Art of Layering

Art is meditative and transformative for me. Even if I stare for a long time, the experience is active within me. Moving through a museum or a gallery, gazing at a painting, waiting to view artwork, standing at a distance to see more clearly, and viewing a sculpture with someone else–all of that is more of an experience than the passive idea of watching or looking at something casually. I try to imagine painters on scaffolding when I see an immense canvas stretching up toward the ceiling. I stoop and squint at the tiny forms in a contemporary sculpture exhibit. There is not a way to duplicate the feeling of scale on a computer-generated tour of a museum, and yet, I encourage online tours and know they benefit so many people.

I enjoy not only going to see artwork in exhibitions, but the art that I view often becomes part of my own creative process. In the exhibitions that permit me to do so, I take photographs of the artwork on display as well as the space where the exhibition takes place. Later, back at home, in the middle of the night, or when I am parked in a line of cars waiting to pick up one of my daughters, I layer the images. The act of layering images pushes my brain into a new creative space and actually helps me to write imagery in my books. I don’t often share my visual processes, other than a photo of places where I run and that sort of thing on Instagram (IG). I did enjoy layering nature and yoga images for a series on IG, but otherwise, I don’t usually share these images and how they inspire me. I’d like to change that and share some of them on my blog sometimes.

This series of images, the most recent I’ve created, uses photos I took from the recent exhibitions at The Frist Art Museum in Nashville: “American Art Deco: Designing for the People 1918-1939” (ended January 2, 2021) and “Medieval Bologna: Art for a University City” (exhibit up until Jan 31).

Immediately, I was shocked to notice a coincidence between the Art Deco exhibition and my new book–that I actually wrote the dates of 1919-1939, in the novel, Ripe for the Pickin’ (forthcoming 2022), as one of the primary time periods. As my friend and I entered the Art Deco exhibition space, the sequined gold flapper dress made me think about my own character’s gold pageant dress in the first book of the series, Poke Sallet Queen & the Family Medicine Wheel. Robin and her aunt discover the dress in a Nashville store where they rummage through boxes of designer clothes. In another room of the Art Deco exhibit, I swooned over the fan, as it reminded me of Miss Emy, Robin’s grandmother, who carries a fan everywhere and does not stereotypically “flutter” it, but rather uses it as a judge might wield a gavel. Naturally, I thought of putting together a picture I took of the dress with one of the fan. Unfortunately, I cannot find the titles or artists/designers of these two pieces on the online guide for the exhibition.

I layered my own images with pictures I took at the exhibit, too. Photo 2 is my reflection in the Spartan Bluebird Radio during the exhibit juxtaposed with a forest where I ran this summer and which was inspiration for part of the next book’s setting. Radios are a part of the story since Robin is in a folk band, and I wanted to imagine that one of the characters, maybe her relative, had one of those bluebird radios. I also like that this dates the radio and me, as I’m wearing a mask because they are required in The Frist.


The radio: Walter Dorwin Teague, designer (American, 1883–1960); Sparks-Withington Company, manufacturer (Jackson, Michigan, founded 1900). Sparton Bluebird Radio (Model 566), 1934. Wood, glass, and metal, 14 3/4 x 14 5/8 x 6 in. Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver, 2004.1850.


Photo 3 is a photo I took of a Steuben Glass bowl that contained Jimson Weed by Georgia O’Keeffe, and I layered it with a photo I took of Paul T Frankl’s Modernique Clock. I often write about plants and time, and the confusion of the psyche in trying to reconcile human constructs regarding schedules and nature’s own rhythms and shifts. Plants connect the characters in this book series through generations. After I put the two pictures together, the result reminded me of an Alice in Wonderland-type of image, too.

Of course, to create these images, I am using copyrighted works, but they are my images of those works, and I am not selling, duplicating, or distributing the images, so they don’t infringe upon the original works of art. I’m also citing those original artists. My layered images don’t even come close to using mastery at a level of the original artists/designers, but they do fulfill an artistic purpose for my fiction-writing. (See this website and/or a lawyer for the rules of legally appropriating and distributing copyrighted artworks).


The clock: Paul T. Frankl, designer (American, born Austria, 1887–1958); Warren Telechron Company, manufacturer (Ashland, Massachusetts, 1926–1992). Modernique Clock, 1928. Chromium-plated and enameled metal, molded Bakelite, and brush-burnished silver, 7 3/4 x 6 x 3 1/2 in. Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver, Gift of Michael Merson, 2010.0670.

The bowl: Steuben Glass bowl with Jimson Weed image, 1938 Glass, 14 inches in diameter. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Gift of Mrs. Flora C. Crichton 1997.13.1Designer: Georgia O’Keeffe. Clear glass bowl with Jimson Weed etched in center from design


 Finally, I liked the snail cocktail picks from the Art Deco exhibit layered with an illumined manuscript from Medieval Bologna. There was no connection to my story. I simply like the idea of the slow passage of time symbolized by the snail and the old age of the manuscript.

