Sunday, June 30, 2013


Above, Tree, forest of Fontainebleau,  by Gustave Le Gray, (Fr. 1820 - 1884).  12 x 14 inch albumenized salted paper print.  Part of MFAH  Arts of Europe  collection.

Gustave Le Gray was a painter-turned-photographer most noted for his landscape portraits of the forest of Fontainebleau in France.  Capturing the elegantly twisted tree branches was his primary focus, but the wagon which he used to transport his photographic equipment, appears in the background as a testament to his own work.  It also alludes to the plein-air movement where photographers left their studios and went out into the countryside to work.

Le Gray's work appeared in various genres from portraits to photos of Parisian city life.  He was extremely influential among 19th century photographers due to the striking quality of his photos and also in part to his innovations in the field of photography.  He developed a process of applying a thin film of wax on the paper negative before it was sensitized, thereby decreasing the exposure time and enhancing the amount of detail of the final images.  This resulted in photos with a wider range of values.

Fontainebleau was originally a hunting preserve and later turned into a public park.  Artists of the time favored the forest because of the rich and varied terrain and the ease of access from  Paris.  Le gray made a number of photo portraits of single trees in the forest, but none were named.  It is believed the tree in the painting above is one named by other artists of the time as La Reine Blanche,  (Snow White).


Above, The Orange Trees, by Gustave Caillebotte, (French, 1848-1894).  From 1878, oil on canvas, 61 x 46 inches.

The painting featured here is from the  "Arts of Europe" collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.  I had the opportunity to view this work up close and personal on a recent visit to the museum.

The theme of the painting is refined leisure and is beautifully articulated in Caillebotte's Impressionist piece.  The brilliance of the red, green, purple, and yellow hues shines through in flickering brush strokes.  It portrays Caillebotte's brother and their cousin elegantly attired and relaxing in a serene garden at the family villa just outside Paris.  All the fundamental aspects of modern style are embodied in the scene.  Sun drenched with nearly palpable summer heat, it was obviously painted outdoors, as was demanded by the canons of Impressionism.

Caillebotte used short, sketchy brush strokes to capture the essence of a fleeting moment...a moment before  luxuriant quiet and repose could be disturbed.  The Impressionist qualities of The Orange Trees do not fully account for it's striking nature.  Caillebotte was inspired by photography, Japanese prints, and the beauty of the boulevards and apartment buildings of modern Paris.  With these influences he successfully transported his vision onto a two-dimensional plane.

Many more beautiful works of European art on view now at MFAH.

Author Interview with Serenity Valle

Serenity Valle
Chesapeake, VA

What have you written? 

I have completed The Fantastical Life of Serenity: A collection of short stories about what could be… but not quite is. It is to be released in eBook formats on 2 July and in paperback shortly after. I have also completed a novella companion to this book, which is in the editing stage at the moment, and am currently working on a Paranormal Mystery/Romance which will be a five book series.

What is your favorite genre to write? 

Well, I love short stories, that is what I started off writing, but honestly I love writing paranormal mystery! My husband says I spin a good sex scene, too.

Favorite food. 

Chicken Tikka Masala with some samosa on the side (with cilantro chutney of course!)

Where would you like to visit? 

Gosh, everywhere! I have a few musts on my list though: India, Korea, Russia and the Ukraine, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, and Andalucía Spain. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few!

Favorite musical artist. 

Wow… I don’t know that I have a favourite. I listen to all kinds of music, Bollywood and other Indian music, Celtic, Spanish, 1920’s, some new stuff, classic rock, K-Pop, Japanese rock, French-Indonesian and many others.

How old were you when you started writing? 

I was seven! I used to write cute little short stories in school notebooks. I would illustrate them as well, but the drawings weren’t good.

Where do you get your inspiration? 

I always used to say that my own life was a Lifetime movie in the making, so I often get my inspiration from things that I’ve gone through. The good thing about doing this is that I can take a bad situation that I endured in the past and if I write about it, I can change it and make it happy, or at least better!

What do you do when you get a writer's block? 

