I had labeled this image, saved from a medieval moraized Ovid, as "Teeth in open mouth" because depictions of teeth are rare. What interests me now, however, is the expressions on the faces. At first glance, the wings seem to say "angels." But the lady is clearly up to no good, and the young man seems uneasy despite his crown.
Picturing a World
Oddly enough, I remembered this watercolor as "Lady Pole in Her Library." Nope, the artist was Thomas Pole, an American transplant to Bristol, England, a doctor and Quaker preacher—no titled lady involved. Still, you know me: it's all about using images to prompt story ideas. And quiet as it is, In the Library has some suggestive clues.
Another image I have run across as I review my files is this one from Farm Crops in Britain. I love models and diagrams and illustrations that can help me visualize settings within a story. This page, for instance, is packed with information about walls and buildings and activities for a farm in stony country. I tucked it away for reference; but in addition, Stanley Roy Badmin was a pleasant illustrator and landscape artist. I'm glad I discovered him—and have now rediscovered him!
I have now visited the Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway show at the Clark twice, once with no prior preparation and once after reading the catalogue. To prepare for a third visit, I have begun reading Pavel Machotka's Cézanne: Landscape into Art in hopes of discovering useful ways of thinking about the paintings; for Astrup's deeply felt response to his native landscape remind me of Cezanne's. What Machotka unexpectedly gave me, too, was a way of thinking about a story I've been working on.
Having finished a rough draft of my time-travel story, I've decided to press on with another idea in a genre new to me, set in a dystopian near future. At this stage, while I'm trying to bring my main characters into focus. Suddenly, in a blog post on a Gold necklace found in Roman baths in Bulgaria, up comes this face, a Faiyum portrait in the collection of the National Museum of Scotland.
First off, apologies to Su Blackwell: I've lost the citation for this piece, but it's just too emblematic not to use. I'm nearing the end of the first draft of a short story. I'll come out of the woods soon, but I'm not sure whether what I'm bringing with me will ever be truly satisfactory.
Blog post alert: Suppose you fed a phrase into a computer and it spit out a picture. Well, that's what happened when a computer-savvy artist used a program described in James Gurney's New Tools for Text-to-Image Generation. Perfect for producing jigsaw puzzles! But It also set me wondering about Text-to-text generation.. Yup, happening and been happening . So now I can't help wondering how a short story written by one program and illustrated by another would turn out. Hmmm, maybe an idea for a story written by a human being?
I admired Jackie Morris's otters on luggage tags when she posted New Blues. They came to mind again when I got a haircut the other day. My hairdresser and I were discussing the slow deliveries and odd shortages that persist after the COVID lockdown. She can't find the little tissue squares used for giving permanents; a shipment of tea for me has gone missing. It was the tissue squares that linked up with the otters. Together, they reminded me of the vagaries of art supplies in certain societies.
One of my image folders is called "Pictures Demanding a Story," and this photograph is going right into it. Look at the half-circular swirl of the river meander. The stone walls bound it and echo it each other. The bush on the right at the end of the curve rises into a different energy. Oh, and that glimpse of the horizontal sea way off on the horizon. All the elements together proclaim a place of power, maybe of ritual.