Who’d have thought I’d learn what it takes to write well at a Painters’ Weekend? It’s one attended by many of the best artists in British Columbia. They come annually to Painters Lodge in Campbell River to demonstrate their technique, show slide presentations and participate in panel discussions.
What I learned about good writing came out of a panel discussion on what constitutes good art. What the artists had to say, applies to writing as well.
Grande dame artist, Pat Martin Bates, 86 years old, said, “There is a grain of truth in all art.”
Writers know that when their writing contains kernels of truth, readers connect, as it speaks to them in a way they understand.
Pat Martin Bates also said, “It’s about putting your inner voice on canvas.” Painters paint to communicate. Their “love comes through the paint.” The artist’s “hands make the voice of their heart visible.”
What this artist said about art, could be said about writing. Good writers communicate. They show their love through their words—whether it’s love of their characters, or love in their story, or love of their craft.
Good writers make the voice of their hearts visible. When we, as readers, feel the pain a character goes through when they lose someone they love, or feel the sexual excitement of a character’s first kiss, or laugh at some blunder he or she’s committed, we relate to the humanity of the work. If only for a moment, we feel understood, or we get to understand something we hadn’t before. That is the genius of good writing. It makes our lives richer.
Another artist, Peter Shostak, defined good art as “Individual expression you can get away with and get paid for.” Isn’t that true of what writers hope for as well? Readers are willing to pay if the writing is good.
Robert Amos, an art writer and painter, said, “Art is the grace that descends on any activity.” So true. When I read a good book, and a sentence sings to me, or I connect with a character, it’s heaven sent.
This weekend underlined the art in good writing. It also inspired me to paint and write more. It’s only through doing, that we get better. I hope you are similarly inspired to create, if not through writing, then through your art, or through your garden, or through cooking for your family or loved one, or however you creatively express yourself. We all have that right brain. To find the creator in oneself is an unparalleled joy, one that requires nurturing and attention.
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