Fighting for success in 17th century Amsterdam, a female artist must risk everything – and make enemies along the way.
Clara Peeters’ idyllic upbringing is shattered by her mother’s death, leaving her with a secret horror of childbirth. When her childhood love, Henri, proposes marriage and she refuses, they are both left heartbroken, though she must conceal her pain.
Defying convention, gifted artist Clara becomes a pupil to the renowned painter, Osias Beerts. But when the highly prized patronage won from the powerful Burgomeister Fabritius turns to hostility, Clara has to make sacrifices and risk everything to pursue her craft.
Together with fellow pupil Nico, the two find themselves surrounded by dangerous secrets and powerful enemies. But in the face of so much past pain, can something as fragile as love survive?
Throughout this 17th century tale death in childbirth and the power over, patronage of and rape and sexual abuse of women are powerful themes. Along with witch persecution and the taboo and abhorrence of same sex male partners to love and live openly at that historical time period.
Clara mother’s dies in childbirth leaving her with an overwhelming fear of ever becoming pregnant and this has huge consequences for her personal love life. Clara is a strong willed artist determined to make her way in a world ruthlessly dominated by men. Clara tolerates Fabritius’s ‘patronage,’ until it is clear what sort of man he is and her sister Adela is somewhat foolish making some terrible choices with regard to men with horrendous outcomes. Clara’s aunt disapproves of her painting, as do so many others but Clara’s admirable force of will and determination to succeed overcomes prejudice to follow her chosen career path often at the detriment of her life in other ways.
What an engaging tale. I loved this and became so absorbed in the life of artist Clara and the wonderful variety of characters in this story. The descriptive writing really pulled me in. The ending was so poignant, emotional and sad. Life wasn’t easy for women way back then! She had to be tough! She is such a strong character full of determination and I really loved Constanza, Nico and Henri too.
Notes from Wikipedia: “Clara Peeters was a Flemish still-life painter from Antwerp who worked in both the Spanish Netherlands and Dutch Republic. Peeters is the best-known female Flemish artist of this era and one of the few women artists working professionally in seventeenth-century Europe, despite restrictions on women’s access to artistic training and membership in guilds. Peeters specialized in still-life paintings with food and was prominent among the artists who shaped the traditions of the Netherlandish ontbijtjes, “breakfast pieces,” scenes of food and simple vessels, and banketjes, “banquet pieces” with expensive cups and vessels in precious metals.”
Listened to on Audiobook – the narrator did a fabulous job.
How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is Alice May coping with this enforced isolation?
This is her answer:
Opening the Door of ‘The House That Sat Down’
Many thanks to Marje for giving me the opportunity to open the door on The House That Sat Down and show what is happening to one author, in a remote cottage in the middle of nowhere, on the Dorset/Hampshire border during coronavirus lockdown.
Our cottage looks as idyllically chocolate-box perfect as it ever did – before it collapsed six years ago and needed rebuilding, that is – but that doesn’t mean that life is any easier inside for us than it is for anyone else at this challenging time. (A quick contextual update for those who have not read The House That Sat Down Trilogy, our house fell down out of the blue one day in 2014 and was painfully rebuilt over a traumatic period of time, which involved living in a tent in the garden; my husband, myself and four children. This period in my life led me to write my first award-winning novel.)
On a superficial level, the main change to my daily routine that I thought social lockdown would bring hasn’t materialised. I naively expected that ‘a bit more time at home’ would enable me to finish editing my latest book. The opposite has – in fact – proven to be the case and I am reminded that nothing is ever quite what we might expect.
Like many, I am attempting to nurture my family through their dramatically altered lives; a role which requires huge amounts of diplomacy which has never been one of my strong points. But, from a writing career perspective, I initially found myself paralysed by an overwhelming sense of loss.
My original – pre-Covid19 – schedule for April was chock full of exciting entries. There were multiple speaking events, radio interviews, literary festivals, book signings and even a trip to London to pitch my new book to publishers. It took months to set everything up, but only hours to come crashing down. My new, very empty April stretched before me and mental tumbleweed rolled around inside my brain as I found myself struggling to process the change without dissolving into tears.
