Daddy's Christmas Angel

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Joy of Painting Versus Joy of Writing

Which is more rewarding? Which brings the creator more joy?

Painting or Writing?

We see the two matched when we open a child's picture book. I often wonder is the writer of that book more important, or is the artist?

I don't know the answer. While the visual impact is strong and immediate, there must first be the writer's idea for the story that is then illustrated by the artist.

Both writing and art are essential in my life. I just returned from a week-long intensive artist workshop taught by Alexis Lavine at Cheap Joe's in Boone, NC. Being among so many creative people is invigorating and inspirational. Under the talented direction of Alexis, we learned new techniques and different directions our creativity may take us. The workshop reminded me once again how much I love color. It also reminded me that often words should go with the art that is created. Sometimes what is in the heart of the artist needs to be explained. Sometimes an author looks at an art work and is inspired to write.

Students work intently in Alexis Levine's artist workshop.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned this week was there is too much joy in both painting and writing to give up either one. It's just another balancing act!

What do you think about the joy of painting versus the joy of writing? Who is more important in the creation of a picture book--author or artist? Or is it equal?  I'd love to know your thoughts!



Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I'm glad you can do both. For years I painted and wrote--at the time I don't think I did either one well. Since I was raising 5 kids and often on my own (Hubby was a Seabee and gone a lot) and my creative efforts helped keep me sane.

When I actually got published and learned how much it took to promote (and at the time I also had my own full time business) I knew I had to give up one or the other. I thought writing would be the most profitable, so gave up the painting. I've never regretted it. I'm a better writer than I was a painter.


Monti said...

Thanks for your comment, Marilyn. I'm amazed at how frequently I find that authors are also artists. We just love being creative, I think! But creativity takes a lot of time.

Five children! That's amazing. I already know you organize your time really well!!!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's been a long time since I painted, but I do like to draw and I do a lot on the computer.

N. R. Williams said...

I think it depends on the book whether the art is more important than the writing. A really great book is shared equally.

I haven't had the time to do much art. But I really want to devote some time to that and get my skills rejuvenated.

N. R. Williams, fantasy author

arlee bird said...

I don't think one is any better or more important than the other. For a picture book, if it has words that are essential, then I guess it's almost like asking what's more important--the paper or the ink. They are both needed to complete the final product.


Tossing It Out

BodieP said...

Words or pictures? Interesting question--and you know I think so because I'm typing this with a very large cat in my arms. I do both, myself, and i think it's impossible to say. They each have a job to do--the story is the skeleton, so to speak: the illustrations are the organs and soft tissue. The illustrations might be beautiful--but without the skeleton to give them shape the illustrations collapse into a shapeless mass.

Bodie Parkhurst

Monti said...

Thank you, Bodie, for writing with the big cat in your arms! Thanks, Lee, Nancy and Alex. All of you seem to agree that's it's difficult or impossible to say which is most important.

Because I'm such a visual person, I'm terribly drawn to the pictures. But there would be no picture without the words they illustrate.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Monit --Now you make me want to get my watercolors and acrylics out and play some more. Although I've neglected the art for years now (I'm not an artist, merely a dabbler), both painting and writing are ways to abandon time and space and be "away" for a few hours. Photography works, too, when I focus.

I love them all, but Marilyn hit the truth -- to make any of it be a success, we need to promote. Maybe that's why I enjoy the blogging part of promotion the most, because I'm still writing, and I can play around with photographs.


Monti said...


I love playing with the photos as well! Am glad to know you dabble in painting. It's fun to know more about the friends we meet along the blogging way...


WS Gager said...

Monti: The choice for me is easy. I can't draw or paint! Writing comes in first every time. However, I do photography so maybe that counts as a visual art. I enjoy taking photos but usually don't do much with it. One of my photos is on the cover of A Case of Accidental Intersection. I also used my photos to create the cover for a short story I did with my Mitch Malone characters from the second book. I take a certain pride in that but not sure that is the same as drawing or painting.

Mike Orenduff said...

Hi Monti,

As you can imagine, this is a topic Lai and I talk about frequently. Her training as an art historian and my experience as a writer (forty years of non-fiction before embarking on the Pot Thief) give us differing perspectives, and we keep trying to find something that bridges the two. She doesn't enjoy writing (although she's good at it) and I have no artistic ability at all. It's an interesting topic though.

Mike Orenduff

Monti said...

Wendi, that's pretty artful that you did the art for your covers!

Mike, between the two of you, seems you've got the bases covered!!!

Anonymous said...

Great that you have the talent to do both. I almoste became a children's book illustrator back in the day. I'm glad I'm writing though. I find the latter more challenging and more rewarding.

Stephen Tremp

Patricia Stoltey said...

Monti -- I have an award for you at my blog post today.