Writing Short(ly)

How many words does it take to tell a story?

One could argue that using fewer words conveys more meaning and requires more thinking.

Brevity is king.

In fact, many writers prefer to tell stories in short form, guiding the reader on a literary journey – in 100 or fewer, 50 or fewer, only six words, or even 140 characters. Writing shortly, often under the umbrella Flash Fiction, goes by many names. Here are a few:

  • microstory
  • short story
  • short-short story
  • flash fiction
  • six-word story
  • the 140-character story (also known as twitterature)
  • micropoetry

 

cover of a book, how to write short, by roy peter clark

No matter what it’s called, each short-form story has a similar quality:  the writer carefully selects and places words to tell a story. Similar to micropoetry, brevity is key.  Every. Word. Counts. 

 

book cover: 140 CharactersThough I was introduced to wordplay at a very young age (and always encouraged to write and tinker with language), it was not until 2009 when I discovered Twitter and short-form writing (beyond poetry) for the first time. I blogged about it in 2010 and again a few years later {here}. Turns out, short-form writing has a long history! Consider Telegraph messages… stop.  😉

Fast-forward to 2015, when I discovered an interest in visual art – an answer to writer’s block. As I tinkered with colors to heal my heart and head, my writing voice returned and I discovered that ‘writing short’ played a key role in my art pieces.

Carefully selected and places words are often seen, but just as often not seen – buried under layers of color and texture. When you purchase my art, there’s a good chance you’re purchasing my words, too, even if you never see them!

Now in my third year creating visual art, I am reflecting on my journey and continue to think about the process. I am seeing how my earliest pieces are simplistic, childlike – the efforts of a newbie artist, and I’m okay with that. Because I’m also discovering how ‘writing short’ fits into my own artistic style.

I see a growing collection of my words – many blended with colors, some standing strongly in stark black and white, while others hover quietly on brown patina’d book pages and the private pages of my writing journals.

Still, others stick quietly to our fridge and tap me on the shoulder when I walk by, or are pulled from my word notebooks and added to my photographs. Then there are the carefully chosen quotes by others that convey my deepest feelings…

All tell my story.

 

What would your story say?

Drawing Them Out: Faces Reveal Artist’s Growth

As 2018 unfolds, I’ve been reflecting on my creative journey.

What began as art discovery (a form of therapy, if you will) during a difficult time in my life – personally and professionally – has developed into a way of living that is as necessary to me as breathing and eating. My head often feels like it will burst to let the ideas out!

When everything in art was brand new to me three years ago, I was taking it all in and sampling techniques, tools, and materials – but not choosing anything specific. Window shopping.  I suppose that’s how I discovered ‘mixed media’ – I tinkered in a little bit of everything. Now, while I still prefer using a variety of media, there are certain things I prefer.  Drawing and faces make my short list.

I’m absolutely fascinated by people’s faces, taking in the lines, curves, shapes, colors, tones, textures, how light hits high places and recedes in low spots, the crevices, scars, freckles, moles, placement of features, how the features move when the person speaks, the color of the iris, the white reflection in the pupil, the shape of the lips – up or down, a big toothy grin or a closed, smiling mouth…. the list is endless.

I’ve noticed as long as I can remember, but more in the past few years. Often when I’m looking at someone, I get distracted by what I see, and worry that I’ll miss what’s being said. When I look at photographs, I am mesmerized. I study the details.

credit: RobinLK Studios. 24×24 mixed media on art board

In 2015-16, I began curating faces from online images in Pinterest and Google, to use as reference tools as I developed my drawing skills. I didn’t draw too many faces those first years, but the first photo in my curated collection became a reference for an early piece I created in a workshop I attended. The 24 x 24 art now hangs in our home. It’s one of my favorite pieces, but I didn’t focus on drawing faces. Yet.

I was still dabbling.

Looking at a face is like looking at art for me.  I am infinitely curious when I look at someone’s face…

In Pam Carriker’s book, Mixed Media Portraits: Techniques for Drawing and Painting Faces, she says, “You’ll find when you begin sketching and using faces in your work that you notice the tilt of someone’s head when you’re talking to them or how the light is shadowing their face.” When I read this, I thought, “I do that all the time!”

My focus is narrowing. No longer just window shopping as I did in 2015, I’m figuring out which subjects interest me most, which mediums feel ‘right’ in my hands, how compositions, combinations, and colors convey what’s in my heart and my head.

Pam goes on to say, “Each face that emerges is like meeting a new person. They are who they are, and they don’t have to be perfect… Let them become who they become.”  I love this!

I am literally ‘drawing them out’ – new people who have (apparently) been hanging out in my head and are now emerging. Their faces are the evidence of my own growth as an artist…..

Here are a few new friends I’d like to introduce, because as I develop my drawing skills, these ladies will become fondly remembered as the faces who appeared first in 2018, willing to emerge with all their quirkiness and imperfections.   🙂

Where will the process take me next?  Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest: @RobinLK Studios

Of Stories and Strangers…..

A few months ago, a fellow IG creative reached out to me and said she’d like to share some of the many vintage postage stamps she has. I was elated! Of course, thank you. But why me? On most accounts, one would say we’re strangers.

Over the next week, as we were dealing with Hurricane Irma here in Florida, Dee and I corresponded back and forth. A short time later, when the weather was clear, I found a package waiting for me at the post office.

Opening the package and spilling out those beautiful stamps was like opening a time capsule filled with incredible art work and history.

