Author Archive

Art & Politics: An Interview with Author & Best American Short Stories Editor Heidi Pitlor

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What is the function of the artist and writer in a troubled society? What is our role in these uncertain and precarious political times?

Thinking and Seeing in Pictures: The Art of Visualization

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Most writers I know have amazing verbal skills. They became writers because they fell in love with reading books. But as Joseph Conrad suggests, writers are equal parts visual artists. We paint pictures with words.

Character Through the Portraits of Alice Neel

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Almost everything I know about character development, I learned by studying the portraits of Alice Neel, who painted portraits in the mid-20th century at a time when the art world considered portrait painting nearly irrelevant.

Seeing the Forest for the Trees: A Dyslexic’s Point of View

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The information age has left us mired in details. Unable to see the big picture, we suffer from shortsightedness. We can’t discern the connections between actions and consequences, or recognize the pattern that shows we are all connected as one.

A Writer’s Ode to Seeing

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Bearing witness to each other and the planet is a solemn act. If we stop and truly observe our surroundings the way Thoreau did, we might be more inclined to save our planet. If we took the time to really see one another, we might appreciate better the value

Cartoons & Archetypes: How They Work and What to Know

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I learned about character development not by studying it, but by understanding the nature of cartoons. I spent years sculpting superheroes and cartoon characters for DC Comics, Nickelodeon, Pixar, and others. Although the perception is changing, the art world considers cartooning of all kinds to be a distant, lesser

The Artist’s Statement—How Visual Artists Find and Use Voice

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Voice is an intangible but discernible sensibility that threads through and ties together a body of work. It can be loud or quiet, but we always feel it.

Sketching and Writing: A Visual Artist’s Perspective

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The first thing we had to do was exchange our sharpened pencils for a thick piece of charcoal. We were instructed not to hold the charcoal too tightly. A pose would often last as little as five seconds, but we were expected to capture the whole thing.

Character & Setting; Figure & Background: A Painters Advice to Writers

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Character and setting, figure and background. In literature and in art, they should work together to bring a concise picture into view.

Details and Big Picture, Through the Eyes of a Visual Artist

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I came to writing by way of visual art and the loss of the ability to step back from my work and see the whole, seemed insurmountable to me. But I now understand that language can be used just like paint.