With the world so very different, it seemed that the previous twelve months spent writing book 5 had been a colossal waste of time. How could that work still be relevant? I found myself unable to write at all and that worried me.
Instead, I started painting – no, not the walls, although they could do with it. I created big bright, colourful pieces of art to cheer myself up. I have always used painting as a way to express my emotions, it was a massively important part of my recovery from post-traumatic-stress after my house fell down. Recent weeks have seen a resurgence in my reliance on throwing paint around to make myself feel better.
My fabulous PR guru @jane_dean_pr suggested that I put a couple of free art tutorials on my YouTube channel (Alice May Artist https://youtu.be/p6bHYY4xPl0 ).
If I am completely honest, I think she was trying to get me to stop pestering her with questions about what I ought to do.
Nevertheless, it was a brilliant idea and has led to some exciting developments which proves that you never know when opportunity will come knocking. Uploading that first video was the start of a whole new dimension to my creative career. Three weeks and nearly twenty tutorials later, there has been a surge in the number of subscribers to my channel, countless visits to my website (www.alicemay.weebly.com) and an unanticipated increase in book sales. Plus, I’ve had some wonderful feedback via email, twitter and Facebook.
I was interviewed for an article in Good Housekeeping Magazine which was very exciting followed by a lovely chat with Louise Hanna on BBC Radio Solent, which in turn has led to me being invited to deliver paid presentations and art demonstrations on-line to social groups gathering on Zoom. Who knew that such a thing was even wanted, let alone possible? https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/lifestyle/a31989711/art-beginners-guide/
There has even been a suggestion that I might like to start running proper art classes after lockdown is lifted, which is definitely something to think about.
My empty diary is now stuffed full of new activities; none of which I could have predicted before lockdown, but all of which I am thoroughly enjoying. Which only goes to show that you can never predict what is just around the corner. Anything is possible. Stay safe, stay well and stay positive.
Alice May Artist, Author, Speaker www.alicemay.weebly.com You Tube: Alice May Artist Facebook: AliceMayAuthor Twitter: @AliceMay_Author Instagram: alicemay_author_artist
Thank you so much to Alice for being my guest. I never imagined that such a thing would happen. Poor Alice, can you imagine your house falling down with all its belongings, and memories reduced to rubble?
And now this COVID19. How resilient and inspiring she is. I am so glad I started this series. It has introduced me to so many amazing writers and creatives.
It is my great pleasure to welcome artist Carolina Russo to my blog. I consider her to not only be a talented artist but also a dear, sweet friend with whom I have a lot in common. We both share a great love of the beauty of nature, art, crystals, jewellery and music.
Tell us about your artistic journey. Where did it all begin and what defines you as an artist?
First of all, I want to thank Marje for inviting me to this interview and for preparing these great questions. I appreciate this very much. What a nice opportunity to be featured on her Blog. Now about the beginning of my artistic journey… well it all happened the day I was born 😉 I am very thankful for the gift of my artistic talent. I realized that I was very creative as a child. I loved drawing and creating things, and by the time I was a teenager I knew this was my calling. Creating art was what I wanted to do. My father is an Artist and I learned a lot just by watching his creative methods and observing him working on his beautiful oil paintings. I was born in Italy, raised in a beautiful country which is bursting with Italian art, creativity, and history. I studied Art & Design and Jewelry design in Italy. I also have experience in Fashion, Graphic and Illustration Design. I always wanted to be an Independent Artist with the ability to create freely – which is what I am focused on right now. I have just redesigned my Blog yesterdayafter.com and included my own Carolina Russo Shop where I sell all my Art. This allows me to have direct contact with those who reach out to me. I also offer art on a commission basis and I love to collaborate with other inspiring people. If you like you can read more about my creative journey on a guest post I wrote a while ago here: https://yesterdayafter.com/the-designer/creative-journeys/
You create jewellery as well. I know your collections are ‘nature finds.’ What is it about nature, salvaging, recycling, restoration, and transforming things that attracts you? Pure Nature is one of the most beautiful things on our planet and needs to be preserved and not to take it for granted! I love nature and I love animals. I find it to be fascinating when I come across some wild nature finds of any kind, but especially fossil seashells, beautiful unique stones and other interesting little pieces of nature. I like to think when I find fossil seashells that they have been smoothed and shaped by the ocean waves with the helping hand of sand and rocks and that they are here on this planet for millions of years and saw it all! I love to create unique pieces of jewelry with natural gemstones and crystals combined with my nature findings. Sometimes I also like to draw directly on stones or seashells adding my art to their surfaces – to bring these discovered objects back to live a life in a different dimension – where they can still shine, bringing the magical vibes of nature to us.
