Art,  collecting stories

folk tales and love stories

I have become quite the lackadaisical blogger over the years. I apologize- I spend what little time I have chosen to spend online mostly over on Instagram, though, even there, I have begun to post less and less. I hear blogging is making a comeback, anyhow, though I do chuckle at this- I’d have had to have left blogging to come back to it. Feels strange to be designated so ‘old school’. But I digress.

If you have been following me on the socials at all you will know that I have rapidly stepped back from writing and sharing homeschooling tidbits- and have delved deeply into illustration. There are many reasons for this. I don’t even feel like saying much about it. I only speak of this because I know some have noticed (and asked why) only my art remains on my social media accounts. I archived the rest. I feel perfectly content in this.

I don’t deny that writing is a fundamental part of me- I’ve had people begging for me to write a book for years- but it just is NOT the season. I’m okay with that.

All that to say, a story appeared anyways and wove its way through the last few months, and I’ve been meaning to share it here. There was an illustration prompt for folktales on Instagram in November. I completed two in rapid succession, and then, by force of well, everything, I could only complete a prompt a month. It’s the only paintings or drawings of any kind I’ve accomplished for nearly six months, but I must say, I’m mighty pleased with the outcome. I didn’t realize I was telling the story of my marriage at first. But it happened- and I adored every minute. I can’t wait to hang these on our walls!

There were seven prompts: Birth, Ritual, Courtship, Solstice, Death, Harvest, and Dance. I combined the last two. Captions are copied from Insta.

Birth: I kept thinking about how long my love and I have been married now, and yet, how things blossom and grow in our relationship.
Ritual: It appears I have a tale of my own to tell. This is for the prompt, ritual. Kisses and coffee, always and always.
Courtship: Well, it’s taken a hot second or 500, but here we are. For the prompt, courtship. You know, I had no idea when I decided to do folktale week that the tale I would end up telling would be so close to home. To be honest, this year has been the most intense year our marriage has experienced (I’m sure many could say similarly)- not so much for my husband and I personally, but for the needs of our family, the pressures the virus placed on his job, my diagnosis and the pressure it placed on our entire support system…(again, we are not unique in this). These prompts have just brought to the surface the reason we can make it through all we’ve seen- the way twenty years of threads being knotted together have sustained and caught us in the free fall known as 2020. I’m so glad I decided to follow these prompts. What a gift it has been to delve into my own story. I love including all the aspects of our courtship in this one: hiking, camping, fresh coffee by the fire. Those years were such a gift we didn’t know we had at the time.
Solstice: We bought our very first ornament together on the winter solstice; two foxes, sitting on a log, nuzzling. It’s the very last ornament to go on the Christmas tree every year. We hang it together. Every year that we perform this little ritual, I’m always amazed by where the year previous has carried us, always a bit surprised we arrived in one piece and relatively not much worse for wear. I loved painting this little nod to us and our ornament.
Death:
It has taken a solid month to get this one done in bits and pieces, but I adore how it turned out. This was for the prompt, death.

My husband and I both nearly died in our twenties, both from illness; when I almost died, we lost a child. Having something like that happen so early in our adult lives, in our relatively young marriage—it changes your whole view of the world. How you move in it, the choices you make, everything.

It is one of the golden threads running through the tapestry of our relationship. At the time, things were indeed heavy and dark. But as time has worn on, I have seen the growth of the seeds buried in that dark place, grown now into the sun.

I love all of the symbolism in this piece. (Fun fact: the flowers surrounding us are the flowers typically placed in sympathy and funereal bouquets, at least in the US.)
Harvest & Dance: I didn’t realize when I first started working on these prompts that I’d only manage one a month. It’s just the state of things, man. I don’t know about you all but I am so tired. This in-between space has just *drained* my emotional, mental, and physical stores quite deeply.

This was for the prompt, “harvest”, which stumped me at first- if this is the tale of my husband and I, what are we harvesting, exactly? In the end, I settled for a home. There are six flowers in the garden, and we reach towards the sun, somewhat symbolically, as we look towards our home and children. The ‘harvest’ is perhaps the hardest aspect of long term love and commitment- because you don’t see the fruits of showing up for each other again and again through thick and thin *in* the moment- it’s always in retrospect, caught at a glimpse, often an ambiguity. It’s so worth it though.

ETA: I realized this also works perfectly for the last prompt “dance”- so I think this is where I’ll end my Folktale work for the year. It has been a lovely soul ‘fill up’ creatively during a really rough patch for myself personally. It kept pushing me to work just a little when I could. It also made me realize I definitely have an illustration style. I want to play with that idea a bit more! Thanks for joining me on the Folktale journey.

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