Sometimes there is a clear path we march along, our heads held high, our goal in sight. But more often we are led down the abstract way where the twists and turns are so jagged that we can't see our way forward. We keep moving along because we have no choice…that is what life asks of us.

As we take each step our journey is fueled by the hope that the answers we seek are up ahead…just around the bend of the abstract way.

Work of Art Gallery

Below you will find the artwork, artists, locations and images that inspired me while writing Work of Art. Click on the images to view them larger.

Work of Art Epilogue-Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night

For a brief moment I look out the window, and in the night sky dotted with points of light, I imagine Van Gogh's Starry Night. His vision, swirls of stars suspended in cobalt blue, lingers as we fall into a deep sleep.

In my dream we have lassoed the moon and flown through the Starry Night. In our bed-shaped chariot, arms and legs, large and small, are intertwined. Together we are one, full of hope and love, brimming with the sweetest promise for what our future holds.

Chapter 60-Paris View

"Look, Edward. The sun is setting over the Eiffel Tower. Isn't it spectacular?"
The structure itself actually looks like an overgrown kid's erector-set project, but with the setting sun falling over it and the way it is rising out of the gorgeous Paris cityscape, it truly is breathtaking.
He follows my gaze and looks back at me, his eyes full of fire. "I have the best view of Paris right here in my arms."

Chapter 60-Rodin, Le Baiser

Le Baiser translates to the kiss? I gaze at a bronze casting of Rodin's famous couple whose lips are about to meet. "Ed, you really know how to set up a scene," I say to myself. I look up at the bronze, where the young couple are wound together ready for a passionate embrace, and I smile.
Of course this is where Edward and I will meet…it's absolutely perfect.

Chapter 60-Monet Les Nympheas

It's difficult to part from the Monets, but I exit in an ethereal haze. I imagine tonight I will dream of floating in cobalt-blue ponds with lavender reflections, water lilies woven in my hair.

Chapter 60-The Plaza Athenee

The bellman pushes open the door to our suite and I blink in disbelief. I mean, I've now stayed in some fancy hotels, but this is old world elegance defined. The French provincial furniture is upholstered in the richest silks and velvets. Heavy drapes with swags and tassels frame the windows and French doors. Elaborate arrangements of fresh flowers are carefully placed at focal points in the room.

Chapter 59-Edward Hopper

I am reminded of Edward Hopper's painting Morning Sun, where a woman sits on a bed in an otherwise empty room, the sun pouring in from a nearby window. It is classic Hopper in its starkness, light and shadow. But what is strongest about my memory of the painting is my curiosity-whether the woman is sad and lonely or feeling hopeful as she looks out the window to the world outside? Anyone watching me right now could probably ask the same question.

Chapter 55-The Book Signing

We take our places at the table as they set out markers and bottles of water. My stomach starts flip flopping. Am I ever going to get used to this stuff?
Edward turns to me and squeezes my hand. "Ready, baby?"
"As much as I'll ever be. But it makes all the difference that I'm doing it with you."
"For me too, Bella. That's for sure."
They lift the rope and the first people step forward.

Chapter 54-Robert Mapplethorpe

This time when he carries me to the bedroom we make love slowly in the bright noon light from my open windows. Beautifully naked, he is rendered in hot highlights and dark cast shadows making his beard stubble and every muscle exaggeratedly dimensional. I crave the softer light of a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph, ethereal and clean, yet there is truth in this harsh spotlight.

Chapter 53-John Currin

He exhales a deep sigh and lightens his tone. "You know Bella, I'm in New York at least a week every month. There is an amazing John Currin show opening in October at the Whitney. Why don't you let me take you to the pre-opening private party?"

Chapter 48-Jackson Pollock

The brush makes one final pass swirling between my legs and words are falling out of me without reason, abstract art formed of my breath, cries and desire. I am splitting open, a Jackson Pollock dripping and splattered across the bed.

Chapter 48-Barcelona, La Sagrada LaFamilia

As the cab pulls up to the unconventional and spectacular cathedral, I am struck by the enormity of the project Gaudi devoted the last part of his life to. The masterpiece embodies the essence of Gaudi's style which has been described as Art Nouveau gone wild.
We wander around the outside first, and Edward takes lots of pictures. The structure is a bizarre wonder comprised of a collection of towers with every surface covered with unusual stone carvings. The overall effect is something fantastical and much more organic than your typical cathedral. A deeply religious man, Gaudi was greatly influenced by nature, and he worked plenty of organic symbolism into the design.

