Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Words and pictures

This afternoon, I was thinking about art—creating visual art. The train of thought rolled along something like this:

"Do artists get as many rejections as poets?"

"What if I sent art to journals instead of poems?"

"Wait, I don't do art anymore." (I did art some in high school. My grandmother thought that I was going to become an artist—but modern dance then derailed that idea.)

"But could art be my medium? Could I change?"

And I realized that words are my medium. For good or bad, better or worse, words are where I live. Changing to another medium would be like taking up pole vaulting. Or modern dance—and I tried that already.

And I also realized that I could still do art, visual art, as a means of expanding my way of seeing, expanding my voice, pushing (or leading) my understanding into new places. It probably wouldn't be "good" or sent anywhere, but it could be valuable to me.

Then again, that's time I wouldn't spend writing or trying to write or sitting on the sofa thinking about writing or wishing I were writing. Is it a good trade?

(Part of me says that doing is always better than thinking about doing—which is not the same thing as thinking about consequences, which is certainly important and, well, that conversation could go on for a long time.)

Will I dig the charcoal and pastels out from their shelf in the basement? Will I draw sketches that I can cut into blocks for printing? Will I explore papers and ways to present my poems differently—more three-dimensionally? Will I have the time or energy to do any of this (as opposed to thinking about doing it)?

I don't know.

How about you? Do you ever consider chucking it all and taking up an entirely new medium? Do you ever use a different medium to explore more of your creative territory?


~ said...

This may sound strange to say, but I had always wanted to be a visual artist, much more than a writer. Last year I took a class with an artist that introduced me to printmaking, jewelry making, painting, pen & ink drawing, and I also took a 6 week class on watercolor. I loved it all (esp. print making and carving the image). The thing is, when it's time to create or I feel inspired it's always with words.

I'm not a visual person. I learn by listening. I learn by words not images, so as much as I love the idea of being an artist and making art, when it comes down to it I always reach for a pen.

I love art galleries & museums though and always will, even if it's not my art.

Joannie said...

Ooohh, I'm with you on the galleries and museums, even though they do bring up that old longing to work visually. I can spend a long time lingering in front of a painting--and I think that part of it's my desire to enter that other world that's colored across the canvas, the same desire that, I think, motivates me to write poems.

(Glad to know I'm not the only wannabe out there!)

Andrew Shields said...

I write songs and play them on guitar and mandolin. For a long time, songwriting and poetry were really two separate tracks for me, but in the past few years, they have moved much closer to each other, at least insofar as I am now writing poems that ask to be lyrics, and lyrics that can stand alone as poems.

Premium T. said...

I too took art through high school, but opted for creative writing at college -- and now I'm tinkering with the visual side of the arts, and it's so much fun. I've spent many years working for various artists, I decided it was time to try to get back into it myself. Don't know if anything will come of it, but I sure do enjoy it.

Joannie said...

Andrew, that's interesting, because lyrics are really another form of formal verse, yet with the added dimension of the melody or instrumentation.
T--you're doing it! All that collage work and Photoshopping. I'm loving the pears on your blog.