An Artist In Memoriam

An Artist In Memoriam

My Mother the Artist, in Memoriam —
Influences the Mission of  
The Woven Tale Press

By Editor-in-Chief Sandra Tyler

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]y mother, Elizabeth Sloan Tyler, was an artist, and for all of my growing up, she painted in our cellar. It was never even referred to as a basement, too low-ceilinged and with scant natural light, the three small windows overgrown with ivy. Everything about the room I remember as being dark: the black linoleum floor spattered with dried paint; the empty fireplace; my mother in the shadows, sitting on her couch contemplating a canvas on her easel. The only truly bright light was a reflective one, off of that canvas, fresh paint glistening in the dull glow of a single overhead lamp. That is how I remember her paintings, quite literally luminous in an otherwise dark space.

My mother’s years of painting in that cellar can serve as an apt metaphor for what we are striving for at the Press: To bring to light works by writers and artists who otherwise may be toiling away in their own “cellars.” On the Web, for every artist’s or writer’s website, there is that creative soul persevering in isolation, to hone his or her own unique statement, be it on a canvas, the page, or in any other medium. And it is a perseverance about which we can periodically question: Am I any good? Am I just wasting my time?

These are age-old questions we put to ourselves with every new rejection, be it from a gallery, agent or publisher. And for many of us, these questions may go unanswered—I witnessed how my mother’s self doubts could plague her creative process, as have my own doubts as a writer.

But validation in our creative endeavors is as much about being seen or heard as it is about being recognized for our talents–we all long for that audience. By featuring the noteworthy poem, painting or sculpture in The Woven Tale Press, we seek to do just that, aggregate an audience for these talents that our editorial staff culls from the World Wide Web.

Cover of the issue In Memoriam of Elizabeth Sloan Tyler | The Woven Tale Press — click to see inside.
(click on cover to see inside)

April 16th is the first-year anniversary of my mother’s death. In memoriam, I am reissuing an excerpt from last April’s Press, which was dedicated to her. A year later, I am seeing how much of my aesthetics as an editor have been shaped by her own as an artist; I am forever indebted to her for teaching me how to “see,” and then how to translate that seeing into the transcendence of my own unique statement.

4 Responses

  1. Beautiful tribute to your mother. Why did no one tell us how hard it would be–adults though we are–after our mothers passed?

    1. Thank you Susan. And yes. You can think it’s gotten easier and then it gets hard all over again.

  2. That image of the writer as a child, walking through a dark basement towards the only lit thing in the room, her mother’s painting … This detail will stay with me and it’s exactly the kind of acute emotional observation, compassionate gaze, which makes your readers keep coming back to your work, Sandra. Thank you for all that you do at the press. For the essential generosity of it. From all of us.


    1. And thank you Jo, for your faith in me as a writer as well as an editor; you make me want to get to that third book:) But remember this: the Press keeps running because of generosity of people like you too.

Leave a Reply