Monday, April 21, 2014

Some Notes on Realism

As a painter I was never overly interested in realism. I liked a few realist artist’s works and was always sure to include them in my slide lectures, in case students in my class had a preference for working that way. My first love was impressionism, followed by post-impressionism and then the fauves and abstract expressionists. I prefer contemporary surrealism, where elements of the fantastic are allowed into the picture or even classical surrealism, such as the work of Magritte.

                                                 (Magritte, Oil on Canvas - The Donor)

As a writer my fiction novels have never been urban realism or any other type of straight forward narrative set in our world, as people generally understand it. I remember first being moved by the work of Carlos Castaneda in art school. He was a controversial figure, particularly prolific in the 70’s and 80’s, who wrote about his experiences with shamanism. His stories changed my world view, twisting, bending and melting it, in the way he says his life was changed through Toltec Shamanism.

My novels, like my paintings, exist in the world of Magical Realism. They have elements of the mundane, overlaid with elements of the fantastic, hopefully in a believable or realistic fashion. Within Magical Realism, there is a great deal of room for the inclusion of mythology, folklore, legends and fables. There is latitude to express yourself that I find other genres to lack.

                                         (Stephanie Rose Bird - Handmade Paper - Fairy tale)

Magical Realism sometimes juts up against Horror or contains supernatural elements. I love those genres as well as paranormal fiction. These areas are rich and fertile with great potential for my continued experimentation with the themes of transformation, healing, growth and intriguing developments in the lives and stories of my characters.

It is somewhat uncommon to bring African American characters into the realm of western mythology but that is what I am doing in my newest work. We have a rich heritage of storytelling that involves folklore and mythology in Africa and America. I am pulling all that richness together, hopeful to produce one heck of a Magical Realist’s story.

A to Z April Blogger's Challenge, R is for Realism


  1. I love all sorts of art from realism to surrealism. I especially have a soft spot for abstract. :)

  2. Yes, I am definitely an abstractionist. Do you make art as well as doing the writing?

  3. Magritte's one of my favorites. I'm particularly fond of "Ceci n'est pas une pipe."

    Stopping by from the A to Z challenge.

    John Holton

    1. Oh yes, John. That is a masterful work by Magritte that you mentioned. I will stop by your blog to check out how you handled R today.

  4. Isn't it fun to play with different planes of reality in a book? I too love to "bend" reality. It gives a lot of space to create situations where characters can expand (develop) themselves or react in an all new way.

    Great R post! With great respect! A

    1. Ambrozya, yes, it's so true, bending and shaping reality is so liberating. It also ties into my work as a shaman--so between the artmaking, writing and shamanism, there is a triple play on reality.

    2. Beautiful! A triple play on reality! Yes it is all a play that we get to shape with our thoughts and intentions. Nice to meet you!
      With great respect! A.

    3. Ambrozya, yes, I was going for that triple play. Nice to meet you as well!


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