Inside the deviant artist’s studio

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THE WRITER’S LIFE

I’m having to take a break from writing the latest book, as I’ve simply become too embedded in it. Like other writers, I do immerse myself in the worlds which I create but the problem I have is one common among my peers. The almost constant show-don’t-tell rule dictates that we need to use suggestion, whilst maintaining just the right degree of vagueness: we know what we want to say without actually saying it, so the trick is to do so in as few words as possible whilst making a well-balanced proposition. At the moment I wonder if I may be being a little illusive and illusory, without the right balance of illustration.

The new book does require a fair amount of cerebral input from the reader but I have to be wary of asking too much, so as to make the story challenging but tempting at the same time. It is of course why I have beta readers but I owe them the courtesy of submitting as near to final draft copy as possible because those test readers represent my target audience.

A quick way to overcome clouded mind syndrome is to turn one’s attention to something else: something diverting and also requiring of thought. For my part, I either continue to write but in a different discipline, or I turn to one of my other pursuits, which also happens to be artistic. So I’ve pulled myself away from The Inner Leviathan temporarily, while I jot down my thoughts in the blog. After this I may write some poetry, some flash fiction, or indulge my other creative outlet of expression: modern art.

I’m a great appreciator and consumer of modern art. I visit Tate Modern regularly and follow the arts coverage in The Guardian closely, attending exhibitions when time and finances permit. Without consultation to a work of reference, I would list Jake and Dinos Chapman, Ron Muek and Olafur Eliasson among my favourites at the more pop end of the modern art spectrum. My interest has always been in the up and coming though: graduates from St Martins and so on. In the past I have procured works for modest sums from specialist galleries or the artists themselves. Some I treated as investments and sold when the artists became better known; others I have retained. 

I’ve produced works myself. All were private commissions, as is some of my writing but unlike the latter, art becomes the property of the commissioner. Now my few works are displayed in private homes. Without exception, the works were requests for me to express my feelings and my writing in another form. This is something I am also doing with the latest commission.

The latest piece currently exists as nothing more than a matt black frame, some sheets of fine art black paper and some sketches, all propped up against the wall next to the writing desk. This little space is coming to resemble an artist’s studio, as well as that of a writer. Whatever mode I’m in, it’s my cradle of filth. Many writers are also artists: that’s why one of my nearest reference books is The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook.

Part of the appeal of modern art for me is it’s invitation of interpretation. Modern art is especially subjective and what may appeal to one, might repulse another. It’s very much like writing. Like the writer, the artist sometimes has to take himself out of his comfort zone to produce something which affects him temporarily. I’m putting the finishing touches to this latest piece, then the whole thing will be assembled and will carry as many messages, undertones and suggestions as my writing. It’s going to be pretty expressive, controversial and beautiful at the same time, depending on your viewpoint. The real art is in the thought that’s gone into the work and the thoughts which it provokes.

The artwork is inspired by the two books I’ll be writing after The Inner Leviathan: Bloodstained Knaves and Paradoxica. A day spent in those places will clear my head and allow me to get back into the world of the current project and sate my beta readers.

Art for the deviants.

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