BRIDGET WHELAN writer

Muse, News and Views

Inspiring Art for Writers – the painting that was the source for Waiting for Godot

man_and_woman_contemplating_the_moon_-_wga08271

This is a painting by Caspar David Friendrich, a 19th century German artist most famous for his land and seascapes which seem to tell stories while creating an emotional response in the viewer. This particular painting wasn’t my first choice. I was going to use Monk by the Sea and had written a post about it, but in the end I couldn’t push the publish button. It was just too much, even on the small scale of my computer. It’s drenched in loneliness, in the sheer frightening smallness of what it is to be human. You can find the painting easily on the internet, but I’m not going to inflict that mood on you, you can do that to yourself…

Not that Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon is especially cheery. (Friendrich, I suspect, would not be your companion of choice on a pub crawl.) It is, however, an absorbing painting. It captures a moment of reflection: the couple walked to that spot through dark woods and will walk away again. They are gazing at probably the only source of light in that night time landscape and seem lost in it. What is making them so thoughtful? What do they think or fear or hope the future will hold? Are they at a turning point? Stories are all about the point of change, where nothing is the same again. You can write about that and let the reader fill in the details…

Friendrich has influenced may artists from  René Magritte to  Mark Rothko. In a Sunday Times article in 2004 the great Irish playwright Samuel Becket is described as standing in front of this painting saying, ‘This was the source of Waiting for Godot, you know.’

Oh, by the way, if you’ve never heard of Caspar David Friendrich before I bet you are already familiar with his most famous painting, The Wanderer (see below)

wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog

 

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3 comments on “Inspiring Art for Writers – the painting that was the source for Waiting for Godot

  1. Phillip T Stephens
    March 3, 2017

    I studied art theory and the philosophy of art in college in order to improve my writing. I was raised in a musical family and immersed myself in classical, country, folk, and (of course) rock. Later I immersed myself in jazz. The interplay between the inspiration of the visual arts, music and writing helped mature my work.

    I bristle when writers play down art and contemporary music because they find it inaccessible. Make it accessible. Not only will you discover new ideas, but techniques to sharpen your writing.

  2. Phillip T Stephens
    March 3, 2017

    Reblogged this on Wind Eggs and commented:
    I bristle when writers play down art and contemporary music because they find it inaccessible. Make it accessible. Not only will you discover new ideas, but techniques to sharpen your writing.

    Bridget Whelan shares the connection between art and inspiration to write. Incidentally, the painting The painting Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, may well have been inspired by the writings of Lord Byron (particularly Childe Harold).

  3. Jennie
    March 4, 2017

    Bridget, you are spot on. Even better than that. My preschoolers LOVE “The Wanderer”, every year. I introduce major pieces of art and artists throughout March as we prepare for an Art Show. They see that a shadowed figure is interesting, and they look beyond the figure, such as the sea. On a much bigger note, art and music have a major impact on writing. Stay tuned for much I will have to say about art and music on my blog in a few weeks. Thanks for a great post!

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