Category Archives: Arts & Crafts

Deciding to get lost, in Paris: Psychogeography, Qu’est-ce que ç’est?

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DECIDING TO GET LOST, IN PARIS: Psychogeography, Qu’est-ce que ç’est?

Author’s Note:

Usually, this appears at the bottom of my posts. I’m never really sure if any of you read them. I’ve asked numerous questions that get little to no responses. C’est la vie?  Je ne sais pas.

This came from a #FF Prompt:  Psychogeography on the Fiction Can Be Fun blog.  I’ve mentioned the blog a number of times, as well as its creators, Debs & David. They are co-writing a novel that I can’t wait to get my grubby mitts on. I met them a few years ago during one of the April AtoZ Blog Challenge. If you are new to my world, click on the links. FCBF is always a good read, and the AtoZ challenge is a gratifying, if not sometimes nerve-wracking, feat to achieve. I’m grateful to have gotten to become friends with Debs, David, and Arlee (the creator and curator of the AtoZ Blog Challenge).

For full details on Psychogeography, I strongly suggest three sources to discover this brand new term (to me) is all about. Click above on the FCBF link. Then, click on Icy Sedgwick’s blog. You want folklore, she’s got it. Podcast included.

Third: Google. It does a mind good.

Basics: Imagine a place you’ve visited, or wanted to visit, or make it up, but only traveled by WALKING. No transportation of any type except by your feet. Take in the details. Describe them. Show, don’t tell, gets mixed around here, depending on how you are approaching this: Fictionally or Non-Fiction. You, or your character, is viewing through the lens of Psychology & Geography. Emotions? Details? Epiphanies? Your choice. To join in, please click on Fiction Can Be Fun  and read the “rules.”

I decided to get lost in Paris on the fifth day of my vacation.

Every previous day had been planned out: the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Rodin’s house and gardens, traveling on the Seine, Notre Dame (pre-fire), following a lengthy trail of Monet art, the Moulin Rouge/ Montmartre  /Place Pigalle. Those were all on my checklist.

Deliberately, I set aside one unorganized day to freestyle explore. No real destination, just walking the streets of Paris, taking in as much as I could. Noticing the architectural adversity of the past and the present. Cobbled stoned lanes crossing or connecting to paved roads.  

After a well-sustaining breakfast at the hotel, I set out with no map. Yes, I was living life dangerously: this was pre-Cell Phones, GPS, whatever. You actually had to talk to a real person if you were off course of your destination. Landlines and payphones the only way to connect beyond your immediate area.

I got on a train at the closest Metro station. Didn’t check where it was heading. First train I found, that was it. The car was reasonably full for a good portion of the ride. A lot would leave, a lot would replace them. Until the crowds lessened, and fewer people got on or off. I waited.

Next two stations, a few passengers left the train. Absolutely no one walked into emptying space. That was my cue to get off and explore the Paris above me.

I was met by paved roads, modernized buildings, and heavy Parisian traffic. I was used to that. Walking in arbitrary directions, I found what I wanted in a brief period: cobblestoned streets, a narrow road dotted with small shops, and relatively light on pedestrians. I crossed the main road and entered the Paris I had envisioned.

Colors were vivid, changing shop by shop. The décor varied as well, most embracing their past roots. I walked, turned corners on a whim, and headed into this, to me, a delightful maze of discovery. Clothing, bakeries, cheese shops, cafes, women’s clothing, men’s suits, every bit of finery well displayed, nothing ostentatious. This wasn’t Le Avenue des Champs-Élysées. I was glad of that.

I noticed a sign for a Picasso museum. Sold. As I made my way there, I found magic.

It was a dried flower shop. Shop doors wide open, arrangements on the outside of the florist shop, the many colors, the many weavings of this wild assortment of flowers, drew me in.

From the ceiling beams hung bunches of wildflowers drying, the stems pointed to the top. The aroma filled the store, a light mixture of scents that I hungrily breathed in. I was not very knowledgeable about flowers. The names, varieties, when they grew best. All that was lost on me.

It was the way each piece was crafted. How the shop could seem disjointed in its exhibitions. But, the more time I spent walking around the uneven aisles, noticing the varying levels of placements, the degrees of color shifting, I could never think of it as thrown together without thought. 

One-piece stopped me. A grouping of dried dwarf Red Roses, in the shape of a heart. I had begun dating a woman a short while before I left NY. We were at the point we both wanted to take the relationship further. We liked each other. A hopeless romantic, I purchased the arrangement. Well wrapped, I left with the package to continue on. A few steps from the shop, I looked back, seeing it all from a slightly different point of view. 

This was art on display, in a fitting setting, along a cobblestone road in Paris.

I continued getting lost, looking for more magic. 

