Monthly Archives: October 2019

Henri Rousseau

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Henri Rousseau

The French post-impressionist painter Henri Rousseau (May 21, 1844 – September 2, 1910) was largely self-taught and thought of by his contemporaries as primitive in style.

As a young student, he received mostly mediocre grades, but won prizes for drawing and music. He had a very brief legal services career, followed by four years in the army. After his father’s death, he moved back to Paris so he could help support his mother as a tax collector. He married, and he and his wife had six children, only one of whom survived infancy. Ten years after his first wife passed away, he married again.

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Henri Rousseau, Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surprised!)

In his early forties, he began painting seriously. By age 49, he retired from his day job and began painting full-time, supplementing his small pension with odd jobs and playing his violin in the street. (Click on the smaller images to enlarge and read the captions.)

His paintings had a dream-like quality to them. He is best known for his exotic jungle scenes.

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Henri Rousseau, The Dream

In March of 1910, he developed an inflammation in his leg, which he neglected. By August, he had gangrene; a post-operative blood clot killed him.

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Henri Rousseau, The Sleeping Gypsy

OctPoWriMo Day 25

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I am participating in two challenges this month, OctPoWriMo and Inktober. To make it easier on myself, I’m trying to write a new poem on odd-numbered days and make a drawing on even-numbered days.

Today’s prompt is White. The suggested form is musette.

Things that are White

Ice cream
Pure vanilla
I scream

Snow storm
Frigid, freezing
Stay warm

Blank page
Inspiration
Engage

©ARHuelsenbeck

octpowrimo

Creative Juice #161

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Creative Juice #161

All kinds of good stuff.

  • Basel, Switzerland. Or Basel, France. Or Basel, Germany.
  • A watercolorist’s process. Her roses are amazing.
  • Beautiful paintings.
  • Following an obsession with Magritte.
  • You know God is capable of giving you a miracle, but it doesn’t happen. How do you respond to that?
  • How to be smarter.
  • I wish I had a cute little quilting studio like this one.
  • The power of a tree to comfort.
  • If you follow this blog, you know I’m a fan of Inktober, the drawing challenge that comes around every October. Here’s an article about another participant’s experience from three years ago (but still timely).
  • Speaking of challenges, NaNoWriMo is coming up next month. Have you ever wanted to write a novel?
  • I don’t really want to be a millionaire, but I think the suggestions in this article could help anyone have a better life.
  • I am such a fan of Fair Isle sweaters.

In the Meme Time: Solitude

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Solitude

Inktober Day 24

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I am participating in two challenges this month, OctPoWriMo and Inktober. To make it easier on myself, I’m trying to write a new poem on odd-numbered days and make a drawing on even-numbered days.

I’m following the Inktober prompts that my Facebook Zentangle group, Tangle All Around, is using. The pattern below, Yale, was designed by Margaret Bremner.

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Kammie’s Oddball Photo Challenge

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I found this hydrant-with-a-hat on my morning walk today. It looks like someone found a discarded vacuum cleaner part and put it in a safe place. Whatever. It makes a good candidate for this week’s Oddball Challenge.

Kammie's Oddball Challenge

Guest Post: Top 5 Ways Writers Screw Up Their Characters by Lucy V. Hay

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Thank you to Lucy V. Hay and to Bang2write for these insights on effective characterization.

Happy sillohettes

Caring About Characters?

So, you’ve been given this feedback: “We need to care more about your characters.”

Immediate RED FLAG!!!

This is a useless piece of feedback. Put whomever gave it to you on the naughty step RIGHT NOW and join me children in examining why this feedback sucks BIG TIME. (Okay, okay, the feedback-giver *means* well. And yes, just like “Show It, Don’t Tell It”, this advice probably started off good stuff).

BUT I put it to you “we need to care more about your characters” creates waaaay more problems in drafts than it solves. Why? Because writers end up spending SO LONG trying to make us “care” (WTF does that really mean anyway?), they end up shooting themselves in the foot story-wise.

