Get Up and See!

Today is my birthday!

Normally, I spend the days leading up to my very own day contemplating the past months and making plans for the the days ahead.  My “New Year’s resolutions” begin October 2, not January 1. Not so this year. The last couple of weeks have been filled with anxiety, noise, and internal clutter, and I haven’t been able to grasp the calm I need to get the internal work done. It did not help to wake up in the wee morning hours to the horrible news of an attack in Vegas.

But I am grateful. To be alive (I’m familiar with the alternative). To be well (for the most part). To be accepted. To be showered with love (and brownies, every now and then). For the many, many good people and experiences my many days have brought to me.

Exactly five years ago one of these good people–at that time a new friend–gave me a beautiful card for my birthday. Because it “lives” on my desk, I see it frequently, but today I took a moment to appreciate it again.

“Rita Dove,” detail of The Furious Flower Portrait Quilt, 2004. Mixed media collage on canvas. Artist: Malaika Favorite

The portrait of U.S. Poet Laureate (1993-95) Rita Dove is part of a 24-poet/panel masterpiece by mixed media artist Malaika Favorite which honors the history of African American poetry. The work was commissioned for Furious Flower, a conference held every decade (since 1994), that celebrates, stimulates, and encourages African American poetry and poetic voices.

Dove’s poem, “Dawn Revisited,” from her collection On the Bus with Rosa Parks, is printed on the back of the card.

Imagine you wake up
with a second chance: The blue jay
hawks his pretty wares
and the oak still stands, spreading

glorious shade. If you don’t look back,

 the future never happens.
How good to rise in sunlight,
in the prodigal smell of biscuits –
eggs and sausage on the grill.

The whole sky is yours

 to write on, blown open
to a blank page. Come on,
shake a leg! You’ll never know
who’s down there, frying those eggs,
if you don’t get up and see.
The poem is the swift kick in the butt I need to “shake a leg” and get things done!  Please excuse me while I get up and see…

Encore? Let Kindness Bloom!

My little “sister” Brittany of OrdinarilyExtraordinaryMom requested an “encore” of Kindness Week. I don’t think that will happen anytime soon, but maybe, this bit of kindness will satisfy for now.

Chante Marie, one of my (now former) students and recent college graduate, was “inspired” by the kindness week posts too! She posted a time-lapse video of her creation “Let Kindness Bloom” on Instagram.

Here’s the finished product. [Click the image to view the short video].

“Let Kindness Bloom,” by Chante Marie

The message is sweet and to the point.  As we watch the tree blossom and come to life at Chante’s hands, we understand better the import of the words: Kindness grows and enhances life’s color and brilliance. Give it freely. Let it bloom.

Chante is a singer, composer, writer, artist, and minimalist who is on her way to grand places! More importantly, she is “quite simply” an intelligent, witty, beautiful person whom the world needs to know.  If you want to know more about Chante Marie, check out Quite Simply Minimal, her minimalist blog, or her website which provides links to her art, poetry, YouTube channel, Facebook page and more.

Be sure to sow some seeds of kindness this week!

Liberate Your Art 2017: “Experiment, Play, Create & Liberate”

The LYA blog hop has begun!

As mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, I participated in Kat Sloma’s Liberate Your Art swap again.  The swap has been running for seven years. I’d “just missed” the first year when I found out about the swap, but I’ve participated every year since.

This year’s stats:

876 pieces of art liberated
146 artists participating
12 countries
30 US states and territories

The words that make up Kat’s theme, “Experiment, Play, Create, and Liberate,” serve as “clues to an expressive, playful, and free approach to making art.” She encourages participants to “keep those four words with us over the next year as we create and share our art.”

I’m happy to report that I received all six unique pieces of art sent my way. [As usual, April is insanely busy, and I haven’t had a moment to stage and photograph the postcards in my environment, so please forgive me].

“Angles and Lines” by Christopher A. 

My first card came from Christopher of Michigan, a piece of art he created in December 2016. Christopher’s circumstances “made” an artist of him and compelled him to take a minimalist approach to art.  He works with what’s available to him–a pencil and a piece of paper folded to make a straight edge.

