This week we had the honor of learning more about the brilliant writer, artist and photographer, Tammy T. Stone.
BYMG: How did you get started with your artistic endeavors?
TS: Since I was a little girl, I’ve always sought ways to express the rich, vibrant and confusing things happening inside me, and to give shape to the breathtaking experience of being in the world with its infinite, inherent creativity.
My most natural instinct was to write. I’d fill pages and pages of diaries, notebooks and journals, the content always shifting, from who my best friends were, to teen crushes (they always felt like more than crushes!) and angst over feeling alone and misunderstood, to thoughts, observations and feelings that could be quite violent, and also soft, filled with wonder.
Articles, essays (both academic and personal), short stories, novels, screenplays, poems—my existence revolves around so many forms of writing.
But there are times when the words disappear and my desire to communicate takes different forms. I turn to photography to see or frame the world both at home and during my long travels abroad when I’m not writing to reflect on my experiences.
Painting, and also art journaling, are more visceral experiences for me, ones I engage with when I need to pull the lens closer in, so to speak, to hover over a piece of paper or canvas in an attempt to formulate emotions on the brink of spilling over. Sometimes they want to stay hidden, and I let the creative process guide me inward to find them.
There’s an idea percolating out there that we can only be great at one thing, and that exploring our other passions is somehow whimsical or indulgent. If we are writers, we can’t also be accomplished painters, or photographers, or singers. It’s okay to have hobbies, we’re taught, but at some point we have to get “serious” and “focus on something.”
I’ve always had trouble with this idea! It’s potentially limiting for those of us who feel deeply committed to creative exploration.
BYMG: Who or what influences your work?
TS: My absolute sense of awe for the natural world we inhabit, and the beings that inhabit it inspire me at every turn.
I rarely leave home without my camera, and I always have my journal or a sketchbook on hand. I also owe a lot to my dad, a prize-winning amateur photographer, for putting my first camera into my hands and giving me a new way to see the world; and to his mother, my grandmother, who had a great gift in this area—there was nothing she couldn’t sew, crochet or knit, though I don’t remember her ever making “art for art’s sake.” She did pass along her love for crafting things with her hands to me, and in the years after her death, both my love and need for weaving this part of my heritage into my artistic practice has grown stronger.
My parents often took my sister and I to art museums when I was growing up, and my mom always let me “secretly” read under the covers after bedtime. These were great gifts! They helped surround me with art and cultivate my passion for creativity and imagining multiple possible worlds.
BYMG: Do you have a particular time of day that feels the best for you to create? A specific space? Or do you just get to it when and where the mood strikes?
TS: I try to create something everyday. I find it really helps me to ground, to return to myself and tune in to how I’m doing at a given moment. When I’m not feeling terribly motivated, I’ll just jot a few words down, maybe dream fragments or a line or two for a poem, or do a rough sketch.
When I’m working on a larger writing project, I usually return to it many times throughout the day, and try not to stop when I’m feeling stuck. It’s great to get through that sticky moment and look forward to the next writing session.
I also usually have a larger sewing project in the works, so if I’m tired and need a break from thinking, I can happily pick up the needle and cloth, and get to it. This is a very meditative part of my day.
BYMG: What is your process like? Do you typically finish a piece in one day, or take breaks and come back to it?
TS: It depends. If I’m working on a drawing or painting, I usually feel an obsessive need to finish it in one sitting. Even if it starts going in a direction I don’t like or didn’t anticipate, I work through it until I’m satisfied (enough!).
I’m constantly taking photographs, but I usually wait until I have time to work on them and group them into various themes and ideas for projects. When it comes to sewing and especially writing, I multitask. I usually have at least three or four writing projects going, if not more, though if things are going really well with one of them, I’ll start to focus on it more exclusively.
Going back and forth between various media really invigorates me.
BYMG: What is the big message you want readers to take away from your work?
TS: Our battles against and striving for a greater kind of love, the wonders of nature, our capacity and desire to awaken and to feel and connect as part of the daunting human experience—these are some of the things that drive me, and that I hope I can reflect and share with my words and images.
With each mode of expression, we just might discover, together, new ways of seeing the world, and ourselves. There is so much joy and freedom in that!
So if I could inspire anyone with even the tiniest tickle inside to create, than it’s worth giving it a go—picking up a paintbrush, or pen, or camera, or sewing needle or music
sheets—I’d be thrilled and awash in gratitude!
BYMG: Favorite creation so far this year?
TS: I don’t think I can answer that!
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to try to write a novel loosely based on and following the order of actual dreams I’d been writing down for about a year. It was hard! I had no idea where it was going, and I let the project slide.
A few months back, I felt compelled to bring it back to life, and finally finished it! I haven’t read it over yet—there might be something there, or it might just be a time capsule for me to enjoy someday.
BYMG: Where can our readers connect with you?
Thank you, Tammy, for sharing your insight and pieces of your beautiful, creative soul.
Tammy T. Stone is a Canadian writer currently living in Japan. In awe of life’s infinite well of wonders, she loves to express her passion and curiosity through her storytelling, photography, Reiki practice, hand-sewn art, and by listening. Her first book of poems, Formation: Along the Ganges and Back Again, was published in 2015.