Beginning, Middle, End

I have been entertaining the idea that writing and painting involve similar processes. This is how I see my process, of late. I understand that not everyone sees these two art forms this way. There are probably painters who do not have any preconceived ideas of what their paintings mean, or any idea of what they mean once they are finished. Although have not researched this, I would venture to say that action painters value their physical movements or emotions at the time they paint, over and above any sort of narrative. Others may enter a mental state in which they are not consciously aware of anything but the interaction of form and color on their paper or canvas.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I translated a central idea of writing into painting today. All pieces of writing have a beginning, a middle, and an end (except if you’re James Joyce). I began today’s study with a lemon yellow spot in the upper left corner of the paper. A writer starts a story with a bright idea as well.  From here I inked-in a maze-like structure that approaches a seemingly impenetrable wall except for a pin-hole opening that leads to another section of the canvas (in writing, the the middle of the story). The colorful spectrum in this section represents ideas of the midsection of a story; superimposed on the gradation of tone and color are the  the twists and turns of the plot line, as depicted by another maze. The story (painting) eventually culminates in a satisfying ending, as is graphically represented here by a pen-and-ink star surrounded by a warm red color.

Watercolor, Pen and Ink: Abstract with Maze and Two Sunbursts

Beginning, Middle, End
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

There are many variables in writing as well as in painting. In thinking about the process of painting, I’m not sure a painter concentrates on what the painting will say to the audience, but rather on a conversation the painter is having with him or herself. The inner conversation could be about what he or she wants to painting to say, but it could just as well be about what colors or shapes balance the design, without a thought to the impact on the viewer.


The study above is more like a sentence diagram generalized to a story, than a painting. It is an illustration of the elements contained in a story. As a painting, it is trivial.

I am open to reconsidering whether there is a nexus between writing and painting in general, and if there is, is it in the realm of the creative process. As it stands now, I think that my own processes for writing and painting are similar. Perhaps I should divorce the two and exploit the differences in each medium to full advantage.

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