He shares a quote that appropriately captures his circumstances and his art:

I’ve wanted to somehow convey to you the sensations–the atmospheric pressure, you might say–of what it is to be seriously a long-term prisoner in an American prison.  –Jack Henry Abbott

A few days later, a little bit of Hong Kong graced my mailbox.  Kris sends “love from Texas,” but as she points out, the scene is clearly not Texas:

“Not Texas” by Kris Mc.

I love everything about this photo–the composition, the tone.  There’s so much story in this image!  You can find more of Kris’s stunning work on her blog, on Instagram, and on Flickr.

Greetings from Gabriola Island (Canada) came next.

“The Road to Cold Mountain,” by Paul T.

Paul had fun creating this piece, entitled “The Road to Cold Mountain.” I find it intriguing.  I’d love to know more about it!

Siobhan sent a calming photo postcard with a clock tower reflected on a rippling river.

“1902 Clock Tower” by Siobhan Wolf

The photo was shot at Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington.  You can find more of Siobhan’s work at Wolf Tales, her blog.  I love her signature line on the card… #bethelove.

Ella sent a whimiscal watercolor.

“Puff” by Ella L.

Ella completed this watercolor a few years ago.  She sends her card with wishes for the “joy of playfulness.” Ella is a freelance illustrator who works with children’s books and poetry among other things. You can find more of her work on her website: Ellapointe Studio.

If you’ve been following along for the last several years, you know Kat’s postcard always ends the swap.

When I retrieved Kat’s card, I had mixed feelings–excitement because the “long anticipated” Kat card arrived, but disappointment because the card meant the end of the swap and I have to wait a year before it comes around again.

Digital Painting by Kat Sloma

Kat surprised me this year.  Instead of sending one of her photos, she sent a colorful digital art piece.  I realize, though, I shouldn’t have been surprised.  She’d been posting digital paintings via IG: kateyeview.  Trees are one of Kat’s favorite things to photograph, so I like how this image pays tribute to one of her favorite subjects.

Thank you Christopher, Kris, Paul, Siobhan, Ella, Kat and all the other wonderful artists who courageously share your art.  Your creativity inspires me!

I am so grateful for you, Kat.  Thank you for consistently, patiently, and meticulously coordinating LYA.  Your work pushes all of us to strive for the best in our work as artists.

Fortunately, side swaps help us liberate even more art.  If you’re interested in swapping away those extras, let me know. I’ll post the postcards I sent on “Microblog Monday.”

If you want to see more “liberated art,” check out the video featuring art from some of the participants. For a more comprehensive view of the exchange, click the tiny blue frog below.


Until next time…create more art!

My Mailbox Speaks French: “Les publicités anciennes” (Old Advertisements)

Though my skills in other languages are minimal, my mailbox is multilingual. Just a few days ago I retrieved a happy envelope full of postcard goodies from France.  Louise of Drops of Everything sent me the package thanking me for a kindness.  Of course, this was unnecessary, but I’m learning not to stifle people’s desire to give or my mailbox’s right to be happy. 😉

Louise sent a note via Instagram letting me know that “a little something” was on the way. I had no idea what, but since I love surprises, I didn’t even try to guess. Therefore, I was thoroughly pleased when I opened the envelope and found five glossy vintage French advertisement reproductions.

The postcards are from a collection of vintage postcard reproductions.  I’ve done my best to find out more about the collection, but my French is beyond rusty (an understatement).  No matter. There was a lot of great information on the backs of the postcards.  The collection is called “Les Publicites Anciennes,” roughly translated “old advertisements.”

Reproduction of a beautiful lithographic poster executed about 1900 (anonymous author) for cocoa "Van Houten." Printing works F. Champeois, Paris. Source: private collection

Reproduction of a beautiful lithographic poster executed about 1900 (anonymous author) for “Cocoa Van Houten.” Printing: F. Champeois, Paris. Source: Private collection.


Reproduction of a famous and original charm-lithography of 1893 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for the "Chocolat Menier." Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private Collection.

