Let’s Talk About VOICE

Feather varietyPhysical voice, personality voice, writer’s voice, character’s voice, artist’s voice – all coming out of the same person – but are they all the same?

About six years ago, I took several writing classes including a year of novel-writing.  The comments from other students included: “tense changing”, “dialogue too formal”, “not enough action”, and “data dumping”.

FYI:  Data Dumping is way too much explanation.  Tense changing is going from past to present without consistency.  Not enough action usually means boring.  (Critiques can be harsh, yet eye-opening too.)Scrub Jay enhanced

Dialogue is a character’s voice:  About the “dialogue too formal”, my main problem, at that time, was I was not using any contractions (I’ve, They’re, We’ve, I’m, doesn’t, aren’t, can’t…etc).  Contractions make dialogue more conversational and less formal.   Also, with dialogue, who is your character?  Each character has a different voice, depending on his or her age, education, region, interests, career, etc.

Let’s think about Yoda’s voice:  “Teach, I will.  Force, you Learn.”
Yoda Speak uses a writer’s tool called inversion.  “Inversion, I think.”
In sentence form:  “I will teach you about the Force.”

Crow and Sea GullA writer’s voice is the way that you speak on paper, and how your words come across to the reader.  Every writer’s voice will be different and you need to write in order to know your voice.   A writer’s voice improves with reading and practicing and interacting with words.  Writing my blog, Wings of Wonder, has improved my writer’s voice in short spurts and that voice is mostly informal and conversational.  Other writers’ styles might include formal, technical, chatty, poetic.  When I compose letters at work, the writing is more formal and professional.  So, a writer’s voice can change depending on the situation.

It’s a whole different ball game to sustain my Writer’s Voice for the length of a novel.  In a novel, you’ve got the narrator’s voice, each main character’s voice, and maybe a setting voice.  And if it’s a historical novel, you have a time period voice.   And all these voices are written by the same author.

Here’s a few suggestions for creating some variety in Character Voices:
Professor/Educated:  Use long sentences; three or more syllable words (eradicate).
Young child:  Use short, simple sentences; one or two-syllable words; limited vocabulary.  As the child gets older, use compound words, increase vocabulary.
Pirate:  might be loud or curse, have crude manners; talk about treasure and gold.
Traveler: Enthusiasm, stories, talk about airports, passports, destinations, adventures
Alcoholic or deranged person: slur words, sentences incomplete, muffled, repeated
New grandmother:  Using baby talk, coos, Ohs! Ahs! What an angel! Precious!
Strong identity: Use of I/me; assertive, opinionated, active voice “I will do that.”
And maybe you have one of these characters in your neighborhood:
Curmudgeon: person, old or otherwise, who is easily annoyed or angered and who often complains.  Dialogue from this person might be bad-tempered, difficult and cantankerous.img274

Yes, simplified, but I think you get the idea about how each character can be revealed through the dialogue that comes out of his or her mouth.

Back to voice.  I’ve talked about how a writer’s voice can change depending on character or situation, but is there something distinctive about a writer’s voice that is recognizable as that writer’s voice.  This may have more to do with individual style.  What’s your opinion on this (you the readers of my blog post)?  I’m thinking Hemingway with his plain, forceful, simple sentence style.  And I’m thinking about Faulkner with his 100 word sentences and his range of technique, tone and theme.

Artist voice:  An artist has a drawing handwriting, just like written handwriting.  Pencil to paper, individual, and after lots of drawing it will be recognizable as his or her own.  An artist style can be distinct:  only uses black and white, or muted colors, or full color; specific choice of subject; size, shape, light, shadow choices.  Again, there’s first the educational curve of learning about materials and techniques.  Then there’s draw/paint, more draw/paint and you’ll want to paint certain subjects and choose not to paint certain subjects and over time your individual style will be recognizable.   Or the artist may choose to incorporate images of feathers as visuals and maybe hint at metaphors.

Physical voice seems so obvious  but here are some of the qualities of a human voice to think about:  tone, timbre, rhythm, vocabulary, attitude.

