21 July 2008

Writing from Art, Part One: an Exercise

Years ago I took a directed study with my academic advisor called Personal Mythmaking. One of the earliest assignments I was given in the course was to write about my favorite work of art. It started as a description of the painting, Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers, and developed into my reflection on the painting, which developed into a sort of emotional catharsis.

Art can be very powerful, so there have been many times I use art to help me give words to particular emotions. I didn't realize how helpful visual art was to me until the exercise my academic advisor gave me, and it's something I haven't stopped since. In fact, I have several Van Gogh prints on the wall in my office space to remind me of the importance of visual art in my craft, and there have been a few times I've stopped what I was writing to just look at the prints before I pick back up where I was in the writing. Believe me: it helps!

If you haven't written to art before, I highly recommend it. Here is your process:
Choose your favorite work of art (it can be a painting, a sculpture, found art, whatever).
  1. Put the work in a place you can see it clearly (on you computer screen, or sit in front of it at the gallery or museum or whatever you have to do short of stealing it).
  2. Begin writing, letting the piece, how you feel about it, what you see, etc., guide your writing.
  3. When you feel you've said what you need to say, stop.
  4. Email the result to me at nicolepalmby (at) gmail (dot) com to be posted, if you wish. (Be sure to include the title and artist and a picture, if possible, as well as your name.)
  5. Repeat as needed to inspire you!

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