Desirable Dark Art

Desirable Dark Art

I know this might be an odd item to post for Easter, but the last thing I expected to get out of a writing program was the discovery of a haunting painter. (Silly, as I ignored the fact that the class was in the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC)

Behind the lecturer was this painting entitled The Gathering.

Intense, no? I’ve seen a few graveyards like this, but not in this kind of light.

As great as the lecture was, I found myself studying this painting more than paying attention to the speaker. And I wasn’t alone. A couple of us took photos and one woman had already looked up the artist online at:

barn owl barn swallow

He explores the delicate polarity of life by showcasing nature before a backdrop of mist and manufactured landscapes.


This Asheville artist has me inspired.

Go to his site and check out more.

Oh, and . . .

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Weird Word of the Week Series

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Since I wrapped my last novel, I’ve been riding The Lazy Train when it comes to writing. Four years on a project is a long time! I need to do some shorter stuff that will help me ease from the steps into the deep end of the pool. Inspired by a tattoo artist who was advised to draw like crazy to develop a portfolio before she ever picked up an ink gun, I am trying a similar move with words. (And I know Julie Powell did this with cooking a few years back which started as a blog, then turned into a book, then a movie. You just never know the possibilities.)

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I will scour various sources for words that I consider weird and will post short thoughts about them. Who knows what will come out? I’ll keep it brief. Then I will crown the Weird Word of the Week.  I’d considered doing this daily, because I like the idea of a regimen, but wasn’t sure how many weird words I would encounter. And, let’s face it, Word of the Day has been done to death.

Alpha helix is weird, and two words. Defined, a spatial configuration of many protein molecules in which . . . I stopped reading because unless I were writing about a scientist, I would never have an opportunity to use such a word, much less understand it. (I would have to call my sister, the physics teacher.)

My husband has had the word nosegay in this pocket since the 7th grade. It is a small bouquet of flowers. In this century sounds like a slur, or a pharmaceutical.

Alright . . .

Is alright weird? It might be apropos. See how I’m easing in? Okay, it’s a rubber life raft that’s almost as large as the pool. If you stay with me, it will get better.

I do think it is odd to either be alright or all right. The shorter alright is used mainly in dialogue and considered incorrect in formal writing. Whereas all right is higher brow and scholarly. My writing critique group has landed on me more than a couple of times about that.

Many folks are waking up this New Year’s morning to say, “Alright. Today I start the __________ (diet, workout, regimen, project, new attitude toward humanity).”

Me? I’m adding Weird Word of the Week to my already odd repertoire. You know if it’s strange and unusual I’ve got to move closer to it.


Enjoy the final day of your holiday.


Mr. “Alright. Alright. Alright.”

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Down Come the Walls, a Short Meditation

I saw this on My Modern Met (YouTube) and immediately found it to be a great meditation for freeing yourself from whatever you think is hemming you in.

Think of a problem or mindset you’d like to be free of – something you feel blocked about, or restricted in some way. Now, imagine that you are standing in the middle of this spiral, you can look back at the pathway you took to get there over your lifetime. The walls or fencing around you consists of all the thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, anxiety, and mental self-talk you have picked up along the way. And the white pieces on top are your unproven or unresolved fears.

When you are ready, press play and imagine all those issues coming down, and see the beautiful imprint left as a result.

Relax and repeat.


What Inspires You?

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Ward Nichols, in WNC Magazine

Once upon a time I wanted to be a painter. But well-meaning folks (or perhaps fearful) instilled in me the idea of the “starving artist.”

I heard things like, “You’ll starve to death.”

“Who would you run to when the rent came due?”

“It takes years to become good enough to make money with art.”

“Artists are born, not taught. You would have to have displayed an aptitude before you could walk.”

When I was very young, my grandmother rented a room in her house to a painter, whose work never showed in big galleries. I don’t even know how she made her living. I know she passed away before I graduated high school. And until I’d lost everything in a fire, I had the most exquisite realist painting of a fawn lying in tall grass that she had painted for me. I wanted to be like her and paint nature as she had. Joan Wilson was the first artist to make an impression on me. To this day, my cousin haunts garage sales and thrift stores in the hopes of discovering a piece of her lost work.

Realism done well astounds me. This weekend I walked into a small local gallery to the works of Ward Nichols, clutched my chest and gasped. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am not easy to impress. I was on a cloud, which happened to be one of his favorite subjects. This is one of the few artists who makes his living from his art. At 86, he’s now celebrating 50 years as an artist and keeps a vulture near his easel to remind him to not waste a moment.  His biography said that he knew he was born to be an artist because his name is Draw spelled backwards.

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Cohesive, on display at the Wilkes Art Gallery

The detail in tiny blades of grass and bare tree branches, blemishes in the wood planks of dilapidated barns, tire treads in snow, and the bolts on each component of a steam locomotive took my breath away. His still life metal work is so flawless that I had to study each piece to be sure it was not a photograph. This artist understands light, use of negative space, and color restraint. He documents places that no longer stand and handles nostalgia like a historian.

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Scissor table with pot

When I see work this elevated, I know in my heart that had I pursued that path I probably would never have achieved such success. So many don’t.

What made him such a stand-out?

Discipline, which is something I struggle with daily, and am intensely inspired by.

What or who inspires you?