La Luministe, a Lush Art Novel by Paula Butterfield

When I heard about this book, I knew I’d buy it. There are books like that. Since I’m an Impressionism geek and feminist, when I heard that Paula Butterfield had written a novel about Berthe Morisot, one of the few women on the forefront of the Impressionist movement, I was thrilled.

Then I learned that my Victorine Meurent, the main character of my novel, makes an appearance in La Luministe, and I squealed. (A fun thing is that Morisot shows up in my book briefly as well.)

If someone had asked me what I’d like a novel written about, I’d have said this. And I wasn’t disappointed.

But before I discuss the content, let’s look at the cover. You’ve got this amazing painting, At the Ball, by Morisot, which depicts a woman with a fan. Here, though, the painting is partially, tantalizingly, obscured. If you continue your gaze downward, you’ll be rewarded by a bit of what we assume is an easel, complete with a lovely, paint-spattered brush at the bottom. That brush! I want to hold it.

As one who has carefully studied mid-19th century Parisian art history and its chief players, I greatly admired and enjoyed the story, once I allowed my gaze to stray beyond that fabulous cover. In fact, Butterfield assumes the mantle of our “luministe” as she enlightens us about what it was like to be a painter during a time when respectable women did not paint beyond pretty little scenes to make them seem accomplished to suitable husbands.

Though artist Berthe Morisot sustains a lifelong longing for the unobtainable Edouard Manet, she manages to break free from both society and familial expectations enough to become a painter of note herself in the newly bourgeoning Impressionist movement. In the end, she ultimately finds herself at “repose,” as one of Manet’s paintings of her is titled.

This book is moving, well researched, and told with painstaking detail. It was a delight to read.

Manet’s Mania for Chokers

In Victorine, my historical novel coming out in the next few months, I write about the black choker Edouard Manet paints Victorine wearing. I imagine it as his bootlace, called into service on the spot.

Later, I give Victorine adoring fans who purchase and sport chokers with her as Olympia in lockets. It hardly offsets the cruelty she experiences in the streets after the “scandalous” nude painting was exhibited.

But Victorine is not the only one of Manet’s models to wear chokers. While I wouldn’t dismiss out of hand someone psychoanalyzing the painter and his predilection for encircling his model’s necks, I prefer to chalk it up to his respect and regard for fashion. Few paint fabric and fashion of the day the way he did.

When I stumbled upon this collage on Instagram, I knew I had to share it with you. Thanks, guzelonlu, for this lineup.

Four of the images pictured are Victorine. Can you tell which?

Bonus points if you can tell me the titles of those paintings. First one to comment gets a shoutout from me on Twitter.

#Manet #ArtHistory #Art #Impressionism

Manet and Modern Beauty

See the source image

Manet and Modern Beauty: The Artist’s Last Years, edited by Scott Allan, Emily A. Beeny, and Gloria Groom, is the catalogue for the eponymous exhibit of Édouard Manet’s later works. Filled with lush color representations of the paintings and ephemera on display, the expansive book also delights with authoritative, informative essays for those who might not be as familiar with Manet’s life and painting, or for those eager to learn current theories about the painter.

Later in life Manet gravitated toward unabashedly painting fashion, flowers, and fruit. Unlike his political and hierarchical-upsetting earlier works, he seemed pleased to focus on painting what simply appealed to his eyes during his later years when he was unwell and had limited mobility.

Two notable works in the collection are Jeanne (Spring) and Autumn (Méry Laurent), the only two of a planned set of four to represent the seasons that Manet completed.

The Conservatory, Plum Brandy, Waitress Serving Beer, and the CaféConcert are some of the other paintings depicting modern life and fashion that preoccupied Manet in the second half of his career. No one paints a good mug of beer like Manet. It’s as if he’s anticipating drinking it as he creates it. Equally, no one uses color quite in the same way, either. If you don’t know his paintings by the hands, you’ll know them by the way he places colors adjacent to one another. He evidences his joy in flowers by the care he takes in drawing them. His palette makes flowers look even more beautiful than they do in real life. It’s the work of someone who knows he’s dying and wants to gather to himself all of the beauty and color he will have to leave behind.

