When Writing Leads to Art

The Year Writing Led to Art, Back to Writing, Then to Art + Writing

Words have been an integral part of my life. Some kids grow up with dolls. Others with cars or Legos. I grew up surrounded by words. As a wee one, I learned them from my mom and grandmom at bedtime. Next came creative writing nearly every day as I moved through school, then the military, and eventually into teaching. The power (and fun!) of words became my teaching mission for 20+ years.

So imagine my dismay when words disappeared. Gone. Did I forget them? Misplace them? I wasn’t sure, but silence filled my head.

A year ago, I was struggling professionally and needed desperately to make a change.  Waiting for a new position within my organization felt endless. Usually, 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.

From desperation, two things happened:

1.  A writing form I learned a few years ago with my high school students, blackout poetry (or ‘found poetry’), became a way to write again. This time, I found stories within the words.

2.  I decided to buy two vintage typewriters— birthday presents to myself and a reminder of my writing life. I had hoped they would kickstart my writing voice. Sadly, neither did. At least, not in the conventional sort of way.

Enter art

Instead, searching for the typewriters led me to other vintage finds. Turns out, eBay is a treasure trove of ephemera! Then there were art supplies (lots of them!). One thing led to another. I began using words to create one-of-a-kind greeting cards, something I’d wanted to do for years. 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. 

*art medium:  the materials an artist uses to create. Enter mixed mediaa 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

  • quote
  • found words stained and ready for use
  • found poetry
  • found poetry "happy"
  • handcrafted postcards being stitched on a sewing machine
RobinLK working in her art studio

My Happy Place – busy in my (new) studio.

Fast-forward to the last day of 2015

As I sit here typing, my keyboard is both surprised and happy. For the first time in a long time, it’s not playing second fiddle to my art table. It’s been a trusty companion the past year, acting as “DJ” while Pandora gave life to the dozens of art projects scattered in my (new) art studio, sharing space with my (old) writing studio. 

With a few hours remaining in 2015, I can look back and say it’s been a good year – with positive things happening alongside the scary. I’m ready to start a new year with new opportunities and a few specific goals— more art combined with writing and expanding my now-official business, established in April at the urging of a family member.

“You gotta decide, Robin. Is it a hobby or a business?”


So there it is… when writing leads to art, leads to writing, leads to art … and writing! 

I feel like I’ve come full circle in 2015 and looking forward to 2016. Hope you are, too!