Painterly Cindy or More Talks about the Merits of Longhand Creative Writing

I love to create while writing longhand.

While I have not conducted clinical research on myself or anyone else for that matter, I believe that the act of pushing a pen on paper keeps me sharp. I believe this with such conviction that I write with a pen on paper every single day during a timed (15 minute) session. I don’t especially care what I write about. I don’t usually have a plan of what to write but I do it regardless. And, usually by the end of 15 minutes, I have written a few sentences that actually make sense.

What my longhand looks like. Yikes! Yup. I can read it.
When Stephen King writes about his characters, he does it longhand. James Patterson, apparently, writes his entire novels with a pen. For many of us, pushing a pen (or pencil) on paper feels good. There is a sense of space, of creativity, of genuineness. If writing is a consequence of dreaming and thinking, then the process of putting ideas to paper seems more natural than clicking the keys of a keyboard.

Let’s go back to that idea of keyboarding or the earlier term I used in my monthly newsletter, keypunching. There is a nosy rhythm to tapping keyboard keys, a boring, mind-numbing sound as my fingers pound the letters, stringing letters into words, words into phrases, phrases into sentences, sentences into paragraphs. I’m boring you, right? When I compose sentences on paper, I draw arrows, rectangles, stars and circles all over my work. I can visualize exactly where I wrote a certain idea. I can see it in my dreams. I make fewer errors of ideas, spelling or grammar when I write longhand. Further, I don’t have to deal with the dreaded auto-correct feature.

Ah, the tools of the trade.


Does it mean extra work? Sure. Eventually I have to transcribe my scribbles onto my iPad or computer but that is part of the process, of slowing things down, of creating something organic and real. When one of our children attended what used to be called grade 13 in our local rural high school, she enrolled in a course called Writer’s Craft. I wish there had been such a course while I was a high school student. The idea of pen and notepad evokes an idea of craft, doesn’t it?


When I write longhand, I have the ability to shut the world out, to let my thoughts flow through the movement of the writing tool on the page. The process of doing this feels like the fluid ink is keeping me company. There is a deep uninterrupted connection from my brain to the paper. I never have to face a blank computer screen, the little cursor with its never-ending blinking. Writing longhand brings me pleasure. I can sit in a corner of my favourite coffee shop. No one cares what I’m up to. I could be writing out my shopping list for all they care. Likely, they don’t care. And that’s fine by me.

NOTE: At least when writing longhand, I’m not distracted by other tasks, like repairing my website or adding pictures to my Instagram account.

Check out these ideas by Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End. (below)

‘I’ve worked this way for as long as I can remember. The Rhodia [pen] allows me to move around at will, as if on a computer, so that if I get stuck, I can just scoot over and start something new elsewhere. But because I’m still writing on the same page, I can always reference what I’ve abandoned, in case I want to crib from it a sentence or a thought. And if I have a random thought, I can jot it down somewhere else and then come back to it — and there’s room for that.

Writing longhand allows me to sit and think without a screen blinking at me. I need that. The long blank page reminds me that I’m not likely to write an entire novel in a day, so why not just calm down and concentrate on the sentences. Why not try to make the sentences — a few of which I can finish in a day — as good as they can be?’

The only drawback to writing longhand is its secret strength. It slows me down.’


Looks so clinical, doesn’t it?



Writing longhand allows me other perks:
~ no interruptions from Twitter, email and Facebook
~ I can write absolutely anywhere. I don’t need to remember to bring or charge my device. If I have a pen or pencil plus paper, I’m golden.
~ there is something inherently creative about making shapes on paper, even if they are letters rather than doodles or doodles rather than letters.
~ the act of slowing down allows me to juice up the ideas
~ there is something very sensual about the scritch-scratch of the writing tool on the paper
~ I’m a leftie and my handwriting leaves something to be desired. I am forced to get the next word down and not go back and reread what I’ve written. Longhand forces me to forge ahead.

What do you think about longhand writing? Do you take part in longhand or do you prefer a keyboard? And why? Answer by writing a comment on my comment page on this website.

I recommend that you read this short article on the benefits of Slow Writing.

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Happy Canada Day ~ What am I Speaking about here? Why China, of course!

Travel can inspire the arts. Yup. I’m sure of it.

How can you see these sights and not be inspired? (Photos by John Matthews, spouse)

If you have read one of the earlier newsletters about China, you know I go silly over Giant Pandas. Wouldn’t you? The pandas resulted in me creating a t-shirt design featuring Mandarin characters, bamboo and giant pandas. I also created a cool design for a kimono.

Scorpion on the stick, anyone. Can’t you see that image going into one of my stories? Or piggy dumplings?!?!


