Valerie Storey is a writer and a artist who has not only found a way to bring these expressive pathways together but has managed to make the result into a bridge that other writers and artists can cross.
A Twitter friend (@valeriestorey) this Albuquerque, New Mexico resident recently took time out of her highly inspirational schedule to answer a few questions about one of her newest endeavors, Art Journal Tip. This creative blog offers insights and prompts for writers and artists of all ages and levels. It also provides how-to steps that are easy to follow.
Q: As a writer and artist your Art Journal Tips offer a visual pathway into writing. Can you explain briefly why you have chosen to provide these artful tips for writers?
A: Until recently, I used to teach creative writing on a regular basis. At the same time I started several writing groups for women in my area. For both of these activities I needed a continuous source of inspiration and motivation, and art journaling seemed the perfect way to achieve this. I found it to be so much fun that I now can’t imagine writing without pictures, whether it’s for my art journal or the draft of a novel. When I started my blog several years ago, I wanted to share that same visual enjoyment online.
Q: Share your writing journey with us. When did you first know you were a writer (what were the signs/were there any signs?).
A: I wanted to write ever since I was little. I loved reading as a child, and was often in trouble for reading instead of doing my homework. As a teenager I wanted to be a poet, which might sound a little naive—many teens love to write poetry—but I wanted to go beyond the “stream-of-consciousness, let all my feelings out” type of poetry. I read T.S. Eliot and e.e. cummings voraciously and I wanted to grab their lines and make them my own somehow. Unfortunately I had zero support growing up. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized (living) people really could write books, and maybe I could be one of them. I’ve been fortunate to have had several wonderful writing mentors along the way, people who said, “Just begin—keep a journal, don’t give up.”
Q: What books have you written? Other writing credits?
A: My first published books were for young readers. They were about New Zealand and written under the name Valerie Keyworth. Later I switched to my married name, Valerie Storey, and wrote The Essential Guide for New Writers, From Idea to Finished Manuscript as a text for my writing classes. I next co-authored a book with parapsychologist, Dr. William Roll: Unleashed, of Poltergeists and Murder, the Curious Story of Tina Resch, which was optioned for a feature film. This was followed by a children’s mystery, The Great Scarab Scam and a YA novel, Better Than Perfect. My most recent book, Overtaken, is a Gothic romance for adult readers. Last year I had the honor of being invited to contribute a chapter to Now Write! Mysteries edited by Sherry Ellis and Laurie Lamson.
Q: Please tell us about your work as an artist. What mediums/genres do you work with?
A: My journey as an artist is almost identical to my writing history. In the same way I was told I would never be able to become a writer, I was told that people like me didn’t become artists; I was just too ordinary! Consequently, I didn’t begin any artwork until I was well established in my writing and teaching career. Sometimes I think the reason I loved writing so much was that I could hide it better than my artwork. To compensate for my fear and longing, I studied art history and read as much as I could about the lives of artists and the various historical art movements. I also went to as many museums and art galleries as was humanly possible, but I had no belief or hope that I could paint anything myself. Finally after years and years of wishing I could draw I got up the courage to take private art instruction from a woman who was a professional potter. Not only did she teach me to draw and work with watercolors, but I discovered I loved working with ceramics too, maybe most of all. Now my daily art practice is so essential to me that when I look back on how terrified I was to even make a simple sketch, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. My current medium of choice is oil pastels. Other favorites include graphite and water-soluble pencils, watercolor paints, and any and everything that can be turned into a collage.
Q: You mention in your blog that you have set yourself a goal of 52 paintings for 2013. How’s it going so far?
A: It’s going great. So far I’m in the middle of painting #7, and I’ve got #8 and #9 blocked out ready to start working on in a few weeks. A very important part of this exercise was for me to just paint and relax into the process and not judge whether a painting is “good” or “bad.” That said, I think it will be interesting to line them all up at the end of the year and see what subjects, color palettes, and mediums spoke the loudest to me, and what, if anything, I would want to change or perhaps keep working on.
Q: The online and free Art Journal Tips is beautifully done. The visual balance and poise are welcoming. Where there any special considerations you had to look at when creating it?
A: I truly appreciate you saying this—it means the world to me! Putting my designs and ideas online was a big step. I agonized for weeks prior to publishing my first blog and website. I think what finally pulled me through was keeping in mind why I was doing any of it—the same reason I taught creative writing: to support new writers and to help them feel good about their creativity. So when I post anything, whether it’s the text or the accompanying artwork, my mantra is: How can I help? I want people to feel relaxed and inspired to explore and develop their own potential.
Q: Where can people go to learn more about you, your writing and your art?
A: The best place is www.valeriestorey.com or they can go directly to my blog www.valeriestorey.blogspot.com. The website has a link to my blog as well as to my Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest accounts. I’m also setting up a special website to sell my artwork for the first time (!) and I hope to have that ready by the summer.