Christmas with the Celts

Holiday, Inspiration, Review

To get into the holiday spirit, my family and I decided to attend a show brought to our local Arts Council: Christmas with the Celts.

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If given the opportunity, I would highly recommend attending this show, as it was a combination of lively energy, festive music and the perfect amount of Christmas that you are looking for during the holiday season!

 

The performance even incorporated local Irish step dancers during a handful of songs and a local elementary school chorus joined in during the group’s rendition of John Lennon’s “So This is Christmas.”

With the tickets only costing $31.00 per person, I’m was very happy with the quality of the show! Seriously, how can you listen to Celtic music and not be happy?

Here’s to checking off that Christmas season checklist!¬†

P.S. Only 7 days until Christmas!

Reviewing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (No Spoilers!)

Inspiration, Pop Culture, Review

I’ve been so busy writing Christmas and Fall inspired posts that I haven’t had the chance to reflect upon Fantastic Beasts. Having seen the film two weeks ago, I’ve been itching to write down my thoughts on the film and share them with the creative and wizard-loving community.

The first thing I’m going to say is this: Go see the movie. If you have not yet seen it, but believe that you may possess even just the slightest interest in doing so, then stop reading this and go to the theater immediately.

Because my overall review is that Beasts was, truly, Fantastic. 

Clearly very different from the Harry Potter story, this film brought something new to the table: A plot line and experience of the wizarding world seen through the perspective of an adult, littered with maturity and the vibrancy of early-1900s New York City.

Though I could absolutely rant and rave about this film, I’ll keep it simple with my top three¬†favorite things:

1. The Beasts.¬†Anyone who reads this blog knows of my love of mythical and fantastical creatures.¬†If you loved watching Harry fly over the lake with Buckbeack, or perhaps secretly wished for Norbert’s prolonged residence in Hargrid’s hut, then you will love the creatures brought to you in Beasts.¬†While the niffler provides sufficient humor, the thunderbird emanates wonder and encourages imagination.

With so many other creatures also presented during the film, the beasts are a large part of what makes this film fantastic.

2. Character Development. Without a doubt,¬†Eddie Redmayne makes this film. Socially awkward and enraptured by seemingly “dangerous” characters, Newt Scamander is a character for whom you find yourself rooting for.

Also captivating is our first muggle/no-maj main character, Jacob, who adds an immense amount of humor to the periodically dark storyline.

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Sisters Porpentina and Queenie also make for well-developed main characters, playing like-able, as well as complete and total opposites.

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3. Storyline. This storyline, while playing into Harry Potter, was also completely fresh. It was also a great balance of light-hearted humor and serious, symbolic themes. Although this was her first screenplay, J.K. Rowling has outdone herself once again.

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This year has been a big one for the wizarding world, bringing us the release of  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as well as the beginning of this new Fantastic franchise. Ultimately much more pleased with this film than I was with the Cursed Child play book I look forward to seeing it one more time before it leaves theaters and ultimately encourage you to do the same.

Early Christmas gift perhaps?

Until then, so the fan art begins…

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Christmas Checklist: Finding Your Holiday Spirit

Festivity, Inspiration

It’s that time of year again! The most wonderful time of the year¬†as a matter of fact, and everyone is abuzz with excitement and anticipation as Christmas day looms closer.

Though our culture tends to associate this season with gift-giving, most of us know that there is so much more to this holiday and that it is the traditions that make it special. While the Christmas season technically kicked off two weeks ago, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the activities and traditions that make this the most wonderful time of the year.

But perhaps you’re still in need of a little holiday spirit? Not a problem. Check out my Christmas to-do list for inspiration:

  1. Decorate the house and transform your home into a holiday wonderland.

2. Trim the tree, because it wouldn’t be Christmas without a grand and shining tree sparkling through your window.

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3. Make a festive wreath to hang on your front door.

4.¬†Bake an abundance of Christmas cookies (because calories don’t count on the holidays).

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5. Watch a Christmas classic, such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”¬†

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6. Check out a Christmas show or performance, such as the “Nutcracker Ballet.”

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7. Attend a Christmas-craft class or do one on your own!

8. Read a winter or holiday-themed book.

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9. Sit back and enjoy the snow.

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10. Spend time with the ones you love most.

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It’s the little things in life that we remember, and the little things that count most. Be sure to make this holiday season count!

P.S. Only 18 days until Christmas!

