Julia Cameron in her book The Artist's Way recommends starting your day by hand writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing.
Have you ever tried it?
Also, I replaced the battery in the bathroom scales.
I have reached the final words of Peter Ackroyd's Venice Pure City -
..vivacity, gaity, radiance, extravagance, energy, buoyancy, spontaneity, urgency, facility, exuberance, impetuosity. Oh! Venezia!
Who wouldn't be excited?
Here is another Fortuny garment I'd love to wear, and if you scroll down you will see the most dazzling selection of Fortuny gowns.
Have you heard of this artist and his Chandeliers Over Venice project? (This is for you Lotta!) There are lots of videos on Dale Chihuly and the full story here. Allow yourself an hour or three if you really love glass!
Hope to visit this exhibition in Venice.
I trained in Textile Design at GSA and remember coming across the revolutionary, and elegant silk 'Delphos' gowns of Mariano Fortuny. He began making them in 1907 but they are utterly timeless and now collectors items. You could wear them today and not look dated. The book highlighted today at Cornflower Books looks like a must read for textile lovers.
We leave in a month's time. After the Carnivale is over. Fun, I am sure, but not the Venice I really want to see (or the prices we can afford to pay!).
A writing month is one of the best ideas I've ever had.
What is the best idea you have ever had?
One of the fun things about a few recent lazy days has been the new websites I have come across. Maybe you will take a look at this one - The Awfully Big Blog Adventure while I am away for a few days babysitting (my little sister!)
And after all the flooding here in UK I was rather amused at this post from Venezia about there not being enough water in Venice...
..in books (and there are lots of them!) Here are some I have read...
And here is the one I think best so far...
Though a bit old fashioned (it was written in 1960) and full of generalisations about the character of the Venetian (which is one of the reasons it seems old fashioned) it is still in this 1993 revision an excellent and enjoyable read. The foreword to this edition, in which the author justifies not making many changes, is a delightful read in itself.
To be read slowly, and savoured.
Some others I have are in this post.
My Venice post this week has to be this sad and moving one from the blog of Venetian Cat Bauer.
(Venice posts come under Simply Write as writing my novel is my reason (or excuse!) for going there this winter.)
On Fridays I usually post something about Venice.
I love this little drawing of Venice from a nautical map of the 13C.
And to the city of today a link to a wonderful autumn photgraph from a blog I enjoy.
And you may enjoy this essay written by Erica Jong in 1986 in which she extols the advantages of being there in winter (as we will be..)
Have you been, in any season? And has anyone read Erica Jong's Serenissima?
PS first snow on the hills today!
I've been enjoying reading blogs by people who live in Venice and this post interested me, especially the mention of San Michele which I've visited.
ln preparation for our winter month in Venice I'm swotting up Palladio (I always was a bit of a swot, and have decided to own up!)
Getting excited about February again.
I've always enjoyed the exuberant and joyful work of Raoul Dufy, especially his works from about 1930 onwards.
I seem to remember reading, when I was first considering becoming a full-time artist, that he said something along the lines of getting the mundane things of your life sorted so that you can concentrate on the creative side. I remember thinking ruefully he meant getting a wife!
Fortunately I decided to ignore his advice (I do by the way have a very supportive husband!) and decided to Paint First and let the rest fit in somehow. I might never have got started otherwise!
Many books have been written on this very subject.
One I am enjoying now is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
But back to my topic (I'm breaking my rule for blog posts - one subject and one aspect of that subject at a time..)
I came across this brilliant little painting of Venice by Dufy.
..or should I say Venezia. I am enjoying learning Italian with my excellent teacher Luisella. She speaks a lot in Italian throughout the class - talking quickly, translating as she goes, insisting we listen, listen, listen and talk, talk, talk. She goes at a challenging pace!
