Six Similes About Writing

Writing is like:

  • architecture.  Form follows function; the design of the piece, especially the basic structure, should require every element to contribute to the overall mission of the creation’s existence.  A solid foundation must be established first–in writing, the introduction is critical.  An outline of major topics and examples is like the layout of various beams and girders in construction.
  • sculpture.  Michelangelo said that he saw his sculptures inside the marble blocks, and simply chiseled off anything that wasn’t part of it.  We should do the same with our drafts.
  • bees.   Continue reading

Notes on Drawing Lessons From the Great Masters

I’ve been wanting to read Robert Beverly Hale’s Drawing Lessons From the Great Masters for years.  As I finally did, I jotted down a few notes: underlined items are an immediate “to-do” list.

Watteau’s “Nine Studies of Heads,” just one of many drawings I loved in the book.


* see things as cubes, spheres, cylinders, eggs

* contour lines add depth, purpose

* lines separate angular planes where they meet

* heaviness of lines indicates darkness, light

* practice drawing blankets over furniture

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Skills of An Artist

The title here is a Homestar Runner reference.  Brownie points if you get it. 

While camping this weekend, I wanted to practice something I love but that I haven’t worked on in a long time: pencil sketching.  I wish I’d put more time into this; I think I could be pretty decent if I did.  As it is…well, the kids were impressed. 

Here’s a sketch I did of a scene from our campsite: some pine and evergreen branches in the foreground, a mountain face in the background, and a cloud.  I never know how to do something as detailed as the mountain face without making it look too “busy.”  True story: in a fourth grade art class, we had an hour to draw a scene.  At the end, I still had a mostly blank sheet of paper because I insisted on drawing each individual blade of grass at the bottom of the page.  So I’ve gotten over that. 

Still, my work strikes me as clumsy and sentimental (much like my writing).  The shading I use to indicate the late afternoon is desperate.  All that being said, though, I actually like this–the only really bad part is the branches coming in from the left side, which look like they could have been drawn by Napoleon Dynamite.  But it made me happy to do it, and I enjoy the rough, impressionistic style I’m developing (this would be more evident if you could see my jagged lines closer up).  When I opened the sketch book I use, which I hadn’t seen for over a year, and flipped through the other pages, I was delighted to see some pleasant other work I’ve done.  Now I think I should do some work in charcoal.