Monday, January 13, 2014


Diane Mannion, RED INK, Snippet #14, 3.5 x 2.5" oil on linen/mounted
Show and Tell

There's a fine line between illustration and fine art.  Can they be both?  
Perhaps an illustration needs a story and words to complete it.  An illustration may tell a story with images.  An illustration may be more concerned with telling... rather than showing.  Usually, the words come first.  An illustration is a group effort between publisher, client, and artist.
I'm also an illustrator and writer, although I've always had a duel career in fine art, so it's a subject I think about often.  Somehow, a few of these snippets leaned towards illustrations... especially if Mrs Butterworth was involved.
But the painting of Mrs Butterworth came before the words.  The story was created after the character started yapping her fool head off.  

In writing the old saying is "Show, don't tell."  By showing the story in words, the reader can experience the situation and visualize it imaginatively, giving the scene a sense of verisimilitude (love that word!) which makes it real or brings it to life.   If the writer tells the story, not much is left for the reader to experience or add.  (Sheesh... thank you for your patience if you've read this far.  No, you haven't slipped into an English Lit site).

If we translate the verbal definition of show and tell into the visual world... the difference between fine art and illustration becomes clear.  Fine art leaves a lot for the viewer to think about.  It's a visual language.  The viewer can bring their own translation and words are not necessary.  The fine artist shows... but does not need to tell. 

So I'm not telling you a thing about this little Red Ink Snippet.  Just something I found in an antique shop.  I'm attracted to shiny things and I like red.  And it does relate to yesterday's blue pencils and writing.   But is it an illustration or a painting? 

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