What is your favourite crystal? And why?
Well this is not a easy question! I love so many crystals. I like to find out about their meanings and the energy of their healing powers! I love Blue Quartz because is a soothing and calming crystal. It brings a relaxing and peaceful vibe to any kind of situation. Rose Quartz is known as the ” Love Stone.” This beautiful crystal emits strong vibrations and energy that clear and purifies, opening the heart to promote love in any situations. And of course I like Sapphire which is my September birthstone. I like that it symbolizes purity and wisdom.
You live in California. Is this the perfect location for your art or do you miss your birthplace – Italy?
Well I love California. It is a beautiful place, but of course I miss Italy as it is the place where I was born and grow up. I have been in Italy most of my life. My parents, brother and family are all there and it doesn’t often happen that we get a chance to see each other. Life events happen and the long distance makes it more difficult. About the location of my art I honestly don’t need a specific place to be able to create, this is one of the beautiful sides of being an independent artist. I can be artistic and create anywhere, and I love that! I mostly sell my creations online via my shop on my website. I actually just redesigned my Blog and included another section which is my Carolina Russo Shop https://yesterdayafter.com/shop/ where I have direct contact with customers anywhere in the world who are interested to my Art. All of my latest collaborations were overseas in Europe. I am so happy about this, because I can work anywhere as long I have my supplies and an Internet connection. I paint at home in my little bunny hole studio. I like to do everything by myself and I print all my Limited Edition Fine Art Prints of my paintings on my own. I want to give a 100% service to those who choose my art. I love to prepare my prints personally by adding final touches when I sign and pack them. I like to work on my pieces from the beginning of creation to the end to make sure that my customers have the most beautiful experience when they purchase from me. My watercolor paintings and Limited Edition Prints are sold around the world – Europe especially England, Scotland, Germany, Norway, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and more. I believe you create music album covers too. I’d love to find out more about this. And your favourite musical artists. This is a great question! Yes I do create music album covers. It has always been a dream of mine to create art for music artists and to collaborate with them. Recently I collaborated with UK music composer Nu-San and created the cover for his soon to be released new Album “Nu Nostalgia” and I am so looking forward to seeing my art on Vinyl and CD.
I love music and of course I have my iconic bands that have accompanied me my whole life. On my Blog I often post about the music I like and follow, or mention new artists that capture my attention. Of course I have my favorites and right now I listen to Independent music artists like the Scottish band The Twilight Sad . They supported The Cure in their latest 2016 Tour and they are blossoming in the music world. There are a few more music artists that I really like: I’d like to mention a band called Frightened Rabbit, sadly they lost their front man Scott Hutchison who recently died. If you follow me you will remember my watercolor painting Tribute of him, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of my Limited Edition prints, is going to Charity and donated to SAMH Scottish Association for Mental Health, to help raise awareness for suicide prevention.
I also had the opportunity to Interview Ewian and James Radcliffe. I came across some of these great artists through my Blog and amazingly we have become friends, and through this friendship I had the opportunity to interview some of them. I have a specific music taste, and maybe what I like doesn’t suit everyone, but I like to share what I find interesting. One of my Projects is a Collection named “ART FOR MUSIC” a series of artworks inspired and dedicated to music artists. In this project and series, I have created artworks and portraits using several media, traditional watercolor paintings, ink drawings, digital art, photo manipulation. This art series is featured on my Blog for the music artists that I have the fortune to collaborate with.
Like me you love to write poetry as well. Your poetry has been published in Spillwords, Visual Verse and Praxis Magazine. Have you a favourite poem that you’ve written that you’d like to share with us?
