Sunday, February 19, 2006

creative multi-tasking

The study of what makes creative minds tick is endlessly fascinating to me. I've looked at neurologies, learning styles, disorders, brain hemisphere theories, you name it. All fascinating. I especially like the lateral thinking/hemispheres model but I can appreciate how all these approaches contribute to make up the complex way in which each individual views the world. (And we all know that creativity comes in many guises, not the least important of which is creative accounting...)

Some of the best creative minds have more than one channel, though, so what I'm curious about now is people who excel at more than one creative discipline, especially visual art and writing. OK, I admit it -- I need role models. Let's face it: these things are never done in the interest of purely academic investigation and I'm just as self-absorbed as the next guy. (Not you, though, Alan. :) My own first love has always been drawing and painting, and I've had a camera slung around my neck since I was 10, but writing has always been something I enjoyed but only ever did casually, and I have almost never kept a journal or attempted fiction because writing into a vacuum is, for some reason, meaningless for me. Still, I love words, so discovering an outlet for it through blogging has been nothing but fun and games.

I'd love to find out which famous artists of the past (or present) were/are also well-regarded and published writers. I'm not really talking about the Frank Millers and Dr Seusses of the world, whose art is inexorably linked to their writing in a very specific genre (which is, admittedly, what makes them both exceptional), but more the fine art version of these people, whose art and writing are separate but complementary entities. The author of this article has an interesting if slightly jaundiced opinion:

But as regards artists who write, they usually become known primarily for either their painting or their writing, and whichever it is in each individual case, it is most frequently to the diminishment of the other capacity, regardless of how well the latter is done.

The only role models I can think of are close to home. Local icon Emily Carr, in her later years, starting writing her memoirs and discovered she had a knack for it, turning out volumes of words that are still cherished today. More recently, on-line guru Robert Genn, a prolific painter (who once had a very friendly pooch named Emily Carr), has also become an inspired writer, uniting a worldwide community (over 100,000) with his twice-weekly letter. But who else is out there? (And I don't mean really famous artists who can sell anything they write just because they're famous ... you know: the painter's equivalent of the model who really wants to act and sing and make videos and carry a Chihuahua in her handbag.) Ideas or suggestions anyone?

It's time once again for the smug and blatant self-promotion segment. Last week I had no idea that such a creature as BlogHer existed. Then Belinda, one of my latest 'discoveries' through the BoB awards (she has a unique and hilarious perspective), recommended me to the Canadian blogger profile writer. This is her article. Thanks Belinda and Jen!

photos taken on Granville Island on Thursday morning, February 16, then taken to my lab and subjected to eye of newt, wing of bat and other unmentionables before being posted here


Blogger kyknoord said...

The old proverb about not serving two masters springs to mind. Of course, that was before the advent of the Renaissance man (or woman, as the case may be) I find the one with the flower barrels is astonishingly effective.

19/2/06 9:26 p.m.  
Blogger kyknoord said...

The article gave me pause, by the way. In the line "I am envious of her multitalented ways", I initially read "mutilated" for "multitalented". A real 'Huh?' moment.

19/2/06 9:36 p.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

You don't seem to me to be in need of a role model... at least not for proof of existence.
You already are the proof that someone can write well and paint well.

If you are asking if someone can make money out of both, be taken seriously by "people who matter" as both, that's different...
and then "its not what you know but who you know" that counts.

So its a good job you are getting better known!

20/2/06 6:26 a.m.  
Blogger megg said...

Hi there,

This post really made me think about writers & artists. I actually had been reading YOUR site thinking about how talented YOU were & that you were an interesting writer and an amazing artist - so there you go, you're someone ELSE's inspiration. But I'll have a think about your other questions to see if I can come up with any. And thank you for the BlogHer link, it looks really interesting!

20/2/06 8:56 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Kyknoord: I'll have to do a little more research if I want to be as mutilated as the Renaissance woman with the flower barrels.

Carolien: (I refuse to change that typo because, for once, it's not Carlone!) You are very sweet. Any idea where I can shop for neon sandwich boards ... in bulk?

Megg: I appreciate that, coming from the home of both a writer and an artist! You can see it from both/all angles.

20/2/06 9:09 a.m.  
Blogger Alina Chau said...

Beautiful series!!

