My mother said I was born with a paintbrush in my hand and wasted no time expressing myself on the walls and furniture. I survived the paddling with fingers in tact and was ordered to confine future paintings to paper and canvas. From the beginning, those unrecognizable shapes and swaths of color conjured up stories. Didn't matter that no one else saw what I did. I could talk for hours, oblivious to the what-the-hell-is-that expression on their faces. Today, the surprised looks are few, but the stories continue to leap from the paintings.
When Donnell asked me to join her on the Five Scribes Blog, she suggested a title, "When an Artist Knows Two Worlds." Thing is, Donnell, painting and writing are one world to me. While different mediums, they both tell a story. The artist speaks with a brush; the author, with words.
Ask yourself, "What is it about a painting that holds your attention?" Is it the composition, the palette, the subtle blending of colors? Or is it more than that? The visual image should evoke emotions, take that which is but an illusion and make it real. When you look at a landscape, can you feel the wind, the warmth of the sun, the chill of a winter's day? Do the flowers tease your nose with their sweet bouquet? Are there hidden mysteries within the shadows? Can you taste the fear of the unknown?
It's the same with writing. The author must make real what exists only in the mind. When I describe a setting, I see it in a painting. The scene comes alive with color and texture, yet is captured only by words. The scene applies to characters. Moving between the two mediums is second nature to me. I find that one feeds off the other.
Dividing my time between the easel and the computer presents a problem. Lately, I've neglected my painting. The more novels I write, the harder it becomes to pick up the brush. I have characters screaming at me to tell their stories. When I finally ignore their pleas and turn my attention to the canvas, my paints take revenge for abandoning them. Colors turn to mud, values distort, and perspective is lost. My compositions are not balanced and refuse to hold together from a distance. I have become a stranger in my studio and making friends again is not easy.
How do I work through this? Perseverance! Turn off the computer. Give the canvas undivided attention. Some music and a little wine also helps. Put a horizontal line to represent a horizon, a couple of vertical lines for trees and dive into a simple landscape. Ah ha! Already a story begins to unfold: Who lived here and when? What happened to them? Whose paths did they cross? What hardships befell them. How did they die? Did they have children? What if...and here my mind runs wild, new stores begin to form.
Cursed by the sign of Virgo, I'm never totally satisfied. What writer or artist ever is? You won't believe how many times I look at a passage and revise it or pass a painting and not wish to change something. Then again, I bet you do. Painting has a lesson to teach here. The first stroke is the freshest, overworked the color dulls, the spontaneity is lost. Likewise, constant revision can destroy the voice, cloud the meaning, in painting and writing often less is more.
Promotion! Promotion! Promotion! Ever consider what your local nonprofit gallery can do for you, the writer? That's right. A guild or nonprofit gallery's mission is to make available art of all forms to the community, even literary art. I joined the River Region Art Association, www.artgumbo.org. Their mission, as stated on their website, "...shall be to follow artists from all disciplines to work together to improve public awareness of all art forms. We associate to help individual artists in whatever way they need, and to help promote the Arts in the community. ...Most of all, we associate to share the sheer joy of creating!" How great is that?
Why not give a nonprofit gallery a try? You might be surprised at the results. If you volunteer to run such a gallery for a day, you can sell any of your own work at no commission. Think of it as a once-a month book signing. I picked the first Tuesday of every month. The week before, I send an e-mail and invite all my friends and future clients to come by, have coffee, and visit. I look forward to meeting new people and handing out bookmarks or other promotional items. Between customers, I'm free to work on a painting or my next work-in-progress. Surrounded by walls of creativity, I can't help but get inspired.
A few months ago. at my suggestion, my gallery reached out to members of my RWA chapter and sponsored a writer's workshop and book signing. The response exceeded everyone's expectation. Another workshop is planned for later this year. In October, members of HeartLa and SOLA, along with other local authors, will hold a signing at the gallery's annual Awesome Art in the Gardens Show. This two-day festival, held at the Houmas House Plantation www.houmashouse.com, is an elegant and spectacular event which draws hundreds of people from across the state. While not everyone can afford a piece of original art, many are happy to meet the authors and buy an autographed copy of their book. The advertisement for all such events and the contacts made are invaluable.
Thanks, Donnell, for letting me share my world, and I invite everyone to visit me at www.sylviarochester.com. Please tour my on-line gallery and view my latest books. I write romantic suspense, time travel, and general fiction/paranormal. My books are available in trade paperback, ebooks and Kindle at amazon.com, whiskeycreekpress.com, wings-press.com and a variety of ebook publishers. Autographed copies can be purchased from my website.
Sylvia, thanks for being with us today and explaining how you move between the two mediums. I finished Shadow of the Soul Monday night and fell in love with Matthew, Shadow, Wolf, Jesse, Naomi, Rachel, Leah, Aaron...they became quite real to me. For anyone who leaves a comment today, you are entered in a drawing to receive Sylvia's new release.