icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Picturing a World

Between the lines

As readers of this blog know, I find the cross-pollination of the visual and narrative arts fruitful. Thomas Dewing’s painting of a singer and cellist seems to me a striking visual metaphor of an important literary principle: In the most potent writing, something happens between the lines.

Here, the visual space between the two women is improbable. Even if they were rehearsing in a large studio of some sort, wouldn’t two real musicians place themselves closer together? The point is that this Tonalist painting is not a straightforward illustration. It may imply a situation, but it refrains from telling a story. It is concerned with atmosphere and mood.

Pregnant pauses in dialogue. Pacing. The added effects of sound (rhythm, rhyme, assonance, alliteration). Enlargement through allusion. The brilliance of the right metaphor. Recurring image patterns with modulations. Many techniques give the best poems or prose something beyond their overt, declarative meaning.

For another painting by Dewing in which sound is implied by odd angles and visual instability, click here.

For a working artist’s exposition of Tonalism, click here.
Post a comment