I am never working on just one thing at a time, so when I get a block, I simply go to another project and work on it. I haven’t yet encountered a full-on block, I don’t know what I would do if I did, maybe go crazy, ha ha.

Who is your favorite author? 

This is a hard one! I read so many different types of books, I doubt I could name a favourite author. I read paranormal, mystery, crime, thrillers, horror, medical mysteries, quirky romance, sci-fi, fantasy, non-fiction (psychological case studies, crime studies, etc). I’m a well-rounded reader.

Best book you ever read. 

I think I would have to say The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. I say that because I read it 21 times and still to this day remember the opening sentence!

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why? 

I am going to have to combine two people into one here and say my adoptive parents, Barry and Judy. They raised me from the time I was a newborn and always encouraged me to follow my dreams. They told me to never give up on something that I really wanted and instructed me to look for new creative ways to get there if and when I hit a dead end.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why? 

Again I must combine. My birth parents, Jerry and Jacqueline. They gave me up because they truly could not at the time give me a good, whole life with them. They cared enough to find a couple who could, but never stopped thinking of me. Jackie died when I was only 5, but Jerry looked for me for many years, until he too passed away. I never got to meet them. I have met most of that part of my family and do keep in touch with them, but I would love to have the chance to talk to my birth parents, mostly just because they are my biological parents.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer? 

Don’t give up! If you hit a roadblock, don’t let it stop you. Take a breather and get right back at it. Also, network! Having a business network of other writers, editors, publishers, cover artists, bloggers and promoters can be a treasure trove! Especially in the Indie community, I think people are more willing to help out another simply because they’ve “been there”. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of others who have gone before you. One can never have too much information about a subject, no matter what it is.

Do you have a cover photo you'd like to share with us?

Yes, I do!

Do you any links you would like to share with us?

Twitter: @SerenityValle

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Book Review KITCHEN AFFAIRS by Brooke Cumberland

Kitchen Affairs
Book One  Riverside Trilogy
by Brooke Cumberland

's review 
Read in June, 2013

              KITCHEN AFFAIRS
                 (The Riverside Trilogy)
                By Brooke Cumberland

A Hot and Steamy Entrée

This delightful romp into affairs of the heart through the kitchen is more than the usual boy meets girl story. It is a character-driven contemporary tale of Molly, an everywoman, who has dreams and goals and a plan to get there. She is also a devoted single parent who has some emotional baggage of her own to drag along on this adventure. It’s easy to identify with her. Enter the handsome Italian Drake, the absolute perfect boyfriend, and you think you know where the story is headed. But there are twists and turns, and MORE well developed characters to love, to hate, and to feel sorry for thrown into their path. A great read. 

-from Goodreads.
Keep up with Brooke Cumberland and all your favorite authors on Goodreads.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Author Interview with Brooke Cumberland

  Brooke Cumberland
Fond du Lac, WI

What have you written? 

Kitchen Affairs, Kitchen Scandals (Books 1 & 2 of the Riverside Trilogy) Current WIP – Spark, Wonderstruck, Kitchen Promises

What is your favorite genre to write? 

New Adult/Romance/Contemporary

Favorite food.


Where would you like to visit?


Favorite musical artist

Avril Lavigne

How old were you when you started writing?

Probably 15 or so. I started writing song lyrics and then gradually went into writing short stories.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Everywhere. It comes randomly and usually unexpected. I see something that makes me think of a storyline, a song, a show, a commercial… it comes from random places.

What do you do when you get a writer's block? 

I take a break usually. Work on something else – package books, network on Facebook, listen to music, cook…

Who is your favorite author? 

E.L. James because if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here. Her books got me so enthralled into reading again that it made me write again for pleasure. I usually wrote grad papers and didn’t make time for writing, but once I started reading again, I realized how much I missed it.

Best book you ever read. 

Beautiful Broken Rules by Kimberly Lauren (also a favorite author)

Who is the one person who has influence your personal life the most and why? 

My oldest sister, Heather. She has guided me and looked after me since I was 11 years old. She always worked her butt off to get where she is today and she inspires me to do the same. She never believes she can’t do something.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why? 

