Couldn't this image prompt a story about being a female student in Paris early in the 20th C? The Japanese print on the wall. The young woman's serious expression. A pen ready to take notes. The coat worn indoors against the cold (when I was a student in Aix-en-Provence, we had heat from a stove for only two hours a day). A jug of flowers—always remember: tuppence a week for beauty. Ethel Pennewill Brown Leach is new to me and maybe not a major find; but both she and her student are reminders that, yes, art and literature and learning matter. For more of her work, click here.
Picturing a World
Just as appealing as Miereke Nelissen's animals are her illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—or more precisely for De tovenaar van Oz. Lisabeth Zwerger's version may have influenced Nelissen. Certainly Zwerger made clear that a modern sensibility can work wonders divorced from more traditional variations on W. W. Denslow's first-edition illustrations (see, for example, those of Scott Gustafson and Michael Hague and 25 more).
Well, I've sent the manuscript of my fantasy novel to four writer friends. I expect encouragement (after all, they are my friends). What I hope for are probing questions, comments, and criticisms to guide me toward strengthening the story.
Of course, it's asking a big favor to request someone to read the manuscript for a whole novel, especially a first draft. Sometimes we're reluctant to make such a demand even for a shorter piece, especially since work never seems to live up to the excitement of first inspiration. That's where writing buddies come in: we read each other's work because we know that putting it out there is a necessary part of living in the arts. It's important to friendship, moreover, to keep up with what matters most to people dear to us. That's one reason I love this picture by Catherine Chaloux.
Blog post alert: The History Blog's post on the Getty acquires rediscovered Artemisia Gentileschi Lucretia reports on the recent sale of this painting at auction for $5.3 million. Women painters, the historical injustice of attitudes toward rape victims, and the mysteries of the art market are all serious subjects unto themselves. But what caught my eye was—the frame!
Website alert: A Guardian article, Honey, they shrunk the art … top artists create works for tiny gallery features this abstract painting by Fiona Rae. Hurrah! She's new to me, and the project by the Pallant House Gallery is delicious to anyone who loves scale-model miniatures—including, of course, Queen Mary's Dollshouse, which was part inspiration for the current project.
Serendipity delivers again. No sooner had I read Maria Dahvana Headley's exhilarating new translation of Beowulf, with its dragon fight, when up pops this splendid illustration of a different one by Sija Hong in Monstrous Tales: Stories of Strange Creatures and Fearsome Beasts from Around the World (2020). According to her website, the artist is "is a Chinese award-winning illustrator based in New York City." She is wholly new to me, and very appealing. Check out her website for more of her work. (Yeah, and, bro/sis, check out Beowulf, too.)
Via Lines and Colors.
Blog post alert: Charley Parker's Lines and Colors strikes again and introduces me to British female artist contemporary with Jeanette— Jessica Hayllar—a painter who depicted those quiet interiors, "portraits without people." You can find more paintings by her here. To me as a storyteller, they suggest either a quiet harbor to retreat to, or a world about to be disrupted.
Yesterday, I attended an absorbing webinar on Boston artist Sarah Gooll Putnam. Every aspect of the topic interested me (see below), and I hope it will be posted to YouTube as planned. For this blog, it introduces one more excellent, little-known woman artist. Putnam was a successful portraitist in Boston elite circles, painting in a style reminiscent of John Singer Sargent and Cecilia Beaux.
An even bigger Wow! for the historical novelist are her voluminous diaries now digitized at the Massachusetts Historical Society. In them, she recorded daily events, illustrated her entries with drawings, and supplemented them with clippings and other memorabilia. If you have a hankering to undertake a story set in Boston in the latter quarter of the 19th C or early 20th, don't miss these.
Blog post alert: In 2020, Drēma Drudge, author of a lively blog about fiction and art, published a novel, Victorine with Fleur-de-Lis Press, which brings out first books by writers who have been featured in The Louisville Review. This historical novel is based on the life of Victorine Meurent, one of Édouard Manet's models who was a painter herself. All the arts are now and always have been hard, but they are more than deeply rewarding—they are necessary. Thanks, Drema, for reminding us of the stories hidden in the past and for keeping them alive through your own creativity today.