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.

Click on images to see enlargements. In the text, click on words in color to activate links.

Selected Works

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

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Picturing a World

Malade

January 30, 2014

Tags: Amy, Carolus-Duran, Sonja, Monet, malade, model

When Amy returns from Pont Aven to find that Sonja has brought La Grecque and Angelica into their studio, she makes the best of what she considers a bad situation by insisting that the model earn her keep by posing. The idea of Amy’s unflinching desire to take advantage of the chance to study a sick woman’s appearance was suggested to me by several 19th C paintings of sick beds or death beds. The most haunting case, which Carolus-Duran recounts to Jeanette later in the novel, was Monet’s oil sketch of his wife, Camille, in the hour after her death. (more…)

Angelica/Demonica

January 27, 2014

Tags: Amy, Angelica, transportation

“Her mother calls her Flora/ She doesn’t know her papa …” The illustration by Théophile Steinlen of a fatherless little girl on her way to school is way too innocent for my Angelica (the child Amy Richardson calls Demonica). All the same, I was delighted (more…)

Bastien-Lepage deleted

January 23, 2014

Tags: Bashkirtseff, Bastien-Lepage, Effie, Pont Aven

Only one truncated paragraph about Effie and Miss Isobel’s Pont Aven fête at the end of August 1879 survived editing. In the fuller account, the ladies are agog when they receive a drawing of Joan of Arc from Jules Bastien-Lepage for their (more…)

Pixar rules for writing

January 21, 2014

Blog tip: Attention fellow writers and readers who are interested in writing: I’m about to print out some Pixar story rules to use as a checklist while I adjust the plot of my new novel. Maybe you’ll find something useful to you, too. Via Gurney Journey, where there are also tips for story tellers.

Henry Ossawa Tanner

January 20, 2014

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I want call attention to the African-American artist, Henry Ossawa Tanner. A native of Pittsburgh, he studied in Philadelphia and eventually moved to Paris, where he had an internationally successful career as a painter. During my (more…)

Corpse of Henri Régnault

January 16, 2014

Tags: Carolus-Duran, Edward, Franco-Prussian War, Manet, Meissonier, Regnault

One more item that lay behind Edward and Carolus-Duran’s conversation about their two wars. Emile Zola said that Carolus-Duran made Edouard Manet (more…)

Pont Aven from above

January 15, 2014

Tags: Pont Aven, Gauguin

When I was in the seventh grade, my teacher asked me to try to draw a picture looking downhill. It was a problem in perspective that my untutored self could not solve, but ever since I have noticed (more…)

Résistance

January 13, 2014

Tags: Bracquemond, Carolus-Duran, Franco-Prussian War

Given the weather in most of the country this January, Carolus-Duran’s plunge into snowy memories during his summertime walk with Edward in the Tuileries Garden makes for a timely post. The painter really did assist his friend, Alexandre Falguière, build a snow sculpture at Bastion 84 on the southern wall of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, and so I could have him recount the incident to Edward when they discussed their respective wars.

For Bracquemond’s etching of Bastion 84, click here.

For an amusing film clip of a snowball fight in 1896, click here.

Castle-building

January 12, 2014

Blog Tip: Somehow I missed Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels until this week. In looking for Peake's artwork online tonight, I came upon a Lateral Action article on creativity. Check it out and start building your own castle with prompts from poet Mark McGuinness.

Degas portraits

January 11, 2014

Tags: Degas, Jeanette

Blog Tip: As readers of this blog know, paintings and photographs help me visualize the worlds of my fiction. I can't help wondering how I might have treated a character if I had had this portrait by Degas in mind when I was imagining Jeanette, or Amy, or even Emily in action. In any case, today's post on Degas' wintry portraits of women at It's About Time is well worth a visit.

Palace ruins

January 9, 2014

Tags: Carolus-Duran, Edward, Franco-Prussian War, Meissonier, Paris landmark, Tuileries

The American Civil War (1861-1865) has deeply affected the psyches of Cousin Effie and Edward; and as soon as I learned in my background reading that Carolus-Duran fought in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), I knew a shared experience of war could be an overt point of contact between him and Edward. (more…)

Breton farm

January 6, 2014

Tags: Jeanette, Pont Aven, Dow

Jeanette experiences her art intensely when she is in the Jernagans’ orchard, looking down on their farm. Dow’s Evening was one of the Breton landscapes I had in mind when I imagined what she saw as she composed her major picture for the second summer in Pont Aven. (more…)

Parisian drawings

January 5, 2014

Tags: Paris landmark

Blog tip! Today’s post at the invaluable Bibliodyssey blog is a portfolio of Parisian architectural drawings selected from the digitized Chauvet collection at the BnF’s Gallica site. The post provides information and links. To check it out, click here.

Flower Seller

January 2, 2014

Tags: Jeanette, Parisiénne, flower seller

During the summer of 1879, Jeanette not only draws a clump irises at the Cluny (see previous post), but also buys flowers on her way home for watercolor studies in her free time. Buying them makes her feel Parisian—and Gilbert’s painting shows why. (more…)