7. Writing about Art
Welcome to my blog on Writing about Art.
Having written and published GOLDEN ICON, my original idea was to then write a trilogy. I wanted to expand upon Josephine Lavelle’s character but as the story evolved she became a protagonist that most people would not feel empathy for: a once famous diva, cocaine addict with a secret past. She was also egoistical and damaged and I wanted to find out why.
In MASTERPIECE I created Mikky dos Santos, and using her as my protagonist in subsequent novels, I was able to draw on Josephine’s character more deeply and show a softer side to her character.
Unfortunately not all adoption stories are happy ones and Mikky’s story is no exception. Her life has been filled with jealousy, lies and deception and she desperately seeks security. She falls in love with the wrong men and is hurt, and she hates herself for her own weakness. Having used churches as a refuge all her life, her body is covered with tattoos of famous biblical masterpieces: The Betrayal of Christ and The Last Supper, and wrapped around her right arm is a replica of Edvard Munch’s The Scream: the long, despairing face is near madness and the vibrant colours wrapped around her arm represents the confusion in her mind. She says: ‘It’s my talisman and it serves as a reminder to the dark days in which I lived and the state I was in four years ago when I lived in Malaga. It’s a work of art, crafted with care and precision.’
Mikky’s emotional trauma is reflected by the ink drawings on her body. They are a part of her, as they are an arm or a leg. The artistic paintings are her talismans. Her salvation as well as a constant reminder to her past. But the most shocking of all, across her chest and breasts, is the severed bloody head of St John the Baptist and Salome’s seven colourful veils painted around her waist.
In MASTERPIECE, Mikky is intent on stealing Vermeer’s stolen painting, The Concert.
Why did I chose this?
Quite simply because it is one of the most expensive stolen paintings never to have been recovered but also because of the circumstances of its theft. Two men dressed as police offices duped security guards to open the doors to the Isabella Stewart Museum and although they had plenty of time, they stole to order, thirteen pieces of artwork worth $500 million. There were investigations, many theories and links to Mafia, the Middle East and even the IRA.
So, I decided that I would find it — or rather Mikky would.
So many stolen valuable paintings are found in the trash or in cellars or abandoned because the thieves are unable to sell the painting. A stolen painting can lose its intrinsic value as there’s no legitimate purchase or provenance. No-one wants to get caught with a stolen painting and unless a thief has connections the painting could become a burden.
I didn’t want a whiter than white heroine. So, I decided to give Mikky an unsavoury past where she has contacts that will help her and as the Culture Crime Series novels with Mikky as the protagonist continue, she will be resourceful in drawing upon these people who will help her in further adventures.
Artwork is wound around Mikky’s body like a web of intricate brush strokes, soothing and soft, erratic and fiery. They are a testament to her temperament, her personality and the way she leads her life; at once sensitive and yet deeply impulsive and vibrant.
Quite simply, Mikky is a masterpiece herself, an enigma of beauty, emotion and passion.
REMEMBER: By using references to existing artwork I write nuances and details. I believe this brings my characters to life and adds an interesting perspective to my work and simultaneously entertains my readers.
Next Blog Post: Red Shoes and Other Short Stories.