Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Picture Flow

Renoir "On The Terrace"
Writing, much like Renoir's composition pictured above, is a work of art. It is a form of expression, meaningful, and creative. Writing is also an important form of professional and academic communication. As we look at writing in the latter example, we may find it hard to see the art form to our composition.

I promise you, it is there! And we find it most readily in "Flow."

Flow is a mysterious part of any composition. Whether we are looking at a painting, listening to music, reading a poem or even a memo at work, flow plays a huge role in its success.

What is "flow?"

My abbreviated definition of flow is the movement of meaning from beginning to end.  

Renoir's painting is just one excellent example of flow. Looking at flow in this way, we can see that the artist purposely directs our attention to the red hat the woman is wearing. He does so by placing the bright red in the center of the canvas. However, he does not stop there. Once he has our attention on this color, Renoir strategically places the same hints of the red hat elsewhere in the painting. He controls the flow of his composition by placing the red in the hat of young girl, in her cheeks, and in the lips of both females.

He also controls the flow by incorporating the same red in the basket in the lower left hand corner of the painting just as he does in the red roof structure in the upper left hand corner. We can even see red in the boats on the water and in some of the leaves tangled on the railing. Therefore, he controls our eye movement over the entire masterpiece.

Just as Renoir achieves flow through painting, we must achieve it through writing.

Unlike a paintbrush, most of us have been using language flow since birth. When we learn "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" as children, we are learning the flow of our language. We change the complexity of our flow as we get older. Our parts of speech become more complicated. So do our ideas.

The hard part is converting this familiar flow into a composition. Much like Renoir's red hat, writers must point specifically to a subject, and then refer back to that subject frequently. Doing so will artfully moving the reader through the composition.

Of course, achieving flow is difficult for any of us. Thankfully there are tricks we can learn to help us with these difficulties.  Using transitions is one color on our pallet to use in our composition.  Words or word phrases like "however," "likewise," "also," "besides," "after all," "in other words", etc, can be used to move the reader from point to point. We can also use pointing words such as "those" and "this" as well as pronouns to help us color our composition artfully.

In other words, looking at a paper like a painting can be a helpful trick to achieving flow. In fact, one could even highlight words that directly link back to the subject of the composition to visually recognize how often it appears throughout the paper.  If we highlight these types of words in red, then red should move our eyes evenly over the composition in the same manner we see in Renoir's red.  

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful example of practicing what you preach.