Art Inspired Writing

  Some of my fellow writers have mentioned being struck by a shiny new idea while listening to music.  As much as I enjoy listening to music, thus far, no tune has sent me dashing for a pen.  Rather, when it comes to The Arts, it is is paintings that will often  make me stop and go,  “hmm….”

A few paintings that inspired me while writing my last novel, PORTRAITS OF THE LIVING: A GHOST TALE,  were the following:

1.  Goya’s Don Manuel

This painting with the  child holding a bird captive, and two cats waiting to pounce upon it  hangs in The Hoffmans’ dining room.

Titania Sleeping by Richard Dadd hangs in their parlor:

The renowned English artist went mad during his travels through Europe and the Middle East.  After claiming possession by the Egyptian god, Osiris, he began exhibiting increasingly violent behavior.   Upon Richard’s return home, his father refused to instituionalize him.    Not long afterwards, on August 28, 1843, Richard Dadd stabbed his father to death.

Richard Dadd spent the rest of his life in a mental institution.

While my novel has nothing to do with Dadd or fairies,  the  painting and Dadd’s lifestory made me think of the ill character in my story, and the one who needs to wake up and see the truth…

Do paintings inspire ideas in you?


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40 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have been inspired by paintings, but not as often as the music works for me (probably because I don’t spend as much time at the museum as I do listening to music). I do remember an idea I got for a story (which I still haven’t worked up) from looking at a Cezanne (don’t ask me which one, I’d have to go back to the museum and find it again. It was a landscape).

  2. DD,

    I shall resist asking. But, now, of course, I’m curious about which Cezanne! 🙂

  3. Yeah, me too! I’m thinking a trip to the Portland Art Museum may be in order 😉 I need to re-up my membership anyway.

  4. I have this hanging above my desk:

    I got it because she resembles a character I’m writing, and I’ve since drawn ideas from it, such as a scene where she is made to drown cats. I particularly like her posture and the somewhat pensive, vulnerable look on her face, as though she’s waiting to see if the person approaching her is going to be friendly or not.

  5. Haystack,

    That’s a cool pic. I just went and read up a bit on Felix Eddy. She has some really interesting work.

  6. I’ve always enjoyed looking at paintings and getting ideas for different stories or poems, but no completed stories have come from it.

  7. Any particular paintings come to mind, Chazz?

  8. The Lovers (both of them) by René Magritte

  9. Both, I lean heavily on music, but I also collect art on deviantArt for the inspiration.

  10. I have a thing for really good photography. Misty trees, pictures of rusty nails, etc. A lot of times it is those pictures that have an air of mystery around them. It makes me feel at peace, and more at a mood to write.

  11. Chazz,

    Interesting picture to get a story idea from! 🙂

  12. Heya Ralfast,

    Yes, from reading your blog I can tell that music is very important to you. 🙂

  13. Hi Spamwarrior,

    I know what you mean about that mood… 🙂

  14. They are very interesting pictures, I might just write a post on them

  15. Always been a fan of Goya’s work.

  16. Right now I’m working on a novel set in the Cotswolds and I love the watercolors by Edith Holden in The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. She was a brilliant talent who died far too young.

  17. Agreed. I love that book.

  18. Chazz,

    Looking forward to your post on them.

  19. Hi Diehl Art,

    Goya’s work is so striking.

  20. Marguerite,

    Love the setting of your WIP!

  21. I’m not so much inspired by paintings…rather I like to take a painting class, do a little beading, or indulge in some other artsy-craftsy activity to get my brain thinking, and looking at things, in a different way.

  22. It’s done now if your interested 😛

  23. Dominique,

    That’s a fantastic approach.

  24. Chazz,

    Great! Heading over to your blog soon. 🙂

  25. Thanks! The Cotwolds are so beautiful. I’ve been inspired by the artwork for certain and writing a Regency set somewhere other than London is so much fun.

  26. I have to say, I don’t look at a lot of paintings. Perhaps I should seek some out.

  27. Colby,

    Hope you find something inspiring if you do!

  28. Art has always inspired me; I am an amateur artist as well as writer. There was a painting, I’m not sure who it was by or what it was called (and its killing me) in my European History textbook my senior year of High School. It was of an Italian family during the Renaissance. Tucked in the corner, among all of the madness, was a melancholic youth with a slight smile. That image has stayed with me, and he’s definitely made appearances in my work.
    I adore museums, too. I recently spent about an hour looking at the John Singer Sargent paintings at the MFA.

  29. Beth,

    I’d be very curious to know the name of the painting if you remember. I came across this link. Maybe one of the artists mentioned will help you recall it.

  30. Tasha, what a cool post! And yes, I’ve definitely been inspired by paintings. Not as much so as by music or books, but it’s happened. There was one in particular by Jacques d’Arthois that really helped me pin down the world for my first book.

  31. Good post. Great post, in fact, because this is one of the best ways to draw quick inspiration when the words are stuttering onto the page in fits and starts. Sometimes it is the obvious other nature of an image (as with a series of paintings of a fictional island – the name of which escapes me at the moment), whilst other times I take the time to leaf through the work of Egon Schiele, whose awkward poses always helps me get to the weirdness which I like. There’s less of the “standards” amongst my collection of images than I would have expected – some very obscure stuff.

    I do have a soft spot for the beautiful airbrushed Sorayama material, but I guess that falls more under my SF influences than art ones. Same with Geiger’s horror-tinged material. Are we counting all forms of art under “paintings” – if so, I want it noted that The Great Bear may be the most awesome use (or appropriation) of existing material for new work ever.

    I’ve suggested too much already… 🙂

  32. Amy,

    Thanks! And I just looked up d’Arthois. What fantastic landscapes!

  33. Thanks so much Bigwords. 🙂

    I can defnitely see how Geiger’s work would be inspiring for those writing sci-fi/horror.

    And you can never suggest too many artists. I love finding out what inspires other people, and also learning about artists I haven’t been aware of before.

  34. At one time, I was writing 18th century stories, and I was always looking at paintings to inspire me and give me a clue as to details. I never noticed the cats and bird before in the first painting. Fun!

  35. Hi Jewel,

    It is interesting the things you don’t notice at first…

  36. I find paintings so inspirational for writing. Sometimes I’ll see an image and be swept away into a story that is hidden within it.

  37. Hi Brownpaperbaggirl,

    Me, too. As though one couldn’t guess that. 🙂

    Any particular paintings come to your mind?

  38. Of course! Mostly William Adolphe Bouguereau’s works. Every painting of his could be a novel. Great blog!

  39. Hi Shylockbooks,

    I love Bouguereau’s work. La Vague, La Nymphee, The Little Knitter, At the Edge of the River. Too many to name, really. His work is brilliant.

    Thanks for the compliment on my blog! 🙂

  40. It occurs to me that evocative pictures of mysterious places will capture me…and I do tend to rotate which of those types of images are on my desktop mainpage as a form of inspiration as I write… 🙂

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