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.

Click on images to see enlargements. In the text, click on words in color to activate links.

Selected Works

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

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Picturing a World

Crucifixion

April 18, 2014

Tags: Carolus-Duran, sketches

Blog tip: In my fiction, I stay away from religion except for the externals, e.g., glances at my characters’ church attendance and Christmas. In recognition of the solemnity of Good Friday, however, I’m posting these studies as a reminder that artists have been drawn to religious topics throughout the ages. I first ran across the image in the archives of the Inspirational Artwork blog, which are worth exploring.

Rodolphe Julian

March 24, 2014

Tags: Académie Julian, Beaury-Sorel, Rodolphe Julian, schools, sketches

Mention of Rodolphe Julian (1839–1907) in last week’s post on the clothed model made me realize that I should post on Julian himself—and, lo, another kneeling figure.

Born (and buried) in the village of Lapalud, Haut Vaucluse, in Provence, he was sent at an early age to Marseille to work in a bookstore. In the store he read (more…)

Emily Brontë sketches a place

March 21, 2014

Tags: sketches

Blog tip: Oh, the serendipitous discoveries available on the web! Emily Brontë left sketches? I never knew until I was taking a break and came upon this picture Sketchers too, an archived post at the blog Sketchuniverse. Does anyone know whether this illustrates a story Brontë wrote? Is anyone inspired to write one based on it? (more…)

Clothed model

March 17, 2014

Tags: Académie Julian, Rodolphe Julian, costumes, sketches

When Jeanette first goes to the Académie Julian, Rodolphe Julian explains that he offers three classes to women in which the models are nude, draped, or fully clothed. The last was intended primarily for amateurs whose embarrassment at naked flesh could be accommodated. Nevertheless, the folds of clothing also required careful study as (more…)

Skeleton

March 6, 2014

Tags: nudes, sketches

When Jeanette and Amy take up the full nude at the Académie Julian in the fall of 1879, they have taken informal anatomy lessons from Wee Willie Winkham, based on the skeleton he owns as a medical student. Know the Skeleton, a recent post at (more…)

Letter from a party

November 4, 2013

Tags: Carolus-Duran, fashion or clothes, garden party, sketches

Mention of Jeanette’s illustrated letters home had already been made in the narrative when my editor suggested using them to condense passages. The device proved helpful not only for summarizing events, but also for varying narrative rhythm and revealing the character’s attempts to shape her story for her family. In my imagination, moreover, I could make Jeanette as good a watercolorist as Albert Edelfelts! His letter (in Swedish) depicts “Mme Cotterau with Carolus Duran and Paul Deroulède.” It might as well be from Cornelia’s party after the portrait is unveiled, don’t you think?

For another page of the letter with a fashion doodle, click here.

For more information (in Swedish) at the vast Europeana website, click here

For an illustration of Paul Derouléde’s duel with Georges Clemenceau, click here. (Oh, the serendipity of the web!)

Sargent's talent

September 26, 2013

Tags: Carolus-Duran, Beckwith, Sargent, sketches

Sargent was eighteen when he made this sketch of the fellow art student with whom he shared a studio, James Carroll Beckwith. It was drawn in 1874, the year Sargent began studying with Carolus-Duran. Seeing it gave me an idea of just how confident and skillful Sargent was when he showed the portfolio that won him admiration from the master and the other students in the atelier.

For a relatively early self-portrait by Sargent, click here. For Beckwith’s 1875 sketch of Sargent, click here.

Baby faces

July 22, 2013

Tags: Jeanette, Morisot, sketches, women artists

When Amy hires a young mother with a baby to model for the afternoon class at the Académie Julian one week, Jeanette makes studies of the child’s face for future reference and includes the sheet in the portfolio she shows to Carolus-Duran later in the novel. Morisot’s sketches depict a somewhat older child, a toddler, but illustrate the same need to jot down impressions of children quickly because they don’t stay still for long.

ADDENDUM: Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their son!

Diligence

May 13, 2013

Tags: Pont Aven, sketches, transportation

After reaching the train station in Quimperlé on their way to the Breton seaside town of Pont Aven, Jeanette and her friends continue their journey in a French diligence or stagecoach. For van Gogh’s vivid painting of a southern example, click here.