Friday, February 24, 2012

Interests, Artists, and Characters

J.M.W.Turner. Death on a Pale Horse.
1825-1830. Oil on canvas. Tate Gallery, London .

I enjoy art and paintings, even thought I might be a fine artist once upon a time. That was before I jumped from a tiny pond into a big one and found I wasn't as good as I'd thought. 
The Tate Gallery in London owns paintings by some of my favorite artists: J.M.W. Turner, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, and so many others. Impressionists and romanticists especially draw me. Years ago, I spent some happy hours at the Tate, absorbing the magic of those masters. And to add to my experience, I went in a London taxi, one of those black, old-fashioned-looking cars where the doors open backward. And finished with a proper English tea. Heaven.
So, based on those experiences and dreams, I made the hero in Cold Comfort an artist (among other things). Riley's paintings are dark and stormy, reflecting his view of life. He's a sailor, so much of his work involves rough seas and sails whipping in the wind. I (and therefore he) love J. M. W. Turner. Riley's style is similar but bolder, depicting harsh seascapes. In his house, Claire finds a small painting that gives a clue to the images that haunt Riley's dreams. 
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
The Shipwreck
circa 1805. Oil on canvas
Current location: Tate Britain
In her house, Claire has a portrait of her mother by contemporary Alabama artist Jackie Williams and a reproduction of Norham Castle by Turner, which added to Riley's interest. I'm not sure mention of Norham Castle survived one of my revisions, but it's there in her living room. Trust me, I know.
That's one of the benefits of being a writer. You can create worlds, situations, dream up characters, and give them the ability to cope with it all.
Do your interests drift into your writing? Do your characters sometimes fulfill unrealized dreams? 

4 comments:

Una Tiers said...

Hi Ellis, now I understand why you are so selective about your book covers.
My interests are deliberately based in my books as a teaching mechanism. Years back I heard Miriam Grace monfredo speak about her mysteries. In them she teaches about the women's movement.
In my books, I teach about the law.
Thanks for an interesting observation.

Una Tiers

Ellis Vidler said...

LOL! Yes, I have definite ideas about covers and what they should accomplish. I love doing them but have a lot to learn about the software. Photoshop is great but NOT user friendly.
Using the law as a background for your book gives you a great platform and adds so much to the story. Judge vs Nuts sounds fun as well as interesting.

Polly said...

Having been an art major, there's usually something of that in my books. Turner's paintings are amazing. I'm also a fan. I have a character in InSight who's an artist, another who loves Vermeer because I do. My main character in Murder Deja Vu is an artisan, and still another book is all about the Isabella Stewart Gardner heist--Vermeer again. Musician writers incorporate music into their books, just as lawyers (Una) and doctors turn their professions into crime novels. We can't help ourselves. It's part of who we are. Great post, Ellis. As always.

Ellis Vidler said...

Polly, I love Vermeer too. I saw The Lady in Blue at the Rijksmuseum. Magnificent! But you know, it took me a long time to like van Gogh. I think it was the swirls. They could make me queasy. I do now, but I had to work at it.