Sketchbook Corner: End of Summer Haul

It’s been ages since I did one of these.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what to do with my art–especially my paintings.  In the last Sketchbook Corner, I mused on the possibility of selling my work at the small store attached to my family’s apple orchard.  Since then, I’ve decided not to sell my work.  I make art because I love it.  And I love to give it away.  Since I began painting a year ago, one of my favorite things aside from the joy of creation is to give a piece os my art to someone who will appreciate it.  Countless bookmarks and little landscapes have found their ways into the hands of people I care about.  The delight on their faces when they look at my work is more valuable than any money I’d make by selling.

Lately, I’ve been revisiting colored pencils.  I’ve avoided them for years, but picked up a set of new ones on a whim.  So far, I’ve been happy with them.  They are less time-consuming than watercolors and there are more color blending options.  Check out my usual batch of ladies and mermaids:

I’ve been doing my best to pick up my paints at least once a week.  I’ve been working on (more) ladies…

… as well as some nature.

I like doing Sketchbook Corners, but they’ve become infrequent.  Which is sad.  If you’re reading this, I am in need of feedback…

Would you prefer art posts that are large and substantial, but infrequent OR more frequent, small posts?  Please let me know!  Your feedback is appreciated!

Sketchbook Corner

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done one of these.  I’m proud to present more of my art!

I’ve been sketching more than usual lately.  Here are some snippets:

See the uncolored Cinderella sketch in the above gallery?  I transposed it to watercolor paper and here is the result.  I wish I had been more bold with some of the colors, but it’s a start!

IMG_4259Also, I’ve been continuing making bookmarks.  Just as I did with the Cinderella painting, I take doodles from my class notes, copy them on narrowly cut watercolor paper, and paint them in.  I love creating art that’s actually useful.  These sure brighten up my assigned reading.

Finally, this is a project I’ve spent this week working on.  We just finished reading and discussing Tennyson’s Idylls of the King in my Courtly Love class.  At the end of the poem, Camelot ultimately falls because of Guinevere’s infidelity with Lancelot.  This painting is one of the few instances where I consciously construct the image.  I put a lot of thought into her pose and color scheme.  The text is a quote from the end of Tennyson’s fantastic poem.

The benefits of dating yourself

Weird title, I know.

By two o’clock today, I had gone to church, worked out, and finished all my weekend homework.  All my friends were busy, and I was left with an entire afternoon with nothing to do.  I’m an introvert, but too much time alone in my room makes me lonely.  It’s like my heart feels heavy and empty and no amount of Netflix can make it better.  Knowing I had hours ahead of me in my own company, I didn’t want to waste the day moping around.

So I took action by taking myself on a date.

It was a wonderful afternoon.  I sang to the radio during the hour drive to and from Alexandria.  I talked to my mom on the phone.  I went to see Cinderella a second time and loved it just as much as the first.  (Be sure to check out my post about it!)  I went out to eat and spent dinner with my favorite John Green novel.  (Which, in case you were wondering, is Paper Towns.)   I meandered through Target, sighing over pretty clothes and household decorations.  I purchased a new purse and the final Hobbit movie.  (Be sure to check out my post about that one too!).

On the drive home, I spent a great deal of time meditating on the nostalgia that comes with the end of a season in life.  With only a handful of weeks left of college, there are so many aspects of life here that I’ve taken for granted.  As I approached Morris, instead of heading to campus, I drove to the overlook just outside of town.  Perched on a rock, I watched the sun set over the tiny town I’ve called home these past few years.  It was such a beautiful, peaceful moment– one that I know I’ll hold in my heart for a long time.

Afternoons like this one remind me that incredible joy can be found in little things.  It felt so good to forget the stresses of college, to drive away, and do things just for the sake of doing them.  I think that it’s important to learn to date yourself.  You can have a lot of fun and learn a great deal in your own company.

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Driving home to Morris in the sunset.

 

Cinderella

I’m a sucker for fairytale retellings.  My favorite being Cinderella.

What fascinates me about fairytales is that, even though the stories are hundreds of years old, they are still being told.  They hold a valuable place as cultural markers.  The stories a culture tells speak volumes about the culture’s values, customs, and fears.  All fairytales have their core elements.  Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger, Snow White eats the apple, Rapunzel is saved from her tower by a handsome prince.

The thing about adaptations is that they tweak the core elements of a fairy tale.  Changes are significant because they reveal the values, customs, and fears of culture today.  It’s amazing how we can tell a story can be told for hundreds of years and continue to find new ways to tell it.  What if Snow White didn’t eat the apple?  What if Sleeping Beauty never pricked her finger?  What would happen if Rapunzel wasn’t saved, but left of her own volition with not a prince, but an outlaw?

