Last year I took up painting after a break of several decades. I’ve been surprised by how much I love it, how much I’ve improved in a short time, and how much I’ve learned about the creative process itself—especially as it relates to writing.
“Paint what you see; not what you know.” This is a mantra my instructor, a talented artist, repeats often. It means that when you’re painting you can’t think about painting, say, the curve of a cheekbone. You have to think about painting a sphere, with a shadow shaped like a triangle underneath, with a crescent-shaped shadow above it—you get the idea. Once I truly understood this concept and started to actually look at things as their shapes and values and lines and not as the things themselves, my painting improved by the proverbial leaps and bounds. Something clicked, and I was able to translate what I saw onto paper.
I’ve always been a slow writer. I don’t outline, but I have a general idea of where I’m going. I write a page or two then go back and edit it all before I move on. I write synopses of each chapter as I finish them. And man, do I get bogged down. So I’m trying something new. I’m writing like I’m making a painting. Here’s how: [Read more…]