Friday, June 22, 2012

Story Telling Series: Caroline's Story

Welcome to the second installment in my series on story telling.  This particular post is by my very good friend and visual artist, Valerie Brincheck.  Valerie specializes in mixed media art and her creations range from jewelry to boxes and books to the beautiful wooden mosaic wall she created in her hallway.  I saw this particular project and it resonated with me, reminding me that people tell stories with pictures as well as words.  When you get a bunch of visual artists together, you never know what is going to happen!  You can check out more of Valerie's work at her blog at and don't forget to stop by her Etsy store to see some of her unique jewelry.  I hope you enjoy Caroline's Story!


 Like most stories that we have heard in our lifetime, this one began with three little words: "In the beginning"..... Well, actually it began with more than that. You see, to really tell you how it all began I need to go back further then how this particular journal began its life.

For those of you that are not familiar with a circle journal, here is how it started. A very smart lady, named Elena, decided one day that she wanted to do a project with some of her arty friends from her on-line community, so she sent out some emails. She asked if we would like to get involved in a project called a circle journal and she waited for our replies. I happened to be one of the lucky ones that she asked to participate and since I had no idea what it was, I was a little hesitant at first, but in the end I was curious and wanted something new to try. The way a circle journal (or round robin) works is simply this. A group of people decide on a project theme. In our case there were 15 ladies for the first journal. We each made the cover for our journal and the first page to give the next person an idea of our artistic style. We then send the journal on to our assigned mailing partner. (The partners remain the same during the whole project.) That person has a month to work on their set of pages before they mail it on to their assigned mailing partner. The journals continue traveling to each person over the next 15 months and when it arrives back home to the owner it is a completed journal with art from all 15 people.

Now this journal you see pictured below is not the first journal we did nor is it the second or even third. It isn't even my own personal book but the reason it appears here is because when I showed it to Jeanne she fell in love with the way we each told a part of a single story throughout this whole journal. (This is not something that always happens.)

So this particular story began with 3 simple words..... "In the beginning".... but the real story of how we formed the group and created these circle journals was really more like a couple dozen words. We should start a group and make circle journals and the theme should be "through the eyes of an artists".... and ......well, you get the picture. Anyways this was the 5th journal that we did and it is called "Artistic Evolution". The reason for this is because the journal was put together in a special way.  The book itself is 6" high by 11" long. The shortest page is 7" long and they get bigger by an inch until they hit 11" then they start over at 7" again. This gives the book 3 sets of 5 stepped out pages to equal 15 pages.
(Actually 30 altogether, if you count the front and back.) Each artist must do a double page spread and evolve from the previous artist work somehow. We can choose to select an image or shape or even just a word to inspire us to create our set of pages. (For example the first page can have a "bird", which can evolve to incorporate "being able to fly" which can then be about "spreading your wings" which can evolve to be about "angels" and so on.)  We also have to run the artwork over the edge of the page so that when the set of 5 graduated pages is viewed together there is an overlapping chaos of fun textures like you see in the photo below.

This set of pages is created by Carla Hayes and the story of "Caroline" has not started yet but the inspiration is already there. Carla imagined the girl that appears on the right hand page as a first time traveler to Paris to see all the wondrous sites to behold. A moonlit walk in a garden of tulips with beautiful butterflies or a trip to see the can-can dancers of Moulin Rouge can be seen in her expression of bliss and amazement. 

 This set of pages is done by Sue Young and here is where the actual story of Caroline starts. When I asked Sue why she decided to name her young girl she replied that she was having "issues" with family members and she felt the need to escape to her favorite place, Provence. We are always told as artists (and writers) to create or write about things that we know. After all we are most familiar with our own surroundings and can therefore concentrate on the meaning and forget about the rest because it is already ingrained in us. 

 This next set of pages is done by Marita Kovalik and she decided to keep the story of Caroline going by shipping her off to France. Don't we all wish we can travel to far away exotic places when we are young and do nothing but experience life on our own terms?

 This set of pages is from Sarah Walker who is all the way from "down under" in Australia. Because of postage costs there are several ladies that live overseas that don't actually get the journal to work in. (Sarah is one of 4 or 5 that do this.)  They instead get a photo of the previous artist pages plus the page measurements. They then mail the finished pages to their "tip in" partner who glues their pages into the journal before mailing it on.

Again Sarah decided to continue Caroline's story by having her travel to Rome to see the colosseum and the Trevi fountain. It seems that Caroline wants to stay in Rome but maybe something is missing in her life. Could there be romance on the horizon for Caroline?

 This next set of pages is done by Gina Goodling and yes it seems that Caroline is looking for love! After getting a telegram from her cousin Enya she decides to travel to a place that sounds like it has many eligible bachelors... the Isle of Man. They are even having an auction to sell all the extra men they have. (I bet Caroline felt like she hit the jackpot.)

Below are the items that are in the pocket behind the 2 motorcycle riders on the right hand page. 

 Below are my contributions to Lori's journal and I decided that Caroline was tired of looking for love and wanted to go back home. But you know what they say about love, right? You always find it when you aren't looking for it.

Below is the story card that sits in the pocket behind the photo of Caroline on the left hand page. 

