Wednesday 30 April 2014

Art for Art's Sake?

I've been indulging myself recently with one of my favourite displacement activities. Research. In this case, art. Looking at pictures, learning about the artists, making up stories about them.

Actually the last part is the the author bit creeping in - inventing things to go in books - you know all about that.

A lot of writers seem to be drawn to plots involving famous works of art, usually paintings. How may books and films have you read/seen that involve something priceless in oils? Frequently getting stolen. The allure of a beautiful object that is also of very great monetary value.

And I'm doing it too. First I had an idea for a series of paintings that would be part of a time slip novel. Which is still out there, circling, waiting to get a landing slot, because I also wanted to write a heist book - and what better thing to steal than a work of art? Of course, I had to make it more fun by stealing three things, only one of which is a painting. Then I started to wonder about the history of all my invented works of art. And the stories of how they got into my museum, in order to be stolen, and then the stories behind that, of how they came to be created ...

And before I know it I have about three books and a couple of novellas and maybe the odd short story. And then they got tangled up with the the undercover intelligence service series that has been bubbling along in my brain for a while now.

Why do I have to make life so complicated, as I'm also supposed to be producing a eighty thousand word thesis at the same time?

If anyone knows a good formula for turning twenty four hours a day into forty eight, now would be an excellent time to share.

So - displacement activity. Go and look at paintings. Have fun, listening to experts talk about them. Make up stories.

Research. You really can't beat it.

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