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Capturing Everyday Magic: Snowflake Embroidery

Art, Inspiration

Most of us can remember making snowflakes when we were children, frantically cutting geometric shapes out of pieces of paper and hanging them throughout our childhood homes.

Still entranced by snowflakes as an adult, I decided to bring snowflake art to the next level, completing this freestyle hand embroidery inspired by the movie Frozen.

 

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This piece, while differing greatly from my usual subject matter with its focus on pattern, was very relaxing to work on. After drawing the outline in pen, I then worked very methodically: filling in one piece at a time, following with the corresponding sections in the other five points.

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As of late, I’ve been using my embroidery pieces to capture the idea of every day magic. Objects or occurrences that occur in nature (or perhaps they’re believable enough that they¬†just might) that possess a fantastical or magical quality.

I was inspired by the Frozen snowflake in particular, as it is used as a symbol of Elsa’s powers and magical abilities.¬†¬†The snowflake’s design represents the power of strong colors and geometric shapes, and their ability to transform something created by nature into something otherworldly and beautiful.

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Greatly pleased with the outcome, I plan on framing this piece and hanging it with the rest of my holiday decor this Christmas season.

A Fantastic Beast Menagerie: Magical Creature Artwork of 2016

Art, Inspiration, Pop Culture

Fantastic Beasts comes out this week and I couldn’t be more excited! Needless to say, we Potter fans are eager to explore New York City through J.K. Rowling’s wizarding eye.

For me, however, the most exciting part of this film will be the creation of more fantastic beasts. Or, more accurately, the materialization of the beasts mentioned in the Harry Potter novels but left out of the coinciding films. I.e. The niffler:

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After all, anyone who reads this site on a regular basis knows that a solid portion of posts are centered around my own artwork, especially that which features fantastic beasts inspired by the Harry Potter films.

Today, as I share my excitement for this film’s release, I’m adding to this fantastic beast collection, sharing my most recent drawing of a thestral.

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Created in pen and ink, I knew that the black and white color scheme paired with the sketchbook quality would give the drawing the eery yet beautiful vibe that those of us who know what a thestral is have come to associate with them.

With Beasts getting ready to hit theaters this weekend, embrace your own excitement and check out photos of my other Fantastic Beast pieces below!

Dragon: Colored Pencil and Watercolor

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Hippogriff: Cotton and Acrylic Paint

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Phoenix: Colored Pencil

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Mandrake: Colored Pencil and Ink

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Getting Excited for “Beauty and the Beast”

Art, Inspiration, Pop Culture

This past week, the internet has been losing its mind and weeping tears of joy over the recently-released, exclusive photographs of the upcoming live-action film Beauty and the Beast.

Released by Entertainment Weekly, the photographs capture the magic that the mass audience has hoped and dreamed would encapsulate this visual retelling of the much-loved, classic story.

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Needless to say, Disney lovers are much anticipating the March 17 release date, unable to contain their enthusiasm as they count down the days.

Unsurprising perhaps to most of my readers, I happen to be among this crowd and plan on seeing the¬†film in theater.To showcase my excitement, I’m sharing my most recent hand embroidery, an original piece inspired by this upcoming film.

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Featuring the enchanted rose that is often used to symbolize the Beauty and the Beast story, the embroidery is constructed of running stitches, back stitches and french knots, and completed in a hand-drawn style, similar to some of the other hand-embroidered pieces that I have shared in the past.

Due to the style, the piece was relatively quick in the making, taking approximately two weeks from start to finish.

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So while we Disney fans still have another four months of waiting to overcome, there is a lot to be said of the inspiration that is created by anticipation.

In other words, expect to see another Beauty-inspired piece from me before the film hits theaters!

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Inspired by Central New York’s Fall Foliage

Art, Inspiration

As I’ve mentioned before, I love fall. While I have a list of things that I look forward to every autumn, the first that always comes to mind is the foliage.

Living in Central New York, I’m privileged to witness the gorgeous changing of season first hand. An environmental splendor that continues to attract tourists to the Northeast, I’m fortunate that I can enjoy it while spending time in my backyard, during my drive to work and on my runs through town.

With cold weather brewing outside and bright colors bursting in the tree tops, it’s difficult not to feel inspired. Below are some photographs that I snapped around my house:

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Happy Fall: Seasonal To-Do List

Festivity, Inspiration

As my favorite season, I’m so excited (and inspired) that it is now officially fall! To celebrate, I’ve put together a to-do list for this fall season, a compilation of my favorite ways to celebrate the most anticipated time of year.

