Monday, August 09, 2021

Vertical Versus Horizontal Art

I had a wonderful conversation with an artist on Saturday. 

Her style is extremely unique, bordering on the surreal, but in a deeply whimsical fashion. She was appearing at a festival, and we started talking about art (as one does). 

Most of the work she displayed was in 16"x12" format (wait, which measurement goes first? Taller than wider, in case I did it backwards). I asked her how the format affected her work, and did she approach larger canvases differently?

This was the right question, as it turned out. 

She'd done several murals (I looked her up later, and she's extremely accomplished), so she knew exactly what I was talking about. She said wider formats were difficult for her, because she was used to working vertically instead of horizontally. Much of her work is completed in a single day (everything from concept to sketching to inking), and she builds the drawing up vertically.

After we talked, I thought about this and realized this is also true of writing. Short stories are vertical, while novels are horizontal, and this explained why my initial approach to The Man You Trust was so off. I wrote a series of chapters that could stand on their own as interesting pieces, but they weren't connected in meaningful ways, and it took a long time (years) to fix that properly. 

Now, though, thinking about a book as a mural instead of a silo really helps me understand what I'm trying to do. 

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