Tag Archives: words as art

Words Are Art

There is a strong connection between words and art. Not just words used to describe art, but words that form art. Some words look bold and important, others are meant to slip over a page.

best-tree-again

Marta's amazing tree. See her website at: wordsareart.wordpress.com/2008/12/09/

My world is on paper. But there are other ways to handle words. Johnathan Harris does it in cyberspace with the Word Count. He’s an artist whose entire body of work exists on computers. Part of Harris’s mind is an engineer’s mind, part is an artist’s mind. Harris created a list of the 86,800 most common words in the English language. He sorted them and posted them. The most common word is “the” and its number is ‘1’ . “of'” and “and” are in places 2 and 3. You can look up a word to see where it is or type in a position number and see what word it is.

Looking at them turns you into an instant numeric scholar. Click on “666” and you get the word “easy.” There is some wonderful divine justice in that. “God” at number 376, is between “began” and “top.” It starts to make sense after a while. “Death” (number 454) is between “church” and “sometimes.” There are words in sequence that make sense. “Running” and “Feet” and numbers 698 and 699. “Contagious” (2159) is just one over from “Feverish” (2161).

Harris wasn’t finished yet. He started a count to see which words people looked at most often and created another list–the Query List. What’s the most common word people looked up? Of course, “sex.”

You can also see Harris as a speaker on TED–the conference of interesting ideas told by their fascinating creators. And read his 2007 story, the whale hunt.

Have some fun. Type in your birthday, your age, some special number. See what comes up. Words are art. In many ways.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and artist. See her work at raw-art-journals.com © 2007-9. All rights reserved.

Words of Art

I’m a big fan of visual journals. We all need to make art that satisfies us and no one else, and a journal is a perfect place for that. I often tell people that because I keep a raw-art journal, “I draw with words.” Well the illustrations below, which are not mine, do exactly that. The illustrations come from this site, (he seems to gather them rather than actually draw them.) These illustrations really draw with words.

download_0023Great idea. In any language.

The right place to eat your words

The right place to eat your words

—Quinn McDonald is a writer and life- and creativity coach. She teaches writing, business communication and journal-writing.

The Delight of Surprise

Control. We love it. We control our schedules and to-do lists, and those of our kids. You know that in three weeks you’ll be driving to a soccer/softball/dance recital and you know what you’ll have in the car to amuse/distract/keep busy all the team/screaming kids/weepy ballerinas. You know what you’ll wear and who will call to congratulate/console you and who will not.

We clutch the porcupine of control to our chest and march forward, hating the pain, but loving the  order we think it  puts in our lives. At some time, we come to realize that there is no control, that much of our lives happens with no regard to our wants. A child throws up in the car on the way to the soccer game, and no one has a clean uniform anymore. One week later, everyone in the car comes down with the same virus. We feel like failures when we can’t control what we can’t control.

The Storm of Revelation

The Storm of Revelation

There is some joy in the element of surprise, but only if we allow it to happen. I noticed it again today while teaching. Showing the “rule of thirds” to a collage class, i quickly sponged a dark portion over a light portion, demonstrating that the light area could take up two-thirds and look like a huge field of wheat against a small sky, but when I sponged in dark to take up half the field, the image lost interest. I continued dabbing, until the dark covered two-thirds of the image and was now a dramatic storm approaching. The students went on to work on their own collages, and I decided to play with the sample.

I’ve been watching the weather now that it’s monsoon season in Arizona, so I thought the image would work well if the storm revealed the power of nature over humans. Or if the storm revealed something in its wake. I set out to add a tiny human about to be caught in the storm.

The image I found had the word “revelation” under it. Ah, perfect. What would the storm reveal? While wondering, I cut out the letters for the word “storm.” I found the letters ‘a’ and ‘s’ and was preparing to glue down “the storm as revelation” when I noticed that the oncoming storm wasn’t revealing anything. It left too much unexplained. And then I had a thought. If I changed the “as” to “of” it would read, “The storm of revelation.” Now it made sense. The understanding that suddenly drenches us, leaves us feeling exhausted, yet refreshed is the ‘storm of revelation.’ We know what we did not before. It catches us by surprise, but if we let it drench us and we sway in the wind of change, we grow, become stronger. It is revealed and we know. One tiny word of change, and a whole change of meaning. All because I didn’t control the creative journey.

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach who lets the world surprise her, and finds it teaches her more than if she spends her effort controlling the world. See her work at QuinnCreative.com

The Art of Words

There is a strong connection between words and art. Not just words used to describe art, but words that form art. Some words look bold and important, others are meant to slip over a page.

(Full disclosure: I’m teaching a class on words and arts on Sat/Sun, April 26-27 at the Mesa Art Center.)

My world is on paper. But there are other ways to handle words. Johnathan Harris does it in cyberspace with the Word Count. He’s an artist whose entire body of work exists on computers. Part of Harris’s mind is an engineer’s mind, part is an artist’s mind. Harris created a list of the 86,800 most common words in the English language. He sorted them and posted them. The most common word is “the” and its number is ‘1’ . “of'” and “and” are in places 2 and 3. You can look up a word to see where it is or type in a position number and see what word it is.

Looking at them turns you into an instant numeric scholar. Click on “666” and you get the word “easy.” There is some wonderful divine justice in that. “God” at number 376, is between “began” and “top.” It starts to make sense after a while. “Death” (number 454) is between “church” and “sometimes.” There are words in sequence that make sense. “Running” and “Feet” and numbers 698 and 699. “Contagious” (2159) is just one over from “Feverish” (2161).

Harris wasn’t finished yet. He started a count to see which words people looked at most often and created another list–the Query List. What’s the most common word people looked up? Of course, “sex.”

You can also see Harris as a speaker on TED–the conference of interesting ideas told by their fascinating creators. And read his 2007 story, the whale hunt.

Have some fun. Type in your birthday, your age, some special number. See what comes up. Words are art. In many ways.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and artist. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) 2007. All rights reserved.