Happy Birthday Maya Angelou

Happy birthday to writer, poet, activist, and national treasure, Dr. Maya Angelou. I haven’t always loved poetry the way I do today. I wasn’t exposed to much of it until recently and most of my reading focused on books and novels. But Maya Angelou was the poet I loved before I knew that I loved poetry and reading her work made me eager to read and experience more poetry. So it only seems appropriate that I chose one of her poems, Woman’s Work, to be today’s poem of the day.  Read it here.

This also seems like a great moment to share something I have been working on with you. There has been a lot of things happening in my personal life and I have been feeling a little strained and burned out lately. I felt like I needed  a new outlet to process what has been happening to me and that I could use some at – home art therapy. So, despite the fact that I have no experience or training with visual art mediums like painting and drawing, I picked up some watercolors and other art supplies and have started dabbling in mixed media art journaling. Just as most of my jewelry has a literary influence, I am finding that a lot of my art is book and poetry inspired.

Phenomenal Woman NecklaceMy most recent piece was inspired by the Maya Angelou poem, Phenomenal Woman. This isn’t the first time I have written a post about this particular poem  nor the first time I have found inspiration in it for one of my creations. One of my very early jewelry pieces that I made for Ciarrai Studios was made with this poem in mind. It had Crazy Lace Agate gemstone beads, copper accents, and a rusted iron pendant of a woman raising her arms in joy and celebration. To tell the truth, as glad as I always am to make a sale, I was a little sad to have sold this piece and I have always intended to make another one like it for my own personal wardrobe.

The reason I keep coming back to this poem is that, as a woman who struggles with her body image and self esteem, I find it to be incredibly inspiring. I haven’t quite learned the trick of celebrating the “swing of my waist,” and “the sun of my smile” and I am not sure I will ever manage to find “the joy of my feet” or the “grace of my style.” But until I do, I am going to hold Phenomenal Woman as a personal anthem to aspire to.

This painting started out with the same silhouette of a woman with gorgeous watercolors radiating out from it. I love the texture of watercolors and how the colors blend and play with each other so I had a lot of fun playing with this part of the picture. But when I finished it, I didn’t think it had the right impact all on its own so I cropped it. I took another sheet of watercolor paper and saturated it with dark blue and purple paint to give my phenomenal woman something to pop against.

Then I took  a metallic silver marker and placed some of the text around the outside of the my picture. I made the mistake of using a pencil on top of the blue – purple background to space out the letters. I haven’t been able to completely get the marks I made with the pencils to go away without messing up the color beneath it and that is even more evident when I photograph the piece. I am going to see what I can do to correct that digitally if I ever get the piece scanned in but for now, I am learning to love the picture for what it is. After all, celebrating the beauty (even with imperfections) is what this poem is all about.


An in progress view of my Phenomenal Woman mixed media piece


Close Up View of My Phenomenal Woman Mixed Media Painting


Another Close Up View


About Ciarrai

Hi. My name is Kerry but here online I tend to go by the Gaelic version of my name, Ciarrai. I am a woman in my mid-30's who lives on Long Island, NY, with my husband, Rob, several guitars, a Nikon D40, more yarn, beads and books than I care to admit to and a cat who has a million nicknames and quite a few theme songs. I have a B.A. in Psychology and have recently returned to college to pursue a teaching degree so that I can eventually get a job as a High School English teacher. In addition to my major obsessions (Reading, Beading, Knitting, Music and Photography), I also enjoy playing Board Games, going to Renaissance Faires, Museums and Broadway Musicals.
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