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.

A small sample of the images that inspired me appears below. Click on these or any images in the posts to see enlargements. In the text, click on colored words to activate links.

Selected Works

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


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Picturing a World

Paris at Night

December 29, 2014

On New Year’s Eve, temperatures are going to drop 12° F where I live; I’m staying indoors! But for those of you who attend First Night celebrations or go night-clubbing, just think what a difference artificial light in cities makes in our lives. While I was researching Where the Light Falls, (more…)

Christmas tree

December 26, 2014

Tags: Christmas, women artists

Elizabeth Forbes, Christmas Tree (n.d.)
Whoops! I forgot to hit "Publish" on Dec. 23rd—a bonus from Canadian-born Elizabeth Adela Forbes Stanhope (Jeanette’s contemporary). Happy Boxing Day.

Puck Christmas 1908

December 25, 2014

Tags: Christmas, fashion or clothes, illustration

The true meaning of Christmas may be the opposite of worldly vanity, but I can’t resist posting this image from the period of my present research for ANONYMITY.

San Francisco-based Grant Gordon (best known as a marine painter) provided illustrations to Puck and other periodicals.

I have to assume that my heroine, Mattie, (more…)

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day

December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve seems to me the loveliest, quietist day of the holiday season. I've always loved the story of the shepherds in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. It has also pleased me in recent years to find shepherdesses as well as shepherds present in medieval imagery of the angel's announcement. (more…)

Alice Barber Stephens

December 23, 2014

Tags: Académie Julian, Christmas, illustration, women artists

This Christmas shopping street scene is the sort that might have met my new heroine Mattie when she arrived in New York City at the turn of the 20th C. It was painted by Alice Barber Stephens, (more…)

Three more shopping days til Christmas

December 22, 2014

Tags: Christmas, Glackens, New York City landmark, illustration, women artists

The heroine of ANONYMITY, Mattie Palmer, works in an office near Madison Square, so imagine her witnessing crowds like this. I’ve set the novel in warm weather for various reasons, but winter settings have advantages. Cold, snow, and sleet give urgency to action, and respite from misery in cozy havens are among my (more…)

Pauline Carolus-Duran

December 18, 2014

Tags: Carolus-Duran, Sarah Bernhardt, Sophie Croizette, fashion or clothes, women artists

Pauline Marie Charlotte Croizette was an artist and the sister of actress Sophie Croizette. In 1868, Pauline met Carolus-Duran in the Louvre, where she was copying old masters, and married him that year. I love (more…)

Chinese cabinet

December 15, 2014

Tags: fashion or clothes

One of the pleasures of researching an historical novel is discovering themes (I didn’t know how infatuated with Asian art and objects artists and collectors were in the 19th C until I started reading up for Where the Light Falls) and new artists. Gustave de Jonghe (1829–1893) was a Belgian painter, (more…)

Visualize the sky

December 14, 2014

Website tip: Click here to be astonished by photographically constructed night views of cities as they would appear if the stars over them were fully visible. Surely these should inspire wonderful s.f. stories or remind us to imagine fantasy worlds more vividly.

Color test

December 13, 2014

Website tip: Running through some bookmarks, I ran across an on-line test for color acuity. Take it, it's fun! (And so weirdly ego-satisfying if you do well.)

Elsa Beskow

December 11, 2014

Tags: Christmas, children's books, illustration, Scandinavian artists, women artists

Several interests came together for me when I came across Swedish artist, Elsa Beskow (1874–1953)—Jeanette’s future career as an illustrator; my new heroine Mattie’s work in juvenile book publishing; women’s rights; and Scandinavian women artists. As a Christmas present to (more…)

Angela Thirkell Society

December 9, 2014

My copy of the Holiday 2014 issue of Divagations, a thrice-yearly bulletin for members of the Angela Thirkell Society of North America, arrived today. In it appears a short essay of mine on what I learned as a writer from Thirkell. For those (more…)

Female magazine illustrators

December 8, 2014

Tags: women artists

Some readers have been kind enough to ask whether there will be a sequel to Where the Light Falls. So far, my answer is “I don’t know. I don’t have a story yet, but I do know that Jeanette becomes an illustrator.” Partly with her future career in mind and (more…)

Ellen Day Hale

December 1, 2014

Tags: Académie Julian, Carolus-Duran, Hale, women artists

Ellen Day Hale's 1910 picture of a reclining woman with a guitar (taken here from a post at It’s About Time) can help me with the atmosphere of ANONYMITY in a way that photographs cannot. There’s something fresh and vivid (more…)