Adapting Artistry

Since high school, I have considered myself a writer first and a visual artist second. As I spent more time writing poems and short stories, sketching out character ideas and plot lines in mountains of notebooks, I felt that visual art wasn’t as close to my heart. I thought my drawing skill fell far below my writing skill, and my approach in the two artistic processes felt unequal. When I wrote stories, I was creating, piecing characters and concepts together from disconnected images, insights, and ideas. Drawing felt like mimicry; I lacked a recognizable style, so I aimed for realism, drawing cats and faces aiming for accuracy rather than creativity.

But as I learned new words and ways of perceiving the world during my time in Taiwan, I drew away from the stories I was once so motivated to write. Living in a new place and understanding another language directed my mind to concepts I couldn’t easily put into words, and my English stepped back as I explored new styles of thought. Though I catalogued my own experiences through writing, my mind often wanted a break from the barrage of new words, much less the old familiar ones.

So I took to drawing. I started with sketches of my surroundings and moved onto other images, finding photos of people that reminded me of my characters. Though I felt disconnected from the writing process, I maintained a relationship with my characters by seeking out music and drawing pictures that reminded me of them. As the weeks continued, I started writing again, balancing my written composition with visual art to stay interested and motivated. When I felt overwhelmed with words, I returned to images, and later I reflected on those images through words.

If you lose interest in your favorite method of creative expression, try something new, or an old medium that you have drifted away from using. At the least, you may find that it frees up your mind to explore your other interests with renewed vigor. It may lead you down a new path of artistry that you hadn’t thought to try. Perhaps you will find that you can even bring your interests together, pairing illustrations with your poetry or photographs with your stories.