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

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Picturing a World

Marie-François Firmin-Girard

July 5, 2017

Tags: Paris landmark, dogs, flower seller, handcart, street views

Blog post alert:> Thanks to a post at Line and Colors for introducing me to Marie-François Firmin-Girard. I love finding pictures that I might have used for Where the Light Falls had I come upon them in time. (more…)

Girl with a dog

September 10, 2014

Tags: Morisot, dogs, women artists

This morning's post on girls with dogs in the blog It's About Time ties in nicely with a question I had for myself last night. I have just finished a short story set on a farm about a family who would surely have had a dog. Should I have given them one? I didn't because dogs have such personalities it would have to become a character with a role in the plot. Writers, have you found yourself making similar decisions? Readers, if there is a dog in a story or novel, how much do you expect it to contribute to the action or the emotions? What about a cat?

Learning by blogging

August 21, 2014

Tags: Hassam, Paris landmark, dogs, transportation

To complement Bellows’ Steaming Trains, I was looking for one of Hassam’s American urban landscapes when I came across this image of Paris. Aha! One of the Wallace water fountains I didn’t know about until this summer. Well, well.

My experience is that you don't leave a fictional world behind even after you finish a story. Things keep reminding you of it and adding to your understanding of characters, setting, and motives. And there’s nothing like blogging to make you bring together bits of this and that!

Pont Neuf

February 22, 2014

Tags: Béraud, Edward, Jeanette, Parisiénne, Paris landmark, dogs

Jeepers! I've just noticed that Thursday's post was not published. Better late than never, take a walk on the Pont Neuf!

When Jeanette returns from Pont Aven at the end of August 1879, she and Edward walk along Left Bank of the Seine on a Sunday afternoon. The scene is set farther down river than the Pont Neuf, but Béraud’s painting captures the casual, strolling ease that I wanted readers to feel.

Notice the Morris column advertising kiosk, the grille around the trees, the black-clad Parisiénne, and the little dog—recurring motifs for imagining Paris in this period.

Winter's cold

August 26, 2013

Tags: Amy, Jeanette, dogs

In Pont Aven in August 1878, Amy warns Jeanette about the everlasting gloom of Paris in winter. That slushy, dark, urban chill is captured in Buhot's 1879 etching (complete, notice, with dogs on the street). In August 2013, why not welcome a momentary shiver?!

Les Halles

June 20, 2013

Tags: Edward, Paris landmark, dogs, shopping

After his fencing less, Edward finds himself in the vicinity of Les Halles, the great covered food market of central Paris. Outside its steel-and-glass structure, street vendors gathered in the open air as Gilbert depicts them here and as they still gather in the tree-shaded squares of smaller towns in France on market days.

NB: an inquisitive dog on the loose in the lower right-hand corner and two more cheerfully settled behind a stand.

Kiosk

June 10, 2013

Tags: Amy, Jeanette, Edward, Béraud, Boulevard des Capucines, Rue Scribe, Paris landmark, Haussmann, fashion or clothes, dogs, kiosk, street views

At the end of their stay in Pont Aven, Amy proclaims herself ready again for the rough and tumble of Paris; and once back in the city, Jeanette discovers that she no longer feels like a new girl. I had a framed print of Béraud’s Kiosk beside my chair as I wrote Where the Light Falls : it set the mood perfectly.

The urbane gentleman on the right is dressed as Edward dresses when he goes out for his walks. What I noticed first, though, were the two women prettily lifting their skirts to negotiate the streets—Baron Haussmann’s clean, clean streets and wide pavements, where a lady could walk in city shoes. Jeanette would have visited this very intersection of the Rue Scribe and Boulevard des Capucines on her way from her bank to the Académie Julian. (more…)

Coffee with a Canine

May 6, 2013

Tags: Zeringue, dogs

BREAKING NEWS: The Campaign for the American Reader's blog, Coffee with a canine, has just published an interview with me about something as dear to me as Where the Light Falls—my Pembroke Welsh Corgi. His name? Palmer!

Is she …?

May 2, 2013

Tags: Parisiénne, dogs, fashion or clothes, street views, transportation

One more on the streets, this time walking alone. She is well dressed and carries the sort of bouquet that last Thursday’s shopper might have bought at the florist. But is she a respectable Parisiénne or a kept woman? A source of social unease in Paris in the latter 19th C was the difficulty in distinguishing the two on sight, for they dressed very much alike. The gaze of the man in the cab might be the male painter Gervex’s signal that this woman is no better than she should be. For the modern eye, it also illustrates the annoying reality that a single woman in public risked impertinent notice from strangers—though not the working woman crossing the street in the other direction. What stories do you think each of these women would tell?

Dog lovers’ note: another of those confident canines on the loose.

Place du Carrousel

January 17, 2013

Tags: Paris landmark, De Nittis, dogs, handcart, street views

On their first visit to the Louvre, Jeanette and Effie enter the Place du Carrousel and see a wide cobbled plaza, birds, red trousers of Zouaves in the distance, the ruins of the burned-out Tuileries Palace, and the statue of Victory atop the triumphal Arc du Carrousel. It's all in this painting.

And notice where the light falls! Victory becomes an emblem in Jeanette's mind for her artistic (more…)