Don’t know if I’ll ever paint a picture of John and me in a rickshaw, but you never know? I certainly have been including more red in my paintings as a result of this trip.


This farmer makes part of his living showing tourists how to pop rice. For sure this image will appear in my writing.


To support my argument on why travel can support creativity and the arts, check out these two short articles for more reasons:


Big Think



Painterly and Cindy and More on ~ Book Clubs are for Writers, too

Painterly Cindy and More Talks about Book Clubs ~ Why they are good for writers

If you are a subscriber to my newsletter, you have already read point one on why it’s important to your writing creativity to belong to a face-to-face book club, so jump down to point 2 to read the rest of the article. If you are not a subscriber, why not? Here’s the link to sign up. I promise. The most you’ll receive is ONE newsletter per month.

1-Belonging to a book club forces you to read books you might not normally know or consider. Sounds like you are back in high school? That’s not the point. Let me give you an example. I recently ‘had to read’ this book for book club: Frank Parker Day’s book ‘Rockbound,’ the 2005 selection for Canada Reads. This book was a struggle for me! I admit it. However, because I had committed to reading it for book club, I persevered and I am glad I did. I learned a lot about the eastern part of Canada, and how to write accents in dialogue.

2-By taking part in a book club makes you socialize. Writing can be quite solitary. So, by showing up for book club, you are forced, yup, forced, to show up for something social. Those connections are good for your brain, and foster a sense of belonging. Besides, belonging to book club can also provide fodder for character development. Shhh! Just don’t tell the book club you are doing research.

3-At book club, everyone gets a chance to speak and some people share a lot! As you listen to their ideas about what worked (and didn’t) in the book, these ideas can inform your writing. Ideas (both good and bad) about plot, character, and setting, to name a few, will assist you in your writing, if you let them.

Book club also allows you to talk about good writing. This can build confidence about literature and even your own work.

4-Preparing for book club can be like reading any book. Reading is a form of travel. You can find yourself in a new setting or a different period or facing issues you never knew existed. It’s a cognitive exercise, of sorts. It’s an opportunity to crystallize your own ideas and techniques for writing. For instance, I recently read some short fiction by Rick Moody, an author I was not familiar with. His name came up during book club’s exploration of short fiction collections. Now, he is an author I want to study and emulate.

See you in July when I discuss the merits of travel on creativity (visual art and writing).


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It’s time to get doodling. Doodle your way to this latest artist blog.

Whether you call yourself an artist or not, you might find that you enjoy doodling. Do you ever wonder why you doodle? What is it about doodling that is so compelling?  Why should you do it?

An example of doodling used in visual art. You can see other examples on my website.

The critical component of this piece that I created for my grandson, Kai’s bedroom, is doodling. The colour blue adds interest and context. This image is available in my Canadian online shop, Painterly Cindy and More, Art of Where, Montreal.

Back to why doodling is good for you.

It involves making marks and anyone can make marks on paper. It’s fun. It can be meditative. It is easy to do. It is simply the use of line and shape. Doodles can be created from memory or randomly. Doodling allows you to experiment with shape, design, repetition, texture and patterning. It is a good warm-up for other artistic pursuits, whether they are writing, painting or other art forms. Through doodling, you can experience what you’ve seen in the world, and translate those images onto paper. Simple shapes can be conveyed in innovative ways. The marks you make can be abstract, interpretive, representational or accurate. Doodling is capable of stretching your creative muscle.

You can doodle using pens, markers, Sharpies, pencil, watercolour, acrylic paint, acrylic markers, and Posca markers. A fine-tipped pen will allow you to create delicate details while acrylic paint will give you a more textured feel.

Suggestion: Keep your doodles. You never know when they might come in handy.

Suggestion 2: Draw a simple flower using doodles.

Draw it again, (similar shape and everything) this time adding a wash of watercolour e.g., one colour only. Which do you like better and why?

Suggestion 3: Doodle using only black marker. Then try doodling with a variety of colours (e.g., using fine-tip markers). Which do you prefer?

What tools do you usually doodle with? Write on my Facebook page and let me know. Share a picture, too, if you want.



Trees, Fine Art, Painting and Collage also known as having Fun with Glue

Do you like to work fast? Then this project is for you. I am glad you are taking interest in how to create your own mixed media painting featuring trees (or whatever else you wish to substitute).

NOTE: Inspiration for these tips are care of the following artists, artists whom I admire: Kellie Day (Visual Artist, Colorado, USA), Laly Mille (Visual Artist, France) and Sandrine Pelissier (Visual Artist, N. Vancouver, BC, Canada).

