Tag Archives: art

To Hear with Your Heart, To See with Your Soul (by Sherrie Hansen)

Writing and painting, although both creative expressions, are often viewed as being on opposite ends of the spectrum.

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Writers paint pictures with their words. Artfully crafted descriptions help readers visualize the setting of each scene, the appearance of the main characters, and movement within the scene.

Artists take a scene from their imagination and bring it to life with vividly colored paints, textiles or other mediums that you can see, touch, and feel. The only verbal expression that may come into play is a suggestive title of one or two words.

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Both mediums communicate emotion and tell a story. Both require the reader to bring their own interpretation and understanding to fully experience what the author or artist has conveyed through the words or visual expression they’ve chosen to convey.

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As a writer who’s always labeled myself as a visual learner, I think there’s good reason to combine word art and visual art.

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Some writers compile a storyboard to look at and refer to while writing a book.  Whether they tag related visual images on Pinterest or actually make an old-fashioned collage with cutouts from a magazine, these writers find it helpful to surround themselves with tangible images of their characters and setting. It’s become increasingly popular for authors to create a trailer to use in marketing their books – just one more way of pairing visual cues with the written word to enrich the reading experience.

Painting - Northern Lights.jpg

I’ve long taken photos to use in tandem with my books, even used my photographs on the front cover of my books for a creative tie-in.

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Then, a friend who’s an artist and the leader of an online group called Shedding Light challenged the members of the group to paint. I resisted for awhile, thinking I didn’t have the time or the talent. But I’ve always been attracted to artistic expression, collected paintings that called out to me, and found peace in having beautiful images in my home. Finally, I gave in to my fascination and picked up a brush. The paintings I’ve done so far are all reminiscent of Scotland, the setting of my last 5 books. In June, my husband and I visited several castles in Aberdeenshire, and saw hundreds of sheep and boothies dotting the hills of Skye, so I’m fortunate to be able to paint images that are fresh in my mind. When I start writing Golden Rod, my next Wildflowers of Scotland novel, in earnest, I’ll look back at the paintings I’ve done and let my imagination travel back in time.

Painting - Moonlight Mirage

When I’m writing, I’m required to be acutely aware of the pitfalls of using poor grammar, being overly wordy or cliché, not structuring my scenes just so, and a million other infractions that contradict the way a writer is “supposed to write”. When I paint, there are no rules – the more unique, creative, or even bizarre, the better. Painting is my time to let loose, relax, and spontaneously create what I see in my mind’s eye – with no restraints.

Which calls out to your heart – visual images or the written word? The ability to use one medium to enhance the other is a gift – and an opportunity not to be missed. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination.

Painting - Flowers

(All photos and paintings used in this blog are Sherrie Hansen originals. The credit for my title goes to Michael Card, from his song, That’s What Faith Must Be.)

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Twenty-four years ago, Sherrie Hansen rescued a dilapidated Victorian house from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a B&B and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Sherrie and her husband, Mark, who is a pastor, divide their time between two different houses, 85 miles apart. Sherrie writes murder mysteries and novels whenever she’s not working at her B&B or trying to be a good pastor’s wife. Her contemporary romantic suspense novels include Night and Day, Love Notes, and Thistle Down, Wild Rose, Blue Belle, Shy Violet and Sweet William, her Wildflowers of Scotland novels.

 You can see what Sherrie is up to at: 

https://www.facebook.com/BlueBelleInn

 http://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/

www.BlueBelleInn.com or www.BlueBelleBooks.com

https://twitter.com/SherrieHansen

https://www.pinterest.com/sherriebluebell/

http://www.amazon.com/Sherrie-Hansen/e/B007YXQJ4W/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Sherrie’s new release is Sweet William. https://amzn.com/B01H2TUD3U

He’s a real sweetheart. She’s a wee bit tart. When Minnesota farm boy, William McKnight, and sassy Scot, Lyndsie Morris, are forced to work together in the kitchen of Rabbit Hill Lodge, the atmosphere is as charged as an episode of Chopped. Will someone get cut, or will they find a recipe that works? Things just start to get spicy when an angry bull butts his way into the picture, and Lyndsie has to decide if she loves William more than everyone and everything she holds dear.

