Writing and painting, although both creative expressions, are often viewed as being on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Writers paint pictures with their words. Artfully crafted descriptions help readers visualize the setting of each scene, the appearance of the main characters, and movement within the scene.
Artists take a scene from their imagination and bring it to life with vividly colored paints, textiles or other mediums that you can see, touch, and feel. The only verbal expression that may come into play is a suggestive title of one or two words.
Both mediums communicate emotion and tell a story. Both require the reader to bring their own interpretation and understanding to fully experience what the author or artist has conveyed through the words or visual expression they’ve chosen to convey.
As a writer who’s always labeled myself as a visual learner, I think there’s good reason to combine word art and visual art.
Some writers compile a storyboard to look at and refer to while writing a book. Whether they tag related visual images on Pinterest or actually make an old-fashioned collage with cutouts from a magazine, these writers find it helpful to surround themselves with tangible images of their characters and setting. It’s become increasingly popular for authors to create a trailer to use in marketing their books – just one more way of pairing visual cues with the written word to enrich the reading experience.
I’ve long taken photos to use in tandem with my books, even used my photographs on the front cover of my books for a creative tie-in.
Then, a friend who’s an artist and the leader of an online group called Shedding Light challenged the members of the group to paint. I resisted for awhile, thinking I didn’t have the time or the talent. But I’ve always been attracted to artistic expression, collected paintings that called out to me, and found peace in having beautiful images in my home. Finally, I gave in to my fascination and picked up a brush. The paintings I’ve done so far are all reminiscent of Scotland, the setting of my last 5 books. In June, my husband and I visited several castles in Aberdeenshire, and saw hundreds of sheep and boothies dotting the hills of Skye, so I’m fortunate to be able to paint images that are fresh in my mind. When I start writing Golden Rod, my next Wildflowers of Scotland novel, in earnest, I’ll look back at the paintings I’ve done and let my imagination travel back in time.
When I’m writing, I’m required to be acutely aware of the pitfalls of using poor grammar, being overly wordy or cliché, not structuring my scenes just so, and a million other infractions that contradict the way a writer is “supposed to write”. When I paint, there are no rules – the more unique, creative, or even bizarre, the better. Painting is my time to let loose, relax, and spontaneously create what I see in my mind’s eye – with no restraints.
Which calls out to your heart – visual images or the written word? The ability to use one medium to enhance the other is a gift – and an opportunity not to be missed. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination.
(All photos and paintings used in this blog are Sherrie Hansen originals. The credit for my title goes to Michael Card, from his song, That’s What Faith Must Be.)
Twenty-four years ago, Sherrie Hansen rescued a dilapidated Victorian house from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a B&B and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Sherrie and her husband, Mark, who is a pastor, divide their time between two different houses, 85 miles apart. Sherrie writes murder mysteries and novels whenever she’s not working at her B&B or trying to be a good pastor’s wife. Her contemporary romantic suspense novels include Night and Day, Love Notes, and Thistle Down, Wild Rose, Blue Belle, Shy Violet and Sweet William, her Wildflowers of Scotland novels.
You can see what Sherrie is up to at:
Sherrie’s new release is Sweet William. https://amzn.com/B01H2TUD3U
He’s a real sweetheart. She’s a wee bit tart. When Minnesota farm boy, William McKnight, and sassy Scot, Lyndsie Morris, are forced to work together in the kitchen of Rabbit Hill Lodge, the atmosphere is as charged as an episode of Chopped. Will someone get cut, or will they find a recipe that works? Things just start to get spicy when an angry bull butts his way into the picture, and Lyndsie has to decide if she loves William more than everyone and everything she holds dear.