Best Defense

Churchill on painting

The other day I finally got around to finally reading Churchill’s fine essay on why he enjoyed his amateur painting. He singles out how much it improved his powers of observation.

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The other day I finally got around to finally reading Churchill’s fine essay on why he enjoyed his amateur painting. He singles out how much it improved his powers of observation. “You would be astonished the first time you tried this to see how many and what beautiful colors there are even in the most commonplace objects, and the more carefully and frequently you look, the more variations you perceive,” he wrote in “Painting as a Pastime.”

That resonated with me. I felt the same way when I was writing a novel. It made even the commonplaces of daily life interesting. For me, that might mean covering a dull hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I’d notice how a senator held his hands while making a personal attack, or how an aide watched a general respond to a hard question. My novel didn’t get very good reviews, but I still enjoyed the writing of it.

Churchill also has some interesting views on grand strategy in the essay on painting. I’ll get into that in the book I currently am writing, about Churchill and Orwell.

Image credit: Amazon.com

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. @tomricks1
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