Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Clare London Day Three: It’s Not What You See – but How You Feel?

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. (Edgar Degas)

What an excellent quotation, eh? I may be an author but I can’t say I have any other artistic talents. I can copy a picture, which made me good at cartoons when I was younger, and I can sew a great Barbie frock, so I do have some creative talents. But real painting, drawing or sculpture? No way!

And yet it’s a theme I find myself drawn to in my fiction. My novel “True Colors” features an unruly, provocative and highly talented artist Zeke. He is infamous for his turbulent abstract art and sets up intriguing, unexpected exhibitions where he blends paintings with all the objects and treasures of real life. He and his lover Miles are drawn even closer together by Zeke’s art, finding it a medium for their emotional bond.

More recently, I have a short story releasing at Amber Quill Press later this month – the 18th, if I may pimp it LOL – called “Muse”.

Gavin McGrath's art career is in ruins, his health is failing, his wife's left him because of his promiscuity and he's alienated people in the industry with his aggressive and arrogant behavior. But when a full pot of red paint falls on his current canvas, apparently ruining it, it brings a change in his life he never expected. A strange, beautiful young man appears in his studio as his companion and Muse.

Matteo is from another time but he understands artists all too well – and now his place is with Gavin. Matteo brings devotion and inspiration across the centuries, forcing Gavin to take stock of his life and his behavior in the months he has left to him. Eventually Gavin realizes he must reconsider the capacity for love he's always scorned - before it's too late for both him and Matteo.

Matteo was inspired by a work by one of my favourite painters, Caravaggio, called “The Musicians”. Gavin’s art is more traditional, the sketching and painting of nudes, but his new project excites him in a way nothing ever did before – and so does Matteo.

And in a current work in progress, my hero is the owner of an art gallery. Charles has always been in awe of an artist’s skill, including the young Valero brothers whom he sponsors and loves. But after a murder in the gallery, Charles takes stock of his life and realises he has talents of his own. He expresses himself through his love of art, and passes on that encouragement and compassion to others. And in the process, he discovers a determination to seek out the truth –whatever the cost.

So I’m no artist myself, but I’m an enthusiastic consumer, and I love when it moves hand in hand with other mediums. When I wrote fanfiction, occasionally artists would gift me with drawings they’d made to illustrate my stories. I also entered several contests and challenges, inspired by a drawing. Of the four stories in my anthology “Masquerade”, three of them were illustrated in this way. I’ve included some of these pictures today, to share with you.

The holy grail is to spend less time making the picture than it takes people to look at it. (Banksy)

At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since. (Salvador Dali)

But how many of us can live that dream? We all work hard for our art, whatever form it takes. For me, visual art inspires a different response than fiction does. Fiction requires a longer attention time, and – if good - will build a path to your heart. But art generates a much more immediate response. I can admire the craft and skill of a painting, as I can a book – but my heart has already decided whether to love it.

Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us. (Roy Adzak)

And isn’t that what we all seek in fiction, as readers and/or writers? I know it’s true for me.

Thanks so much to DIK for allowing me on board this week. I’ve had a great time, I must admit I don’t want it to come to an end so soon. I have heard that the weather at home is cold and damp and my inbox is by now the size of War and Peace (and probably just as contentious). Hmm. But look! I don’t seem to be able to find my suitcase, to pack to go home. I’ll have to stay here. No, of course the family won’t miss me. Well, not for another month or so. And I am so in need of a decent holiday…

You can visit Clare London here
or at her blog .

Pictures in order: Pensive Beauty; Kit from Freeman by Gwydi; Muse cover; The Musicians by Caravaggio; Mori from Threadbare by Agnes; Sleep from Possession by Helm; The Kiss from Possession by Helm.


Jenre said...

Wow, great post, Clare. I'm afraid I'm quite useless at art but I do love looking at paintings by artists such as Turner with his sweeping skies and seascapes. I also like going to the National Portrait Gallery in London and looking at the pictures of people from hundreds of years ago with the different fashions.

