May 2019:  Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

May 2019: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

I finally came across a discounted copy of this book at a little bookstore in Moab, Utah.  It had been on my radar for a while, but each time I thought of ordering it I though, "Meh, I don't know if I want to read a book on writing".  It seemed a little too off-topic for an artist.  But when I finally saw it for three bucks and got to hold it in person I went ahead and took it home with me.

One of my favorite ways to find new inspiration for painting is by looking to other mediums.  Turns out, not surprisingly, that the subject of how to write is rich soil to dig into for visual inspiration.  

Anne Lamott has a witty and dry sense of humor that moves quickly while still making you feel like you're on the inside of the joke.  She uses this style to dispense advice about writing that translates shockingly well into the visual realm.  For example, her trick for tackling the where-to-start conundrum by keeping a very tiny picture frame on her desk as a reminder that it's okay to start small as long as you start somewhere reminded me of how useful a viewfinder can be as a tool for selecting still life or plein air subjects and compositions.  It's been a while since I've used a viewfinder, but I decided to pull mine out and add it to my toolbox this spring.

She also tackles such ideas as how to get to know and understand your characters (or subjects) so that you can portray them in a more lifelike way.

In conclusion, I think this book is a great addition to any artist's library.  Curious to know what you think of it!


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