Ides of March. For Americans, the taxman cometh. We’re waiting for spring, a spring the weather gurus tell us is going to be delayed. No one told the buds on the chestnut trees out front. They started to swell before the deep freeze ended.
Work goes on. Marketing and revision of my work-in-progress. In June, I’m joining Barbara Kyle’s Master class for revision of my first thirty pages.
The Child on the Terrace is still in advanced copy mode but soon I must send the final changes to the publisher. Most of my reviewers, busy people all, have yet to get back to me.
Revision is difficult work, akin to juggling multiple objects rather than a simple set of coloured rubber balls. I’ve been following a blogger, Janice Hardy who calls her site Fiction University. She is half-way through a month of blogs on the process and very useful they are. Today’s is here, http://blog.janicehardy.com/2015/03/day-fifteen-clean-up-description-and.html#more but all the previous blogs plus a great deal more is available on her site. Well worth multiple visits.
This week I attended a dinner and lecture at the Canadian Club. The speaker mentioned a local artist, long-deceased, named W.A. Goodwin. As it happens we have one of his watercolours. When I bought it, I investigated him and found a lengthy newspaper record. He lived to almost 100 years old and was a well-know citizen. I did some of his family genealogy as well. Magpie that I am, I kept it all.
After the meeting, the manager of the local museum called me and asked to see it. The museum is mounting an extensive show from an archive of material the researchers acquired on loan from the family. I was pleased to contribute our painting and some of the information I’d gathered to their archive. Find the museum here: http://www.oldegaolmuseum.ca/exhibits.html
The museum created a Facebook page for W.A. with pictures, paintings, diary entries and more. An interesting and charming page.
Buds on chestnut trees, March, 2015
In The Child on the Terrace, the latest in the Dangerous Journeys series, Anne McPhail escapes with a child she rescued from kidnappers and travels across Spain and France into safe haven, she thinks, in Italy. One of the cities she passes through is Arles, famous for the paintings of Van Gogh.
Arles is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a town that has existed since the 7th Century BCE, and was an important Gallo-Roman city. During the later Roman Empire it was an important cultural and religious centre.
Frequent wars afflicted the area until it was finally handed over to France in 1378 CE.
The port flourished until the advent of the railway decreased the importance of the river trade. Today, it is again a prominent port for river cruises bringing tourists to its streets for the history and, for many, the opportunity to walk in the steps of Van Gogh.
Anne’s route took her over the Rhone river on the bridge made famous by Van Gogh’s painting, Starry Night over the Rhone.
Although the yellow house where Van Gogh lived and painted, including The Yellow Room, is a place many tourists would like to see, unfortunately, as it lay near the railroad bridge, it was destroyed by Allies forces in WWII.
Franco-American forces liberated Arles on August 25th, 1944.
Just got back from Writescape’s Turning Leaves retreat at Fern Resort. What a gift to spend a weekend with old friends and new, writers all, concentrating on projects and the writer’s craft. I learned valuable lessons in characterization, especially the Sunday morning session with Gwynn Scheltema and Ruth E. Walker.
Back home, it’s Monday, snow is falling and the carryover from the weekend had me spending it on my work-in-progress. The voices of my characters are distinct and clear in my head, less so on paper(or the computer screen).
I just started reading Russ King’s Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven. A giant Black Willow at the river’s edge, the black water, dotted with a gaggle of Canada Geese who seem to be practicing take-off and landing this morning while working on their group harmony, ice forming, and in the distance a row of white—seagulls resting on a half-submerged log— turn the view from my kitchen window into a Group of Seven landscape.
I’ve started “pinning” to a few boards on Pinterest, a process I didn’t understand until recently. Several writers I know are using it as a sort of giant white board, pinning portions of their wip or research or clippings, to private boards. I am using one for clippings, but the rest to collect and share books and paintings and photographs that I especially like. http://pinterest.com/virginiawinters.
A true tragedy this: the mayor brought down by his fatal flaw, his apparent inability to understand that the rules apply to him.
I’ve just finished reading Ross King’s The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism (2006). The painters of Impressionism had always interested me, so I was happy to find a writer who placed them in their world, and explained the influences that shaped their work. Ross King does that in a very readable book. My only quibble is with the dearth of coloured plates. Expensive, I know, but I wanted to see more.
The most interesting personality King reveals is that of Meisonnier, a painter, obscure until he began to play a role in King’s book, but a giant in French 19th century art. King contrasts his story, one of success and riches, of obsessive painting and repainting, of intense research into such unlikely subjects as equine locomotion—at one time he built a small railroad on his property and used it to make hundreds of drawings of horses as they ran alongside— with that of the Impressionists, obsessed with light and colour and painting in the open air, and catching the fleeting beauty of a sunrise or a day in the park. Meissonier emerges from King’s pages as a fully realized character, with all his flaws and genius.
King writes so well, I was disappointed when he, or rather events, ended the story with the last Impressionist exhibition. He has gone on to write about The Group of Seven in Defiant Spirits, and more recently Leonardo and the Last Supper, the latter winning him his second Governor General Award. The first was for The Judgement of Paris. Defiant Spirits is next on my list.
Interest in art history has led me to The Great Courses, and Professor Richard Brettell, teaching From Monet to Van Gogh: A History of Impressionism, an audio-visual course, and excellent companion to King’s book.