Saturday, December 6, 2008

Creativity knows no bounds

The concept behind one of our new books is quite intriguing, and when you think about it, seems to make a lot of sense. The Writer's Brush: paintings, drawings and sculpture by writers is a fascinating book on many different levels. Donald Friedman has collected the visual work of almost 200 famous writers, from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (born 1749) to Jonathan Lethem (born 1964). Alongside the color photos of the art, Friedman includes a short biography of the artist/writer and an explanation of how their lives intersected with that of visual art. In some cases, these creative minds were formally trained in painting and sculpture and drifted into writing later in their lives. Dorothy Dunnet went to the Edinburgh College of Art and had a career as a painter before she began writing historical novels.
Other writers showed a natural aptitude for expressing themselves in paint. Edmund Lear, the most famous creator of limericks, was a self-taught artist who supported himself and his sister with his landscape and zoological paintings, while Thomas Hardy's artistic skills led him to be an apprentice to an architect. Other writers in this collection are expressive without being artistically gifted. Mark Twain and Dylan Thomas produced lighthearted doodles, while Marcel Proust's sketches are crude but numerous. These creative writers felt compelled to express themselves on paper, albeit without words.
In many cases, this book helps to illuminate the inner thoughts and feelings of the writer (Edgar Allen Poe's sensitive portrait of his beloved wife) or highlights their sense of humor (John Updike's college cartoons) or shows them in a relaxed, meditiative frame of mind (Xinghian Gao). Whether you're a fan of literature or visual art, this is a very interesting book and it makes you think about the creative process.

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