As you may know, I’ve been looking forward to Disney’s new Cinderella for a long time.  (See posts here and here for my anticipation).  I caught wind of the film three years ago and have been following its production ever since.

With adaptations like the book Ella Enchanted or the movie Ever After out there, what’s so special about this movie?  Well, it’s a remake of the animated movie.  And I HATE the animated movie.  I think it’s one of the worst adaptations out there.  So I was excited for Disney to have a chance to redeem itself.

I saw the movie yesterday and, for the most part, I agree with many of the critics.  Disney played it pretty safe.  It’s your traditional Cinderella tale with all the elements: dead parents, evil stepmother, stupid stepsisters, forced servitude, fairy godmother, a pumpkin coach, leave before midnight, forget the slipper, etc. etc. etc.  They fleshed out the characters a bit, but it’s nowhere near as convincing as the development in Ever After.

Did Disney redeem itself, though?  Absolutely.  What the movie lacks in innovation is more than made up for in how stunningly beautiful it is.  Everything about the film is gorgeous–from the costumes to the sets to the dashing Richard Madden as the prince.

My favorite part of the entire movie was probably Cate Blanchett’s performance as Lady Tremaine.  Her costumes were stunning and every line was delivered with the perfect level of poison.  I’d pay to see it again just to soak in her villainy.

To be honest, if I think too hard about this movie, I’m pretty sure I’ll make myself dislike it.  (My inner feminist can’t deny that the heroine of this adaptation is ridiculously passive.)  So, for once in my life, I’m not going to let myself think.  It’s the kind of movie that is made to be enjoyed.  You watch it, feel warm fuzzies, and then go on with life.  I’m determined to sit back, soak in the prettiness, and daydream about Richard Madden’s smile.

To my Cinderella fans out there–what did you think of the movie?  Let me know in the comments!

On the Shelf

What better way to spend Winter Break than by reading?  I haven’t been doing a lot of it, in light of the fact that I’m taking three literature classes next semester and don’t want to overdo it.  However, I’ve been enjoying some fun, light reads!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This book has been on my radar for a LONG time.  It didn’t disappoint.  Rowell creates a marvellous coming-of-age story about Cath, a fandom-obsessed introvert transitioning to college.  I related to Cath on so many levels.  Although my own fan-fiction efforts (culminating in an unfinished novel-length fic and several short one-shots) died out after a few years, I’ve been knee-deep in fandom culture since I was fourteen.  Fangirl is your typical teen-lit novel in many ways.  There’s love, family drama, a weird roommate, and lots about what it means to be a writer.  It’s a fast read and a fun one.

Yulin Kuang, a filmmaker and co-creator of the YouTube channel Shipwrecked, filmed a scene from Fangirl, featuring the incredible Mary Kate Wiles.  Definitely check it out!  (And check out her other videos as well–they’re incredible.)

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

This is the fourth massive novel in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.  Honestly, it was my least favorite.  I understand that one of the great things about these books are the depth of historical content, from larger political events to the tiny details of everyday life… but I thought she got carried away.  The first half dragged.  I think Gabaldon spent too much time with Jamie and Claire.  The Bree and Roger bits, for me, were the most compelling.  I would slog through 200 pages of Jamie/Claire story just to get to the twenty pages about Roger.  I think that the story could have been much stronger and more compelling if she had spent more time developing the younger generation.  Because, when major events began happening halfway through the book bringing all the characters together, I found myself not caring.  Why?  Because I wasn’t invested enough in Bree and Roger to actually care.  All in all, although the story is interesting, the character development was misplaced and underdone and the plot needs MAJOR tightening.  Because this book was so disappointing, it’s going to be a while before I work up the desire to finish the series.

Any Anxious Body by Chrissy Kolaya

Since its release last Spring, I’ve wanted to read this collection of poetry.  Chrissy is a professor at my college and I’ve had the opportunity to take several of her classes.  She was my guide in the basic freshman writing class.  A year ago, I had the opportunity to be in her Innovative Creative Writing class.  The class taught me that I don’t want to write creatively for a living (or for pleasure, for that matter), but gave me a deeper appreciation for those who do.  It’s always fun reading the published work of people you know, and I adored Any Anxious Body.  I’m not much of a reader of poetry collections, so I don’t really know what to say beyond the fact that I really enjoyed the work.

Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey

This is a book I will be re-reading all my life.  I’ve had my copy for about six years and have probably read it at least five times since then.  It’s a quick read–I usually breeze through it in a day or so.  It’s simplistic, easy, aimed at a lower reading level.  But, oh, how I adore it.  If you’ve been with me on this blog for a while, you will know that I adore a good Cinderella adaptation. Before Midnight fits the bill.  It’s simplistic, the characters are pure of heart without being overbearing, and centered on the power of wishes and value of love.  Dokey does a masterful job weaving elements of the fairytale with a story of her own–one that is new, fresh, and engaging.  At the end of the book, Dokey talks about the research that went into her retelling.  She discovered several old versions of the story where Cinderella’s didn’t die, but merely dropped from the story, submissive to the stepmother.  Dokey says, “If Cinderella’s father is still alive, but takes no action to save or protect her, what mights this say about both him and the woman to whom we are all accustomed to assigning the role of the bad guy?  What would happen if I put a father back into the story?”  Other questions I’m sure Dokey asked regarding her adaptation are: What if political intrigue factored into the plot?  What if the stepmother wasn’t cruel?  What if Cinderella’s new family learned to love her?

~*~

Next time I do one of these posts, I’ll be knee deep in academia.  Assigned reading, here I come.

Giddiness and gorgeous Cinderella posters!

As many of you may know, to say I’m excited for the upcoming Cinderella adaptation is a bit of an understatement.  With the recently released trailer and photos, I’ve been dancing around like a little girl before Christmas with glee.

This promo poster came up in my Facebook feed the other day and I was absolutely blown away.

There’s even more gorgeous photos and posters floating around online.  Be sure to check them out!

Can it be March yet?

 

Progressive fairy tales

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve always loved a good Cinderella adaptation.  It’s one of the most popular, well-known fairytales.  I’m fascinated by the amount of ways people can tell the same story over and over and still breathe new life into it.

Can we stop for a moment and appreciate the fact that this movie exists?

As a kid, I was obsessed with this movie.  I’d rent the VHS from our local video store countless times.  When the video store went out of business, I asked for the DVD for Christmas.  It took three years of asking for my parents to finally indulge me.

It’s not only a retelling of the classic fairytale, but a re-rendering of the classic Rogers & Hammerstein musical, complete with a handful of brand new songs.  When I was younger, I loved the romance.  I liked the pretty dresses, the over-the-top characters, and garish colors.

Now that I’m older, the movie has taken on new significance.  Yes, I still love all the cheesy parts.  But I’m starting to realize just how progressive the movie is.  Hailing from 1997, it was a Disney-sponsored production that features only four white characters (the stepmother, stepdaughter, king, and Lionel).  The main couple is African American and Asian.  And there is no racial stereotyping, no odd excuses for such casting choices.  They’re treated as any other couple in any other movie like this.  I think it’s fantastic.

Is there a fairy tale adaptation you’re head-over-heels in love with?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Things to be excited about on a Wednesday

Wednesday is always the worst day of my week.  I’m busy from morning to night with class, work, homework, and clubs.  It’s easy to get pessimistic when they come around.  I’ve been pondering more meaningful posts, but it looks like seriousness is going to have to wait for another day.  Here are some things I’ve been getting excited about lately.

1. The trailer for the new live-action Cinderella

Cinderella has always been one of my favorite fairytales.  From Ever After to Rogers & Hammerstein to the novel Ella Enchanted, I adore a well done adaptation.  I’ve been tracking Disney’s latest live-action fairytale for the past few years and am delighted by the trailer.  I think the casting is absolutely wonderful and cannot wait for March to come along.

2. Thanksgiving is next week

Which means I get to escape small-town Morris for a few days at home with family before the end of semester hell sets in.

3. Mockingjay Part 1 comes out tomorrow

I’m attending the midnight release with some friends tomorrow night and it’s going to be great.

4. My least favorite class is cancelled

Well, technically we still have it, but it’s the kind of class where you’re given a big project and have all of class to work on it.  My professor is gone at a conference, so we are allowed to do our work at home without going in.

5. Shakespeare

In my Grammar & Language class, we have been studying the different stages of the English language.  We’re on the cusp of the Early Modern period and, as I did this week’s reading, I was delighted to find several pages devoted to the beloved playwright.  Like the stereotypical English major that I am, I LOVE Shakespeare.  Whenever he comes up, I automatically become giddy.

6. Scotland

Although I’d REALLY love to, I’m not going any time soon.  But I’ve spent the hour before going to bed curled up with a book that takes place in Scotland, so it’s been fresh on my mind.  It’s a beautiful country, and I’m already looking forward to tonight when I have time to delve back into it through reading.

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Me in the Highlands of Scotland last November.

 

What kind of things are you excited about, readers?