Nicole Chilton

Nicole Chilton is a multi-media abstract artist and writer living in Southwest Missouri. She works quickly and intuitively, capturing emotion rather than reality, and uses vivid color and floral motifs as inspiration. Her current project, The Dream Diary Project, explores dream interpretation through art journaling, and can soon be found in workbook format for all dreamers.

The future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams.

-- Eleanor Roosevelt

Become an arts patron today! Click here to help support the publication of The Dream Diary Project, a bedside journal to help dreamers unlock their hidden potential. Patrons receive exclusive behind-the-scenes looks, original content, and personalized dream interpretations.

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Familiar Stretches of Dream Highways

Throughout 2017, I have been exploring visual representation of my vivid dream world, one that I have only, until recently, done through writing. Some days the works are representational, literal illustrations of what occurred during a dream. Others, such as in this series, are more abstract, conveying movement, emotion, and that frustrating feeling of grasping at something just beyond reach.

The painting process is fast-paced and intuitive, letting the paint blend and mix, drip, and dry. I use traditional tools: acrylic paint, canvas, an expired driver’s license (to scrape paint across the canvas), and my fingertips. My choice of color tends to be an emotional choice, relying on bright colors and iridescent layers of white.

Throughout this artistic process, I am excited to see fragments of my dream world peek through. A few monster teeth poking out here. A snake slithering over there. The blurred edges of time and space, overlapped by unexpected symbols. It is an exciting and thrilling experience.

The pieces shown below are available for purchase. Contact me if interested. n dot chilton at gmail dot com.

Before1

“I knew I had been here before.” Acrylic & Mixed Media on wrapped canvas. 24″x24″ $250

Lost1

“I was lost and in the middle of nowhere.” acrylic & mixed media on canvas. 15″x30″ $250

POWER1

“Unbeknownst to me, I had Power.” Acrylic & Mixed Media on wrapped canvas. 30″x40″ $350

Sky2

“The Sky turned all sorts of colors.” acrylic & mixed media on gallery-wrapped canvas. 24″x30″. $300

Meet Author Melanie Faith

What a treat to start out this new year with a Q&A from Melanie Faith. A prolific author and photographer, she also teaches and inspires. I hope you enjoy!

***

melaniedfaith
Current Location: Mercersburg, PA

What did you want to be when you were little? I wanted to be a writer. I also thought about teaching, which has also become my real-life vocation, in many different forms and with students of many ages via my freelance business and online classes.

What are you now? I am a writer, a teacher (I teach for Southern New Hampshire University’s MA in Creative Writing and tutor at a private high school), and a freelance instructor and manuscript editor/critiquer.

I’m also a photographer, auntie, and daydreamer.
How did you get to this point? Writing almost every day is the short answer.  On the more technical, day-in- day-out side: I have a BA in English with a concentration in professional writing as well as an MFA in creative writing with a concentration in poetry. I look at writing, photography, and publishing as a journey that is ever evolving, step-by- step, and which takes constant practice, curiosity, and engagement. (Plus, let’s not overlook: it’s a boatload of fun and personally fulfilling.) In 2000, I started submitting work three times a month for possible publication, a practice which I’ve upheld. When I started submitting, it was mostly poetry and short stories. Now my submissions include those genres along with essays, flash fiction and nonfiction, children’s books, articles about writing, and (very often) photography. I should also say: I got to this point with the support of my family, students, friends, and fellow writers as being a creative is largely a solitary endeavor but many people behind the scenes add crucial support and encouragement as I keep pursuing my artistic vision. It takes a village to raise children, as the saying goes, but I think it also takes a village to sustain the encouragement it takes to keep an artist chugging away year after year and breaking new ground after many rejection slips. It also helps to have a community when attempting the fine balance between public art and being an introverted, private person.

Current Projects:  I like a lot of variety, so I’m always cooking several projects at once. I’ve become the queen of the simultaneous submission packet, since it often takes months to receive responses from publishers, agents, and editors. After many years of wanting to put together a portfolio of my published writing and photography, just this month I worked with a web designer and finally launched a website of my work, so that’s pretty huge. { MelanieDFaith.com }

I look forward to updating and fleshing out the site with more samples and creative content as I go. In September, I’m teaching a new online class I created called Outlining Your Novel; I’m also promoting a set of 30 creative writing prompt cards I wrote and designed.

Oh, and I recently published a historical poetry book set in 1918, called This Passing Fever.

I have a Regency novella (a la Jane Austen) that will be published under a pseudonym by Uncial Press set to be released this fall, too. I’m also finishing edits on a book for writers, called In a Flash, which will be published next May by Vine Leaves Press. There are always new short stories, poems, and craft articles in there somewhere, too.

Right now, I’m writing a lot of how-to poetry articles during my free-writes that may just turn into a full-length manuscript.
What are you reading right now? Watching? Listening to? In the past three weeks, I’ve read: Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove (great recommendation from my awesome sister), A Fifty Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France by Miranda Richmond Mouillot, Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Letters from Skye, and (right now) Pat Conroy’s The Water is Wide.

