January 15, 2009

Writing Assignment

I've been reading THE WRITINGS OF ROBERT MOTHERWELL, one of the great (and to my mind the greatest) of the New York School of painters.  He was also a philosopher and art critic and lectured on various topics of modern art.  When he became too lonely in his painting studio, he took up printmaking because it involved collaboration with others.  His prints are stunningly wonderful.

Anyway, what I've been doing is having a conversation with him in my journal.  It's quite an entertaining and useful exercise and I suggest it for a writing assignment if you are looking for something to grease the wheels.  Open the book of whatever you happen to be reading and find a phrase, sentence, paragraph that speaks to you or nudges you in some way.  You can agree or disagree with it, it doesn't matter.  Next, open your journal, copy out the writing, and then begin to have a conversation with the author as though you were writing a letter, or sending a note to her or him about the subject.  It's a good exploration.

To push myself a little further, I wrote on the same passage for two weeks, to see how I could open it out and explore all the facets of this one idea.  Of course, not every passage from every writer will get get you that much gold.  If you can't go further, find a new passage from the same author to keep the conversation going.  It's a quite nice way to be with an author.  I begin to feel more intimate with his ideas and appreciate him more deeply.  And, I do wish I'd known him.  He managed a sanity in the midst of other troubled souls in the New York School.  He was born in Aberdeen, Washington in 1915, and he died in 1991.