Thursday, September 13, 2018

Creative Pursuits

Are you creative in other ways besides writing – i.e. photography, painting, music, widget making, any other creative pursuits that you might have? Tell us about them and why you pursued writing as a career instead of one of them.

From Jim

I’ve always felt I was a creative sort. From a young age I liked to draw and write. I also played piano (poorly) and guitar (poorly). I even wrote a couple of bad folksy songs in college. But soon enough, I decided that writing fiction was a better creative outlet for me. 

I continued to draw, though, throughout my studies, doodling in class instead of taking notes or paying attention. That went double in grad school. I even drew political cartoons for my college newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian. (I’m moving right now and can’t get my hands on any of those at the moment. Maybe I’ll post them later.) 

I was a pencil-and-paper guy until I discovered Windows 3.0. I started drawing with the mouse in Paint. Just rough pixels. Think pointillism on a computer screen. 

Here’s an example, drawn entirely in Paint with a mouse.

And another (unfinished).

But the realism was lacking. I discovered Corel Draw and learned to blend the pixels and make more interesting drawings. 

The result wasn’t bad. 

But my favorite was Flash. (Rest In Peace.) More cartoonish pictures followed and they actually moved. Not here, because Flash is dead and no browsers support it today.  

My characters tended to be quite ghoulish. Like this basketball player.

Later, I drew all my business presentations in Flash and animated them. They provided a refreshing change from Death by PowerPoint, I can tell you that.

Writing proved to be the creative outlet I loved most, however, and my drawing these days is limited to maps for books. Here are two I did for HEART OF STONE and A STONE’S THROW, two recent books of mine. Nothing fancy, but a map is always a nice touch in a book. 

I also did one of Paris for Mark Pryor’s next book, THE BOOK ARTIST, due out in January 2019. I’m working on an ambitious one of Florence, Italy, for my next book, TURN TO STONE, coming June 4, 2019.


Cathy Ace said...

Oh my goodness me...your skills using modern methods to create art are FANTASTIC! I'm wondering if I might need a map for my new book...are you taking commissions???

James W. Ziskin said...

For you, Cathy, anything. Let me know.

Susan C Shea said...

I wonder, Jim, if you're ever tempted to try a graphic novel? You speak with your images as well as with words. Love the map idea. My son (also an artist and writer) drew a lovely one for my first book set in rural France, and the publisher would have used it but the graphic program Brian used wasn't compatible with theirs and the work of recreating it got too complicated, sadly.

James W. Ziskin said...

Susan, I don’t know if I have that kind of drawing ability. I’m better at one-offs. Just silly things.

By the way, my publisher just asks for the maps in PDF format (hi-definition, of course, not like in this post). Too bad your son’s didn’t make it into your book.


Terry said...

Oh, my. It would never occur to me to use technology to draw something. Oh, brave new world!

Kathy Waller said...

Oh, wow! Cary Grant. You have made my day!

Paul D. Marks said...

I think those drawings are great, Jim. I can hardly draw a stick figure, so I'm really impressed. It's nice to have another outlet besides writing to express ourselves.

Kathy Reel said...

Well, you are obviously suffering from an overload of talent, Jim. I suggest you continue just as you are. And, I love maps in books!