Sunday, September 14, 2008

Art is Not About Straight Lines

Nor is writing about spelling. Mother always discouraged me from writing because I could not spell. Thank you spell check.

When I was just recovering from my closed brain trauma almost seven years ago I could not draw a straight line. Isn't that what your friends always say when they compliment you on being an artist, "You are so talented. I can not even draw a straight line."

Fortunately for me there are not a lot of straight lines in art. But another interesting thing happened too - I saw the world differently. I tried to make myself conform to the colors and styles I had learned in art school but that was not easy so I gave up. I wrote it off to personality changes because of the CBT but now they are doing a bunch more research on that with the returning soldiers from Iraq coming back with more head injuries.

Any injury to the left side of the brain seems to result in a burst of creativity. The left side keeps the right side in check and under control. I had clearly lost that control. I tried to get it back just because a friend had said to practice what I did not want to lose. Then it dawned on me that much of my "creative" past had been plagued by too much control. I had been able to draw a straight line. I excelled at perspective and detail and process. But as one art professor in college put it, I lacked that creative spark. I think I had the spark. But my left brain kept putting the fire out.

The opening photo is of my picture Rainbow Passage. It is my view of Rainbow Arch in the Lake Powell Park. In college this painting would be a very faithful rendition of that landmark. But today I paint what it is I thought I saw.

We all get home from vacation and look at our photos just a bit disappointed because we thought there was more color in that one scene, or this feature was more pronounced but it can barely be seen, and surely the full moon was larger. Why does it all look so different? We used to blame it on film processing. Digital cameras ruined that.

This one painting also has very few straight lines. There are not a lot of those in nature and perhaps it is the ability to see that there are no straight lines that makes some people artists. The CBT threw a curve into my life, and into my art.


  1. Seems to me you have learned how to "hit" those curves...excellently!

  2. I couldn't agree more...on both counts. I find little use for straight lines life or in art. I'm looking for the poppy fields...and not for what you think.

    It seems to me, ms Bell, that you have made great benefit from what could have been disaster. Here's to the left brain giving the right room to breathe!

  3. Beautiful art!!!

    Years ago I spent a glorious three days in Hadrian's Wall country. I took the traditional tourist shots - you know, sheep on the hillside, that sort of thing - but it's the picture I shot simply to finish off a roll that I had blown up, framed and still cherish to this day. Maybe it's the "whoops" moments that are the most beautiful in retrospect?


I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.