Entries Tagged as: stories

Bee Memories

April 20th, 2010, Comments (21)

This is where I took the collage that I began in the video I posted last week. Much of the collage is covered, but some of it peeks through and provides a cool texture and layered look to the piece, which is appropriate considering it's all about a memory.

I was inspired to paint this after re-connecting with someone I went to preschool with. She shared some super funny memories of our time together, including the time we dumped an entire bottle of her mom's perfume on ourselves and her doll carriage, and another time when we put my mom's lipstick all over her face (and it wouldn't come off!) But the most vivid memory I have of the two of us was when we sat on a bench in the preschool playground that was a bit too close to a beehive and we both got stung, her on the knee and me on the finger. I have a film-strip memory of the whole thing in my head as if it was happening in slow motion. Funny how the mind works, isn't it? It sounds like a scary memory, but it isn't, just a surprisingly vivid one, embroidered into my brain. And when I reconnected with my old friend, who is now a mom of a small child, I got the idea to paint an image of this little story that is so rich in sensory memory of sight, sound, scent, and touch for me.

What strong sensory memories do you hold in your body? In what ways could you express them?

An Elizabethan Thyme Piece

March 30th, 2010, Comments (7)

I had the pleasure of collaborating with Janice of Postcards from Wildwood this month. Janice wrote the delightful story below and I created the illustration to go along with it. It fit so beautifully with the story theme, so I'm glad we were able to do it before March came to a close. Thank you, Janice for this fun experience! Enjoy the story everyone!

An Elizabethan Thyme Piece by Janice Heppenstall

Come, come!  Over here in the bright sunshine!  No, do not fear the bees.  They are busy about their work, collecting pollen that will become one of the most prized of all honeys.  Oh, I see you stop to admire my more extrovert companions, the delicious perfume of the purple-flowered lavender and the abundant pink and white striped blossoms of the Rosa Mundi. Of course they attract your attention; and I live constantly in their shade.  My short, woody stalks and small oval leaves – even my summer cloak of tiny, lilac flowers – cannot compete in appearance.  Yet – stay awhile: I am more than I seem.
Allow me to introduce myself.  I am Thymus Vulgaris; but since we are to be friends you may call me Common Thyme.  ‘Common’, yes.  I have never entirely understood that.  My Latin family name Thymus proceeds from the Greek thymon, meaning ‘courage’; and for those fine people nothing could have been less common than the meaning they attributed to my ancestors.  The very expression ‘to smell of thyme’ indicated high praise for a person’s stylish and elegant demeanour. 
Yes, indeed: I have a Greek root!  I sometimes amuse myself wondering that all the thyme plants in the world must have roots reaching all the way back to Delphi.  This would be bad news indeed for gardeners – except of course for those living and tending their plots alongside the great Oracle.  And surely, then, thyme would have the reputation of being a dreadful pest to have in the garden – the mother of all bindweeds!  And of course this is not the case.
Do you see the stone plinth beside me, and sitting atop the plinth a brass sundial? – Another joke, dreamed up by one, now long gone, who used to tend this garden: Thyme flies.
Yet, suppose thyme really could fly, as does our assonant twin in times of merriment – where would we take you on our fragrant wings?  Back to the sun-baked Aegean hillsides of our youth?  Perhaps.  But it’s also true that Thyme is a great healer, and with this in mind I can think of no better spot than right here in the courtyard of this rambling house where I first put down roots during the reign of Good Queen Bess.  It has not always been so peaceful, mind you.  Such things I have witnessed!  No less than 14 proposals of marriage (11 of them accepted); whispered plots against the Virgin Queen; first steps; and indeed, last ones.  You see over by the Madonna lily?  A dagger through the heart, it was.  I never did trust those ostentatious white blooms...
But all that is in the past.  Today, tranquillity reigns amongst these dependable red-brick walls.  Here, at any rate, Thyme has stood still.  Here, thanks to my good companion marjoram and myself, all the sorrows and ills of the past are cleansed.  And to me, right here, you too have been drawn so as to benefit from my healing energy.
Here, take this sprig.  Yes, break it off!  It will bring you courage and energy.  Place it beneath your pillow this evening and you will sleep the delicious restful sleep of the angels.  But for now, just rest awhile.  Feel your body become as one with the Earth, and breathe in deeply the scents, the beauty and the stillness that is your gift from this most delightful present.

Stories in Expressive Arts: a chat with Silky Hart

March 24th, 2010, Comments (7)

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with the lovely, Silky Hart, an Expressive Arts therapist who I've come to know (and adore!) through blogging. You can listen to our chat here by clicking on the link below or right-click (ctrl-click on a Mac) to save to your computer.

Click here to listen.