As I list these seemingly- random selections I see that three of the books have historical settings, three are autobiographies, and one is about teaching—patterns in much of my reading life lately. I like to read and write historical fiction (although I write modern tales, too).

Recently, I’ve been watching lots of Turner Classic Movies, The Travel Channel, and various documentaries on the History Channel and on Amazon Prime (I’m a documentary geek and find the making of almost anything interesting).

This week, I’ve rediscovered the Mavericks, a band I first listened to in high school when their What a Crying Shame album dropped. Lead singer Raul Malo’s voice is stunning and carries great emotional depth, rather like Roy Orbison; his cover of another artist’s “You’re Only Lonely” is lovely. I’ve also been revisiting (thanks to YouTube) Norah Jones’ plaintive “Come Away with Me,” which was big during my first year or two as a teacher. I guess you could gather from this that I sometimes favor songs of longing.
How do you express yourself creatively? Writing (poems, short stories, novels, articles), photography (still-life, nature, landscape, architecture, and people), teaching (my students range in ages from 14 to 80 and many of my high school students are international students. I love experiencing all of my students’ varying outlooks, life experiences, backgrounds, hopes and dreams), and sometimes writing snail-mail (especially to my darling nieces, who enjoy the colorful stickers and treat money I enclose as well).
Have you ever written a fan letter? If so, to whom? I’ve written several fan letters, to fellow writers, painters, photographers, and musicians. I’m an encourager by nature. Typing this reminds me that I should send more; having received a fan letter in 2013 that I still keep on my office door as encouragement, I know how a gentle nudge in the right direction can reenergize and make a difference.
Drink of choice? Tea. Last year, I discovered Bigelow’s Salted Caramel Tea, which is seasonal, and bought enough boxes to make it through until this summer when it appeared on shelves again. I have three favorite mugs that make my tea time complete: one with a Jane Austen writing quote that was a gift from my sister, one with teacher quotes that was a gift from my thoughtful mom recently, and a Snoopy mug that was a gift years ago from students.
Who inspires you (or what), and why? This list is almost endless. A small sampling: reading, writing, my nieces, my students, photography. Shots Magazine, a print black and- white photography magazine, often sparks inspiration for my photography and writing.

Favorite tools to stay productive?  The great thing about being a writer is that the tools can be as simple (paper, pen/pencil, notebook) or as fancy (laptop, printer, cellphone) as you want. The important thing is to bring heart and thought to develop a consistent writing practice to make sure enough work is in rotation while waiting to hear back, which is another reason why I work on several projects at once (which also keeps me from obsessing on what the editors’ responses will be). For photography it’s a bit more complex. I alternate between a Nikon D5000 and Sony SLT-A57. After 11 years with my trusty old Photoshop software, I just updated to the more-recent Photoshop Elements 15 this July (it’s my new toy). A visual artist friend of mine told me about the free Nik Collection that Google offers (that works in tandem with Photoshop) and I’ve loved playing with that, too.

I’m jonesing on the wet-plate tool at the moment; it creates this fascinating late-19th century feeling that makes even modern, digital photos appear murky and time-worn.
What is something you have learned this year? Schedule unscheduled time. It’s essential to renewing and nourishing art and artist alike. Sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s actually the most difficult thing to do. It’s vital to remember to plan for time to daydream, read magazines, watch movies or listen to music, and just be—after that refreshment, the creative ideas reappear and there’s energy to follow them in wonder.
What can people do to make the world a better place? Realize that everyone you meet is fighting numerous battles you can’t even see. Live and let live.

Art Journal Workshop

artjournalpagetabs

Does a blank page intimidate you? Do you feel a sense of pride when you hold something hand-made, or finish writing your deepest darkest thoughts into a diary? How do you feel when you use up all the ink in a pen, or trace your fingers along the spines of well-loved books? Do you daydream about MAKING, but stress about your lack of time?

If any of these statements rang true for you, I invite you to participate in my first ever art journaling workshop on Thursday, December 14th at 6:30pm. I will help you determine your creative goals, and place a beautiful journal in your hands that you will then get to start filling immediately with prompts, pages, ideas, and inspiration. Where you go from there is up to you!

I hope you’ll join me! For more information, you can register HERE. The workshop is $50 and includes includes a bound journal, access to supplies and materials to get you set up, and take-home assignments for when your mind can’t decide what to put down on paper. Plus snacks. Because I love snacks.

artjournalpageKeepsakes

artjournalpage1

“With Practice, I think I could make a pretty good pie lattice.” Q&A with writer Elise Winn.

What do you get when you mix together sugar, spice, poetry and prose, a passion for creating, and whimsy?

Elise Winn, that’s what.

Elise is a talented multi-tasker, teaching college courses, putting on literary programming events, baking, writing, and dreaming. She is everything I would aspire to be. I hope you enjoy her interview!

