WHEN BEETHOVEN SHOWED UP IN MY ART

If I were going to a deserted island, I would definitely take Beethoven with me. (You can read my blog HOW A WALK AND A PODCAST MADE ME GET SERIOUS ABOUT MY ART here.) During the past year I spent time learning to play both Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata, so it makes sense these pieces would find their way into my artwork!

Moonlight Sonata, ©vickiemartin2020, mixed media on canvas 30×30

The inspiration for MOONLIGHT FOR ELISE is from both The Moonlight Sonata and Fur Elise. While Fur Elise is not the hardest piece of music piece of music to play, it is hard to play it well. I listened to the pianist Lang-Lang discuss Fur Elise and simply said it should be played “as light as a feather”, a statement that I think of every time I sit down to play it.

Interesting, Fur Elise was not published until 1867, forty years after Beethoven’s death in 1827!! It was written in 1810 and apparently shoved into a drawer (without the nickname Fur Elise on it!). He revised it in 1827 and put it back in the drawer where it stayed until 1867, discovered by a musicologist. No one knows who is was written for, Beethoven was NOT lucky in love! There have been so many variations of this piece of music, if you look on YOUTUBE, you can find a blues version, a ragtime version and a classical guitar version. It has been referred as a “little trifle” that became a classic.

The top painting was inspired by The Moonlight Sonata. Beethoven once complained to fellow pianist Czerny (and student) “Everybody is always talking about the C-sharp minor Sonata! (Moonlight Sonata) Surely I have written better things. There is the Sonata in F-sharp major—that is something very different.”

It is interesting to note Beethoven was already loosing his hearing when he wrote The Moonlight Sonata. The name was not given to the piece by Beethoven, but rather the1830s German music critic and romantic poet named Ludwig Reilstab was the first to describe the piece as relating to moonlight. He referred to the sonata as “a boat visiting, by moonlight, the primitive landscapes … in Switzerland”.

Below are two collages based on the songs. Note the feathers in the ones inspired by Fur Elise (inspired by Lang-Lang’s description).

Fur Elise, ©vickiemartin2021, 6×6 collage on a 10×10 board

Moonlight Sonata, ©vickiemartin2021, 6×6 collage on 10×10 board.

The above piece integrates my own music into the collage. The vertical pieces are inspired by – from left to right, the octave in the bass, then moving to the right, there are two sets of three vertical pieces that symbolize the broken chords that make up the theme of Moonlight Sonata.

One last interesting fact about Beethoven is there is no proof that he ever met Mozart. But, both Beethoven and Mozart studied under Haydn.

Also, Beethoven played with so much passion and was so intense, he often broke the strings of the pianos in performances. Pianos back then were no where near as resilient as they are today, the cast iron frame commonly used in pianos wasn’t developed until after Beethoven’s death.

Do you have a favorite piece of music you couldn’t live without?

FEBRUARY AND MARCH READING

Even during a pandemic – reading continues! Yes, I still read every day, I start every day with a book and a bath. During February and March I completed  10 books, four were actually rereads. So – I’ll start with those.

FOREVER, A NOVEL by Pete Hamill -Published in 2003, this follows Cormac O’Connor, who arrives in New York in 1740. Granted immortality, as long as he stays on the island of Manhattan, we watch the city evolve from a tiny community to the city it is now (it concludes after 9/11).  Cormac will stay on the island until he finds his true love, but in the meantime, he takes on a hell of a ride!

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN – by Betty Smith – I reread this because a crumbling copy of this was left in my Little Free Library. The story focuses on  Francie Nolan from childhood to early adulthood and  It also revolves around her parents and brother as they struggle to survive in the tenements of Brooklyn in the early 20th century. I’m glad I reread it because I got much more out of it this time around. The lesson taught is perseverance through hardship, using the symbol of the tree that grows in adversity!

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens – This was the third time I’ve read this book. I read it when it first came out, and the subsequent reading were the result of book club selections. As much as I like this book, it didn’t really stay with me, but then again, I’ve probably read 350+ books since the first time I read it. 

BEACH MUSIC by Pat Conroy – I read this when it first came out, in fact I took it to Italy with me not realizing how important Italy is to the story.  This is the story of Jack McCall, living in Italy with his daughter after his wife’s suicide. Somehow he integrates the horrors of the Holocaust and Viet Nam in to this book. I love Pat Conroy’s writing, in fact, I found his cookbook entertaining. My one complaint about this book, it takes place among a group of wealthy Charlestonians – not one minority in sight.

