Fiction and the art of making something real.

watercolour

Vesuvianite When I saw this painting in the pages of a magazine, I was transfixed. The artist is from Northern Ontario, and so am I, so maybe that's what I recognized. (Sudbury is a mining town; I used to collect rocks and crystals at gem and mineral shows when I was a kid.)

I tracked down the name of artist and found out where I could buy her work. Lucky for me, this crystal was made into a print that I could afford. I ordered it.

When I picked it up from the framers, I saw that they'd written "photograph" on my invoice. It's so realistic, they didn't even know it was a painting! Of course, that's why I love it so much.

I can stare at this print for a very long time, getting lost in the light and the contours. I allow myself to get lost in the realness of it. It is more enchanting to me than a photograph. Possibly even more enchanting to me than the actual crystal would be, if I held it in my hand.

It is the eye of Carly Waito, the artist, that makes this magical. She's painted something so realistic, it feels realer-than-real. It's her vision and experience that makes it so, and the way she's transferred it to the page snags my heart and makes me breathless.

This is also the art of fiction.

I am teaching two week-long writing sessions this spring, on the tiny peaceful island of Bequia. And this is what we're going to do there: we're going to get lost in the contours.

We're going to practice the art of deep noticing, and become transfixed together as we generate new work.

We're going to go deep, and write in a way that feels realer-than-real.

Please join me in Bequia! You can share rooms — go together with another writer or two — shared rooms makes the week more affordable.

Or you can go luxe, get a private room, and make this a retreat to remember. I really, really hope to see you there.

xoxo,

Sarah Selecky

[Editor’s note: this post contains information, dates, and links which are no longer relevant. For current offerings, see here.]


2013: A Retrospective
In the Spotlight: Jani Krulc

21 comments

Oh, Sarah! If only the Bequia dates were different! I'm doing two conferences back to back during those two weeks! Sorry!!! Next year? she asked hopefully.
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Debbie Rodgers @Exurbanis

Carly's work is AMAZING! I can't believe they are actually not photographs. Incredible!
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Berkley Brady

Wow. wow. wow! I've developed such a love for minerals and crystals as I've been writing about a geologist - Carly's work just made it clear that my character has to have a collection of crystals in her office, even if it's just a temporary one. Thanks for sharing!!
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Last spring I fell almost bodily in love with a photograph. The picture was part of a group of random pictures, gleaned from the web and printed on small pieces of regular printer paper. So, not much to look at -tiny and sort of faded - but I was still floored and sort of high on it. All the pictures were part of a training exercise in organizing and sorting, so none had any provenance information. It was an effort to focus and participate in the exercise, mesmerized as I was by 'my' picture. It looked like a painting, but I was sure it was a photograph of a kingfisher diving. At the end of the day, when I was finally released from the bonds of the training, I went straight to my computer to begin a search. And I found it! http://www.charliehamiltonjames.co.uk/kingfishers/kingfisher-streak.html For months I have been meaning to write to the photographer and ask him if I could buy a print of this image. I even had a draft message lurking in my email. This morning I read your post about your print of Carly Waito's painting, and it spurred me to finish my draft email and send it off! Fingers crossed that I get to have my own beloved print. Perhaps the kindred spirit thing you feel with Carly Waito holds for me and Charlie Hamilton James, too. We both own chunks of tropical rain forest, and we've both played host to bot fly larvae ;)!
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P.S. Suze Woolf, another denizen of the Gorgeously Realistic school of painting: http://suzewoolf-fineart.com/index.php/galleries/burnscapes/144-truncated
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Rebecca Biggs

Hmmm--looks really lovely but any information on the costs must be really buried. I was going to share with my writing group but gave up after hunting the website, including the pricing tab
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thought you guys might be interested in this (a doc based on the book): Ways of Seeing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnfB-pUm3eI
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Stephen D. Forman

Going to Google Maps and "zooming out" on Bequia to find out where on Earth it is! Each click brings me closer to the truth... Then returning to this page and "zooming in" to squint at the .jpeg of Vesuvianite, closer, closer... each click bringing me closer to the truth. Tell the truth: did you plan it that way? Something I remember from an old screenwriting class regarding "realism". Our prof said, "Don't make it real, make it realistic." He used the example of a story from the newspaper of someone who fell from a ten-story building and landed in a garbage bin and survived. Did it happen? Yes, it was real. Was it realistic? No! The audience would never buy it. It would take them out of the movie while they scoffed at it. Important lesson, that.
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Sarah Selecky

Oh Margaret! I'm sorry you'll miss it. I honestly have no idea about next year - but perhaps it will happen again!
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Sarah Selecky

Debbie - I KNOW!!
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Sarah Selecky

Thank you, Berkley! For the comment *and* the Berger doc! I've never seen this before and I'm kind of flipping out. You're the best!
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Sarah Selecky

Oh my god - the kingfsher streak is phenomenal. I completely understand why you felt "floored and kind of high" from it. I also love that you described the feeling this way - that's how I felt seeing Carly Waito's crystal. Please let me know how he responds! PS - you did NOT have bot fly. OH JULIA!
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Sarah Selecky

Gorgeous. Watercolour!?
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Sarah Selecky

Hi Rebecca! Each of the rooms is priced differently. You can see the pricing here: http://www.sixthtoe.com/#!rooms/c1sqf
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Sarah Selecky

Hi Stephen! I wish I could say that I did plan it that way - but now much do I love your description of the zooming? BTW I also love "Don't make it real, make it realistic." I might have to quote you/your prof on that.
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Stephen D. Forman

I've been sharing these Minerals with friends and family, and one shared back-- a TED Talk by a visual artist named Alexa Meade. Her immensely popular video is short (~ 7 mins) and her delightful, surprising paintings are yet another lesson in shifting perspective. Enjoy : ) http://www.ted.com/talks/alexa_meade.html
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Sarah Selecky

Stephen! My sister in law showed me this amazing work by Alexa Meade and I'd forgotten her name and how to find her. Thank you for thinking to share this here. She's phenomenal.
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l wish l can come, but lm only 16 and Bequia seems to far for me to go. but l do have a question. do you get there by plane or boat?
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Yes, yes I did have bot fly larvae. But only twice in all my years of living in the tropics. I had the little ones, like the one Hamilton James had, not the really big ones that would get in the cows :). It really isn't that bad. I think they secrete something that numbs the area a bit, though I gather that if you let them get big it gets more painful. I only know this because Mark Moffett, a National Geographic photographer I knew, let one MATURE and EMERGE. Not something I was up for! If you can kill them, then they don't grab on with their little hooks and thus are easy to squeeze out... Too Much Information?! Probably. Charlie Hamilton James has not responded to my email, so for now I will make do with a 4"x6" version I printed from the internet. I'll email again at some point, or perhaps phone him. It's harder to say no on the phone :).
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Sarah Selecky

AAAAH
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Yes! Watercolor.
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