She Looked Familiar: Daydreamers Write! Prompt & Challenge

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SHE LOOKED FAMILIAR

Daydreamers Write! Prompt & Challenges

(1) “I thought you were dead!” is the prompt. The challenge: 50 Words in total. The prompt must appear within the 50 words. 

I entered the B&W Art Gallery. Two steps; I noticed her. Obscured by multi-colored winter wear, her eyes!! She looked familiar. Fixated on a large white canvas with a “?” centered, she turned as I neared. We both gasped: “I thought you were dead!” We fell into each other’s arms.

Question_mark_(black_on_white)

(2) Bonus Challenge: Another 50 words, same prompt, but from a different POV. SHE LOOKED FAMILIAR. 

Just too damned cold! Should’ve taken a cab. An Art Gallery? YES! The heat of the room wrapped around me. Mmmmm. Should look around.
Huh? Why would anyone paint a “?”? Weird. Someone approached me. She looked familiar. OMG! “I thought you were dead!” We fell into each other’s arms.

⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔ ⇔

 

 

Author’s Note: I am the organizer/host of DAYDREAMERS WRITE!: Prompts & Challenges.

It runs every Saturday morning from 10:00 am to Noon, EST. 

No matter the level a writer you think you are, all are welcome. 

The two hours are split:

  1. 10 to 11 is the first prompt.

    1. I will  post it on Monday, 8/10

  2. At Noon: Another prompt WITH a challenge. It changes every week. 

  3. Both Sessions: 25 mins to write;  30-35 mins for Sharing & feedback

The two 50 word pieces above, “She looked familiar” appeared as the group’s Challenge Round on August 8, 2020. 

Most likely this will remain in the Virtual World Community. 

Click on the above link if you would like to join in. Everyone is welcome. 

Stu

She Saw Angel Wings

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She Saw Angel Wings

Rebecca asked for realism, but got magic instead.

The sharp, stinging burn faded with the constant vibrations. Her eyes closed as the artist’s tool slid the needle in and out at a rapid-fire pace. She wanted to count in the beginning as a means of focus, but that Rebecca got to two and no further. It was her first tattoo; she had put it off long enough, way after everyone she knew were walking canvases. Nothing spoke to Rebecca, nothing said “Yes, this!”, until her soul touched her arm.

Rebecca came across the hibernating Polygona while exploring the abandoned Willes house that previous winter. She and Dale had been traveling, searching through dilapidated, seemingly forgotten structures that were left standing, or, in the case of the Willes’ house, partially leaning. They were trespassing and had enough run-ins with various law agencies to know it, but the thrill of their journey blew those concerns away. They were accruing dying testimonies of what was before the rate of erosion took it all away.

That, or the many developers who only saw money in the land.

Dale had remained below on the first floor, busy taking photos with her new Nikon Z6. Rebecca was glad she had splurged on this for Dale’s 25th. The light inside that she had fallen in love with had begun to dim over the last year, that one infidelity one too many; but this object, this thing, seemed to bring it back, sharper, keener, and much more focused.

“Becki, be careful,” lay behind her as she stalked up the slanted stairway to the second floor. Rebecca clutched her sketch pad in her left hand as she white-knuckled the stair railing with her right. Safe on the landing, she released a “yeah, yeah,” white puffs in the chill air as she walked down the hallway, three doors partly ajar, beckoning.

The ceiling molding in the second bedroom was intricate. Rebecca sat in front of the smeared window, having rubbed away enough grime to allow more sunlight into the room. She got lost duplicating the patterns, time passing as the sun moved along its path, erasing when the moving shadows changed her perspective.

Part of the ceiling had caved in, revealing part of the structure between this room and the attic. Something was there that was not wood, wallpaper, or flaking glue. Rebecca pushed her glasses up her nose with her forefinger, a smile etched on her face from Dale’s teasing of the same constant gesture. She stood and reached out with her Palomino Blackwing, reversed so the point would not break. The light wasn’t really with her.

Rebecca took out her cell and activated the flashlight. She hadn’t realized that she had made a noise until Dale came rushing into the room asking what the matter was, she had heard her gasp from below.

“Look, Dale. Angelwings!”

“What? Oh, yeah, your dad.”

“He loved butterflies.”

“Is it dead?,” she asked.

“Hibernating. They hibernate, rare in a house, but… well, there! Hold this, please.”

Rebecca gave her cell, flashlight still lit, to Dale, repositioning her arm every time she put her pencil to paper, seeing the butterfly in a new angle. A few sighs and disgruntled “Becki, C’mon” comments didn’t halt the five pages of full and partial sketches that followed.

The last exasperated puff of air over her shoulder brought Rebecca back. The pencils went back into their case and into her backpack, the sketchbook following. She took the phone from Dale, leaving the flashlight on as she realized they were now in a very dark room. Dale leaned in for a kiss and got a perfunctory one in return: movement from slightly above had recaptured Rebecca’s attention.

