Mon. Aug. 12, 2019: Paintings as Inspiration – #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Monday, August 12, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter DIRECT (as of yesterday)
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Last Week:
Last week , we talked about Still Lifes and taking an object in your home to use as inspiration.

What did you use? What kind of piece came out of it? A story? A play? A song? A painting? A dance? Something else? Leave your answer in the comments (mine will be there as well). I’ll also post the title of the book I looked at with Still Lifes in it. I tend to gravitate to the Dutch painters for that.

Paintings as Inspiration
I love to use paintings as a jumping off point for a new piece. If I’m feeling stuck or un-creative or like any of the various fragments and outlines and Ideas I’ve jotted down are worthless, I go to a museum and look at paintings (I always prefer to do it in person) or I get a book out of the library and look, or a DVD on a great museum.

I find Edward Hopper’s work particularly inspiring. New York Movie is one of my favorite pieces, and it inspired what may wind up as a long short story or a novella (I’ve been working on it, on and off, around other projects, for several years).

I love wandering into a museum and letting the pictures and sculptures “speak” to me. I may not get the story the painter intended to tell; but I always come away with something. I always come away feeling brighter and fuller and excited.

Details
One of the things I like to do in paintings is to look closely at what is not central to the action. For instance, in Canaletto’s “Rio dei Mendicanti: looking South” (1723?), I’m less interested in the men on the sunny side of the canal in conversation than in the darker, right side of the painting, with the laundry lines hanging out of the window, the woman shaking her broom, and the man perched on the edge of the building, nearly in the canal, cleaning the side of the building. To me, there’s something furtive about the man. Is he observing the place in order to rob it? Although it’s a not a rich area, filled with working people. Are the acoustics in that position good, allowing him to eavesdrop on the conversation of the burghers across the water from him? That’s a possibility. Or does he not want them to recognize him? Does he have a dispute with one of them? Or is he simply going about his day, doing his work, and has to adjust his position so as not to get hit with the debris from the broom shaken out above him? (Aside: I’m writing a play about Canaletto’s sisters, so I’m looking at a lot of his paintings these past months).

This painting could inspire an historical piece (probably a mystery) tying those three elements together. Or a short radio play. Or I could take the ideas and sensations it provokes and set them somewhere completely different: A New York tenement or a created world in a fantasy novel.

In Poussin’s “Summer”, the woman with the bowls beside the tree and the man in the background handling the horses are more interesting to me than the central figure of a man kneeling before the other man. Is the woman going about her business, ignoring what is going on? I don’t think so. She may be related to the kneeling man, or perhaps he is her lover. Or perhaps her lover is the man on the other side of the tree, drinking, out of the sight line of the man in charge. What’s going on in the woman’s mind? There are so many wonderful possibilities.

Even a portrait can inspire. Several years ago, I wrote a play about Lavinia Fontana, the first woman painter in the Renaissance who took in commissions like the men. One of my favorites of her paintings is the portrait “Portrait of a Lady of the Court.” This woman looks like she has a secret. She and Lavinia share it. But we must guess. My research into the extensive network of powerful Bolognese women at the time reinforces that idea, and the research helps me look at the painting with more knowledge.

This Week’s Challenge:
This week, give yourself an Artist’s Date (thanks to Julia Cameron for encouraging us to do that) to go to a museum or a gallery and look at paintings. Pick one that inspires you and write something about it.

You can leave information about it in the comments below, or wait until next week.

Thurs. May 30, 2013: Busy NY Days and Having to Wear Shoes

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The small pools at Rockefeller Center

Thursday, May 30, 2013
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Yesterday was a wonderful, albeit exhausting day. Up early, left Brooklyn at a reasonable hour, rolled into Rockefeller Center.

First stop: Christie’s Auction House. They had a viewing for the upcoming Latin American Art Auction. It was amazing. There’s a reason Christie’s has such a stellar reputation — not only are the pieces stunning, but they are well-curated, and the staff is pleasant.

Of course, I gravitated immediately to Matta’s work. His paintings have spoken to me since I was in college and saw them when my roommate studied him in Art History class. If there’s a Matta, I find it instinctively.

There was also work from a Cuban painter named Tomas Sanchez that I loved — his use of light and color and the four elements. And Emilio Sanchez’s use of light reminded me of Edward Hopper.

What a great way to start the day!

Headed up Fifth Avenue. Stopped at St. Patrick’s (under renovation) to visit the Brigid altar. Stopped in St. Thomas’s because I attended the ordination of one of the first women priests (Anglican) there when I was in high school. I thought it was somehow appropriate that, when you stand in front of the church’s 9/11 Memorial, you can hear and feel the subway moving underneath.

Further up to the MOMA, where I found a card of the Edward Hopper painting that inspired one of my short stories. Bought it and will frame it when I get home.

Up to the park, where I had coffee and a nice chat with one of my students. Then did the Broadway matinee sweep, but didn’t really want to bother anyone during the shows.

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I swung by my beloved Belasco Theatre to take photographs — nothing’s running in it right now, but that theatre holds a special place in my heart. It’s a little gem, and I wish a bit more would be invested in it to preserve it. The history, the stories, the atmosphere of it are completely unique to any theatre in which I’ve ever worked.

Headed for the NY Public Library, where I spent quality time with Patience and Fortitude, and used the reading room to get some work done. Got some background written for something I want to work on.
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To the Harvard Club, where the Indie Next Generation Awards Ceremony was held. The Harvard Club has many strict rules and nut dispensers, and that’s all I’m going to say on that topic. But our function was lovely — how can you not love a place that hands you a glass of champagne as you walk in? I met a lot of great people, caught up with my agent, and got to applaud the authors. I’m glad I was a part of it as a judge.