The final set of pages in the journal at the time that I took all of the photos is by a lady named Inge Bekaert who is all the way from Belgium. (She is my tip in partner for this journal.) As you can see Inge's style of work is much quieter and softer then most of us but is no less beautiful in content. She kept it simple and left Caroline's story up in the air. Did she make it back home? Did she stay with Walter and create a flying machine? It seems the birds of the garden may have influenced their next mechanical creation. 

Of course this is not the end of the Caroline's story and she has many adventures ahead of her to experience. (Well at least 8 more sets of pages.) The journal is currently in Canada with Lillian Mederak and only she knows what will happen to Caroline next.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Greenspotblue: On the Cusp, "Mirror, Mirror"

Check out my newest post on Greenspotblue entitled "Mirror, Mirror."

Bar fight

This blog post is dedicated to Dr. Forté who just recently removed the wicked witch mole from my upper lip.  The mole, initially made famous by my September 2011 post entitled "Hair Management," was removed along with another lesion under my chin. Now I know why starlets go into hiding when they have surgery.  I look like I've been in a bar fight.  So, being a writer, I had to make up a good story to go along with the stitches on my face.  I hope you enjoy my flight of fancy.

My black leather duster creaked in protest as I leaned on the bar at the TGI Fridays.  To the average observer, the crowd looked like innocent people trying to forget their dull, grey days slaving away in cubicle farms. But as an agent of C.A.T.S.S. (Committee Against Thugs Smuggling Stuff), I knew better.  It was a hot bed of criminal activity and I knew my nemesis, Dr. Phloephekoekes, had been smuggling  synthetic cat nip through this all american eatery, right under the noses of the authorities.

"What'll ya' have?" asked the bartender.  The name badge read "Pablo" and his nose looked like it was acquainted with one too many fists. The lump in his front pocket wasn't because he was happy to see me. He was packing.

"Shirley Temple," I said.

"Amateur night, tonight," he snorted as he turned away to make my drink.  I glared at his back hoping his polyester vest would burst into flames.

As he set down the pink concoction in front of me, I noticed a ring on his hand.  I took off my mirrored aviators and took a closer look.  It was heavy and gold with a distinct design, a fluffy cat with emerald eyes.  I knew that logo.  It was Dr. Phloephekoekes' calling card. "Nice ring."

Pablo gave me the hairy eyeball then turned and yelled, "Hey, Jim, I'm takin' a break.  Watch the bar."  He moved like a tank as he left the bar, went around the corner and out of sight.

I turned and watched the crowd again.  I knew the enemy was here somewhere.  The doctor was a master of disguise.  Then I saw her, an exceptionally ugly woman in the corner.  Her hair was dyed blonde to the point of looking like straw, she had shifty blood shot eyes and her dress was a most unfortunate fashion choice.  Where was Joan Rivers when you needed her?  That had to be Phloephekoekes.  Why be beautiful and attract attention when you could be so ugly that no one wanted to look.  God, he was brilliant!

Wending my way through the crowded dining room, I kept my eyes on the "woman" to make sure she did not escape before I got to her.  He was even putting on act of being drunk, weaving in his seat and pawing his date who was valiantly trying to rebuff the attack.  As I approached I heard some of their conversation.

"You don't look much like your picture online," "her" date said.

Phloephekoekes weaved in his seat and put his hand high up on the guy's thigh.  "You do," he gave his date a sloppy smile and then did a little hiccup.  I wondered how many method acting classes he had taken.  He was unbelievably good.

"Fluffycakes, the jig is up,"  I shouted drawing my weapon.  I looked her in the eyes. Well, one eye, the other one was lazy and looking somewhere over by the bar.  Maybe that was the good one, I switched back and forth trying to figure out which eye to glare at.  Finally I just focused my gaze on the bridge of her nose.  "Tell me where the synthetic catnip is, Fluffycakes, and I'll go easy on you."

The "woman's" face wrinkled in confusion as her date stared at me in slack jawed amazement.  "I don't know what you're talking about," "she" slurred.

Losing my patience, I reached out to yank the wig off to expose "her" real identity.  "Her" head snapped back with my hand.   "God, this wig is stuck on good!"  I  yanked a couple more times and her head wobbled back and forth like a bobble head.  I let go and she leaned over, puked on the floor then passed out on the table.
Her date gazed at the unconscious woman then looked at me with eyes shining in gratitude.  "Thank you, thank you!" he called as he thew forty buck on the table then made his escape out the front door.

I heard a cackling behind me.  A beautiful brunette was standing next to Pablo.  All the men in the bar were staring at her, uh, assets.  "You've met my henchman Pablo the Taco.  Now you'll see where he got the name." She gave me an evil smile.

"Fluffycakes!  I knew I could drive you out of hiding!"

Her face grew angry and dark.  "Stop calling me that!  My name is pronounced flow-fay-keks, not Fluffycakes!  Pablo, turn her into hamburger!"

I made sure that Pablo's nose became acquainted with my fist.  The last thing I remember before waking up with stitches in my upper lip was a close up view of Pablo the Taco's ring.  The good doctor got away this time, but once the stitches come out, I'll be on the hunt again, protecting unsuspecting kitty owners from Fluffycakes and his evil intentions.