Wings fluttered, a slow heartbeat of one, then another. She was transfixed, staring, knowing she did not touch it, knowing it shouldn’t be awake, but Rebecca held her breath as the Angelwing took wobblily flight. It was coming towards the light in her hand, attracted like a moth, but gliding through the dust mote air.

The butterfly landed on her left arm. Rebecca couldn’t move; the butterfly didn’t. The wings were translucent, and even though she knew the coloring was wrong, this one was summer greens on her arm. Dale took a few steps back and snapped a series of shots from any angle possible as Rebecca, and her Anglewing tagged each other into statues.

A beep from the cell, battery dying, and the mood broke. Rebecca’s startled movement sent the Angelwing flying. She watched as it flew up to the crevice between the floors and disappeared. They left the house soon after: there was no safe way to get to the attic. Dale had to take Rebecca’s hand and lead her out.

They drifted apart as well, months later, spring just knocking away the frigid weather that followed. Rebecca looked for butterflies everywhere, in reality, and through her imagination. Sheer fabric became wings; cotton balls became cocoons. Clouds, mist, steam out of the kettle. All this took Dale away and into the arms of another; Rebecca saw it happen and did nothing to prevent it.

Rebecca’s obsession with butterflies overtook her. She researched mythologies, folktales, symbolism. She drew and painted and sculpted butterflies. It wasn’t enough. She reconnected with her father. He went with her on her search the following winter for the Willes house, but it had fallen sometime during that year, a mass of timber and broken glass left behind, a sign in front that stated the property was sold for development. No butterfly. No Angelwings. Not in that spot. Not in that new winter.

The following summer found Rebecca hosting a booth of her art at the state Renaissance Faire. Business was good, and she had many offers of commissions, for her art as well as her time. She was gracious with both, but her eyes searched along the fields that weren’t trampled upon for something else. They were there, flying around, hiding, resting, being chased by children, barked at by dogs, hunted by the birds.

Two booths away were the beginning of Tattoo Alley. Rebecca had been admiring the art that went on there in most of the tents, not all. One, in particular, caught her eye every time she would take her break and walk the grounds. This artist specialized in things in flight, realistic depictions as well as abstract. The presentation of a summer-long project on one of the Faire’s workers back-an angel in flight-drew massive applause from all and the full attention of Rebecca.

Bringing her sketchbooks over while there was that end of the summer lull, Rebecca and Cynthia poured over the images and discussed what could, and should (in Cynthia’s critical eye) be done: a full sleeve, left arm, from wrist to shoulder. A weaving of butterflies in flight and at rest, with the centerpiece being the Polygona, in shades of green.

It took the next month of scheduling, sketches, arguing, fussing, and agreements before Rebecca took the chair and Cynthia began her art. The sleeve was complete by the first frosts of Autumn; Rebecca made sleeveless tops her main go to, only covering up her arms when frostbite threatened (or so related Cynthia to their friends).

“They are hibernating,” she would tell others when she was covered up, keeping her arm as still as can be.  As soon as the temperature inside, or the weather outdoors, allowed, they were set free. Rebecca felt free, even when Cynthia held her.

She had asked for realism, but found magic instead.

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Author’s Note:

This was inspired by the photo at the head of this piece. I met this young woman at a dance performance and was taken by the artistry of the tattoo. The photo does not do it justice.

Before anyone gets on my case: I politely asked if I may take a photo of her arm, told her why I was doing so, and what I intended to do with it. She gave me her permission. I also showed her the photo so she could be assured that it centered on the art and nothing salicious. While we exchanged names, the names in this story are not hers, nor anything else beyond the tat.

The germ of a very different idea hit me when I viewed it. Where the story went, well, this is where it took me.

I’m glad I went this way. I hope, if she views this (gave her my card), she’s happy with it as well.

Promises: #FridayFictioneers

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thoreau-nm

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

Promises

A gang of tumbleweed moseyed down Rt. 66, passing through. Some didn’t make it. Juniper needles snagged them, not letting go. The rest blew upon the abandoned Market & Deli and stayed until the snows came.

Ajei, native Diné, returned from Taos, stronger in spirit and in craft. She purchased the old mart and, with the help of her brothers, transformed it. Where bellies were once filled now was a house of Art and Native crafts.

It was a promise made; a promise kept. Shimá Sání would be proud.

She did art under New Mexico skies. Ajei was, happily, home.

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Author’s Note:

Taos is home to a large Artist Colony. Shimá Sání is the Navajo words for Maternal Grandmother. Ajei is a Navajo name meaning “my heart.” Why Navajo? The majority of the demographics in and around Thoreau are Navajo.

It’s #Friday Fictioneers prompt time, as always created and hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog, Addicted To Purple.

The rules are simple if you’d like to join in:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt (goes up on Wednesday).
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.
  1. Add the InLinkz button (below) so your readers can find the dozens of other bloggers who have taken up this challenge.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter