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Picturing a World

Clearing the Clutter (2) Farm plan

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!

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Motivation

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.

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Faiyum face

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.

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Bring-backs and takeaways

Okay, now I'm even closer to finishing a problematic short story than I was earlier this month when I wrote Out of the Woods. What has given me new energy to get to "The End" is a new question: What does the main character bring back?

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Out of the woods

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.

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But is it art?

Rivers Have Wings, The Yellow Smoke That Rubs Its Muzzle On The Window-Panes (2021)

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?

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Luggage tag art

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.

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River meander

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.

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Descriptive world building

For our town's movie club, I've begun James Monaco's How to Read a Film. It bristles with ideas, and here's one that set me thinking: "Since the days of Daniel Defoe, one of the primary functions of the novel, as of painting, was to communicate a sense of other places and people. By the time of Sir Walter Scott, this travelogue service had reached its zenith. After that, as first still, then motional picture photography began to perform this function, the scenic and descriptive character of the novel declined" (p. 57).

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Lady and the devil

While I was chasing the Green Man in March, I bookmarked Facing sin: late medieval roof bosses in Ugborough church, Devon, a 2015 article by Dr. Susan Andrew. Going back to it, I found this image of an elegant lady with a devil draped over her head.

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