The Art in Good Writing

Painters' Lodge, Campbell River

Painters’ Lodge, Campbell River

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.


Pat Martin Bates in front of one of her creations.

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.

A View of Discovery Passage from Painters Lodge

A View of Discovery Passage from Painters Lodge

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.


5 thoughts on “The Art in Good Writing

  1. Rum Punch Drunk

    So true Diana. I’m not a big book reader at all, but I’ve found that when I read blogs, they must grasp my attention within the first few lines and hook me in otherwise I never seem to want to finish it and I can think of all the reasons under the sun to move on.

    Writing is extremely hard in my opinion and if an author can get an audience to feel as they feel and stay for the journey, then that’s an author with a gift, especially for people like me.

    1. Diana Stevan Post author

      I’m with you here–my uk friend. I’ve recently found some blogs that I return to time and again, because they are personal and heartfelt. Though they speak of different family relationships or struggles, I can relate, for who goes through life without some kind of challenge? It’s only human.

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