GO SET A WATCHMAN by Harper Lee – I am a big fan of TO KILL A MOCKINBIRD so I pre-purchased this book when publication was announced. This was the book Harper Lee wrote before TKAM. But, the press was so harsh when it came out I didn’t read it until now. It picks up with a 26 year old Scout who returns home from New York. It was a pleasant read, but not the same earth shattering book that TKAM is!

THE OTHER AMERICANS by Laila Lalami – This book is centered around Driss Guerraoui, who is hit and killed in California. This brings together a cast of characters searching for answers. Driss is a father, husband, business owner and a Moroccan immigrant. Around him are a list of characters, divided by race, religion and class, and each has a different story – which is told in their voice.  Both a family saga and a murder mystery, it is a very timely read.

I also completed THE CEMETERY OF FORGOTTEN BOOKS cycle by finishing up both THE LAYRINTH OF THE SPIRITS and THE ANGEL’S GAME by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  First of all, how could I ever resists a series that has a cemetery of forgotten books in every novel. These are set in a post Civil War Spain, the four books span from 1938 through the 1970’s.  Written in the style of magical realism, much of it is set in a bookstore, with wonderful characters, elaborate twists and great dialogue. I read them in the order they were written, not in the order they happen. It was not a waste to go through the 2200 pages (I read the first two books in January. 

Set in Barcelona from 1938 through the 1970s, these books deftly combine the world of bookselling, the long shadow of the Spanish Civil War, gothic literary interplay, wonderfully salty characters, sublime dialogue and verbal sparring, along with elaborate and satisfying exposition. Taken together or individually they represent a reading experience not to be missed.

WHAT I LEARNED IN MY YEAR OF WALKING DURING A PANDEMIC

How have I coped with this time of social distancing? I took a walk, then another one, and it turned into over 364 walks! From 3/29/2020 until 3/21/2021 I logged in 2200, the length of the Appalachian Trail. Walking daily is probably the best decision I never made! Things I’ve noticed are:

  • I began to listen to nature, and my observational skills increased
  • My concentration level increased
  • I feel in better shape than I have been in decades
  • I am eating much healthier
  • I fit into all my clothes
  • My most creative ideas have come while walking – and I’ve learned to take a notebook with me

According to a study done by Stanford University, walking can increase your creativity by 60%!!!!
If I had read this a few years ago, I would have laughed. But – it Is true. You can read about about this study HERE.

Ampitheater found in the woods

In looking back through history, many of the great creatives walked daily. 

  • Aristotle gave his lectures while walking. His followers were known as peripatetics – Greek for wandering about.
  • Wordsworth walked an estimated 175 thousand miles during his life
  • Dickens walked everyday after writing from 9a-2p – and 20+ miles was not unusual.
  • Thoreau felt walking was a pilgrimage to his Holy Land.
  • Beethoven  took breaks throughout the day to “run into the open”. 
  • Virginia Woolf and James Joyce  took several of their characters on walks that she took herself.
  • Nietsche felt it was where he worked best.
  • Mahler walked up to five hours a day. He had a jerky weird walk which his daughter claimed came from his shift in rhythms.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” Nietsche

Butterfly

I have discovered a hidden world of treasures in my own neighborhood. I have collected over 80 bird feathers, I found a hidden beach, a hidden teepee, a hidden ampitheater – all in my neighborhood!

I have seen a gleeful boy and his father take a bike ride throughout the neighborhood every day after lunch. I have seen a neighbor taking her bird on a walk. I discovered there are three greyhounds (in different homes) on one street, and three standard poodles. There is a cat that likes to walk with her favorite dogs. 

So, get out there and take a walk. Don’t use weather as an excuse, learn to dress properly. As Roger Miller said. “Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet”.

And, I know a lot of you will say – you just don’t have time! I have found I don’t have the time NOT TO WALK. As I said, I walk often these days – often working out a problem in my head while moving. A fifteen minute walk outside is better than no walk at all.  Out of ideas? Again, take a walk!

One last observation, 99% of all dead-end streets or cul-de-sacs have a basketball hoop. I wonder what that means?

Basetball hoop

Do you have an walking stories to share?

