It is the storytellers voice within.
We all have it, this desire to communicate creatively. Some are blessed with the ability to put pen to paper and write or even draw, releasing the story in a clear and precise way. Others may easily paint what the storyteller sees. But there are times these stories are lost in the clamor of daily life. So many demands fighting for our attention that we lose our ability to hear or to trust that voice within.
It is necessary during these times to slow down. Find a place of solitude and listen. Trust what we are hearing and our ability to express it uniquely, creatively.
Maybe your story comes out in the form of a freshly baked loaf of sourdough bread. You've created the starter and excitedly shared with your friends what you learned of its history.
Maybe you've developed a love for gardening. Planting and weeding and lovingly cultivating the soil in preparation for the crop as you work through your grief over the loss of your mother. You reach across the void to connect with her again. Her story, your shared story, is told as the lilies dance and bloom each Spring.
I've found my voice in the artistic process of creating collage and mixed media works. I sit in a quiet place and trust the materials I've placed in front of me to speak. Trust that the story that is still unheard, still not perceived by my conscious mind, will be told as I assemble the pieces that have found their way into my possession.
As I commit to what pleases my eye I have learned to listen. To hear what begins as a faint whisper of recognition within my heart. Sometimes I know from the very first moment the story that is about to unfold. Sometimes it takes days of walking around the finished work before the meaning is revealed to me. This storyteller of mine can be shy, but it never disappoints me. It always has something to say.
As I have learned to trust this voice, my voice, I've grown in so many ways. And as I've grown in confidence of my own artistic voice, I've grown in my desire to share what I've learned with others. This month I had my first opportunity to do just that at Art & Soul in Portland through my class "Front & Center: 3D Collage with a Story".
It has been two weeks since I've been home and I still can't do justice to the experience with words. Maybe the storyteller within will need to sit down and do some creating to find a way to express it?
I had an amazing group of artists there, eager to learn the skills that were being taught, and very open to the process of learning to trust what they were bringing together and listen to the storytellers voice within.
As we talked about glue and the process of collage we discussed working without a plan. No formula or rules about composition, just trusting the eye to see what the storyteller was trying to say.
We learned to use a jewelers saw and cut acrylic and make tube rivets to sandwich a focal image and set it apart from the collage.
As the students got used to the proper way to hold the saw and discovered it took patience to use for this purpose, we talked about icons and the possible symbolism and deeper meaning our main image would bring to our finished piece.
We talked about slowing down in the process and using the time it took to saw as a time of meditation and listening for what the storyteller was beginning to reveal about what we were making.
In the end each woman had a story to share and I felt fully blessed as I listened to what the storyteller revealed to each one.
Pam's completed collage
Stories of healing, stories of celebration, stories of discovery, each one was personal and each was willing to share.
I am so thankful to these women for their kindness, the way the opened up to each other and to me.
Glenda's completed collage
And speaking of feeling blessed, my good friend Becky came to support me and help keep me organized.
Wendy's completed Collage
I couldn't be more grateful to her. I felt like God had sent a guardian angel to meet me there and it was Becky!
Oh and did I mention Becky's dog Otis? We quickly became the best of friends, Otis and I. I just know he's still sitting there waiting for me to come back!