Tag: art

The Value of Writing Poetry

So I have kind of a funny relationship with poetry. I never really understood it as I was growing up, and because I didn’t understand it, I didn’t like it. I thought it was silly and worthless and couldn’t imagine why anyone would care to read or write it. (I was a very silly child and held that opinion about a lot of things) I did eventually grow out of that narrow view, but for years poetry still wasn’t really “on my radar”. Even after I started writing stories, I hardly thought about it. It wasn’t until I was about 20 that I made my first attempt at writing poetry, but ever since I’ve been in love with it. It’s a wonderful thing! Good poetry can express what nothing else can, not prose or a painting or anything. Poetry is, I think, the closest we can come to truly speaking our hearts. But, more than that, writing poetry is an extremely valuable exercise for writers and non-writers alike. I think I’ve said on this blog before that I think everyone ought to write. I’m going to amend that statement: I think everyone ought, not just to write, but also to write poetry.

Now, a lot of people might protest. They might say that their poetry is awful, that they have no talent for it and no one would ever want to read it. But that isn’t the point. Even if your poetry is truly awful, I think there can still be benefit in it for at least one person–for you, the writer. Of course, ultimately, we must strive to write poetry that can be enjoyed by many people, but to start with, entertaining yourself isn’t bad.

One of the most obvious benefits of writing poetry, for anyone, is that it can be a great help for working through tricky emotions. Writing about any difficult, emotional subject can be a helpful way to order your thoughts and feelings, and writing about it in poetic language can be extremely cathartic, because poetry is such a good way to express those emotions. Poetry also helps you to look at the world differently, to see more of the pattern and rhythm in it–and the attention that you have to pay to finding precise descriptions of things in your poems can bring out the beauty of the world around you in a whole new way, because you start to notice more.

For people who also write prose (and especially fiction), writing poetry has even more benefits. It will help you learn to be concise. It will help you learn to pick just the right images and descriptions to convey an emotion or meaning. The rigors of writing with rhyme and meter will not only help to give your prose a nicer flow and a more rhythmic sound, they will help you to get a better grasp of the language. The very tight restrictions of many forms of poetry (especially the more traditional forms) are probably the most useful thing I’ve found to help me learn to make better use of English, in addition to being a lot of fun in their own right. Almost as useful is poetry that eschews traditional forms and uses your own, self-imposed guidelines, because that teaches you to do on a small scale what you must do over the course of an entire novel, if you want to keep everything properly in line with itself.

In short, poetry, besides being beautiful and excellent all on its own, is also very useful for all kinds of people, I think that everyone ought to cultivate a habit of writing it–even they aren’t very good and never show their poetry to anyone. There are many more benefits besides what I’ve written down here. Try it yourself, and see!

~ Jared

Balancing Art

Recently, a friend asked me how I balance writing and art in my life. She said that she never seems to have enough time to do both and can’t decide which one she should choose. I gave her a brief response and then decided to let that question stew for a few days while I considered it. I’d never really thought of it much before; writing and art are two things that I’ve always made time for in the past few years of my life. I’ve thought about choosing one or the other in terms of future career, but never as a choice I faced in my present life. But its a dilemma which I’m sure is faced at some point by everyone who both writes stories and draws or paints visual artworks (or who has any other two major artistic passions–writing and music? dancing and drawing? etc, etc)

Honestly, I think the answer is simply that you have to be diligent and form a habit of making time for both every day, if at all possible, or at least every week. I’ve been in the habit for years of writing as soon as I get up in the morning (or as soon as I get off work, if I have to work early in the morning) and drawing or painting in the evenings, during my nightly relaxation time. I don’t usually stress over it if I’m busy for some reason and can’t make the time to do both (or either) in a given day. I really just try to take a relaxed approach to it, although that isn’t to say that I don’t feel guilty and berate myself if I don’t get any creative work done! Anyway, to me, it’s all about being diligent. It is my personal opinion that it’s rare to find a life that is truly so busy that there is no time for art. Your life might be so busy that it’s hard to muster up the energy for art. But there’s almost always going to be enough downtime to spend at least an hour or so each day working on art, whether you want to spend it doing so or not. So, if you truly want to do art and have time for both, then you really just need to discipline yourself and make yourself do it. Maybe you can write one day and then draw the next, or spend half your free time writing and the other half drawing. Everything might take longer that way, but then you’re still pursuing both passions.