Personality voice:  can be verbal and non-verbal; includes facial expressions and body movement.  Wild Turkey and Hawk

Here’s one more character to think about:

Collector: has naturalist tendencies; collects rocks, shells and feathers.  Also, has a shelf of jars filled with e.g. sea glass, buttons, sequins, small toys, and marbles.  Collector of words too, words organized into binders filled with lists and charts.  A word collector may also own a collection of dictionaries and lots of books.

Voice is birds song.  Voice is variety. Voice is feathers.

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Who Inspires Me – Part 2

Out Popped the Moon - Kay Nielsen 1914I previously wrote about one of my inspiration walls, but inspiration changes and I thought I would write about who is currently inspiring me. And there’s a message from the past that has lingered in my mind since 1996, a message from my grandmother that she wrote on a calendar, encouraging me to paint happy paintings.NR 1996 grandma E Norman Rockwell is one of the best for capturing facial expressions. For years, I’ve wanted whimsy in my art, and playfulness and joy, and I was on the right track when I painted the small watercolors.

LR Sketch Play: Birds and Fairy

LR Sketch Play: Birds and Fairy

Dogs But now I want to share some of the work of four women who have made a life and work for themselves centered around their art. First is Mary Engelbreit.  She’s the queen of cute. ME2ME1And of color.  And she built an empire based on her art. I have some old issues of her magazine “Home Companion” that have re-entered my life with new interest.

Next in line:  Tasha Tudor.  She also built a name for herself and published many books and Christmas cards using her designs.  Her guiding credo was this quote by Thoreau: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours”.

TT villageShe lived an interesting life and her life became her art.  The animals and children in her illustrations were inspired by the animals on her farm and her own children and grandchildren.  And she was an avid gardener.

Tasha Tudor is one of my favorites when I’m looking for nostalgia and quaint, old-fashion settings.  Who couldn’t find magic in a birthday cake and candles floating down the creek to the delight of children and adults!

TT3

 

 

 

Next in line:  Susan Branch.  I thought I had discovered her art for the first time in 2013 until I found among my idea files a page she illustrated in 1988 from Country Living magazine.SB magazine1988   I bought her book last year called “A Fine Romance – Falling in Love with the English Countryside”.  Here’s one of the pages from her book with hand-lettering and small watercolors. SWB1 This book is a handwritten and watercolored
diary of her “two month ramble through the quaint villages and misty country backroads of England.  Ramble is such a perfect word…

Well, I would like to continue with this post (which I started 10 days ago, but I am having technical difficulties.  Wordpress has re-designed my blog work page and I need to figure out how to upload more pictures and how to add tags and where to find everything….

I am busy. There’s tons of inspiration.  But now, the hard part.   I am attempting to find MY VOICE in all the visuals and words I’ve looked at and read and admired over the years.  MY VOICE is calling to me….

 

 

 

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New Life

100_2552I have a nursery of Monarch butterflies in my backyard, all because of the milkweed plant that I planted in 2012.  The plant has grown quite large and in April/May I had 35 cocoons scattered on posts, railings, walls, chairs, pots, willow tree….  Not all survived from that group but the ones that did brought joy watching the butterflies emerge and they come fluttering back to visit and lay more eggs on the plant.  I counted 10 caterpillars, and 6 more cocoons yesterday.

But there is more new life!  Here’s a photo of baby Rowan.  I’m a proud grandma!

Rowan

There is something very miraculous about new life!

Love, appreciate, share, commune, fear not and live!  Take Joy, LR

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On the Cusp of Change

LR Study of Boy with a Dove by PicassoMaybe as humans we’re always changing, but sometimes it stands out and you know you’re on that roller coaster and not sure when or how you will get off.  Last year while I was pre-occupied by all the medical after medical after medical, my business world was going tech, tech, tech and my brain was rebelling to change and struggling to adapt.

