On Art and Writing

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Trying to convey emotion in composition (plot) and not brushwork (emotional question) is misguided. Author Benjamin Percy has a quote that applies to this: “A-list movies are always about a B-list plot; B-list movies are always about an A-list plot.”Nineteenth-century Pre-Raphaelites attempted to engage the viewer’s emotional response in composition, which made the work infamously sentimental instead of emotionally resonant.

At The Morning News, Ben Shattuck reckons with the similarities between paintings and fiction writing. Both paintings and stories contain a plot, he claims, and a story arc—the arc of a painting being the artist’s intentions and reasons for creating the piece.


Olivia Wetzel is a student taking time off to live and work in San Francisco. If she could be any animal, she’d be a penguin. She’s never eaten pepperoni before, and one of her feet is a whole size bigger than the other. More from this author →