|Monet's Poppies near Argenteuil|
When was the last time you visited an art museum?
"What the poet sees in art and puts into words can transform an image . . . extending what is often an immediate response into something more lasting and reflective." (Jan Greenberg in Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth Century American Art, 4).
John Keats, Henry James, Chaim Potok… all used art as inspiration for one or more of their works.
Most art galleries have partial online collections so you can observe these great works in your home.
Write whatever you see. Look at a favorite piece of art and tell its story. Ignore the notes beside each painting that tell you how the artist was inspired and just write.
|Van Gogh's "Starry Night"|
Setting. Maxfield Parrish and Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” come to mind. Parrish’s work would be excellent fodder for fantasy writers. What type of character would live in or visit this setting? What might happen here?
Character sketches. Gericault believed that a person’s character was written on their face. Who is the “Insane Woman?” What do you learn about her by looking at her face? What are her passions? What are her deepest fears? What motivates her?
Add description and color. Monet’s “Irises” or “Poppies near Argenteuil” are beautiful nature paintings and also wonderful studies of color. Writing about art can be a great way to practice creating the type of descriptive language that will make your novel rich in sensory detail. Further, place yourself in the middle of the painting. Allow your hands to touch the irises, to feel the soft dew on the grass. Allow the rich, pungent smell of the flowers to intoxicate you.
|Gericault's "Insane Woman"|
Writing style. Look at different styles of art. Use these styles to inspire your writing. Is your style colorful and angular like the works of Pablo Picasso? Soft and descriptive like Claude Monet? Gritty and realistic, like Millet?
If you’re so inclined, try creating a painting yourself, then write about the experience. You’ll be using both sides of your brain to unleash a new creativity that might surprise you. Personally, I am not talented in creating the visual arts but I love using them to inspire my writing.
Have you ever used art to inspire your writing? If your novel were a painting, how would you describe it?