The editors of the book thank Juliet Wilson-Bureau, and with good reason: her extensive Manet scholarship is deeply felt in the exhibit. Essay authors and contributors to the collection include Carol Armstrong, Helen Burnham, Leah Lehmbeck, Devi Ormond, Douglas MacLennan, Nathan Daly, Catherine Schmidt Patterson, Bridget Alsdorf, Jamie Kwan, and Samuel Rodary. They write on topics as varied as Manet and the Salon to the materials he used, a fascinatingly deep dive. His “little nothings” are the subject of Armstrong’s essay, lending weight to something Manet himself pretended to dismiss.

The essays are engaging and necessary reading for the exhibit goer (preferably devoured before attending the show and again after), and perhaps even more necessary for those who cannot attend. For Manet aficionados, this book will both whet your appetite to see the paintings and to study him more in-depth than ever before. What the authors spark is a hunger for examining the paintings for oneself.

See the source image

Plum Brandy

This volume will satisfy the curiosity of the most avid fan. It delves into the provenance of every painting. It depicts his “scribbles” on envelopes and his attempts at painting tambourine skins. It reprints correspondence to and from Manet about his paintings. As a souvenir, an exhibit guidebook, and a textbook, Manet and Modern Beauty is one for the art lover’s library.

An important note for would-be viewers: a few of the paintings are not going to be shown at both the Art Institute in Chicago and the J. Paul Getty Museum in L.A., (the two museums which will host the show), so consult the book to know if your favorite will be at the museum where you will attend the show.

My novel, Victorine, featuring Edouard Manet’s favorite model, is on its way!

Victorine. I spent months researching about her, writing about her. Dreaming of her.

Meurent montage

She was Edouard Manet’s favorite model. She was her own favorite model, too, when she went to art school and became a painter! Needless to say, this novel is historical fiction, in case that’s your jam. (I adore it!)

The collage above shows paintings of her not only by Manet, but also by Alfred Stevens.

It seems I’ve shared the news everywhere but over here. Guess what? She’s on her way!Late this year or early next, I will my book about her in my  hands. I can’t wait!

She will be published by Fleur-de-Lis Press, and I couldn’t be happier!

Did I mention this is my first novel? Surely you can imagine how much happy dancing has been happening in our household! I even wrote an essay about it. More on that later!

In the weeks and months to come I’ll be sharing more of the Victorine story: what drew me to her, my discoveries along the way, and more about the paintings she sat for. More of her history.

If you want to know more, please follow me on the social medias: Twitter (@dremadrudge), Facebook (Drema Sizemore Drudge), and Instagram (Drema Drudge).

Hubby and I are launching a podcast, Writing All the Things, in June 2019, and I daresay Victorine news will spill over to it as well. You can learn more about it at: writingallthethings.com. Or join our Facebook Writing All the Things Podcast Group.

What would you like me to share with you about Victorine? I’m open.

Click to subscribe to our mailing list.

Elementary Ways of Managing Your Pain

I’m so happy to announce the release of Elementary Ways of Managing Your Pain by a writing client of mine, massage therapist Nancy Snavely.

First of all, let me say what an honor it was to work with this dream client. Nancy came to me with an outline and a timeline, too. She knew exactly when she wanted to finish this book and what she wanted it to say. Guess what? She put a copy of the printed book in my hands today, right on schedule. Y’all, she’s an inspiration. She kicks @ss!

One morning when we met up at a café to discuss her book, she looked at me and said, “You’re in pain, aren’t you?” I hadn’t flinched or anything that I was aware of, but I certainly was hurting. She had me position a pillow in a spot on my back that immediately made me feel better. Here I was supposed to be helping her, and she was helping me. In case you can’t tell, I think she’s amazing.

