Thursday, October 4, 2012

Writer as Artist

In an e-conversation, a friend of mine, Doug Sasse, asked if I've noticed the similarities between writing and drawing?

This really got me thinking because, as an artist and a writer, I've often pondered this.

In both mediums you are telling a story. You put thousands of little marks on a blank surface to produce a final product. Both forms take hours to produce. You know what they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words." But there is one major difference between the two. With writing, the reader spends hours, days, sometimes weeks absorbing your work. On the other hand, with a painting or drawing, you spend hours and hours producing the work and the viewer usually gets the entire story in a few seconds. Sometimes they might spend a minute examining the work, but never much more.

Continuing our conversation, my friend clarified his opinion on the subject with the following.

Both mediums start with an idea or a subject. You sketch in broad strokes, blocking in the structure. Structure is important in both mediums. Each element has to not only stand on its own, but work with the other elements to be successful. I think they call that Gestalt. Drawing uses different values of light and dark, just as does character development. But then once the basic structure is in place, you refine, refine, refine, until you've completed all of the details. Drawing is a right-brain exercise; writing is, to a large extent, also a right-brained exercise, requiring intuition and creativity. In the end, both mediums create something artificial that, ironically, enhance its creator’s ability to see the world, while providing the viewer a greater appreciation of reality.

I'd like to thank my friend and fellow Nebraska Writers Workshop participant Doug Sasse for initiating this dialogue and giving my cause to think.

What do you think?

Jim