So, after major changes in relationships and workload and business skills, changes that crashed me into 2014, my barometer of sanity told me I needed to focus on my creative life and I’ve exploded these past three to four months.  I’ve thought about painting again, and about craft fairs and about an Etsy shop which have all given purpose to my ideas and I have been busy building a warehouse of ideas.  I’m not ready to share but will some day.  And I might begin a new blog or website as I create a world.

Now for the GREAT news:  I am the proud grandmother of a new grandson who weighs over nine pounds and has a full head of hair and is perfect with all his fingers and toes and a little nose and I got to hold him yesterday which brought joy to my heart and the parents are so proud after their very long ordeal bringing this new life into the world.  And here is another major life change unfolding….those baby noises were music to my ears.

I have no pictures of the baby to share yet, but will.
Here’s some flowers for my daughter and son-in-law:Pink RoseRosa DelightBox mums and peony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change, adapt, change, adapt, just like that new baby coming out of the womb, I’ve done my share of yelling this past year as life has forced change, after change, after change on me.  But I have adapted and I’m at a new level of determination and drive and self-respect.

This seems an appropriate time to share another print from my inspiration wall, a print that inspired my art work and art show from the early 21st century (had to say that), around the year 2002 which I’ve mentioned in past posts.  Here’s the print:

Manao Tupapao by Paul Gauguin:Paul Gauguin - Manao Tupapao

 

 

 

And since this seems the right time to share this subject, a birth, here’s the
postcard from my solo art show “A Flight to Freedom: an Art Tale About Rebirth” story and paintings by Linda R. Ruddy, March 2002.

Flight To Freedom postcardpostcard Flight to Freedom

 

 

 

 

Now I have shared the full range of my creative life to date.    I consider this art show my most potent and powerful work and at that time, I thought this was my opus, my swan song, and that there would be no others.
But after my rebirth, there came a flowering beginning with Journey of the Horses , and in the future I will complete the life cycle with art and writing on the subject of death.  But, the focus now is on life and living and believing and reaching, reaching, reaching.
Embrace your life NOW!  Sending hugs into the world.  LR

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Part 1 – My Inspiration Walls

Whimsical WallI have a square hall area outside of some bedrooms and along one side is a bookcase I built, another wall has whimsical illustrations that I have framed.  The third wall showcases postcards and prints that inspire my women’s art.  And the fourth side has a linen closet and opening to the stairs.

My sister told me recently, that when she comes to spend the night she enjoys looking at those walls and that’s reason enough to share.  This post will focus on The Whimsy Wall: three Kay Nielsen illustrations, an N.C. Wyeth, two Paul Gauguin, Edmund Dulac, Harold Gaze, several cards by unknown artists, and a small abstract landscape by me.

Here’s the three Kay Nielsen’s from the book Old Tales from the North.

“She could not help setting the door a little ajar, just to peep in, when–pop! Out flew the moon.”

Out Popped the Moon - Kay Nielsen 1914From the same book, this comes from the story “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”:
East of Sun West of Moon

“Well, mind and hold tight by my shaggy coat, and then there’s nothing to fear,” said the Bear, so she rode a long, long way. “

And the last Kay Nielsen:
“No sooner had he whistled than he heard a whizzing and a whirring from all quarters, and such a large flock of birds swept down that they blackened all the field in which they settled.”
Flock of Birds - Kay NielsenKeep inspiration close.  Enjoy the holiday weekend.  From me, Linda

 

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Mother Memories

Rose Double DelightI’ve thought a lot about my mother these past few weeks.  She was/is robbed from her family because of what the doctors said are “symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s”.   It’s been about ten years since we observed major memory issues, although back then she did try to hide it.   Some patients get angry.  Some repeat themselves over and over.  My mom lost the ability to talk.

And I have questions to ask her and I want to hear her laugh and I want to see her dance around the room after she’s had a few glasses of wine.  And I want to go for walks like we used to do.  And I want her to give me roses from her garden.  There’s bitter-sweet memories when I think about my mom.

