SOLC 2018–Day 26: Parallels between Writing and Painting


March 2018 SOLC–Day 26
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.

Note: I am not an artist, so please excuse any vague or inaccurate terminology in this post.

I’ve gone off on a bit of an Andrew Wyeth tangent this month. On a recent Sunday, after learning about an exhibit of his drawings at the Farnsworth Museum, I convinced my husband that he really wanted to drive up to Rockland, Maine with me. To my surprise, he didn’t mind the idea of the long drive up the coast to the museum, and off we went.

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Andrew Wyeth, Her Room, 1963

Less than two hours later we were standing in a gallery looking at Wyeth’s painting, Her Room.  It’s a beautiful painting and worthy of its place of honor on the gallery wall. But what really enriched the experience for us was the array of sketches, drawings and studies that hung on the other walls of the room. They offered a window into Wyeth’s process of creating this painting, documenting some of the many steps.



Wyeth wrote notes to himself on his drawings. This says “warm gray, remember this”

As I walked through the gallery, my thoughts turned again and again to writing–specifically to my writer’s notebook. In no way am I comparing the level of my writing to Andrew Wyeth’s painting, but to me it seems that he followed a similar process with his drawings. Where I use my notebook to write a rough draft, to try out a new idea or form, to experiment and play with words, etc, Wyeth used these sketches, studies, and drawings to help him enter into the world of his subject.  Focusing on one thing after another. Playing with approaches.

In particular, I was intrigued by the partially painted drawings, with parts roughly sketched and others fully painted. They seemed alive somehow, coming into being before my eyes. They reminded me of notebook entries where some parts emerge richly from my pen and others are merely an outline to return to at a later time. Wyeth even wrote notes to himself on some of them, like “warm gray, remember this”.

Together, these “rough drafts” offered insight into the process of the artist at work and into the final piece. What a fascinating exhibit!


Working on the doorknob


A close up: While studying the doorknob to get it just right, Wyeth realized he could see his own reflection in it. He included it in the finished piece.

20 thoughts on “SOLC 2018–Day 26: Parallels between Writing and Painting

  1. dogtrax says:

    I love that idea of notes — “remember this” — which I often do in my head during the day — remember this little moment, it might become your Slice of Life. Things that would ordinarily drift away become more focused. I guess artists, like Wyeth, do that all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Christine says:

    I love Andrew Wyeth paintings and envy you seeing this exhibit!
    What a fascinating connection between painting and slicing. This leaves me thinking about my practice drafts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. glenda funk says:

    As I read I thought “the creative process is the creative process.” This idea if drafting and working through applies to so many acts of creation, and I love the way you capture the similarities of painting to writing. Your photos are gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cindaroo42 says:

    I love your comparison of his work to the writing process. His sketches also stood out to me and got me thinking about how we need to work on the same part or paragraph over and over to get it just right! I love your Andrew Wyeth reflections this March! Just like he painted himself IN the doorknob, how do you put yourself in your own writing? Your voice perhaps?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. parkers says:

    Since I adore Wyeth this post connected with me. I also love the focus on the process and study of creative thought. The illustrations you picked were wonderful explorations of pieces of paintings. Remembering to find studies in the process of writing was a great parallel!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Have you ever read “A Piece of the World” by Christina Baker Klein? It’s a great historical fiction book about Wyeth and his relationship with Christina Olson (of Christina’s World fame). I’m hoping to drive up to visit the Olson farmstead sometime this summer.


      • parkers says:

        I was looking at the book on the dresser behind me as I wrote the comment on your post and consider asking you if you had read it!!! I can’t wait to get back to Maine some time in the future to see this work!


  6. “Playing with approaches” I feel I am doing that when I write. It’s a significant part why I love to write.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Incredible! I feel so enriched for seeing these paintings and sketches this morning and reading your words about the ways that our notebooks offer a space for play, for trying things out.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the doorknob close up. How cool is that? And I’m struck by two things: first, I’ve got a half-written post about something similar – students at our school prepping to paint and the creative process. Your post may inspire me to finish that up..; second, I love Andrew Wyeth. For years the museum in my hometown (Greenville, SC) housed one of the biggest collections of his works. So glad you posted about his work.


  9. paulabourque says:

    The process of creation has threads of similarity that run through any medium-your post captured it so beautifully with the ‘works in progress’ and ‘notes to self’ that Wyeth left us. Such a great slice!
    I still haven’t it made it to the Farnsworth-probably going to miss this splendor!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. terierrol says:

    I appreciate this comparison between writing and painting. I guess I’ll just keep on practicing, drafting. Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

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