Most writers, myself included, often look at art to help describe our scenes. I relied on maps of castles that I found online to describe the Citadel and other aspects of Woerld when I wrote Miserere. The description of the Ierusal Barren came from a surrealistic picture I found online. While I've lost the online link to the picture, I can tell you that particular image remains with me when I see Ierusal.
I use the art not just to describe a scene or place, but also to fix in my mind the mood I want to achieve, much like an artist uses models to begin an original piece. It is a way for me to orient myself into the world I'm trying to create, and surrealistic art is my favorite.
The marvelous Kate Jonez is renowned for her ability to find artists and paintings that excite my imagination, probably because Kate is such a fascinating artist in her own right. Over the weekend she posted a link to someone's site who showcased artwork by Zdzisław Beksiński.
Zdzisław Beksiński was a Polish artist born in Sanok in southern Poland and he was known for his surrealistic paintings that combined beauty and horror (the Wikipedia article can be found here). He did not title his works, but numbered them instead.
Dark and disturbing, I love all of Beksiński's art and if I had a few thousand Euros tucked away, I would be buying prints right now. I did find several pieces from the online gallery that gave me deeper inspiration for my novel and I look at them often as I write. I won't say which ones. Not quite yet.
I will say the work on the main page of the official web site is exactly how I imagined The Garden's abandoned monastery.
If you have a minute, click over and enjoy the Belvedere Gallery Production's gallery of Zdzisław Beksiński's haunting works.