Monday, June 18, 2007

Art Imitates Art -- Eve

For some reason, my brain doesn't allow me to write and paint at the same time. Usually, I need several months of focused painting time, then several months of writing time. My little brain can’t handle both in the same week.

This week, however, I had the opportunity (pressure) to test myself. My MG manuscript revisions were done-done, and I was hired to create a commissioned painting. Woo-hoo! A whole entire week to work nonstop on one painting, without other commitments or distractions. The client gave me full artistic license, and my only restriction was color scheme. So, I embarked on the mandatory running/meditating/brainstorming session and blended landscape, still-life, and abstract pieces in my head, forming a mental image and creating my “intentions.” My painting mentor always asks me, “What are your intentions for this piece?” After laying the foundation and sketching initial shapes, I cranked up the iPod (obsessed with Maroon 5 right now…love you, Adam!) and got jiggy with my paints.

Just as I was belting out the lyrics, “really makes me wonder if I ever gave a f…” I got a message from my agent, suggesting that I rework the ending of my manuscript one last time before she sends it out again. So I finished singing the F-word, turned off Adam’s sweet voice, and returned to my dark, quiet computer resting in the dining room.

The short (or not so short) of the story is that I can paint and write at the same time! Who knew?? The art client kept coming by my house saying, “How’s that piece coming along? Ya have it done for me by Friday?” I wanted to finish the manuscript by Friday as well, so that it would be submitted before the entire publishing industry splits to the Hamptons for the summer. Spending the week running between the dining room and the garage was kind of fun. And, of course, I learned something too…

Painting and writing are very similar. Prior to beginning both, I need to sort out my “intentions.” Then I lay the foundation and big-picture shapes, themes and colors. But the hard part is revising, erasing, painting over whatever doesn’t work, amping up that which does work, adding layers and layers of detail, cranking up color spots, polishing and varnishing the bits you love so they shine like crazy. And rather than obsess over why Adam sounds so sad these days, and who that skanky woman is who broke his heart, I played with my paints and obsessed over why my ending felt so rushed, and how I could slow it down, but keep the tension, and add interesting details without muddying it too much (which is always a delicate balance in painting too).

And as I added tiny fluorescent pink details to the centers of my sunflowers, my book ending became clear. The “center” of the story, the heart, the underlying theme really, is family…what constitutes a family and what it means to us as humans. So I weaved it into my story, scraped little heart shapes into my flowers, and called it a week.

- Eve

12 comments:

heidi said...

What a lovely post, Eve! Beautifully written and full of color. Loved it...course, you also got my heart pounding about all the editors heading to the Hamptons. I'm revising SEA for my agent (yay!) to send off, I'm about halfway done, but maybe I should start painting and hustle. When does this wild beach caravan begin??

Rilla said...

Hey Eve,
Your words are very encouraging. I haven't painted seriously since I started writing seriously and have seriously started to question if I can do both together...seriously...
So, your post makes me hopeful. But, I'm wondering, should I find that agent, before I go sniffing on the oils again...and that's a serious question...or maybe I should just stop a moment and take the time to smell the sunflowers...pink hearts did you say??????

Colorado Writer said...

Thanks for the post! I'm sure it all has to do with right brain/left brain.

When I'm working on a novel, I dream in chapters. I lose touch with reality and think my husband can *know* my book just because I'm thinking it all out.

Good luck on revising...

LindaBudz said...

Wow, Eve, so you paint, too? Have you ever posted any pix of your work? Would love to take a look at it.

rilla, I wouldn't put anything - much less something you might enjoy and something that might unleash untapped creativity (or tap into unleashed creativity, or whatever) - on hold until you find an agent. Life's too short!

Disco Mermaids said...

To check out Eve's kick-ass art, we link to it under Disco Infection in the right-hand column.

And yes, there's a little bit o' pink in every painting!

- Jay

cynjay said...

So, if I stop writing, do you think I'll be able to paint? I never could before, so that would be great.

Please post a pic of this when it's done! (And good luck on the rerevision).

Laini Taylor said...

I didn't know you were a painter. Cool! I haven't painted much lately -- I have a hard time balancing the two as well, but I do love the kind of meditative time when I'm absorbed in painting. Besides painting, long walks, preferably outside but even on the treadmill, help me think out my stories.

Oh, and ALL MERMAIDS: My husband and I were vacillating on SCBWI, but we ARE going -- really look forward to meeting you in person. Would love to meet up for coffee or a drink on the early side of the conference so by the time Saturday night rolls around and you rock stars steal the show, I will already *know* you! :-)

Colorado Writer said...

I don't know about the Mermaids, but the Dork Patrol (i.e. Me) will probably be found at the (or is it one of?) bar on Thursday night.

LindaBudz said...

Ah, thank you Jay! If that link were a snake, it woulda bit me, as Mom always liked to say.

Eve, Your art is wonderful ... I especially love the flowers page ... daisies are my very favorite! I can see why someone would commission you for a piece, you've got such a cool style.

BTW, has anyone ever pointed out the eerie similarities between your palm trees and Sideshow Bob?

:)

Disco Mermaids said...

Such nice comments, folks...thanks! Just so you guys know, I haven't updated my art website in almost two years! So, it's actually much better these days. Got to put up my new stuff.

As for the L.A. Conference, Jay has a special meeting Thursday night, but Robin and I will be bellying up to the lobby bar as soon as we pull into town. Can't wait to see/meet everybody!

Eve

Rilla said...

Thursday night at the bar sounds great. ;)
Looking forward to your updated art website, Eve. I LOVED the vineyard painting, I voted that my favorite, but the yellow irises had me dithering on the vote for a while.
BTW, since you're so good at memes...I'm tagging you with another. This one was started by LindaBudz, thanks Linda, and I enjoyed doing it.Stuck in Memory Lane Basically, you put up a post about your earliest memory. It worked like one of those writing exercises for me. Brought up so many memories, and since I'm writing a book right now that draws heavily on them, it was a huge bonus. So, Eve, consider yourself tagged with the FIRST MEMORY MEME and I hope you have as much fun with it as I did.

a. fortis said...

I love reading how other writer/artist combos (or should that be schizos??) manage to balance the two. I do find it hard to do both at the same time--it took me a while to find that out, and many overly optimistic, overly-planned to-do lists. It SEEMS reasonable to spend, say, two hours revising and then three hours on art, but much to my chagrin, I find that my creative process does not like to fit into time slots, especially if those time slots occur in the morning...

Look forward to meeting you guys at SCBWI!!