Iona, Scotland. Photo taken by Morag Noffke

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Fables, Parables and Poems: The fable of the Flower-girl.

I write stories for adults which appeal to the inner-child. 
They may seem childlike in their style and written for children but the message is appropriate for adults.

The Fable of the Flower-girl

by Morag, 2002.

You know today flower-girls are pretty maidens that accompany the beautiful bride wherever she goes.  But long ago, a long, long time ago, before people wrote, a flower-girl or boy was one who had an extra-ordinary relationship with flowers. They were connected to them and understood the meaning of them. Now this story could have evolved before you or I went to school or before our imaginations were lulled into a stupor by life’s busyness and all the seriousness of adulthood. I am the ‘finder’ of this story and want to share it with you.

So there was a certain flower-girl, about your age, who too, shared the enjoyment of exploring new places, faces and situations.  There are so many flower stories that she had collected; this is just one of them that I am about to tell you.

The Flower girl lived in a little Milkwood forest with her family. Their house was very old and had thick walls which kept the house cool in summer. It had an old coal stove that warmed the home in winter. From that warm home she would step out into the crisp, cool air.  The sunlight played like ripples across the ground creating camouflage in which the wild creatures of the forest could hide.  She would work her way outwards, through the forest, in ever growing circles; exploring for new things. And all the while she would look for flowers on the forest floor.  She liked flowers and thought of them as jewels.

In those times flowers had their uses and everybody knew some were for messages, some were for flavouring food, some were for healing yet the best of, all in her mind, were the ones you could make daisy chains, necklaces and crowns from; so some were for playing with, just like friends.

One day, while climbing in and out, and up and over some tree trunks that had fallen she found a flower that she had never seen before. It was tiny with fury leaves shaped like little hearts. The flowers were purple and the petals were velvety like a princess’s dress. "This must be one of the most enchanting flowers I have ever seen" she said. The plant seemed to glow a halo of happiness. "Oh happy I would be to have this special flower visit me in my home" she thought to herself.

With her little childish hands she dug into the black, loamy soil. She scooped her fingers under the roots and carefully lifted it to her heart.  "I will love you, forever" she whispered. She took it home and planted it with care in an old flower pot. "I will put you on the windowsill where I can see you every day" she told the plant. 

At first she took great care of it. She watered it, she spoke to it and she gently rubbed the dust off the fury leaves.  But after a while there were other interesting escapades into the woods and exploring to do.  And so it happened that she was quite distracted and forgot about her plant.  With no water, no kind words and no gentle touches the plant's flowers started to fade and the leaves began to wither. She did not notice for a time until eventually the plant looked more like left-over leather off cuts.

"What has happened to my lovely little plant?" she asked herself.  She was so unhappy to see her little plant suffering so from neglect that she began to cry. Her tears rolled down her cheeks and dropped onto the leaves.  As she continued to cry the tears watered her plant. The plant was so grateful it almost immediately looked better as it began to take in the water.  She noticed this and  realised that all was not lost.  Hope grew in her heart. A couple of days later it gave a beautiful velvety, purple flower to say "thank you".  As she watched it flourish again she spoke these words over it: "You are truly special.  I will not forget you again".

As I told you the flower-girl had many an experience in the wood where she like to play and after a while, again she became so busy.  The enjoyment of the outer life in the forest overtook the joys within her home.  And again the flower withered and faded.  Again she noticed.  She gave it water and it revived.  This went on for a whole two seasons: Summer and autumn.  And then another season: Winter, such neglect, such forgiveness, such neglect and such response.

Now the flower-girl began to feel guilty. She felt so bad and she felt she didn't deserve such a beautiful plant.  She turned away with a heavy sigh and then crumpled into a little ball letting out a forlorn cry.  As she did she heard her little plant say:

Water me, care for me
Just a little bit each day.
And all the time you spend in play
All the time you are away
Within the forest
With the other flowers
Adds up to many, many hours
But consistent care,
Not constant care,
Is what I need
to survive and flourish.
Water me, care for me,
Just a little bit each day.

In her heart she realised that she had created a place for this plant to be part of her own home.  She had discovered it and invited it in. This plant had a robust heart and wanted to stay alive at all costs, through all the ups and downs of love and neglect.  She also realised that with a little bit of consistent care each day she could enjoy her most precious plant without guilt. She not only wanted it to stay alive, she wanted it to thrive.

This is a story of truth, passed to you, for a very good reason. For if she were here today she herself would tell you:

Hearts are broken
Without thinking,
Hearts are stolen;
In a twinkling.
So don't neglect
 And try to tend and protect
Your little heart, so golden.