If you’ve ever suffered pain (who hasn’t?) or know someone who has, you’ll want to read her book. Nancy’s book gives tips and tricks for you to try on your own, since she’s only got two hands and limited client slots. Nancy has numerous certifications, countless testimonials from clients, and keen powers of observation; her healing hands have provided relief to many. I, for one, am thankful she took the time to write this so others can learn from her. I know I did.

The book is also (whether intentionally or not) part memoir. Nancy opens up and shares how she came to the career path she chose. She vulnerably tells difficult parts of her story, which forms trust between her and the reader. Let me say, I had to buck up and tell myself not to cry while editing parts of her story. (And, since I’m not made of stone, I might not have been entirely successful at not crying.) But if anyone is a survivor, Nancy is. If anyone is stronger because of what she’s been through, it’s Nancy. I admire her greatly.

I may have been her editor, but she did more than her fair share of teaching me. Her book reminded me of the importance of things like simply drinking water. Of doing movement you love. As her title says — elementary things.

But it’s also full of innovative, cutting-edge methods. Nancy knows what the trends are; she doesn’t permit herself to get rusty. The book will likely mention things you’ve never heard of, such as cupping and EFT.

Her book’s available on Amazon, so go get it! And if (when!) you do, comment below and let me know, won’t you?

ELEMENTARY WAYS OF MANAGING YOUR PAIN: A Massage Therapist’s advice for life-altering relief from pain https://www.amazon.com/dp/1795294639/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_wR3KCbCTDN087

You can learn more about her work at: functionalholistichealth.com.

A Belated Happy Cranberry Thanksgiving

I meant to write this post before Thanksgiving. Clearly, I didn’t get around to it. Sorry. But since I was thrilled to recently run across this well-loved secondhand copy of Cranberry Thanksgiving, a book I fell for when I was a little girl in New Jersey, I still want to blog about it. You are what you read.

I also enjoy cranberry sauce maybe too much, so maybe this book has had undue influence on my eating habits as well.img_8219

The book shares the story of young Maggie and her grandmother who live adjacent to a New England cranberry bog. Grandmother is well known for her famous cranberry bread that she made every Thanksgiving. She guards her recipe carefully. When Maggie invites a friend, Mr. Whiskers, to share the holiday meal with them, Grandmother is irritated that the man she considers uncouth and overly hairy is coming to dinner.

She prefers Mr. Horace, a well-dressed man with a gold cane who is nevertheless alone for Thanksgiving; she invites him to eat with them. And she doesn’t trust Mr. Whiskers. Not to spoil the story, but the prized recipe nearly gets stolen and it turns out that Mr. Horace owns a bakery, so…

Here’s the recipe, in case you’re feeling like doing some post-Thanksgiving baking.

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Sorry, no great and grand lesson here. No writing instruction to speak of. Just a good memory, a heartwarming book about people not being who they appear to be, and what may well be a tasty recipe. If you try it, let me know. Alas, I haven’t tried it yet.

 

 

Think, Act, & Be Happy

I’ve been remiss: Think, Act, & Be Happy: How to Use Chicken Soup to Train Your Brain to Be Your Own Therapist, another fine Chicken Soup book, was released September 25 and I am just now getting around to mentioning it. Because life. 🙂

You may know where this is going. I’m so pleased to announce I have not one but two stories reprinted in it, complete with Dr. Mike Dow’s dissection of how the methods I used helped me reach my goals. (He did the same for all the featured stories, of course.)

Not only was it cool to hear I got some things right, it was also great to be reminded that it was time to get back to some of them that I have let go by the wayside.

The first story in the anthology is “Wake-Up Call,” from Dreams and Premonitions in which I write about a dream — a nightmare, really –helped me quit taking my husband for granted. I’m certainly not perfect at this, but I’m better than o used to be. He’s a pretty great guy!

The second comes from Shaping the New You. “Ready to Listen” discusses my ongoing battle with my weight and the hints that work best for me — when I work them. And I’m once again using my own tips to tame that tiger!