My mom loved Christmas and would bring out the decorations the day after Thanksgiving.  She wrote long, newsy letters and cards to old friends.  She bought tinsel for the tree and wanted us, children, to hang the silver threads one at a time (but the tree always ended up with clumps).  I made her Christmas decorations and she remembered to tell me how nice they look or how much she enjoyed them…every year thereafter.

Before kids, she finished college and had some on-the-job nursing experience before my sister arrived.  While great-grandma watched the baby, my mom went back to work but then I came, only thirteen months later so that brought an end to her nursing career.  Then two more children, my younger sister and my brother.  My mom was protective and dutiful, although I would say that she was also overwhelmed with four young children and several moves across the country.

The family moved from California to New York to Colorado and back to California, living first with grandparents, then a rental house and finally settling in a home.  I lived in that home from fourth grade till I married.

Memories of my mom:  She had a fashion style about her, classy, with matching hats or belts.  She loved the old black and white classic movies, but she grew up seeing those movies and those glamorous movies stars:  Katherine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall,  Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Claudette Cobert and they influenced her style.

She loved to read novels.  Once our family was settled back in California we use to go to the mountains each summer for a week.  (Mom and dad had spent part of their honeymoon at that same cabin.)  There was always a trip to the library before vacation, so that each of us had books to read.  Mom introduced me to authors like Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier, Victoria Holt and Dodie Smith.  (Disney made movies of several of their books:  “Moonspinners” by Mary Stewart; “101 Dalmations” by Dodie Smith.)  However, my mom’s all-time favorite book was “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith and this book was by her bedside for years.Dodie Smith - I Capture the Castle I Capture Castle

My mom was protective.  She could act quickly and come to the defense of her children and diffuse uncomfortable situations.  The neighbor women would seek her advice.  She had a close relationship with her own mother and father.  She maintained long friendships with friends from her youth and from nurse’s training.  In fact, several of her friends e-mail me now for updates and to stay connected.

I think of my mom as an innocent.  Her influences were clean and classy.  She is a gentle soul now.  But life took some painful turns and I know she tried her best.  When I was in high school, my mom tried to re-enter the nursing world.  She had renewed her license for years and continued with training but the hospital world had changed greatly with technology and my mom wasn’t able to transition back to nursing.  I think this happens to many women who give up their careers to marry and have children.

Another painful development in her life:  My brother, her fourth child developed a debilitating disease in his twenties.  I found a notebook that my mom kept during those years, with clinical notes about his behavior, his symptoms, treatments tried, and failures.
My brother became the focus of my parents’ lives and my sisters and I helped when we could, especially during a crisis and there were many of those.

I have random memories of my mom.  She took interior decorating classes.  She would line us, children, up and give us a tablespoon of cod liver oil.  She helped in saving my sister’s life by giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (which was a new procedure back then).  She worked for May Company one Christmas season.   She learned to drive late, in her thirties, and never drove freeway.  She belonged to a garden club in Colorado and one year she planted lots of daffodils and tulips.  She would golf with friends.   She always wrote encouraging notes on our report cards and hung them on the refrigerator.  I see a memory of mom and me playing jacks on the kitchen floor.  And another memory of her teaching me to play bridge.  (I wasn’t very good.)  On vacation, we played many games of Hearts.

Everyone has a “dark” side.  Sometimes my mom would make comments that I think were sarcastic.  Also, my dad, the patriarch, would overshadow my mom with his booming voice.  My mom appeared to act passively but I remember she would flip him off behind his back.

My mom loved the holidays and for years, she and my dad brought us all together, along with all the grandchildren, the great-aunts, and Grandmother Esther, for a giant Thanksgiving feast and then a month later for another Christmas celebration.   The house was always clean and festive, food delicious, and lots of conversation.

One of my fondest memories, was seeing my parents in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.  They worked well as a team on that day.  My dad always put on the Macy’s Parade.  He would baste the turkey and make a huge pot of mashed potatoes.  Mom set a beautiful table.

Eventually, I took over Thanksgiving and a few years after that I did both Thanksgiving and Christmas and it’s a lot of work to put on two big celebrations a month apart, even when family helps with all the side dishes.  Thanks mom and dad!

