Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Master's Touch

I like to watch Bob Ross on PBS television. As a disclaimer, Bob Ross has since passed away and the shows are reruns of his old shows. If you haven’t seen him, he paints beautiful pictures using a two-inch brush, a palette knife and a couple of other brushes.

I paint along with him, in my mind, as I watch the full painting come into focus.

So why am I talking about painting on a writing blog? Because it occurred to me that the way he paints is similar to the way we write.

He starts with a blank canvas. Isn’t that how writers start? With a blank screen in front of them?

Ross mixes a blue color to fill in the sky and a lake or stream, so his entire canvas is mostly blue. That’s his background for starting the painting. Our background comes together when we decide if we’re going to write fiction or non-fiction, what the genre will be, and if it will be a book, short story, article, or memoir. Then Ross adds clouds and a little pink to enhance his sky. We writers, by now, have settled on the form and style of our book so we can continue in earnest.

Then Ross puts a black color on the palette knife and slashes a jagged line across the blue sky to represent the beginnings of a mountain. Our black slash will be the conflict our protagonist encounters and must overcome. As Ross adds strokes to the mountain, the ridges and plateaus come into sharp focus. Likewise, our conflict will soon reveal its many dark areas, twists and turns.

Then he adds tall pine trees on each side of the lake. These trees, along with a waterfall down near the front, are his secondary characters. They’re included to add interest and warmth to the painting.

Then he fine tunes the picture by adding highlights to the trees, adding a grassy meadow and colorful shrubs, and putting a few rocks in the water. What was once a blank white canvas, is now a colorful, beautiful picture with depth, and dark and light areas--a scene you want to step into. How does this translate to a book? Once you have a skeleton of an idea and have inserted a conflict, protagonist, and secondary characters, you go back and fine tune the story by adding scenes and all the little nuances and dialogue that bring the story to life.

I can hear you asking, “But who is the protagonist in a painting?” It’s you, my friend, the one who looks at the picture and wants to be in the scene.

So whether you’re painting a picture, writing a book, or building a house, you start with an idea. Then you add all those little touches that make your work unique, something that someone will want to own in order to look at, read, or live in.

Go ahead. Let your creative self shine!

Quote of the Day: You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. Les Brown

Monday, May 8, 2017

Launching a Guiding Missal

Today I want to tell you about a special event I attended Sunday. It was a book launch by Nancy Panko (you may remember I interviewed her in my last post).

Guiding Missal is Nancy’s first book, so this launching of her story was the culmination of long years of writing and research.

Nancy held the event at a wine bar in Holly Springs, NC surrounded by loving family, friends, and writing associates. 

Since Guiding Missal is the story of three men in her family who served in various wars, starting with World War II, the event had a military theme. One poignant moment was when the Pledge of Allegiance was given to a tattered US flag that had flown over Normandy on D-Day. The flag was held by Nancy’s husband, who is the second of the three men in her story, and a retired Marine whose father, after raising a new flag, carried the tattered flag in his sea bag throughout WWII. This flag is featured on the cover of Nancy’s book.

On the table preserved in glass, was the Catholic missal that all three men carried into service. As only Nancy can do, she has the missal narrate the story so we see the wartime action through the missal’s eyes and hear how the missal protected each family man who held it close to his heart. The missal is also featured on the book's cover.

And of course, no celebration is complete without cake, so Nancy had the cake made so that the book's cover is reproduced on the cake.

Nancy is a dear friend and warm, loving person and it was a thrill to be able to honor her at this special event. A book launch is a fun way to introduce a new book to the world and this week Guiding Missal is that book.