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The Power of Story, by Carole Howard

The joy of story-telling is more-or-less always on my mind because my granddaughter and I frequently make up stories. They usually involve playgrounds and dinosaurs and they’re always a hoot.

I recently saw a more serious kind of story, though (lucky me!): Pierro della Francesca’s “The Legend of the True Cross” in Arezzo, Italy. I was awe-struck by the 15th century frescoes’ power to tell a story to a population who, largely, couldn’t read or write. The story told is how the wood from the Garden of Eden became the cross on which Christ was crucified.

From an art history point of view, I learned, the frescoes are remarkable for their geometrical perspective and the elegance of the Biblical figures presented. From a religious point of view, the series is important because of the way it integrates various parts of the narrative.

Queen of Sheba Meeting with Solomon, from The Legend of the True Cross Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Queen of Sheba Meeting with Solomon, from The Legend of the True Cross
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

For me, even with my limited knowledge of art history or the Bible, it was a breathtaking moment.

There I was, in the Basilica of San Francesco, surrounded by 10 beautiful and enormous paintings with exquisite detail and glorious colors telling an oft-told story in a new way. “Wow” doesn’t do it justice, but it does capture my reaction.

 

 

 

 

And I got to thinking about the power and uses of story-telling – and not just the ones with playgrounds and dinosaurs.

Some stories deliver a message, like the one my mother told (and re-told) of my grandmother, in Poland at the end of the nineteenth century, coming to America. Her parents were against the idea, but she persisted. (Parents of 16-year olds can relate to this.) The rabbi advised them that she only wanted to leave because they didn’t want her to. If they gave her permission, even provided the money, she’d never leave. (Reverse psychology, way back when!) You know what happened next. The rabbi was wrong.

Tragically, her father followed her to America to bring her home and, while here, had a fatal heart attack. My mother never added, “The moral of the story is that if you go against your parents, dreadful things can happen.” She didn’t have to; the story did the work.

Others package up a universal truth (Emperor’s New Clothes, Boy Who Cried Wolf), introduce us to endless variations of characters and situations, transport us, sell a political candidate (don’t get me started!), or teach us about history. Often, the narrative becomes the truth.

(I hate to admit it, but my husband has been saying this for years. Every time he tells a story and I point out that it’s not exactly the way it happened, he insists it doesn’t matter.)

For example, what did George Washington say after he chopped down the cherry tree? Not so fast. He didn’t say “I cannot tell a lie.” In fact, he didn’t even chop down that tree. It’s a great story to demonstrate his integrity and courage, but it didn’t actually happen.

And many of my religious friends tell me they don’t think biblical stories need to be taken literally, as history. Maybe the Red Sea didn’t actually part, they say. It doesn’t matter. The story resonates. The story tells a truth, they say, more important than the historical truth.

Is that why we write? To tell a story that conveys a truth, whether literal or not? Even if it’s “only” our own personal truth?   And is that why we read, to hear others’ truths? Or is it more about entertainment?

And what stories have particular resonance for you, whether they’re literally true or not? For me, there’s the story of the prodigal son (aka my brother), which showed me a helpful way to interpret a family dynamic. And then there’s the forever-haunting story told in Sophie’s Choice. And, of course, there’s the story of my magnolia, which is absolutely, positively 100% true!

And many more. How about you?

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Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio, published by Second Wind Publishing.

 

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Ah, Spring! When…

View across Kailua Beach to the offshore islet...

View across Kailua Beach to the offshore islet known as Moku nui. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A spring, when an old man’s fancy turns to doing nothing and napping at the beach.

Well, here it is the 4th day of summer and I haven’t been napping at the beach or doing nothing although I have somewhat neglected blogging.

Life is just too outrageously wonderful for anything? I have been wonderfully busy living outside myself while in myself.

In the ceramics department with the end of the school semester hours have been cut back at the studio and so I have been doing a bunch of stuff at home. I don’t do wheel work in my little apartment but I have been busy sculpting figurines. Somehow I think sculpting sounds more artistic than hand building, but it’s the same thing. They range in size from about 7 to 15 inches in height.