I was curious about some of the ways you might use Expressive Arts to explore the theme of stories and Silky had some fabulous examples of how it could be utilized, using work such as Playback Theater and the Five Rhythms. As another example of using her work to explore stories, Silky is generously offering a gorgeous, free pdf workbook, "Writing the New Story of Your Life: A story writing playbook to awaken who you really are." Wow, I've taken a look at it, and it's awesome! Definitely a fabulously creative way to play with your stories and work on creating new ones.

Click here to download Silky Hart's "Writing the New Story of Your Life" playbook.

Silky is leading an Expressive Arts and yoga retreat in Costa Rica from April 24 - May 1, 2010. And it sounds simply amazing. You can get all the details and sign up for it here.

You can find Silky online at her website and blog, Expressive Hart and on Twitter, @ExpressiveHart. Thank you again, Silky for sharing your fabulous self, your creative energy, and your gorgeous playbook!

A Story Experiment

March 20th, 2010, Comments (48)

To go along with the story theme this month, I had this idea to start a story and let you continue it in the comments. It could be like one of those campfire tales, where one person starts, tells a bit (a sentence or two or three) and then the next person picks up where the last person left off.

Let's give it a try! I'll share a piece of art (Leap) as a jumping off point, but feel free to take the tale in any direction you'd like. I'll start the first sentence in the comments and then whoever comes along next, feel free to write the next bit and so on. Have fun!

Storytelling & Collage: A chat with Kathryn Antyr

March 17th, 2010, Comments (53)

I'm so excited to be able to share this chat with the super sweet and creative, Kathryn Antyr! I've known Kathryn through the world of blogging for some time now, but this was the first time we'd had a chance to speak. And oh, was it fun! Kathryn is bursting with wisdom and insights about the creative process and the magic of telling stories through art.

I could relate so much to her collage-making process of letting go and allowing intuitive feelings to guide the process. I loved the way she talked about using art to re-tell our stories and I also loved how Kathryn is using the Hero's Journey as a framework in her Storytelling + Collage online workshop, What a beautiful idea!

Learn more about Kathryn's beautiful process by listening in to the interview below. Click the link below to listen or right-click (ctrl-click on a Mac) to save it to your computer and listen to later.

Listen here

*Giveaway!* Kathryn has generously offered to give away one spot in her upcoming Storytelling + Collage online workshop! Leave a comment on this post by Sunday March 21st at noon EDT to enter and I'll announce the winner on Monday the 22nd. Good luck!

You can learn more about Kathryn on her blogs Collage Diva and True North Arts.You can also follow Kathryn on Twitter, @truenortharts. The collages in this post are all by Kathryn Antyr.

Thank you, Kathryn!

The giveaway is now closed! Thank you for entering! I will announce the winner tomorrow (Monday, the 22nd.)

Guest Post by Bridget Pilloud

March 16th, 2010, Comments (8)

Found Art Story

As long as I can remember, my dad has been making found art.  My dad finds bits of metal and old things in dumpsters, junkyards and garage sales, and then he turns them into art.

When I was a kid, my nightlight was a 3-foot tall robot whose previous incarnation was as a parking meter. The only signs of his past life were the dome of his head, and a tell tale “Duncan Meter” embossed on his chest.

I like that my dad does this, because he takes things with stories that are seemingly over and turns them into things with new stories to tell.

Take his "Pig on a Pedestal," for example.It's a pig now. But prior to its porcine days, it was a faucet and a pipe.

I asked my dad, Earl about his process. He told me that he keeps his eye out for things, but he has no preconceived notion about what he wants to build next. Something interesting catches his eye and then he turns it over in his hand, and the next thing you know, he's turned it into a woman, or a pair of dancing figures or the six-foot-long steel earthworm that graces my mother's garden.

Perhaps this is how life is. When a story has played out in our lives, we have no idea, we have no preconceived notion about how something once functional, perhaps something we've thrown away can become new, can become a new story for us. We can be our own trash to treasure. We are mutable and transcendent.


Bridget Pilloud is the woo-woo badass intuitive guidance counselor over at http://www.bridgetpilloud.com. She teaches people how to tap into their intuition. Her first book, the little book of Bridget is in the works. Follow her on twitter here: @intuitivebridge. You can follow Bridget's dad on twitter too: @earldepearl . Perhaps someday he will tweet something.

Itty Bitty Kitty Stories

March 13th, 2010, Comments (17)

I'm working on a new series of itty bitty kitties for my shop and these are the latest, "First signs of Spring" and "The Yarn Basket." As I create these little kitties, I'm always thinking about the little stories that go along with them. The Spring cat was inspired by a neighborhood cat with the same spots that I saw on a walk the other day. He was proudly carrying a mouse as he trotted down the sidewalk towards his house. I saw him again today, standing guard in front of his owner's garage. All cats have such distinct personalities once you get to know them, so I imagine that each itty bitty kitty painting has it's own personality too. I'll have them up in the shop soon.

