Entries Tagged as: stories

Guest Post by Darlene J Kreutzer

March 3rd, 2010, Comments (8)

a story of me

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who sat and sketched all the birds that lived in a bird book on a wooden shelf at her grandparent's farm.  She had grown bored with the big box of comic books that lingered at the end of the scratchy wool couch that always left a red rash on the back of her legs.  She spent hours drawing and drawing and then drawing some more.  Her face crinkled in concentration as her nubby yellow pencil scratched the paper atop a big book filled with maps balanced above the shaggy dark green pillow that sat cozy on her lap.

Her mother was an artist who painted the colours of life swirled on canvas in bright flames of blue green.  Her brother took art classes and knew how to draw a line that lead to the secret life that lived in the possibility.

As she grew older and older, she ran a story in her head that went something like this.  The artists that she so admired held a secret key of talent that she didn't possess so instead she painted her stories with words, burnished gold highways of melted car tar ink swirled in clouds of imagination.  She searched for captured light and found poetry in the sighed click of of exposure.  But art was for those whose talent lay in a heart that she didn't possess and so she doodled in the margins of poetic lines as her heart longed for something she couldn't quite grasp.

So she took a good look at herself and realized there was a light in her eye that smiled a little brighter at the thought of playing with the pretty shiny art supplies that she collected and filled the bins that hid in her studio room.

She is examining her stories, the stories that she tells herself about not being enough and how she makes herself so small and so I am creating a new story right now with every paint splatter and every pencil sketch.  I am finding all the shades of me as I follow the line to my heart.

I am choosing the story that serves me right now and that story remembers how much joy I always got when I sketched birds and horses turned to unicorn smiles.  I remember how much magic lives in the simple line of a pencil.  I lose myself in the sound of my heartbeat and the scratch of the pencil as it pulls out more truth of who I am, who I long to be.  I am a girl who not only collects art supplies but also uses them more and more every day and I can't wait to uncover more of her story.

And I am incredibly grateful to my artist friends like Leah, who provide the space of support and inspiration that allow me to continue to play and grow, to get messy and to continue to learn about myself.



Darlene J Kreutzer is a writer and photographer who lives in a wee colourful cottage with her musician husband and sports-minded son in a lovely old eclectic neighbourhood in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.   She is grateful for family, the light that casts beauty across shadows, music that lifts emotions, a little house and garden filled with colour and love, friends and inspirations, the beauty of nature, the ocean's cold spray, the soft barnacle skin of the grey whale and the possibilities that exist in life.

She shares snippets of her life and current obsessions at hippy urban girl and is a contributing writer at life as a human.

Guest Post by Elizabeth Halt

March 2nd, 2010, Comments (15)

the story we find ourselves in

I love that the Creative Every Day theme for March is stories. I love stories. There is magic in them. It got me thinking about stories, and creativity, and reminded me of something.

I used to have a story that said I wasn't creative. Now, I have a new story that says I am.

The old story said that I wasn't creative because I couldn't draw as beautifully as two of my siblings. The new story says that I am creative because I look at this photo and see a castle rising out of the mist.

The old story said that I wasn't creative because I wasn't in a creative profession. The new story says that I am creative because I tell my puppy stories about a girl and her dog and their adventures together.

The old story said that I wasn't creative because I wasn't regularly creating artwork. The new story says that I am creative because I can take a bunch of random food items and turn them into a meal.

The old story said that I wasn't creative because I'm not a real artist. The new story says that I am creative because I make birthday cards for friends and family.

I could go on and on.

The funny thing is that nothing has changed except the story. Well .. and my state of mind. The old story used to make me feel sad. I really wanted to be creative, but the story made me feel like I was failing at it. The new story makes me feel happy. It reminds me that creativity happens in moments, and it is so much bigger than my idea of it.

Really, when it comes down to it, life itself is a creative act. We are creating our own life moment by moment. And every moment can be a new story. Maybe all we really need to do is pay attention to them.


Elizabeth Halt is always looking for beauty - in the ordinary and in the extraordinary. She shares photos from her search on her photo blog, retinal perspectives.

Creative Every Day Theme for March: Stories

February 23rd, 2010, Comments (24)

At the end of each month I will announce the totally optional theme for the following month. March 2010's theme will be: Stories.

As always, the themes for the Creative Every Day Challenge are totally optional. Use it if it sparks you, continue being creative every day in your own way if it doesn't, or do something in between.

I'm thinking of this theme in terms of telling stories, making art about our favorite stories, and examining the stories we tell ourselves. There are endless ways you can play with the theme and I'm open to any interpretation.

