icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Picturing a World


When Amy returns from Pont Aven to find that Sonja has brought La Grecque and Angelica into their studio, she makes the best of what she considers a bad situation by insisting that the model earn her keep by posing. The idea of Amy’s unflinching desire to take advantage of the chance to study a sick woman’s appearance was suggested to me by several 19th C paintings of sick beds or death beds. The most haunting case, which Carolus-Duran recounts to Jeanette later in the novel, was Monet’s oil sketch of his wife, Camille, in the hour after her death. Read More 
Be the first to comment


“Her mother calls her Flora/ She doesn’t know her papa …” The illustration by Théophile Steinlen of a fatherless little girl on her way to school is way too innocent for my Angelica (the child Amy Richardson calls Demonica). All the same, I was delighted  Read More 
Be the first to comment

Bastien-Lepage deleted

Only one truncated paragraph about Effie and Miss Isobel’s Pont Aven fête at the end of August 1879 survived editing. In the fuller account, the ladies are agog when they receive a drawing of Joan of Arc from Jules Bastien-Lepage for their  Read More 
Be the first to comment

Pixar rules for writing

Blog tip: Attention fellow writers and readers who are interested in writing: I’m about to print out some Pixar story rules to use as a checklist while I adjust the plot of my new novel. Maybe you’ll find something useful to you, too. Via Gurney Journey, where there are also tips for story tellersRead More 
Be the first to comment

Henry Ossawa Tanner

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I want call attention to the African-American artist, Henry Ossawa Tanner. A native of Pittsburgh, he studied in Philadelphia and eventually moved to Paris, where he had an internationally successful career as a painter. During my  Read More 
Be the first to comment

Corpse of Henri Régnault

One more item that lay behind Edward and Carolus-Duran’s conversation about their two wars. Emile Zola said that Carolus-Duran made Edouard Manet  Read More 
Be the first to comment

Pont Aven from above

When I was in the seventh grade, my teacher asked me to try to draw a picture looking downhill. It was a problem in perspective that my untutored self could not solve, but ever since I have noticed Read More 
Be the first to comment


Given the weather in most of the country this January, Carolus-Duran’s plunge into snowy memories during his summertime walk with Edward in the Tuileries Garden makes for a timely post. The painter really did assist his friend, Alexandre Falguière, build a snow sculpture at Bastion 84 on the southern wall of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, and so I could have him recount the incident to Edward when they discussed their respective wars.

For Bracquemond’s etching of Bastion 84, click here.

For an amusing film clip of a snowball fight in 1896, click here.

 Read More 
Be the first to comment


Blog Tip: Somehow I missed Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels until this week. In looking for Peake's artwork online tonight, I came upon a Lateral Action article on creativity. Check it out and start building your own castle with prompts from poet Mark McGuinness.
Be the first to comment

Degas portraits

Blog Tip: As readers of this blog know, paintings and photographs help me visualize the worlds of my fiction. I can't help wondering how I might have treated a character if I had had this portrait by Degas in mind when I was imagining Jeanette, or Amy, or even Emily in action. In any case, today's post on Degas' wintry portraits of women at It's About Time is well worth a visit. Read More 
Be the first to comment