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My Experiences Making Visual vs. Literary Art
By Ian Winship
I’ve been drawing and doodling or thinking up stories and sometimes poems for as long as I can remember. I’ve always had this need or desire to be creative. To make something where there was nothing. To bring my imagination to life in hopes of sharing it with others. Whether it is visual or literary arts, the process always starts with a simple idea.
Whether you are taking a picture, doodling in class, writing a poem or story, or making your next big masterpiece you will always start with the thought, what is this going to be about? What am I going to draw? What will my story be about? What am I taking a picture of? Once that is decided, things get a little different.
I am a compulsive doodler. Throughout my entire school career, I couldn’t make it through most classes without covering the bottom half of my notebook paper in doodles. I used to claim it helped me pay attention but, who knows if it did. I just needed something to do with my idle hands. Something that would make the kid next to me look and simply say, “Oh, that’s cool.” That was enough for me. When starting a doodle ,you don’t set out to make some artistic masterpiece. Sometimes it may turn into that, but, usually, you are just doodling.
I started trying to create more detailed works of art when I decided doodling wasn’t enough. I would continue my doodle well after class, letting hours drift away, and just working at my piece until I felt it was done. Perhaps it wasn’t “good” art but, it was my art. It had come from my mind and my hand and I loved the process.
I wish I could call myself a photographer. I love taking pictures but, I am no Ansel Adams. I could take a picture from the same spot. The same stuff would be in the frame. Even if I use my expensive digital camera it will not be the same as an Ansel Adams film piece. I recently finished a cross country road trip. One of my favorite Facebook comments on a picture from the trip was from a photographer friend of mine, who offhanded wrote: “Mr. Ansel Adams over here.” It lit up my day.
My photography process isn’t the same as Mr. Adams. I simply set my camera to black and white and took a picture. Maybe I will adjust the aperture but, it all stays simple. I was just lucky to find myself in Yosemite Valley, looking out at El Cap and Half Dome. Ansel Adams had to set up his camera, use a series of measured settings, and later develop the film in a certain way to get what he wanted. I point my camera and upload it to Facebook. Not quite the same process but, hey, I got a nice photo out of it.
Making other forms of visual art usually follows a similar process for me. I think of what I want to do, sit down, and do it to the best of my ability. Everything is done in one sitting. No first drafts. No revision. Literary art is different in that respect.
With literary art you start, again, with an idea. This idea then grows in your mind. It takes form, shapes, and reshapes itself. First you get it all out, write as much down as possible. Once you have a first draft you can go back and edit and re-edit until you are satisfied with the final piece. Tweaking and fixing little things as you go until you have a final product that is ready for other eyes. Then you can send it to someone you trust to have them read it over and give suggestions. You could go back and edit even more. With literary art, often, the first try is not the best try. You can refine and reshape until you have something you are really happy with.
Being creative and making art is a rewarding process. Whether it is visual or literary you come away from this process with an end result. This result will either bring you joy or it will not. You may show it to the world or lock it away in your attic. The process is different for everybody. We all find what works best for us.