 

Dear Robin,

“I’m so excited to contribute to your collection of personal ephemera. A few year years ago, I inherited my great-grandmother’s stamp collection ….”

Oh my goodness! I was, at once – speechless, excited, and touched beyond words. What an amazing gift to receive from someone – especially a stranger!! Following Dee on Instagram, I knew that inspiring others is an important part of who she is. Her commitment to ‘Doing Good’ was obvious in that moment. And my own Gran’s words ran through my head and my heart, “People aren’t strangers, sweetie …. just people we don’t know yet.” She lived this belief and showed it to me every time we were together (which was often). No matter where we went, Gran would strike up a conversation with someone, and before you’d know it, they seemed like old friends, catching up, sharing stories and laughing. I loved those days.

As I listened to my Gran’s voice in my head (and heart), I could also hear Dee’s great-grandmother, who must have loved stories and people, too. Her collection reflects the stories of so many who traveled, lived life, and perhaps – never met a stranger.  🙂

My gratitude runs deep. Thank you, Dee, for seeing me not as a stranger online, but instead, as a fellow creative whose journey is teaching her many things and inspiring her to inspire others – through kindness, generosity, and the understanding that we are all connected by our stories. I’ve begun to fulfill your request to pay it forward and help a child discover art and creativity…

Fast-forward nearly six months to a Tuesday morning and 7:25 AM text message:

Hey, will you be on campus today?

Yep. I’ll be there by 8:00. How can I help?

I have a birthday present for you.

Oh, goodness! I’ll stop by your classroom later today.

Awesome!

Later that day, I stop by my friend Alex’s classroom. “Come outside with me,” she says. We step outside. She hands me a striped yellow and green gift bag filled with dark green tissue paper. I think of the 1970’s.

She begins to tell me how she thought about what to get me for my birthday. I interrupt: You didn’t have to get me anything! I know, she says. But I wanted you to have this. Here, open it. Her tone has changed.

As I peek inside the bag, she explains that as she continues to work through her grief, she’s working hard to let go of some of the things that were her Dad’s. He passed away last summer, after a hard fight with cancer. I know my dear friend is still raw with emotion. She wants me to have what’s in the bag.

Tears fill my eyes. Goosebumps. I am overcome with excitement, sadness, and honor.

 

“I know you will use these in your art in some amazing way,” she says.

I am speechless. A box of vintage maps. My friend knows how much stories mean to me. We’ve been friends only a few years, yet she gets me. We connected from the start. I am filled with gratitude beyond words.

I want to take them out and look at them. I carefully open the box and pull a few maps up, to see them – where they are from. Alex tells me about her family traveling and how they used these maps. She says the maps remind her of her grandfather, too. I am overwhelmed by the kindness and trust of my friend. We talk a few minutes more. Her adult students need her back in class.

“I don’t know if I can actually use these in my art,” I tell her as we walk away. That’s always my challenge with ephemera – keep and love or love and send out into the world – for someone else to love, too…..  it’s a constant dilemma. Honestly. She tells me, “I know you will love them and know what to do with them when the right time comes.”  Again, I am speechless. And honored.

The box now has a prominent spot on my studio bookshelves, alongside other special items that remind me of people I love, and their stories.

 

I recently opened the box and laid out the maps. I found myself recalling my geography and imagining Alex and her family traveling….

I could hear my grandmother’s voice in my head, as she laughed and talked with others. I imagined Alex and her family – in their car, laughing and talking (maybe even bickering…lol), as they traveled across the United States. I thought about the kindness of friends – and how we are all connected – they’re only people we don’t know yet.

Every time I look at these beautiful collections: letters and postcards bejeweled with beautiful stamps from around the world and utilitarian maps whose simplicity belied the adventures a family enjoyed – I am reminded we know no strangersonly those we don’t know yet. And I smile.  Thank you, Dee and Alex.

A life filled with stories and the kindness of friends {never strangers}… is all this girl could ask for.  

 

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery! 

Join us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios  

 

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Ideas….. {Six Word Wednesday}

 six-word story about sunday mornings

Sunday mornings quietly await our ideas….

6

What’s your six-word story today?

Share with us in Comments or over on FB…  🙂

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery!  Find us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios

Broken but Ferocious …. {Six Word Wednesday}

six word story:  they surround you broken but ferrocious

 

 

Another random gathering of words that presented themselves to me.

From the first time I read these words and every time after, I think of the teenagers I’ve taught over 20+ years –

many broken, but angry and trying to hide it ….

 

What’s your story in six today? 

6

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery 

What’s happening in the studios these days?

Latest pictures and projects on Facebook and Instagram  @RobinLK Studios 

Life, This Morning…..

credit: RobinLK Studios/2016
credit: RobinLK Studios/2016

 

Mortality

Aging

Living …. (!)

 

gnawing at me,

whispering to me,

.

.

.

tapping

     on

         my

              shoulder.

 

 ~ RLK  2.28.17

Longing …. {Six Word Wednesday}

Old Florida home, abandoned
Ocoee, Florida @2017

Abandoned, she longs to be found….

#amwriting
What’s your story in six today? 

6

Share with us in Comments or over on FB…  🙂

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery!  Find us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios

Blooming Quietly…. {Six Word Wednesday}

 

 

yellow rose with a six-word story from robinlk studios

What’s your story in six today? 

6

Share with us in Comments or over on FB…  🙂

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery!  Find us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios