Friday, November 16, 2012

Artsy Fartsy Friday - Guest Ellis Vidler on Art in Her Life and Writing


Welcome to my artsy fartsy guest, Ellis Vidler, who writes about the role of arts and crafts in her life and her writing. What creative fun!  ~ Sheila
 
 
 
Artsy Fartsy or Old Master?
 

Artsy fartsy or old master, art has always played an important part in my life. My father was an artist and photographer, and when I was very young, we’d open a book of his favorite Dutch master Frans Hals’s paintings to a random page. I’d point to the painting, and Daddy would make up a story about the character. I have a print of his La Bohemienne on my living room wall, and the book is now on my shelf. If you need a face for your story, try Frans Hals. His character paintings have great charm and personality.

I had visions of being an artist and, in my small-town high school, was pretty good. But when I got to the bigger pond, college, I found I didn’t have the flair, that extra something, for fine art. But I could reproduce objects. So I became a technical illustrator. Not quite the same but still fun. Now I’m addicted to Photoshop even though I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it can do. I designed the cover for Time of Death.

My sisters and I have tried every craft known to the Western world, and they were very good. We made elaborate macramé plant hangers. They designed and created beautiful needlework and knitted all kinds of gorgeous sweaters, hats, and shawls. Those things in particular defeated me. My mind wandered into dreams, and I lost the count and pattern.

One made fun earrings and created elegant Christmas wreaths. The other paints in a vivid, impressionistic style.

Pottery, a wonderfully tactile activity, was fun and I could dream and shape at the same time. I made a number of wobbly dog bowls. Yarn colors and textures fascinate me, and I turned to weaving. Fun but I didn’t to stick with it either.

I made papier-mâché clowns and even sold some in the Ringling Museum in Florida, but that wiped out my kitchen for weeks at a time. The clowns baked for hours at low temperatures, tying up the oven. My son, in elementary school at the time, wondered why we didn’t have cookies in the oven like his friends’ mothers. Once, when he had a couple of kids coming over after school, he asked if I could pretend to be normal—“just for one day.” I’m happy to report that he’s no longer “normal” either.

One thing stayed with me from the time I could print words on a tablet: I write stories, and all this artsy-fartsy stuff found its way into my books. My characters have all the talent I lacked, and I can create amazing images vicariously. My first (published—there were many others) heroine is a photographer. In the second, the hero is a tortured artist who paints stormy seascapes. In Time of Death, visions of violence come to my heroine through her drawings. The next one is an amateur actress. All have used their talent in some way to help solve the crime.

Art enriches life. From the earliest cave paintings, man has used art to express himself, to record life, and to dream beyond reality. It comes in many forms—music, acting, storytelling, dance, sculpture, and the creation of objects, all a way of sharing the artist’s visions and interpretations with others.

 

All my stories have some degree of romance and a lot of suspense. My first book, published by Silver Dagger Mysteries, was Haunting Refrain. Cold Comfort is my new romantic suspense from Echelon Press. The second was The Peeper, a suspense novel co-authored with Jim Christopher. My collection of three short Southern stories, Tea in the Afternoon, is available on Kindle. There's more about me and my books at www.ellisvidler.com.

 

Time of Death

Available on Amazon. Visions come to artist Alex Jenrette through her hands. When violence happens, her psychic streak compels her to sketch, and scenes she never imagined appear on her paper. The police think she’s involved in murder, and the prosecutor fears a psychic witness will make a farce of his case. The killer believes she was there. Check my Amazon author page for more details.

 

23 comments:

  1. As an art school graduate, I love books that incorporate art into the story. You found a unique way of doing that in TIME OF DEATH. Also with Riley in COLD COMFORT. I'd say you've made good use of your artistic talent by writing terrific books.

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  2. Thank you, Polly. Storytelling is a good way to realize dreams beyond your capabilities. I have a scifi novella too. Those pictures from outer space fascinate me. :-)

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  3. Normal is a setting on the dryer, glad your son is enjoying being 'not normal'! Love that you were willing to keep going in arts and finding the joy in creating rather than stopping because you didn't fit the post secondary fine arts model. I went into arts as well, but found it frustrating. My art is wilder and more fun now, especially since my sidekick is 7, and it is a joy.

