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  • Vicki D. Thomas

How Similar is Writing and Making Fine Art?

When I first started writing, it struck me how similar writing and making art are. And since I do both, it was especially striking.

For art, you should begin with a layout on paper or canvas to indicate the big shapes and how they relate to each other

In writing, you need to write out a short synopsis. That is, a brief story of what your book is about. Here you would include the characters, setting, time frame, and plots. The big picture.

Then, in art, you roughly paint in your shapes with a broad brush to assure your color scheme is pleasing and varied. Why a broad brush? So you don’t get into a lot of fussy details in the beginning.

In writing, you break your story into chapters, each moving the plot forward, along with the growth of your protagonist and sub-characters. You decide what your protag does, and is it believable? Does his/her motive match his/her driving desire? Or is there none? If not, go back to step one!

When you paint, you need to determine your direction. Did a zig-zag pattern get you into the picture and carry you through? The ‘S’ curve? Circular movement? A pathway—to the distance?

When you write, how do you begin your chapters? Does the first sentence draw you in? Does the last sentence of the chapter make you want to read more? Is the setting complimentary to the story and the main characters? Do sub-characters support their right to be there? Do you have too many scenes that don’t carry the story forward?

In Painting, do the details warrant the space in your painting, or are they repetitious and tedious? Is the story of your painting interesting enough to draw the viewer in? Are there too many competing shifts in your values—no dark areas, no light areas? You need the punch of darks, in most cases, to give your painting pizazz.

Then, a once over before calling the art finished. How does it look from a distance? Do you have a story to tell in your painting and is it clear?

Read your entire story aloud. Do you hear any discrepancies? Do you have a story to tell in your writing?

Take a long, critical look at your completed painting. Does it have a satisfying foreground, middle ground, and background? Does it have a center of interest that draws the viewer in?

Do they both have a variety of color, rhythm, and shapes? Soft edges and hard edges?

Thank you for allowing me to share my Author/Writer observations. You can find my books and current displayed art at: and

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