Friday, October 26, 2007

Creative Relationships

Tom Thomson,
oil on board/panel,
National Gallery of Canada.

I don't post pictures and paintings on this blog just because they are pretty.

For eye candy.

But because, for me, there's a strong relationship between the two mediums of expression.

I intended to post a snip 'n snail this morning from A Final Exorcism -- from a short story/chapter of the St. Clair Chronicles -- a continuation of the beginning I posted back on September 14.

While flipping through my collection to find a painting to complement and expand the mood of the piece, I found the one above.

And immediately made an addition further down the text.

The original went like this:

"Lillie," he repeated, more softly, "what are you doing out here alone at the dead of the year? There's a storm coming too."

Indeed there was. The wind was stronger now, whipping at my coat, tugging at my hair, blurring my eyes. I could smell bleak snow in it.

Past him, up the gorge, pine trees bent at the crown and bare oak branches writhed and groaned. The distant sun dimmed, pale yellow and pallid, behind the encroaching storm front.

There had been a storm in the offing that time on the mountain too.

Then I saw this painting and made a tentative revision.

Scarlet streaks smeared out from the setting sun, spreading and pooling on the belly of the advancing storm front.

Bright and viscous as blood.

Blood made me uneasy these days.

Maybe I'll keep it. Maybe I won't. It would involve changing the scene's palette from yellow/charcoal to red/black. Maybe I'll use the image somewhere else.

But you get the idea.

Pictures are useful for more than just prompts, or for breaking up writer's block.

The consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you.


Angie said...

I think the new lines work beautifully, for what it's worth. Great imagery.


Bernita said...

Thank you, Angie.

Anonymous said...

I really like this line: Blood made me uneasy these days. That's just the sort of thing which is concise and packed with enormous possibilities. I'm partial to writing that explodes with unwritten story, rather than writing that squeezes every last bit of life from a story. The latter usually feels simplistic, while the former tends to feel like real life.

Jaye Wells said...

My first book was inspired by a painting, so you know I'm a fan of combining the mediums. I liked the new lines, too.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jason.
You know, I dithered over that line - wondering if it was 2x4ish and unnecessary, so I'm glad you found it added a layer.

Thank you, Jaye. I find pictures help the process in many places and many ways.

StarvingWriteNow said...

I agree--pictures can do so much for your imagination. I saw a B&W photo of Leap Castle in Ireland yesterday and had to print it out because I could see my heroine in that creepy place. Don't know if I'll put her there or not, but it was worth studying--and definitely inspiring.

Gabriele C. said...

I like both versions. As you said, the colour palette is different.

I sometimes use paintings as inspiration, but a lot of my descriptions is based on real images, either as they stand, or combined from several scenes. I suppose with me diving into Fantasy as well, paintings may take up a larger room.

raine said...

Love the new lines.
If not here, should definitely be used elsewhere.
It's an interesting thought...not only using a picture for inspiration, but incorporating it into the work in a way?
I may try that...

Charles Gramlich said...

Yeah, I like the new lines too. I also find paintings and pictures to be good cues for writing. Sometimes quite inspiring.

Bernita said...

Starving, I know exactly what you mean.

Photos, paintings, either or both can inspire or expand a description, Gabriele.
I sometimes view painting as a form of photography.
Thomson's scenes were real places.

Here, Raine, the painting served as a reminder. I've seen skies like that, and wondered if that kind of sky might serve the scene better. We'll see.
I may need to add something later to justify it, because it suggests a bloody omen/imagery/thread that shouldn't be left unfulfilled.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Charles.
Here, it may help with a possible line of revision.

Anonymous said...

I definitely think it adds a great deal. All of these things are expressed between the lines:

1. The character has seen blood before and expects to see more in the future. It makes me wonder in what context.

2. The sight of blood didn't bother the character before. Something has changed.

3. The character is uneasy. Something is pushing the character in a new direction.

4. At the moment, the character seems to be static (...these days), but it's just a calm in the midst of a storm. We are in a middle period, and can expect the action to heat up soon.

All of these glimpses make me curious and keep me hooked. All of that gets done in 6 words.

Bernita said...

Wonderful extrapolation, Jason.
Thank you!

Shauna Roberts said...

I had wondered why you included a picture with every post.

I think the new lines inspired by today's picture add depth to your previous version.

You've inspired me. I'm going to start paying more attention to art and how it can help me add mood and texture to my writing. Thanks for a good post.

Bernita said...

Shauna, thank you.
Most of them relate and expand - at least in my tiny mind - to and on the topic at hand.

Jon M said...

New lines sound great. Picture is striking too. I love reds.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jon.

Ello said...

Oh that was great! And also perfect discussion on the relationship of pictures and words. I truly believe this also which is why I'm always seeking out the perfect image.
I love the new lines!

The Anti-Wife said...

The new lines flow very well with the painting.

Church Lady said...

I like both. But I know I'm in the minority when I say I like the first lines better. I think the word 'blood' is so loaded, it's almost a 'tell' instead of a 'show.'
However, this is just me, and it's not my genre. Both are very good.

And the visuals with the writings are perfect. It's what helps make your blog stand apart, and creates sparks for writers.

writtenwyrdd said...

I like both versions, and the painting.

spyscribbler said...

I love your pictures. There was one I even saved to my writing flash drive, because one of these days I'm going to write a whole novella on it.


SzélsőFa said...

I also like paintings as a boost to one's imagination. Sometimes I combine photos with poetry to have a more thorough effect.

I liked both versions.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Ello.
Your recent vineyard picture, just as an example, was excellent!

I need the lines to "paint" a new picture, AW.

Chris, blood will always be "loaded" - some words are like that - but perhaps I have not avoided a cliche use.Always a worry.
"creates sparks for writers" - I always hope so.Thank you.

Thank you, Written.
Is a dilemma!

Natasha, thank you. That is so cool!

Very effective, Szelsofa, and a natural pairing.
Thank you.

Jennifer said...

Lovely imagery!
And yes, a picture is worth a thousand words. (trite but true!)
I'm often inspired by sights, photos, or paintings.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jennifer.
You "get the picture."

Frank Baron said...

Seems you've found, or created, your own personal well into which you can dip your pen for inspiration. I'll try not to be jealous. (Just sneak over here from time to time to see if any rubs off....) ;)

Bernita said...

Poetry helps too, Frank.
And always, the wild world - but you knew that.

Kate S said...

Hi Bernita - although I do appreciate the pictures and the post, what I really came over here to say was "congratulations." I saw on Natasha's blog that your antho might be going to print?
That's great news. I hope it works out for you. :)

Bernita said...

Kate, thank you. That's very kind.

Vesper said...

For what it's worth, yes, definitely yes!

Bernita said...

Your opinion is always "worth," Vesper.
Thank you.