Thank you for your mention about my poetry, yes I love to write poems, Haiku, 50 words stories and short stories, I also like to illustrate them with my own photography or watercolor paintings. One of the future projects on my bucket list, is to create an illustrated book that includes my art and writings. I started writing poems when I was a teenager. I don’t write every day, I only write when something inspire me, or when words comes whispering to my mind and soul, silently and suddenly. Then I let the words flow from me. I am pretty pleased with my creative writings, I had some great feedback and I am very happy that some of my poetry is now published in nice Anthologies. It feels great to have my name listed amongst author contributors. I love all of my poems – there is a lot of my own emotional experiences and deep feelings in each of them. Thank you for asking to share a favorite poem, I like to share : Emotions https://yesterdayafter.com/2015/11/09/emotions/
It was brilliant collaborating with you. I love the portraits of two of my characters: Esme and The Creature that you created. Do you have a favourite character from the Curse of Time that you’d love to paint in the future?
We had a great experience during the making of your book! I loved to collaborate with you and see two of your characters coming to life. You gave me some pretty good descriptions, precious details and information that helped me to visualize the characters. I loved to paint both of them especially as they represent two completely opposite looks. Esme is sweet and delicate and so is the painting, while The Creature Eruterac is a pretty creepy creature.. I am not sure if my painting is creepy enough as your description of him was…LOL I love both characters designs and in my opinion it is beautiful to have some illustrations in a book. They sure add a special touch, also if they are only two images like you did it helps the reader to visualize the story more, sometimes art can reach out where words cannot. And now to answer your last question, I love Esme but I already painted her, so my next favorite character to paint would be Amelina, I am so looking forward to see what happens next. I want to thank Marje again and everyone that has taken their precious time to read this interview. If you would like to see more of my work and discover more about me and my creative world please visit my Blog at yesterdayafter.com. Carolina xxx
Before Carolina goes I’d like to say how lovely this interview is and I’d love to share with you this gorgeous portrait that I had the good fortune to win via a blog post competition on Carolina’s blog. She chose the perfect portrait to send a fantasy enthusiast – Alice in Wonderland which is lovingly crafted in coffee and watercolour!
Thank you so much to Carolina for sharing her fascinating artistic life with us.
Today, I am delighted to share with you my latest collaboration with artist Carolina Russo, who has created a brilliant new portrait of the Creature, Eruterac, in my paperback novel, The Curse of Time – Book 1 – Bloodstone to be released April 2018.
Below is the full colour portrait of Esme:
Both the Creature and Esme the mirror girl will feature in black and white in my paperback release scheduled for April 2018. At present, the kindle version is NOT ILLUSTRATED.
I am sure you will agree that they are wonderful portraits. Carolina has taken my written words and captured the essence of both characters brilliantly. What an extraordinarily talented lady! I am so thrilled. They will enhance my paperback beautifully. It is fitting that these beautiful illustrations should be included in the soon to be released paperback considering that one of the themes of the novel is art coming alive!
To see more of Carolina’s wonderful work please visit her social media:
Carolina Russo is a contemporary artist, designer and illustrator living in California. Born and raised in Italy where she studied Art and Design. A self-taught watercolour artist, her style of work has developed through an on-going interest in painting, drawing, sketching and exploring mediums. Her work is inspired by her love for nature. Her creative world combines elements of classic art, surrealism and fantasy. Her creativity extends to Digital Art, Jewellery Design, Photography and Poetry.
I am so happy, do comment below and share in my happiness! xx
HELP LOVELY PEEPS REVIEWS NEEDED. I really need some!!!! PLEEEEASSSEE. If you’ve read The Curse of Time #1 Bloodstone and liked/loved it could you write a short review. It doesn’t need to be gazillions of words just a few would do and post to relevant sites: amazon, goodreads. I’d be most grateful.
BOOK REVIEWERS: IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN RECEIVING A FREE e-pub, mobi or pdf copy in exchange for a review please leave a comment below, or email me firstname.lastname@example.org. The Curse of Time would appeal to readers/reviewers who enjoy YA/MG fantasy fiction. The story is set in Cambridge, UK.
There are many themes in the book but the main ones are:
Time, (Inspired by The magnificent Corpus Chronopage Clock, Kings Parade, Cambridge.)
