I love writing, but sometimes another creative muse pulls at me. During these times, I set aside my laptop to pick up a paint brush. I've always been an amateur artist, taking numerous classes and dabbling in several mediums from graphite to charcoal, pastels, and pen and ink. Then I discovered Winslow Homer's paintings and fell in love with watercolor.
I love the beauty of the flowing, merging washes. I love its transparency. I love how it can be extremely detailed like some of Edward Hopper's works or incredibly loose like those of Maurice Prendergast. I love the wet, luminous qualities of J.M.W. Turner's London sunsets and the dry, scraped, churning seas by Winslow Homer.
I recently signed up for a writer's conference and after finishing a two-day watercolor workshop, I couldn't help but compare and contrast these two creative outlets.
Okay, if the truth be told, after sweltering all day under the hot August sun painting this beautiful garden, it crossed my mind that writer's workshops were a tad easier. Standing before my easel eight hours later and feeling the sweat drip down my back, I yearned for a comfortable chair and air conditioning.
I went to clean up my stuff, and it took a couple trips to the car to lug easel and umbrella, the finished painting, the paints, brushes, water jugs, and paper towels, etc. I won't be complaining the next time I have to slip my laptop in its case and carry it from library to car.
While the logistics involved in writing have an advantage over painting, there is still nothing like seeing a finished picture at the end of the day. Seeing a painting I've worked hours on come together is like magic. And -- there are no edits and revisions aside from a small touch up here and there. Toss it in a frame, and everyone can admire it.
There are also many similarities between the two. Surprises can be found in both. In writing, characters can go off script and yet these detours often enhance a story. Sometimes what I believe to be a mistake in my painting, like two colors inadvertently merging can make a picture beautiful. Similar to story ideas popping into a writer's head, I'll see a beautiful scenic vista and yearn to capture it in paint.
Best of all, in both writing and painting, I can get blocked. It's at these time that I'm lucky to have two creative outlets to which I can turn. If both outlets are blocked, I simply pick up a book and dive into another love.