A look into the inspiration behind the work.

Stroke of Genius Card Game

Stroke of Genious Card Game!


When my husband and I were first married we created a game together to pass the time. One of us would put a spontaneous line on a piece of paper and the other would create a new image from that first line. Stroke of Genius is a game that was sparked from this fun pastime. It allows for more players with an eye on the realities of the competitive art world.

Stroke of Genius is a creative, wacky drawing card game that offers on the spot fun for three or more players. It takes minutes to learn to play and a lifetime to perfect. Each spontaneous stroke challenges you, sparks the imagination and offers limitless possibilities and healthy self expression. Your fellow Artist provides that first stroke and the Juror a word of thought provoking direction. Your task is to quickly finish the picture, in any way you want. Keep in mind, you must please the ever subjective Juror to earn enough Spark Cards to declare yourself the Art Genius and win!

What's in the Box?*

ˇ         Stroke of Genius Spark Word Cards ? 96 cards each featuring 6 Spark Words, 6 cards are blank so you can fill in your own favorite Spark Words.

ˇ         A 6-sided die

ˇ         ˝" of drawing sheets

ˇ         8 crayons (you will need to rummage around in your own art box if you have more than six players)

ˇ         Quick play rules


* colors and items are subject to change but this list is typically what is in the box.

This game is the result of the creative work of Michelle Leivan. She has conceived, designed, illustrated, published and hand assembled the game and packaging. She also reserves the creative copyright for this

Please contact Michelle for any questions or comments.


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Memories of Smoky Hill

Acrylic on Canvas 20"x16"

I grew up around the middle of the Smoky Hills. Named for the "hazy" appearance at sunrise and sunset, the Smoky Hills provide a transition between the mixed-grass prairie and the short-grass prairie of the plains. The area flows through the middle and covering the western two thirds of Kansas and overlaps the western edge of the beautiful Flint Hills. The Smoky Hill River Valley covers the north and south of I-70 from Abilene west. It was a beautiful place to grow up. For more about the Smoky Hills: http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Extension/smoky/places.html And the Smoky Hill River Valley http://www.nwk.usace.army.mil/ka/history-travelers.cfm

In the well drained hillsides of the Smoky Hills can be found wild Echinacea often referred to locally as "snake root." (not to be mistaken for White Snakeroot - Eupatorium rugosum a poisonous.) The locals meant Echinacea angustifolia - Narrow-leaf Coneflower which could be dug up in the cow pastures and sold for cash at a broker that very day, it was like picking up nickels, dimes and quarters. A body could dig for an entire day and make about $100. At the time the new age herbal movement was in its infancy and the whole process of collecting it seemed mysterious as to why they were buying it? the stuff wasn't sold on the Wal-Mart pharmacy shelves as it is today. Nonetheless, the plant got us through many a tight spot through our college years for which I am forever grateful. This is one of the reasons I frequently paint the purple coneflower. There is such a personal connection for me that is deeper than just the simple beauty and grace of the plant.

This current piece reminds me of the popular Tuscan Style Décor with a twist of Kansas, which leads me to think about Italy and wines? talk about the beginning of a romance!

When you grow up in a place and have become accustom to what the landscape offers, you can find yourself out of sorts when you drive down a road you haven't bothered driving in a while and as you pop over a hill, there is suddenly a sample of Italy where there once was flowing acres of wheat. A few months ago I was pleasantly surprised to discover the vineyard and winery that seemed to pop up out of nowhere, just 3 miles north of Salina on Old 81 hwy. It had been years since we traveled that road. It was common in my childhood to drive Old 81 as family once live along that highway. That day we discovered this "new" feature we didn't have time to stop in and have a taste.

This weekend, finally we had an opportunity to try this fine Kansas Product. We located a selection at Lakeside Liquor Store at 29th and Croco, Topeka. We selected the "Czech Red" This long-time popular wine from Smoky Hill Vineyards is crafted from a blend of several grapes. "Czechoslovkian style" means it is a sweet wine created to yield an abundance of fruit flavor. The wine's brilliant cherry red hue invokes thoughts of the palette of color found at many area festivals celebrating the heritage and cultural diversity in Kansas. Light-bodied and sweet, it is great with hamburgers fresh of the grill. Enjoy it served at room temperature, or chilled to bring out the full fruitiness of the wine. Yep they nailed it. Yummy! www.Kansaswine.com

All this talk of the Smoky Hill Wine and Flowers reminds me that I haven't mentioned my new set of products in my blog. Kansas romance in its finest form can be found with these wine glass charms featuring a print of a wildflower from the Kansas Wildflower Series, handmade, dated and signed. They are like jewelry for your wine glass, but they also serve the purpose of marking your glass at a party because each set of charms features six different images making it easy for identification.

They are currently sold locally at Ice & Olives at 29th and Croco, Topeka and online at my new Etsy.com shop LeivanOriginals.Etsy.com.

Customer Feedback
"Michelle is a wonderful artist and very professional to work with." - Cheryl Logan
"I love having a Leivan in my entryway, it brightens up the entire space." - Carol Turner
"I enjoy Michelle's wild flower series so much I had to have two!" - Karen Hiller

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Apollo in Delphos Facing the Evening Sun

20 x 16 Acrylic on Canvas

Crimson faced sunflower isn't as common in Kansas as is the yellow sunflower but I find them inspiring with their brilliant reds set off with their green foliage. Inspiration comes from many sources... Delphos Kansas being the background for this piece as it was the last piece.