A challenge I had not anticipated was being unable to read the whiteboard when Luisella uses a coloured or faded pen. I had to explain that I have an eye problem. (I have AMD, a degenerative eye condition.) Until now when out and about or meeting new people I get away with not saying anything, but we are asked to work in pairs and read to each other from the textbook. If the lighting is not good - and it isn't - I can't see the words. I am still so shocked when this happens! So of course I have to say 'I'm sorry I can't see that'. I have a tiny torch the size of a credit card (thank you Lynne, what a thoughtful gift). It helps but makes me very slow. I've never before in my life been slow in a learning situation. It is so hard! It makes me feel foolish and so self-conscious. I know I have to get over those feelings and find ways of coping.
It also makes me feel humble when I see people coping with far greater difficulties.
I enjoyed this post on a favourite blog about Venice.
(This post explains why I am learning Italian!)
It was dark and late as the old vaporetto chugged its way to the Piazza San Marco, calling in at dimly lit stops on the way, the buildings only appearing out of the hushed darkness at the last moment, and one or two people embarking or disembarking quietly as the rugged engine changed sounds. and the sounds floated over the water of the lagoon
We disembarked and walked across the empty silent Piazza in moonlight and the two unseen figures struck the bells of the clock high on the Clock Tower: midnight.
I always knew I would go back.
A little background if you are a new reader here...
I used to dislike February (see here ) and chanced upon a way to make it more fun (see here) Little did I know February would become the month I looked forward to most! (Lots more under Simply Write should you have time to browse.)
This year we spent the whole month in a friend's house in Buckinghamshire which we found wonderfully enjoyable, and although I was writing a few hours a day, we still had lots of time to explore. See posts for Fabruary 2015 on side bar..Oh I love that typo and will leave it in!
Next year in Venice.
I have quite a few books about Venice (which does make me think this idea has been simmering for some considerable time) and I am working my way through this beautifully illustrated one a page a day by leaving it open under the lamp in the sitting room..
I'm also reading Venice by Jan Morris, and Venice Pure City by Peter Ackroyd and have just re-read Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers, which is set in Venice.
If you have any recommendations I would welcome them....
..if you find yourself anywhere near Edinburgh before the end of the month!
I loved the two main exhibitions at The Scottish Gallery, and we went to look at the Venetian Old Masters in the National Gallery.
Charles Jencks Landform at the Gallery of Modern Art looked serene in the rain, although the weather was lovely except for this hour or so. (Good café in beautiful garden too.) The exhibition Heads - drawings, paintings and photographs - was so absorbing I didn't get further than the corridor they were displayed in. Wonderful. It included an Augustus John drawing that looked like a Raphael.
I've added a couple of links to yesterday's post.
I expect a lot of Edinburgh residents find the Festival disruptive, but we were with my 95 year old Edinburgh resident Uncle (I've mentioned him before. He is the one who when asked if he ever takes taxis said 'I will when I'm older'.) Uncle John attends concerts, opera, theatre and book festival talks. He is stimulating company, interested in politics, economics and philosophy as well as the arts. We try to keep up with him!
Do you have a favourite arts festival?
Or a favourite uncle?
Maybe it was the Marie Kondo clearing which made space in my head for the idle thought which popped into it one quiet evening and made me ask Barry
Will we go away for a month again this winter?
Hmmm. How can I make this happen I wonder....
I took the title for this post from a fascinating blog I just discovered via Cornflower Books - it seemed so apt!
I've completed my 30 day challenge! (See here.) Have you? I missed about 4 days. I do it at night and several nights I was out and once I just forgot.
I now have 96 words of Italian - that's about 90 more than I had on day one. I have reached level 5, earned 22 lingots (whatever they are), kept up my strength levels on Basics 1 and 2, phrases and food, am 15% fluent....and can be polite and order coffee.
I think I'll keep going..
I gave up on Busuu as they kept trying to sell me stuff - emailing and blocking the free part of the course, and stuck with Duolingo and BBC Languages Italian (archived but still useful).
Have you tried learning a language online?
Or anything else?
And for my next 30 day challenge...
Actually I can't decide. I had thought of working for half an hour a day on the things on my To-Do list that I never get around to. Doesn't sound much fun, but the sense of achievement at the end of 30 days would be HUGE.
I'll sleep on it....
Coming home on the ferry today, the spray was over the top of the bus!