 

 

 

JANUARY 2021 READING

Well, I didn’t break any reading records in January because I’ve been doing alot of research for two upcoming art shows. But, I still managed to read six books.

THE SHADOW OF THE WIND and THE ANGEL’S GAME by Carlos Ruiz Zafòn  – These are the first two books (of four) in the series The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I have read The Shadow of the Wind before, but I got so much more out of it on the second go! Written in the genre of magical realism in Barcelona from the 1930’s through the 1970’s, it is set in the  long shadow of the Spanish Civil War. You don’t know what is real, what is imagined, or who really exists. The Shadow of the Wind is one of my all-time favorite books, and while The Angel’s Game is a prequel, I am reading this series in the order they are published.

THE SECRETS WE KEPT by Lara Prescott – A historical fiction novel, there are two primary stories here. The first is the story of Irina, a Russian-American typist for the CIA turned spy. Her mission? To get Dr. Zhivago published in Russia. The second story follows Boris Pasternak and his mistress Olga (who Lara in Dr. Zhivago is based on – also note the author’s name!). I had no idea about this story, he was not allowed to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958 (his family was able to accept it in the 1980’s). I consider a historical fiction book a success if I am compelled to do further research – and I vow to read Dr. Zhivago someday!

A GESTURE LIFE by Chang-Rae Lee – This is a stunningly beautifully written book – in fact while reading it I would get so caught up in the beauty of the words, I’d have to stop and ground myself to remember there is a story here. It is the story of “Doc” Hata, a Japanese man of Korean birth that has immigrated to the US. He is careful to never overstep his boundaries and tries to make every one comfortable around him. But, as his life begins to unravel  he looks back over his life. Gradually you learn the mystery – his forbidden love for a “comfort” woman when he was a medic in the Japanese army during WWII.  This was a book club selection, and on a scale of 1-10, the lowest rating given was an 8! 

THE ATOMIC WEIGHT OF LOVE by Elizabeth Church – Another historical fiction book which takes place from the 1940’s in Chicago to the 1970’s in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Meridian Wallace gives up her aspirations to be a scientist for love and moves to Los Alamos, where her husband is working on what would become the Atomic Bomb.  She begins studying a group of crows (actually it would be a Murder of Crows), which I found fascinating. It also shows how the women’s movement really changed the world. 

 

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Agatha Christie – This too was a book club selection and it was so much fun to read!!! I haven’t read Agatha Christie in years! There are ALOT of characters to keep up with – but I bookmarked the first chapter to go back to refresh my memory (and also the page that lists all the accusations). I think I’ll read more Agatha Christie – there is no shortage of her books at the library.

Right now I’m reading another classic – A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN – which some generous should left in my Little Free Library!

Do you have any suggestions for upcoming books?

 

COAT OF MANY COLORS

What does “CAN YOU SEE WHAT I HEAR” mean? While exploring the connection of music and memory (as you never lose your music memory). All of the art I create is inspired by a particular piece of music. As I spend time listening to the music and researching the song,  I go one step further, l learn to play them on the piano. So, basically this series is the visual part of what I actually hear. But, to go further into this, I have picked eight songs that I would take with me to a deserted island which is inspired by a podcast I have been listening to while walking. I explored this a previous blog – HOW A WALK AND PODCAST MOVED ME TO GET PERSONAL WITH MY ART.

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!” Dolly Parton

 Who doesn’t love Dolly? I began a relationship with her in the late 1970’s, seeing her perform for the first time in 1978 or 1979.  Dolly has written over 5000 songs in her career, and recorded over 1000. And – COAT OF MANY COLORS is Dolly’s personal favorite.  The song tells the story of her mother making a coat for her out of rags. Dolly was proud of it and rushed to school to only be made fun of. (I will post the lyrics at the end of the blog).

Below are three collages 

 

The Love from the Coat of Many Colors, 6×6 collage on 10×10 board ©vickiemartin 2021

Patchwork Coat, 6×6 collage using hand dyed paper (on 10×10 board ©vickiemartin 2021

Coat of Many Colors

Coat of Many Colors, collage, 6×6 on 10×10 background, ©vickiemartin2021

One of the reasons these collages became so personal to me is the dress patterns used are from actual coat patterns from my childhood that my mother made for me – sort of paralleling the story Dolly tells. The thread and the buttons that appear were also in my mother’s sewing supplies. See, my mother made all of my clothes while I was growing up.  Also, all the colored paper used in the collages were scraps of paper I hand dyed.