Reproduction of a famous and original chromo-lithograph of 1893 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for the “Chocolat Menier.” Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private Collection.


Reproduction of an original chromo-lithograph of 1897 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for "biscuits Lu" (Lefevre Utile). Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private collection.

Reproduction of an original chromo-lithograph of 1897 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for “Biscuits Lu” (Lefevre Utile). Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private collection.


Reproduction of a beautiful chromo-lithograph produced at the beginning of the 20th century for Ets Vendors which at that time made "Calais" biscuits. Printer: F. Champenois, Paris. Source: Private collection.

Reproduction of a beautiful chromo-lithograph produced at the beginning of the 20th century for Ets Vendors which at that time made “Calais” biscuits. Printer: F. Champenois, Paris. Source: Private collection.


Reproduction of a famous illustration (first half of 20th century) produced by the artist Germaine Bouret (1907-1953) for the Paitissiers de face collective, found on pastry packaging and cake boxes. Source: Private collection.

Reproduction of a famous illustration (first half of 20th century) produced by the artist Germaine Bouret (1907-1953) for the Pâtisserie de face collective, found on pastry packaging and cake boxes. Source: Private collection.

Aren’t these delicious? And they arrived in time for the holidays. 🙂

It seems the postcards come from a collection “Les Authentiques et les Imaginares.” In my search for more information about the postcards, I discovered that there are a number of counterfeits of Germaine Bouret’s work and some vendors continue to sell the postcards even though it is illegal to do so.  I’m baffled by the lengths people will go to profit off someone else’s creative and intellectual property, but I’m curious about the Bouret counterfeits.  In my curiosity, I was led to an original sketch of the illustration above: Bouret Advertisement Illustrations.  In fact, on this site the particular collection from which this postcard comes was listed as an offender (but not this particular postcard).  Interesting, right? When time permits, I’m going to uncover as much as I can about this collection.

So…Louise, thanks for sending me a bundle of gorgeous postcards AND the unplanned intrigue!


Pretty Purple Postcard!

Squeals! Look at what was in my mailbox:

"Creativity, Light, and Love," by Tiare Smith Designs

“Creativity, Light, and Love,” by Tiare Smith Designs

Neither my hubby nor I checked our mailbox Thursday, so this bit of awesomeness was retrieved Friday morning as I was heading out to work. Why the squeals?  My friend Cy and I “discovered” Tiare Smith Designs moments apart.  I actually shared her Etsy link with Cy when I saw some AKA sorority-inspired art.  As usual, I was multitasking while shopping, so the “Tia Collection,” one of the sets of postcards I placed in my cart, sold out before I could place the order.  I lamented missing out on Tia, but who didn’t miss out? And who sent me this postcard?  Cy!

Pause for the “happy mail” dance.

According to her creator, “Tia is here to bring light and love into the world.  She has many stories to share.”  Besides her “purpleness,” I love the innocence, sweetness, and light Tia projects.  She makes me want to skip through a field of flowers with nary a care in the world.

I initially went to Tiare’s shop to purchase a birthday gift for myself–a print the artist posted in “Black Women Who Plan and Create,” a community of black women planners, crafters, and artists on Facebook and Instagram.

"Fearless Girl" by Tiare Smith Designs

“Fearless Girl” by Tiare Smith Designs

This print captured everything I was feeling in the few days after my birthday. Focused. Determined. Fearless.

There was so much eye candy in the shop that I couldn’t resist purchasing other prints. Besides, I had gift cards to spend. 🙂 I purchased a total of 16 postcards, and Tiare included four extras, including three abstract still life prints and a multi-paneled print with tips for including it in planner layouts.  Here’s a peek at the order:

A collection of prints by Tiare Smith Designs

A collection of prints by Tiare Smith Designs

Tiare is a mixed media artist and instructor who obviously has fun with her work, but she also takes her work and her customers seriously.  She has great customer service–ships quickly, responds to questions, and customizes orders.  If you want to see more of Tiare’s art, check her out at Tiare Smith Designs or at her Etsy Shop. She’s also on Instagram and Twitter as @iamclassygirl and on Facebook: Tiare Smith Designs.

