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Picturing a World

Scaffolding

Barriers to training and opportunity, and sheer prejudice are correctly cited as having held back women in the arts in the past (and now!). For painters, male and female, moreover, there was the cost of materials. Even easel-sized canvasses had to be paid for, as did pigments, brushes, props, and solvents. When I saw this image recently in a Gurney Journey blog post, it struck me that the sheer size of the support and apparatus required to produce a very large work meant that independent wealth, prior success, or an institutional commission was necessary before an artist could undertake the sort of grand works that won prestige in the 19th C. Poets and fiction writers were at an advantage when they could scribble away with no more investment than the cost of paper and pen. My main point, however, is that in visualizing a world for fiction, it’s the unexpected detail—like Detaille’s scaffolding—that can provide verisimilitude and possibly a plot twist. Read More 

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Teacher and pupil

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? Read More 

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Palmer and touch

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  Read More 

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Marie Bracquemond and touch

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  Read More 

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Movement in color

We can detect movement most easily through sight: we see something change position in relation to other objects. We hear movement: rustling, whooshing, gurgling; Doppler changes in volume and pitch. We feel it as changes in pressure against our skin or bodies: mothwing zephyrs, vibrating tuning forks that buzz in our fingers, the ripple  Read More 

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Touch

After reading David Abram’s deeply thought-provoking book, Becoming Animal, I have been thinking about what it means to open oneself to the world through all of the bodily senses and more particularly how to incorporate such awareness into fiction. Can an artistic medium effectively communicate what is perceived through seemingly unrelated senses? Read More 

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Jérémy Soheylian

It’s always a thrill to encounter a picture that opens into a world you are reading about or imagining. This morning, when I checked Charley Parker’s blog, Lines and Colors, I was rewarded with glimpses of French landscapes and architectural details by artist Jérémy Soheylian which helped me visualize the setting for a current story of mine. Read More 

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Walk on the Wyld side

On my living room wall, I have a framed poster of the 1879 John Singer Sargent painting that inspired me to send Jeanette and Edward to the Luxembourg Garden. Earlier this week , a friend who worked in the movie business for years came over. When I explained what the poster meant to me, she said, “I knew that designers for historical movies went to museums to study how things looked, but I’d never thought about fiction writers doing the same thing.”

Then this morning I came across this painting of Saint Mark’s Square by William Wyld at Charley Parker’s Lines and Colors. Parker writes: Read More 

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