I also created two paintings. 

COAT OF MANY COLORS, 18×24 mixed media on canvas, ©vickiemartin 2020

I think of this painting as being 60+ individual paintings – I worked on each square individually, sanded them down, added threads and put a very thin wash over the coat to make the material look a little aged.

Coat of Many Colors Grid, 12×12 mixed media on canvas ©vickiemartin 2021

This painting is a study, or a meditation,  of color. Each horizontal row was begun using a “root” color, and I continued by adding a different color to each block in the row. For example, on the top row I began with Napthol Crimson, the next block is adding Titanium White to the crimson, the next is adding Mars Black to crimson. . The fourth block is Napthol Crimson with Turners Yellow. So, the song Coat of Many Colors inspired me to really look at color theory again!

Some fun facts to know about Dolly are:

  • I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU is the highest grossing song written by a woman. It also reached the charts four separate times
  • She wrote JOLENE and I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU at almost the same time
  • ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE named her the 30th Greatest Songwriter
  • She can’t read music
  • Beside playing the acoustic and electric guitar, she also plays the banjo, dulcimer, fiddle, autoharp, piano, saxophone and pan flute. She likes to refer to it as “playing at it”. You think she’d throw in the harmonica or ukulele too!
  • Her philanthropy is legendary – I’m not even going to begin to list them – too numerous to begin.
  • She has never riden the rides at Dollywood.

Next up is a tribute to another idol of mine (no, it isn’t David Bowie if you know me!) but Beethoven.

What songs would you take to a desert island?

Here are the lyrics to the chorus to COAT OF MANY COLORS and two verses:

My coat of many colors
That my momma made for me
Made only from rags
But I wore it so proudly
Although we had no money
I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me
So with patches on my britches
And holes in both my shoes
In my coat of many colors
I hurried off to school
Just to find the others laughing
And making fun of me
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me
 
But they didn’t understand it
And I tried to make them see
That one is only poor
Only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money
But I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me
Made just for me
 
 
What song would you take to a desert island?

 

DECEMBER READING – AND BRIEF 2020 OVERVIEW

As the year of 2020 is behind us, I actually read less than usual, completing 79 books and over 24,000 pages.  I have broken the books into categories to see if there was any “trend” to my reading (the answer is “NO) – which I share at the end of the December books.  I read 9 books in December.

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS AND WHAT ALICE FOUND THERE by Lewis Carroll – This was the book that I ended the year with – good choice because I haven’t read it in years. This is kind of a symbolic bookend as I read Alice in Wonderland earlier in the year!

SECRET LIVES OF GREAT ARTISTS – WHAT YOUR TEACHERS NEVER TOLD YOU ABOUT MASTER PAINTERS AND SCULPTORS by Elizabeth Lunday – I’ve read this before and  very entertaining . My one complaint -. with little stories and vignettes highlighting 35 artists – only TWO of them are women!!!!!!

READER’S DIGEST BIOGRAPHIES – BEETHOVEN by Allan Pryce Jones – I actually found this on the bookshelf while cleaning out my books. I’ve read many biographies on Beethoven, but this made me want to pick up a very thorough one in 2021. In fact, in 2020, I learned several pieces of Beethoven on the piano – including on Sonata!

JAZZ BABY – by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Gregory Christie –  I got this for my grand-niece and couldn’t resist reading it myself. It is delightful – and the illustrator is a friend of mine – and he did the cutest inscription for me (actually for Lilly).

Jazz Baby

UNSEEN by Karin Slaughter – I picked this up book written by an Atlantan author from a Little Free Library. This particular one is set in Macon. a fun, but somewhat confusing read.

COP TOWN by Karin Slaughter –  This is set in Atlanta in the early 1970’s, so it was a fun read. Wow – Atlanta has changed alot since then!

DAILY RITUALS – HOW ARTISTS WORK by Mason Curry – Another reread and one I revisit. Some of the rituals are bazaar, but the most common ritual is daily walks!!!!  The author has another one now devoted entirely to women!

NAKED by David Sedaris – As always – Sedaris is hysterical. It is worth it to read through the entire book to get to the last story about his adventure in a Nudist Colony.

