Settling into Matlacha Island Life

The new header is a drone shot of our new island home. We are on the southwestern end of the peninsula that joins the road. Most of the area south of the road is a public park, except for the main drag thru town, which is quite charming. The bridge to the island is a draw bridge used mostly by sailboats.

Now that we are finally settling into island life, I’m thinking about resuming my writing. I’m still passionate about my artwork and have no plans to limit my painting time. Also, I’m still practicing Kundalini yoga and have a 15-minute sadhana with several common kriyas and one or two different meditations I do every morning. Jai Dev Singh is a fantastic teacher and his words resonate with me even more than the exercises.  I attribute my explosion in creativity to the prana, or life force energy, that Kundalini brings forth. When I taper off my practice, for whatever reason, I feel the motivation and energy for all things creative waning. It only takes one class to bring it up again. That’s what I love about Kundalini. It’s fast and powerful as compared to other yogic practices.

Here are the paintings I have created in the month and a half that we have been on Matlacha This totals forty-one paintings in this first year. I will start showing again soon and really need to have a sale to clear some space for more.

11X14 acrylics on canvas board: Psychedelic Wave
16X21 Acrylics on student grade canvas: Shore Fisherman
24X24 Pro-grade canvas (my largest yet) Island Cottage. This one is going over our bed.

I completed a body study, also. I’m not so thrilled with the shading and have considered painting over it, but it was a good lesson in color mixing for flesh tones. FYI: When I am painting, all of my colors start out from red, blue, yellow and white. Sometimes I use a burnt umber brown or black to avoid wasting paint. All of the shades, tones, and hues are derived from color mixing. I don’t buy, for example, a tube of purple or turquoise.

24X18 Acrylics on student grade canvas. Body Study

We sized down to less than half the square footage that we had in our Orlando home. Gave away three-bedroom suites, a living room suite, and a dining room suite. The lanai here is under roof, and not including it, we are down to 1200 sq ft. and paid nearly twice as much for it. Ha! But, yes, we are on the water facing the gorgeous sunsets and life is grand. The house has a great room and our bedroom doubles as Greg’s office, while the guest room (with a Murphey bed) doubles as my studio. When my grandkids came to visit, I heard the four-year-old ask the nine-year-old, “Why is grandmother’s kitchen in the living room?” There is a nice island in the center, but I thought that was hilarious. The perception of kids.

It’s a double lot with 120 feet of seawall and dock and has mature fruit trees. I made my first key lime pie with homegrown (definitely organic) citrus. The angle of the picture makes the crust look really thick, but it wasn’t. It was thin and crispy. Key limes are about the size of a ping-pong ball. I won’t deny that there is likely some knuckle in that zest.

As I mentioned earlier, I have an urge to start writing again. The candy man on the corner, William Tidball, who makes the best Turtles in the world, also sells local author’s books in his shop. I gave him a copy of Naked Alliances. He is reading it now and then we’ll discuss whether he will add it to his shelves. Most of the books that sell well are the ones specifically about Matlacha and Pine Island, but he has had some luck with several Florida writers.

Greg thinks I should live on the island and get to know more people before I start writing stories located here. I disagree. You can drive through and see the Trump 2020 flags, read the local Progressives column in the newspaper, and walk down any street to get the flavor of the place. The only black man I have seen on this island of roughly 700 residents, is the guy who plays the steel drums at Bert’s Bar and Grille every day from noon till 3 pm. Not sure how Brandi will fit in if I continue that series. Snowbirds come in September/October. According to the US Census Bureau, there is a 0.3% black population here. Not nearly the diversity that is seen in Orlando. But I do know that the candy man is gay. So there’s that. I don’t really want any of my characters fashioned after specific people on the island. It’s not anonymous enough.

Skip Elliot Bowman, resident drummer. He plays about two dozen different instruments, has played in NYC and at Carnegie Hall.

For example, some people have made characters fashioned after 62 yo Leoma Lovegrove, a colorful local character in her own right. She has a super sweet, bubbly personality and appears by other names in people’s books here. Leoma’s husband is an author and they host Indie Author Day here yearly. There are many artists, tho not as popular, who live on the island. There are a half dozen galleries in Matlacha alone and Pine Island has more. I could see an art-related story developing, but I would not want my storyline drawn on any specific character. There are also stores here that sell artifacts, both native American and Pioneer.

If you have time to read on, I will share a brief history of the place.

Around 1925, Lee County began dredging shell fill from the oyster beds of Matlacha Pass for use in the construction of a road they were building to connect the mainland to Pine Island. The abundance of the shell fill they dredged created a mass of land heretofore not existing on any maps. A wooden swing bridge was put in place across Matlacha Pass in 1927. (Pine Island was once inhabited by the Calusa Indians and later the Seminoles.)

