When Writing Leads to Art … Leads to Writing…. Leads to Art…. And Writing!

Words have always been an important part of my life – from learning them with my mom and grandmom as wee one at bedtime, to playing with them in creative writing nearly every day, to teaching the power (and fun!) of them for 20+ years – so imagine my dismay when words became unreachable to me. From forgetting them to just not hearing any in my head, words escaped me.

A year ago at this time, I was struggling professionally and needing desperately to make a change.  Waiting for a new position within my organization felt endless. Normally, writing would have been my therapy, but in a cruel twist of events, my writing voice suddenly fell silent, forcing me to find a new way to cope.

In my desperation to find my writing voice again, two things happened:

1.  I remembered a writing form I learned a few years ago with my high school students, then shared and created with them:  blackout poetry (or ‘found poetry’) …. and realized I could ‘write’ again, but this time, finding the stories within the words. A blank page (or screen) gave way to pages of words, waiting to be plucked in my search of a story, no matter how big or small. I went through many black pens and old books, magazines, and newspapers the first few months of 2015! As we (my husband) watched TV, I skimmed, scanned, tore, cut, marked, and gathered. I’m pretty sure my husband thought I’d lost my mind (and hoped I’d get back to writing soon and stop leaving bits of paper under my recliner).  😉

2.  I decided to finally find and purchase a vintage typewriter… it would be my birthday present, homage to my writing life, and (hopefully) the kickstart I needed to find my writing voice again.  I admit – it’s a beautiful instrument dating back to the early 1900’s, and its cousin I bought a few months later, circa 1940’s, is equally stunning, but sadly, neither led to rediscovering my writing voice. Exactly.

Enter art.

Instead, searching for the typewriters led me to vintage things to collect and art supplies, and one thing led to another; I began using words in a way I had longed to do for many years – creating one-of-a-kind greeting cards. Somehow, the mix of paints, inks, and vintage textiles – along with found words in others’ writing – helped plant words in my head that I could share with others.  Creating art on those little pieces of real estate became my salvation – and a different kind of kickstart, it turns out.

For someone who’s curious about nearly everything, playing with acrylic and watercolor paints led to learning about other mediums and forms of art. *Medium:  the materials an artist uses to create. Enter mixed media, a form of art that allows an artist to tell stories through multiple mediums (aka multiple media) in a single project…. words or not.

Enter the magic of writing and art. Definitely.

found words stained and ready for use
During 2015, I plucked hundreds of words from pages, stained them, and placed them in a beautiful antique bowl from my grandmother, a way to keep her spirit close and stories always ‘at the ready.’

 

found words forming a poem
A work in progress that expresses 2015 for me….

 

handcrafted postcards being stitched on a sewing machine
Stitching layers of painted papers together to create mixed-media postcards…

 

found poetry
Created from scraps in my art studio (the little color marks near the bottom are me trying out different watercolor pencils to find the ‘just right’ color for a project), and found words in one of the many books I purchased to repurpose, this little piece was fun to make, as the words told me the story!

 

mermaid mixed media art and poetry
A gift for a mermaid lover that included crushed shells from Sanibel Island…

 

found poetry "happy"
Repurposing old book pages with found poetry … inspired by my wonderful mother-in-law, and her crazy-cute pink bicycle…

 

magnetic poetry
Magnetic poetry on our fridge… a fun way to play with words!

 

RobinLK working in her art studio
Definitely my happy place… busy in the studio.

Fast-forward to the last day of 2015, and as I sit here typing, my keyboard is both surprised and happy… for the first time in a long time, to not be playing second fiddle to my art table.  Trusty companion it’s been the past year, my keyboard has acted as DJ, as Pandora gave life to the dozens of art projects scattered in my (new) art studio, now sharing space with my (old) writing studio.  lovely! 

With only a few hours to go in 2015, I can look back fondly and say it’s been a wonderful year – with so many positive things happening. As we look ahead, I’m excited to be starting a new year, with many opportunities and a few specific goals. I’m excited to be writing again, and plan to put it, along with my art, together for a special project in 2016, one I hope will be the first of many. I’m also looking forward to expanding my art business (which officially became a small business last summer, at the urging of a family member, “You gotta decide, Robin. Is it a hobby or is it a business?”

So there it its… when writing leads to art, leads to writing, leads to art … and writing! I feel like I’ve come full circle in 2015 and am excited about 2016. Hope you are, too!

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy year ahead! 🙂

 

Happy New Year 2016

Curious where my art journey has gone in 2015 and what I’m currently working on? I’m most likely to be found these days, over on Instagram and sometimes on Facebook:  @RobinLKStudios  Hope you’ll stop by!

rlk

What do you make?

Lately, when I tell people that I have an art studio in our home, I’m often asked, “What kind of art do you make?”

My reply:  “Really cool mixed media!”

I get the funniest looks….

Writing is easier to explain: I’m a freelance writer & blogger. Then, I can mention a few projects or share my blog title. Explanation clear.

But I’m finding with art, an explanation is tougher to give. When I say I’m a mixed-media artist, that leads to the next logical question:  What’s mixed media? When I explain it’s a combination of materials – ink, acrylic paint, watercolors, charcoal, graphite, fabric, metal, paper, plastic, yarn, thread, ephemera, etc…. the usual reaction is, “What does it look like?”

Good question.

Hmmmm…. well…. and so begins my explanation of layers and telling a story. By now, I’m wanting to show them and they’re wanting to see, which leads to my dilemma – how to show my work on the run.  Carrying a portfolio would be cumbersome and oh-so-20th century.

What’s a girl to do?

Two solutions hit me while driving home from the dentist the other day, where the ‘What do you make?’ conversation had just occurred:

(1) Create a picture folder on my phone (always with me) to act as a digital portfolio to share when asked, and (2) Create business cards that contain a snippet of my work… similar to ATCs (artist trading cards)….. a kinesthetic experience to promote and explain what I do, while making my work instantly accessible. Being a kinesthetic learner, this second option really appeals to me! 🙂

Turns out, my kinesthetic business card idea isn’t that unusual amongst creative folks. While looking for images of possible formats and wording, I ran across this great blog post about creative DIY business cards. Wow! Let’s take the boring out of business cards!

While I’m still liking the first two ideas, another idea sprouted – a digital option that incorporates something I’ve wanted to try for a while – a QR code.  Can we say 21st century??  Indeed.

qr code - blank

I found a free app on my phone, downloaded it, created a few test codes, and in less than ten minutes, I redesigned my business card to add a QR code linked to my Instagram account. Bam! Now I can share my work and my contact information all in one place – digitally and kinesthetically – in 2 x 3.5 inches.

By the way, in case you’re wondering (I did, until two tech-savvy colleagues clued me in last spring… thank you Jillian and Angeles), QR stands for Quick Response.  How’s that for cutting-edge communication?

Now the conversation will go like this:

What do you make? 

Here… let me show you!  Hands them a business card that’s both colorful and loaded with instant information. (That has to be a 21st century expression ~ ‘instant information’)

 

ArtBizCardsKEEP2

 

What do your business cards say about you? Do they convey your creativity? Have you considered (or already use) a QR code?  I’m loving my new version and can’t wait to share them.  🙂