Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Art Makes Me Whole (Amy K. Nichols)

Art has had a huge influence on my life for as far back as I can remember.

Starry Night

I grew up the daughter of a photographer. Family car trips involved frequent stops to take photos of mountain roads, ocean views, sunsets. Early on, my dad taught me the rule of thirds and what makes for good composition in a photo. 

When I started creating my own art, I put his teaching into practice — with photography, painting and drawing, at least. As an adult, I’ve branched out into other art forms. Welding and metal fabrication. Fiber and textile arts. Clay work. Digital design. 


Art has had a huge impact on my writing. I’ve discovered that when my hands are engaged in creating visual art, my mind works on writing. Sometimes if I’m stuck on a scene, instead of sitting in front of the computer, frustrated, I’ll pull out a sketch pad or watercolors and let my hands play. Soon enough, new pictures form in my mind and I’ll be back at my desk, working out the scene. I don’t understand why it works this way, but it does.

The Old Guitarist
I don’t just love creating art. I love experiencing art. Taking it in. Soaking it in. Almost a year ago today, I visited MoMA in New York City for the first time. Will you think I’m a freak if I tell you I teared up? Some of my favorite paintings were on display. Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Munch’s The Scream. An entire room of Klee. Picasso after Picasso after Picasso. I was in art heaven. Any time I’m traveling in other cities, I try to visit museums. During a trip to Chicago, I dragged my friends to the Art Institute where we got to see Picasso’s The Old Guitarist. A dream come true.

I wrote a novel about that painting. That story won third place in the 27th annual 3-Day Novel Contest. It was the first novel I’d ever written. And I wrote it about art.

Now That You’re Here, my novel being published this December by Knopf, also involves art. Street art. Urban art. Graffiti. A slightly different take, but it’s art nonetheless.

For me, art and writing go hand in hand. They feed each other, inspire each other, work together to create a whole. A whole me, I suppose. Without art, I’d be empty. 


  1. We're two of a kind, Amy. THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, my next book, will be the second novel I've written that focuses on art (this time, folk art).

  2. Awesome, Holly! I can't wait to read it. :D

  3. Your post makes me think of Julia Cameron's THE ARTIST'S WAY. She talks about the importance of having "artist dates" where you indulge in art (of any kind) to feed the artist within you. It's so interesting how the arts are connected despite vastly different media. I guess it's time to head to a museum!

  4. Metal fabrication refers to the process of bending the metals and conferring the desired shape to them. The methods involved in metal fabrication process includes cutting, forming and finishing.