Drawing the Story- The Art of Wendy McNaughton

How did Wendy McNaughton draw my story?

Artist and illustrator Wendy McNaughton knows a bit about everyone. Just watch her describe her art as she tells her own story in this PBS NewsHour’s ‘Brief But Spectacular’ video. A good deal of my personal art collection adorns the walls of Stonehurst Place; I collect contemporary art work partially because I am interested in its deconstructive aspect.

Wendy McNaughton, whose art and illustrations are a breath of fresh air to me, holds pride of place beside my desk in the Master Suite of Stonehurst Place. There I hung her print, TO DO, so that I can see it and be reminded 1) Get To Work and 2) Laugh at Yourself Whenever Possible. McNaughton takes witty artistic concepts and then makes small venn diagrams, flow charts or readable sketches of rational ideas. Her art puts large ideas into context, and portrays irrational thoughts and emotions in a rational manner. I find her art evocative because she manages to both make anxiety, imposter syndrome and confusion a rational and quantifiable idea, while at the same time making light of these traits that make all of us human.

When I saw TO DO I was struck .. then I laughed and laughed. She drew my life story, and we’d never even met! I suspect many readers who look closely at the venn diagram of my story that she’s documented will find their own story in it, too. I am a big over-thinker, so much so that it can paralyze me. I’ve recently experienced this designing the new Carriage House at Stonehurst Place. I need to examine every possible option, and even then if I haven’t found the right design I think tomorrow, or maybe next week, it will come to me. I am like a terrier on my own pants leg, not understanding the word ‘no’ but just determined not to let go until I get it right. McNaughton’s venn diagram dives deeper and deeper into my story, drilling down through things I think about doing, things I want to do, things I plan to do, the things I avoid and procrastinate, until she gets to the small segment of All The Things I Actually Do. She has illustrated me.

As an aside, I will be part of my alma mater Oglethorpe University‘s Alumni Weekend this April 16th by spinning a tale from my college years in a storytelling seminar. Facilitated by the Southern Order of Storytellers, current students and a few alums like me have been selected to share our OU story with the audience, who will then enjoy learning from the professional Storytellers how to share their personal stories in the interactive seminar. I’m looking forward to this experience, I’ve got a doozy to tell!