As a child, long before I considered writing, I dreamed and I fantasized, for the world could become all I wished it to be if I used my imagination, and my imagination was my secret hideaway. Sometimes I’d browse the pictures in encyclopedias, some images planting seeds that later resurfaced and helped create the world that became Ontyre.
Fantasy art was a rare thing in those days, though years later I discovered science fiction book covers and album cover art (Yes and the Moody Blues, for instance). But first came the random paintings displayed in those A through Z volumes. Years later, when my world building commenced, I discovered that many of the paintings that inspired me were by the same artist: Albert Bierstadt (b. 1830, d. 1902).
Bierstadt was a German-American artist of the Hudson River School who was best known for his massive landscapes of the American West, particularly the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Yosemite Valley. Critics disliked his penchant for luminescence and billowing clouds. Too, some considered his work overly romanticized.
I, on the other hand, felt the awe he was attempting to convey even while recognizing that his work had a nearly otherworldly quality. In a sense his work was a forerunner of the fantasy art that’s so easily found online these days.
Besides, I consider myself a digital age romanticist to a degree.
- Valley in Kings Canyon (1) became Winter Lake at the southern edge of the Colossus Range, viewed from the southwest below Thain and looking northeast.
- Wind River Mountains (2) became shallow, meandering Wanderer’s Stream, the view looking northeast towards the Colossus Range.
- Kerns River Valley (3) became the southern end of the Rift River Canyon near Rough Water looking north.
- The mountain towering over all others that’s visible from great distances, (4) Mt. Rainier, became Beacon Peak in the Lost Hills, which is technically outside Hartise.
I didn’t sit with the pictures beside me while I worked on the map, but in the back of my mind I knew where the inspiration originated.
Bierstadt was a rediscovered, non-writer influence, but there were countless more, some sadly forgotten, yet forever appreciated. Over time I’ll explore others who’ve impacted my work.
Anyone have influences they’d like to share, be they for writing or any other craft or art? Please share.