    I will have to check out your books...they sound intriguing!

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  4. Glad you found your outlet too. It should be fun, especially with a 7-year-old. If it's not a joy (or it doesn't put food on the table), we shouldn't bother. The most fun in writing is creating the characters and giving them all the talents and personality you find interesting. Thanks for commenting.

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  5. How lovely to be part of such an artistic family, Ellis! And I love the cover art on your novel.

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  6. Thank you, Jacqueline. I'm happy with the cover. I didn't realize till I was grown how fortunate I was to have had such a wonderful family. The smell of linseed oil and having the bathroom off limits (Daddy's makeshift darkroom) are now fond memories.

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  7. I know how good you are with a camera, Ellis. You have the eye and the ability to create images with words. Wonderful talents. I very much enjoy the art themes that run through your books.

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  8. Thanks, Linda. The art themes are fun and easy to imagine. It's a bit of sharing my dreams. Isn't that the fun of writing? Getting to go places, do things, have experiences outside our own but that we'd like to do?

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  9. I'm glad you found your way to writing, Ellis!

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  10. Ellis, I envy your artistic talent, even if it didn't take you exactly where you wanted to go. I stick with writing because I'm all thumbs with most everything else. I used to do a lot of needlepoint--it's like coloring within the lines, and that I could do. I'm content now to write and read. But once in awhile, I wish I could create with my hands as well as my mind. It was interesting to read about you and your sisters.

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  11. Ellis, just last night Franz Hols was mentioned in the new Charles Todd's newest The Walnut Tree and here you are mentioned him again! I always enjoy how you incorporate art into your books.

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  12. Jenny, Thank you. I'm waiting for yours!

    Jan, I could never do needlepoint. My grandmother tried to teach me that and crochet and embroidery. Colossal failures. I think writing is the place for me. At least, I hope it is.

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  13. Isn't he great, Marni? I still enjoy his paintings. When I went to Haarlem, the Netherlands, I went to the Hals museum and saw the real ones. A great experience.

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  14. Oh, Ellis, all those crafts you tried sound a famliar bell in my mind. I particulary remember the days of macrame--was it the late '60s, early '70s? And I did love pottery though I was never good at it--still, I have a couple of bowls i made that I use frequently and am not ashamed to say I threw them. I knit sweaters for all my grandchildren--full of dropped stitches and unusual gaps. I've given it all up for writing but it was fun to remember them. Thanks for a trip down memory lane.

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  15. My sister is a wonderful artist and I have a great appreciation for modern art. So my protagonist collects modern art--his wife got him interested in it because of her passion. When it came time to start my website, I turned, naturally, to my sister's art. Nice when your family shares your passion.

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  16. Judy, aren't those bowls fun and filled with memories? I use mine too. We had plant hangars everywhere, and some were elaborate and beautiful. It was sad when the bottoms rotted out. :-) I made my husband a sweater with gorilla arms, but he rolled up the sleeves and wore it a few times. Still, it was all fun and good experience.

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  17. Terry, Lucky you! Alas, no serious web designers in the family. Most of the programs aren't user-friendly enough. I gave up and used Weebly's free templates. Not great but okay. I need to go look at yours.

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  18. Christmas Cards & Postcard printing company that offers designing of the cheap business cards in a personalized way. We work with you in order to satisfy your desire and come up with the best solution.

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  19. I love the cover on your novel, Time of Death. Wonderful to learn that you created it. Creativity must be the little engine inside that keeps you going. Love the article.

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  20. Thanks, Maggie. Sometimes that little engine has a lot of trouble getting up the hill. :-) I must remember, "I think I can, I think I can . . ."

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  21. Sheila, thanks so much for having me visit your blog. I enjoyed it, especially all the generous comments.
    Thinking about art and all the crazy crafts I've done gave me some new book ideas. Now to get back to work!
    Ellis

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  22. Thank you for being here, Ellis! You made me want to get busy with my paints again (when?). And thanks to everyone who dropped by and especially commented. Great fun!

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