Nothing compares to the experience of looking at the artwork, standing in front of it, taking in the scale of it, noticing the texture, focusing on the colors and form, how it shows itself in the space. However, I do enjoy this process of layering and creating even more meaning for myself.


I don’t have the details about the snail cocktail picks or the illuminated manuscript, but here are links to all the information online that The Frist Art Museum offers and online tours:

Art Deco Exhibition links

Medieval Bologna Exhibition links

The Georgia O’Keeffe Steuben Glass bowl


Savoring the Words: Unplugging Part 3

While I was unplugged, I read Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, mostly aloud to my dog, Mojo. He enjoyed the readings and would get very cozy and doze off to sleep after about twenty minutes of reading. I have an edition from the early 1900s and the pages flake sometimes, but I toted the little hardback around the house and allowed it to rest in my jacket pocket, where it fit so neatly and carried the appropriate heft for such a literary work. I could feel it there, the strength of those ideas and words. I love the way that Tennyson lingers on a description, crafting it out the long way. I found myself longing for the space, the way of wading into words and stories of old without the rush of time, the interruptions of technological life, and the self-consciousness of minimalism dragging the story down and making it less than it is…less reading enjoyment, less wandering in the world of a tale, less words.

I’ve also dwelt more on the words I write–in correspondence to others, in blog posts, and in my novel writing. I’ve allowed myself the words I want to use without making it less for the sake of other people.

The idea that I should shorten my statements and lessen my self-expressions is something I began when I first got a phone that would send text messages, and I was a late adopter so that was about 2011. Prior to that, I was quite old-fashioned (and still am) in my style of lengthy correspondence (and I prefer handwritten letters). After getting a smart phone, I very quickly learned that the majority of people I knew expected a text that involved as few words as possible. In fact, I wasn’t treated very well when I sent a text message that contained sentences. Some of my friends were downright rude, and justified their rude behavior based on popular culture. It was more okay to be rude via minimal text message than to communicate in complete sentences, even if they were short sentences. Being rude was cool; thoughtful communication was not cool. Finally, I experience changes to the above scenario, and many of my friends now communicate more akin to my own style of communication (and, I’m grateful for that).

All of this has reaffirmed my commitment to print books and handwritten letters. I’ve returned to my in-progress novels with renewed determination to finish them and to give them the full breadth that they deserve as stories, to use my breath as words penned down to the page, a motion of creation that has moved through my body and been born onto the page. As I breathe and read the words, write the words, speak the stories, they have lived inside of me. Yes, our stories do live any way, but there is no surer way of saving them for someone almost one hundred years later, and another hundred years later, and another hundred years later, than to tell the whole story out onto the page while loving the words and the process of creating with them.

Unplugging more has also reaffirmed my love of the spoken word and reading aloud. When I read stories and listen to the sound of the story, a new depth is present. There’s so much to discover in listening.

I Marvel at Mockingbirds

The book proof for Thorncraft’s 7th title arrived in the mail during a late summer rainstorm while the sun was shining. As I opened the book, I suddenly heard bird songs and chatter, and I looked up expecting to see starlings or a similar flock.

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Cover designed by etcetera… Cover image by SaltH2Ophotography

 

I realize that they are mockingbirds. I’ve never seen this many mockingbirds in one yard. I count over 20 of them playing around the dying garden, in the field, flapping from cedar tree to fence to persimmon branches to vitex bushes. Around 30, I give up the count and watch as the birds swoop and the white of their wings flashes against the green of the field. They whistle, chip, tweet, chirpity chirpity chirpity, st-weeet with a little trilling laugh on the end of the call. The calls and songs are so varied that I grasp for ways to describe them. It’s better to listen and enjoy. I marvel at the similarity in this first volume of the BreatheYourOMBalance book, thoughtfully selected and introduced by S. Teague.

As I read through the stories and poems, I am taken aback by the number of voices moving through Thorncraft. I’m always grateful for each book. Each one has represented a different stage in the publishing process for me, new awareness, and growth into another form. Every book has been unique to the author and my relationship with that person, as I care for all of the books that we make throughout the process.

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The Breathe book includes work from 28 women who have enriched my experience as a publisher by sharing their voices, and some of them by opening themselves to working through the editing process. I’m humbled that they trusted me to share their ideas, and I’m proud of their courage and dedication, both of which shine in these stories about the transformative practice of yoga.

This is Thorncraft’s 7th book. Five books of fiction. One book of collaborative nonfiction. One series book about yoga by women. 4 book authors. 28 contributing authors. I marvel that this creative endeavor continues to grow and include women who make me proud to share their work.

