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.
My 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.