In the meantime, some more links for you!

- I was interviewed this week by the fabulous Jennifer Hofmann of Inspired Home Office. She's doing a series about the everyday organizing habits of creative entrepreneurs. And while I would never think to interview me about organizing (ha!), I did have a fun tidbit to share that makes keeping track of my to-do list a lot more fun. You can listen to the interview and read Jen's post about it here.

- To celebrate the launch of Red Dress Studios, Ana Ottman is offering a fabulous (and free) ebook of advice from female entrepreneurs about how to build your confidence muscles. You can grab yourself a copy here.

Story-filled Linkyloos for you

March 9th, 2010, Comments (9)

I love the way the monthly theme worms its way into my brain and pops up everywhere. It may not always show up in my art, but it's always in my head. Just goes to show how the things we focus on really do expand in our lives. Which makes me wonder about what it is that I'm focusing on!

Today, I've got some fun links to share with you before I go off to enjoy the sunshine. I truly can't get enough of walking in the woods lately. After the long winter, I've been so excited about the warmer weather, the sun, and oh, the little yellow crocuses! So precious! Life! Woohoo! Um, yes, I get a little excited about spring. One thing I can say about living in New England, it makes you reallllly appreciate the Spring when it starts to stretch its wings.

On to the links:

- The lovely Lianne Raymond has complied this absolutely beautiful ebook, Dying to Be Born, filled with wisdom and art from inspiring women such as: Martha Beck, Pam Slim, Brené Brown, Patti Digh, Jan Phillips, and many more. I've got a piece of art in it too! It's beautiful and it's free! Go download a copy for yourself. If you leave a comment on Lianne's post here, you'll also be entered to win Jan Phillips' CD set, Creating Every Day (now that sounds cool!)

- Thinking of the old stories we tell ourselves, reminded me of this post I wrote a couple years ago called, Digging Into Defining Beliefs. It was something I needed to read again today.

- Martha Beck is one of my favorite authors on the topic of changing up your beliefs and this recent post from her blog is a great example of why. It's hilarious and super smart, great combo. I also loved her book Steering by Starlight, which I read and also listened to as an audiobook.

- Have you heard of Jen Lee? I've had the pleasure of listening to an audio of her telling a story, and oh, she has a way with words! You can download a copy of her ebook, "the story catcher" here.

- If you enjoy listening to stories, you'll love The Moth podcast!

Well, that's enough links to send you down a few rabbit holes. Enjoy the stories and keep telling yours!

p.s. The art above is titled, Fishing and is available here.

Travel Stories

March 7th, 2010, Comments (4)

Ah, a bit of travel is good for the soul. Something about being somewhere you've never been, can really wake up your senses. It was especially nice in a middle of a gray winter season. The hubster and I had never been to Arizona before and being surrounded by the beautiful mountains, creating shapes of camels, cathedrals, and arched cat backs was inspiring. Plus, oh, the sun. Yum.

The theme of stories was on my mind as I traveled, and so I was especially aware of the little snippets of stories overheard while we were out to dinner or passing people on walking trails or sitting at a basketball game. Some of these stories were funny, some made no sense as they were taken out of context, and some were intriguing. But it also made me think about all the stories a place holds...a hotel room (who has been here, what was their story?), a mountain trail (what animals and people have passed through here, what kind of stories are stored in this dirt, in these trees, in this stack of rocks?)

Stories can really bring a place to life. Cities seem to swim with them, which I've tried to capture in some of my city art. But quieter places hold them tight too. Have you noticed that some places just seem to be rich with tales, stories on the tips of the tongue, that would just come bursting out if we listened closely enough? 

While we were in the Phoenix area, we also had the opportunity to meet the super creative and cool, Miss Connie of Dirty Footprints Studio. So fun! It was a full trip with lots of adventures mixed with some beautiful relaxation. It was hard to leave!

It's good to be home, though. I missed our meows and our bed. And I was so happy to come home to spring-like weather (perhaps all that sun I stuck in my pockets traveled with me?) Thank you to the fabulous guest posters who helped fill in the gaps here last week. I loved reading their beautiful words and I hope you did too!

Guest Post by Heidi Fischbach

March 5th, 2010, Comments (15)

Stories. Ooof!

Don't get me wrong. I love a good story as much as the next girl. Also, I'm not talking here of wonderful books or stories I see on the big screen.

No. I'm talking about certain stories that run in my mind and keep me from moving about with ease. The kind that put kinks in my back and pains in my neck. Oof!

Oftentimes these are stories that I've been telling for some kind of forever, and over the years, what with all the things I’ve gathered as supposéd evidence and exhibits a - z for these stories, some of them tend to get rather heavy.

