Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Trust the Voice Within

"I've Got Something To Say" Encaustic Wax Collage by Crystal Neubauer

There are stories within each one of us just waiting to be told. There are experiences we've had and feelings we've stored that need to be released in the telling. There is a playful side to even the most serious among us. A voice that wants to be heard.

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.

Wendy S. piecing together her collage

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.

Wendy S's background collage

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.

Yona sharing her story

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.

Yona's Completed Collage

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.
Pam sharing her story

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.

Glenda Sharing her story

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 W working on her background

She went over and beyond the call of duty as she organized all the items I had mailed ahead, picked me up from the airport, helped me set up my table for vendors night, helped me set up for the class and was still able to follow along and create her own collage and found she too had a story to share.
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!

Becky shares her story

Thank-you Glenda, Pam, Yona, Wendy S, Wendy W, and Becky!

Becky's completed collage

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!


  1. I think you are a fine storyteller! I so wish I could have taken your class. It looks like it was amazing. At least we got to room together. It went by quickly, didn't it?!

  2. Really nice post! Great to read and the art work is spectacular.


  3. hi crystal,
    oh! finally :), a bit of info about your art and soul experience!!! yay!

    as usual, your artwork is lovely...what an inspiring blog post, especially when you speak about hearing the voice within. my problem seems to be that i have a 101 voices within and i don't which one is the 'real' me. maybe they are all the real me. maybe none of them are yet...sigh...but yes, sometimes i do catch a whisper here and there of the storyteller.

    :) jan

  4. Your work is always so peaceful.
    I wish I could have been at the art and soul..It sounds like you truly enjoyed.

  5. I stumbled across your site tonight, and I'm so glad I did. So Lovely... I love the story of your angel "Wendy". Blessed of heart, sacred moments shared with other women, amazing...

  6. Your class looks like it was so special. Not just about art but about the artist too. And I love your piece in the first photo.

  7. Hi Crystal!
    Hey I must have missed this post about "our" weekend! It was just GREAT and it made me wish we were togther again! Maybe someday soon I hope!


  8. Just now saw this Crystal...thanks so much for a great class. Everyone loves the piece I made in your class..you can see it on my blog at: