When anyone asks me what I will do when I retire I have to chuckle to myself. Anyone who knows me will know there are so many things to do that I still won't have enough time. But at the moment I am making a transition from writing to art, from work to leisure. I'm exploring a lot of different art media, styles, and techniques and will slowly develop my own style and my own preferred set of media. For now it's a lot of learning and discovery. Different approaches to art such as art journaling, floral painting, Chinese brush painting and calligraphy are grabbing my interest.

The world of art journaling itself holds a vast array of media and styles. So far this has been my favored method. This weekend I experimented with the method of layering paints, using brushes and stencils, tissue paper and images from napkins, along with stamping and words and images cut from magazines. Here is what I created during this experiment.

When I first created the layered background I was disappointed. I thought it looked too messy and dark. I added the stamped flowers which seemed to pull it together but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it from there. I hunted through my stash of magazine words and pictures and the words "change your story, change your life" spoke to me since that is what's happening to me now as I transition from career to retirement.The image of the girl is a print of one of Degas' bronze statues and she seemed to be ready to step forward into her new life, just like me. Once I added the words and image to the page and highlighted them with charcoal I felt the piece came together.

So off I go to work on the next art journal page!
copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Saturday, June 6, 2015


As I approach my retirement in 3 weeks I am drawn back into the world of art. A comforting place I've been too long away from. So busy with writing I had stored away my art supplies. But now I took them out of the dark attic, and pulled them out from under the bed. Opening my art journal I emabarked on a relaxing day of art with my husband Frank

While he set about sketching and beginning to paint a new watercolor landscape I began two new projects. One a simple art journal page. I painted the background and set it to dry.

Still a lot to do with it. I will post the finished art journal page as soon as the details are done. But the feel of the brush in my hand and the smear of 3 tones of blue paint on the page got my artistic heart racing. I'm so happy to be back at this again.

Since this blog is about the marriage of art and poetry I will share my next project in process. While I am writing a new poetry collection I see how my poems tend to go on into too much generaliztion so I am revising them by cutting lines and revealing the sparkiling kernel of the poem hidden between the lines. Many times the result is a short five line tanka; a Japanese form of poem that is like a haiku with 2 lines of explanation at the end. I've decided to create an altered board book of art and tanka poems. Today I gessoed the book and will next add collage elements before painting over it. I'll share that as I go through each layer until the book is finished.

I hope you'll come along with me and see how each piece of art progresses. And, oh yes, I'll share Frank's progress on his painting as well.

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month in April, every year I like to give myself a challenge. Usually I connect the poetry to some art form since that's what this blog is all about. This year I will focus only on poetry since I've been doing more writing than art lately. (Of course I will add art to my creative time soon.)

I've been taking online classes in two forms of Japanese poetry, tanka and haibun, and so will follow those forms for this year's challenge.

I'm beginning a series of tanka called "Third Marriage" and here are the first two poems:

November chill
unexpected phone call
early dinner meeting
after 5 cups of coffee
relationship is born

harvest moon
color of autumn trees
my heart round
full as the cratered orb
lighting a cobalt sky

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Serenity and Poetry

I've been struggling to get back to writing. Since our retreat in November I have done little else but journal. Now it's time to ditch the holiday madness and settle down. I have several online classes coming up in 2015 and I need to get ready. Not to mention all of my own writing projects.

I spent the morning at Barnes and Noble soaking up poetry and mindfulness books to center my erratic brain. I need to get back to poetry.

I found an interesting book by Tyler Knott Gregson called "chasers of the light." It's a collection of poems he wrote on an ancient typewriter, off the top of his head--or the top of his heart and soul, which are the places I like to believe that poems come from. Very lovely and romantic poems along with his art and photography.

So I came home, made a cup of chamomile, honey and vanilla tea, lit a candle and got out my journal. Now it's time to write some poems. It's been so long my head is not in a poetic frame of mind, but I'll get there, I know it. It's where I need to be as this year comes to a close and the dark days slowly--oh so slowly-- get longer and longer. Perhaps in the increasing moments of daylight my mind will awaken to my poetic soul.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Finding My Creative Niche

Well, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were, I must admit, a slight bit depressing as it was only the two of us. I remember all the years of holidays spent with family and the warmth and joy those times brought to my life. The preparations, decorating, cleaning, cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping and making out holiday cards seemed like so much work, yet I loved every minute of it knowing they precipitated the love and laughs that would surround us during our celebrations.

Now everyone seems to be literally in a different state and getting together has become difficult. We did make the most of our holiday though clearly something was missing.

Now those days are over and my mood has brightened a bit. Ever looking for creative projects, as if I didn't already have more than I could complete in a lifetime, I hit upon something the other day.

I've been searching for a way to incorporate my poems into art.

I've tried collage, mixed media, watercolor and though I have made some acceptable pieces I still was not satisfied that I'd found the right "voice" for these projects. Then I had the idea to turn the poems into scrapbook pages.

For a while now I've thought about going back to scrapbooking instead of using paint and so I tried it out. Instead of a photograph on the layout I printed out one of my poems and made that the focal point. I've done just these three so far and will do more and see how this goes. This might also be an idea for the art to go into my prose poem/art book since it seems my scrapbook pages come out much better than my mixed media art.

I will, for the moment, save my mixed media painting for my art journals and wait until I get better at the process before trying to make poem-art that is worthy of sending out into the world. I'm in the midst of an art journal page now that I will share here as soon as it's done.

In the meantime, I am coming out of the depression of a lonely holiday and immersing myself in art and writing. I look forward to a new year with much art in my life and more happy times with family and friends.

Happy holiday and Happy and Healthy New Year to you all.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Creative Inspiration

There's nothing like a day off to get the creative juices flowing. I was so drained from work I just could not get out of bed at 4:30 am one more time. When I finally did rouse myself from a half sleep I read for a while and then turned to an art magazine for some inspiration. Within the pages of an older issue of Somerset Studio I found lush paintings and quirky collages that prompted some visual work of my own.

The art journal page about was done a few weeks ago and I wanted to share it because I like the color flow and the movement in the piece. I also like the idea it speaks of which is that you must spread your wings and try new creative projects that stir your soul. Without that you never grow.

And I do indeed have a new project. Rose Metal Press has sponsored a contest, due in May, for a book length work of text and art. I am going with a series of prose poems that trace the life of a fictional character named Serafina from her birth to her death at the age of one hundred.

For the art work I am making collages on 5x7 inch canvas boards. In an effort to recycle and not spend more money I gessoed over several old canvas boards that I had painted but never used. I am never intimidated by a blank white canvas, or a blank notebook page either, as I see it as a world of possibilities just waiting for the right poem, or blend of papers and paint colors.

As I progress in my project I'll share a few poems and collages with you and if the book wins the contest and gets published then you will be able to view the entire piece.

Wish me luck. The deadline is only 5 months away and I have 50 poems and 10 collages to create within the limited creative minutes I have each day. I'm looking forward to long gray winter weekends in which to hibernate in my art room and get some work done!
copyright by Renee Howard Cassese