Our local newspaper is writing up a feature on my inclusion in the book, which is always fun.

The book includes the usual touching, personal stories, but it also includes a list of powerful cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to change how you think and act. It follows up with questions to ask yourself, pen in hand. It’s like a bowl of healing Chicken Soup paired with powerful vitamins!

While I am incredibly proud to be included, I’m also proud of how Chicken Soup continues to innovate and evolve. In these dark political days, they give us something to celebrate, something to enjoy, and now, something we can do to help ourselves.

Graduation and More, Kyoto Style!

It seems like my husband, Barry, just started attending Spalding MFA’s Creative Writing Program, but this July, he graduated in Kyoto, Japan. That means there are two — yes, two — Spalding grads in the house!

What an honor and privilege to be there to cheer on all of his hard work, hear him do his graduation reading, see him receive his well-earned hood. Barry, I’m so proud of you. Much love!

A highlight of every Spalding trip is spending time with writing friends, old ones and new. (Please, no comments about my hair. Let’s all agree that it does not travel well and leave it at that.)

I’m passionate about architecture, and Japan’s was refreshingly different from that of most countries we’ve visited. We were staying about ten minutes from Toji Temple, so we took an early stroll one morning to view both the temple and its extensive grounds.

The group took a day trip to Hiroshima. It was, as you can imagine, a sobering experience. We heard a survivor talk and we visited the various monuments and museum.

There were more casual gatherings, like the night a group of us went out to karaoke. We gathered in a room, maybe a dozen of us, at a long table. Passing down drinks and mics, we ended up singing most of the songs together. Lady Gaga songs were a favorite, as well as songs by the Beatles. Sorry, I don’t have any pictures of the evening, but it was so much fun!

Here are miscellaneous shots of our hotel. I spent time writing in the lounge pictured. The hotel had kimonos and Samurai outfits for us to try on, so of course we did.

If I’m not mistaken, I’m the student/alum who has been on the most trips with Spalding. I was on the program’s second trip abroad, and have been on every trip since as a student or an alum. While Barry and I are welcome to go on any future trips we want, it will likely be a few years before we go again. (Which isn’t as sad as it sounds, because there are plenty of places in the U.S. we want to visit.)

I’ll close with random photos from the trip and try not to cry when I imagine not getting together with our Spalding family abroad soon. I’m sure we will go to homecoming in Louisville, though, most years. At Spalding, you’re always family.

Is There an Idea Store?

As far as I know, there is no idea store. At least not as such.

Some freelance writers find that their biggest obstacle is coming up with ideas. My mother has an inquisitive mind. She’s curious about everything, and she passed that gene onto me, I guess. I come up with too many ideas some days. (Not all of them are good, but still.)

Because of my nature, when I go for a mammogram and someone gives me a rose, I thank them first and then ask why I’ve been given such a sweet gift.

From that recent question came an article I wrote that is just out over at Radiology Today. While I don’t always share everything I write so as not to overwhelm, here’s the story, if you’d like to take a look.

Writing this was engrossing, involving discussions with caring health professionals and a patient or two. And the editor was a dream to work with.

Ideas can come from anywhere. They can come from annoyances, from curiosity, from passions, from wondering, from lack of knowledge, from observation…there are endless sources of questions/ideas.

Pretend you’re a two-year-old and keep asking, “Why?” If you do, you’re halfway there. Of course ideas have to be refined and angled. That’s a whole course in itself!

Oh, and what did I mean by there isn’t an idea store “as such?” If you read publications and websites and identify a gap, well, that’s your signal to ask if they would like to have that gap filled. It’s called sending a pitch or a query. What they typically publish tells you more than anything what they’d like to see more of, or what they need that they don’t yet know they need. Sometimes you’ll get an enthusiastic response. Sometime you’ll hear nothing. Keep pitching.

