This love of animals, or as some might label this eccentricity, (a friend says I’m crazy) began when I was a child. My grandmother and mother soon learned that reaching their hand into my pants’ pocket was risky business. A live frog or a snake or tadpoles or lizards or small turtles or earthworms, were often trapped in my pockets, hoping for rescue. After a human scream, the escapees would quickly disappear under couches, beds and chests. Sometimes not discovered for weeks. Sometimes never. My mother’s anxiety level would escalate at night, when she went to bed, certain that a snake would be curled up under the sheets.Read More
We have been more, seven, in the past, but never with three large dogs at the same time. Introducing Elfi to the family was a bit rowdy at first. After a while, each dog took their time getting to know her.Read More
A few weeks after Kahla arrived, I got a phone call from Seattle. I had put my name on lists with several national, highly regarded German Shepherd Dog breeders at the time that I was pursuing finding a female puppy. “Marilyn, this is George Stern. Are you still interested in getting a female puppy? We have three litters due in January.”Read More
Done. Well, at least until someone along the process to publishing sends me more editing work. “Homeward: From the Appalachian Mountains to the Camden Hills.” 38 chapters. 336 pages.100,469 words. All finally in the hands of an editor in NYC, because of a dog.Read More
Welcome back, for those of you who haven’t given up on me. I am embarrassed to see my last post was November, 2016. A few surgeries and lengthy recoveries seized those eight months and, okay, I admit it—procrastination.
To resume the same theme, “Why Create?” for my blog, I looked back at my first post to refresh my memory. The following were in my comments, urging different women artists to contribute their stories.
Why do we write? Why do we paint? Why do we compose music?
Probably for as many different reasons as there are writers, painters,
sculptors, composers, etc. But yet, there are many of us who create
for similar reasons.
I feel certain you enjoyed and were inspired by reading the different artists’ statements as much as I.
At that time, never would I have thought of anything as unusual as a photographer whose passion is active volcanoes—anywhere and everywhere. As soon as her phone rings with the news of an active volcano, Meg Weston is planning her flight itinerary and packing her bag and camera. When I asked for one or two photographs, the beauty and the explosive spectacle immediately nailed the date in my mind for the post—July 4th, 2017. And what a celebratory way to reopen my blog.
I hope you agree.Read More
Writing Your Life: A Workshop in Creative Memoir
I highly recommend this class to writers of all levels of experience. I studied with Richard Goodman at Spalding Univerity's MFA program. He is a thought-provoking and inspirational teacher. I learned many tools in my work with him.
How can we not admire and respect those artists who are creating to reflect the culture of the time? How can we not applaud the artists who use their talents to support orenlighten us to the needs, injustices, inequalities of our society, and raise awareness of our endangered earth and animals? Suzanne Dean, most recently, is using her creativity to do just that.Read More
Dear Blog Reader,
This next creator is quite different from the prior artists. Instead of an individual, solo experience, Paola Prestini, a musician and writer, focuses her creative talents in collaboration with other artists. This is a woman who not only plunges into the unknown, but also prefers risks. She has courage and trust in her instincts...Read More
My next contributor is Celeste Roberge who has been working as an artist for about forty years. Her creativity evolved through figurative sculpture and drawings to materials in the natural world. To call her just a sculptor would be equivocal. For Celeste, the answer to WHY CREATE lies in the process that drives her creativity and the process “…compels [her] to create.” You will be fascinated by her thoughtful and profound comments that explain what that process is, and what and why the choice of materials she uses.Read More
This incredible photo of Agnes de Mille occupies the entire right half of my large computer monitor. I work on the other half. I look over at this woman’s joyful face as she leaps high in the air with grace and agility and read her quote out loud to myself.
The artist never entirely knows--We guess. We may be wrong but we take leap after leap into the unknown.
When was the last time I took a “leap into the unknown?” Or took a risk? Or tried something new? Or just moved out of my comfort zone? ...Read More
If you met Pat Oleszko only briefly, once in your lifetime, you would remember her, probably even through the dementia of your later years. Six feet tall, darkish shoulder length hair, stunning, handsome face with a huge smile. Add another three to six inches on either end with heels or platform shoes, and a scarf wound as a tall turban or other exotic hat creations on her head and you feel as though you are looking up at the Eiffel Tower...Read More
Entering Sandy’s house, I immediately knew I was in the presence of creativity. The house itself, situated on a rolling hill overlooking a cove, was the result of a collaboration between her and an architect. Every detail approached with an esthetic and artistic eye for art and the setting.
Paintings and collages, made with her hand or by those of artistic friends, are placed with care on the walls. Sculpture comprised of seaweed and other unusual textural materials catch and hold your eye. The stairway led me up to the next level and into her writing area. It was here, on this desk, I saw Sandy’s exquisite little hand made books...Read More
The video posted below is one I found on Facebook today. Nina's remarks reflect the objective of this series on my blog. I couldn't resist posting it and hope it stirs up discussion. Her point is well taken...Read More
I met this lovely woman in a small writers’ group. Besides writing poetry and nonfiction, she taught at a nearby college. Our group would get together weekly to read our works-in- progress for each other’s feedback. Michele’s readings at the time consisted of personal memoir chapters that revealed a little of her background—adopted, a teenage runaway, who then put herself through college and law school while attempting to find her blood relatives. All her stories filled me with admiration for her determination and capabilities. A couple of the stories alluded to violence in the past. But, there was nothing that prepared me for the violence and the deplorable living conditions this quiet, soft smiling woman had survived. Her memoir, Walk Away impressed upon me how courageous she was in her childhood how courageous she was in her childhood, and how courageous she is now to write and share her story.