HOLIDAYS ON ICE – by David Sedaris – I should read this every year, because I had a tradition of seeing The Santaland Diaries play every year!!!!

WHAT DID I DISCOVER WHEN I LOOKED BACK:

Most of the books I read were actual rereads – 10 in all!

I read 6 classics, including a Hardee’s boy mystery. I read the complete Aesops Fables this year for the first time.

I read five books about animals; a pig, an octopus, a parrot, and if you count fables – walking and talking animals!

I read 5 children’s books

I only read three biographies in 2020 – Alice Roosevelt, Harriett Tubman and Beethoven.

AND – I started re-reading my favorite book in the world at the beginning of 2021 – THE SHADOWS OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – which is the first book of the Cemetery of Forgotten books series.  Doesn’t it sound like a magical place??

What are you reading?

 

WHY I AM GRATEFUL FOR 2020

I know, it seems counter-intuitive to be “grateful” for 2020, but I am. I am so grateful, in fact, that I have made this my word of the year for 2021!

Gratitude has the power to heal in tough times.

Having gratitude gives hope. 

So, what am I grateful for 2020?

  • I’m grateful to be healthy
  • I’m grateful I learned it is okay to be anxious
  • I’m grateful I have the ability to walk and breathe fresh air
  • I’m grateful I live in this neighborhood and grateful for the new friends I’ve made
  • I’m grateful I really clarified my vision with the direction my art is taking. You can read about it on an earlier blog:

    HOW A WALK AND A PODCAST MOVED ME TO GET PERSONAL WITH MY ART

  • I’m grateful that I’m a learner by nature, and therefore boredom is something that rarely happens to me

I still have a sense of humor – as proved by the following musical tribute to the end of 2020.




What did I accomplish in 2020?

I painted a piano that now resides in the Art-Haus gallery in Atlanta, Ga. This was a gift from my lifelong friend that now resides in Costa Rica (it belonged to her grandfather. I am grateful I can go to the gallery weekly to play to a group of children that are part of an art-pod.

Vickie Martin teaching music to the children at Art-Haus Gallery, Atlanta, Ga.

I am grateful I had a successful solo show during the year.

Vickie celebrating in front of part of her exhibition at Art-Haus gallery, Atlanta, Ga.

 

I am grateful I was interviewed by Shout Out Atlanta which also resulted in TWO SALES!!! (click on below for the entire article). 

Meet Vickie Martin: mixed media artist and musician

I feel there is so much to be thankful and also so much to look forward to in 2021! I have two shows lined up in 2021, which is a good start. But that is what it is, it is a just a start!

By the way – beginning with March 29, I have walked over 1800 miles, met many new friends (especially is they have dogs!), explored many new places.

What are you thankful for from 2020???

 

 

 

 

 

WHY I AM GRATEFUL FOR 2020

I know, it seems counter-intuitive to be “grateful” for 2020, but I am. I am so grateful, in fact, that I have made this my word of the year for 2021!

Gratitude has the power to heal in tough times.

Having gratitude gives hope. 

So, what am I grateful for 2020?

  • I’m grateful to be healthy
  • I’m grateful I learned it is okay to be anxious
  • I’m grateful I have the ability to walk and breathe fresh air
  • I’m grateful I live in this neighborhood and grateful for the new friends I’ve made
  • I’m grateful that I’m a learner by nature, and therefore boredom is something that rarely happens to me
  • I never lost my sense of humor – and the following video – which is a goodbye tribute to 2020 – is proof of this!



What did I accomplish in 2020?

I painted a piano that now resides in the Art-Haus gallery in Atlanta, Ga. This was a gift from my lifelong friend that now resides in Costa Rica (it belonged to her grandfather. I am grateful I can go to the gallery weekly to play to a group of children that are part of an art-pod.

Vickie Martin teaching music to the children at Art-Haus Gallery, Atlanta, Ga.

I am grateful I had a successful solo show during the year.

Vickie celebrating in front of part of her exhibition at Art-Haus gallery, Atlanta, Ga.

 

I am grateful I was interviewed by Shout Out Atlanta which also resulted in TWO SALES!!! (click on below for the entire article). 

Meet Vickie Martin: mixed media artist and musician

I feel there is so much to be thankful and also so much to look forward to in 2021! I have two shows lined up in 2021, which is a good start. But that is what it is, it is a just a start!

