I wanted to share some excellent art books–books that I started out with in developing my interest in art and what I continue using today. These books are strategy-honed for side-by-side demonstrations, different approaches, procedures, techniques, lessons, as well as rudimentary and intermediate skill-set coverage; or the books can be used for an advanced painter to refresh memory. For drawing, I really like Art of Drawing published by Sterling Publishing Co. (2003). This book has color and black and white picture demonstrations, brush effects, composition manifestation, point of view, proportion, tonal backgrounds along with landscape and still-life effects. A really great foundational art book to have around.
I also like The Artist’s Handbook by Ray Smith. This book covers just about every medium known with color demonstrations, materials needed, techniques that are easily chronicled and sectioned for anyone to grasp. There are inscriptions and descriptions of “wet-into-wet” effect–the laying and blending of color washes, controlling paint flow, and learning how to set spontaneous conditions. This approach I want to work with more in my watercolor pursuits. A comfortable and intelligent read juxtaposed with the “Appendices” section that is very informative and helpful.
I’m still in search of a really good oil painting book for my collection. Until then, I have a good quality watercolor book called Different Strokes Watercolor by Naomi Tydeman who offers a lot of comparing techniques for seascape, café interior, Woodland deer, rocky mountain, flowers, fields, still-life, sunsets, watermill reflections, Mediterranean walls, human figures, and boats. A fully colored publication that addresses and embraces different approaches artists can take with the same subject.
I had the good fortune of coming into contact with Todd Klick’s book called Something Startling Happens: 120 Story Beats Every Writer Needs to Know from Twitter follows, and although I haven’t yet written a screenplay I would feel confident enough to work with the layout he’s provided of a “minute-by-minute” process that links universal story beats. I was, or I am, familiar with 1.5 minutes per playwriting page, but significant is the 1 minute per page with screenwriting. The “minute-by-minute” benchmark–the universal beats in a story–applies to pretty much any genre: comedies, dramas, thrillers, adventures, horror, or a combination of the genres. The frequently asked questions are specifically designed for any writer interested in screenwriting. Klick includes a wide variety of films–and not just for the sake of their popularity but also for what film has meant to filmmakers and the craft itself. The book was a new way of looking at film and writing in general for me. As simple as its layout, the book is a hybrid of structure and film segment diversity–important tools that really help this particular type of writing achieve its goal. The book is a provocative and pragmatic glimpse into writing right and writing a story well enough that captures the rhythm of universal beats. Following cadence is key.
The Art of Dramatic Writing is a good playwright’s book written by Lajos Egri; it’s very practical and applicable if writing a first play–especially the chapters on “Bone Structure,” “Jumping,” and “Rising.” A classic guide for playwriting.
I also like Writing Your First Play by Roger A. Hall. Hall offers a lot of good exercises and a wealthy dose of how to create three-character conflict as well as character evaluation tips.
I decided to write my first novel in third person; and in doing so, it feels like I have some more options, more of a vantage point than if I had written it in first person. I’m not aiming for a memoir at the moment, but an opportunity to explore more the characters and why their choices and decisions weigh so heavily on their future. After all, it’s just a choice–just a decision–for that particular moment. I was talking to someone a few weeks ago who reminded me over dinner that choices and decisions made at the time were just for that particular moment, that the choice, whether good/bad, was just a choice for that time. And I’m thinking…hmmm…Time being in the past? So it made me think. And think. It got me thinking about forming part of my novel’s synopsis… begging the question of what my main character faces: What does it mean to not be regretful of the past; and what does it mean to be regretful of the past. Still exploring…