20/2/06 9:37 p.m.  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

that one is a toughie! You are one of the few I know that has a sharp mind and a silver paintbrush! I agree with you on the Emily Carr as writer/artist. Phil was one of the few guys I knew that could successfully do both and get paid. He did the cover of Crosby Stills Nash and Young (the horse line drawing)CSN's famous logo, one of America's best known album covers, he wrote Pee Wee's big adventure, he wrote and performed on SNL for 9 years, etc. Now that is not fine art or highbrow writing but it was both disciplines and he was really good at both. I looked at Blogher and the post about 339 comments! incredible. Always love to read what you have to say.

20/2/06 9:41 p.m.  
Blogger justin said...

Wonderful pictures, Andrea, especially the first one. I'm feel inspired to have a go with some of my photos. It's marvellous what you can do with a newt's eye, a bat's wing, etc. I've felt the need to lighten up, and I'm now feeling a lot better, thanks to you.

21/2/06 12:01 a.m.  
Blogger Mick said...

For me, I paint because "I MUST!". Too, I write because "I MUST!". That said, and forgive if this sounds trite, but good writing is exactly the same as good painting. Always seeking the proper amount of light and dark, variation and repetition, color and hue. One with paint, one with words...neither have been separate activities for me. I'm just using different tools to "paint" with.
Finally, young lady, the bottom photo, of the woman walking down the street? WOW! Do I love this one or what?!!!

21/2/06 4:32 a.m.  
Blogger carla said...

Ah...too early in the morning for one with a nasty cold to make an intelligent comment...but, I can easliy say that these photographs are striking. As a casual observation, I think that creative people have a need to express themselves and want to create a beautiful, well-composed piece whether it's visual or written. What I find really energizing about your visuals and verbals is the decidely different tone of each. Your writing is sharp, witty, sometimes ironic, but your artwork seems to be more purely emotional and free of the irony. This isn't a value judgement in any way - just an observation. I think this contrast makes you as a person so very intriguing. Congrats on the wonderful write up on BlogHer.

21/2/06 5:46 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Alina: Thanks!

Val: It seems that creative multi-tasking is way more common in the world of the performing arts, doesn't it? But then there are guys like Steve Martin, who have feet in both camps.

Justin: Glad I could be of service. :) Now, go out there and have fun!

Mick: You will not be at all surprised to learn that when I saw the woman walking away under all that shadowy stuff I actually thought of you and whipped my camera out to try and capture it before she could escape. The original is now in my 'Mick collaboration' folder.

Carla: Wow, your observations are always so amazing. You're absolutely right, though I never thought of it in those terms. While I look for the droll/absurd and the narrative when I write, I never paint or photograph with narrative or humour in mind, marching completely to an intuitive visual beat. I often try to add elements of the whimsical or quirky to both, though. :)

21/2/06 9:56 a.m.  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

How egotistical of you to think that I'd even read this! :-)

Do graphic novels interest you at all? I know that a lot (most?) of them are illustrated by people who aren't the writers but some are.

Talking of graphic novels, I came across Neil Gaiman's blog the other day - really very good if you like his work:

He is probably best know for his graphic novel series of The Sandman but my favourite novel of his is a children's book, Coraline, variously described as a cross between Stephen King and Lewis Carroll.

Ok, let me go check your self-promotion.

21/2/06 10:19 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Nomad: Yeah, I could only think of Frank Miller as a Renaissance comic creator, though I'm sure there are others. I will check out Neil Gaiman's blog for sure. I don't read graphic novels but I have read Coraline and it was great (thanks to Rudy). Have you read any of A Series Of Unfortunate Events?

21/2/06 10:30 a.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

Oh if we are onto Neil Gaiman have you read American Gods?

21/2/06 11:16 a.m.  
Blogger The Tart said...

Andrea, great post. I love the top photo know the color.

Good luck on your vision quest...quite a good project. But ya know what....I think in this decade you can find some of these types many great writers/artist and they happen to blog. One is you. You are in your own backyard.

All the is about the path, the cliche' So nice to watch you on yours.

Your Tart

21/2/06 11:45 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Caroline: I just oredred it from the library (along with Anansi Boys).

Jody: that's my favouite, too. (Colour of course.)

21/2/06 7:08 p.m.  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

I've meant to read them and have them at home. Will get round to it sometime.

23/2/06 2:29 a.m.  
Blogger PG said...

Mervyn Peake, equally a fantastic artist and writer. Unfortunately died at quite an early age, of a brain tumour. But he is the only one I can think of offhand. Although he did illustrate his own work, his writing is brilliant enough to stand alone, and vice versa with his art.

24/2/06 10:38 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Thanks, PG. That's just what I was looking for.

24/2/06 11:19 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea, we all need role models, whether we admit them or not. I think we need heroes too.

24/2/06 3:47 p.m.  

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