Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Emotion of Setting by Sandra Ardoin

Back when I was single and fancy-free (in other words, without a date), I spent a Saturday wandering a local outdoor art show. It was a perfect spring day in Texas and a good many people strolled through the park, taking in each exhibit and buying their favorite pieces of art.

I stopped at the booth that displayed the wispy, watercolor prints of Texas artist Michael Atkinson. One, titled Secluded Manor, caught my eye. As with many of his other works, only the top two-thirds contained the painting. The rest was blank, with the exception of a mare and foal, and his signature v-shaped birds.

Now, anything with a horse receives my wholehearted attention. But something else drew me to this particular print. Rather than only imagining it in my mind, I felt as though I were actually seeing an illustration
Here's my terrible photo of Secluded Manor
by Texas artist Michael Atkinson
of the setting of a gothic suspense novel I'd recently read. I'm sure he never realized that, from the horses in the foreground to the mansard roof of the tree-enshrouded house, the artist had captured, not only the way I'd envisioned the scene, but the romance and suspense of the story. 

Though I didn't buy the print that day, it made such an impression that I saved the money needed to purchase and frame it. (Did I say I was young and single ... and poor?) As you can see from the photo, I still own it, along with two others by the artist.

I can't tell you the name of the book this reminded me of, but the writer had painted the setting so vividly that, even now, when I look at that scene on my wall, I remember the emotions evoked while reading the story. I'm right back in the attic room with the imperiled heroine, anxiously looking out a window at the fog-blanketed landscape below. 

Has there been a time when something you saw or heard suddenly transported you back into the setting of a book? Did it give you a new respect for the author or the book?

(This post was revamped from a long ago post on my personal blog.)


Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler. Visit her at and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.