Joy Corcoran has Moved

Due to some ongoing wireless network problems, as of May 4, 2012,  my new posts will be made on my blog Please click over to find new posts on stories, art, disability, Bridge Meadows inter-generational community, reading, dreaming and living with a sense of wonder.  Please feel free to explore this blog which I’ve kept for the past few years and leave comments.   There are lots of cool links and interesting posts.  You can friend me on Facebook.  You can also visit my Etsy shop where I have a few dolls and paintings for sale.

Posted in Art Doll, Art Where It Lives, cloth doll, doll, Doll Maker, Fabric Art, Medicine Dolls | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dandelion Bouquet

I got a dandelion bouquet yesterday so I did an ink sketch of it and the girl who gave it to  me.  I painted it with opaque watercolors.

Dandelion Bouquet

Dandelions might be my favorite flower.



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Spring Lily

Last year for my Easter greeting, I drew a lily bursting out of an egg.  This year, I decided to make it a tradition and draw it again.  And like last year, I waited til the last minute — a traditional thing for me.

Last year, I did a collage drawing with markers and ink:


This year I used ink, watercolor, gouache, and colored pencils.  I was inspired by a crow’s egg because crows are the birds I see most often and they fuss at me if I don’t write or draw.  They fuss at me if I do, but that’s another story.

Have a happy Easter, and I hope something magnificent breaks open for you this year.






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The Bouyancy of Storytellers

Anne Rutherford

Yesterday I went to a performance by the storyteller Anne Rutherford and was transported from reality to heaven and hell and all over the world – the poetry of baseball games, the humor of Irish wakes and the wisdom of lovelorn peacocks.  She told stories and sang songs around the theme of “The One That Got Away.”  She had two musicians and sometimes played the mandolin herself.  Anne has won first place twice at the Liar’s Contest at the Northwest Folklife Festival and I thought it would be a great way to spend April Fool’s day, in the presence of a woman who can spin a great yarn.  If we are all fools because of it, we are wise fools indeed.

On the way home, my husband commented that it was pretty amazing how she could bring so many different types of stories together in a coherent fashion.  “She’s buoyant.”

It was odd to me that he used that word, because I had been meditating on the buoyancy of storytellers since Friday.

Friday I had joined several members of the Portland Storyteller’s Guild to film storytelling promos at MetroEast Community Media.  MetroEast is launching a story program May called Welcome to the Conversation, East Side Stories.  They’re giving small HD video cameras to people to record stories from their communities.  Serra Schiflett, producer and educator, wanted Guild members to record story promts, pointers and very short stories to help guide and coach the participants.

Anne Penfound

Barbara Fankhauser

Ken Iverson, Anne Penfound, Barbara Fankhauser, Sarah Hauser and I were invited because we all love stories and want to promote storytelling.

Sarah Hauser, the board president of the Guild, called Ken ahead of time and said she wanted to be there, but probably wouldn’t be in any shape to be recorded.  The day before, she found out her assistant choir director had been shot multiple times on the way home from choir practice.  He was still alive, but in intensive care.  It was a senseless, violent act on a dear friend, who was also a husband and father of a baby girl.

Sarah Hauser

We had all shared our sympathies with her and there was no pressure on her to perform.  However, as the taping progressed, Sarah, the consummate storyteller, gave great feedback and positive encouragement, got into the spirit and was filmed for two excellent storytelling promos.  I had to marvel at her ability to be buoyant after having such a shocking thing happen.  For her to be so starkly reminded of the thin line between life and death, between health and sickness, and to still be so encouraging about our little stories was remarkable.

Ken Iverson

Ken told a story about being named after an uncle who died when the uncle was three, an

unexpected accident.  Sarah absorbed it, as we all did, with the reverence it deserved.  Ken talked about how stories keep a person who has died alive, keeps them with us, and gives them a legacy.

Sarah, and most members of the Guild, and most storytellers I know have, I think, have a kind of buoyancy that gives them the ability to get on with life after a tragedy.  Over of life time of listening and telling, stories form a very stable raft on which to sail through rough waters.  They train the soul to believe in itself.  With stories you know there will be endings, but also new beginnings.  Even the fiercest monsters and darkest forests are somehow part of a story that will have meaning, even if the meaning is not a huge comfort.

Sarah has always been very encouraging to me.  I used to feel very special about that, until I realized she was that way with every storyteller.  Then I felt even more special.  Sarah gives the shakiest of tellers a well thought out and encouraging critique.  Her interest in story is genuine and her enthusiasm for new tellers is sincere.  Her insight has made several of my tales deeper and a bit more direct.

I shared a ride home with Ken.  I told him a story about a recent conversation with a 7 year old girl concerning death, the soul and heaven.  I had told her a story which triggered her fears about death and blood.  She is in a safe foster home now, but in her young life she’d already seen brutal events.  Her eyes widened with fear and she stressed out about how she and I were going to die one day.  I immediately assured her she was safe and that when we did die, our souls would go to heaven, where they would be happy.