I am using a new technique to create these pieces. I have used templates that I have created by taking photo enlargements and cutting the template out in many stages to separate the initial colors. Then I continue with finishing the floral by painting them much like I have done with my past pieces. This technique expands my freedom with composition and contemplation of several possibilities. I am no longer tied to the first stroke of the brush to position the flower.

Apollo, Delpi, Delphos, UFOs!

The following incident occurred in Delphos on a dark, clear night November 2, 1971. It has never been debunked...

A sixteen-year-old farm boy heard a rumbling noise. When he stepped outside to investigate the noise, he saw a brilliant object near the ground. Although it was not clearly visible, he noticed a mass of blue, red, and orange colors on the dome shaped object. The object was said to be around 8-feet in diameter. With a bright, shimmering glow which extended from the base to the ground, illuminating nearby trees and the ground. After the object flew off, a glowing ring appeared on the spot. Analysis showed that the soil had undergone considerable physical and chemical changes that lasted for several months.

For more about this please visit http://www.ufocasebook.com/Kansas.html

The strange and unusual can be found in many places and it is particularly inspirational when it hits close to home and your own history. I can remember people talking about this in my early years. It has been a great source of conversation and debate. The UFO issue at large is like arguing with someone about their religion. You aren't going to sway them from their faith either believing or disbelieving. Which brings be back to the Greeks and their Oracle at Delphi dedicated to Apollo. You couldn't convince a Greek that the Oracle at Delphi was just getting their prophecies through inhalation of methane causing a hallucinogenic trance. This suggests that there is so much about the world that we simply accept through our faith in the unseen or misunderstood.

I will suggest here that there is much more to Delphos, Kansas rich history. I would suggest visiting if you get the chance? for online information go to the city website http://skyways.lib.ks.us/towns/Delphos/

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Apollo in Delphos Facing the Morning Sun

20 x 16 Acrylic on Canvas

The golden faced sunflower is extremely common in Kansas they inspire all of the mythology that surrounds the Greek concepts of their sun god who supported all the arts in the ancient culture.

From deTraci Regula, About.com Apollo was the son of the supreme Greek god Zeus and Leto, a nymph. Zeus's wife Hera was outraged and convinced the earth to refuse to allow Leto to give birth anywhere on its surface. But the island of Delos allowed Leto to take refuge there and give birth to Apollo and his twin sister, Artemis, goddess of the hunt and wild things. The goddess Themis assisted in raising him by feeding him ambrosia, the sacred nectar of the gods.

When I first learned about Greek mythology, it intrigued me to discover that a familiar nearby town name had Greek inspiration. We have all heard of the Oracle at Delphi, well, Delphos is a quaint (blink and miss it) town where I grew up in central Kansas. I remember many events I attended at The Bohemian Hall which stands three miles west of the Pike Monument in the post-rock country. This was the center of the early Czech community.

But there is much more to this little town than meets the eye?

Spiritualism first came to Ottawa County, Kansas in 1873. The first meetings were held in a home. The group became known as the Universal Church, which is said to be the earliest religious organization in the area, although Methodists, Catholics, and Presbyterians also came to this area in the 1870's.

In 1877, the group traveled to Delphos, Kansas with 13 members. Within a few years, their numbers grew to nearly one hundred members. The camp was located in an oak grove northwest of Delphos, were Spiritualists held summer camp meetings for many years. Hundreds of people attended the meetings, many of them coming in on special trains, which ran two or three times a day from Salina, through Solomon, and onto Delphos.

It's estimated that the trains brought in between 1500 and 2000 people at the peak of the Spiritualist's popularity. The train tracks ran right along side the campsite. The meetings in those early years had a carnival-like atmosphere with many tents and a large stage.

A large tent was used for services for two years after the camp was moved. Later, a local resident had dug a basement on his land in Wells, planning to build a house over it. When his finances ran short, he sold the lot to the Spiritualists. The basement was enlarged and with the help of the men in the community, rock was hauled from surrounding pastures, to lay up the basement walls. Cooking for the men was done on a wood range in one of the cabins, which were moved from the Delphos Camp.

The original charter was issued by the State of Kansas in 1881. And it states, "This Corporation shall be The First Association of Spiritualists of Delphos, Ottawa County, Kansas [...] The purposes for which this corporation is formed are the attainment and promulgation of knowledge, religious, scientific, and educational." Due to the death of many of the older members, the fact that more had moved away, and flooding along the Solomon river (which had caused several meetings to be canceled), the camp was dismantled and moved to Wells, in 1934. From http://skyways.lib.ks.us/towns/Delphos/our_history/spiritualist_camp.html
Learn more about the Spritualists at http://www.sunsetcamp.org/

My parents lived in Wells, Kansas early in their marriage. My grandparents had a farm just a couple of miles outside Wells. I can remember my mother talking about having gone to one of these meeting simply out of curiosity. She was told that she would soon have a drop leaf table with seating for three... I have that drop leaf table right now in my kitchen and I use that table often to create my paintings.

What a wildly ironic connection, Apollo, Delphi, Delphos, Spiritualism and my kitchen table which is used to create art!

I am using a new technique to create these pieces. I have used templates that I have created by taking photo enlargements and cutting the template out in many stages to separate the initial colors. Then I continue with finishing the floral by painting them much like I have done with my past pieces. This technique expands my freedom with composition and contemplation of several possibilities. I am no longer tied to the first stroke of the brush to position the flower.

Believe it or not there is more to come on the next Post. Apollo in Delphos Facing the Evening Sun!

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