Monday, September 14, 2015


Life has finally settled down and I am returning to my roots.I'm still working 2 days a week but only till mid October and then I will be completely free. Having 5 days a week to follow my heart has been a blessing.

I've been doing a lot more art and pretty much have become obsessed with it. Here is my latest art journal page following some techniques from Vicky Papaioannou. I am addicted to her youtube videos and watch them constantly--of course taking time out to apply the techniques to my own art.

I feel that art is part of my roots as I loved it as a child but in other ways I am returning to other things I love as well. For instance I've cooked dinner twice in the past week! Sounds like a little thing, but my husband Frank is the chef and while I was working he cooked every night. Now I am slowly going back to the kitchen and I love the earthiness of fresh foods and the meditative process of cooking, mixing, chopping and making a pile of ingredients turn into something yummy--kind of what I do with art materials!

Another odd change I'm making is in the tea I drink. For years I've been an imbiber of herbal and specialty teas but now I am going back to my old Tetley tea habit. I just feel very grounded now and am looking forward to having all my time to do the homey and artistic things I enjoy with no stress.

And so, as the art piece above says, "a cup of tea and a good book" is a wonderful pleasure and so I will return to mine.

Till next time--have fun!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Setting Myself Free

This world is a huge canvas of the most beautiful art. It seduces me, inspires me, calms me and makes me want to fly free!

I believe we each have a well of artistic sensitivity within us and we are obligated to seek it out and nurture it so that it blossoms into what it is meant to be. For me I am deep into the discovery of what my artistic style will become. I'm trying out and learning about all kinds of media such as paint, drawing, collage, colored pencil and lettering. It's a long and serene learning process and I am loving the time I have now to explore and grow as an artist--something I never thought myself capable of. provides enough streaming videos to learn any kind of media and be introduced into the variety of materials out there that an artist can use to create masterpeices. As I learn more and more, I am able to view my own art and see where the mistakes are, or where something needs to be deepened or tweaked and now I know of some ways to do that. I'm feeling much more confident as an artist but there is still much to learn.

Today I completed a new art journaling page that expresses what I feel right now--that we each need to find our personal soul-song and set it free in whichever creative path intrigues us. 

Here is the new page.

And now off to create something new!
copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Friday, August 7, 2015


What a lovely day we've had. 

We awoke to cool breezes and clean air and a serenade of birdsong. Enjoyed a yummy breakfast of French toast and then took a walk in the morning air, fresh and invigorating.

After that we drove to Barnes and Noble and had a second cup of coffee while browsing art and cooking magazines. Feasts for the eyes and the creative spirits that dwell inside us.

At home I went about completing two collages I began yesterday. I worked on canvas boards, one 8X10 and one 5X7. I created backgrounds by collaging scraps of coordinated scrapbook papers and then painting over them.

For this piece I used a faom brayer to apply the paint and then stenciled and stamped some designs to integrate everything. I added a copyright free image from one of the Dover design books that you can get online.

I started this piece with the same collage method then used an art sponge to add paint. I stenciled some leafy vines and flowers to bring it together. Because art in itself brings out the child in me I returned to my love of paper dolls and used ideas and techniques from Julie Nutting's book "Collage Couture."

I added butterflies and some flower stickers. Not too happy with the face, but no worries. I live and learn. I will definitely be making more pieces like this. I think I'm in love with the process tedious as making the doll and the dress may be, it's slow work and meditative. A little background jazz rounds out the day!

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

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