Sure, there’s a world more to be said about this topic, but this will get you started. Happy idea hunting. Don’t forget to bring along paper and pen, or your phone if you prefer to record ideas.

Writers, where do you get your ideas? What inspires you? Readers, do you have a list of topics you wish writers would write about?

idea bulb paper sketch
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

Thanks for stopping by. I value every page view.

XOXO,

Drema

We Shall See: Write Your Story, “Right” Your Life

Recently I was honored to be asked to deliver the keynote address at the Learn More Center commencement in Wabash, Indiana. Having taught there in the past, I was delighted to speak. These students are some of the hardest working I have ever seen.

In case you weren’t able to attend, below are my remarks.

One day in late summer, an old farmer was working in his field with his old sick horse. The farmer felt compassion for the horse and desired to lift its burden. So he left his horse loose to go to the mountains and live out the rest of its life.
Soon after, neighbors from the nearby village visited, offering their condolences and said, “What a shame. Now your only horse is gone. How unfortunate you are! You must be very sad. How will you live, work the land, and prosper?” The farmer replied: “Who knows? We shall see.”
I am so honored to be here this afternoon and to share this precious life event with you. Because I was once an instructor here, I feel like I already know your life stories and the struggles that brought you here. I know how hard you’ve worked to accomplish what you have.
I’m not sure if the Learn More Center intake process is the same as what it was when I was here. When I taught here, new students had to write down their goal and the possible obstacles to achieving them.
Then they had to list what they would do if those obstacles came up.
What if your car breaks down?
What if transit is two hours late?
What if your child is too sick to go to school? How will you make it to class?
You literally took pen and paper and wrote ways to make your life right by creating a plan. Now that’s some power!
You already told yourselves you could do it or you wouldn’t be here today. You already decided that there is nothing that has happened to you, good or bad, that you can’t overcome.
Doubters might look at your past situation and judge you based on what you did or didn’t do then: “Oh, you didn’t finish school. You must not have cared about your education.” Just like in the story of the wise man and his son, others decided they could interpret what your life would be based on what they thought they knew of your circumstances.
You knew better. You said, “We shall see.” You came here. You worked hard. You sacrificed your time and energy. You gave up time with family. TV time. You stayed up all night after work studying. Some of you spent gas money you didn’t have and went hungry to get here.
That doesn’t sound to me like someone who doesn’t care about an education. And it doesn’t to you, either, or you wouldn’t be here. You knew the truth of the matter. You didn’t let others decide your story.
Two days later the old horse came back now rejuvenated after meandering in the mountainsides while eating the wild grasses. He came back with twelve new younger and healthy horses which followed the old horse into the corral.
Word got out in the village of the old farmer’s good fortune and it wasn’t long before people stopped by to congratulate the farmer on his good luck. “How fortunate you are!” they exclaimed. “You must be very happy!” Again, the farmer softly said, “Who knows? We shall see.”
But aren’t you too old to be at LMC?, those voices of doubt might say, it’s too late for a high school education, and vocational training, isn’t that for younger people? Why try?
Whether it was others’ voices or your own, you ignored your fears. You said, “We shall see.” And you found your way here. You proved that you’re never too old, never too ‘behind,’ never too whatever they said to discourage you.
You are a visionary. You have authored a new story. And you’re on the way to making things that went wrong, right.
“We shall see.” Now in the story, the wise man means that as we don’t know. We can’t always know what it means when something happens. But I have a feeling you all meant that “We shall see” with a little more attitude, a little more swagger: “We shall see,” in your terms might be, “I’ll show them.” And today, you have.
At daybreak on the next morning, the farmer’s only son set off to attempt to train the new wild horses, but the farmer’s son was thrown to the ground and broke his leg. One by one villagers arrived during the day to bemoan the farmer’s latest misfortune. “Oh, what a tragedy! Your son won’t be able to help you farm with a broken leg. You’ll have to do all the work yourself, How will you survive? You must be very sad,” they said. Calmly going about his usual business the farmer answered, “Who knows? We shall see.”
Think of every blessed class you sat through, every TABE test, every Pick Your Poison worksheet (do you still do those?), every essay you had to write – and you persevered.
You said, “we shall see what I can do.”
Some of you have been studying for years, not giving up even when no one would have faulted you for it. Your home life might have been chaotic. Your relationships challenging. You’ve gotten discouraged at times and wanted to quit. You didn’t.
Every time you got up when the alarm went off even though you had been up late with a sick family member and came to school anyway, every time you packed lunches for your kids but didn’t have food to pack for yourself but were determined to go to class anyway, every time you wanted to cry because you just could not figure out why you needed to understand math word problems because who would ever need to cut a cracker into 7/8ths, you said, “I’ll show them.”
Several days later a war broke out. The Emperor’s men arrived in the village demanding that young men come with them to be conscripted into the Emperor’s army. As it happened the farmer’s son was deemed unfit because of his broken leg. “What very good fortune you have!!” the villagers exclaimed as their own young sons were marched away. “You must be very happy.” “Who knows? We shall see,” replied the old farmer as he headed off to work his field alone.

