18 December 2006

Artistic Economy

This from M.F.K. Fisher's introduction to Map of Another Town:

Often in the sketch of a portrait, the invisible lines that bridge one stroke of the pencil or brush to another are what really make it live. This is probably true in a word picture too. The myriad undrawn unwritten lines are the ones that hold together what the painter and the writer have tried to set down, their own visions of a thing: a town, one town, this town.
Not everything can be told, nor need it be, just as the artist himself need not and indeed cannot reveal every outline of his vision.

I remember one of my favorite passages of one of the Ramona Quimby books described in great detail how Beatrice, Ramona's older sister, labored over a drawing of a fantasy dinosaur, determined not to over-do it. Often the true difficulty of art is not getting a point across. The difficulty is doing it without doing too much. It is probably one element of genius to give just enough and not over do it.


Vatti said...

I find the same thing is true of speaking. Making the point without turning your listeners off. Painting a verbal image, so to speak.

Mary Ann said...

That's a great point. Speaking is among the least-carefully done things, and what a pity that is.

I love to listen to well-crafted, well-chosen words. Storytelling and political speaking ought to have this in common.