Learning From Visual Artists Part 2: The Story

In my last post I waxed poetic about how we, as writers, should learn from other forms of art–specifically, visual artists. My friend Alyssa Spencer at Small Things Illustration and I did a little exercise to facilitate that idea.

I sent her a rhyming couplet that I had rolling around in my brain that otherwise had no purpose. She sent me an unfinished painting. From those things, we created pieces using our own expertise.

UPDATE (7/31/15): Here is Alyssa’s post about the couplet I gave her.

Here is the painting she sent me.

Art by Alyssa R. Spencer Small Things Illustration

Art by Alyssa R. Spencer
Small Things Illustration

I wrote a short story from that, which I called “The Girl in the Trees.”

I didn’t do any extensive plotting or outlining. I just went with whatever popped into my head and then edited it for clarity, grammar and punctuation. It may be cheesy. It may be awful. It could also be spectacular, but it doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that I tried in think like a painter while I wrote the story. I wanted to keep the same color schemes and associations with the little girl in the painting (who I called Anna in the story), and then as the story expanded, I added an opposing color scheme for another character. I wanted there to be a distinct difference in the visuals I was creating to help set the mood of the story.

Have any of you attempted swaps or collaborations with other artists not in your field of work? Tell me about it in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “Learning From Visual Artists Part 2: The Story

  1. I LOVE the idea of this. It’s like when we did exercises in high school (I think) where one person wrote a sentence and someone else wrote the next and a story developed with no communication other than what was already existing. I imagine Alyssa was probably very proud of her art when you created something additional to its image.

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