Annie Dillard:

A well-known writer got collared by a university student who asked, ”Do you think I could be a writer?”

”Well,” the writer said, ”I don’t know. . . . Do you like sentences?”

The writer could see the student’s amazement. Sentences? Do I like sentences? I am 20 years old and do I like sentences? If he had liked sentences, of course, he could begin, like a joyful painter I knew. I asked him how he came to be a painter. He said, ”I liked the smell of the paint.”

Jeffrey Jones (classic fantasy illustrator), interviewed in the Jeffrey Jones Sketchbook from Vanguard Press:

P: When you’re drawing, how important is the content? How conscious are you fo that as opposed to the lines you’re putting down, or is it just shape oriented?

J: Well, content is generally way down at the bottom somewhere. Up at the top is, ‘How much fun am I having?’ That’s way up at the top. ‘Is the ink flowing off the end of this pen? How does the piece of paper feel? Am I having fun or am I not having fun?’ That’s what’s first.
Second thing is, as I’m making lines, ‘Am I creating something that’s solid? Is this convincing?’ And then, further on down the line, composition comes in. ‘Is my eye traveling around or is it getting hung up in a particular place?’ Somewhere near the bottom is content. But it’s important because if it were some other content I probably wouldn’t be doing all the stuff above it. If it was a drawing of an automobile, I probably wouldn’t be doing all the other stuff — the fun thing wouldn’t even enter into it. So it is important, but it’s way down the list.

Do you like what you’re doing? The smell of the paint? Do you like sentences?

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