But even if you’re doing that, it’s almost certain that you’ll still, at one time or another, be faced with choosing between the two passions. I’ve gone back and forth so many times between writing and art that I finally just decided I had to do both, because every time I picked one I’d suddenly get really passionate about the other. I don’t know that I can really offer any advice for choosing one or the other. It’s very likely that your primary passion will switch back and forth a lot over your life. There have been times of my life where I was focused mostly on drawing, and other times where I hardly drew at all and spent most of my creative time writing. I’ve also gone back and forth a lot on which I wanted to pursue as a career. I wanted to go to school for illustration; I wanted to devote as much time as possible to refining my stories and searching for a publisher. It was and is very hard to choose.

But, speaking from a philosophical standpoint, why should you choose just one? The great thing about love is that it is infinitely expandable. One can never have too many passions. Something Robert Heinlein, the science fiction writer, said comes to mind.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

When I first read this quote, it really struck a chord with me. Why specialize? Why not do everything you want to do? Of course, there are good practical reasons for specializing, such as the fact that no one has quite enough time to do everything. But I don’t see any good reason why, if you have two artistic passions which you are equally fascinated by, you should have to choose one or the other.

I’m not sure if this is any better an answer than the rather brief one I gave to my friend, but hopefully it gives people something to think about.

~ Jared

The Remorse of St. George

A few days ago, I came across a piece of artwork entitled “St. George’s Remorse.” Before I go into anything else, I’d just like to say this:

I have nothing against this artist and I really do think that painting is beautiful. I’m not sure what she was trying to say with it; whatever she meant to say, the implications which could be drawn from the painting illustrate my ideological point, and I am by no means attempting to bash her work or her worldview. And so, onward!

A beautiful artwork, isn’t it? There is a good deal that could be said about the technical merits of the work and the excellent composition and the raw emotion conveyed by the scene. However, I find this work disturbing for reasons that may or may not be immediately evident. Perhaps it will become more clear if I quote both the artist’s statement about the painting:

My latest oil painting depicting St.George’s remorse after having slain the Dragon.

and a description given by the person championing it:

[…] a very touching painting, depicting an intimate moment of St.George after having killed the Dragon and feeling remorse for his cruel action.

There are two ways this can be taken. The first, which I feel may be taken more by the artist than by the other person, is that slaying the dragon was an act which was necessary, but it still resulted in remorse over the death of something magnificent. Magnificent things do not, after all, have to be morally good, and their very magnificence will usually bring with it sadness if they’re destroyed. It’s a sort of bittersweetness on the part of the saint, a wish that he didn’t have to do the thing that he had to do. Nevertheless, he did it. If that is indeed the artist’s intent, then I can get behind it. There’s depth and emotion and a sense  of tragic beauty there. However, I fear that the intent of the painting may be closer to what is implied in the second of the above quotes, and that implication is this: that destroying evil was a cruel action. That is quite a terrible thing to say. Destroying evil may be hard. It may be terrible. Yet it is not wrong, and the whole implication that this piece may have is that there is an inherent cruelty and wrongness in the destruction of evil.

There’s another level to consider, as well. The Dragon in the tale of St. George and the Dragon represents evil, sin, Satan. St. George is a knight sworn to the service of God–a true Christian warrior. A Christian warrior must oppose evil wherever it raises its head. He must slay every dragon he meets, or die trying. The implication that he should feel remorse for fighting evil is insidious and even devilish. The idea that Good should cry and wish that it could have let Evil live is nothing but cowardice, sniveling compromise.  Rather, let Good lament that Evil ever entered the world. Let it lament the wrongs done by Evil. But never let it cry over Evil’s corpse and call itself cruel for banishing darkness.

~ Jared

Sub-Creation

I am having thoughts today. Isn’t it wonderfully beautiful, how humans can create things? Isn’t it wonderful how we can mimic God? I think that one of the highest things a human can do is to create something beautiful. To make art. To sub-create, pour out the wondrous creative energy of God that resonates through all time into our own, flawed, incredible creations. It’s one of the holiest of things. I’m in awe of the creative power I’ve been blessed with. I have to use it. I have to create. If I don’t then I’m denying my greatest gift. I want to live my life doing nothing but sub-creating, and shaping, and working magic.

 

But then I’m always faced with the harsh reality that this creative gift is not so highly prized by the world. That I can’t just sit in my basement creating beautiful things. That’s worship. It’s spiritual communion. But it doesn’t pay any bills. And that fact is so incredibly frustrating. The best thing I can do doesn’t give me anything to live off of in our terribly money-shackled society. But some people can live off their creating. I want–need–to be one of those people.

 

It’s just so hard to be noticed, and I’m deathly afraid that I never will be, and I’ll be stuck never being able to fulfill my purpose of creating. I think the fear is hindering me. Making it harder for me to step out. It’s like a wall. I’ll have to siege it. Can I have some Ents?

 

Anyway. I feel that sub-creating connects us to God. It’s an expression of our souls and an imitation of Him. It connects us into this divine continuum of power and growth and revival, building up and magic and birth. It is so. Brilliantly. Beautiful. And good.

 

Words fail me.

 

~ Jared

Comics

Well, I was neglecting my blog and felt like writing some sort of post (and am procrastinating from my novel! SHH, don’t tell anyone!), so here you go. A bit of randomness.

Recently I’ve been wanting to draw a comic. I’d like to start a webcomic, actually (yes, I found a cool webcomic and decided I wanted to make comics, too. This happens a lot, heh heh). See, I’ve actually been wanting to draw a comic/manga/graphic novel for years. I made my first one when I was just a little fellow (gosh, I don’t even remember, 10 or 11?). It was about a superhero named Atom Boy, the other heroes in his organization, and their adventures as they saved their world from the evil Doctor Z (who was a total rip-off of Zurg from Buzz Lightyear). Looking back on it, it’s very snicker-inducing (in the original draft, the one that got destroyed when my little brother scribbled all over it, the story started when a guy named “Johnny Hazard” drove past a sign that said “Superheroes Wanted!”…), and of course the art sucks. But I enjoyed it. I had fun.  And ever since, I’ve wanted to draw comics.

I think it’d be awesome to be a manga-ka or a graphic novelist. Unfortunately, at the moment I have no ideas, and I’m not sure I have the patience to stick with a comic to the end. I’m not very good at drawing backgrounds, for one thing. I did get one idea for a graphic novel, which I started–it was an extremely complicated story involving Norse mythology, political machinations from hundreds of years ago, and an alternate Victorian era in which rune magic took the place of a lot of technology. It’s actually one of my coolest story ideas. But, I only got two pages into it. Two pages! Now I’m feeling like I’d rather do something less complicated. Something more personal, closer to home, smaller and more intimate. I have an idea, which would feature a writer (based on a very good friend of mine) and her life, as seen from the perspective of her friends. Buuut I don’t know how to start it, and it’s not feeling quite like the comic I want to draw.

I need ideas….

Okay, and as a bonus, some pages from Atom Boy!

And here we have the cover page... oh, the shakiness of the letters... this was intended to be a sequel to the original Atom Boy, by the way, the one that got scribbled on by my little brother. So it starts off without much explanation.
The first page! I hope you can read my writing...
Atom Boy was overpowered. Very overpowered.
And they charge off to battle... I had several other pages after this, but I figured the first three would be enough.