Sure, you could have read your circumstances to mean just what those others did: that you’re not smart enough, young enough, thin enough, rich enough, whatever enough to succeed. You could have given up. But you didn’t.
You could have assumed that how things look was the only way they could be interpreted, but instead you wrote yourself a new story, started a new chapter. You decided that what things seemed to be didn’t have to be what they were. That facts are only data, not foregone conclusions or the inevitable way things have to turn out.
From here, after today, the possibilities are endless. You’ve written your own story by making the necessary changes in your life to get here. You’ve proven you’ve got what it takes. Now all you need to do is sit down sometime after you’ve taken the time to pause and appreciate your efforts. Celebrate today because you’ve earned it.
Those of you who are being inducted into Honor Society, we salute you. Pay attention to these who are graduating and what they’ve done to succeed too. Model their behavior. When you want to give up, remember that they didn’t.
Graduates, I applaud you. As I said, I know some of your stories well. I actually worked with some of you, and I’ll never forget your courage and tenacity. You taught me how to teach you, and I thank you for that.

As time went on the broken leg healed but the son was left with a slight limp. Again the neighbors came to pay their condolences. “Oh what bad luck. Too bad for you.” But the old farmer simply replied; “Who knows? We shall see.”

The teacher still in me won’t let you go without saying this, graduates and students: after you’ve had cake until it comes out of your ears, after you’ve hugged everyone you love and have enjoyed this day you might have thought would never come, consider sitting down with either the Learn More Center staff (and we know they’ll be asking you to do this if they haven’t already) or by yourself. Literally get out pen and paper, or a laptop, and write out where you want to be in five years, in one year, even. Work backwards and ask yourself what’s the first step you need to take to get there, and then the next and the next. Plot your future.
I doubt I have to tell you that, because it’s likely your vision doesn’t stop here with this already remarkable achievement. Today is the path to that career you have in mind, or a job you’ve been promised if only you get your HSE. You might have promised a relative you’d do this, but now that you have, you’re ready to do something just for you.

With all your gumption, though, and I know you have plenty of it, sometimes you need help. If you don’t know how to find the resources to achieve your dreams, ask. Someone somewhere is doing what you want to be doing. Someone knows how to achieve the success you want.
As it turned out the other young village boys had died in the war and the old farmer and his son were the only able-bodied men capable of working the village lands. The old farmer became wealthy and was very generous to the villagers. They said: “Oh how fortunate we are, you must be very happy,” to which the old farmer replied, “Who knows? We shall see!”

Today is a milestone. Tomorrow is another. What will the future hold for you? You’re the teachers. You’re the ones showing us what is possible through seemingly impossible odds.
Show us, graduates, and as you intended us to, we shall see.

Thank you.

Note: the version of Farmers Son is borrowed from the http://rainbowbody.com/newarticles/farmerson.htm.