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

Teacher and pupil

June 28, 2018

Tags: Bracquemond, marriage, teachers, women artists

It has to be said of Félix Bracquemond, that although he was a domestic tyrant who stymied his wife’s career in the end, he also taught her well. Best known now for his etchings, he taught her printmaking techniques which she put to exquisite use as in this portrait of her sister, Louise Quivoron. There is no reason to deny that men have cramped women’s careers, but it might be an interesting challenge to write a novel about a marriage that simultaneously expands a woman’s capacities while constraining her ability to pursue an independent career. And what would her sister be like? What would be her role?

Kitty Kielland's Studio

June 25, 2018

Tags: fans, frames, Scandinavian artists, rooms, studio, umbrella, women artists

I love the way this painting illustrates a young artist’s studio as a place to live. The plain floor and dormer window hint at upper-storey, cheap digs. I didn’t include potted plants in any of my characters’ studios, but they turn up in other paintings and would be part of making an (more…)

Michael Ancher’s breakers

June 21, 2018

Tags: Charlie Post, Scandinavian artists

I gave my fictional artist Charlie Post an obsession with painting oncoming waves because that really was a motif for more than one 19th C painter—witness this one by Skagen artist Michael Ancher, (more…)

Trump = Mrs. Coulter

June 20, 2018

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed how much the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" is like Mrs. Coulter's evil experiments in Philip Pullman's Golden Compass? Separate migrant children from their parents and lock them in cages. Gives me the moral shudders.

Anna Ancher’s summer

June 18, 2018

Tags: Ancher, Scandinavian artists, women artists

Today in the Berkshires is a day of hot sun, clear blue sky, and green meadows, lawns, trees, and plants. It’s summer. Anna Ancher’s Harvesters, on display at the Clark’s Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 perfectly captures the feel of such (more…)

Palmer and touch

June 15, 2018

Tags: Samuel Palmer

Blog post tip: A post on Samuel Palmer's trees at Charley Parker's Lines and Colors is a good follow-up to thoughts about touch in graphic art and fiction. A few days ago, I heard about a child who climbed into the crotch of a tree (more…)

Woman artist on a Breton beach

June 12, 2018

Tags: Scandinavian artists, umbrella, women artists

Yesterday, I went to the Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 show at The Clark in Williamstown. As good as I’d hoped—I’ll go again! Meanwhile, as I went through the galleries I played the game of deciding which painting I would choose if (more…)

Inside Looking Out

June 11, 2018

Tags: Caillebotte, Scandinavian artists, rooms, women artists

I had never seen a reproduction of Kitty Kielland’s Paris Interior until I read the catalogue for Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900. Now I can hardly wait to see it, first and foremost because it represents the life of a young woman artist, the life explored in Where the Light Falls. Second because I love pictures of views out windows (in fact, I love real views framed by real windows). And third because of the samovar. (more…)

Marie Bracquemond and touch

June 9, 2018

Tags: Bracquemond, gardens, women artists

As I said in my previous post, Marie Bracquemond’s husband, Félix, hurt as well as helped her artistically. Although they both exhibited at one or more of the eight Impressionist shows, she was, in fact, more receptive to the new esthetic than he was; and his criticisms could be choleric. He also (more…)

Happy artistic marriage

June 7, 2018

Tags: Ancher, Bracquemond, Scandinavian artists, marriage, teachers, women artists

At last! A woman artist who was not squelched by her husband, but treated as an equal. This painting depicts Anna Ancher and her husband, Michael Ancher, thoughtfully absorbed in critiquing a canvas together. (more…)

Marie Bracquemond’s umbrella

June 4, 2018

Tags: Bracquemond, fashion or clothes, umbrella

I am posting this largely because I think it’s gorgeous. As a teenager, Marie Bracquemond studied with Ingres and she learned etching from her husband, Félix Bracquemond. The elegance of her line no doubt reflects her training, but her use of color and (more…)