I'll be posting about the theme throughout the month on the blog to help keep you inspired. You can use the posts here for jumping off points or interpret the theme in your own creative way. If you need some suggestions, here are a few ideas to get you started. You could:

  • *Tell a story in a piece of art
  • *Illustrate your favorite story.
  • *Write a story of your own.
  • *Take a look at the old stories you tell yourself and make new ones.
  • *Make story books.
  • *Read stories out loud to your loved ones.
  • *Tell a story through dance.
  • *Re-imagine an old story and empower the characters to create better endings.
  • *Create a comic-strip.

How to use the CED themes:

If you're feeling creatively stuck or blocked at any point during the month, use the theme as a source of inspiration to get you moving. Feel free to focus on the theme in your creative activities for the entire month or as much as you'd like.

Using the theme is entirely optional for CED participants. Use it if it inspires you, ignore it if it doesn't. I'll be sharing posts throughout the month around the theme (among other things) to get you thinking about how to incorporate it into your life. I'd love to hear how you use the theme in your creative world.

And have fun with it!

p.s. The art I adapted for this post is from my mixed-media piece titled, Storyteller.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ~Maya Angelou

Art in Silence and Sound

June 9th, 2009, Comments (25)

intuitiveart eucspine

This is the latest piece I did for the intuitive painting class I took. It was a bit more time consuming than the others because before painting, I collaged the 15"x20" surface with collage. I then stenciled in the eucalyptus shape I've been working with and started exploring it's similarities to a spine shape again. I'm loving the layered look.

As it is the month of sound, I've been more aware of what the sounds that surround me each day and the things I listen to as I create. I said in this post that I'd share some of what I listen to, so I'll do that here.

In the case of the piece above, I had a Harry Potter movie on while I did the collaging part. I like to work intuitively as I collage, and having movies on will distract my talky-talky-mind enough that I can move in a different space while I work. (A new to me movie might have distracted me too much, but this one worked well.) The following day, I started working on the painting and realized in the middle of it, that I wasn't listening to anything. I usually cue up some music or a podcast to paint to, but in this case I guess I wanted silence. I put some final touches on it the next day while listening to a Craftcast podcast.

What I choose to listen to when creating, depends a great deal on what I'm working on and my mood in the moment, but if you're one who loves to have something to listen to while you work, here are some of my favorite things to work to:

Podcasts: I love me some podcasts!! Great fun, informative, often inspiring, sometimes funny. I love a good story and podcasts are a great way to hear the stories of many different people. Here's a sampling of the podcasts I've been listening to lately:

  • -NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me: Super funny and smart news/quiz show
  • -Craftcast, Crafty Pod, and Craft Sanity: Interviews with creative people in all different mediums.
  • -TED talks: Incredibly inspirational talks on a wide variety of topics (I usually have to sit down to watch these as there's a visual element to most of them.)
  • -An Illustrated Life with Danny Gregory: Interviews with illustrators whose work is in his latest book. Lots of great discussion on process.
  • -Tranquility du Jour: Interviews from yoga teacher and author, Kimberly Wilson. Check out her fabulous interviews with Goddess Leonie and Jennifer Lee.
  • (and so many more.)

Music: A wide range. I love my iTunes dj function which mixes up my music to provide such nutty combinations as: George Michael, Ani Difranco, Pearl Jam, a lesson in Greek, and Weird Al. I just looked to see what was coming up in the rotation: Counting Crows, Radiohead, Indigo Girls, and Yo-Yo Ma. Hehe.

But seriously, if you haven't checked out Pandora yet, get your butt over there now and try it. You simply type in a song or artist you enjoy listening to and it creates playlists of similar music for you. You can tell it what you like and don't like and you may find some new music there. I enjoy writing to their new age/ambient music station.

Audiobooks: A new love of mine. I'm a tad obsessed with Jim Dale's readings of the Harry Potter series. I listen to it all the time. I didn't think I'd like listening to audiobooks, as I'm not too good with audio learning, but I gave the first HP audiobook a try because my friend Jim recommended it to me (thanks, Jim!) and I got completely hooked! Maybe it helped that I'd already read the series, I'm not sure. But since then I've listened to a few more audiobooks, and enjoyed them. Martha Beck's reading of her book Steering by Starlight is particularly fantastic. 

T.V.: When I asked the question, "What do you listen to when you create?" on Twitter, a few people mentioned mindless t.v. and most seemed ashamed of it. I say, whatever works! I haven't done much creating in front of the tv lately, but there are times when I enjoy having mindless television shows on in the background. Like I mentioned before, mindless t.v. can often distract that monkey mind part of your brain, so that you can create from a more intuitive place.