Hifh fireHere are seven figurines glazed and on the shelves ready to be high fired.

Wait 4 glazeThis next bunch has been bisque fired and waiting for my chance to use the spray booth for applying the glaze. I’m spraying these rather than dipping them. The blue around the bottoms of some is masking tape to keep the glaze off that area.

Ready 4 BisqueThese are waiting their turn to be bisque fired. The one on the top left sagged a little while drying in the damp room so I have that support under the man in the hope to keep it from sagging more in the bisque firing, but then it may sag more when it is high fired. Ah, the joys of uncertainty in ceramics.

DryingThese two have come out of the damp room to dry a little more before they are put on the bisque shelves. All together here we have 21 pieces plus another dozen slowly drying in the damp room. I guess that isn’t a bad months output for someone who was planning to nap at the beach.

MSS CoverOh, yeah, and I have another book coming out the end or this month or the beginning of July. The title of it is, Murder Sets Sail. Here is the cover.

inside, right at the beginning I state, “This is an absolutely true story except for the parts that aren’t.” I think one should be honest about these things don’t you? I’ll tell you more about it next time.

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Murder Sets Sail is published by 2nd Wind Publishers. This novel is not a mystery. You know from the beginning who the murderers are and who they intend to murder. Adventure aboard a sailboat from Honolulu to Hong Kong.

Paul’s book The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is now available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99.

To watch The Telephone Killer video click here.

The Telephone Killer is now available as an audiobook.

 

Since everything is copyrighted please feel free to re blog any of my posts but please repost in its entirety and giving appropriate credit.

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A Hand Is a Hand Is a Hand

A Couple of weeks ago I had a post entitled “Behold – The Hand.” I received more comments on that post than any other. Since I had so many comments on “Hands” I thought I would explain a little of how it came about.

As some of you know I dabble in ceramics. On the wheel I do bowls, mugs and plates, but my real love is sculptures. On the wheel I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing, and it’s pretty routine, but I have not idea what to do with sculptures. Each sculpture has is own challenges and that’s what so exciting about it.

Dancer 1Dancer 3I had started on a series of dancers and when I got the first one done and someone said, “I really like the flow of it, but what is she holding, a piece of cardboard?”

I hoped it looked like a scarf. But as I’ve already told you, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Some one else observed, “Her boobs are too low.” Since I didn’t have a live model to work from I excused that observations.

I didn’t throw that one out, but went to work doing it again. This is the result of the second attempt. So you say, “What does this have to do with your post about hands?” I’m getting to that.

Dancer 4

While I was doing it I was looking at my hands as they worked with the clay and I was very grateful that they worked so well. Even if their manipulation of the clay isn’t everything I would like it to be, that’s not my hands’ fault. I have known people with their hands so gnarled with arthritis they can’t hold a pencil.

Dancer 5aDancer 5bI started working on something a little different. Still with idea of a dancer, but different and this is what I came up with.

Then It seemed to me that in gratitude for all my hands have done for me, the least I could do is somehow pay tribute to my hands.

Hand 1Hand 3That is when I made this sculpture. I didn’t really try to reproduce a copy of one of my old, wrinkled hands. Wrinkles are awfully hard to reproduce in clay as I learned in trying to do the dancers scarfs and skirts.

There are some who are so good they can produce every wrinkle.

In a class where I was the model one student reproduced every wrinkle in my old face so accurately I wanted to hit him over the head with the head he had made of me. Not until it was high fired of course and hard as a stone.

Then he had the unmitigated kindness to give it to me. I immediately put it for sale in the annual Christmas pot sale at Windward Community College. I like to think that the reason it sold so quickly the first day was because I’m so good-looking, but I know it is really because of his talent to show my every wrinkle.

Damn, I wish I could do that. Well, given another 5 or 10 years I may get to be that good with the clay.

May everything your hand finds to do come with ease if not always with fun.

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Paul is the author of The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing now available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99.

To watch The Telephone Killer video click here.

The Telephone Killer is now available as an audiobook from Amazon.