FALL TO DO LIST:

Decorate the porch with these awesome concrete pumpkin planters.

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Decorate the house with fall foliage, scarecrows and harvest-inspired decór.


Bake pumpkin-flavored goodies even if PSL season did start a month ago.

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Plan your own Oktoberfest! Because we all need another reason to eat a ridiculous amount of food and drink beer.

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Visit a fall-inspired location. Apple orchard, pumpkin patch, cider mill….Take your pick!

Start making Halloween plans¬†(if you haven’t already). Between goodies, costumes and jack-o-lantern designs, you have your work cut out for you!

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Break out the sweaters, it’s officially #sweaterweather!

Drink fall beer. Between Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Spice varieties, fall time is beer prime time.

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Make a fall craft, such as these lovely table textiles.

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Get ready for football season.

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Whether its following this list, or your own traditions, I hope you are as excited about this fall as I am. A fleeting time of year, let’s enjoy it while we can!

 

Perpetually Creating Through Year One

Inspiration

Dear Readers,

Exactly one year ago today I made the decision to start a blog dedicated to the idea of creativity and the power of inspiration. With this¬†blog, I hoped to foster a creative entity¬†that would¬†break through¬†the boundaries¬†that so often segregate art, craft, cooking, writing and the many other ventures sought after by “creative types.” Three hundred and sixty-five days later, I couldn’t be happier with the¬†result.

Thank you to everyone who has read this site during the past year. I’m grateful to every single one of you,¬†the¬†dedicated weekly readers as well as the¬†occasional browsers.¬†I can only hope that within the past year I have entertained and inspired you, whether it has been through my tips on creating hand embroidery patterns, my numerous¬†pop-culture inspired drawings, my various book reviews or my favorite Christmas cookie recipes .

I look forward to commencing this site’s second year, anxious for the projects to come and driven by the mantra perpetually create.

–Emilee J. Smith

 

Reviewing Cursed Child (Warning: Contains Spoilers)

Inspiration, Review

Our wizarding friend Harry Potter has been all of the media lately, with the release of the playbook¬†Cursed Child¬†gaining not only a lot of attention, but equal amounts of praise and criticism.¬†Now that I’ve had a week to collect my thoughts, I’m ready to publish my review.

Readers of this blog and those of you who know me personally will know that I am a huge Harry Potter fan and attended the midnight release party for this book. Nine years later, what I loved best and what I disliked most:

Worst:

  1. Lapses in character. I have a few thoughts concerning this criticism.
    1. Readers witnessed serious breaks in character from Harry. Harry would never have been so cruel to his son, having grown up an orphan himself, and it was out of character for him to also be rude to McGonagall.
    2. Ron’s character was disappointing. He just didn’t feel like Ron.
    3. Harry and Draco’s newfound friendship was much too rushed (granted this is probably due to the play format…but still).
    4. Voldemort would NEVER have a child. He’s too smart to procreate and risk having another human¬†possess the same amount of power and abilities as himself.
  2. Reliance on the time-turner. I wish that there had been more new content as opposed to a heavy reliance on the past. This felt like a cop-out to me, but I was also afraid that the play would¬†now change my perception of events when I go back and re-read or re-watch the original series. When I think about the night Voldemort murders Harry’s parents, I don’t want to think about future Harry witnessing it or about Voldemort’s deranged love child attempting to keep him from dying.
  3. Penmanship. J.K. Rowling did not write this play…and it shows. I realize this was a play, but it still read very differently from the books, format aside. I wish the language and nature had been more similar to the books that we all love.

Best:

  1. The fun of another book. Marking the release date on my calendar and attending a midnight celebration allowed me to relive one aspect of my childhood. It was a lot of fun looking forward to this book and also enjoying the rebirth the series has had in pop culture.
  2. Draco’s son. In my opinion, Scorpius was probably the best and most interesting character in the play.¬†Immensely different from his family, readers were introduced to a well thought-out new character.
  3. Visiting Hogwarts again. Although I did not love all of the plot, it was fun to revisit Hogwarts and the wizarding world once again. Nostalgia brought back of lot of good memories, both in regard to reading the original series and visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and there were several places in the play that I found myself laughing and smiling as I thought back on this series.

Thoughts? Comment below.