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

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

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Picturing a World

Florence Fuller

August 29, 2016

Tags: Académie Julian, women artists, Scandinavian artists

Terri Windling’s Myth & Moor is a great source of inspiration for writers, readers, and lovers of images related to the mythopoeia. Her August 26th post on Children, reading, and Tough Magic is trove of pictures of children reading and quotations on the value of fantasy stories. It also brought my attention another of Jeanette’s younger contemporaries who studied at the Académie Julian—Florence Fuller (1867–1946). Born in South Africa, Fuller is classed as an Australian artist; for although she studied in Paris and spent time in England and India, she grew up in Australia and her most productive years were spent there. Her work is collected primarily in Australian museums. In 1905, she became a Theosophist, a reminder to me that the occult was a part of the world around my heroines Jeanette and Mattie (though not, I think, of much interest to either of them).

Henrietta Rae

August 25, 2016

Tags: women artists

Today’s image is from a distressing Spitalsfield Life post on plans to build a mezzanine in the ambulatory of London’s Royal Exchange. If built, the mezzanine will obstruct views of richly detailed turn-of-the-century murals of scenes from English history by several artists. I’m appalled by the proposed vandalism, but at least the post led me to Henrietta Rae. Rae was an almost exact contemporary of Jeanette, and her mural art is a reminder of the beautiful mural work done by female illustrators and fine artists of the period (the best known in America being the the Red Rose Girls).

Gestural line in a magazine illustration

August 19, 2016

Tags: magazine, illustration

Website tip: A post, Eye Candy for Today: James Montgomery Flagg ink illustration, is worth looking at for the picture and comments by artist and blogger Charley Parker. The period is right for my current heroine Mattie, and I’m sure Jeanette would agree with Parker’s comments on the effectiveness of Flagg’s gestural lines in the men’s faces.

Writer’s block

August 18, 2016

Another medieval image of an author at work. This one of the evangelist Luke gives me a giggle: he looks so much like any writer in a struggle to get down on paper what he wants to say! A bull, incidentally, is the medieval symbol for Saint Luke, but feel free to make up a story to explain what this one is thinking or has just said!

For more images from the same manuscript (British Library, MS Yates Thompson 5), click here

Writing in bed

August 13, 2016

Christine de Pizan at work
I have recently run across this image of Christine de Pizan writing in bed at two or three websites, but never with any manuscript attribution. Doesn’t matter. What interests me most is its hint that one of the earliest professional women writers we know of may have written while still in bed. Edith Wharton did. Other women have. I did for a long time. One explanation is that (more…)

Between the lines

August 5, 2016

Tags: Dewing

As readers of this blog know, I find the cross-pollination of the visual and narrative arts fruitful. Thomas Dewing’s painting of a singer and cellist seems to me a striking visual metaphor of an important literary principle: In the most potent writing, something happens between the lines.

Here, the visual space between the (more…)

Elegant Soirée

August 1, 2016

Tags: Béraud

This one is for Pat, who commented on the last post. Ballroom dancers!

“Anonymity,” my work-in-progress is about Jeanette Palmer’s younger sister, Mattie, who works in publishing in New York City in 1908. Works by Béraud helped me visualize Jeanette's Paris for Where the Light Falls. This one looks to me like a pastel from around 1900 (look at those Gibson (more…)