EliseWinn2

  • Name: Elise Winn Pollard
  • Current City: Woodland, CA
  • What did you want to be when you grew up? A vet or a marine biologist. At some point it hit me that something to do with writing or art might be a better match than something that would require many years of studying math and science (and keeping it together when animals die).
  • What are you now? I’m a writer, teacher, and co-director of a literary event series, Stories on Stage Davis (http://www.storiesonstagedavis.com).
  • How did you get to this point? So many people encouraged me to follow what I loved—my parents; every magical professor I worked with in college; my mentors at the University of California, Davis; my husband. I’m from a small town near Lake of the Ozarks (soon to be Ozark famous, I’m sure, though my experience of the Lake
    involved less money laundering and a lot more frozen custard—Randy’s turtles forever!), and when I moved to Springfield for college, I was surrounded by people making art and doing what they loved. I don’t know that I would’ve tried to build my life around words otherwise.
  • Are you paid doing what you love? If not, what would you like to be paid to do? For now, yes—I’m a lecturer at UC Davis, where I teach creative writing to undergrads. I never know from year to year if there will be courses available to teach, but I’m enjoying it while I can. The introvert in me would also love to be paid to pet my cats, bake cookies, and write.
  • Current project(s): Figuring out what in the world to include in my first-ever creative nonfiction workshop syllabus, planning Stories on Stage Davis’ fifth season, and writing a novel. I’m so grateful to be able to focus on the novel for a solid chunk of time this fall—first as an artist-in- residence at I-Park in Connecticut, then at the Anderson Center in Minnesota.
  • What are you reading/listening to/watching/making: There are so many books I’m reading right now, stacks that correspond to either the writing or teaching sides of my brain—of course, these often overlap, so picture a Venn diagram: Jesse Ball’s Notes on My Dunce Cap; George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo, the Translucent issue of Fairy Tale Review, Kate Zambreno’s Book of Mutter, and Jenny Zhang’s collection Sour Heart.
  • How do you express yourself creatively? Usually through writing and baking, switching from one to the other—my first week in Connecticut, I made a cherry pie. For the past few months, though, I’ve been trying to draw and paint more, to ignore
    the voice that says I’m not as “good” at those things, so why do them? I participated in the #100DayProject for the first time, painting a swatch each day to make a “story swatchbook,” inspired by Courtney Cerruti’s Colors of 2017 project.
  • Have you ever written a fan letter? If so, to whom? This question totally unearthed a memory of my going to the library reference section to look up celebrity addresses. The first fan letter I wrote was to author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, whose Alice series I loved. I think I got a signed brochure in return. Somewhere I also have “signed” photos from Richard Gere and Kermit the Frog, along with a letter from Gillian Anderson’s make-up artist on The X-Files, who wrote back to tell me the exact shade of lipstick Dana Scully wore on the show. (It looked
    terrible on me.)
  • Drink of choice? A pot of tea.
  • Who inspires you, and why? In other words, who would I send fan letters to now? I’d need lots of stamps. A very abridged list of people who are inspiring me to keep learning and making through their art: Lynda Barry—after reading Barry’s What It Is for maybe the fourth time, I committed to hand-writing/painting a daily agenda for my summer fiction workshop, and that practice ended up transforming my own writing process. George Saunders—this is a Saunders fan newsletter, right? He inspires me not only with his fiction, but also by the way he talks about how to be a better writer in the world, a better human in the world. One of my favorite pieces of writing advice is from George: Stay mystified. Also: Lucy Corin and Kate Bernheimer and Kevin Brockmeier and… I could on seemingly forever.
  • Favorite tool to stay productive (for example, a set of watercolors, a specific planner or app, an exercise program…): A wirebound mix-media sketchbook.
  • Something you have learned this year? With more practice, I think I could weave a pretty good pie lattice.
  • How can people find you? I check in from time to time at elisewinn.com & bakeclubworkshop.com. Also: @bakeclubworkshop on Facebook and Instagram.
  • What can people do to make the world a better place? Take to heart these words from poet CAConrad’s (Soma)tic Manifesto: “It is absolutely necessary, right now, at this very moment, to embrace our creativity. No matter who you are, having a daily creative practice can expand your ability to better form the important questions we need to be asking ourselves about how to best change the destructive direction we are all headed. If you used to paint, paint again. If you used to write poems, start writing again. The potential magic of this world requires our participation.”

Thank you so much, Elise!

Do you dream?

I’m actually talking about literal movies-in-your-head-at-night dreams. What are they like? Do you remember them the next day? Head over to my Patreon page and answer my poll.

Today at work, while chatting with my co-worker, I had to stop and pause. Did I already tell her that thing I meant to tell her? It feels like I did. Or was it my dream?

With all the dream recording and dream enhancing I’ve been doing, my reality is starting to blur into what may or may not be true.

This should be interesting…

Recent posts

  • Familiar Stretches of Dream Highways

  • Meet Author Melanie Faith

  • Art Journal Workshop

  • “With Practice, I think I could make a pretty good pie lattice.” Q&A with writer Elise Winn.

  • Do you dream?

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