Thursday, March 30, 2006


I met an artist friend for lunch today. We talked a bit about how hard it is to give ourselves permission to spend time on creative pursuits. It feels selfish. I've gotten over that, to an extent, but she's still struggling with the pressure she puts on herself, despite a supportive partner.

I could only repeat what I tell everyone: Power isn't taken, it's given. If you don't give people power over your time, or your conscience, you'll find that they don't truly demand it. Most of the drive to give, give, give is internal.

Then our conversation took an interesting turn. We talked about color.

S works in watercolors. She had an unfinished piece with her. It was, like most of her work, amazing to me. When she talked about the palette she chose to work with, she got a little embarrassed, and then confessed that she thought of colors as numbers. (I've since looked this up and seen that, while uncommon, there are other artists who do the same thing. Fascinating.) The numbers she chooses often have significance to the theme of the painting. The work she showed me was a gift for a friend's birthday. She used the friend's birthdate as her number base. Sometimes, she told me, the numbers were from equations. I asked her if she'd solved the square root of red. She laughed and said no, but told me that equilateral triangles create the best color harmony.

Since we were in a confessional mood, I told her that I often visualize my characters in terms of colors or seasons. I don't see faces or hair color in my mind. What I see is a blur of (forgive me for sounding artsy-fartsy) aura. I've noticed that I tend towards two palettes. "White, black, red" characters or autumn. I can't even begin to explain how that translates to paper, into people, into dialog, but it's there in shades that shift with their emotions like the northern lights, and somehow it works for me.

I've tried talking about that with other writers, but I always get that long silence followed by a change of subject, so I'm convinced they think I'm insane. S asked me if I ever heard music. I confessed a few, rare, blue and purple characters who seemed to have jazz saxophone solos stuck to the soles of their shoes like trailing toilet paper. That cracked her up, but she said she knew someone just like that, so she understood what I meant.

I don't see S often enough. Aside from missing the connection to her, I also miss being able to spout weird writer crap and have her take it in stride, which means that she ignores it or she's being polite. Or maybe, just maybe, I make sense to her.

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