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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gratitude and an Art Project


Thanksgiving weekend was a fabulous array of family events and lots of fun. It started with my son Robby coming from L.A. for the holiday. We spent Wednesday at the movies, having pizza (which is his necessity when he comes to NY) and playing scrabble and trivial pursuit.

On Thursday we went to my brother and sister-in-law's for turducken and lots of other delicious snacks, sides and desserts, plus lots of good wine.

On Friday we picked up my best friend Emilia and went to the North Fork wineries and then out to dinner. Back home it was a game of Left, Right, Center and more trivial pursuit.

It was a wonderful visit and though we did do a lot of fun things it went way too fast. Now I can't wait to go out and see him and his wife Sarah in California, or have them come here for a visit, perhaps in warmer weather.

Today it was a trip to Barnes and Noble where I browsed lots of art books and magazines looking for inspiration. I bought two books, one on art journaling and one on creating a craft business, which I hope to do when I retire in seven months. The magazines are "Bella Grace" and "Artful Blogging" both from Stampington and Company.

Then back home to do some art journaling.

Let me know what you think of the result.


copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Meditation Mandalas

The combination of a cloudy cold day, some romantic violin music and an autumn scented candle are wonderful background elements to making art. I'm about to try a new painting technique but first wanted to share something else with you lovely readers.

When looking for a calming, meditative art process that doesn't involve lots of different and messy materials I turn to the mandala coloring books of Susanne Fincher. Though I have tried to draw my own mandalas they always come out lopsided and asymmetrical which totally annoys my OCD, sensory processing issues and destroys the sense of calm these perfectly balanced circles create.

I prefer using colored pencils to fill them in as they give me better control than markers or paints. I've tried pastel chalks but they tend to smear. I'll choose a palette of several colors and start filling in spaces. There is a difference between starting at the center and working outward, or starting at the edges and working toward the center. The latter order helps me get grounded and brings me close to my own center where I can sort thoughts out as I engage in the repetitive process and listen to music that further sends me into my heart and soul.

I'll begin by just coloring everything in with the colored pencils:
While the mandala can be considered finished at this point I've begun a second process that adds more to the artistic sense of the mandala and also brings me further into the soul of the process.
I use uni ball vision elite pens to add darker details and accents, sort of like zentangle designs. It draws me in deeper and helps the meditative feel of the process.


It's a bit of a stopover between art and writing. Sometimes it calms me enough to go back to the novel and knock off a new scene or revitalize a scene that's stalling. Other times it leads me to journaling or writing new poems. Nicely enough the facing page of each mandala drawing has a sentence or too describing the purpose of that particular mandala but the rest of the page is blank, leaving room for journaling based on the descriptive sentence or for jotting down poems that sprout during the coloring and detailing processes.

It brings me back to long luxurious days as a little girl when I got lost in my coloring books or with a picture from a Venus Paradise color by number set. And there's is great pleasure, at 65, being brought back to the glorious days of childhood freedom.

I suggest you try it. Can't hurt. And it's a great way to calm yourself at the end of a stressful day or center yourself before you begin your day. 

Just have fun with it!!!


copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Layers of Hope

As much as I love writing, I think I love making art even more. I'm experimenting with some art media and trying to devise a style that will allow me to incorporate my poems into the pieces. Though I haven't been a big fan of layering I am learning its magnitude and how successful a mixed media piece can be when lots of layers are incorporated.

I tend to avoid lots of layers in my art because I hate covering up pretty papers, or text tissue, or images and words, but I'm starting to see the dimension that can be created and learning to live with the hidden layers beneath the finished piece.

Here I layered pattern papers then painted over them with pale yellow craft paint. I added a butterfly from a decorative napkin (which by the way makes a really nice image for art. You peel the layers of the napkin till you have one thin layer with the image on it. Then using gel medium or white glue adhere it to your art piece. The image literally melts into the piece.) I adhered the word "hope" that I cut from a magazine and attached a copyright free image of a little girl. Then I added small cloth flowers. I used Ranger distress ink pads to edge the piece and give it an aged look.

I will try more pieces like this and share them here. Those that come out as I want them to I will use to make blank note cards.




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ART JOURNALING

I've been in the mood to art journal again. In the blank white pages of my mixed media journal I can explore and create, experiment with new ideas, new art materials and examine the wonderful and not so wonderful times of each day. Still working on a style of art to add my poems to. Tomorrow night taking an art journal class at Scrappers Playground in Babylon and hoping to discover new materials and styles to work with.

Oh--and getting ready to do some painting too! 

For now, here is a recent art journal page to share.



copyright by Renee Howard Cassese