This image is the one that appeared in the April 1, 2018 newsletter just issued to subscribers’ mailboxes. It is titled: Four Aspens and is a mixed media (acrylic and collage) painting. This original work is available for $100- (CAD).

Wonder how I did it?

I used a 12 x 12 inch stretched canvas available in any discount or dollar store. You can also use paper (thicker is best, like good quality watercolour paper). Using two colours plus black, I used a sponge to stamp acrylic paint on stencil images over the canvas. There was no plan. I just stamped intuitively knowing I would be doing more to the canvas later. As I painted, I allowed each colour to dry to the touch.

HINT: I also dragged the edge of a Pringles potato chip lid through damp paint to create swirls. Notice, too, how I took the stencil images to the edge of the canvas.

When the canvas was dry, I tore strips of MY OLD manuscripts to make trunks and branches. You could use magazine stories or pages from an old book. I also had some other print material with wingding symbols lying around so I tore them up, too. For collaging, I used ACRYLIC MEDIUM (an acrylic retarding agent) but you can also use something like Modge Podge or even thinned white glue to adhere the strips where you want them. See how the branches appear to overlap or are behind the trunks of nearby trees. See how branches and trunks go off the canvas. These techniques make the painting look more natural.

HINT: I use the edge of an old credit card to smooth out whatever I am adhering to a canvas. This helps release the bubbles.

Now it gets exciting. Below you can see that I added green (some green mixed with yellow, some mixed with blue or teal) and dabbed here and there to create a background. See how some of the collage elements seem to breathe from behind the trees. Looks so amazing, doesn’t it?

HINT: Remember that old plastic credit card? I cut one on the diagonal and used the tip of it to create (scratch) smaller branches into the canvas when the paint is still slightly damp. I also swirled the tip to create a few leaves, here and there (in the branches and background and near the bottom of canvas).

Last minute details: I used a bit of diluted yellow alcohol ink but you can use diluted yellow acrylic paint to create some other leaves. I dabbed my finger to create some lighter leaves.

I also chose to outline the right side of many of the trees and branches with a white POSCO pen. This is optional. I also used charcoal on the left side of the trees and smeared it to create shadow. Some of the smearing is on the trunk. Looks kind of abstractly natural. I added some beige paint here and there on the trunks, too. All optional. After, I painted over the entire painting with acrylic medium (glossy) to give it a sheen and protect the painting. Also optional.

I think it is finished. What about you?

HINT: In these last stages, I often paint with my finger tips. Try it! Acrylic washes off your hands with soap and warm water. You may also use disposable gloves, too, if you must.

Next steps: You don’t have to use my colours or my exact techniques. These are here to spark some interest in your creativity. Have fun. Take risks. Play.

Why not even take a photo of your painting, crop the edges so it is square, and upload it to my Facebook page. Get to my page via this link.

Four Aspens, 12×12 Mixed Media, $100- (CAD) for original art of this size.



Painting and Making Fine Art

I have been painting with acrylic and adding other collage components. Most of all, I have been having fun making fine art. Any of the following are for sale.

These are some of the study paintings I completed in order to prepare for a large format (36×48 inch) commissioned painting.

To arrange for your own commission painting, use the contact form on this website.


‘Red Shoes Rock’ Mixed Media with Acrylic. On 12×16 inch stretched canvas. Ready to hang. For sale $100-

‘A Lady with a Red Umbrella’ painting on 12×16 inch stretched canvas. Acrylic medium. For sale $100-

SOLD. CONTACT me if you wish to obtain a print of this image. Prints are a very reasonable way to obtain art and you have the flexibility to order a print in a size different from the original, as a poster, on stretched canvas, on paper or even on a wood panel. These prints are produced by a company I use in Montreal, Canada.

‘A Lady with a Red Umbrella on Black’ painting on 12×16 inch stretched canvas. Acrylic medium. SOLD



It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster

April has flown by!

Lily Pad Pond will appear on a banner near the Owen Sound harbour in 2017.

April has been a roller-coaster. My grandson was here for a visit with his mom in early April. Then I finished up marking papers for a course I teach for Queen’s and prescreened150 stories for the Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story Writing Competition. And all the while I awaited feedback on some art submissions I’d made.

Recently I contemplated why it is so important for me to be creative. Frankly, I have no choice. It’s part of my DNA. How do I know this?

My mind doesn’t shut off. If I am on a walk in the woods, I am ‘copy editing’ a story or considering how I might improve a painting or trying out dialogue in my head.

My work challenges the status quo. It is never ‘normal’ or like other people’s work. It is always pushing boundaries.

