A Lover of Books

Guest Post by Deirdre Quiery

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Deirdre Quiery is back on my blog with another guest post.


The Writer and the Artist – Not One, Not Two? – Deirdre Quiery

Even though I write, I don’t think of myself as a “Writer” and even though I paint, I don’t think of myself as an “Artist”. Maybe that goes back to a dislike of labels and breaking things down into discrete parts to understand them!

I like it better when everything is messy and confusing – when the writer isn’t really a writer and the artist isn’t really an artist – but something is created and we look back to investigate who is the guilty party and there is a whiff of Deirdre over there typing away on her laptop or splashing paint on the floor.

What I love about both writing and painting is that something is created from somewhere mysterious rather than someone mysterious. When I am writing or painting, I feel myself sinking into somewhere – a falling into a place beyond the easily recognisable surface of reality. It’s a letting go of what I know to allow something completely new to emerge. I think that’s why it is right to consider writing or painting courageous because the writer and the artist have to be prepared to be ripped apart in the act of creation. They do that by sitting or standing still – not moving – waiting for a stirring to happen and then surfing it with the tapping of the keyboard or swirling colour onto a palette.

So this falling into emptiness for me is what writing and painting have in common but I also see their differences. For me my love of writing started with a passion for reading. I remember receiving my first three library tickets at the age of seven accompanied by the thrill of reading late into the night, tucked into bed with a torch under the sheets.

By the time I was twelve, I not only loved the characters in the books I read, but I now also loved the writers. I was grateful to them for opening up these vast new worlds for me. I remember the intense sadness I experienced when I finished the last available book by a treasured writer. It was then I learnt what it means to mourn.

My experience of falling in love with painting was different. It didn’t start by being inspired by the painting of others. Only recently I ran from the Louvre after spending only thirty minutes inspecting masterpieces depicting naked bodies with their delicate parts covered in fig leaves, plunging knives into one another. I did not find the act of looking at art at all interesting. If given the choice, it might appeal to me to observe buttered Tibetan sculptures melt in the heat of the mid-day sun, but only because the art itself was disappearing without regret.

I went to my first art class in Palma with Argentinian artist Carlos Gonzalez with the intention of exploring how painting could help me write better. I was lucky with Carlos. He was a marvellously talented painter who could paint like a Michaelangelo, a Picasso or a Goya. He knew how to encourage the faint hearted students in his class saying, “Don’t paint what you see.” He would then ask questions like “What colour do you want to paint that olive tree? Please don`t say brown and green.”

I had “proper painters” on either side of me producing, shaping, and polishing their skills while I spent those Saturday mornings laughing at what appeared on my canvas. Then the day arrived, after mastering watercolours, acrylics and tempera – that Carlos thought we were ready for oils. It happened. As I mixed Prussian Blue, a Zinc White and a Cadmium Yellow, I started to sink. I fell into that magic place where art and writing are one and where I could disappear without a trace.


I really hope you enjoyed this guest post.  Look out for a special competition coming soon.


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3 thoughts on “Guest Post by Deirdre Quiery

  1. Hi Deirdre, I love the idea of using one form of creation to enhance another. Although I’ve not done any painting since I was in grade school, I’ve often wondered how it might affect my writing, were I to try it. Also, it just sounds like fun. 🙂 Did you find that you got better at painting as you went along? How did it change and enhance your writing? And, I agree, I don’t like labels either, as I do think they can misrepresent the process. Thank you for a fascinating post.


    • Hi and thank you so much for your questions! I did feel that painting improved with practice.

      I like what you say about the fun aspect of it. That’s what I felt most about it – that it was fun, exciting and for some reason I did not judge my art. Maybe that was because I never really believed that it was something to be judged by others. I just did it. I enjoyed the whole process without any expectation of “reward” in terms of recognition. In fact the more flawed the painting I found myself giggling at what I had done. Yet I never gave up on it. I repainted on top of each painting numerous times and loved the layers – how the bulging paint seemed to turn it into a sculpture.

      I think that response was deeply insightful for writing. I learnt to laugh at the silly words on a page and to have pleasure with the delete button. So with writing it was more about taking away layers, whereas with painting it was about adding layers.

      Creativity for me comes from a place of movement and fluidity – in thinking, painting and moving. So I do feel that we should go to those places which we are drawn towards in “flow” – for some it may be writing, or painting, or dancing, singing or cooking! Whatever allows us to sink beyond ourselves into the magic of the bliss of being.

      Thanks again for getting in touch and good luck!


  2. Pingback: ‘Eden Burning’ – Competition | A Lover of Books

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