ART FOR WRITERS Description doesn’t have to be realistic to be real…Picture number 6 from the archive
Looking 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
This post first appeared on this blog in may 2017
If you enjoyed this, there’s a pretty good chance you would also like my writing guide Back to Creative Writing School. 89 five star reviews on Amazon…just saying.
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Wonderful post, Bridget! It really resonated with me.
As well as holding onto that energy of the first draft, I think it’s also about not being too clinical with things…. I think you can keep going, keep refining, until you’re left with something that has no personality. You need the little idiosyncrasies of the artist (be them writer, painter, photographer) and they need to have that voice.
Wonderful, thought provoking post!
Thank you – so glad you like. I think perhaps most substantial passages of writing need two revisions: the last one to put back in most of the energy and guts of the original. As you say, you can edit and edit until the good stuff, the things that make you different from other writers, disappear.