Thanks for joining us here for these three days, it's been lovely to have you :).

Kris said...

"Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us. (Roy Adzak)"

That is absolutely true for me with any kind of creative work including fiction. It is that intangible something, that emotional response that I have or take away from a book, which makes it 'good' for me as a reader.

Terrific post, Clare and thanks for visiting!

Tam said...

Great post. Considering I was with/married to an artist for 17 years you'd think I have a greater appreciation for it. Oh it's nice and I do know what I like when I see it but I don't always get it. LOL I tend to like really strong linear geometric abstract stuff or drawings like the ones you included, not so much stuff in the middle. I adore sculpture too.

Maybe it's because I am so artisitically challenged. I can do things like sew a renaissance dress Halloween costume but I need a pattern, I don't find that very creative, I just copy. (I'm pretty good at cartoons as well if I copy one.)

I sometimes find the tempermental artist persona a bit off-putting in fiction because it strikes a bit too close to home. Notice I said WAS married? Yeah. Opposites do attract. Great post.

Clare London said...

Thanks so much for having me, it's been such fun :)
I led Jen a merry dance, not being ready until the last minute. Mind you, that's how Hubby says I behave *whenever* we go on holiday, so, nothing new there!

I'm totally of the belief that it's all an emotional adventure, both art in paint and written on paper. It's why we like different kinds of fiction, why we love our different heroes, why some fiction speaks to us one day and annoys us another. Or is that just me being fickle? It sums up the joy and the frustration of it all.

Jen: I love Turner! Reubens, too. very different artists, but both with that fierce sense of movement. Next time you're down at the national, call me and we'll have coffee!! You've been a lovely hostess, you deserve a cocktail, sorry coffee, in return :)

And PS I hoped you'd like the pictures from Masquerade, especially Mori. I have another one I'll find some time and send it over to you. They were all gorgeous.

Kris: It *is* an intangible response, but it's strong too, I'd say. Partly why I'd never make a good reviewer. I know what I like but couldn't necessarily tell you why LOL.

Tam: that's what it's all about for me - not sure what it is, but I know what I like *lol*. And I don't think you sound artistically challenged at all - you're just artistic in other ways. I like the idea that *anyone* can access art of some kind, I don't have much sympathy for people who want to make it highbrow.

PS I put a contest up on my blog for anyone who commented on the blog during the 3 days, so is it ok if I contact you with a winner's name tomorrow, so I can ask them to contact me by email? It's for a download of a choice of short story, including the upcoming Muse.

jessewave said...

Sorry to be late as usual but I did read your posts and enjoyed them thoroughly.

I love photography and my favourite is Ansel Adams. I have many of his prints decorating my walls (plus a few naked men of, course).

I hope you had a great time Clare and I'm sure everyone loved having you on the island.

Mary G said...

You've been awesome Clare. Thanks for the wonderful posts.

Chrissy said...

What a fascinating note on which to end your time here, Clare, and such beautiful illustrations as well. I enjoy every little peek we get into your process.

Tracy said...

I love going to museums and seeing all of the different art forms. I suck with art in general (I still make stick figures) but I appreciate other works.

Clare London said...

Wave - no trouble about being late, look how late *I* am at getting back to people *lol*. I must admit I've started collecting art over the years, though I'm restricted for space for displaying it. My anime art pencil boards are 500+ but most are in boxes in my bedroom. And I bought some fabulous male form art books recently, I follow Elisa Rolle's blog posts with interest :).

Mary G: hi again, thanks for the encouragement! :)

Chrissy - *smooch*. I hope people enjoyed the eye candy and a chat about this author's world :).

Tracy - but that's the fun, I think, that art appreciation can be accessible to us, even if we can't produce that kind ourselves. I follow the priciple that anything that inspires emotional response keeps us alive :).

Thanks everyone!!!

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