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Painting with Words

June 16, 2016



This idyllic pond is not far from where I live on Whidbey Island. It looks still, but it wasn’t. The breeze sighed in the leaves overhead. Tiny swallows dipped and swooped over the water, chasing the insects that made rippling circles on the surface. There are at least seven great blue heron nests in the tops of the trees and soft parental clucking came from some of them. A mother duck and four ducklings (you can see them in the middle of the image) floated from one end of the pond to the other, stopping every now and then to upend themselves and disappear with a splash.

I just stood there, taking in this scene… which begged to be painted or sketched. And I wished again – oh, how I wished! –  that I could do it. This has happened to me so many times. I will come upon a scene or a moment that should be captured by an artist – a really good one – or failing that… perhaps just an average ordinary artist who can use pencils or ink or chalk or paint or water-colors or crayons or…something – just to get it on the paper! At those moments I would give almost anything to have the ability to draw or sketch or paint an image of what I am seeing. But I can’t. So – I take a picture of it – or try to place the scene – intact – into my imagination…or both.

I remember I took a beginning pottery class once. It was an unmitigated disaster. The instructor was so kind and supportive…but all I could come up with was the coil basket I made in fourth grade. Talk about embarrassing….

No; my medium is words. But not just written words; no…spoken words; words with different tonal qualities and rhythms, words spoken faster or slower or softer or louder to create tension or conflict, words enriched by facial expression and gesture and body movement… these words will come together to tell a story. Part of the joy of creating this story is choosing exactly the right words and speaking them in exactly the right way to make the story come alive.

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