WRITING VERSUS PAINTING

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Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

I’ve been writing for a couple of years now, and I’ve gotten out of shape from all the sitting I do. It’s not a very healthy lifestyle, is it?

It also lacks the visceral excitement I enjoy when I paint. Yes, it’s emotional, writing, but I realize it’s not going to keep me fit the way lifting and carrying big paintings does. I also move energetically as I paint, but when a writer writes there isn’t much moving around. I see a lot of articles from writers recommending solutions to this problem, and I’m listening.

So, I’m still getting used to the writing lifestyle, trying to adapt it to my personality. I realize the combination of age and too much sitting will toss me into decrepitude before I’m ready. I don’t really want a stiff body with a spare tire around the middle, thank you very much.

When I paint, I go for the excitement of color, form and dramatic movement. It’s fun. I organize it late in the process, after I’ve gotten wild and crazy, exploring color combinations, forms and kinetic registers. A good painting becomes a statement, a language, with its truth welling up from the body. The body knows stuff that the mind has no inkling of, in my opinion. That’s where a successful painting goes. It bypasses the rational mind.

I realize, as I reflect on the way I write, that I’m trying to make sense of things, make connections that will unfold the meaning in living. Somehow, writing exists in a different universe from painting for me. It’s creative, but it’s exploring a completely different paradigm. It’s novel because I’m still more oriented to a visual and kinetic world. It seems to offer infinite vistas of learning and even collaboration.

For years I kept journals, just to keep track of thoughts I didn’t want to discuss with anyone — dreams, undigested experiences, socially unacceptable feelings — that sort of thing. Kind of mental hygiene, you might say. But writing for publication is different, the craft is more structured. There are forms and formulas to learn. I’m back in school.

It’s actually fascinating.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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