“Narrative is the binding thread of human experience, and stories are a medium that we use to know one another and ourselves.” –Leanne Prain, Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles
Storytelling is everywhere! We constantly speak in stories—from telling a potential employer about why we’re perfect for the job to a photo snapshot of a loved-one’s milestone. We talk about ourselves, about others, and about our experiences.
And we have stories we tell ourselves, quietly, about the way we look at the world and how the world looks at us.
Yet while this skill is often considered essential for those writing a book, or for actors on a stage, do we consider how to develop our own skill in telling our own stories? Everyone is captivated by a good story and a good story can come from anywhere. Everyone has at least one story to tell.
Storytelling comes in a variety of forms, so let’s take a look at some different ways to express the stories we live. Do you have ideas about what stories you can tell? Are you a visual or a verbal storyteller? No matter how you express them, the stories you have can only be told by you!
Long Story Short was my initial plunge into the art of storytelling, a book picked out due to boredom several years ago that turned out to have far more impact than I could imagine. Margot Leitman is a long-time storytelling teacher and award-winning storyteller champion (yes, that’s a thing) who paces the reader through examples and exercises with humor and spunk. Consider this a fantastic catch-all primer for the practical application of storytelling to your everyday life.
Perhaps watercolor is not the first thing to come to mind when thinking about storytelling, but Felix Scheinberger does a fantastic job with teaching technique with a purpose. Storytelling with watercolor, he argues, requires balance. “The secret to using watercolor to create pictures lies in striking a balance between control and letting go. Pictures are often only ‘really good’ when they surprise us.”
Daemon Voices is a collection of 32 essays written by Philip Pullman over a variety of subjects, spanning a 17-year time period, and representing several perspectives and contexts considered by the acclaimed author. With a unique “topic finder” guide at the front of the book, the reader can turn directly to whatever interests them or read the whole collection front to back. And the one theme tying everything together? Storytelling. Daemon Voices is a fantastic glimpse at how any experience can become a story worth telling.
Author and artist Leanne Prain provides a compelling and thought-provoking argument for ways to weave (heh) life experiences into the physical and often underappreciated medium of textiles. Personal anecdotes and interviews with textile artists are punctuated with project ideas you can do at home. Strange Material looks at everything from story quilts to comedic embroidery and how to turn your own crafts into tangible stories.