Shortly thereafter, the Great Depression began and a group of squatters moved onto the excess shell fill. They didn’t have much, but the excellent fishing provided food and made this small parcel of land an attractive option to homelessness. The squatters began in tents and cars, eventually building shacks, shanties, and stilt houses. Over time they developed a full-scale fishing industry on this unclaimed land. At one point there was a showdown with the local government and the squatters emerged victorious. The land was deeded to them by the government through homestead rights. Thus the legendary fishing village of Matlacha was born.

Elvis music and movie, “Follow That Dream”

This entire drama is documented in Richard Powell’s novel, “Pioneer, Go Home!” (1959). The novel then became an Elvis Presley movie called “Follow That Dream” (1962). We watched the comedy-musical a few nights ago. The wooden swing bridge over Matlacha Pass was replaced with the present-day concrete draw-bridge in 1969. Plans to replace the existing bridge with an identical one because of its age are purportedly underway.

Much of Matlacha was constructed during the ’20s and ’30s. One and two-room clapboard houses with tin roofs went up along Pine Island Rd. These informally built, casually constructed structures embody the essence of Florida as it was prior to the building booms following WWII, during the 1960s and thereon. Yes, we live on a spoil island, and it’s one of the few unspoiled places you will find in the state. Stacked on shell that has cemented over time, it’s not likely to wash away like the sandbar islands. I’ll take my chances with the hurricanes for these sunrise and sunset views.

OH, YEAH! I almost forgot. There’s a Kindle Countdown Deal going on and “Naked Alliances” is on sale for 99 cents.

Review: “Richard Noggin and his trusty sidekick expose the bare truth about a ten-year-old murder and get to the bottom of an ugly human trafficking scheme. With tight prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, Naked Alliances doesn’t let up until you’ve seen it all!” ~ Tim Baker, author of Eyewitness Blues.

 

Busy Making Art

I have been painting more than I have been writing. Some of it is just for fun, and some of it is hard work. It’s all enjoyable. Thought I would share some of the things I created since my last post. I’ve really challenged myself to step up my game.  There are about 19-20. I didn’t want to put them in a revolving gallery because the images are too small and I wanted you to be able to see and appreciate the detail. Enjoy.

11X14 on canvas board acrylics: “Face Flower is my take on a Concha Jiménez Puente painting

 

16X20 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Autumn Reflections”

 

16X20 on pro gallery wrapped canvas “Misty Tropical Treefall”

 

18X24 acrylics/textured on student grade canvas: “Steelers Pumps” –Irridecent paints on shoes. Gift for friend and Steelers fan.

 

11X14 Acrylics on pro gallery wrapped canvas: “Maya Angelou” Gift for yoga instructor, Jai Dev, who often quotes her.

 

16X20 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Sailor’s Delight”

 

16X20 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Appalachian Waterfall”

 

18X24 acrylics on student grade canvas” “Books are Magic”

 

11X14 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: 1st commissioned piece for Mark Paxon, “Stronger Than Hate” Inspired by Ben Roethlisberger’s cleats after the Tree of Life Sanctuary shootings–gift for his son.

 

18X24 Acrylics on student grade canvas (I hate this one…my sky didn’t go as planned.) : “Stormy Rainbow”

 

18X24 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Sailing Regatta” This started out as a cloud study, but I liked how it turned out, so made it a painting.

 

16X20 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Spring Gardens”

 

11X14 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Winter Train”

 

16X20 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Wild Horses”–I don’t like how the middle horse’s chest and legs came out so it needs a touch-up.

 

6X16 acrylics on gold-leafed hardboard: “Seven Sand Hill Cranes on Takeoff”–These are new techniques I have been experimenting with.

 

16X20 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Tree of Life in Enchanted Forest”– This was a special project I did for my daughter. It had to show day and night, have mother earth (in the treetop) a man, a woman, and a baby. It was my first fantasy painting. It also uses some luminescent paints, gold and copper leaf, and glitter, but you can’t see the shiny in a pic.

 

16X16 metal leaf on hardboard: “Tree of Life” This was my first try at metal leaf and I had to stencil the adhesive. It took many months and was also a gift for my daughter.

 

11X14 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Kitty” Commissioned piece for a gift. I have since changed some of the colors on the forehead from grays to brown/beige.

 

12X12 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Rose”

Hope you enjoyed your tour thru my little studio.

On a scale of 1-10, I would say “Maya Angelou” was a 10. “Rose” came in a close 9.

All of these pieces are for sale unless otherwise specified (except the “Winter Train”–it hangs in my bedroom)

 

“Lost and Found : A Mid-life Love Story” Writers’ Group Piece

Our rainbow

The group’s mandatory word prompts are boldfaced, 500 words +/- 50.

