Katherine Keenum

A blog about how paintings, photographs, and prints have helped me visualize my fiction—both Where the Light Falls and works-in-progress—with a hope that they will stimulate other writers and readers, too.

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Selected Works

An American woman art student meets a Civil War veteran in Belle Époque Paris.


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Picturing a World


February 17, 2018

Writer’s tip: This month, my library book club is reading George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. (And, yes, it deserved to win the Man Booker Award!) To prepare for our meeting, I went poking on the internet and found a profoundly interesting interview with Saunders, which among many other insights, offers a gem to writers: (more…)

Heart-shaped books

February 14, 2018

This image from the heart-shaped songbook, Chansonnier cordiforme de Montchenu in the Bibliothèque nationale, in Paris delighted me when I came across it. Story, story, story! There must be a story to go with the illustration, but just as much fun to make one up. Perhaps a love story with Cupid, (more…)

Top hats at the garden party

February 9, 2018

Tags: garden party, fashion or clothes

I spent happy hours visualizing Cornelia Renick’s garden party, with very clear ideas of what Jeanette, Effie, and Emily were wearing. But although I dressed the men in black, I forgot their top hats (except Robbie’s)! Now, thanks to this image, when I reread my own chapter, I’ll have to (more…)

London working-class suffragists

February 7, 2018

Tags: suffrage, work-in-progress

Blog alert:The Spitalsfield Life post for February 7, 2017, Celebrating East End Suffragettes focuses on working class women in London during the fight for the vote. Great maps! (more…)

Gilbert’s Market Day

February 3, 2018

Tags: street scenes, dogs flower seller

Besides the great central food market, Les Halles, there were, of course, lots of neighborhood street markets throughout Paris in the 19th C. While poking around after finding yesterday’s painting by Béraud of Les Halles, I came across this picture by Victor-Gabriel Gilbert, (more…)

Béraud at Les Halles

February 2, 2018

Tags: Béraud, Paris landmark, Parisiénne

While cleaning up my writing room this week, I found a slip of paper in a box of old research for Where the Light Falls. It noted that a painting of Les Halles by Jean Béraud was shown at the 1879 Salon (at which Jeanette exhibits) and was now at the Haggin (more…)

Art and action

January 24, 2018

Tags: illustration

Cover art by Kathleen Jennings
A blog post on her cover art by one of my favorite illustrators working today, Kathleen Jennings, piqued my interest in the new fantasy novel, Arcanos Unraveled by Jonna Gjevre. I admire good cover art and dust jackets; I'm interested in textiles and love fantasy; it's great to be introduced to a new author, and this one grew up on a sheep farm! Of course I bought a copy. One thing we can do as artists in a time of trouble is support each others’ creativity.

Kathleen Jennings does so in praising a different artist who has illustrated her upcoming Heart of Owl Abbas.

That artist is Audrey Bejaminsen. She’s new to me. I find her fantastical work strange and accomplished and am grateful to have been led to it

Finally, Jonna Gjevre has other suggestions for making a difference in the world we face today. Also for her thoughts on publishing the novel this winter, click here.

Update: Funny, fast, one twisty yarn! Now that I've read it, I can report that Gjevre does indeed knit up the plot with oodles of textile lore. The characters are vivid. Some are archetypal, like the crone who owns a wool shop; others wackily original, like the kindly paranoid father who raises his hedge witch child in an abandoned missile silo. Not deeply resonant in a mythic way, but great fun—and no one who calls the University of Wisconsin alma mater should miss it.

Sisterhood and creativity

January 20, 2018

Tags: women artists

I try to keep these posts short and connect you to something you might use. This one is longer because, on this anniversary of the Trump inauguration, I’m pulling together several things to help myself move through and beyond the grimy, depressing aspects of the present day to something life-enhancing. I hope it helps you, too.

First, sisterhood: Reports on the Women’s March redux is enheartening. In the era of #MeToo, it’s good to focus on women’s worth—enlightened male companions welcome. We must also remember that it’s not just sexual predation that is an issue. I was interested to read in the January 12, 2018, Guardian, that “[a]fter 2017’s Cambridge Companion to Irish Poets included only four women, 250 writers have agreed to boycott anthologies, conferences and festivals where women are not fairly represented.” (more…)

Blonde lace

January 17, 2018

Blog post tip: For fans of textile history trivia, Loretta Chase’s Two Nerdy History Girls post, Blonde lace on the 19th Century Red Carpet, is worth a look. As she explains, the word blonde in this context refers to undyed silk.