Fine art and fashion go hand in hand. Click here to see today’s latest fashion creation by Jan Kirstein.
“Wild and Wicked 2” by Jan Kirstein. Click images to see enlargements.
No doubt you’ve heard of Coco Chanel, the French fashion designer who liberated women from stiff, formal clothing and popularized the still-ubiquitous “Little Black Dress.” Her fashion advice remains legendary—just Google “remove one accessory” and your screen will fill with blogs and articles quoting or misquoting her famous dictum
“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”
But while Chanel intended that as fashion advice, I think it works just as well for writers.
How many adverbs have you used? Surely you don’t need them all. And those adjectives—wouldn’t a few descriptive phrases enliven your work more?
Of course, before you can revise—your outfit or your writing—you have to create it first. Write until you’ve finished the draft. But before it “leaves the house,” give it a good once-over. Is every word, every sentence, necessary? If it isn’t—copy, cut, and paste. Slap it into the writer’s equivalent of a jewelry box, the Outtakes file.
More advice from Coco Chanel
“Take one thing off” may be Chanel’s most-quoted piece of advice. But I found another one I like quite a lot in this slideshow from Australian Vogue:
“In order to be irreplaceable one must be different.”
While we’re on the subject of revising, I’d lop off “In order” at the top of that sentence. But let’s not blame Chanel; perhaps it got added in translation.
“To be irreplaceable, one must be different.” I tell my writers a variation of this all the time. And my clients, too. They talk about subjects that thousands—millions—of people have already talked about: diversity, ethics, management. How can they differentiate themselves from the crowd? By weaving their own stories into the mix. No one else has had yourexperiences, has your perspective.
Make your communications irreplaceable—and your ideas memorable—by being your own, unique self. (Little Black Dress optional.)
Writing is just the first part of the process. Revising—that’s the secret sauce that gives your writing zing. Join my free webinar on revising.
Nancy Hillis gives an excellent talk on contrast this week in the program “Studio Journey.” She speaks of the visual excitement generated by contrast of color: light and dark, warm and cool, and the play of complementary colors, colors that exist on opposite sides of the color wheel. She demonstrates these contrasts within her own paintings. She also examines contrast of smooth and rough texture of paint application, opaque and transparent paint applications and soft washes vs. bold brush work.
I love the teaching bundles in her program “Studio Journey.” She brings knowledge of science, art, mythology, psychology and physics together into easily understood food for though and exploration. A truly enlightening journey.
Nancy Hillis is an abstract painter, currently working in her art studio on medium to large abstract paintings. At the beginning of her program “Studio Journey” she says:
“Welcome to Studio Journey. I’m delighted that you’re here! As a fellow Journeyer, I want to guide and inspire on your journey. My mission is to encourage you to cultivate a robust studio practice, explore and experiment in your art and ultimately create your deepest, most authentic and personal work.
I see our work as artists as being a never ending journey of listening to and answering the call within ourselves to step into the wonder and the mystery of our art and our life. Just as in life, we’re continually coming back full circle to the foundations, the beginning of our journey. We do this over and over again and each time, we see the beginning with new eyes informed by our experiences.”
The Studio Journey has inspired many painters from all over the world who find her teachings enlivening and fulfilling. The challenges are exhilarating and a personal learning experience for all in this on line painting extravaganza.
Creations I have made on this Studio Journey, by Janis Kirstein: