for writers and readers….

Capturing a sense of character in the land and in the sea – Art for Writers

seascapeLooking at this wonderful seascape, I am reminded of the words of American novelist E.L. Doctorow:

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

Good art evokes too.

The painting is the work of a contemporary Scottish artist Beth Robertson Fiddes who is inspired by the natural world. Her own take on the way she works is pretty inspiring too….

 I find more and more now that I want to retain the spontaneity of the initial impressions and sketches in the final pieces…I try to evoke a sense of character in the landscape, to capture the feeling and essence of the landscape on a more intuitive level. I look for unusual structure in landforms and in coastal areas and often try to emphasise their ambiguous qualities.

My work has sometimes been described as having an otherworldly quality to it and, in a sense this partly my objective. A slight sense of a different reality combined with more tangible and recognisable aspects of a landscape. My aim is, through the process of making work, to return to a different way of seeing my surroundings, to a time perhaps in early childhood when the world seemed full of possibilities.

So, as writers what can we take away from this picture? For me, it’s the importance of observation and spontaneity; detail matters. We can read a whole life by noticing that a woman separates tea bags before dropping them one by one into the tea caddy. And spontaneity doesn’t mean thinking your first draft is good enough, it’s not. But it does mean allowing the wide-eyed energy of the first draft to be an integral part of your final polished manuscript.
And, most of all, that description doesn’t have to realistic in order to be real.

Discover more of Beth Robertson Fiddes’ pictures HERE


If you enjoyed this, there’s a pretty good chance you’d also like my writing guide Back to Creative Writing School. Nearly 90 five star reviews on Amazon…just saying.
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4 comments on “Capturing a sense of character in the land and in the sea – Art for Writers

  1. Kate McClelland
    May 6, 2017

    Reblogged this on Kate McClelland.

  2. Phillip T Stephens
    May 6, 2017

    Reblogged this on Wind Eggs and commented:
    If you follow this blog, you know I always like to ask the reader to study Beth Fiddes’ composition for lessons in writing description. Notice how she changes the hue of the waves where the light hits from cobalt to an analogous shade of aqua. To create the light, she brightens the tones by mixing white into her colors.

    Perhaps more important: Fiddes draws our eye to the canvas with that intersection of light and wave, but she doesn’t paint it dead center. Instead, she shifts it to the top left of the canvas, balancing the effect in the lower right by darkening the colors and using a complimentary red shade (in this case, almost copper).

    How would you write this? Perhaps, “A single ray broke through the clouds, catching the crest of a wave and calling to the surface shades of aqua, even turquoise. Far behind it, another beam danced across the waves in counterpoint, brightening the copper and cobalt cast of the storm-driven sea.”

    How can you apply these painting techniques to other writing?

    • bridget whelan
      May 12, 2017

      Intended to respond ages ago, but life got in the way. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful advice on ‘writing Fiddes’. I’ve only just come across her but I can appreciate why you find her such an inspiration for description.

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