Lessons From the Art Studio

SOLD Morning in the Garden of Eden. 18 x 12, acrylic on lokta paper

Almost a year ago, I moved out of my art studio to devote myself full time to writing. Do I miss my studio? Of course I do – wonderful days full of surprise and discovery spent in the company of my beloved handmade papers and amazing colors and mediums. And fellow artists. I miss them, too, although I still go visit them in their own studios (one of which used to be mine).

I learned some important lessons in that art studio, some of which continue to serve me well in my writing. I was reminded of one of those lessons when I saw this quote (posted today by PEN America on Facebook):

“I think the difference between being a person of talent and being a writer is the ability to apply the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair and finish.” ― E.L. Konigsburg

Paintings are statements – images that inspire you in the moment and that you speak onto the canvas (or, in my case, paper) to the best of your ability. But you don’t go on forever rephrasing them. If you do, you will become your own worst obstacle, inhibiting your ability to receive the next inspiration, to make the next statement. If you keep reworking, you may end up with an amazing painting, but there will likely be several more – perhaps equally worthy of having been shared – hidden within it. In painting, there comes a moment when you have to look at a work, wish it well, sign it, and hang it on the wall. Let it speak its piece while you move on to the next thing, attend to the next inspiration.

The same thing holds true in writing. Write the story. Finish it. Polish it just enough. Publish it. Move on. So what if it’s not the whole story? The next one will add its own statement and then also the one after that.

Coming in May: Shadow of the Hare – Book II in The Recall Trilogy! 

Read more from Donna Dechen Birdwell.

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