Another new novel of mine, Murder Sets Sail, will be coming soon from Second Wind Publishing. This novel is not a mystery. You know from the beginning who the murderers are and who they intend to murder. Adventure aboard a sailboat from Honolulu to Hong Kong.

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What Makes An Artist?

“Hey, Ruby, where is your fish?”

Six different colored koi and a smaller goldfish.

The fish they were referring to was a clay sculpture of a Koi that was about 3 feet long and weighed 30 pounds or more. It had been pit fired and had some nice blacks and reds on the white clay. Ruby had it for sale at every Christmas and Mother’s Day sale for the past 4 years.

“Oh, I sold that,” Ruby said, “so now I’m a real artist.”

It was a nice piece. Not to my taste, but that’s not the point. I don’t know what she got for it, but I wanted say, “Selling one sculpture doesn’t make you an artist, it makes you a merchant.” I didn’t say that, of course, but I wanted to.

But it got me to thinking – when does the artist become the merchant and vice versa? I have a friend that I think is a very good painter. He gets a reasonable amount of commissions and teaches at the college. I ran into him at the mall and said, “Well, Well, if it isn’t Norm the artist.”

His response was, “I’m a painter. That’s for sure. Whether or not I’m an artist we won’t know for another 50 to 100 years.”

His remark got me to thinking. What makes an artist? It is more than just loving to paint, or play an instrument, or even being artistic. There’s a big difference between being artistic and being an artist. Nor is it just loving art and involving yourself in some creative process.

I love working with clay but I know I will never be a ceramic artist. Someone said to me when I gave her a small sculpture I had made, “Oh, Paul, you’re such an artist.”

My response was, “No, my dear, at over 80 years of age I have neither the strength or the energy nor the 20 to 30 years it takes to be an artist.”

What does it take to be an artist? First I think it takes a love for what you are doing so for 20 to 30 years you immerses yourself in the medium, whatever that may be; painting, clay, stone, wood, violin, piano, guitar or whatever. But just that is not enough. Added to that dedication there has to be talent. And, I hate to say this, but a little bit of luck, or maybe a great deal of luck.

So, now that I’ve told you what I think an artist is, what is art? A ceramics student asked me the other day, “What is art?” My answer was, “Art is anything that enhances your world.” I think that’s true to an extent, whether it is a bridge or well-prepared food. In the visual arts for me it is something I look at and then have to go back and look at again. If after I’ve walked away it comes back to mind, then it is art, and the person who created it is an artist.

The Mona Lisa.

Almost everybody is familiar with the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Even as you read this the painting comes to mind. That is Art.

Three of my favorite artists are Salvador Dali, Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wythe. They are three very different painters and it is wonderful the strange times their paintings will come to mind. For Dali it is the melting clocks.

Rockwell did covers for Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker, painted presidents and other famous people but the one that comes to mind is a painting entitled, “Outward bound.” It has an old sailor, a boy and a dog sanding on shore looking at a departing ship.

"Christina's World" by Andrew Wyeth

With Andrew Wyeth it is “Christina’s world.” There is just something about that girl sitting in the field looking at the barn that haunts me, in a nice way, but for me there is something haunting about that painting.

As for me, well, My dear, I will never be an artist, but that doesn’t prevent me from loving to play in mud.

I told someone the other day, “You see I have a habit and selling my pottery supports my habit. My habit is writing.” I may not be an artist, but damn, I’m having fun pretending.

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Paul’s book The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is now available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99.

Since everything is copyrighted please feel free to re blog any of my posts.

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A Book Store is Born

Hello! I am Tracy Beltran, Manager of Barnhill’s Books, Wine, Art, and Gift store in Winston-Salem North Carolina. You may also know me by my author name of Claire Collins. My work with Second Wind Publishing since it’s inception has been a lot of hard work but worth every moment I’ve spent with the authors and the readers.

And now, this relationship with Second Wind has allowed me to branch out and open a bookstore and it’s a dream come true for me. When other little girls were having tea parties, I was using my vast collection of books to start a library in my bedroom and I would loan my books to my younger sister this way. The golden look look books were labeled with check out cards and I would hold her stuffed animals hostage if the books were late being returned.