After a long and complicated day, I had to read my work (see here) aloud to the creative writing class.
My voice was shaking, just a little.
But I did it.
Homework is a piece entitled or beginning with the words The clown was suicidal....
A little more about my class (I'll change the subject tomorrow - promise!). There are 17 students, 7 men and 10 women, mixed ages but predominantly young. The tutor, Alan McMunnigall, is experienced, organised, friendly and relaxed, and highly regarded. I think the discipline of attending and doing assignments, and being in the company of other aspiring writers will be the motivation I need to get down to some serious work. It's quite a long journey there and back and I'll use the time to work on a few pages of the novel each week.
That's the plan anyway - and don't worry, I'm not going to post all my assignments on the blog! Thanks for the encouraging comments....
Some of you may remember I am writing a novel (see post here). It began as a fun way to get through February which was my least favourite month of the year. The first February (2011) with the aid of a book called No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty, I wrote about 25,000 words - half a novel. In February 2012 I wrote the second half, and the third year I began to edit. February 2014 I aim to have my final draft. (I've only worked on it in Februaries so far, but very intensively - see posts under Simply Write.)
I knew by now that I needed some help.
As a painter I am used to seeing all the elements of a piece of work at once - they are all there, visible on the canvas, and if I make a change I can immediately see what effect this has on the rest of the composition. With 50,000 words on I've forgotten how many pages, I find myself struggling to see the overall shape and structure.
I am now floundering in it so badly I enrolled in a course Writing Fiction: The Novel to help me along. The class is in the Open Course programme at Glasgow University - one night a week.
I have never been on a writing course before, but I think I have struck lucky....
Well, here goes! I've joined a writing course - (more about it tomorrow). I think it is going to be great.
The Tutor's First Assignment.
Write to me of Love, he said,
write to me of Love.
Of love, in love, love-fifteen.
Maternal love? Love of life, love of fast cars, of crochet, of comic books, or cupakes?
Love of nature, for the love of God!
Unrequited or quited, love eternal, love divine. Self love and the love that dare not speak its name.
Love-in-a-mist, love is all there is, All You Need Is Love, especially In A Cold Climate or In The Time Of Cholera.
Amo amas amat, amour, and how many words do the Inuit have for snow, or the Masai for brown? The Greeks have agape, philia, eros, storge and more. We have Love. Oh, and Luv, luv, then there's luurve..and that little heart thingy, as in I Love New York.
Free love (In The Afternoon) in a love triangle perhaps.
It has its downside, love: you can be love-sick, you can't buy it, it's sometimes blind and Love Hurts you know. You can love someone to death....and it's Labours can be Lost.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends, and have you tried to love your enemy?
There's the love them and leave them type, and the love-child, poor mite.
Love Me Tender and love my love handles, Make Love Not War, in A Summer of Love. Love is never enough they say, but don't forget:
Love Conquers All
My (self imposed) task for February 2013 was to do some editing and rewriting work on my novel, but the underlying reason was to get through February without feeling a bit low as I used to always do at this time of year.
It worked. I've had a lovely February!
Editing is a very different thing from writing, as I'm sure you know. Writing my novel the NaNoWriMo way (see here) was like a fast sprint - exciting, all consuming and very challenging - a lot of adrenalin going around. Editing on the other hand is a more plodding activity. Not as much fun I have to say, though just as challenging. Part of the challenge is to be objective about this creation you have grown to care deeply about and to try to get into the mind of a potential reader and see if it still makes sense!
So I have plodded gently through February this year, enjoying it, with plenty to occupy me and plenty to do still. I will be working on my novel for some months yet....but as the gardening season approaches, and with commitments to teaching, painting and community projects, I won't be as single minded about it as I have been through February.
I am so lucky to have work that I love, and to have found a way of making this month a month that I love too!
Did you have a good February? (Or can you think of a way to make next February more fun?)
Yesterday's ending was from Counterparts in James Joyce' s The Dubliners. It chokes me up every time I read it. What can I say, except sorry to end the endings on such a tragic note....
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)