Five ways painting helps writers…

Since New Year I’ve been gripped with an impulse to paint and draw. It came upon me as we drove back from a New Year visit (although I have not painted for over ten years I was once a keen water colourist and attended classes for about 4 years but stopped as I began to write more). Specifically I wanted to try my hand at portraits. But I am wary because I only have so much spare time and worry that I won’t finish my books.

So far I’ve done eight smallish rough paintings of family and friends from pictures and am fitting small sessions in around writing on my days off. (Please note the house looks a little less tidy.) The results are OK, sometimes not bad! But somehow it seems like it’s the process that’s important.

I feel to wondering though if one art could help the other and have tried to find out what other writers think. So far I have discovered several ways in which painting and drawing might help writers:

1 In both it helps to keep things loose for as long as possible, too much detail too early seems to have a deadening effect

2 Sometimes it helps to use a bigger brush, canvas or word length. That great idea might work better as a novel than a short story and vice versa.

3 What’s missed out is as important as what’s included in both.

4 The nonchalant mastery of others can drive you to despair and admiration but mastery does suggest that at least practice makes better, if not perfect.

5 Imitation is no bad thing, it’s a time honoured way of learning

I’m going to carry on trying to juggle both. If nothing else my choice of colour words will improve through familiarity with paint names and wanting to draw always makes me look closer, so descriptions might improve too. More thoughts anyone?

15 thoughts on “Five ways painting helps writers…

  1. I like your suggestions, especially the one about the big brush. Going back and forth between painting and writing can be a time challenge, but I love the bridges you’ve build here.


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