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'Writing is the painting of the voice'

October 24, 2014

colour wheel for artists

  'Writing is the painting of the voice' - quote from Voltaire. Those famous words were penned by the French Enlightenment writer known as 'Voltaire' ( 1694 – 1778.)

To me, this poetic idea is flawed. 

In this article, I'll look at the idea from two points of view, as both painter and writer and show why beginners need not let it discourage them from thrie dreams of learning how to become fine art professionals.

Painting can be as simple a job as protecting the walls of a room with a coating of house paint. Painting can be as complex as decorating a cupboard with folk-art designs. For artists, painting is the expression of our innermost thoughts that we wish to share with others.

  • Painting is harder than it looks.

When an elderly relative lived in our house, she was happy to be allowed into the studio, to watch while I worked, on condition she kept silent until I took a break. One day she told me how surprised she was to see how much goes into making a painting. She shared a belief she thought most people hold about artists.

"Artists just pick up a brush, swirl it in their paints and start painting until they finish."

It was my turn to be astonished.

  • To describe a character in a novel, you can write words that evoke the reader's own imagination. However, to make a convincing depiction of a person in paint, you first need to study and practise in at least 3 major areas. These include:

1_Anatomical Drawing.

  • No matter how beautiful your colours, you won't convince the viewer if your figures are out of proportion. Everyone knows how a man, a woman or a child looks. Same goes for a cat, bird, horse or any other animal. People  know if your drawing is wrong, even if they don't know why.

2_Rendering of textures.

  • It's only by practice that you can produce believable skin and hair tones, heavy  woollen or shimmering silk fabrics. In any Representational style of painting, you'll need expertise in reproducing these textures and many others, such as bird's feathers and animals' fur or scales.

3_Chemistry of paints, plus the qualities of supports.

  • Watercolour, Acrylic and Oil paints require different mediums and solvents, different tools and different supports, such as papers, canvas or panels.

Beginners can be misled by popular misconceptions about how a painting is made. When they discover it's not so easy in practice as it seems in imagination, many are so discouraged they drop out before giving themselves time enough to develop their talents. "Writing is the painting of the voice."

  • Painting with words is a lot easier than painting with paint, despite the famous quote suggesting otherwise. If you have the true artist's burning desire to give your best work, don't let the popular perception that painting should be as easy as seeing it 'in the mind's eye' prevent you from learning how to do it well.

May you achieve success by whatever standard means the most to you.©Dorothy Gauvin

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