Mar 2, 2012

Book imitates art

The main character in the novel I'm working on is a painter. I can't even remember how it came about, but I started trawling through the online collection of the MoMA for general inspiration, and I came across some drawings by French symbolist painter Odilon Redon. Something about his art really spoke to me, and the moods he created seemed similar to the dream world I was creating in my manuscript. I didn't know much about him, so I started searching the interwebs for more of his art.

Obviously, seeing the paintings in real life is far more ideal than looking up prints online, but I had so much fun looking at all of his work and letting it inspire scenes in my book. I was particularly drawn to the solitary female images like this and this. And Vierge nimbee inspired an entire scene. Some of Redon's more bizarre charcoal pieces just plain tickled my fancy. Nothing was directly based on those, but they helped set my mood when I sat down to write various parts.

Another artist I borrowed from to create scenery was cubist painter Lyonel Feininger. The town and inhabitants of Nod were inspired by his paintings, and I used some of his other pieces (seascapes, bridges, moonlight) as general mood material. I pictured the cove where Jared's house was set as looking something like this.

It truly is a luxury to have access to all of this art at your fingertips, and I'm well aware that the online versions are nothing compared to the originals. I hope to see some of these paintings in person one day. Maybe once the kids are older and this is a practical kind of trip. In the meantime, I'll be keeping my eyes open for local exhibitions.

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