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Living Color: A Writer Paints Her World Paperback – September 2, 1997

4.8 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this series of autobiographical essays accompanied by paintings (or autobiographical paintings accompanied by essays), Natalie Goldberg examines the relationship between her writing, her art, and her life. Known for her books about writing (Writing Down the Bones in particular), Goldberg once used painting as others do a walk in the woods or a martini before dinner--as a way to unwind after a day of work. Fearing dilettantism, she quit painting altogether, only to find that when she stopped painting, "I gave up a deep source of my writing, that place in me where I can let my work flow." Once again she embraced visual expression, which she realized she had used "as a metaphor or mirror to break out of something I didn't understand in writing." The paintings have a colorful, folksy feel; the book is an interesting exploration of the influences that the various aspects of our lives have on our work and vice versa.

From the Inside Flap

Join the bestselling author of Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones as she explores a new realm of creativity--the world of color--and offers us an intimate view of how everyday life is transformed into art.

In twelve high-spirited chapters, Natalie introduces us to her family, her artist friends, her New Mexico home, her painting trips to Europe--always focusing on the questions faced by any creative person, whatever their medium. Why, for example, does an artist choose some subjects and not others? ("I was crazy about the wrong-color sky and the heart-sinking beckoning of headlights on old cars," she acknowledges.) How does a painter draw nourishment from another painter's work? ("I didn't want fancy art theories. I wanted a direct connection with the painting before me.") When is it time to move into a new form? ("I had to go to an empty white canvas and find out what was within me.")

More than 60 four-color reproductions of Natalie's distinctive and joyous paintings appear throughout. The result is a feast for the eyes and a celebration of the creative spirit in action.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 154 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (September 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553354892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553354898
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
Natalie's paintings are dazzling...she seems to have caught the emotional color of her subjects, the inner dance of things...it's essential magic. In the chapter titled "How I Paint", she says: " I noticed that the blue of my paints wasn't blue enough to get the intensity of that New Mexico sky. I painted the sky red instead. I painted Jazz yellow. He was a brown dog, but yellow expressed him better. Color became fluid".
There's a chapter on her father, with 7 paintings of him, the first from '78, the last, '98...wonderful portraits, with a sadness in them, despite the vivid colors.
Another chapter, "A Deep Source of my Writing", is about how her writing and painting are interrelated.
She writes of her European travels, her visits to the Musee Matisse, Cezanne's studio, the Kafka Museum, and so much more...with an easy flow that makes reading a pleasure, but it's the paintings that captivate me.
Her interiors are incredible..ordinary places like bathrooms and kitchens, turned into playgrounds of glorious color...her buildings and outdoor scenes are also amazing (her sense of perspective is fabulous !), but I love her cars best of all. If I could own one painting, it would be the green Chevy truck on page 22. It seems to have a face, with a side window that's winking at me.
This is a very special book, so full of life and love. It makes me laugh, inspires me, gives me hope and warms my heart.
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Format: Paperback
I can only echo the other rave reviews: This book is a must-own (not just a must-read) if you're an artist, a writer, or both. Even if you can't draw a stick figure, but have always wanted to be an artist, this book will set you on the path to creative expression. Don't just wish to be an artist... get this book, and start painting!
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Format: Paperback
Don't lend it to a friend, guard it with your life! Ms. Goldberg's drawings are wondrous. I want to say that they remind me of David Hockney's work - but that wouldn't quite do it. Because her style is hers alone and it's magical! The accompanying text throughout gives you an understanding of her drawings - and how she's able to unleash that part of her creativity - and have FUN! I never fail to read the latest Natalie Goldberg book - her insights, her truthfulness about her struggles help me realize that we're all artists. Some of us are just a little freer and further along than the rest. Thank goodness Natalie keeps writing to show us paths that she's hewn for herself.
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I love this book. I am a Natalie Goldberg fan anyway, I have to admit. But as I spend more time painting I appreciate the freedom that Goldberg gives me, in this book, to not try to get everything just right...the shadows, the colors. She paints with a different sensibility, adding details that she thinks should be there, but that weren't, and colors to please her and balance her painting. This book is changing the way I see and paint. And I'm grateful for that.
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Format: Paperback
Good job, Natli, listening to your own advice and finding that space where all that matters is doing it and being what you're doing. We are lucky to have you running point. Your courage is astonishing and a little embarrassing, sort of like when your little sister saves you by crashing your party. I always hold my breath until your last word, and then: EXHALE!
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I had never heard of Natalie Goldberg before this book was mentioned casually in an online journaling group. But the comment peaked my interest and I surely was not disappointed! I read the entire book in one sitting (during the first major snowstorm of '05!) There were many "ah ha" moments...and I especially enjoyed the chapter about her father...very emotionally moving and insightful. Highly recommended if you do visual art and are curious about what propels you.
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By A Customer on February 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
Just when I thought she was taking a couple years off to rest, here comes Natalie with her poems in living breathing color on canvas! I am reminded of Van Gogh's painting of his bedroom which always inspires me to write poetry. This book is just that kind of inspiration! It is one of the few books I will run with out of a burning house!
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Format: Paperback
I've read all of Natalie Goldberg's books, but was astounded to find out that she painted too. Filled with vivid color illustrations of her paintings, this book is a delight and a bargain. Natalie is never a bore, and inspires everyone with her talent.
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