My reasons for living had left me. Nothing remained but the sound of the clock ticking on the wall. Silent tears tucked me into bed each night. Fear of being alone in this world woke me up in the morning. He had taken his machete to my heart and mutilated the better part of me. Only a shell of my former self remained. Knowing I was losing all that I loved, I lost my mind, went deep inside myself to the point of no return, or so it seemed. An orchestra played The Horror Anthem in my head.

I lost my home, my family, and all the roles that were me. My job was gone. My profession was at risk. My grandmother’s house belonged to him now. He could pay the mortgage, the power bill, buy the groceries. All those years of listening to the advice of Suze Orman had paid off. I got the retirement savings. I got the serenity of knowing that the good does not last forever, but neither does the bad.

For years, I stumbled in the darkness alone. I could let the darkness suck me up and become a casualty, or I could turn away from the darkness and toward the light. I had that choice. I could trust the light that dances moonlit shadows on the forest floor, pierces the night sky with pin pricks, and sends rays through the clouds to lift the morning fog. I could trust the light that raises the seedling from the earth, warms the landscape, and slants through the window. I could put my faith in the light. I chose to trust the light.

There was not much left. The sun was beginning to set, but still, I could not look up into the sky to see it on the horizon. I walked the sidewalks of the city; head down, to see the dandelion weeds pushing their way through the cracks. My world was black and white fusion without any tone or hue at all. It was a void, numb, gray place. Socializing seemed something reserved for the living. A newspaper blew across the street proclaiming McGillicuddy as Mayor, and I did not care. A cup of coffee at Austin’s and you were there. Our eyes locked. We began to chat. We talked for hours that day.

You were an artist. You stroked skillfully onto the canvas of my soul with all of the primary colors, the palate of autumn sassafras leaves, until I laughed in the yellow, danced in the blue, and felt the passion of the red again, and again. As you painted, the blue and yellow blended into green of new life; the yellow and red mingled into orange zest for living it. A soft purple breath was whispered into the masterpiece with the sweep of your brush. As the days went by I marveled at what we had accomplished together. It was art for art’s sake, and then we signed that painting. Now we have this beautiful rainbow suspended in the spaces around us. It catches the light of a new morning sun.

529 words

Creative Expression to Collectively Open Minds

My soon-to-be four year old granddaughter refuses to try to color in the lines. She hates coloring books, but loves to draw and paint freehand. These are birds flying in the air:

Her daddy is an artist and these are a few of his works:

Misha Burnett did a post today that got me thinking about art, music and writing….mostly creativity, whether traditionally or independently produced.

Take art.

Jackson Pollock, Picasso and Rembrandt. All three different styles. All three with their own audience…all styles that were copied.

There are those who swear only their preferred style of art is worthy. Yet there are those art critics who can appreciate the variety of all three.  It is the unique expression of creativity from the soul that makes them worthy.

Take music.

Again, tastes vary tremendously. The people who enjoyed this:


Often Detested This:

And many who loved this:

Thought this was absurd:

Yet they all have had an audience. Many can appreciate all forms of music.

It’s all good. Influential artistry.
It demonstrates our collective creativity.

Now, more than ever, writers have an opportunity to express their creativity.

Dare to be Different!

Writing is like art and music. Along with specific genre choices, people develop an expectation of what is acceptable to them regarding writing style, content, voice, person, POV, execution techniques, formatting choices. When we deviate from that which is expected, we break out of a traditional mold and become creative. Breaking from tradition always carries risks. But, is creativity a bad thing or a good thing? I personally believe creativity is an awesome thing, a powerfully liberating thing…provided the artist, in this case the writer, can attract the right audience. Find your audience.

There are always going to be critics who don’t like your work. It is written in the “wrong” person, the prose is too flowery, the characters didn’t develop “properly”, and the ending was not satisfying. I have been reading reviews of great classics and people are making the same complaints about them as they are contemporary works, because everyone is a master in their own mind.

Industry standards are often creativity killers.

Be your own master.

Don’t be an industrial slave unless you choose to be.

Write what you are passionate about. Write how you feel it. Write in the way that is comfortable to you. Write what comes naturally. Don’t force your writing into a mold.

Sure, edit properly. Follow the rules that govern language and grammar, but don’t be afraid to deviate. Don’t be afraid to be creative. Sing your own song. Color outside the lines if it pleases you.

Can you think of books that opened your mind that were written differently than the traditional novel?

“The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize winner, comes to mind.

Ursula K. Le Guin challenged the world with her mix of fantasy and sci-fi at a time when to deviate was simply unacceptable.

“The Book Theif” by Markus-Zusak, published by Random House, is an historical fiction that was narrated by Death, and is a book for teens and adults, with nearly 8000 positive reviews.