Great characters are part of great STORIES. This means the two are inextricably linked. So when writers get that ubiquitous, but crappy note “we need to care more about your characters”, they inevitably start focusing on character AT THE EXPENSE of plotting and story. YARGH!

How Writers Screw Up Their Characters

5) … They introduce their characters badly

Whether screenplay or novel, your character needs to be introduced in an interesting and dramatic way.  When we meet your character for the first time – especially your protagonist – s/he should be preferably DOING something that:

a) Tells us *something* about him/her in terms of personality

b) Gives us a sense of the storyworld/the tone

c) Gives us *some clue* or indicator about the situation at hand

Yet too often we meet characters waking up, getting ready for the day ahead and/or eating breakfast; coming down the stairs or from another room (usually when someone yells for them); sitting in cafes or restaurants musing; or sitting in their bedrooms doing the same. LE YAWN.

This is nearly always because writers mistakenly believe that seeing a character in their home environment (or similar) makes us “care” about them. IT DOESN’T. It’s just dull!

Remember, readers make all kinds of assumptions not only from your very first page, but from your opening image too! Make sure you introduce your characters in ways we don’t see all the time to stand your best chances in the marketplace. Read more: How To Introduce A Character.

4) … They put too much tragic back story for characters “up front”

This is an issue that seems primarily a screenwriting-related problem. I loved the following dialogue in the brilliant WRECK-IT RALPH, which I watched recently with my Wee Girls:

FIX-IT FELIXJeez, she’s kinda intense, huh?

SOLDIERIt’s not her fault. She’s programmed with the most tragic backstory EVER.

In comparison to WRECK IT RALPH then, scribes DON’T play the notion of a tragic back story up front for laughs. Instead, the reader will have to wade through stories of child abuse; adoption/rejection; rape; bereavement; self harm and recriminations – all before the actual main story gets going. More often than not, this will mean going through an acre of flashback before the situation in hand kicks off, though sometimes there will be various arguments and/or a funeral, or even ALL OF THIS (yikes!).

Yet these huuuuuuuuge adverse life events are massive; to make them blithely “character building” feels like a slap in the face for the characters. Not convinced? Think about it:

“Oh my character has to deal with being held hostage in the bank where she works – BUT IT’S OKAY BECAUSE IN THE PAST SHE WAS ABUSED AS A CHILD, SO SHE CAN HANDLE THIS” — WTF???

Yeah, yeah ***of course*** writers don’t mean it this way; they’re trying to give their characters “layers” and make us “care” about them. I totally get that. But seriously, overly tragic back stories played up front are not the way. Characters’ reactions and the way they deal with what’s happening to them in the “here and now” tells us SO MUCH more than acres of flashbacks or expositional dialogue about their traumatic childhoods.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Video of the Week #224: How to Paint Clouds

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OctPoWriMo Day 23

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I am participating in two challenges this month, OctPoWriMo and Inktober. To make it easier on myself, I’m trying to write a new poem on odd-numbered days and make a drawing on even-numbered days.

Today’s prompt is Fur Babies.

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No, these are not Stripy and Schwartz. I couldn’t find a picture of them. Sorry.

Our First Two Cats

I gave my daughter the job
of naming the two kittens.
She named the tabby Stripy
and the black one Schwartz.
(Schwartz was also a nickname I called my daughter.)

One year we ordered cat Christmas ornaments engraved with their names
but they sent us child ornaments instead.
I imagined the confusion of the engraver—
They have a kid named Schwartz?
They have a kid named Stripy?

When we moved across the country,
for logistics sake, we found them a new home
with an older woman who lived alone.
She phoned us more than once
to tell us how much it meant to her
to come home from work and be greeted
by her kitties; no more lonesome home.

octpowrimo

Wordless Wednesday: Mescal

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Mescal