Television itself isn't evil. It's all about moderation and consciously choosing what you watch. Sometimes, shows will inspire me to create. I absolutely love Project Runway for example and often draw while I watch it (it starts up again in August!) and I'm totally enjoying So You Think You Can Dance at the moment.

Silence: Sometimes, I get overloaded with sound and I need a break from it all. Even in silence there is some sound: Cars passing outside, rain tapping the windows, my cat snoring in the corner, the buzz of the fridge, the sound of a paintbrush moving across the canvas.

When I take a bath, I often bring things with me: books, sketchbook, pen, etc, but I rarely dip into them. By the time in get in the bath, all I want to do is sit in silence and soak. And that is more than enough.

If you didn't pipe in on the post where I asked about what you listen to while you create, I'd love to hear about your favorite podcasts, music, audiobooks, and shows to create to!

Subway Stories Commission

May 15th, 2009, Comments (8)

Happy Friday, everyone! I've just finished up this Subway Stories painting commission. It was purchased as a wedding gift from wife to husband, to commemorate the way they met, on a train. Their wedding is this week and they will be married on a train too. So romantic!

subway stories commission

I started doing "Subway Stories" pieces a few years ago after I took a subway ride that inspired me. I was riding the T (the subway in Boston) and looking around at the people sitting near me and in the rushing cars that passed. I couldn't help but wonder about their stories, all these lives rushing by, all these souls filled with their own lives, their own tales, their own worries, and heads filled with thoughts.

I created the pieces with collages of subway maps, train schedules, and phone book pages. Over that I'd paint a subway scene. And in each of the figures, I wrote what they were thinking about.

subway stories commdetail

This commission was so special because it was a real Subway Story that I got to paint, the story of two people whose lives and stories have merged. I just met them and they were so lovely. Apparently, there's going to be a story about them and their wedding in the Globe tomorrow! I'll link to it when I see it. Oh, and they loved the piece. (Big yay!)

I've got a few original Subway Stories pieces at OAK, a shop in Boston, and there are also prints available for some of the Subway Stories pieces here. I've done a few commissions for this series, so if you're interested, let me know.

UPDATE: Here are links to the couple's love story written up in the Boston Globe and a video clip from the news. So sweet! Congrats, guys!

p.s. I'm working on the next Art Picnic date and thinking about doing a weekday evening this time around. What times work best for you for an evening teleclass?

p.p.s. My blog post, Diving Into Water Art, is featured on Five Star Friday today!

Creating Your Dream Team

March 1st, 2009, Comments (3)

This week's chapter in The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women, which I'm reading with Jamie's book group, talks about creative alliances and partnerships. I liked how A Feminist Wife called it her "dream team." It fits perfectly with the (totally optional) dream theme this month for the Creative Every Day Challenge.

I have used the idea of an imagined dream team before (people living and dead that I could consider personal allies), but it's been awhile since I thought about who I would put on my team. Among those I don't know, I'd love to have SARK as an ally as well as Martha Beck. Both of these women are intelligent, funny, creative, down-to-earth go-getters, and totally inspiring. I admire their honesty and integrity in the telling of their stories, their energy, and their wild success!

Fortunately, I'm lucky to have some wonderful creative alliances with people I already know. I have an awesome coach, a sort of Mastermind group that I meet with regularly, and I enjoy taking classes where I meet other like-minded, creative souls. One of my greatest alliances is with the hubster who is a wonderful champion for me and my bff has always been incredibly supportive.

I've made many creative alliances online (one of the wonderful things about blogging!) and I'm extremely grateful for that. It's been so helpful for a super introverted person like myself, as I can feel connected and respond in a way that feels good to me, without feeling the energy drain that happens for me in crowds of people.

I've been working on asking for help lately and it's definitely been interesting. The act of asking makes me feel a bit vulnerable, but it also gives others the opportunity to help (and people generally love to help others, particularly when it's something they're passionate about.)

Along those lines, I've approached some people I admire about doing interviews for Creative Every Day this year and the response has been wonderful. I'll be posting one of these interviews this week! In the meantime, check out this fabulous interview that Jamie Ridler did with the lovely Goddess Leonie.

Letting Your Art Speak

February 4th, 2009, Comments (15)

rosa murillo ilse
Rosa Murillo's Ilse

Recently, artist and blogger, Rosa Murillo, posted this image on her blog and wrote,

I have this old pocket calendar from 2008 that I decided to use as sketch paper, and this face showed up yesterday. Her expression makes me uneasy. Like she wants to say something, but somehow doesn't. I read somewhere that when you draw you are actually letting your subconscious speak. So what I am trying to say?

