Which portrait in this series came first? Second? Third? And how did your understanding of your subject and the emotions of the works develop through each iteration?
By title, “Glance” came first (and was one of the first in this entire series including these four works) followed by “Leaning”, “Holding” and then “Twist.” I didn’t necessarily intend to start a body of work from “Glance,” but that etching demonstrated a sense of psychology in the figure that I was unable to achieve in previous drawings. So, with the four works here, I think “Glance” was a starting point that allowed me to focus in on the figures’ emotions. The use elongated anatomy, leaning gestures, and variety of facial expressions began to display sentiments like uneasiness and sleepiness, but also a sense of softness and peacefulness. Continue reading
Friday dose of writing inspiration:
Depend on rhythm, tonality, and the music of language to hold things together. It is impossible to write meaningless sequences. In a sense the next thing always belongs. In the world of imagination, all things belong. If you take that on faith, you may be foolish, but foolish like a trout.
From The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo
A few months ago, I had a light obsession with the City of Boston’s Twitter account. Boston would tweet “Thanks for letting us know” and I had to know what the situation was. I would scroll through and expand conversations on parking, water leaks, and snow plowing. Mostly, I was impressed with the city’s responsiveness—there were case numbers, there were follow-up questions, there were traffic tips. The city reminded me to check on elderly neighbors after the snowstorm and they gave me a number to call if I saw a homeless person in need. I wondered if I should introduce myself to my elderly neighbors. I wondered if anyone called that number. I secretly hoped one day I’d have something to tweet Boston about. Continue reading
During my sophomore year at DePaul University the professor of my nonfiction writing class had us read a chapter of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life called “Shitty First Drafts.” In this chapter Lamott proclaims that every writer produces shitty first drafts as the foundation for excellent third drafts. She describes this first draft as “the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place…” My professor related this to the exercise of free-writing. For a short period of time, we ignore the looming cloud of judgment, along with the confinements of grammar and structure, and write without reservations. Since reading Lamott’s chapter, I’ve tried to embrace the shitty first draft and use free-writing as a jumping-off point for my creative process. Surprisingly, what this exercise has taught me is the importance of holding back from the reader in creative nonfiction. Continue reading
I used to teach in a continuing education program at the University of Iowa that offered classes of all sorts to retirees. An exercise I liked to present to my students was one I found over at this blog that had to do with writing the perfect sentence. Here’s the little excerpt I would hand out in class to read and discuss: Continue reading
From the story “The Teacher,” in Winesburg, Ohio. Yes, Sherwood Anderson. Yes.
The school teacher tried to bring home to the mind of the boy some conception of the difficulties he would have to face as a writer. “You will have to know life,” she declared, and her voice trembled with earnestness. She took hold of George Willard’s shoulders and turned him about so that she could look into his eyes. A passer-by might have thought them about to embrace. “If you are to become a writer you’ll have to stop fooling with words,” she explained. “It would be better to give up the notion of writing until you are better prepared. Now it’s time to be living. I don’t want to frighten you, but I would like to make you understand the import of what you think of attempting. You must not become a mere peddler of words. The thing to learn is to know what people are thinking about, not what they say.”
This week, we feature a piece of art composed of poems by e.e. cummings and ask the artist, Jason Arnold, about his process.
About the piece of art, from the artist
I used only e.e. cummings’ Dial Paper Poems (1919-1920) and other random early poetry that was originally unpublished as the setting/background for this painting. As I rarely feel connected to paintings as real artistic statements anymore, I view my paintings as almost sculptural objects. This painting I set and dried with particles and sand embedded in the surface. The final artistic act was the recording of the action of throwing paint like a sexual explosion over the canvas. Continue reading
UPDATE: Here’s the full text of the Soderbergh speech referenced below. If you care about anything, read it.
Shane Jones has a good post over at HTMLGiant that reflects on the publishing industry and on some cogent comments Director Steven Soderbergh recently made.
Here’s something Soderbergh says in his speech that should make every young filmmaker, writer, and artist, take notice: when questioning why his film Side Effects didn’t do well he comes up with the answer that there is no answer because everyone at the studio had already moved on to the next release. And when a film (or book) doesn’t do well, it’s not the studio (or publisher) who is truly affected, it’s the artist.
It’s a quick read and worth it.
Tobias Wolff’s story “Bullet in the Brain” ends with a particularly vivid and evocative memory, the last one that the main character, Anders, has before his death. This memory “works” so well because we can read it as a moment of redemption for Anders, a literary critic, who throughout the story has been brash, entitled, obnoxious, and critical, and who is, by the story’s end, redeemed through his pure memory of a moment in which the simple music of language awed him. He recalls a moment of innocence and untarnished wonder and, in doing so, achieves some small measure of salvation.
This guest post is part of our ongoing web series MARGINALIA about all things writing, reading, & learning. To submit your own experience, please read our guidelines.
When I was in the process of getting my MFA, there was just one thing that really gave me a lot of trouble, and that was: the talent show. This was at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, a low-residency program, and VCFA had talent shows twice a year, one per residency. When someone first mentioned the tradition, I remember being baffled; since (presumably) nobody had any talents aside from writing, would the show just be a bunch of people reading poems and stories, like they had at the student reading the night before? As it happened, though, my fellow students were good at a lot of things. People danced; they sang and played guitars—guitars that they had brought with them to the residency because they were so into them—they did stand-up comedy; they did skits. It was a shock. I had basically enrolled in the program because writing was the one and only interest and talent I had; I hadn’t expected to be asked for more.