You might not think that authors are often artists too, but it seems to be true that creative people like to explore lots of different creative avenues even if their efforts are purely for pleasure and never taken seriously. With the recent opening of the British Library’s ‘Harry Potter – A History Of Magic’, I was surprised to stumble across blogs and articles claiming that J.K. Rowling herself has drawn pictures of her characters, though it is unclear as to whether or not any of these drawings are actually on display at the British Library. But if you’re dying to have a look at Rowling’s artwork, you should be able to find her drawings with a quick google search or a visit to her Harry Potter website Pottermore.
J.K. Rowling is not the only author out there who has impressive art skills, Lewis Carroll drew and illustrated his novels Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Sylvia Plath attended art school, H.G. Wells has been described as a master doodler, Herman Hesse painted landscapes, and there are many, many more.
Although I can hardly put myself up there with the famous authors, I too draw, paint and even attempt to sculpt with clay, and I know of another author who makes jewellery too. The creative skills amongst authors seems to be limitless and where you find a writer you will probably find an artist too. But before you panic, that’s not to say that all artists are writers and all writers are artists, Roald Dahl’s stories were illustrated by Quentin Blake and Terry Pratchett’s apparent artist of choice was Paul Kidby. So if you don’t have any artistic skills or hobbies but if you really need an illustrator for your work then don’t worry, there are plenty of talented artists out there to choose from, though you’ll have to be prepared to part with some money.
For me personally, I’ve always enjoyed art, reading and writing, I even used to confess that I was a ‘sketcher’ but I wouldn’t say that my painting and drawings skills are up to professional standards. However I still like to learn and exercise what little artistic ability I do have, just take the last few days for instance, I’ve been writing two novels simultaneously, purchased a new sketchbook, and had a moment of inspiration born from the Brontë Sisters where I made three bookmarks using watercolours…
Even though not all writers are artists, writing is a form of art to me and my preferred medium, which is just as well considering I write books and have become a published author, but there is something about picking up a pencil, paintbrush or molding clay which delights part of my creative brain and helps me to create characters, worlds and objects for my novels. Visualising what is in my head and getting it down on paper as a sketch seems to help sometimes and can be a useful aid for my work later on in the writing process. Below on the left is an amateurish picture I painted of my character Kyle Hunter from Anomaly (The Soul Prophecies) and on the right a representation of Alice Lynam’s diary/journal.
This might not be the way my readers imagine the characters or objects in my novels and that’s totally OK, books are there to inspire the imagination, so you can picture the characters and worlds however you want. There might be something in the creativity genes that cause writers to dabble in other creative pursuits, but for me, I like to draw or create these pieces to help immerse myself in the world I’m creating and writing about.
‘The artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist.’ – Ananda Coomaraswamy