Colleen Hoover – she’s definitely an inspiration to many aspiring authors. I would love to sit down with her and talk about everything!!

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer? 

My advice would be to keep going no matter what and no matter who says you can’t. Sometimes all you have is yourself, but if you believe in yourself enough, that’s all that matters. Write. Write for pleasure, don’t write for anyone else. Write for you. Don’t give up no matter how hard and frustrating things get. Stop writing the minute you stop enjoying it.

Any links to share with us?

Twitter @blcumberland

What's cover of your first book look like?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Author Interview with Lee Hutch, "The Civil War Addict"

       Lee Hutch, "The Civil War Addict"
                  Harris County, Texas                      

What have you written?

I am the owner/operator of the Civil War Addict blog.  I am also working on two novel length projects.

What is your favorite genre to write? 
All of my writing in historical, both fiction and non-fiction.

Favorite food. 
I love German food, but it doesn’t seem to help my waistline any!

Where would you like to visit? 

Favorite musical artist.
From the modern era, I like the Dropkick Murphys.  My favorite “vintage” musician is Vera Lynn.

How old were you when you started writing? 
To the best of my recollection it was in 3rd grade.  I think I was eight years old that school year.

Where do you get your inspiration?
In a word, music.  Since my writing is historical, I listen to period music both while I am writing and while I am brainstorming.  It really helps get me in the “write” frame of mind.  It also sets the tone for my work and helps me mentally go back to the era in question.

What do you do when you get a writer's block? 
Though I want to give up in frustration, I will usually switch projects for an hour or so and see if that frees up the jam.  That usually helps.  If it doesn’t, I will then do something totally unrelated to writing, such as playing with my cats.

Who is your favorite author? 
My favorite non-fiction author is Peter Hart.  He is a noted World War 1 historian.  My favorite author of historical fiction is John Jakes.

Best book you ever read.
This is a tie between Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull (the only book to ever make me cry) and Piece of Cake by Derek Robinson which is a masterpiece of military fiction.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?

That honor goes to my beautiful redheaded wife.  To quote the old song, she is the rock that I lean on.  I would not be where I am today if it were not for her love and support.  She has stood by me through everything life has thrown our way thus far.  I could not imagine a life without her. 

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?

I would like to sit down with whichever one of my Civil War ancestors happened to be available!  To give a more realistic answer, I think I would like to sit down and talk to Sam Houston.  He has been a hero of mine for a long time.  It would be an honor to just be at the same table with him.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer? 
Don’t give up on your dreams and more importantly than that, don’t give up on yourself. 

DO you have any links you would like to share with us? 

You may “like” me on Facebook here:
You will find my website with the link to my blog here
My website also has a link to where you can follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


BATIK  (pronounced baa-teek)  is a process by which a wax-resist dyeing technique is implemented to decorate cloth.

Batik is popular world wide, taking on many forms.  Fabrics with traditional batik patterns can be found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Azerbaijan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, and Singapore.  The fabric not only adorns the body but also has found it's way into canvas wall hangings, upholstery fabric, table coverings, and household accessories.  Artists as well have used batik techniques to create beautiful paintings.

Egyptian discoveries from as far back as the 4th century BC show the existence of the wax-resist dyeing technique, where it was used in the wrapping of mummies.  The technique was also practiced in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) and likewise in the Nara period (645-974 AD) in Japan.  It is believed to have been introduced in Java during the 6th or 7th century from India or Sri Lanka.

It became know in Europe for the first time in 1817 through the publication of "The History of Java"  in London.  And at the same time the Dutch developed innovations and prints during their colonial era.  In the early 19th century, batiking took hold and soon reached it's golden era.

Batik has transformed over the decades with the advent of industrialization and automated techniques, however it was a fairly labor-intensive process.

The process involves applying wax to cloth prior to being immersed in dye. The areas where wax permiates the fabric, the dye will not.

The outline of a pattern is penciled onto the fabric, the cloth being almost always white or beige.  Areas that are to remain white/beige are covered with hot wax and then the piece is dyed with it's first color.  The dyeing begins with the lightest color progressing to the darkest.