Now I will end off: Whatever you hold dear to your heart: whether you call it your inner self, your authentic self or your self-esteem; or you have discovered your creative imagination, your body fitness; or a person, an ideal or a value - you must not neglect  what you care about or have discovered. Don’t be lulled into a stupor by life’s busyness and all the seriousness of adulthood. You must tend and water it just a little bit each day.  This is how you or what you hold dear will not only stay alive but also most surely thrive.

The End


Friday, March 23, 2012

Expanding on the basic principle of layering

Once I became confident in handling the materials for the layering technique: the podge, serviettes and paints, I tried adding a photograph into the creative mix. I don't know how you like to work, but I like to have a 'loose' plan and at the same I like to give the image lots of scope in order for it to emerge according to impulse and whim. 

What I mean by this is: I had the canvas, the photo, the serviette pieces and some of my favorite colours. In my minds eye I was going to give the little girl long curly hair (like my own) by using the black and white stylized design. As I tore the pieces I dropped them onto my photo and a thought slowly emerged: "It looks like fairly wings. I like all things winged and fairy-like, including insects, so I will make her into a fairy". There was my inspiration. Often my creations are as much a surprise to myself as others. This is what I call the 'playful' process and I find it fun. 

Fairy-girl,  Layered technique on  block canvas, November 2011. 

You might be wondering what is going on in this next piece of art. I say "the meaning is in the eye of the beholder". Go ahead, make of it what you want. This is an example of me taking a technique further and further. I use collage for working with concepts that are fresh in my mind. Here the concepts are Past, Present and is a journey.    

Forest girls, Layered technique on flat canvas, November 2011.

If you want to try this process please bear in mind that it is the journey of the process that you must throw yourself into totally. Try to live in the moment, feel the feelings, whether it is the joy of creating or the frustration of the challenge of creating a new and valuable image out of items that are mundane. The destination then becomes incidental and a surprise: sometimes lovely sometimes not. Enjoy playing in the process. In creativity you have your materials, inspiration, incubation of an idea, intuition to know when to take advantage of mistakes and surprise elements and the conviction of knowing when to stop. But enough said for now. 

I will tell you more later.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Questions of an artistic kind

The next day, after the workshop, my mind did what most creative minds do: it brainstormed many options and became saturated with questions and ideas such as: 

  • what if I created a marbled look using string dipped in black ink as one of my layers?

Marbled butterfly, ink, craft acrylics and glitter glue.

  • What if I drew my own paisley design to collage onto my canvas for textures?

Girl in the gateway, inks, acrylic paint and serviettes.

  • What if I add string and serviette textures and then look for an image, much the same way as when you look for images in clouds? And lastly to enhance the image so that it becomes the foreground I added dry glitter and glue glitter. This makes the butterfly pop out.

  • What if I texture with a mixture of recycled paper and serviettes, then stick stars on as a stencil and sponge over a template to create a negative design?

And so that day become my artists 'play' date. I had the freedom to try out all my ideas. It is good to try out even the 'silly' ideas because that is how one learns: what works, what doesn't and how to create something new out of mistakes. The more you try the more you have experienced the more you know how to achieve what you ultimately want.

Next time I will show you how applied what I learnt to making images, covering journals, etc. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012


 You might have noticed that I have been quiet for five months. I won't be explaining my whereabouts but about one thing I will tell you: Last year, in October, I was invited to go to a workshop: ‘to create is to live’. It was based on a layering technique using collage, paint and other creative processes. I find it important to fill my creative well by doing art and going on other creative workshops; this keeps my creativity alive.

After five happy hours of sticking, painting, 'podging', stamping and stenciling (and a wonderful lunch) My Hands appeared.

Layered Hands.

Happy hands
healing hands
caring hands
reaching hands
lifting hands
holding hands
clapping hands
cold hands
warm hands
wringing hands
human hands
ordinary hands
pretty hands
lovely hands
young hands
 old hands
hands belong to all of us
hands link us together
push us apart
I am held
in the Hand
and you are too
It makes me smile
Knowing that I am Held. 

This technique consists of layers of paint, collaging serviettes  for texture, podge, stamps, and stencils. I felt it was a serendipitous way of creating depth and textures which could then be used for art and image making. It was fun and I felt free to 'play'. I enjoyed being part of the group instead of facilitating a group.

Moving from left to right shows the different stages of building up the layers.
In my next blog I will show you my own interpretations of using this new technique.