Sunday, February 5, 2012

From Brushstroke to Pen Stroke

The door opened and closed. “Hey,” my husband called as he innocently tossed the mail on the counter. I smiled up from the onions I'd been slicing for dinner and noticed the front page of the newspaper. Hmmmmm. I washed and dried my hands, clearing a space on the countertop. As I unfolded the paper, my eyes settled upon the image of a tree, but not just any tree. There was something different about this woody perennial. I read on. The article said it was a weeping fig. A weeping fig?! I refocused on the photograph and the tree’s unique collection of thin branches growing toward the ground. I tilted my head, slowly traced the photograph with my fingers, and then—Bam! It happened. I traded my plateful of onions for a pen and notebook and desperately jotted down the ideas that started to flood my brain.

For me, visual imagery really is a powerful creative trigger.

When I first started writing Courting the Flame three years ago, my “writing room” was nothing more than a spare weight lifting room. I had to climb over old books and magazines just to find my way to the computer. But each day as I stumbled across the room to my folding chair, I promised myself that once I finished writing my book (we’re talking the first draft here), I was going to redo the room. I wanted to make it into something special…into a writing room that fed my creativity, not zapped it.

So what made the biggest difference? Adorning my bare walls with photographs and artwork. Obviously my collection has grown over the years, but these are some of my favorites.

Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon, Caspar David Friedrich

 Lady Lilith, Dante Gabriel Rossetti

 Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh

 The Abby in the Oakwood, Caspar David Friedrich

 The Scream, Edvard Munch

 An original by my youngest son

 An original by my youngest son

The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli

La Primavera, Sandro Botticelli 

Dance at Bougival, Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Water-Lily Pond and Weeping Willow, Claude Monet

My eyes never tire of examining these exquisite pieces, their composition, their brushstrokes...(sighs).

So is it possible for me to write without the use of such visual aids? Of course! When you’re wrapped up in your characters’ lives, it’s easy to completely lose track of what your name is, let alone what's hanging on your walls. But for me, the artwork and photographs are more about the room’s everyday vibe. Each piece has its own level of energy attached to it. Some positive. Some negative. But all inspiring in a cumulative sort of way.

I hope you also found them thought provoking. Happy reading and writing, folks. And here's to walls that open your mind...not box you in.