Start with Art: practice observational writing
Observe (verb) 1. Notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant. 2. Make a remark.
While sounding like a passive activity, observing is quite the opposite. A key skill needed for effective writing it is also arguably the greatest tool for a writer of any genre. This two-week workshop serves to build a fundamental habit for aspiring writers and a core practice for those more advanced in the writing process. Using a work of art, we give ourselves the essential luxury of time slowed down. We cultivate relaxing at full attention, allowing ourselves to wonder in depth. Then, through a process of sketching, notation, and expanded descriptions we access our insights, accumulate story details, and paint word pictures that will transports our readers.
Combining the observation of visual art and a specific writing practice this workshop encourages sketching (stick figures will work!), notating, and describing. Through a series of prompts participants move from on-screen observing to examining and recording the generally only-glanced-at-details of everyday, neighborhood objects.
WORKSHOP OBJECTIVES are to:
- develop a fundamental writing habit
- cultivate an essential writing practice
- learn to “see”
- value our unique insights
- write essential details with flair
- achieve nuanced written descriptions
WHAT THIS WORKSHOP OFFERS
Week I: The Pyramid of Inquiry Method
Using this evidence-based way of seeing created by museum educator/consultant, Nicola Giardina, we use observation, introspection and physical activities (strike a pose and upload the selfie) to answer questions such as What Do You See?
Week 2: What Do You Think About What You See? What’s It All About.
This way we attempt to fully understand what we are seeing. We write also to identify our personal connection to the art while endeavoring to answer any questions that have arisen as a result of the week’s practice.
Week 3: Detailing the Mundane
Participants leave their screens behind and go out into the fresh air to find mundane, everyday objects. Using the skills acquired in week 1, we produce notated sketches (all levels of artistry accepted) and then continue the process by writing short, nuanced descriptions of these everyday objects from our notated sketches.
To encourage inclusiveness and face-to-face conversation participants are offered the option of wrapping up the workshop with a Zoom session.
About Jane Monteagle
Jane Monteagle taught herself to draw, paint, and write by reading books on those crafts and practicing, practicing, practicing. Born a Kwaussi, a cross between a Kiwi and an Aussie, she has resided in sunny Santa Monica for over thirty years. She entered Antioch University when she was fifty-two and achieved a B.A. in Liberal Studies, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and a post-graduate Certificate in Creative Writing. Her teaching profession began with an assignment in the Los Angeles County Jail. She is the co-founder of a business that advocates for incarceration reform by conducting restorative justice-centered workshops in the state prison system. Her short story “Letter Home” received an Honorable Mention in the Inspirational Category of the 2000 Writer’s Digest Competition,
She was selected to show in the Malibu Art Association juried fine art exhibition, 2007. Both her Y.A. novel and illustrated Young Reader are being shopped for publishing.