By: Michelle Gunnin
Now that I have got you calling yourself a writer from this blog Owning the Title of Writer, or at least thinking about it, I have another thing to tell you. You are also an artist. I can hear you saying, “Now you’ve gone too far, Michelle. I have no artistic talent at all. No way I am an artist.” Bear with me a bit.
Art provokes thought, whether it is a painting, a song, a play, or a movie. When art is observed, it stirs something inside of us that causes us to connect to it, or not. We participate with the artist. It shapes us. It moves us. It causes us to feel. Controversial, provocative, divisive, or soothing, peaceful, and calm, art calls to us. It is an invitation to participate.
I am an artist. I paint with wax in an art form called encaustic. I love the smoothness of brushing the molten wax onto the paper. I love fusing the colors together using heat. It is an organic process which feels as if the materials are doing the painting and I am simply an observer who happens to be holding the brush. Sometimes. Other times it is as if I am unable to find any inspiration at all. The wax seems to laugh at me, and when I try to blend colors, the result comes out a blob of something unrecognizable. I don’t feel like an artist on those days. I feel as if I need to give it all up, but I have learned something over the years. Usually, the dry, uninspiring times happen right before the breakthrough times. In fact, I would go so far as to say they actually lead to the new forms that motivate me to work for hours. How can that be? It is BECAUSE of the inability to form my vision that I try innovative things.
My creativity is born from mistakes.
Now, let’s apply this to writing. Writing is art. It causes people to think and to feel. It connects the writer with the reader in the same way a painter draws people in a museum to stand in front of his work. The words are the paint, or the notes, or the images. The pen is the brush, instrument, or camera that captures the pictures painted in the minds of the reader. Writing can flow through the fingers and onto the page in minutes. Or the blank page can stare you down in a cruel game of chicken, daring you to walk away. Words can come together in just such a way as to bring tears of beauty to your reader, or they can fall flat. The secret ingredient that determines which way it goes is illusive…a ghost that comes through the walls and disappears just as easily. There is, however, one thing I know about being an artist. If you quit trying, you will never have the breakthrough. The same is true of writing. If you don’t write through the writer’s block, you will never have the magical moments. To find your inner artist, you’ll want to think about some things.
- Artists are creative. They try new things. As a writer, you want to tap into your creative juices. Rearrange your paragraphs. Change point of view. Add a new character. Try a totally new genre. Get out of your comfort zone…especially when it’s not working anyway.
- Artists develop their skill. They get training by taking classes. They work around other more experienced artists. They observe the masters. All of this applies to writers too. From lessons to writing communities (like this one), to reading great literature, honing in on your skill will make inspiration more likely.
- Artists have tools. They buy supplies at art supply stores and gather items they need from any number of places. They make sure their tools work properly. Writers are fortunate in that we don’t need a ton of tools. A computer isn’t even a requirement. Paper and pencil can do the work effectively. A dictionary, thesaurus either real or digital and you are set to go.
- Artists are full of inspiration. They go to places to find it…museums, photography, shows, plays, movies, concerts. Writers do the same. Observing others work is inspiring. Inspiration can be found just about anywhere if you look for it.
- Artists do not give up. They try and try and try. It is the same in writing. When you give up, you have lost the battle of the breakthrough. To be inspired, sometimes you have to go through the dry places to find your voice.
- Artists have confidence. They believe in their craft. You are a writer. You are also an artist. You have something important to share with the world. You have images to paint. You have people to inspire. Your words contain the power to influence.
So repeat after me…
I am a writer. I am also an artist. My writing is powerful. My writing is heartfelt. My writing is good. My writing is worthy to be read. The images I paint with words are inspiring. The language I choose is unique to me. It connects with others. It can change things…like hearts, opinions, thoughts, and beliefs. My writing needs to be published. I believe in my craft. I believe in my own words enough to take a risk. I am ready to embrace the inner artist in me…and artists put their art out there.