Guest Blogger William L. Alton on Writing and Drawing

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Bill used to draw a lot more back before his physical disabilities made grasping and controlling a pencil very difficult. Recently though, he’s had the chance to explore visual arts again through the Disability Arts and Culture Project’s open art sessions last spring and the recent visual arts group exhibition he showed in at Splendorporium.

Here are some thoughts he had recently on writing and drawing.

“I am an artist. I write and I draw. Writing makes it easier to think. It puts everything order. I can see what’s already happened, what’s happening now and what’s coming down the road. It is organized and rational.

Writing helps me cope with my mental illness and wild thoughts in a linear, reasonable fashion. I can reduce everything down to its individual parts and put them in order then deal with them has they happen. It removes the messy, emotional cover from the world. I can think.

But when I draw, it pulls from the fluid, emotional part of my mind. There’s nothing linear about it. Images pop into my mind flow from a kernel of thought into watery lines moving from one end of the page to the next. Drawing pulls from the fantastic portion of my thinking.

Trying to do them together is frustrating. I tell myself, as a writer, I need to write 1,000 words a day and as an artist, I need to do one drawing a day. Switching from one to the next is like moving from a loose, free flowing skirt to tight, skin hugging tights. It takes time and energy. Mostly, I have to do one, go lie down for an hour and then start the next. Flipping from one expression to the next, is like going from lasers to flood lights. I catch everything in either form, but the face of their presentation and the requirements for creating those faces are completely different.”

Charcoal sketch by William L. Alton with shadows and smudges showing a face that appears half eagle, half man. [Sketch by Bill Alton.]

Please join Disability Art and Culture Project for a poetry reading event with Bill as part of the Dis/Representation: Reading Into Disability social justice reading group program.

Saturday, August 10th
2:00 – 3:15 pm
In Other Words Feminist Community Center at 14 NE Killingsworth

You can purchase his chapbook there and his memoir online for Kindle.