Where Art Thou?

Newbie writers often receive this bit of wisdom – You have to know the rules before you can break them.

I’ve heard this before. I thought I understood it, and at some level, I do. But it took an artist to drive the lesson home. Being a visual person, I often stare at paintings before I start writing. Something about the images, the colors, bring me to a happy place. I especially enjoy trees.

This is a painting of trees in autumn. Pretty straightforward, right? Clearly, this artist can realistically render a forest.

Recently, I purchased a Kindle App – Impressionism HD because I love impressionist paintings. What most people don’t always understand is that artistic endeavours don’t happen by magic. Often years of study, practice and knowing the rules are required to produce “art”. And, even then, like the Impressionists, that art may not be appreciated in that person’s lifetime.

The Impressionists broke “da rules” twisting light and colors into surrealistic landscapes and images. At the time, I imagine, the art “experts” concluded that these people weren’t any good at all. Many of them were unappreciated in their lifetime.

The same is true with writing. We have to know the rules of grammar and storytelling before we can do our own thing. Which brings me back to the forest above. Go ahead, take another look. I think it’s lovely and pleasant to look at.

Won’t you be surprised when I tell you the artist’s name?

Vincent Van Gogh. Yup. He could paint “correct” trees. Van Gogh knew the “rules” of painting.

And then he broke them. Thank goodness for that!

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