Some annoying things about my mom:  for years she dressed my two sisters and I in identical dresses, until junior high when my older sister and I put a stop to that.   She also would sugar-coat things, which as a teenager didn’t ring true with me.  (a pimpled face teenager will not accept a comment like “oh, honey, you are so pretty.”)

Mom is mom, not perfect, but I love her and I’ve enjoyed remembering.
Here’s flowers for my mom:White Roses

Rose and BudHappy Mother’s Day!

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Where This Artist Finds Inspiration

Julio Vila Prades - La ni_a de la LamparaMy last few Posts may give you a clue where I am presently finding inspiration:  lantern light, Midsummer’s Eve, something magical in the air….and I am working out painting ideas with sketches and drawings.  Before I actually begin painting, I want six to eight drawings worked out and then when I do begin painting I can let my mind become absorbed in the world of colors and mood and light and shadows.

My artistic life has been a zig-zag trail with one of my muses beckoning me to follow down her path for a while before another muse takes her place.   Sometimes, I wish I could stay on a straight path…

BUT, one thing I have learned over the past multi-decades is NOT TO QUESTION my creative process.

Here’s an image for inspiration that is one of my favorite.  I own this image as a greeting card.    By Edward Robert Hughes, may I present Midsummer Eve:

Edward Robert Hughes - Midsummer EveA nd a quote:

“Fancies are like shadows…you can’t cage them,
they’re such wayward, dancing things.”
~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

My muse is helping me to dance and I want to dance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Find joy today.  LR

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Quote and Another Lantern Enchantment

Enchanted Fairies by Margaret TarrantLook at all the detail!  This vintage painting is by Margaret Tarrant and titled Enchanted Fairies.  

I’m definitely traveling backwards to a magical time and place….and I’m finding JOY energy!

“The moment you doubt where you can fly,
you cease forever to be able to do it.”
~J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

And from Roald Dahl, Matilda:
“You seemed so far away,” Miss Honey whispered, awestruck.
“Oh, I was.  I was flying past the stars on silver wings,” Matilda said.  “It was wonderful.”

Hope the week treats you kindly!  LR

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Lantern Magic – “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose”

Are you familiar with this painting by John Singer Sargent titled Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (oil on canvas, 1885-86)?Carnation Lily Lily Rose by John Singer SargeantAutumn, twilight, setting sun, fragrant flowers, multi-colored white dresses, children lighting lanterns…my mind escapes into this image and I can almost smell those intoxicating lilies.
A few years ago, in my effort to learn painting techniques, I started a study of this painting.  Here’s as far as I got with the underpainting, along with the notes I wrote on the backside of the paper:

LR study of Sargeant's Carnation LL RoseI’m giving these to you small.LR study notes to Sargeant CLLRose

The theme of lanterns at evening gatherings showed up in the paintings of many other artists.

 

Here’s a few more to feast your eyes and maybe set your mind to wandering in that warm glow.

Luther vangorter 1895Luther Van Gorter 1895

Julio Vila Prades - La ni_a de la LamparaJulio Vila Prades  La ni a de la lampara
Warwick Goble from The Star LoversWarwick Goble from The Star Lovers

To further my escape I spent a few minutes one night last week setting up a few lighted candles in metal lanterns  and placing them near my white rose-bush (Iceberg Rose) now in full bloom.  Here’s my best photos:
100_2477 100_2475When an idea enters my mind, of something I want to try, I play out the idea.  These photos were one of those experimental moments.  Enjoy!

And here’s one more lantern painting:

Percy Gibbs - River Promenade 1918-19Percy Gibbs “River Promenade”

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Flowers for my Sister

“Take joy in another’s success.”  ~ LR

I’m proud of my sister who is receiving recognition and an honorary award at her university.  She goes “beyond the call of duty” and lends  a helping hand whenever she’s asked or sees the need.    Here’s flowers from my garden:

Sweet Alyssum Geraniums and Purple Iceberg Roses

 

Congratulations, sis!!  xxoo

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