This author is the next blog guest. Upon finishing her book, I immediately wanted to ask Michele to share her comments for my “Why Create” series. Did her misery in earlier life drive her urge to create, as we have learned was the case for so many of our famous creators?Read More
Ruth and I met in Ann Arbor. She in graduate school at the University of Michigan, working on her MA in art history, and I working at Bill Moss’ design business, C. William Moss Associates. I had just opened a small women’s clothing store. Ruth applied for a part-time job. Our love of food and cooking created a deep friendship over these last fifty years. My respect and admiration for her has only increased over time as she has moved, so effortlessly it seems, through many successful careers. Chef, food writer, food critic for two national newspapers, the last editor-in-chief for the now defunct Gourmet magazine. Ruth has received many James Beard Awards for television cooking shows and food writing. Most peoples’ accomplishment list would have ended with all those efforts, but not Ruth’s. She has written and published eight books, compiled Gourmet recipe books, and co-produced PBS’s Gourmet’s Adventures With Ruth. I treasure, Mmmmm: A Feastiary, her first cookbook, a collection of Ruth’s good recipes and stories, illustrated with humorous photos of our mutual friend, Pat Oleszko, a visual and performing artist.
When I contacted Ruth to ask her to participate, she responded as I expected knowing how busy she is writing a new book, traveling and speaking nationally while somehow keeping up with twitter and her daily blog—too pressed for time to write something now. But she sent me the following excerpt from an earlier draft of her book, For You, Mom, Finally. Ruth said it “pretty much explains why I do what I do.”Read More
In Gloria McDarrah's book, The Photography Encyclodedia, "Art photography: photography that is done as a fine art--that is, done to express the artist's perceptions and emotions and to share them with others."
With a few minutes to spare before getting home to make dinner, I ducked into a local gallery to see the exhibition. It didn’t take long in the small, white walled gallery to see the well framed and intriguing photographs displayed around the room. I stood in the middle of the space and with one swoop tried to take them all in. As I turned to head for the door, my momentum halted, grabbed by an image with a setting of snow and birch trees. In this photo a slender, black haired woman in a red mandarin dress stood in sharp contrast to the white winter scene.
I walked closer. Her perfectly postured back faced the camera. One leg was in a position suggesting impending movement. I was beguiled. For one, I love the color red. Secondly, I love that cut of dress. And thirdly, I wanted to know where the woman was going. Who was she? Why be out in the snow without a jacket?
Forgetting about making dinner, I looked at all the other photographs and read the small brochure on the table. Her name is Ni Rong. Her photographs are self-portraits. I wanted to meet this photographer.
Overtime, I came to know Ni. During a charming and delicious Chinese lunch on her stone patio overlooking Rockport, Maine harbor, she shared her portfolio with me and told me of her search for identity through her photography. The three photographs shown here hang on my wall. I believe they tell a story. I treasure these images that serve as a daily reminder that many of us are doing just that—searching for our identity through our creativity. And I treasure the friendship that came out of that serendipitous gallery visit several years ago.Read More
Again, I have chosen an artist—a painter—for my second posting of this series, “Why Create?” My plan had been to feature a photographer or composer. But, this artist, Marie Tapert, and my first subject, Dudley Zopp had sent comments so similar that I thought it might be compelling to publish them one after the other. Also, because I have known Marie for more than fifty years, appreciating her work and watching it grow as she explores. I realized that her approach is similar to Dudley’s. Both of them are not afraid to try different media, different styles, seeking a new level that is powerful and fitting. Yet, both remain true to their individual philosophies.Read More
I recently visited Dudley Zopp’s studio. Her work, creativity and energy lingered with me for several weeks. So, for my first interview for this blog series, “Why Create?” I chose Dudley, a painter. Her beautiful, well-organized studio is indicative of her productivity. And I love her work. I chose the following quote by Robert Henri, a painter and teacher at the turn of the 20th, as I thought it captured Dudley’s approach to art making.
“The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” -Robert Henri, a painter and teacher at the turn of the 20th century
The following is Dudley’s expressive and eloquent response to “why did you become an artist?” and “why do you paint?"Read More
Why do we write? Why do we paint? Why do we compose music? Probably for as many different reasons as there are writers, painters, sculptors, composers, etc. But yet, there are many of us who create for similar reasons. I first started writing consistently every day shortly after I retired from a 30-year executive position, running our design/manufacturing business with 164 employees. As the days of not-going-to-my office multiplied, I dissovled into a depression. I missed the work. I missed the employees. I felt useless. I wrote to ease the pain of not knowing what to do with the rest of my life. What did I want? What would I enjoy? What would give me fulfillment? I considered everything from joining the Peace Corps to starting another company, to returning to painting, to returning to piano playing. My imagination would move from possibilities to unrealistic dreams. Writing every morning at 4:30am in spiral notebooks as fast as my stream-of-conscious and arthritic hand would allow. Relief but not fulfillment.Read More
So frequently we read or hear a writing coach or teacher's piece address how rituals can entice the muse. Most of this advice recommends we go to the same place and start with a personal ritual. Maybe light a candle. Or ring a small bell. Or wear the same shirt every time. Listen to music. Don’t listen to music. Particularly when I became stuck, I tried all the suggestions. When one appeared to work, the next day it didn't.Read More