Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A World of Art

There are things that I love and yet have little or no understanding. Women, food, art, jazz.

Jed Jackson
Cafe, 2002
oil on wood, 20"x26"
(used without any permission of any kind)

I've given up on ever understanding women. Lately, though, I've been studying the visual arts. When I say "study" what I mean is reading various Wikipedia pages, doing Google image searches, perusing books at leisure and taking in the blogs and sites of local artists like Bobby Spillman, Jed Jackson, Tim Crowder and Dwayne Butcher. I go to their sites because I can't afford their work and didn't have the forethought to work trades when I had my little cigar store (cigar smokers, all).

It hasn't been just a love of the visual, though. I've recently finished my novel, The Simplest Pattern, and art is a big part of it. The main character, Seth, is a painter and I found I needed to know as much as possible about art and how it's made to make this work of fiction somewhat believable. To this end, my sister, Elizabeth Alley, was a huge help. She pointed me in the right direction, suggested artists to read up on and explained some terms and business matters.

The more I read about artists and study their work, the more I want to know. And the more I know, the more I want to write. I may never know enough to be an art critic, although I may already know enough to know I don't want to ever be an art critic. But I do like to write about the work and the artists and the process of getting something out of nothing, of filling up a blank canvas with imagery that makes people think and talk and hear stories they may not have known were within them.

I'm not sure what kind of writing that is. So far it's a lot of fiction (this book isn't the first time in my work a character has been an artist). I suppose, too, it's the kind of pay work I already do - freelance journalism. The problem is that there is no venue for such writing in Memphis. The local publications' space dedicated to visual art is woefully small.

In the meantime, I'll keep looking, keep studying up on it because the world of art has struck my fancy lately. And I'll keep putting my thoughts down on paper to see what it might become, to see what my characters might create. Maybe, if I get it right, the story will paint a picture for you.