Once I left the Harvard Club, I went back to Broadway, backstage at NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, to catch up with friends. It was great to see people and catch up and all that good stuff.

From there, I headed up 9th Avenue to Molloy’s Pub. Got there before any of the people I was meeting, so had dinner (hey, it was past 8 PM & I hadn’t eaten since breakfast). Joelle Charbonneau joined me after her signing at Books of Wonder and we had a good natter about the business, and then Costume Imp joined us when he got out of work at the ballet (they knew each other in college). So we had a great time.

By the time Imp and I got back to Brooklyn and settled, it was nearly 1 AM.

Up early again this morning — the concentration today is downtown and the Village. Walking the old neighborhoods, getting the changes photographed and logged in for the HEART SNATCHER trilogy, HUNTING THE DREAMSTALKER, and a couple of other things that use contemporary NY as a background.

I should wear the cute shoes that go with the dress, but my feet are swollen from yesterday, so to hell with it, I’m wearing the sneakers. The Knickerbocker Club (where I have a meeting with a former mentor this afternoon) is just going to have to deal. 😉

I’m not used to wearing shoes anymore. I don’t wear them at home, except to run to the store or to go out for a meeting. An hour, two hours a day, tops. Having to wear shoes all the time is much harder than it sounds!

Devon

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010
Dark Moon
Rainy and mild

So far, the brook’s holding. It’s got about another two feet before it goes over the banks. I’m keeping my car up on the hill and hoping they won’t give me a ticket. Under the previous mayor, during flood times, no one was ticketed for trying to save their cars, but this new mayor only cares about dollars, not citizens, so we’ll see. The flood watch was supposed to expire this morning, but now it’s been expanded to Tuesday morning.

Yesterday was a lost day, writing wise. The power flickered, so I didn’t want to use the computer. I couldn’t concentrate, and didn’t write in longhand. The cats were upset and stuck to me like Velcro. The wind howled like professional mourners keening at a funeral. Imagine that for hours and hours and hours. It rained hard, it rained horizontally.

I read Deanna Raybourn’s THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST. It was very different than I expected, but in a good way. I enjoyed it. I finished the biography of artist NC Wyeth, which was interesting. It didn’t change me into a Wyeth fan from a Hopper fan (not that those are mutually exclusive). Hopper’s work just speaks to me more strongly. But it gave me a deeper understanding of his life and motivations and content.

I’ll be going up and down to check the brook throughout the day; hopefully, it will only drizzle, and we can avoid a flood. I have to find some focus and get back to the page — I’ve got deadlines looming and I just don’t feel like working on anything I should work on. So I better get over it, if I expect to be able to pay bills this month.

Back to the page. Today’s a day I rely solely on craft.

Devon

Published in: on March 14, 2010 at 8:58 am  Comments (6)  
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

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Violet

Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Yesterday was the full moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
No idea re: weather — I’m scheduling this to post the night before

Yeah, I never managed to blog yesterday. Oops.

And I’m headed off at the crack of — to get my car serviced, so I actually scheduled this to post on Monday night.

I’m trying to remember if I have a good book depicting Edward Hopper’s paintings in storage, or if I need to go and buy one. I know I have a big biography and books ABOUT him, but I don’t think I’ve got a book of plates of the paintings. And I need it for a project. Guess I’ll be haunting the Bargain Books section of the major bookstores soon (like I don’t anyway?).

Re-reading THE JOURNALS OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT. Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe are still my heroes, and they’ve been that since I was about eight.

Gave myself Sunday off from writing because my brain was exhausted. Two proposals, a 5K story and a 9K story all out within 48 hours was a bit much, even though I’d been working on everything over a period of time. I’ve got a 2500 word story that needs to be done in the next couple of days, the Christmas story, and another anthology story that need to happen in the next couple of weeks.

I had a BLAAAAST talking to those middle schoolers yesterday. I brought in my wardrobe kit and showed them how a bunch of stuff worked, talked about quick changes, talked about the differences in wardrobe needs between theatre and film, and how that feeds into the writing. They asked very insightful questions. They seemed interested and engaged. Almost all of them had seen WICKED, and, since I swung on that show for 3 1/2 years (gee, I bet you had NO IDEA that’s where I worked with all the flying monkey talk, huh? 😉 ) I used a lot of examples and anecdotes from that show. It was a lot of fun, the time flew, and the seemed pretty engaged. I was totally honest with them, especially about where I’m a royal pain in the ass and where I break the rules, why, and both how I’ve made it work and where it’s made things harder.

Came home and was pretty much a waste of food all afternoon. I booked the tickets for DC and am having hotel trauma. I thought I’d found this GREAT hotel at a GREAT price, but it turns out the neighborhood is too skeevy even for someone who used to live a block off Times Square, so I’m looking for something else that’s not totally out of my price range, but close to where I need to be. Not fun.

Anyway, I’m off getting the car serviced for its regular check up. Then, I have to go vote for friends who are running for re-election locally (and doing a damned good job). More errands after that AND some writing AND finishing up Confidential Job #1.

Then, it’s off to the meditation group, taking a change of clothes with me so I can hit the election party on the way back.

It would be really, really, really a good idea to get some writing done today, too.

Since, well, tomorrow’s another adventure!

Devon