Art Lessons

I met the kind and talented Robin Brickman at the Central Missouri University Children’s Literature Festival in Warrensburg this weekend. In addition to being a great walking partner and good listener, she happens to be an extraordinarily creative illustrator. I had admired her books but was blown away to see the originals of her cut-paper masterpieces.

(Both of the books here are written by genuinely nice guy, Sneed Collard.)

Robin’s intricate artwork really spoke to me as a writer. For example, I was able to look up close at one of the images from Wings and was struck by how each element contributed to the whole. I was looking at a picture of a bird (I’m blanking on what kind), and noticed that the under- feathers were “scored” with hundreds of thin black lines. Those lined feathers were snipped into little arcs and fitted, just so, underneath the feathers above and so on until it looked as if the bird was ready to fly right off the page.

I may have mentioned once or twice (ahem) my struggles with the current WIP. As the end of this revision is in sight, I’m realizing that what I’ve been doing is a bit like Robin’s process. All on its own, that bit of lined paper wouldn’t mean much. But as it is shaped and layered, it becomes essential to the overall image.

So I’m going to try to get it into my head that the scenes I’ve written and discarded, the pages I’ve moved from this place to that, the characters I’ve considered but concluded belong in a different story all contribute to the novel. When I get frustrated with myself or the work, I’m going to think of Robin’s art.

And I’m going to let my creative spirit fly.

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