She asked me what heaven looked like, if there were houses in heaven.  I said I didn’t know; I wouldn’t know until I got there.  My ignorance amused her, and she launched into a fantastic story about visiting her grandfather with wings who lived in heaven in a blue house with many heavenly bunny rabbits.  She has a room is in the attic of that house and she has even more bunnies than her grandfather because they like her so much.  Her grandmother has a pink house next door.  She has a sister in heaven who married God.

Rainbow House

Her whole demeanor changed, the balm of story worked its magic.  Her eyes brightened as she developed rich detail and many plots and subplots, none of them completely resolved, so I’m sure there will be sequels.  She drew pictures, stapled them together and produced her first story book.

Ken and I talked about the significance of her imagery and many interpretations and beliefs about the spirit world and the soul.  He shared how a particular folk story’s meaning had changed over the years and gotten him more in touch with the life, death, and rebirth of the many aspects of himself.

That’s the thing about storytelling.  It ‘s more than find and appreciating a good story.  You take it into yourself.  The story becomes you – it’s rhythms, language, passages and transcendence.

I felt pretty blessed by his insights and the whole story project.  I know that stories have been a raft for me on the roiling waters of my life.  Story helps me in my struggles with depression and chronic health conditions.  I am able to see metaphorical values in life.  I have the words and images to describe what is unfathomable. I know I am not riding these waves alone because I’ve heard the stories of others who have kept afloat in much worse storms.

I saw Sarah again at Anne’s performance.  She was handing out programs and greeting people.  She told me she and the entire congregation of her church are still a bit shell-shocked.  I could see a look of weariness and hurt in her eyes, but there was also a spark of excitement.  We were going to hear Anne’s stories soon and for the next hour we would be transported into a magic place where, somehow, it would all make sense.  Anne told a wonderful story about Michael and Lucifer, ending with the cold, loneliness that the evil, egotistical Lucifer must feel.  We felt that in our bones.

And in our hearts, we felt light and warm, reassured once again that life has meaning and, perhaps it will not end but begin again, maybe with bunnies in heaven.

Once Upon a Time
(Now keep doing the book)

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First Tulip Drawing

When I see a flower, tree, plant or person I particularly like, it always seems to dwarf and blur everything around it.

I did this watercolor, ink and colored pencil sketch to illustrate that idea.  I did some less vibrant drawings, trying to get away from using line, then I realized when I really like something, I kind of put a visual line around it, emphasize it, so my drawing will have to reflect my visual quirks and preferences.  The original is the size of a postcard and it’s instructive to see all the lines and blobs in full digital detail: I can see a dozen places I wish were more refined, but it’s time to move on.

Look around you in delight!


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Joy At Bridge Meadows

I’ve had internet trouble for the past month and have been unable to post, but now things seem to be resolved (one never knows with all the the updates & various shenanigans of programs coupled with the unpredictability of equipment).  I think it’s fitting that I’m getting back on the information highway just when an article about Bridge Meadows was published in the the Portland Tribune.  Jennifer Anderson has followed Bridge Meadows since it was a dirt field.  She decided to interview me when she read my blog post on living here.  She is too kind to me and gives a great look at Bridge Meadows.  I’m proud to see my joyous cartoon made the the paper!

A friend of mine once told me, it’s a good thing you go by your middle name.  It just doesn’t have as much impact to say “Martha-ful.”  Here then is a Joy-ful article about my community.


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Child of the Sky

I did some stream of consciousness drawing this morning — otherwise known as doodling — with my Graphitint pencils.  These are graphite pencils tinted with color that get more vibrant when you add water.  I drew and washed a few colors and this face came alive.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of really beautiful children, the children here in my community, and I’ve learned a lot about their histories — moved from home to home, witnessed violence and murders, and felt the chill of losing loved ones.  Yet here watching them play in their new families, it seems a bit like they dropped out of the sky, full of hope and full of shadows.  Everyone hopes we can give them a real childhood and that Bridge Meadows will provide them with the stability that will help them thrive.  Already we see them growing and learning and playing.

I decided I needed to do series of these sky children and I got some great feedback from fellow artists at my Oregon Womens Caucus for Art meeting today. I will create composite drawings, not actual portraits, and try to capture the spirit I see in children.   The muted color of these pencils seems perfect for the project, especially since it’s often grey and misty in Portland.  The deep often cloudy life of children is rich soulful territory and I remember it well from my own childhood.

This first one is in my watercolor sketchbook.  Tomorrow I’ll start on a bigger, denser piece.  I love it when a stream of thought leads to an entire project.

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Sketchbook Finished

It turns out having a cold provided me with enough time to finish my Sketchbook for the Rozelle Artists Guild Third Annual Project Sketchbook by deadline.  I couldn’t go to meetings, so I got to stay home and draw.  Here are a few more of the pages:

Here’s a picture of people enjoying the show last year.  They hang the sketch books on string on the wall so you just go through and browse them all — great hands on art.

The show details are on this poster.  I hope you get to go — there’s a whole range of art styles.  My friend Mary Jo Karimnia has stitched art in her sketchbook.

It was a great project for me.  It made me take my sketching a little more seriously and I find I’m always more productive if I have a deadline to meet.  Otherwise, I wait until everything is perfect and so I never finish.  I never have to worry about being a perfectionist — it ain’t gonna happen.  But creativity happens every day.


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