Saturday, January 9, 2021

A Light in the Darkness

This has been a tumultuous week and it's been tough-going and difficult to concentrate on writing my novel.  In times like this, words fail me. 

Still, I persist.  Switching from writing to painting really helps me.  And I find that the visual world illuminates what feels like darkness and brings a new form of clarity, even illumination.

I've been working on my novel's villain character.  He's supposed to be French, but I couldn't quite figure him out, and so I decided to turn to visuals to get a handle on him, I looked at a photo of the French actor, Jean Dujardin from the 2011 French film, The Artist.

Handsome guy!  Very French.  And so, I tried to paint him.  It was a disaster.  In fact, I messed up his left eye, so I had to give him an eye patch.  My washes were over the top.  Terrible!  But I'm new to painting and this is all a learning experience.


I tried again with NO WASHES, but then I messed up his mouth.  Interesting, result.

Then, I thought, forget Jean!  I'll take a look at Donald Sutherland.  I've always liked Donald Sutherland and he plays heroes and villains.  He's a bit of a shapeshifter and I think that's a good quality for villains. 

So, here's my try at painting Donald as a villain.

Oh my goodness, he doesn't seem all that villainous!  Last week, I workshopped my pages with a friend (bonjour, Tess!) and she said, my novel's villain reminds her of Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel--from the director Wes Anderson.  I got excited, because I've always loved that film, or really anything from Wes Anderson!

Here's a nice photo of Ralph Fiennes.

Here's my attempt at painting him:

I rather like him, but I know--I know!  He doesn't look villainous at all!!!!!  In fact, in the process of painting, I forgot about the villainous parts.  But ultimately, I think this is a good thing, because I got to know my so-called villain and he has become much more nuanced and three-dimensional.  Now that I've spent time with him, I am beginning to see his story more clearly as well as his humanity.  And this is a good thing if I want to create a a villain who is complicated.  In fact, I can I now see his heartbreak, his past, his pain.  Perhaps he wasn't always so bad.  Perhaps life forced him to do bad things...

All this came from putting down my pen and picking up my brush.

So, for your creative prompt this week, I would like you to switch up your tools.  If you paint, try writing.  If you write, try painting, or sewing, or dancing or singing.

And here's your word of the week:  heartbreak.

Enjoy the process, my friends!




  1. Wonderful renditions. I’ve heard of writers mapping out towns for their novels, and I once mapped a house, but drawing the characters is new! Fun!

    1. Thank you, dear Linda! I hope you try this technique too. It's so much fun. Love, Jamie

  2. I think this is such a fabulous idea! So inspiring and peu amusant tooπŸ˜‚ I always enjoy your posts and prompts πŸ’™πŸ‘©πŸΌ‍🎨

    1. Thank you, Susan! I do think it's funny to be this age (and not a young age) and to be trying something so new to me and watching myself make a mess of thing and not really being bothered by it. It's very refreshing and liberating. I miss you and hope to visit the Cape this summer and see you. Both Bill and I send love, Jamie

  3. I love the drawings. Inspires me for today.
    Do you have the story all planned out or does it develop as you go?
    Please show more sketches/drawings, they are so intriguing.

    1. Thank you! I am so glad to inspire you! To answer your question, I have a lot of the story planned out, but I leave things open so that I can discover new things about my characters and plot along the way. It's always surprising!

  4. So interesting, isn't it, how they've all come out as guys you'd like to know? I wonder whether it's the eyes? Or the mouth? I would have suggested turning their mouth down so it doesn't look as though they're smiling. But then look at Jean Dujardin! His does that and he looks terrific. Still, it's a good problem to have, painting handsome guys... :)

    1. Gabi--You're so right! So insightful! In fact, in the book, my villain turns out to be bad/good. I think my painting brain wanted to tell me something and it's worked out well. Sending you a very happy 2021--and a healthy one too! Love, Jamie


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