Friday, June 12, 2015

Visual Art as Metaphor for Writing Process - Guest Blog by Buffy Shutt

Good morning. Sorry about the enormous gap between entries. I went on vacation. And I have to admit that I took a break in my 250 words a day. Today I begin again.  As George Elliot says, "It's never to late to be what you might have been." 

For the next three weeks, in addition to the Beyond Baroque Workshop, I'll be at Camera Obscura in Santa Monica on Thursday evenings from seven to nine. We had a great group last night. It's fifteen dollars to drop in, or forty dollars for four sessions. At this point you are better off going on line and signing up for the whole thing. It will cost less in the long run. Type Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Laurie Horowitz into your browser and it should come up right away.

Today we have a guest blog from the phenomenal Buffy Shutt. Among her many accomplishments, she produced the film BLUE CRUSH, and co-authored the non-fiction book COMING OF AGE...ALL OVER AGAIN: THE ULTIMATE MIDLIFE HANDBOOK and wrote the novel CREATIVE DIFFERENCES published by SOHO Press. 

Buffy, take it away....

Laurie and I share the notion that other art forms can illuminate the writing process for us in unexpected ways.

This week, two unrelated ideas connected visual arts to writing for me.
On Sunday, I read in the New York Times about blind contour drawing.  I had never heard of this method before.  

Here is what blind contour drawing is, courtesy of Wikipedia: The student fixes his or her eyes on the outline of the model or object, then tracks the edge of the object with his or her eyes, while simultaneously drawing the contour very slowly, in a steady, continuous line without lifting the pencil or looking at the paper. Blind contour drawing may not produce a good drawing; however it helps students to draw more realistically, rather than relying on their memorized drawing symbols.

I mulled this over all day.  I don’t draw (at all), but I thought this idea could spark me to try writing with a different mind (and heart) set.  Writing  “without relying on memorized symbols.” And not worry that it might not “produce good writing”.

I am going to try writing with an untethered eye and ear. I hope to be less reliant on what I know so well, less dependent on “memorized symbols” and I think this experiment may help me to write more freely, less judgy.
Then today I went to see the Turner Exhibit at the Getty. Fittingly entitled: Painting Set Free.  It is a beautiful exhibit of curated paintings by Turner from 60 until his death at age 76.  So inspiring. (He had a Yeats, Verdi, Maya Plisetskaya thing going on.)

One of his many sea paintings, Snow Storm, was roundly criticized when it was first shown at the Academy in 1842. People said it was disruptive; the horizon was all-wrong, the sea was confusing, no distinction between sea and air. What was going on?  In response to his detractors, Turner said,  “ I don’t paint to be understood.”  How great is that?  I love that!!
Of course, I want people to understand my writing, but to be able to shed some of that want would help me be freer, more honest and bolder in my writing.  And then if I can write without looking…

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