I'm also not necessarily talking of stories that leave me sad, because, truth be told I don't mind me some straight-up-sad from time to time. At all: a good cry can clear my heart of clutter, not to mention draining my sinuses, which is not a bad thing these days.

The heaviest stories tend to be old. I might have started telling them when I was a kid. Maybe I even took them over from where my parents or grandparents left them off.

I know I'm in the presence of a heavy story when the canvas of my future feels like it's been washed in doom, and any paint I splash takes on a hue of hopeless.

This winter, an old and heavy story has come to my awareness for some loving. It is long and convoluted and in need of fresh eyes, not to mention an editor who is unafraid to discard anything that doesn't serve what would otherwise be a lovely life plot. I will spare you the details—you're welcome! Don’t mention it—and cut to the gist: "I have a hard time."

Oof-stories have no respect for grammar and so my succinct little 5-word sentence very quickly runs into, "and I have always had a hard time." And then, not to leave out the future, “and I will always have a hard time.”

End of story. Except for how it tends to repeat and go all Star Wars prequel-sequel on me.  Sure, my characters get new names, the numbers in the year flip over, the costumes get changed up, but at some point I notice this story is pretty much following heavily tread and tired mental pathways.

Let me save you time and tell you a few things that do not work on an old oof-story:  bitch-slapping it and trying to make it shape up (it will so mock you behind your back and then sneak down to the kitchen for icecream or drinks in the middle of the night); trying to make it go away (oof stories have serious staying power); going all Spanish Inquisition on it (it can smell your agenda to get rid of it a mile away and tends to stick its chin out protectively); calling in the white light brigades to banish darkness (yes, it might go hide in the closet for the afternoon, but watch out at 3 a.m. Booo!). Even what otherwise can be wonderful practices like prayer and meditation have a way of not working when done with the motive of getting rid of a story.

I started noticing my hard-time story sometime in January, and yes, proceeded to have myself a very hard time about it. Crying, hopeless, insomnia…

And then I called in my favorite superhero, Curiosity, and while he didn’t go all vanquish-the-darkness like other big guns might, things have been shifting.

A few things about my superhero. Curiosity can be oh-so-subtle or orange-bright. He looks different at different times, and yes, sometimes she wears a cape. (And, in case you didn’t notice, she really doesn’t get tripped up about pronouns or gender: he, she, it, whatever.)

Curiosity is never pushy, which doesn’t mean she doesn’t stick with an assignment. She is kind but not at all nicey-nice fake. She will never say something just to make me feel better.

Curiosity also has a kick-ass and irreverent sense of humor. I have yet to find something he doesn’t get me laughing about at some point. (Without ever tickling or poking fun, because that’s just mean, and he doesn’t roll that way).

And when I cry, she is there with the towels, or answering the door to let in friends bringing blankets and flashlights for dark times.

The best part about Curiosity is that it has no agenda other than being curious. Even in the face of a part of me that feels desperate and in a hurry, Curiosity opens its eyes, has a calm Clint-Eastwood-ish look around and without missing a beat rolls up his sleeves and gets on with his reconnaissance.

Thing 1 that Curiosity helps me with is noticing. Especially with old oof-stories noticing is key. Curiosity looks at a thing just as it is, without prettying it up, and without making it worse than it is. Straight up truth without bush-beating.

With my hard-time story, this went something like: yes, I had my first panic attack when I was 10. Yes, I swallowed pills when I was 26. Yes… yes…

Invariably, doing this has the effect of giving me some welcome distance from my ooof story, helping me see that IT is not me. Or in the least, it is not all of me. How can I know? Because I’m noticing it, which means something bigger and wider than IT is here. Sure, the story plays out on the screen of my mind, expressing its plot and feelings in the body of me—images in my mind’s eye, stiffness in my jaw, a sore neck… But now something greater and wider than IT is noticing. And that, dear visitor of my friend Leah’s blog, is big. BIG.

And then Curiosity dons his editor cap and says, “Um, Heidi, that part right there, can you rewind that for a sec? Let’s look at that scene again, right about the part where you are also 10 and your dad is teaching you to dive off the rocks at the lake in Lican Ray. Awww, would you look at you. Gosh but it sure does look like you’re having a good time. And oh my but does your dad look proud…”

And so it goes with the editing of the “always had” part. And today it looks like we’ll have a look at the word “again,” which is seriously overused in most hard-time stories.

As you can see, this oof story has not left, at least not entirely. But it’s changing. And who knows, maybe one of these days the final cut will be released, and when it is, don’t be surprised when the opening credit reads: “To Curiosity, my hero. With love.”


Heidi Fischbach is a massage therapist, writer and potion-mixer. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. You can visit her at Heidi’s Table, where she and her aardvark business buddy make their virtual home. She looks forward to traveling and writing stories, with or without a hard time.