Chapter 46-Bella's Birthday at the Bel Air Hotel

I look up and realize that we are cocooned in an alcove that looks out on the swan lake. The patio is covered with drapings of fuchsia bougainvillea, and the tender petals drop around us like summer snow. The back of our seating is layered with richly upholstered down pillows, and I fight the urge to lie down across them. This is decadence defined.

Chapter 45-The Cindy Sherman Shoot

Finally we go over to an area of her loft where an antique water cooler is perched against a beige wall. A vintage linoleum floor has been laid over her hardwoods, and there is an actual 1950's calendar hanging on the wall. She carefully explains to me what she is looking for as we do a series of photos of two secretaries gossiping at the water cooler. She is really serious when she is working, but during our breaks we tease each other about whose skirt is tighter and who is more likely to be doing the boss.

Chapter 43-Rose and Lauren's Wedding

The last guests don't leave until just before three a.m., and despite our exhaustion, Rose, Lauren, Edward, and I are still amped up. We open a stray bottle of champagne and sit by the fire pit to toast a perfect night and relive high points of the wedding. All in all we decide that it was stellar…an event that no one who attended will ever forget.

Chapter 42-A Student's Inspiration

"Where do you get your ideas, Cedric? What inspires you? Your work is so imaginative."
"Thank you," he says quietly, looking down. "I've always seen all of this in my head and done a million sketches for myself. But it wasn't until Edward showed me this artist, Daniel Merriman's work, that I felt it was okay to do this stuff and still be taken seriously."
I squeeze Edward's hand as Cedric slowly looks up at him. I can see the admiration in the boy's eyes.

Chapter 40-Date Night

He takes my hand and walks me through the planetarium, a great old art deco building perched on a hill above Los Angeles. There is nothing like thinking about the stars and planets that make up our universe to put things in a broader perspective. I am intrigued by the various displays, but the real thrill is when he takes me to the walkway behind the building.
It is a clear crisp night and the city lies before us, a jewel box lit from within. It sparkles and hums with energy.
"Wow," I gasp as I lean over the rail. "This is unbelievably beautiful." The view sweeps far north to south and all the way to the ocean, a rolling blanket of twinkling lights.

Chapter 39-The Birth of Venus

Damn, Bella, you are beautiful. You are my very own Botticelli's Birth of Venus." He sighs longingly. "I want to paint you."

Chapter 39-Farewell to Santa Fe

On the drive to the airport in Albuquerque I quietly watch the New Mexico landscape through my window. I am powerfully drawn to the blanket of purple hills nestled up to the cloud-strewn sky. I want to get out of the car and run through the fields until either my legs give out or I take flight, but I remain silent as we speed along. I can see that Edward is immersed in his thoughts too as he leads us away from our magic place.
The license plate on the car in front of us says New Mexico-Land of Enchantment and I realize that nothing could be more true.

Chapter 38-Edward's Jealous Rage

By the time I get to Edward's room I am hot, sweaty and tired so as I pull the key hard through the slot I decide to take a shower. When I step inside the first thing that hits me is that the room is dark. All the blinds and curtains have been pulled closed. When I turn on the lights I gasp because Edward is sitting in the chair silently waiting. A number of charcoal drawings are scattered in front of him. There is charcoal smeared on his hands and arms, left cheek and his chest.
"You scared the hell out of me," I gasp. "What are you doing here?"
"Where have you been?" he demands. "Why haven't you answered my calls?"

Chapter 37-Georgia O'Keefe

"I've never been much of a fan, but I think I'm seeing it anew tonight. I wouldn't say it is feminine so much as sensuous. I mean, this painting you are looking at reminds me of you." He runs his hands down my sides and then rests them on my hips.
"Really?" I ask as my eyes wander over the waves of soft color blending into each other. "How does it remind you of me?"
"You really want to know?" He pauses, and I sense that his idea must be sexual, which O'Keefe's work is certainly noted for. I can feel his hot breath on my neck, and his fingers press firmly into the flesh at the swell of my hips.

Chapter 36-Gustave Klimdt

I am Gustave Klimdt's pale dark-haired beauty swathed in a patchwork quilt of gold. My breath rises and falls as my lover presses up next to me. Now his fingers push the gilded cloth away and circle my breast and then my belly. His wet lips meet my swollen nipple, his tongue teasing and lapping as I feel the heat burn between my legs. I moan in my sleep, fighting the urge to open my eyes, as I know that when I do the dream will slip out of my grasp.