After the first color is applied, wax is then used to cover all the areas to remain that color.  Then the next darkest shade is dyed.  This is repeated until all colors have been added to the fabric

The final step is to remove the wax.  A number of methods can be employed from hot ironing, to chemicals, and scraping.  The most effective way of removal is by boiling it off.  A large vat or pot is filled with water and a little liquid soap and brought to a simmer.  The batik fabric is submerged in the hot solution and stirred to loosen the wax.  As soon as all of the wax has floated to the surface, the fabric is weighted down and the pot is left to cool.  When the wax hardens it is peeled off the top and the fabric removed.

Batik patterns range from the very simplistic to the most elaborate and in some cultures clothing  with more numerous stripes or patterns signifies a persons station in the community.  The image above is a stunning example of the intricacy of design that can be found in Batik fabric.


Nature is the original artist.  Her portraits are never duplicated, endlessly and unsuccessfully copied, and always breathtaking.  To capture nature in the process of creating such beautiful art, takes patience and a good eye....and being in the right place at the right time.

I'm pleased to present photos of nature at work, exquisitely captured by my good friend Francois Peladeau.  I have been privvy to his awesome photographic skills and my social network page and personal photo gallery are full of his work.

Mr Peladeau is a French Canadian, living in Vancouver, BC.  In his travels around the city, he shoots much of the urban landscape, weaving a story that mere words cannot tell.  He captures the emotion of urban life, giving a soul to his shots.  His interest in architecture, specifically skyscrapers,is also a large theme in his repetoire.  But from all of his thousands of  photos, the most impressive, stunning, and emotional are the sunsets. 

From the balcony of his high-rise residence in downtown Vancouver, he films an endless stream of changing evening sky.  The set of photos above are prime examples of the artistry of nature and Francois' talent.

You can see more of his amazing work on his Flickr page at   I hope that you will take time to check out his work.  I guarantee a wonderful experience.

Photos used with permission of Francois Peladeau who retains ownership of these and any other photos of his used on this blog.



There is in every artist the ability to see things in the world, not as they always are, but as what they might also be. Portraying everyday objects using other unrelated objects in that display continues to be one of my favorite processes in creating art.

Hence, I came up with the idea of creating organic art in the literal sense.  I created this series of 5 note cards with the idea of putting a bit of a twist into the design.  At first glance the viewer sees what appear to be flowers, but upon closer examination one will find that the flowers are actually made up of organs of the human body.

The inspiration came from browsing a clipart software program.  Going through the "medical" category I came across images of various organs and body parts.  In the series above I used eyes, spleens, pancreases, ears, and rib cages to form the flowers. This simplicity of the design helps in disguising what is really there.

Each note card is 6 x 9 in, textured cardstock, and computer enhanced images.  To view a larger image of these works, go to

Notecard series 2012  by Parker Kaufman

LOOK! Our Exciting Schedule of Events!

Our Exciting Schedule of Events!

Thursday, June 27  -  Author Interview with Historian Lee 
                                   Hutch, also known as "The Civil War 

Friday,     June 28  -  Author Interview with Brooke Cumberland,
                                  author of the steamy contemporary romances,       
                                  "Kitchen Affairs," and "Kitchen Scandals."

Saturday, June 29  -  Book Review of Broke Cumberland's 
                                  "Kitchen Scandals."

Sunday,   June 30  -  Author Interview with Serenity Valle, 
                                  author of "The Fantastical Life of Serenity,"
                                  collection of short stories.

Monday,  July 1  -    Author Interview with Eric Deblackmere,
                                 author of the upcoming fantasy novel,  "The              
                                 Hammer of the Gods."

And, don't forget, Parker and I will be giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card in celebration of Vision and Verse's Three Month Anniversary on July 15th.  To be eligible for the random drawing, just leave a comment on any of our posts prior to July 15th.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Another Excerpt from THE BASLICATO

“Mr. Maxwell?  Mr. Maxwell, I’m Dr. Wilson.  I’m a neurologist.  Your father called me in as your specialist.”  He stirred.  He opened his eyes and gave her the most beautiful smile she had ever seen in her life.  It was heart stopping.  And those eyes! 

