Friday, February 4, 2011

Pre-Raphaelites & Sultans

Flaming June.Image via WikipediaArt likes to imitate culture. So when I write, I like to research the art of the time and place I'm working with...unfortunately, I don't ALWAYS find what I need.

Example: Byzantines and Turks. Byzantine artwork is two-dimentional and interesting, but not the muse I need. Turks...well, in Islam sculptures of animals and pictures of people (besides loved ones) are frowned upon.

It has to do with idolatry. If you don't own sculptures, you can't worship them, see? Same thing goes for the pictures, which is why mosques only use floral patterns and calligraphy as decorative motifs.

Plus...creepy idea...angels won't come into your house if you have sculptures. Something about demons chasing them away. Remember Interview with a Vampire ? The part where all the statues in the garden had eyes at night...yeah...creepy like that!

I had to look elsewhere for inspiration. Lucky for me, I had one piece of art in my head for years and it falls into the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Pre-Raphaelites love the Greeks and Byzantines kind of fall into the same vein, no? But I didn't KNOW which painting was my muse until I wrote a scene description remarkably like Flaming June (above) by Sir Frederick Leighton. (Do you see it, Leigh?) When I read the draft, I recognized the image and pulled it up on the internet. Then more details jumped out at me.

I love the toxic Oleander  in the led me to another scene description. And the serpentine, yin/yang position of the model led me in another direction still...Then the fluidity of the fabric, the sensuality and vulnerability of the scene that my MC would only show if she was sleeping... So much inspiration in this one work of art and yet it was auctioned off in the 60's for $140! Someone should be kicking himself now! :)

The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse floated around with me for years too, and it's still one of my favorites. It reminds me of my Arthurian stage and studying Hamlet in high school. It's Ophelia's fault that I'm stuck on the symbolism of flowers, btw. Rue, rosemary, ahh!

But what does this have to do with Sultans?  Maybe some of you have read stories of Sultans paying any price for a beautiful redhead? Sultans are part of the reason my MC has red hair, but the Pre-Raphaelites are my primary cause. Yes, Sybil has Pre-Raphaelite hair... :) Modernized a bit because it's straight, but the root of my inspiration none the less! There isn't a single sultan in my story. (And doesn't a fiery djinn need red hair?)

Has art inspired you to write? Does it sneak in without you looking, or do you consciously make an effort to include art in your work?

PS... Untamed Pre-Raphaelite hair hits Chanel's Front Row in this related article:

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Old Kitty said...

Francesco Hayez's The Kiss inspires me!!!! I remember buying a postcard of the painting and sticking it on my wall when I was at uni and be just completely enthralled and rejuvenated by it!!! I don't know if it got me to write creatively but it certainly made me feel better each day!

These gorgeous sumptuous paintings here lovely!!! Great that they inspire your writing!!!

Take care

Matthew MacNish said...

I love how much thought you put into all of this. So interesting!

Jules said...

Sort of but not like describe. I tend to do my own art, which more often than not, leads to a story, idea or event to write about. But heart lies with the impressionists :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Hart Johnson said...

Ha! I am only HALF red-head! Me mum is the real deal... I have that un-color between blonde, brown and red... So interesting how much lore there is over them, though--I have had many more MCs with red-hair than blonde, but that is largely the stereotypicality of the 'desirable blonde'... I don't want any MCs to sound 'too pretty'.

Golden Eagle said...

I've been inspired by art, although I don't usually make an effort to put it into the story in a way that's really significant--it's an interesting idea!

Colene Murphy said...

I love this! Very interesting stuff! I love The Lady of Shalott too.

Deniz Bevan said...

I love being inspired by art and also when I stumble across paintings that remind me of scenes or characters from my stories. Here's my current crop of characters:

Southpaw said...

I love all the little details that went to your in your brain!

Rachael Harrie said...

Hey Carolyn,

Ooh, I do love The Lady of Shalott (and it has special significance for one of my CPs). And I'd agree, a fiery djinn does need red hair!

Welcome to the Crusade, great to have you on board!




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