Storytellers’ Bootcamp Magic – THU Japan in Kaga, Part 1

If anyone had told me in early September that soon I would be having the time of my life:

  1. feeling like I had been reunited with my long-lost “tribe” – people just like me who adore my most authentic self
  2. dining with a writer/director/producer/mentor who would not only invite me to share my elevator speech with her, but cheer and celebrate when she heard it
  3. playing in a mock writers’ room gleefully riffing with a major director, writers, animators, and other industry creators who welcomed and cheerfully incorporated my off-topic idea bursts
  4. receiving repeated praise about how creative my idea was from a famous manga editor
  5. and as a bonus – dancing with the residents of Kaga city for two hours during their festival – a dance I’d never been able to do before

I would have said, “That’s crazy!”

Teresa BOLEN and Kaga City Mayor, Mayor Riku MIYAMOTO at the Koi Koi Matsuri on September 22, 2023.

Besides, why in the world would a 2-D portrait painter go to a Storytellers’ Bootcamp?

Things in our world are moving with ever increasing speed, and so much of our visual awareness has been reduced to a tiny glowing screen…a tiny glowing screen that devours images! Yet, that tiny glowing screen captivates its viewers repeatedly for prolonged sessions.

As a 2-D painter creating single images, it’s virtually impossible for me to compete on these same terms, even with the mesmerizing glow of digital painting. One of my solutions is to look for ways to improve my art and its connection to viewers from less obvious sources.

Stories have power. They touch our emotions. They can be harnessed for good, to inspire, teach, and heal; or weaponized to mobilize armies. Rembrandt is said to have been one of history’s greatest visual storytellers, so a greater understanding of story has tremendous potential for taking my work to its next level.

“The Labyrinth of Narratives – Why Do We Tell Stories?” Screenwriter Sadayuki MURAI

Another reason to delve into story is because my paintings don’t move. Therefore, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “objectifying” my subjects, resulting in work that is still and lifeless. Something magical happens when you are painting and suddenly your piece “comes to life!” but it’s not guaranteed to happen every time.

Perhaps story can help bring in even more life to my work.

Just as I had all kinds of lovely magical-feeling experiences, I witnessed others having their own magical moments, too, presenters and attendees alike.

You might be wondering how all this creative, loving energy that allows everyone’s best “magic” to unfold came into being. It was the impeccable preparation of the THU Team working with leaders in the City of Kaga, and the THU Way – a set of 5 guidelines I wish all world governments would adopt.

  1. NO VIPs – everyone is the same
    2. Learn & Share
    3. Be Kind
    4. Leave No One Behind – The Tribe always sticks together so no one feels alone.
    5. Embrace Imperfection

Learning of their inclusiveness gave me the desire and courage to try it. I’d made my decision, – but as a newer artist, was I qualified to go?

2 comments on “Storytellers’ Bootcamp Magic – THU Japan in Kaga, Part 1”
  1. 桂 千草
    May 22, 2024 at 8:18 am


    1. Teresa BOLEN
      May 22, 2024 at 9:58 am

      桂 千草先生、メッセージはありがとうございました。

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