I left a comment suggesting that Rosa try putting a speech bubble on the adjacent page to let the woman speak. And I'm so glad she did because look what this wise voice (Rosa named her Ilse) had to say!

rosa murillo ilse speaks
Rosa Murillo's Ilse speaks

I think our art often has messages in it for us. Sometimes these messages come from somewhere deep in our subconscious, sometimes they are bursting to get out. Giving them a voice in our artwork can be a lovely, gentle way to receive them. It might not always be a face, but since we can be playful in art, you could make any symbol speak if you wanted to.

For example, if birds are showing up a lot in your artwork, you could try drawing a bird in your sketchbook and then draw a speech bubble next to it. Give yourself permission to write whatever comes to mind, no matter how silly, weird, or outrageous it may seem.

You could ask your symbol:

  • What do you represent?
  • What message do you have for me?
  • What is it that you are trying to teach me?
  • How would you like to be expressed?

Then allow yourself to write in a stream of consciousness style. Your symbol may have just one word to share or a whole page. And if nothing comes, that's o.k. too! Just giving your artistic symbols room to speak to you, may open something up internally.

Sometimes I'm just not clear on what a symbol means to me until it's been around for a long time. Sometimes someone else will see the symbol in my art and say something that triggers the answer for me. It's fun to explore the imagery regardless of whether or not an answer comes. There's lots of juicy stuff to explore on this topic, but for now, I'll let you stir with this other way of playing with words and art if you feel called to do so.

Other ways to have fun with words:

  • Dawn Doran of the Knitting Gnome Blog has shared another challenge that fits well with the words theme this month. This time it's an ATC (artist trading card) challenge for kids! Check out all the details here.
  •  Rowena of Warrior Girl shared a link to a group writing project at Burning Lines where the participants contribute to the writing parts of a story. Cool eh? If you're interested in participating, contact Rowena at rowena dot murillo at gmail dot com.
  • I love the TED videos (if you've never seen one of them, you're in for a treat!) This one is of Jonathan Harris, an artist and computer scientist, who does things with art and words that just blows my mind!! Be sure to check out the very cool We Feel Fine project that Jonathan created.

Cat Tales

October 30th, 2008, Comments (6)

Today was a good day. I felt so bright and cheery. I got a bunch of errands done (sigh of relief), had some nice chats on the phone, did some organizing (!!), and painting. Ahhh...

I've got pictures to share tomorrow of some fun drawings I've been working on, but I had to share these cute kitty stories before then. I'm watching my cat Tabbers make a nest on the couch as I type this while Sadie is snoring away behind me. I may be a crazy cat lady, but I truly love all animals. When I was a nanny, the family I worked for had two dogs and I loved spending time with them during the day and then coming home to my kitties at night. I was definitely covered in pet hair 24/7!

O.k., I'm a total goofball, but when I saw this last night on CNN, I cracked up. It's a video of a shelter where, along with a radio station, they're holding a "Kitty Caucus" where litter boxes are being used to tally votes for McCain and Obama. The kitties are too cute. I hope some of them get seen and adopted!

And then today, I saw this video of a sweet Australian dog named Leo, who helps firemen save a litter of kittens from a fire. Oh, so sweet! At the end of the video he gives the kittens a good lick. :-)

I hope these videos brighten your day a bit!

Cool Things Creative Folks are Up to

August 7th, 2008, Comments (7)

Although I can't get around as much as I'd like to (only so many hours in a day!), I *love* seeing what Creative Every Day 2008 participants are up to. Goes to show you that there are endless ways to be creative and so many fun things to try!!

  • Brand new member, Lisa from the blog Tissuepapers has a kick-ass tutorial on folding fitted sheets, featuring her husband. It is SO cute. I just learned how to fold a fitted sheet last year from a friend and found it incredibly fascinating. I know, I know, folding sheets probably isn't fascinating to most people, and I'm the furthest thing from Martha Stewart neatness, but there's something so satisfying about folding those darn fitted sheets in something other than a big ball! Even if you already know how or don't care, the tutorial Lisa put together is super cute and creative and it looks like she has a bunch of other tutorials on her blog!
  • I do enjoy a good tutorial and although I've seen a bunch with descriptions on how to do freezer paper stencils, I think this one from Brie is quite good. I need to get some freezer paper and try this!
  • Snap has written a post exploring the concept of creativity along with a link to a series of articles about the future of creativity in the Utne reader (and she posted her first collage! yay!)
  • There's loads of inspiration to be found in the CED flickr group, here.
  • You may have noticed that I have a soft spot for kitties, so I totally adored this post, from Mary of Art Spirit, about her cat and bird softies and a real kitty too! Hehe.
  • A big thanks to Wendy for featuring me as her August artist of the month!!