And just where have YOU been all my life, she thought to herself, surprised by her own reaction to him.

“Hello, My Love, I am so glad you’re here.  I’ve been calling you.  Did you hear me?”  He reached for her and pulling up toward her, hugged her waist tightly, burying his head in her breasts.  “Oh, my head hurts, Honey.  Nothing makes any sense.  What happened to me, do you know?  Did they tell you anything?  They won’t tell me a damn thing.  They just tell me to rest.”

She hugged him back just enough to hit the button on the other side of his bed.  Her two assistants came in and pulled him off of her.
“Nicole, Love, what’s the matter?  What’s wrong, Honey?”

“Mr. Maxwell, listen to me carefully.  I am afraid you have me confused with someone else.  I am your new doctor, Dr. Brook Wilson.  Now, are you going behave and keep your hands to yourself or do I need to restrain you?”

“Nicole!  Keep my hands to my…  What’s the meaning of this?  You know me!  You know who I am!  Richard!  Richard MacKenzie, your husband, not some Mr. Maxwell.  And you are my wife, Nicole,” he said unwaveringly.  He paused and thought a moment.  “Oh, what’s the matter with me?”  He sighed.  “Honey!  Why don’t you know me?  My God, will this bloody nightmare never end!”

Monday, June 24, 2013

Three Month Anniversary Giveaway

 Three Month Anniversary Giveaway

Guess what, Happy Readers?

July 15th will be the Three Month Anniversary of Vision and Verse.  Began on April 15, 2013, Vision and Verse is a blog about art, making work, art history, writing, contemporary artists and authors, and what inspires them to create.

As of this morning, we've published 112 posts, conducted 6        interviews with contemporary authors and artists, had over 2,770 page views, and have gained a worldwide audience.  We've featured outstanding museums, famous artists and art works, and many styles of art.  We've included the first three chapters of my serialized novel in one-page episodes, and excerpts from all of my novels.  And you've even listened to me rant over my latest rejection letter.

We gave away one of my ebooks at our one month anniversary, and one of Parker's beautiful art cards for our two month anniversary.  On July 15th, we will be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card.  To be eligible for the random drawing, just leave a comment to any one of our posts before July 15th.
 Stay happy, stay inspired!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Handmade paper is a much sought after item these days.  Anyone having received a note written on handmade paper or a gift wrapped in it, can attest to this.  The process of creating it is both fascinating and relatively simple.

Paper making changed in the 19th century as a result of technology and paper was then made predominantly from wood pulp, making it less costly.  For higher quality paper, other fibers such as cotton were used.  One test of a paper's quality was the ratio of fibers to wood pulp.  Prior to using wood pulp, paper was made of rags, Kemp, and other such materials.  The process for both handmade and manufactured paper is basically the same except for the scale and complexity of the tools used.

For handmade paper, the process begins with fibers suspended in a vat of water to form a slurry.  Then a mold, usually a wooden frame fitted with metal screening, is used to scoop slurry from the vat.  The slurry is sloshed around on the screen to create an even film coating.  As it settles, water drains through the screen leaving the damp fibers.  They are then turned out onto a felt sheet and this step is repeated over and over.  The felt and paper are then layered into piles, called "posts" and weighted down to press out excess water and maintain flat and tight fiber mats.  Finally the sheets are removed and laid out to dry.  Once dry, they can be "calendered" or run between rollers to give the paper a harder, smoother surface.  Papers can be sized with gelatin thereby binding the fibers into the sheet.  Depending on it's purpose the paper can be made with different surfaces.

The wooden frame used in the paper making process is called a "deckle".  The irregular and wavy edges of the paper are called "deckle edges", and is a signature of handmade paper.  Impressions in the paper caused by wire in the screen running side to side are called "laid lines" and those running top to bottom are called "chain lines".

In making handmade paper today, there are many options for adding color and texture.  For example, very fine colored threads and minuscule foil flakes will result in stunningly beautiful and luxurious paper. Many fine stationary stores now offer handmade paper as do paper and office supply stores.

The image above is an example of an extraordinary handmade paper that I have used in some of my art in the past.