“I convey the life that person has lived, solely through their look and expression…” ART FOR WRITERS
I don’t think I have to say much this week…Los Angeles-based surrealist Alexandra Dillon transforms things that have outlived their usefulness and turns them into people with personalities and emotions, secrets and back stories.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a portrait is worth a thousand stories. My characters come to me the way a novelist’s characters do: they form themselves through the creative process and tell me who they are. I strive to make each face unique and convey the life that that person has lived, solely through their look and expression.
In my current work, I paint on worn paintbrushes, many which have been donated by other artists. The faces are inspired by Roman mummy portraits, Old Master paintings, and any other source that speaks to me. Each face is unique and not a copy. These fun little paintings have the charm of hand mirrors, reflecting back our deepest selves.”
And because I couldn’t resist it, here’s another of her transformations.
So, just as these character-portraits have interesting lives we know nothing about so must our minor characters have interior lives and pasts – we just don’t reveal them to the reader. That doesn’t mean wasting time inventing a complex back story for a character whose only role in a story is to deliver a message, but it does mean you, the author, see them as real, with emotions, with weight, with clothes…that way your writing doesn’t get overcrowded with stick-drawing figures who pop up when needed.
It’s just like life. As I write this I’m sitting in front of a window that looks out onto a residential street. A man has just passed, head down, walking into a wind that is knifing down the street from the sea. I don’t need to know anything about him to know he is cold, that he has probably driven here in a car because his jacket is really too light for this weather, that he is probably a decorator because there are white paint splashes on his shoes. I don’t need to know anything to know with absolute, unshakeable, marrow-deep certainty that he is real…
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