Know thy subject

I’m involved in a theater production at Main Street Theater this December. We’re doing “It’s a Wonderful Life” and I’m playing the part of Clarence the angel. At rehearsal this week I was struggling with how Clarence would deal with a particular scene. So I asked our director, Erich Offenburg, what he would suggest and he gave me some great advice. Actually, he just started asking questions: “How old is Clarence – is he 25 or 73?” “Has he been trying to get his wings for 450 years or is this his first try?” “Is he an introvert or an extrovert?” After some more questions I began to realize how easy it would be to interpret lines for Clarence if I just knew more about him. So I’m now developing a more detailed understanding of Clarence so I’ll know how he talks and interacts.

If you write fiction it’s certainly important to have an understanding of your characters in the beginning even though they develop as the story goes along. But I also think you can study your character in photography and art. If you’re an artist you usually have an idea of what you want to draw. The more detail you develop in your mind, the easier it is to flesh out the subject as you draw. Even if you creating abstract art where you create in the moment, you at least have to settle on which colors you’re going to start out with.

Next time you create something, step back for a few minutes and write down 5 attributes of the subject you want to capture and see if it makes a difference.


I really liked the way this white fence cut through the fall colors. 



11 1 raw fence in the autumn trees.jpg


11 1 cooked fence in the autumn trees.jpg