While walking around a seaside town on holiday, my wife and I went into a gallery. It showed the work of one artist, who was busy working at the back of the shop.

From the paintings in the window we deduced two things about this artist. Firstly, she was clearly very talented. Secondly, the paintings had a certain style. They were rather figurative, many of them of the local scenes of the local area. They were pictures tourists would buy to remind them of a wonderful holiday.

As we entered the shop, one canvas on the wall to the left immediately grabbed my attention. It was completely different from the others, an abstract painting of various shades of red. It was thicker and more intense in one corner, lighter in the other.

I instantly fell in love with it.

We got chatting to the artist, this was, indeed, by her, and was the result of an experiment. She was technically proficient, and started each painting with an idea she wanted to capture. She had been encouraged by a fellow artist to be more expressionist, to let her feelings onto the canvas. Rather than being a craftsman, and using the skills to portray a picture, she had been encouraged to use the artistic process itself to explore her emotions.

As it happens, this coincided with the breakdown of a relationship which had been extremely important to her. She used the process to explore her feelings, represented by letting go of poisonous relationship brackets the dark area) and the uplift in her emotional state as a result (the light area).

I asked how much the painting was on sale for, as there was no price attached.

She shuffled rather awkwardly, as if trying to make a decision, and then finally told me that it was not for sale, it was just too personal. She did, however, offer to paint another version of the picture, which I would be able to buy, if I liked it.

We came back several days later, as instructed, and she showed us the new version that she’d painted.

After a few moments of awkward silence, I had to tell her that I didn’t like it anything like as much. She completely agreed. Although she had tried to recreate that other picture, the emotions had not been the same. This translated onto the canvas.

Many years later, as I was walking the dog this morning, I realised that my writing is like that artist.

I love writing, fact I need to write, because this is how I work through ideas, issues and emotions. It is a form of therapy for me. I think best when I am talking and when I am writing.

I do love the craft of writing as well. But that first draft, when I am first working things out and starting to understand what I’m really writing about, that’s the time I really enjoyed my writing the most.


Featured image courtesy of Sarah Agnew on Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes have been made to this image. 

Written by : Chris Budd

Chris Budd

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