By the way – beginning with March 29, I have walked over 1800 miles, met many new friends (especially is they have dogs!), explored many new places.

What are you thankful for from 2020???

 

 

 

 

 

OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER 2020 READING

If it is true that you are what you read, in the past two months I have been a pig (a good good one at that), an African grey parrot, a hawk, a pigeon, various talking animals and a movie star!  So here goes – in the order they were read:

THE GOOD GOOD PIG – THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF CHRISTOPHER HOGWOOD by Sy Montgomery – I met Christopher years ago on NPR.  Sy Montgomery, a naturalist who travels the world, and her husband adopted him as a small piglet, not knowing how big he would actually get (around 750 pounds, few pigs live to adulthood).  This is his story and also the story of a small New Hampshire town that adopted him, restaurants would bring him all the left-over food, in fact the entire small town ends up adopting him.  I fell in love with him and I am thankful I stopped eating pork years ago.

AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins – I agree with Stephen King who said “I defy anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it”. I couldn’t put it down and I couldn’t predict what was coming. I was so emotionally involved with these characters that I did something I don’t ever remember doing before – I put it down for over a week before I finished the last chapter – I was fearful for some of the characters! 

AFRICAN AMERICAN FOLKTALES FOR YOUNG READERS, FROM AFRICAN AND AFRICAN AMERICAN STORYTELLERS by Judith Dockrey Young and Richards Alan Young – This is a collection of thirty four folktales from Africa, the Caribbean, and the American South, divided  into seven categories: stories about heroic youngsters, animal fables, trickster tales, parables with human protagonists, larger-than-life heroes, scary stories, and modern Brother Rabbit tales. I picked this up in a Little Free Library and it was quite a treat to read.

Birdology: Adventures with Hip Hop Parrots, Cantankerous Cassowaries, Crabby Crows, Peripatetic Pigeons, Hens, Hawks, and Hummingbirds By Sy Montgomery –  I learned so much in this book and was thoroughly entertained.. One thing I learned, each bird has a unique personality – and they are more like us than I previously thought. One of the birds featured became an internet sensation – here is Snowball dancing.

AESOP’S FAVORITE FABLES; MORE THAN 130 CLASSIC FABLES FOR CHILDREN BY Milo Winter – I don’t believe I’ve ever read an entire collection of these. They are easy to read with great illustrations – ending with the lesson learned.

ALEX & ME: HOW A SCIENTIST AND A PARROT DISCOVERED A HIDDEN WORLD OF ANIMAL INTELLIGENCE – AND FORMED A DEEP BOND IN THE PROCESS BY Irene Pepperberg – I’ve read this book before and I loved the book and Alex just as much as I did the first time around. Alex had a brain the size of a shelled walnut, yet he could add, sound out words, understand concepts like bigger, smaller, more, fewer, and none,  He also has a big personality. If you have ever dreamed of talking to animals, you will love this one too!

ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY By David Sedaris – It didn’t disappoint, but it isn’t for the easily offended. Sedaris makes absurdity seem normal!

Coat of Many Colors

Coat of Many Colors by ©vickiemartin2020, 20×20 on canvas

COAT OF MANY COLORS by Dolly Parton  (Author),Brooke Boynton Hughes (illustrator) – I got this book as inspiration for a piece of artwork I was working on knowing I would send it to my grand-niece when finished. It is delightfully illustrated and tells the story from the song Coat of Many Colors.

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS by Kurt Vonnegut – Well worth the reread many many years later. And Kilgore Trout is in the book. To me, a win-win.

MOVIE STAR BY LIZZIE PEPPER – by Hillary Lifton – This is a beach read – kind of. It is basically a thinly veiled story of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. I read it in two sittings and don’t remember that much.

ECHOES OF THE SAME – by Nicki Salcedo – This was a book club selection by a local Decatur author. These essays come from a column called Intersections for Decaturish.com, a locally sourced news site based where I live. I liked her voice – what I didn’t like was the typos!

