Old or New?
Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: On the way to Monterey
Flying across this great land from Tennessee to California, I constantly was looking down to see which parts of the US were decked out in autumn’s splendor and which parts remain much the same from season to season. The landscape may seem not to change from year to year, and yet it’s never quite the same. I no longer dread the cold of winter as I once did because I know beneath the freeze new forms are emerging–something new coming forth from the old.
I was reminded of this recently in viewing a wonderful array of Impressionist paintings from the Musee D’Orsay in Paris and now on exhibit in Nashville. In the last half of the nineteenth century, Claude Monet and other painters in Paris were influenced by Spanish artists, especially Velasquez. The Parisians changed their style of painting from the elaborate, tightly-executed and highly-colored scenes much in favor in Italy to more monochromatic painting for impact or “impression” on the viewer.
Many of these first impressionist paintings were black and white portraits with perhaps a shade of another color. Think Whistler’s Mother. Monet painted a number of these pictures of individuals with little or no background, purely to capture the emotional effect before going on to do such works as Water Lilies in more abstract and colorful form.
It occurs to me that when something new is being conceived, it often happens in the dark or in black and white before evolving and bursting forth in color. This may apply to the taste many of us have for novels in which the stark black-and-white drama of early chapters is resolved in more harmonious tones at the end.
How do you introduce some radical new content in your manuscript? How do we present some new dynamic, especially those of us who write nonfiction? Is it as a natural progression from the old or a totally new element? How much are Americans partial to something that appears “new” versus the tried and true? Lots to think about here!