Monday, July 20, 2015

Painted Beauty

When most people think about Greek art, the first thing that comes to mind is the statues. The beautiful white marble or shining bronze in life-like poses capture everything from Hermes delivering messages to Athena in all her helmeted glory. However, not many people realize that these statues weren't originally colorless.

They were painted!

Years of sun, salty air and just the passage of time have stripped the colors away, leaving the bare marble or bronze underneath.

(Here's another fun fact I discovered while double-checking my sources for this info: most Greek sculptures were actually bronze by the 5th century. Most of the marble ones we see today are actually Roman re-creations of the original bronze Greek ones -- which were susceptible to being melted down for use elsewhere when an invading army tromped through.)

But no matter what the base material used, it's clear that color was definitely applied on top. Even ancient Greek plays seem to confirm this, such as the line from the play "Helen" by Euripides (who lived from 480–406 BC):

“My life and my fate are things of horror.
For this … my beauty is to blame.
If only I were as hideous as a statue
from which the paint was wiped away
The people would not have been subjected to such suffering.”

A German archaeologist husband and wife team, Vinzenz Brinkmann and Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann have actually used physical and chemical analyses to find enough traces of pigment to create what they feel is a accurate representation of what the painting looked like back then:

A little bright, isn't it? It's not what I expected either! Those early sculptures were made with flat color, but over the years, artists learned how to use shading and highlights to give everything a design that was a little more pleasing to the eye. Thank goodness!

To see more examples of re-created painted statues, visit the couple's website here: Stiftung Archaeologie. For a more in-depth article about colored statues, see this story at

[The bronze statue photo is from Wikipedia, while the image of the bright archer is from the Brinkmann's website, listed above.]

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Writing experiment: Week 1

Well, my first week of trying out a new type of writing is over. How'd it go?

Not too bad. Nothing outstanding, but definitely more than I've done in a long while. My first day, I only got a little over 600, but the rest of the workweek I got more than 1,000 a day. Then the weekend hit and I only did 570 on Saturday and nothing on Sunday. It was pretty much impossible to motivate myself to do anything on the weekend.

I don't think I want to go all of this week without writing anything at all, but I definitely don't think I can get up at 5 a.m. every workday without getting burnt out. SO! This is what I'm going to try this week: getting up early every other day.

Then, at the end of the week, I'll do a tally and see if my word count is any higher than just trying to write every single day.

This is just going to be a big battle of finding out how to squeeze every last ounce of productivity out of myself. I'm going to try everything I can think of -- not only do I need to get this second novel out of my system, but I've also noticed that I feel better in the morning when I have an hour to myself to write before the rest of the day starts and I'm having all the outside stresses of work, home and family kick into high gear.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mid-week check in

Just checking in during my trial run of a new noveling technique for the writer with a day job/toddler/(insert other time and energy drain here).

I originally had decided to do one full week of doing 2,000 words a day by getting up an hour early for work during the work week (and an hour before my toddler son usually gets up on the weekends). Then, the plan was to take the following week off and use those extra hours for sleeping and not stressing about getting up early.

So how have I done so far?

Monday I only got 678 words done between 5-6 a.m., but Tuesday I got 1,154 and today I got 1,039.

I'm thinking it was a little ambitious to think I could write 2,000 words in one hour at 5 a.m. (Heck, it takes me 15 minutes for the coffee to kick in enough so I can open my eyes wide enough to look at the computer screen.) But I'm currently happy with the 1,000 minimum per day. Maybe if I can get that groove down, I can work in some writing time for my lunch hour and start hitting 2,000 a day. But for someone who has probably written 2,000 words total in 2015 before this week, 1,000 words a day is awesome.

As an amusing side-note, Monday and today were not too hard to force myself out of bed at 5 a.m. -- Monday because I was happy to start the experiment, and today because I'd gotten to an interesting scene I was itching to write. However, on Tuesday I almost didn't get up. When my alarm went off, the following conversation happened in my brain:

Nope. Not happening today.

This is only the second day. You can't quit on the second day.

I totally can. Sleeping now.

You will hate yourself for the rest of the day if you don't get up now.

Don't care. I'll be well rested.

You wrote a BLOG post about it. You have to do it.

I'll just post that I'm a failure. I like sleep. People will understand.

Get up


Get uuuuuuup


After about 5 minutes, I'd stressed myself out about it so much that I knew I wasn't going to get back to sleep anyway, so I just grumbled and got out of bed.

We'll see if I'll keep winning out over my lazy self the rest of the week.

Any tips you have for forcing yourself to write in a limited time frame are extremely welcome!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I'm still here.

Well, seeing as it's been more than a year since my last post, I finally decided to blow the dust off this blog and try again. My first novel-in-progress is in its millionth finished draft and is being proofread by an awesome friend so I can edit it for the million and first time before heading back out into the query trenches.

However, since my child was born a little more than two years ago, I'm still having an enormously hard time getting back into my writing groove. I have a pretty stressful job (which anxiety issues makes even more stressful), and then I have to come home to play with, feed and put to bed a very active (and frequent tantrum-throwing) toddler. By the time I get him to bed, make myself something to eat, and think about throwing in a load of laundry or cleaning something, it's bedtime and I have nothing left to give.

I've tried getting up at 5 a.m. to write before work. I do better writing in the morning when I'm fresh (after the coffee has kicked in). That's successful for maybe three days before I can't make myself lose that precious extra hour of sleep any more. It's incredibly frustrating. I've gotten to the point where I don't like being on Twitter anymore, reading about other writers doing fantastic in their writing goals. I keep thinking, "What's wrong with me? Why can't I do it any more?"

Well, every time I think of just giving up, I find myself coming back and trying another tactic. And this weekend I decided on another tactic.

The plan is to do one full week of NaNoWriMo-like writing. About 2,000 words a day. I'm going to get up early every day this week, including the weekends, and cram in writing to every possible second until I hit that 2,000 words a day. Then, the following week, I can completely goof off. Do whatever I want. Sleep in that extra hour. Take naps on weekends when my son does. Whatever. I'm just not going to feel guilty about relaxing because it's my "off" week. Then just keep alternating the weeks.

I'm thinking that if I know I only have to write hard a week at a time, I'll be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and not give up after three days or so. It might be slow progress, but right now anything is faster than the standstill I'm at right now.

I'll make progress reports to check in with how I'm doing. Maybe it will be a total flop. Maybe I'll find something that works. Maybe I'll have to tweak it. I'm just jumping in, praying that I can find the writing grove again before my characters get frustrated and give up on me.

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