THE SOUL OF AN OCTUPUS: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery  – Okay – I read three books by Sy Montgomery in the past two months. I kept recommending this book when people were raving about the documentary – MY OCTUPUS TEACHER. I thought it was time to re-read it. An octopus is smart, and also curious and a bit of a prankster. I loved this quote about this book: “Sy Montgomery’s joyful passion for these intelligent and fascinating creatures will have you rethinking that order of calamari.” ― Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick

NAKED by David Sedaris – Yes, this was my second David Sedaris book, and as hysterical as the other. You have to read all the essays to get to “Naked” – his time spent in a elderly nudist colony. As someone said, if you can’t laugh at his absurdity – you don’t have a sense of humor. Also – I stumbled upon the movie C.O.G. on Netflix which is based on some of the essays on his adventures apple picking in Oregon (on Amazon Prime). 

THE GIVER OF STARS by JoJo Moyes – This was a book club read, and another book club had recently read The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek. I thought they were very similar, but we started researching the possibility of plagiarism. My personal jury is still out on this one, but there are striking similarities. 

I hope this gives you some ideas on what to read. What are you reading?

 

 

HOW A WALK AND A PODCAST MOVED ME TO GET PERSONAL WITH MY ART

I have been exploring music and memory with my art for a couple of years with a series titled “CAN YOU SEE WHAT I HEAR?”.  This was initially inspired by my mother’s dementia, but the fact I come from a musical family had a part in this decision.  I know, you hear “my family is musical” a lot. But in my case, it is true. My grandfather was a piano tuner and had a music store. My father rebuilt pianos and my aunt taught piano for over 70 years (she probably taught half of North Georgia how to play the piano!). In fact, I began learning at age five.

Every piece I create is inspired by a specific song and I begin with writing the lyrics of the song on the first layer. I not only study the lyrics but I meditate on them, searching for visual cues within the lyrics.  I also learn to play each song on the piano and really study the structure of the music. But the choice of the songs was a little random. Yes, I took requests. Some songs were chosen simply because I already knew how to play it on the piano. Below you can see some of the songs chosen and the art it inspired – with a line given for why the song was chosen.

 

Inspired by the song Bridge Over Troubled Water

Inspired by the song Bridge Over Troubled Water, which should be the theme song for all caregivers out there.

Moon River

Inspired by Moon River, “this is my favorite song in the world” I was told. Plus – it is a fun song to play.

Inspired by Up UP and Aware

Inspired by Up Up and Away “It is such a positive song!”

While I enjoyed creating these pieces, there was something missing – ME!

When I say I started walking, I mean I started WALKING! Since March 29th, I have walked every day but one (migraine headache). Since the beginning of April, I have achieved my daily goal of 11,000 steps every day but two (again the migraine, and the first day after the time change – I miscalculated nightfall!). If I had walked a straight line going west from Atlanta, I would be looking Denver in my rear-view mirror.

The podcast that fueled these walks is DESERT ISLAND DISCS adapted from a radio show that has aired on the BBC since 1942. Each guest is seemingly whisked to a desert island taking only eight songs, one book (they are given the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare), and one luxury item. The people interviewed range from Margaret Thatcher to Keith Richards to Tom Hanks to public servants in England. The reasons the songs are chosen are very thought provoking and often revealing.   Usually it is not because of they are their favorite songs, but because of a memory associated with the song. For instance, Keith Richards picked  Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Why? He said Vivaldi was the only composer Mozart respected (who I believe he referred to as the North Star), and if he was going to a desert island, he wanted four seasons. Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono picked the same John Lennon song (Beautiful Boy). What is the most requested song? Beethoven’s Ninth – Ode to Joy. What is the most popular song by The Beatles? Something. 

So, it got me to thinking, what songs would I take? This was not an easy decision. In fact, I  have thought about this for months. So I finally sat down and made a list and I am ready to commit to my eight songs. So, for the next 8 weeks I will share one of my “picks” with you, with the history and background of the song, and the process used in creating the art the song inspired. And I am going to “gulp” start recording my version of the songs on the piano.

As for the other choices, my luxury item would be a piano, with a bench filled with music. Actually, the piano is a very popular choice, but so is a machete (you have to build shelter), and an unlimited supply of wine. In fact, one person chose a bathtub with three faucets, one for cold water, one for hot, and one for wine.  The book I would choose? I think I would pick the largest art history book I could find!

A quick note in closing. It has been scientifically proven one NEVER loses their music memory. I have seen people in adult day care that are totally incommunicable sit up straight and belt out all the words of a song they recognize.

What songs would you choose?  and why?