It’s always a treat to find a random postcard from Cy in my mailbox, partly because the writing side is always handled with simplicity and elegance.  Her message included a quote sticker:  “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” A “truth” to live by! 😉

Thank you, Cy, for always having my “postcard” back.



The Indigo Buntings of Academia

I stole a moment yesterday from all the “things to do” to “thin out” the stationery and planner pouches I carry to work with me. All the pretty things were spread out on the coffee table. Among them were at least seven letters to which I must respond soon. In that stack of letters was a gorgeous notecard from Omi, an adjunct English professor and one of my “Professors United” pals on swap-bot.

"Indigo Bunting" by Christy Lemp

“Indigo Bunting” by Christy Lemp

Lemp’s watercolor was one of the winners of the AAUW’s 2015 Art contest.  From the back of the card:

Christy Lemp always loved to draw and paint but only starred devoting more time to it after years of working other jobs and raising her family.  Spurred by the passage of a milestone birthday, Lemp quit her job and dove into her passion: watercolor painting.  After much hard work and persistence, Lemp’s dream of making artwork for people has come true. Indigo Bunting was inspired by a Mother’s Day visit of the beautiful bird to Lemp’s bird feeder.

I often think about adjunct professors like Omi who toil day in and day out with inadequate pay and benefits.  In this letter, Omi wrote about how the university that employs her changed the adjunct pay schedule from biweekly to monthly and were (or are) discussing eliminating adjuncts in her discipline altogether! I am sympathetic to the plight of adjuncts and disturbed by how some universities take advantage of them, but I know that many adjuncts appreciate having a paycheck and a job in academia, hoping that “a foot in the door” will lead to a full-time position.

According to the Chipper Woods Bird Observatory:

Indigo Buntings perform a valuable service as they consume grasshoppers, beetles, cankerworms, flies, mosquitoes, cicadas, weevils and aphids. Diet also consists of seeds of raspberries, grasses, thistle, goldenrod, dandelions and other weed seeds. It is well worth the effort to provide suitable brushy habitat and shrubby forest edges to assure a healthy population of these attractive little songsters.

I’m not in the habit of comparing people to animals, but it’s fitting that Omi wrote her letter on this card. It’s a reminder that adjuncts, too, provide an invaluable service to colleges and universities. They, often, perform in ways that other professors refuse, taking on the grunt work of service courses that leave them little time to pursue their own research and dreams.

Despite the challenges, Omi seems upbeat and optimistic. She’s writing, reading, crafting, sharing beauty, and loving her life–and her cats who “own [her] soul because she can’t resist their cute faces.”  =^..^=

Collage Art: The Little Matisses

“In the Style of Matisse” by Vaughan

[Art] is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence.  –Henri Matisse

By now, you know that there’s a special place in my heart for children’s art and art created for children, so as promised, I’m back with another dose of fourth grade goodness.

About a month ago, Mrs. Johnson, my son’s fourth grade teacher, introduced the students to the art of French artist Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse.  Matisse, whose work spanned many decades, worked with various styles and media.  Mrs. Johnson’s art lesson focused on a technique Matisse mastered late in his career after illness and surgery left him physically unable to paint and sculpt–collages made from brightly colored paper cut in various shapes and sizes. I’m sure the students loved playing with construction paper, glue, and scissors to create their own masterpieces à la Matisse!

My little one created the one above. These (below) were created by the other students in the class. [Click on an image for a closer look].

Sixteen little Matisses. The bold colors and unique shapes are mesmerizing.  It is obvious that the children enjoyed creating the collages. I wonder if they felt as “mysterious” and “adventurous” as some of these pieces feel.

I’m no art expert, but as far as I’m concerned, children’s art–even when it is imitative–is always fresh and always bears a stroke of originality and innocence.

To find out more about Matisse’s life and career, check him out here: Matisse: Life and Painting.

The weekend is here:  Why not take some time to create something with construction paper, scissors, and a little glue?