In many ways, visual art gave birth to literature. The first stories written down were cave paintings. For years our alphabet was made up of pictographs which simply meant that the only people who could tell stories were those who could draw. Although our current alphabet is centuries old, we still understand what we read largely by “painting” pictures in our heads. For this, and many reasons, the urge for the writer to paint and for the painter to write is not uncommon.
Some writers have used drawing quite literally as a tool to see. Dostoevsky drew portraits of his characters. His drawing of his main character in The Idiot was found directly on his manuscript and resembles exactly the character he portrayed with words.
Jack Kerouac took his approach to writing and transferred it directly to his paintings. His “Essentials of Spontaneous Prose,” bears a striking a resemblance to his “theory of painting:”
- Use only brush.
- Use brush spontaneously
- Figure meets background or vice a versa [sic] by the brush
- Paint what you see in front of you, no “fiction”
- Stop when you want to improve it—it’s done.
Distinguished writer and NYU Adjunct Professor Carol Bergman, whose father was a famous collector of Egon Schiele and whose daughter is a local visual artist, will guide you in using words to enhance your creative process.