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Now, the book proof goes into the trusted hands and under the “red pen” (she actually uses blue or black most of the time) of senior editor, Kitty Madden. In the meantime, we’re excited to share some blurbs about the book from authors as well as fitness and yoga instructors. Book Forthcoming, Fall 2016. Visit http://www.thorncraftpublishing.com for more details about all of our books and authors

The Trail of Words: Running Words from 5K to Ultra

Words lead to not only more words, if you keep writing, they also create paths and spaces. I didn’t believe the land of words could be so much like trail running when I convinced myself to make words the focus of my career. I had to be careful, to share the trail with my authors, to know when to go it alone, to understand how to step back and “rehydrate” my author’s brain while being a publisher who represents other authors, and most enchanting, to discover new beauties and struggles on the writer’s path just as I discover them on the running trails.

I started a blog way back in 2005 with Yahoo360. It was like a couch-to-5K for my writing life which had soured into a ritual of grading English Comp papers and writing way too much feedback to the students. At first, like trail running, blogging hurt and I was getting about one hit an hour. How could this go anywhere? My forehead rested on the desk. I stumbled through writing about pregnancy and staying on target with one blog post a week. I was passed by professionals, out of my league. Winded and exhausted after those first attempts, I got wise and followed the people in social media to the MySpace blog world, and led a happy blogging life at blogspot, too. After a short time, I was content with these familiar trails, and I knew people on them, and it didn’t hurt so much anymore to expose myself as a writer. I blogged about motherhood and students in my classes. This was not nearly enough, even with thousands of hits. I yearned to write something more. It was time to add distance and a faster pace to my writing life. Through social media, I found Her Circle Ezine, and eventually became the Editor-in-Chief, wrote my own novel in the meantime, & tried to shop it.

The run was going strong and even getting hot, and my writing revealed more, new adventures. I helped with The Institute of Arts and Social Engagement with Misty Ericson, wrote articles about Mexican women for Lake Chapala Review magazine, interviewed bands & musicians for a Nashville music magazine, felt inspired to create books by women, and took odd writing jobs. Sometimes, I felt smothered by the trail. I couldn’t see my way out of it to the next place. There were traditional maps, but they weren’t working for me. I was in an endless loop. So, out of frustration, I started Thorncraft Publishing to publish my own novel, and then people joined me. I read Beverly Fisher’s novel, decided to publish another author, loved Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo’s work, jumped at the chance to publish her work too, and life kept going. The vistas open up sometimes, and allow more space. The trick is to keep going through the stumbles, brambles, heat, and more, until you reach new paths. Now, we’ve trained up for “ultras,” and in the running world this means 30+ miles per run. In our world of words, this means multiple books published every year, a literary magazine, a stage play, and more.

What’s happening now:
We have a new author at Thorncraft, Salty Teague. She and I wrote a book together earlier this year and launched it at Parnassus Books in Nashville. Seasons of Balance: On Creativity & Mindfulness is a self-help creativity journal, with poetry and stories thrown in the mix with affirmations and meditations. The book was chosen as a regional Wounded Warrior Project book, and Salty and I spent a beautiful afternoon at an event at The Yoga Mat that honored caregivers of Wounded Warriors.

The literary yoga journal, BreatheYourOMBalance Volume One will be finished later this year. Our open reading period was a success. Salty chose 28 contributors for the first volume of BreatheYourOMBalance: Writings about Yoga by Women (Forthcoming, Fall 2016). The contributors range from homeschooling moms to nurses, from yoga teachers to yoga beginners, from university professors to students. We are featuring the contributors on the Thorncraft website, so that you can read about them individually.

Salty and I continued working with everyone at The Yoga Mat by having writing workshops. Our next one will be Sunday, October 9. We are excited to partner with The Yoga Mat for Volume Two of BreatheYourOMBalance, which will focus on yoga and healing. Volume two will not be published until 2018.

Salty and I were promptly inspired to get going on a children’s book together. We’ve been planning it since last fall. You’re going to love the adventures of Luna the dog and Salty the raccoon. Forthcoming, 2017.

In 2015, Grace Among the Leavings by Beverly Fisher was adapted for the stage by Kari Catton and Dennis Darling, and performed at New Salem’s Theatre in the Park in Illinois. It was further adapted into a one act play by John McDonald, and performed in June 2016 at the Roxy Regional Theatre. We have more plans for “Grace” on stage in the future.

imageMelissa Corliss DeLorenzo is working on a new novel, but no word yet on what it’s about. She’s back on the blog, usually writing every week. She has several events this fall in Massachusetts, including the New Bedford Book Festival.

Check our Events page at thorncraftpublishing.com to stay up to date. The publishing website is updated weekly with the newest announcement and events.