Things I learned from John Grisham

Watching an interview with Charlie Rose the other night, I realized that my previous connection between writing fiction and making a painting was somewhat flawed.  Sure, there are some strong similarities with the writing life and process….I have been a somewhat slow painter, because of all the reworking and rethinking that might go on, and I always likened this to letting your characters tell you who they were, etc.

Grisham writes about a book a year, seems intent on the storytelling, more so than great characterization, and has a pretty efficient system. . .but when asked about how he spends his time, getting ready to write, Grisham pointedly said he spent a lot of time outlining.  The times he has short-changed it, he writes himself “into a corner.”

A light went on in my head.  Since a new theme emerged a couple years back, I hadn’t really gotten back into the habit of  committing to the preparatory sketch/composition.  I used to do monotypes for this purpose.

In the crunch of time- deadlines etc., I went with a beginning that seemed pretty interesting, only to paint myself into lots of corners.

Now this is not the same as declaring that I want to know exactly what a piece will look like even before I begin- far from it.   Only that the arrangement, color, and idea the painting serves, when thought out in the beginning, gives me more to stand on. ( I’ve stopped painting from observation, so things get kind of fictional anyway.)

Now, as a pleasurable activity, I enjoy sitting and doing little watercolor/pencil/conte/xerox, “whatever” studies.  It calms me down,  and is hopefully giving me an inventory of solid potential larger paintings later.my little drawing / writing table

New Year’s Resolution #1-  Be Prepared

New Year’s Resolution #2 – Concentrate on the Larger ones

New Year’s Resolution #3 – remember to pack a lunch (see #1)

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About nerskine

I've been a painter for about 30 years. I also draw and make monotypes, linocuts and other prints. I like tangled stuff.
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