Here I am with the esteemed inventor Dr John C Taylor, OBE by the chronopage and grasshopper.
A warm welcome to Lizzie Chantree, it is such a pleasure to invite you on my blog today.
Lizzie is a new friend who I discovered recently, and a member of my: Author/Blogger Rainbow Support Club. Her author biography below will totally inspire and enthral you with the multitude of her wonderful and diverse talents. This lady writes, invents, produces cards, and puzzle books is a businesswoman and artist, has two children, a hubby, and an unusual sounding dog. Wow, when does Lizzie ever get time to sleep?
Oh, and by the way, she has invented a ladder stop… what might that be? No, it’s not something DIY based, no rigid device to secure ladders to climb up and fix loose masonry.
It’s the other kind of ladder, the invention to stop those pesky ladders that we always get in our tights. I like that, a word with two meanings…. Being a writer, I can see the humour in that. That sounds beyond useful, how come I never heard of an inventor like that? My youngest daughter is always getting ladders in her tights!
Lizzie is an enthusiastic inventor, businesswoman and artist. She founded her first company at the age of 17 and has been creating products and driving her family mad ever since.
Lizzie appeared on Sky News, ITV Lunchtime News, This Morning, The Big Breakfast, BBC’s Worldwide Radio Service, amongst others for becoming one of Fair Play London’s Female Innovators for her invention, Runaway Spray. Runaway Spray is a ‘ladder’ stop spray for stockings and tights, which has been on sale for over fifteen years. She has also developed a range of greetings cards and puzzle books for children with phonics and short stories inside to encourage independent writing skills in children.
Lizzie lives in Essex, with her gorgeous husband, two bouncy children and a very unusual dog. In between the school run and baking cakes (or burning them!), she sits in her rooftop studio daydreaming about gaps in the market and how she can fill them. Babe Driven is her first novel and she has written two other novels, Love’s Child and Finding Gina. Lizzie is currently writing her forth novel.
Finding Gina book synopsis:
A contemporary romance read with a magical twist! By Lizzie Chantree.
Can a sprinkling of stardust overcome a past full of demons?
Gina had traversed the breadth of the country in her little campervan to try and find everyone on her grandmother’s list, before her father drunk himself into an early grave. She leant down and pulled the battered and worn journal from her bag and opened it to the latest page. The neatly written names were etched onto her heart and she was determined to visit every single one and compensate them in some way. Her family’s debt had to be repaid.
Lewis read another provincial story about a ‘guardian angel’ who had been helping families across the country and his reporters nose began to itch. He was sure that if he could track down the girl they were talking about, he would unearth an even bigger story. He just had to work out how to locate her and then find out what it was that she was running from!
Reviews for Finding Gina:
This is the third book I have read by Lizzie Chantree and again I was very pleasantly surprised with the quality and depth of her writing..
I love a good edgy romantic ‘Chick lit’ Novel and this very much reached my expectations..
The characters are portrayed in such a way that you can really envisage how they look and the environments they live in; to the point that I’d love to stay with Gina in her VW van – v envious.
The story had remained with me; which isn’t always the case with Novels of this genre.
Really worth a read – Lizzie Chantree can really compete with her contemparies (I’m a long devotee to Lisa Jewell and Freya North). I look forward to her next offering.
A really great romance read. This book has humour and romance and kept me guessing the whole way through. Lizzie Chantree is fast becoming my new favourite author!
The main character Gina is running from her past, but discovers her future along the way. The other characters are just as interesting and I especially loved reading about Tom, the gorgeous baker who works at the tearoom and Lewis the intrepid reporter. The tearoom’s owner, Rachel is quite mean, but even she grew on me as the story progressed. She is quite a character! This would make a great holiday read and once I picked it up, I couldn’t put the book down until I had read the last page.
Well that was lovely wasn’t it? I do love having guests on Kyrosmagica. They add a certain magical sparkle to my day.
Don’t forget to let me know if you would like to feature on my next Author/Blogger Spotlight. Or perhaps you might like to join my Author/Blogger Rainbow Support Club? Don’t be shy do get in touch by leaving a comment below, or emailing me: email@example.com.