advice

Making art from a wheelchair

Chuck Close, in conversation,  describes his working process.  His interviewer is a particularly excellent interviewer and art commentator (and Artistic Director of the Royal Academy of Arts) – the knowledgeable and always watchable Tim Marlow.

Chuck is known for his immense scale portraits, his work has sold internationally for decades.  Mid-career, he suffered a sudden catastrophic paralyzing physical event – but continues to work from his wheelchair, very successfully, in his seventies.

“Virtually everything I’ve done has been driven by my learning disabilities.”

Chuck Close

This is a quote from a note to his younger self, in a 5 minute CBS special video.

 

Creative Takeaways

  • “Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work”
  • “Every great idea I’ve ever had, grew out of work itself”
  • “Sign on to a process and see where it takes you”
  • “No one gets anywhere without help.  Mentors – including your parents – can make you feel special even when you are failing in other areas. Everyone needs to feel special”
  • “The absolute worst thing in life can happen and you will get over it, you will be happy again….”
  • “Losing my father at a tender age was extremely important in being able to accept what happened to me later, when I became a quadriplegic”
  • “If you’re overwhelmed by the size of a problem, break it down into bite-sized pieces.”
  • “There is always someone worse off than you”

 

 

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Video Diary: NaNoWriMo

So National Novel Writing Month is nearly here.  What’s it like to work through the goal of writing 50,000 words of your novel in November? Kristina Horner shows us her 8th year’s experience of the programme – in only 7 minutes.

This video is a kaleidoscope of emotions in the life of a young person. I doubt if George Eliot had a similar writing process.  I am sure Virginia Woolf would have been horrified at the idea of 123,000 people viewing you in the process of writing.  But after all, this is a reflection on how the world of communication – written and verbal – is so entirely different now to classical ways of writing.

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Advice to novel writers

Just what we need for November, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – or whenever the decision to first draft a novel strikes – some very useful writing tips recorded online.  BBC World Service radio has made available an entire series called “Writing Time” – each episode a 13 minute recording.

Topics covered include:

  • advice for aspiring writers
  • how to start writing a novel
  • developing characters
  • setting (how to decide where to set your book)
  • establishing voice (how to find your own distinctive voice)
  • dialogue
  • endings
  • how to find an agent

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6 tips for Writing Comedy from Script Editor

These tips for writing comedy come from Andrew Ellard, an English comedy writer and script editor who has worked on hugely popular British TV sitcoms such as “Red Dwarf” and “The IT crowd”.  In the video below, he’s giving advice about writing sitcom – but much of what he says will help us writing comedy of any type – whether in books, plays or for large or small screen.

Here’s a brief, non-executive non-summary of the main points in the video:

1. What makes a good sitcom character?

The main character should have a central flaw, a problem, of which they’re unaware.   (more…)

Beginning to paint art

I’ve just found a great resource for beginning to paint at thoughtco.com.  Have a look at this article by Marion Boddy-Evans.  If you’ve got a question, you’re very very likely to find the answer here.  (be aware that the host site also covers different hobbies such as dangerous sports and gambling!)

https://www.thoughtco.com/aint-your-first-ever-painting-2578681

10627862834_9472f8e1ed_h-56a6e6b23df78cf77290d91f.jpg

photo by SLR Jester/10627862834/Flickr

Questions answered:

What’s the difference between oils, acrylics or watercolours?

How can I buy materials at the start which aren’t hideously expensive but not cheap and cheerless so they give disappointing results?

When I go into a shop, I’m baffled by having to choose between “student” and “artist” quality paints – what’s the difference?

How do I mix paints?

Which brushes should I buy?

What can I paint on?

Where can I get ideas of what subject to paint as a beginner?

Any clues for how to layout (“compose”) a picture so that it looks well?

How do I hang my finished painting?

 

 

 

7 actions for beginning writers

I found myself writing this encouragement to a young writer approaching a course in Literature at University – but much of it is useful to any beginning writers:

1.  Believe that you are a writer already.

This is tough.  You think “But I haven’t had my first novel published!”  “But I haven’t sold my first filmscript…..” and the minute you say “I’m a writer” to other people, they will ask “So what have you sold?”  – which doesn’t help.

But being an artist and selling work don’t always flow together.

Van Gogh was a painter to his fingertips, worked hard all his life and only ever sold ONE painting, while alive.

2.  Because you are a writer, you can begin planning a writing career.

Think of what you want to have achieved in 5 years.

Aim for it.

Don’t just meekly do what will get you good marks in School and University.  People who only concentrate on getting a good degree come to the end of it and are still waiting for someone – a lecturer – to tell them what to do, to set them a writing project.  Actually, University works best if you’re already reading and practising the art and the uni course just gives you better skills, and a chance to meet likeminded people and discuss different ideas.

3.  Look at any opportunities you have to attend workshops, lectures, writing groups – and take them.

Any local Book Festivals or writing centre?  Any free workshops on a weekend?  Consider also volunteering to help out at festivals – your face will become known.

4.  Network.  Be pleasant to people, the publishing world is small.

5.  Write often.

If it helps to have a deadline or audience, consider what you could write for a friend/family member’s birthday.  Then give it to them.  (Helps you get practice in getting your work out there).

6.  Avoid writer’s block.

Listen to Audible recording of Anne La Mott’s book “Bird by bird” – it’s a series of interesting, constructive and easy to listen to, talks by her on how to write.  (Also written in her book “Word by Word” if you prefer the written form).  Her big theme is “write shitty drafts” – write down even really poor sentences, because you’re going to refine it later.  But if you wait to write perfect sentences in the first place, you don’t even begin, you freeze up with writer’s block.  The way around writer’s block is to lower your standards and keep writing.

7.  Get the reading list for the course you want to do at University.

Usually a library will have a list of set texts online or if you phone up.  Read those key texts yourself in your holidays now, before you go to Uni.  That way, you’ll have your own thoughts about them by the time you come to study them.  It will give you less reading work to do when at college.  Even if your plans change and you end up in a different college/course – you’ll still have read some great books.  And you will have some references to bring into your commentary on other books.  If you’re an older beginner writer and not planning to go to University – these books are still worth reading, to get a grounding in what is considered great (even if you disagree).