Today, I am guest posting USA blogger and artist extraordinaire Aletha Kuschan (probably not her real name).

She posts drawings and paintings on her blog, accompanied by artistic pointers on process and the like, as well as snippets of prose and poetry. She is obsessed, oops loves intensely, drawing Koi and they are so splendid that I have grown rather attached to them. She has a secret bunker in which to paint (well that is the story she is telling) and store her booty – much like the underground headquarters in Get Smart.

I have included two of her paintings for your viewing pleasure (is that a fish I spy in those clouds!). Please pop over and have a squiz at her blog over here.

by Aletha Kuschan

I have a couple of questions for Aletha:

Why do you blog?

Before I started writing a blog, before I even knew what a blog was, I bought a black page-a-day diary and made myself write down one or two ideas every day. I figured that over the course of a whole day, I ought to be able to come up with at least one idea. I had to write it articulately enough that I would understand my topic long after the context for it had passed into cob-webbed memories.

Keeping this journal turned out to be great preparation for blogging. I always wrote regularly, sometimes by hand in cursive and sometimes on the computer.  I formatted the computer written entries so that I could print them out and fit them into my day book.

I was faithful to my idea-a-day adventure for several months until practicality and sleep-craving won out. I proved that I could do it – that was the main thing. I think that’s when I first really began being “a writer,” and after reaching that milestone, I became sane again, ratcheted back my project and continued writing “often” or “several times a week” or “almost every day” and got some much needed rest.

Proving to myself that I could do it, though, was a hugely valuable experience. I’d say that for any challenge that you want to set yourself, find a form of it that you can use to measure yourself against – by means of some difficult but do-able goal and then let yourself enjoy both the hard work and the pleasure of success.

What do you like best about blogging?

Certainly “meeting” people from around the world is a great part of blogging. It expands friendship in unimagined ways. Of course, similar things have been around – like the old practice of finding a “pen pal” that was sometimes pursued in schools. However, it’s a whole different world to become “pen pals” with people who can respond to your ideas within hours of you having written to them.

Otherwise, I think what I love most about blogging is the spontaneity. Sometimes I plan posts ahead – occasionally I have a whole program, a “do this/do that” theme that I’ve dreamed up. But typically the writing is off the cuff.

Usually posts relate directly to whatever I’m doing that week in the studio – whether it’s drawing or painting, landscape or still life – or koi, my I’m trying to make them famous koi. So usually I’ve been working in the studio and then in the evening, I post the image to the computer and just start writing using ideas I get while I’m looking at the picture on the screen.  It’s called ekphrasis.  And it’s supposed to be a big deal in rhetoric so I figure it makes my little bloggie very fancy and literary.

And not knowing ahead what I’m going to write appeals to the jazz-loving side of my nature. It’s a bit of improvisation. I may have a vague idea about approach, but don’t know whether it’ll be Stella By Starlight or Body and Soul. What I write just kind of happens. Thus, when a post turns out to be a good one – how fine.  I celebrate having been “in the groove.”  It has a strong element of luck.

Of course the idea-a-day thing hangs in the background. I played my “scales and arpeggios” back before I started blogging.  And I still regularly keep a journal in that old fashioned way your English teacher told you to do.  And email correspondence helps enormously.  I like to have fun when I’m answering email from friends – I find that all these forms of writing teach you your chops.

I still think of myself more as an artist than a writer (isn’t it interesting the mental dialog that goes on in one’s head, and the need to classify oneself, and also to have permission to think of yourself in this way or that).  Nevertheless, I do a lot of writing these days and more and more I see “a writer” when I look in the mirror.  I’m even nervy enough to call myself a “writer” when I meet people.

That’s perhaps the greatest joy in this – the way that blogging has extended my horizons.  It’s like a competitive swimmer who starts running or playing tennis for the benefit of cross-training and afterwards develops a skill and deep love for the new sport.

Like our mutual internet friend, the late, great Paul Squires of the blog gingatao, I have also a special fondness for the sentence. He wrote “Australian sentences.”  I write some “art sentences” and also “koi sentences.” But I’m definitely not ready to tackle that hard diamond of writing the “tweet.”  I will leave it to others to develop that vein in an artistic way.  For me blogging is enough and of course we are all wondering how it will expand into new things.  It’s an on-going venture.

by Aletha Kuschan

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Thanks Aletha.