This week, my friend Karen Lewis reminded me of the wonderful term ekphrasis when she applied it to one of the pieces I was working on. Ekphrasis is when you use a piece of art to inspire another piece of art. Think Wiliam Carlos Williams using Brueghal’s painting to inspire “The Fall of Icarus.” Or Auden’s famous “Musee Des Beaux Arts.” I was doing nothing so grand or skilled, but it was ekphrastic.
Now I find myself looking to things outside of myself for inspiration – a photograph of my grandmother (see Maud Newton’s blog for lots of great family photography and writing about it.), a painting that I have a postcard of over my desk (right now, I’m loving “Carnival Evening” by Henri-Julien-Felix Rousseau).
By reaching beyond myself, I’m finding my abilities to describe things – both physically and emotionally – are improving. Plus, these tools, these beautiful, old tools, are pulling things out of me that I didn’t know were there.
So, Karen, thanks for tipping me into the language to describe what I’m doing – ekphrasis. I’m off to find more inspiration.