You Can Paint Abstracts: 2013 365 Challenge #307

The rough draft of my book

The rough draft of my book

Following on from yesterday’s post about me having to give a talk on my art and paintings on Monday, I was digging around on my computer for things to use, and I came across a book I started writing a few years ago.

I’m always starting projects and then abandoning them. This one I abandoned because I couldn’t imagine ever convincing anyone to publish it. Now, with self publishing, I could probably resurrect it but I doubt it would be profitable, and I’m not short of things that need finishing!

The book is called Affordable Abstract Art Made Easy and I wrote it as a ‘teach yourself’ type book, for people who wanted bright artwork on their walls but didn’t want to pay gallery prices for it. Actually, you can buy some very beautiful pieces of original artwork off ebay for not much money, so the whole premise was flawed from the get-go.

More pages from my pretentious project!

More pages from my pretentious project!

This is the contents list:

  • Why do you want to paint – an introduction
  • What do you want to paint – considering the space
  • All about colour
  • Materials, what to buy and where to get them
  • Setting up your Studio
  • Don’t fear the blank canvas
  • Texture, to build or not to build
  • Taking it further – the perfect gift
  • Selling your work

What struck me was how similar it was to a Creative Writing craft book, and that led me on to consider how much I approach painting the same way I do writing. The first lines of my artist’s statement could equally apply to my writing:

“I paint because it makes me feel alive. I love creating something from nothing; starting with a blank canvas and building it up layer by layer without knowing what the final result will be.”

An almost blank canvas

An almost blank canvas

As a pantser I approach writing in exactly the same way. I start with a blank page and a few colours (characters / plot points / themes) and that’s it. I don’t sketch, I don’t plan, I just switch off my conscious brain and create.

I grew disillusioned with painting when I began to try too hard. I started finishing off the edges, working to make it perfect, not knowing when to stop. In writing terms I over-edited and my paintings lost their vibrancy. They grew bland and samey.

And the finished piece

And the finished piece

I’m all for reading books on writing craft – they’re really important if you want to become a better writer – and of course editing is essential. But I do think you can overdo it and edit out the very thing that makes your writing special.

I read a quote on Twitter recently by author Janie Storer that said: “If ever asked what style I write in, I shall simply reply ‘mine’.” Wise words.

Maybe that’s what I’ll say in my talk on Monday. The beauty of art and writing is that it is all about expression and never more so than when engaging in fiction or abstract paintings. No one can tell you if you’re doing it right except you. There will be lovers and haters, fans and detractors (and people who say “my two year old could do better.” That’s another post entirely!) As long as you’re having fun and giving your all that’s enough.


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:


Claire followed the SatNav’s directions through the town and out over the main road. A quick glance at the screen showed that the hostel was only a few hundred metres ahead.

I’m not sure about being so close to the A30: the noise is going to be horrendous. Maybe I should have stayed at the other one.

The reviews had suggested the town hostel was cleaner and had more facilities. It was the remoteness of the Tor hostel that attracted her. Although she wasn’t going to admit it, hiding out in secluded locations suited her frame of mind.

Not that Conor would approve. I’m meant to be researching tourism, not lurking in the wilderness by myself.

Claire gripped the steering wheel and pointed her car up the narrow lane, crawling along in a low gear ready to stop if another vehicle appeared.

How does anyone get anywhere around here? I can’t see more than a few metres in any direction, the hedges are like walls and there’s barely room for one car. And don’t talk to me about sign posts. Thank god for the SatNav.

Not for the first time Claire realised how much easier travel was with all the gadgets and gizmos. She couldn’t imagine trying to find her way around with just a road atlas. Never mind getting anything done without free WiFi and a permanent phone signal.

Although I haven’t had much of a signal for the last few days.

She grinned. One of the attractions of Dartmoor had been the poor reception. No need to worry that Conor might call and make a fuss. She only picked up messages when she climbed up the Tor.

I could grow to like this place.

The thought made her twist her lips in a wry smile. Three months ago, being out of phone signal for more than half an hour would have left her hyperventilating.

And when did I last have a Starbucks? Oh god, I’m going savage.

The hostel, when she arrived, looked like someone’s house; a sprawling brick building with large white chimneys, surrounded by trees. It had a homely feel, despite the looming woods encircling the place. As she got out of the car, she could hear the noise from the road below. It was steady, though, like a river or the wind in the trees, and she soon blocked it out.

The hostel appeared deserted. Leaving her bag in the car, Claire bypassed the house and went to explore the grounds. Behind the hostel the gardens stretched down the hillside. The sun beat down on her head as she rambled through the undergrowth.

After a while, aware of her grumbling tummy, Claire headed back to the building. It still felt completely empty. With a frown, she went to the main door. It was locked.

Damn. Don’t tell me it’s one that isn’t open all year round. I knew I should have rung ahead.

“Are you booked in?”

Claire span round at the sound of the low voice. A middle-aged man walked across the car park towards her, pushing a wheel barrow.

“No. I was hoping it wouldn’t be too busy, as it isn’t the school holidays yet.”

“Maybe not, but the reception is down at the other place. In town. You’ll need to go down there to fetch your keys.”

Then, without waiting for a response, the man vanished round the side of the house.

Resisting the urge to swear, Claire headed back to her car and prepared to drive back down towards town.

“Next time, I’ll call.”


2 thoughts on “You Can Paint Abstracts: 2013 365 Challenge #307

  1. Loved the artwork and so get what you say. I can paint like ringing a bell but only a certain way, likewise, the only stuff I can write is… well… the stuff I write. Loved that quote. Also liked ‘going savage’ in the extract.



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