The Practice of Fairytale-ing

magicTREEI’m an advocate of fairytales. There. Said aloud. Well … written aloud.

It used to be a private thing – so private, it probably counts as a secret- but then I started painting and making shadowboxes and talking with people.  Maybe I should have skipped the talking part. That will always get me in trouble. Actually, I don’t say ‘fairytale’ often, but it’s what I’m thinking. More specifically, I’m thinking: these are fairytales. Not all. Not even most. But some.

Fairytales have always been a necessity to me. A practice. Impossible to unravel from real life.

Since I was very young, I’ve catalogued places and scenes. A lot were predictable, but stuff that isn’t supposed to have fairytale to it, did. For me. Suburban empty streets with only the army of sprinklers at work on a Sunday morning. Farmer taverns, creaking and cool in their shadows. Factories.

I collected sensations, aromas, shades of light, textures of air and sounds.

Most of all, I captured what I was feeling, little fireflies of memories. It wasn’t all stuff that charmed. I also took note of those things that were disturbing. Psychologically. Dark didn’t bother me as much as – for instance – a plastic, air-conditioned, overly manicured neighborhood. I can still feel myself clench and choke and bat away some weird despair when one of those things appears or resurfaces in a daydream.

When I grew older and heard the contempt people had for fairytales, I didn’t wince or blush, embarrassed. I didn’t think I was practicing fairytales. I understood it was disdain reserved for those who thought they could escape the demands of real life, typically by marrying someone who could finance that escape.


She was just fine until I added those tendrils floating over her face.

Then I grew MORE older and realized that fairytales are alive and well in even the most sophisticated circles. If I had more time to think about it, I think I’d think about whether they’re inescapable.

Right now, I find myself painting the occasional sweet thingie. They aren’t deliberately sweet. They just turn out that way. A little Jessica Rabbit going on, only in reverse.

**         **          **

I have pages and pages and PAGES of notes about what fairytale-ing is good for. Why it’s good. For me.

But I think I’ve written enough for today.


11 thoughts on “The Practice of Fairytale-ing

  1. You have NOT written enough for today, I want more!! :) I like this post because it summarizes all of your art, including your writing. It all has that “once upon a” quality. Even if it was “once upon” last week, or yesterday.

    Also, I like those tendrils. I miss having wind do things to my hair. ;)

    • Oh, that’s the sort of stuff one wants to say cautiously. Ha. I really do have so much more to say because it really is restorative and re-glitters me and things like that and it’s hard to believe it couldn’t work for a few more people. If they were a tiny bit inclined and all that. Not that anyone IS, but if they were …

      It’s weird about the tendrils. A lot of people on Instawhatever seem to like them, too. They’re just so big and elephant like and what’s a person to do when they’ve watercolored them? Hm? NOTHING. You can’t paint over the whippy things.

      PS. The wind will do plenty of things to your house and yard. You can pretend it’s your hair. Only you won’t be able to just brush it.

      • It JUST came to me, how hard it must be for you to read my un-repaired writing on this blog. I don’t mind so much that people play slop pool – in theory – but I don’t want to actually WATCH it. At all. So, thank you for that. And thank you for screwing up a sentence. Comforting, you know?

        1. I use watercolor. I really like acrylics, too, but … watercolor. Not-very-forgiving watercolor. :/
        2. I really am sorry that I’ll write more about fairytale stuff because I have so many notes and apparently like to hear myself on the page, but I super duper appreciate you and JP cheering me on.

  2. I sort of lived in my own fairytales as a kid…..but, mine were a bit dark. My favorite poem was Little Boy Blue…..the kids dies and his toys are sad (I still have the book with that poem). I liked trolls under bridges, the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep which I now feel is a horrible bedtime prayer. I wanted to be a princess locked in a tower or the wicked witch in the mirror kind of kid. As for those tendrils……every fairytale girl has them….they are required because they are…..well, they are fairytale girls and I had frizzy hair that didn’t blow in anything except hurricanes. I agree….you should write more…your watercolors are all so different…some bold, others, like the girl with the tendrils, soft and wistful. It would be special to see what words you put to the picture.

    • Oh, that’s sooooo interesting – a very good thing to know about you. About anyone, for that matter. You picked some … wait. What’s that weird word? I can’t think of it. You picked some good ones. Were you a bit dark in general? Oh, the little fingers in my brain are wiggling to know more. (And, frankly, I couldn’t tell you why. It just seems so … gothic. Ha!)

  3. I was a shy, lived a lot in my head kid….and was a voracious reader from probably the age of 5. I loved, and still do, the hidden corners of a library. As I grew, I liked gothic romances, suspense stuff, was obsessed with Napoleon for a few years and then switched to Padre Pio. Now, I exclusively read fiction of all kinds….but, no serious chest-heaving romance stuff. Just to make me a bit weirder, I have very…as in very…vivid dreams….every night. I wish I had a talent. I can stencil walls pretty well. You are wonderfully blessed with your art. Please, keep writing about those secrets.

    • Oh. You. were. so. lucky. I wish we could go on a libraries-of-the-world tour. They make me dizzy and a good one? I’m feeling swoony. P.S. I’m pretty sure you should stop wishing you had a talent. Please re-read what you write and tell me, honestly, that your writing doesn’t qualify. If you haven’t tried your hand at a story, someone ought to whack you. After you’re healed, I mean. THEN you could use a whack. A little one, but a whack nonetheless.

  4. for those of us who genuinely delight in Cinderella poofing back into her tattered dress and disheveled life between ball & marriage – I thank you. Your words and works continue to knock on the part of my brain that says, “see? told ya” and that is always reassuring.

    • I don’t pretend I’m in this alone, but if I waited for someone other than an academic to go trotting into fairytales that do a little more than get us snuggling in, … shit. This sentence went on so long, I forgot where I started. Oh. It’d be a long time. That’s a little bit of my own personal point. It’s only in times of crisis that I look around for someone to tell me what to do and if what I’m thinking and feeling is right. Otherwise, I totally trust myself. This, however, doesn’t translate into anyone ELSE liking my stuff, naturally. (Does this seem terribly convoluted and ‘what ARE you talking about’? Sorry about that.)

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