I’m expecting company today.
Not literal, hide-the–piles-of-junk-mail-and-baskets-of-towels-in-need-of-folding company, but hopefully a steady stream of virtual visitors who won’t really care if ivacuumed the ehouse and just might get comfortable here at my online digs and become Regulars.
If you popped on over from Erin's place today, you already know me as Cynthia, the artist, of fleur de lis fame. But, like any good story, there’s another side.
See, I’m Cynthia @ Running With Letters because that’s what I do—I run around all day, every day with ideas, and stories, and images , some more dangerous than the pair of blades with handles we’re all smart enough to stash while trotting.
For years, I’ve labored under the delusion that my artsy exterior was quite possibly a malevolent entity bent on suffocating my inner writer--the me who thrives on the words that pour from my heart like lifeblood. But I’ve come to realize that art is actually part of my story; that it’s just another facet of the creative process I’m wired to love.
I recently chose to unite these two not-so-divergent aspects of my persona by inventing “ARTicles,” a merger of creative forces which debuted on a business card as a sort of announcement of the handful of things I’m able to do in life. I basically came up with the idea and watched, curiously, to see what would transpire.
One of the first things that happened was that I got an Assignment that reminded me a whole lot of my days writing feature stories for the newspaper, even though it didn’t call on me to type a single word.
When Erin first asked me to design a fleur de lis, I barely knew what one was. From the outset, she told me how much the symbol meant to her—and when she explained its ties to New Orleans, I immediately understood—as a long time follower of Erin’s blog, I know how closely she holds new Orleans to her heart. I knew I had to get her fleur de lis right—and that’s when the reporter kicked in.
I wasn’t content to just learn the lines required to make a template. I wanted to know a little bit about what I was making. I took an online crash course on of the symbol’s rich political and history, and was surprised to discover that the symbol is not singularly French—my own Italian heritage intersects with the fleur de lis through the symbol’s connection to Florence, Venice, and Rome.
I had already discussed colors with Erin, and while her tile was firing in the kiln, I researched the many ways the image has been interpreted and stylized by other artists. I was amazed by the many variations of the fleur de lis and found several to which I was partial—but, like any good reporter, I went straight to my source to learn which incarnation of the symbol best captured the intended spirit and meaning for Erin.
By the time I was actually constructing the piece, I was wrapped in the story in a way not unlike my days as a features writer as I experienced—in a slightly different form—those fleeting moments when someone else’s story temporarily becomes part of my own. When communicating the dreams, ideas, or passions of another person becomes my focus and my challenge. As was so often the case when I told such stories in print, I found myself adopting some of Erin’s enthusiasm—a little jolt of interest every time—and there are now many—that I notice her signature symbol in my personal travels.
By the time I packaged Erin’s finished work, I, too, felt invested in the image, although I still no expert, as I discovered when my son found me wrapping the fleur de lis for shipment.
“Wow, it’s the symbol from the saint’s helmet,” he said.
“Oh. I guess it is, Buddy,” I answered, realizing that, indeed, it is—that, and so much more.
Thanks, Erin, for trusting me to tell your story—first in art, and now in words. I’ve loved doing both.
Thanks also to you, Reader, for sticking with me—because a story, in images or words, only exists when there’s someone with which to share it. If you have a story of your own that you'd like me to interpret on a custom piece of artwork, I'm a comment or email away--let's talk :)
I hope you’ll consider hanging out with me through many more stories—of both the visual and literary kind. If so, I’d love to have you as a follower. That way, I can visit your blog and enjoy your stories, too.