Writer-Artist Six: Annie Weatherwax
Annie Weatherwax, novelist, short story writer, essayist, and visual artist was the 2009 winner of the Robert Olen Butler Prize for Fiction for her story “The Possibility of Things.” Her novel, All We Had, was turned into a movie directed by Katie Holmes.
Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, for years she earned a living sculpting superheroes and cartoon characters for Nickelodeon, DC Comics, Pixar, and others. She is currently a full-time painter and writer.
The Language of Visual Art
“I am a visual artist. Using the word “writer” somehow feels wrong to me. I never took my prospects as a writer seriously because I’m dyslexic and still have some difficulty reading. I learned how to write not by studying literature, but by understanding the language of visual art.
“As a writer, I often rely on my knowledge of color. Red evokes heightened emotion, and reading the word “red” has the same effect on the brain as seeing it. Given this, shouldn’t writing programs be teaching the art of color? In my writing school, I would make students draw the figure. The ability to understand a gesture with very few lines is one of most important skills an artist or writer can have. Body language can reveal more about character than almost any other detail.
“Perhaps the best education I had as a writer was the long career I had as a sculptor. The process of finding a character in a hunk of clay is the same as finding a story on a blank page. You must work a piece from all angles and recognize the danger of focusing too quickly on details when the structure and form have not yet been fully established.
“As an artist, I was trained to make pictures. As a fiction writer, I do the same thing.”
To find out more, check out The Writer’s Brush: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture by Writers for more than 400 plates of artwork by great writers and the stories behind them.