In college, I worked in the library. In February, I resigned from my position in Phoenix, packed up the family, and drove across the country to come to Winston-Salem and be part of Barnhill’s. I don’t regret that decision at all, even when we were supposed to be open on March 1, and now it’s looking more like March 20 or so. Who knew getting permits and revamping a 104 year old building would be so time consuming and difficult?

So that’s where I’ve been lately. You can follow the progress here: http://onlyatbarnhills.com/ and here: http://onlyatbarnhills.wordpress.com/

I have boxes and boxes of Second Wind Publishing books, and they are truly beautiful to hold and read. (When are you guys going to come visit me and do booksignings? Do I have to beg?) I have to remember that they are stock and belong on the shelves. Soon, they will be nestled among the bestsellers as well as other independent publishers. Speaking of which, if you are an independent publisher, email me: Tracy@onlyatbarnhills.com

We will also carry art from local artists and gift items including jewelry. Stop by and see me if you get a chance.

Tracy Beltran – Barnhill’s Manager

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Can you judge a book by its cover?

I was in the market for a bit of “mind candy” reading the other day and went to my local bookstore to see what might satisfy my literary sweet tooth. As I wandered through the different genre sections, I began to notice something about the books that actually made it into my small pile of “potential” purchases. Each and every one of them had fantastic cover art or photos. Convinced that I was being led astray by “glitz & glam” rather than a good story, I took a few moments to look beyond the book jacket or back cover teaser and read some pages from the first chapter as well as randomly selected pages from later portions of the books. Out of five possible purchases, only one book was returned to the shelf as a dud. For kicks and grins, since I had nowhere pressing to be, I picked up some books with really awful (as in boring) covers and checked out their teasers as well as random pages within. What I discovered was that book covers can provide some indication of what you can expect between the pages, with the exception of well-known award winning authors who can do anything they please in terms of covers and still expect a sale.

 

My grandmother was fond of the “you can’t judge a book by its cover” philosophy towards life but I think, noble sentiment that it is, it falls flat as a practice for a new author competing with the known for book sales. This is not to say that an intriguing book cover is about spending a huge amount of money on models, photo shoots, or buying art. It is about finding something that connects the reader instantly with the theme and combined with the teaser draws them into a well written story. The three elements must balance because a slick cover and a “sexy” teaser may get the book to the cashier but without a story to back it up, you won’t have anyone waiting for your next book.

 

 

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. Her novel, “A Love Out of Time” will be available by Christmas through Second Wind Publishing or Amazon.com.

 

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NAME RECOGNITION

Claire Collins is the author of  ‘Fate and Destiny’ and ‘Images of Betrayal’

 

The other day, I was a patient waiting patiently for the nurse to call my name. I grabbed the magazine closest to me on the waiting room table and perused the pages. The publication was an interior decorating magazine aimed at people who have six figures to spare. Each of the rooms was decorated with an abundance of top-dollar items designed by well-known names and firms in their circles.

 

I have no idea who they were. 

 

Obviously, I am not in that circle. On one cream colored wall was a framed drawing in a childlike scratch of x’s and o’s. My thought? How sweet, the wealthy homeowners framed artwork created by their child or grandchild.

 

Nope. The artwork, which looked exactly like something one of my kids would have rendered at the age of three, was some kind of a big deal by some famous artist.

 

I can’t remember his name and it really isn’t important to me, however it does make me want to give the kids a pack of crayons and some poster board and see if I can’t get rich selling their scribbles as art since that seems to be all the latest rage.

 

Books are similar. People will buy any book written by an author they have heard of, even if the book itself isn’t any good. There are forums across the internet devoted to authors who have created one good book, and a lot of mediocre books. Readers rave about how many they have read and the plot points of each, and if anyone disagrees with the fanatical ravings, then they are immediately quartered and drawn by the other members of the group.

 

Now, I am off to go find an artists page and let the fanatics there know that if they insist on adorning their walls with a particular style of impressionist artwork, I can get them quality originals for a fraction of the price. All I have to do is build the name recognition.

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