Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Inspiration part four - Art - by Nicola McDonagh

I love art and have done all my life. As a child our family would visit the wonderful Walker Art gallery in Liverpool. It is a truly awesome place. I never wanted to leave. Huge oil paintings by the Masters, giant statues and abstract pictures that blew my child-mind away, lingered in my head for days.

I often wondered what the people were doing in these paintings, and when I saw The Last Judgment by Bosch, I decided perhaps, it was best not to know.

I studied art school and would have gone to art college if it weren’t for the fact that I’m not all that good at drawing, so I did the next best thing, studied to be a photojournalist. That didn’t last long but I continued to be a photographer in my spare time, and my love of the visual image has stayed with me. Only natural then that I should turn to it for inspiration when I can’t think of anything to write about.

My last short story anthology Crow Bones, is entirely made up of art-inspired narratives. I chose some of my favourite artists, Marc Chagall, Edvard Munch, Picasso, and even, Banksy, looked at their work, and used the images to create characters and plot. Sometimes I was fairly literal, as in The Promenade, by Marc Chagall, where the image suggested the plot line, of course I let my imagination take off, but the core of the story came directly from the people in the picture.

He Flew Her Like a Kite

The dress was the colour of a bruised eye.

Agnes wore it like a wound.

Too small for her large frame it ceased to be a fabric robe and became a body hugging second skin. It squeezed and nipped her ribcage, trapping her frustration within its satin grip.

Other times, I saw something beneath the surface of the painting, and drew my inspiration from what I saw behind the image. In the story, Crow Bones, I was intrigued by Munch’s painting of two girls. One is standing on a balcony looking out to sea, the other is facing the same way but at first glance, it looks as if her head is facing the opposite way to her body. She stares at the onlooker with black swirling eyes. Wow. The story became quite complex, and ended up a sci-fi horror tale.

Crow Bones

‘There is a saying that when a twin dies at birth its soul enters the body of the survivor. When that being succumbs to the pull of no more, its dead sibling’s face appears on the back of its head. For a few seconds, the two are reunited in body as well as spirit,’ that’s what the birthing nurse, Reja said when she heard one heartbeat fainter than the other.

Thank you for reading my posts about what inspires me to write. Remember, inspiration comes in many forms, and how authors use it is as unique as the tale they produce as a direct result. May we
always be inspired to write!

You can learn ore about my writing here: 

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