A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
Updated: Sep 21, 2022
It might be true that a picture paints a thousand words and we could argue that our art should speak for itself, but visual communication alone is not enough. We still need words to talk about our art with others and make an emotional connection..
We need words to talk to potential buyers, to share ideas with other artists and to connect with gallery owners and curators. We need words on our websites and even our social media posts need captions or words to offer some explanation. We might have a newsletter to send out that needs to keep our subscribers informed and entertained… actually as artists we should definitely have a newsletter but that’s a blog topic for another time! (If you are not already signed up for mine you can find the link at the bottom of this page) And then there are other things like grant applications, press releases and even those dreaded artist statements. In short, we need to tell our story.
Creating the art itself is not enough. We also need to develop a habit of writing about ourselves and our art as a means of expression and communication. It’s absurd to think we might just sit down to write and find the words we need as and when we need them. Instead, it is a habit we need to develop and cultivate. Like anything else we must work at writing. But how do we do that?
One of the most obvious ways is to cultivate a journal habit. The beauty of this it that it is a private writing space that you do not have to share. Is a place where you can pour out your inner most thoughts and ideas. For some people making this a regular habit at a set time of day works for them. Many years ago, I tried to follow The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron which involved writing morning pages. The advice is to write three pages of a handwritten stream of consciousness first thing every morning. But I hated doing it and could never think of what to write. It felt forced and contrived. And some mornings I wanted to get up and go for a walk not sit and write for half an hour. For me journaling involves keeping different notebooks in different places, in my bag, on my desk, beside the bed etc. I write when the urge takes me, I make notes about things that I hear on the radio or in podcasts, I write about things I see, things I read, observations, thoughts, ideas… absolutely anything goes. But I do it regularly, so it becomes a habit. And the more I write, the more ideas I have and the easier it becomes to write about my art. Some of these written musings may never see the light of day but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the actual writing.
But you can make up your own rules for your journaling as you go along. Your journal can be handwritten in a book or on bits of paper or typed on a laptop. You can set aside a regular time for 10-15 minutes a day or like me, you can do it when the fancy takes you. You don’t need to have rules and you don’t need to be writing perfect sentences. You are just getting ideas out of your head and into written words that you can call on when you need them. But you do need to make it a habit if you want to communicate effectively about your art and make emotional connections with your followers.
The other form of writing that I have enjoyed for several years is writing a blog, which I guess is a form of public journaling. But like many people I have fallen out of the habit. I used to write regular blog posts, sometimes several times a week, about art, family, food or anything else that took my fancy, although truth be told it was more often about cake than art! I had a loyal following and made many friends through blogging, but over the years it tailed off as other social media platforms took over.
Instagram seemed to replace blogging as a way of posting something quickly… just a picture or two with a quick caption. It was instant and took less time but as with all things that too is changing. As the platform has grown it is becoming harder to be seen by our followers and so I am beginning to feel that blogging once again has a place for writing about art and connecting with others.
I don’t seem to have cultivated it into a regular habit just yet, but I am working on it! I keep copious notes on my laptop in a folder titled “Blog Ideas’ and some of them end up here whilst others remain a jumble of private thoughts and ideas. It’s a work in progress!
I would love to hear what you think. Do you write about your art? Do you journal or write a blog? And maybe more importantly, what do you like to read about?
And if you want to think more about writing in the context of your art, I can recommend you go back to one of the early podcast episodes of Izzy & Gina… in stitches. I had to miss this particular episode as I was poorly with shingles, but Izzy chatted to her husband Nick, a professional writer, about writing for our art business. It’s worth a listen
Yes, a picture can often tell its own story but we needs the words too so that we can add the emotional connection to that story.