‘June Day’ also goes by the title ‘Iris Explosion.’ It was recently awarded 3rd prize in the category  ‘Works on Paper’ at the Walkerton Juried Art Show.

I’m always observing. I listen in on other people’s conversations when I’m at coffee shops and I stare at people, gathering impressions of their looks and quirks in the hope I might use this information in stories.

I focus deeply. Sometimes I don’t want to stop because I am ‘in flow’ but I know I must in order to make dinner or do chores. But I don’t want to.

And finally, I battle resistance. Sometimes I just don’t feel that what I am doing is good enough. I suppose that is one of the draws to submitting work to the public, whether writing or fine art. I must take the risk of showing others what I have created in order to ‘prove’ over and over that what I’m creating is in fact more than just ‘okay.’

I leave you with this quote:

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.






March Blog Update

My Creativity Newsletter Theme continues this spring. In April I’ll be discussing my thoughts about stepping outside of your comfort zone. In fact, I applaud it. Please subscribe to the newsletter via this website.


In May my first poem will be coming out. The prose poem is part of a ‘Canada 150’ project, an anthology of poetry and short fiction about every territory and province in Canada. So exciting. More about that in a future blog update.

Recently entered a few writing and art contests. Best approach to those types of contests is to ENTER and START A NEW PROJECT. Yup. Best to forget all about entering and throw yourself into something new and exciting. I just put the finishing touches on my 2018 calendar project, an annual project in which I feature a thematic approach to 12 images and produce a desk calendar. NEW IN 2018 is a choice of a desk OR wall version of the same calendar. The theme is: Animal Farm, based on the novel of the same name by George Orwell.

Here’s an earlier version of one of the images I’m including in the calendar.

Speaking of entering contests: My abstract image, ‘Red Dress,’ received a ‘SPECIAL MERIT’ award by Light Space Time Online Art Gallery. This leaves me tickled pink (or, in this case, tickled red).

Just as I was updating this blog, I received a phone call that two of my 150 mm x 150 mm ’tile’ art were snapped up by buyers in the Owen Sound Artists’ Co-op so I guess I’ll be busy tonight replenishing inventory. How sweet is that? The image below shows you one of the tiles that sold. Thankfully I uploaded this image to my Art of Where web store, Painterly Cindy and More so more people can acquire the art in the form of a print.



Happy New Year! So much is new with my art and writing.

Leaves on Ink
(Alcohol Ink on Photo Paper with Permanent Gold Marker)

During winter, I spend a lot of time working on my visual art, both producing and learning new techniques. In December I enrolled in a self-paced online alcohol ink and encaustic art course called Energy, Motion and Flow. The instructor is a school administrator from NJ. Her name is Alexis Bonavitacola. I am learning so much. Not only is she exposing the students to techniques with inks and waxes, she is also introducing so many apps and websites to enhance how our art looks when we post it online for clients. I have until December 2017 to finish over one hundred videos. Incredible, right?

          Title: Balloon Extravaganza ~ Abstract
(Alcohol Ink on Photo Paper with Permanent Gel Pen)

Over Christmas, Two Cities Review, an online literary magazine based in Boston and New York City, nominated my creative nonfiction piece ‘Split Second’ for a Pushcart Prize. The finalists will be announced later in 2017 and their work (poetry, short fiction and creative nonfiction/essays) will be published in a Pushcart anthology showcasing the ‘best.’ I am honoured to make it onto the long list.

Also in December, I received an email from Light Space Time, an online gallery, telling me my mixed media submission, ‘Three Birches,’ had received a Special Merit Award in the All Women 2017 Art Exhibition. The perk to this recognition is receiving increased online traffic to my website and social media. The original piece is part of a private collection in Bruce County.

Three Birches

Three Birches, Mixed Media, 24 x 24 on birch flooring
Prints available through Painterly Cindy and More

In January I have been using apps to show my art work on walls such as virtual homes and art galleries. These apps are so cool! Here is a sample.


Leaves on Ink, Alcohol Ink and Sharpie
Can be yours. Simply contact me and we’ll price out a print size and style that fits both your wall and budget.

In December I began writing a ‘creativity’ newsletter and will continue on this topic until early summer, 2017. This is an opportunity to ‘give back’ to my newsletter followers. Maybe something I mention might inspire one of them to follow a dream and create. If you are not yet a newsletter recipient and want to know more, just click to complete the online form.

Finally, today and during the next few months, I will be periodically uploading new images to my online store, Painterly Cindy and More. Why not check it out? Today’s features are in the wall art section of the store. I now have TWO pages of wall art available as prints, posters or on a wooden canvas.

Stay tuned for more updates on the blog in a few weeks.