Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Splash of Colour

By Rachel Randall (Guest Blogger)

I can't help myself. I keep stealing art to put into my stories.

Let me explain.

It started with my Total E-Bound Lust Bites Taking It Off. I'd just come back from a visit to the Mauritshuis, a particularly fantastic gallery in The Hague. I was still high on seeing some some great art (Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring is there, and my god, it is luminous close up). I'd also just read an interesting article about auctions to sell the corporate art collections of failed Wall Street banks. And so I just had to give Lucy, my heroine, a job in the art world, buying up the collections for those banks in the first place.

Of course, when you're writing a shorter length story, many of those lovingly-envisioned character details have to get trimmed from the actual text. I couldn't resist, however, building Lucy's love of modern art into her courtship of Valentine.

From Taking It Off:

On Friday afternoon she texted him a web address. The Google map was the walking route from his office on Fleet Street down to the Millennium Bridge and across the Thames, with further directions to view Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red, 1937-42. He stood in front of the painting for a long while, absorbing every line in a way that he’d never bothered to do before because he largely preferred the cast of characters at the National Gallery to the abstractions and harsher angles he found at the Tate Modern.

PIET’S NOT ALL BAD, Valentine conceded.

LOVE THE PIET, she agreed.

I didn't get Mondrian's art for a long time. But since I've lived in the Netherlands I've been lucky enough to see enough of it that it's started to really speak to me, especially the particular shades of his colours (his white), and their stark simplicity. I hope that at least one person who's read Taking It Off is inspired to go see some Mondrian too!

My Total E-Bound novella Playing with Prudence is a menage story about a kinky married couple and their best friend. Harry's well-travelled and weary by the time he visits Ned and Prudence Lyell. To him, there's nothing more desirable than the familiarity of England--and the people he loves. But to Pru, chafing at the constraints of Victorian society, Harry represents the exotic. He's seen and done things that she wants to reach out and touch. And as an artist, she's definitely jealous of the fact that as a man passing through Paris, he was able to see the most talked-about paintings of the time.

From Playing with Prudence:

Her eyes gleamed. “And you saw Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass?”

Now, Lyell saw where she was going with this and he warmed with pleasure.

She tossed him a smouldering look. “I have heard it is quite scandalous.”

“A pastoral scene,” Harry said slowly. “A reclining nude with his wife’s naked body and his favourite model’s face. The two men, Manet’s brother and, I believe, his brother-in-law, are fully clothed. There is fruit spilled on the grass.”

Lyell came up behind her and wrapped his arm around her waist, very deliberately fitting her against his body. “On what are they intending to feast?” Lyell asked, running his fingers up along the edges of her neckline. He edged the fabric away to display some of her creamy flesh, then rubbed the pads of his fingertips across her collarbone.

“That,” said Harry, stepping towards them, “is up to the beholder.”

Every moment of Playing with Prudence is a seduction away from the every-day; I couldn't think of a better way to illustrate that with a cameo from that risqué painting!

PS -- the two galleries where you can see the art I featured in my stories couldn't be more different…or more stunning. The Tate Modern (where the Mondrian is on display) is a former power station on London's Southbank. Not only is the collection of 20th century art fantastic, but its cavernous Turbine Hall is host to the coolest installation art around. The gorgeously ornate Musee d'Orsay (where the Manet hangs) is also repurposed, this time from a train station! The D'Orsay on the Seine in Paris was the most enjoyable art experience I've ever had -- highly recommended, as it won't overwhelm through sheer volume like the Louvre, and has a drool-worthy collection that will make you plot erotic romances involving art forgers and catburglars. With so much "scope for imagination", will art make a cameo in my future stories? I think it's a fairly safe bet! :)

Thanks so much to Lisabet for hosting me.

Taking It Off and Playing with Prudence are available now. Find excerpts, artwork, buy links and more on my website at


Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Rachel,

Wonderful post! I've always thought that Manet was marvelous!

Thanks for being my guest.


She said...

Good post. I always felt alone in my feelings towards some paintings. Art brings out feelings that I didn't realize I have. It doesn't have to be overt but sometimes a color or a shape or line in a painting just calls to me. I had the opportunity this past fall to see the Vacitan Treasures show that traveled around the U.S. It was fascinating but there was a portrait there of a man (the only non-religious painting) who was not the nicest guy but he was so striking that I wanted to meet him (of course, I can't remember the name or artist.) I like erotic paintings also. Thank you for sharing.

Rachel Randall said...

@Lisabet, thanks for having me! I love coming to your blog because of the variety of topics and commenters...

@She, Hiya :)

"Art brings out feelings that I didn't realize I have."

I love that -- I totally agree -- and I think that's what really good erotica does too. Both are about opening yourself to someone else's influence, but also to your own emotional response. Both can be quite powerful, if we let them.

And ooh, a Vatican Treasures exhibit sounds fabulous! Very cool.

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