I spoke with two blogging pals, who also happen to be CED participants, for the first time today (by phone.) I feel sort of awkward on the phone sometimes, but I really enjoyed both conversations. I spoke first with the ever-so-sweet, Olivia of happyluau who shared her amazing first-hand knowledge of Hawaii. Thank you, Olivia! I really enjoyed hearing her perspective on the islands and wonderful tips! I knew Olivia's voice already from all the video blogging she does, but it was great to be able to interact with her by phone.

Shortly after that, I spent some time talking with the lovely Jennifer of Life Unfolds, Artizen Coaching, and the Right-Brain Business Plan! Phew! Jenn is one busy and talented lady! We chatted about a little something we'll be doing together this fall, which I'm very excited about. I'll share details on that soon. Jenn has such a sweet, welcoming voice and it was a pleasure to chat with her.

And now, I'm all chatted out. :-) Toodaloo!


August 6th, 2008, Comments (9)

I've been experiencing so much synchronicity in the past few days, it's wild! One that made me laugh out loud and gave me goosebumps was when I saw the same image twice in a matter of hours. First, in the copies of the Calyx journal I received in the mail. I opened the journal to check out my art and the other art featured inside. One of the artist's I noticed was Fran Forman, whose name stood out partly because I read that she is a fellow Massachusetts artist. Fran does beautiful digital collages using images she finds at flea markets.

Just a couple hours later, I was at my old job where I'm spending the evenings this week and I picked up the Globe. I wouldn't have seen this if I hadn't been at work this week because I don't get the paper delivered at home. And even if I had gone to the paper's website, I probably wouldn't have seen the bit from the daily insert, called "Sidekick." There on the front page of "Sidekick" was a large image called "Letting Go," the same one I saw in Calyx, from Fran Forman. I snapped a quick pic of the paper for you.

In some synchronicity squared, I received a comment today from Patty of Magpie's Nest on my recent post about, synchronicity of course, which reminded me about an article I read in the Globe over two years ago. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to find it, but I did a quick search with what I remembered and it was the very first thing that came up on google. The article is all about seeing signs in numbers, in this case it involves a message from someone who has passed on. The story clearly made an impression on me since I remembered it so clearly. Looking back at it now, I laughed because of the date it was published includes my favorite number for synchronicity: 17.

Gah, it's seems impossible for me to explain these things properly. Today there were so many little instances of seeing the same things show up in different books and websites and the oddest places. After a full day of feeling bombarded, it's almost silly. When I read SARK's newsletter this evening with her own story of crazy synchronicity (which she told ever so eloquently), I laughed when she shared the Anne Lamott quote, "That's God showing off." That's a good way to put it. In an email, I told Patty that I think of them as winks from the Universe. Winky, winky, wink-wink.

Lifeforce My internet has been on the blink which has been frustrating and I feel terribly behind in catching up with emails and blogs. But I'm trying to let it roll off my back. Speaking of letting things roll off my back, I've been continuing to enjoy yoga. I tried out a new yoga dvd today: LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues with Amy Weintraub, author of the book Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga, (which was excellent by the way.) I really enjoyed the dvd which incorporated yoga poses, breathing, and chanting. It's definitely a dvd I would want some privacy to do, mainly because of the chanting, but I do like chanting and I like the way she incorporated it into the poses themselves. It wasn't a super challenging dvd, but I did feel much lighter and more energized afterwards. I especially liked how she began the dvd with some simple body movements (rolling the ankles, knees, hips, a little dancing, and a little shaking) that warm the body up before you do any poses. I appreciated that because I feel like sometimes yoga classes and videos go right into the poses cold. Eventually your body warms up, but it's much nicer to go into the stretches with the synovial fluids in your joints already moving, especially when your not the most flexible lady on the planet. Plus, doesn't shaking just feel good? Try it. It feels fantastic. :-) Shake it like a polaroid picture and all that. As I type this, in the background someone on t.v. says, "Shake it. Shake it." Hehe

All the yoga and reading I've been doing has been very helpful in my journey as I taper off anti-depressants. I'm grateful for that. It's so important for me to keep up with self-care here, especially as the days begin to get shorter, and yoga helps me remember to breathe and connect with my body. Finding creative ways to face my tendency towards a depressive state has been kind of fun. I enjoy reading what has helped others and trying natural ways to keep my spirits up through inspirational books, movement, supplements, art-making, etc...Every person is unique, so I think I need to discover my own personal prescription. But I always feel like I'm on the right path when I start seeing synchronicities every where!