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

Surrealism—Leonora Carrington

February 1, 2017

Tags: women artists

Things come together sometimes to open new vistas and set off resonances.

A few weeks ago, a review led me to buy Too Brave to Dream, a collection of previously unpublished poems that Welsh priest and poet R. S. Thomas wrote in the margins of his copy of Surrealism by Herbert Read.

Soon after, in a January 11th article at the Guardian website, Top Ten Books about Wild Women. I read about artist Leonora Carrington, who was introduced to Surrealism by Read’s book. Surrealism has not been one of my enthusiasms, but I like Thomas’s poetry in general and found myself looking at the paintings that drew his attention. Then with Carrington, wow! somehow her female slant altered everything. I looked at this garden picture and said to myself, Yes! I get it! Formality closing one in and yet greenness desirable and all the oddities possible in life.

I instantly connected Carrington’s to the sort of 17th and 18th C bird’s-eye estate pictures I study for garden history—and to architect Charles Jencks’s very contemporary Garden of Cosmic Speculation.

In the surreal political catastrophe through which we are living, I think we must all make as many life-giving connections as we can, remember to take some views on the slant, and take heed of the subconscious.