Once upon a time, I was an art student. I took Foundations of Design classes, Art History classes, Art and Psychology classes, Painting I & II, Photography I & II, and Figure Painting (with oils!) I sat through slide after slide after slide of art from the Venus of Willendorf to Cubism and Futurism. And somehow I didn’t lose my love of art.
I might have changed my major from Art to English, but I saw them as extensions of the same desire– to express myself creatively and be inspired by others.
On Saturday, a good friend of mine went with me to the Blanton Museum in Austin. And I got to indulge in one of my favorite rare activities, staring at art and letting it mesmerize and amaze me.
I like to go slowly through a museum, unhurried by the pace of a tour or another person. I like to read the notes and let the technique and the effect soak into my skin. It leaves me feeling as though I emerged from a hot bath full of color and inspiration.
It is an excellent thing, I think, to find inspiration outside of the field in which you are working. Visiting a museum can be an excellent way to get ideas. For instance, the image above is so beautiful, the colors, details and expression so captivating, that it forces you to think of descriptors in a new way.
Also, it makes you see what your characters might have seen if they had been living in a time, or place to see work like this. Lillian, my female lead, is an aspiring artist who is staying at a manor house in England. I now have the inspiration to create a scene where she can admire and study works like this so that the reader can see her desire to paint, and learn about her craft. And I can’t wait to have Morgan, my male lead, get involved in the discussion too.
And based on some other images, I’ve got some hilarious details to add to the characterization of one of my most Austenian humorous side characters. Let’s just say she wants to be painted like Mary Magdalene being carried up to heaven by a throng of putto, but even a throng of strong men might not be able to lift her…