People are often divided between those who love abstract art and those who love realistic art. Just like readers have different tastes in literature. A few love poetry. Most hate it. Some love romance novels and a few look down their noses at people who read romance novels. Yet all literature is made up of words. And the same is true of art. At its core, all art is abstract. The artist must create the illusion of realism, because a painted tree is never equal to a real tree in the backyard. Writers, when they tell their stories, are creating illusions of reality. The fictional world they create is never real no matter how much they base it on the world they live. Narrative non-fiction may blend the worlds of fact and fiction, but if the writer strays to far from the fact he is considered a liar and may have his books removed from the bookstores. Yet all writers at some level write fiction. The world we write about is not the real world. Even when I write a story about my mother, the character is not my mother. She is my fantasy of my mother. At some level all forms of art — painting, music, literature — are not real.
This week paint that tree in your backyard as an abstract picture of your mother. Or write a story-poem in the first person voice of your mother describing the tree in your backyard to her mother.
George D. Green was born in 1943 in Portland, Oregon. He received a B.S. degree from the University of Oregon and a M.F.A. from Washington State University. He had his first solo exhibit in 1968.