Chapter 35-The Masterpiece

We are in a Maxfield Parish amber-dipped landscape redefining the cinematic kiss. I imagine we are near the edge of a cliff with the world laid out before us. The sun is about to sink behind the horizon while we hold onto each other, bracing against the wind of all our past experiences as they whip past us. It's a masterpiece. This moment should be in an elaborately gilded frame hanging in the fucking Louvre.

Chapter 34-Santa Fe, Edward's Room

My roommate, Michelle, hasn't arrived yet, so after Edward checks in he offers me his room to rest in before dinner while he goes to meet with a local gallery owner. His room is on the far edge of the property and has a balcony overlooking a creek surrounded by fields and trees. There is a gas kiva fireplace in the corner of the room, and I turn it on then curl up in the big chair that faces it with my book. Between adjusting to the high altitude, the fresh air and the cozy fire, I am sound asleep within minutes.

Chapter 34-Bandelier

At the top of the ladder I crawl forward into the room that has been formed out of the mountain. Edward soon follows.

"People really lived in here?" I ask marveling at the idea of it. It feels like someone took a sharp spoon and carved out the center of a stone.

You are completely surrounded by nothing but shale rock and the air and light that passes through the ragged openings. It is so organic that I feel like I'm part of the earth as I sit on the cold stone floor.

Chapter 33-Harry Potter Movie Date

When the bell rings and I pull open the front door, Edward is holding a little stuffed animal-a snowy white owl and a package of Bertie Botts jelly beans. His grin makes him look like a young boy as he offers them to me.
I give him a hug before asking, "Where did you get these?" I peek into the decorative candy box and give the owl a squeeze.
"The bookstore I was at had a special display. I had to restrain myself from also buying the light-up wand and red and yellow striped Griffindor knit scarf."

Chapter 29-Ojai-the Pink Moment

"Since Ojai is lined up with an east-west mountain range, it is one of the few towns in the world to have a Pink Moment occur as the sun is setting-when the fading sunlight creates a vivid shade of pink for several minutes on the Topatopa Bluffs."
Edward and I take our drinks and sit in the swing together, quietly rocking while we admire the show Mother Nature is providing. The pink has a few brilliant minutes until the sun falls and then a soft violet washes over us. Finally, when most of the yard has fallen into dark shadow, we gather up our things and move inside.

Chapter 28-Couple in Paris

I get up and walk over to one in particular that has caught my eye. It is a rear view of a couple leaning on a railing overlooking the scenery. A sweeping view of Paris lies before them, with the Eiffel Tower rising tall above the enchanting city. The couple is dressed in clothes I would estimate from the '50s, and their body language suggests that they are in love. It is a non-traditional composition with the couple low and to the side of the frame, and it is brilliant.

Chapter 28-Renoir Exhibition at LACMA

I meet them over at the museum and the band is just beginning to set up in the courtyard, so we duck into the Broad building to see the Renoir in the Twentieth Century exhibit. The exhibition is full of fleshy women stretched out languidly, and I step close to see the whispers of every color within each of Renoir's brushstrokes. How did he do that? I wonder as I always do when I am able to see his work up close in person.

Chapter 26-Santa Barbara with James

Our reservations are at the Biltmore, a Four Season landmark hotel resting on the beachfront of prime Santa Barbara real estate. Like almost everything else in Santa Barbara it is classically Spanish architecture with whitewashed walls, terracotta adobe roofs and arched windows and doorways. The structure is low and spread across the sprawling property surrounded by rolling lawns edged with palm trees. Clusters of indigenous wildflowers bring spots of hot color to the verdant blanket of green.

Chapter 22-Nessie at the Princess High Tea

Luckily, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Belle, Ariel and Jasmine fit the bill perfectly. They wander through the event posing for photos and charming the girls. With only a minor reminder of the bribe, we get Nessie to take a few pictures. She doesn't look happy about it, but we can only expect so much.

Chapter 17-Huntington Gardens

We finally gather up our stuff and head over to Huntington. We are still a little giddy from the wine, so Alice skips through the Desert garden with Jasper stalking her while Edward and I take close up shots of the cacti and uniquely shaped succulents. We wind our way around the paths, past the lily ponds and Jungle pavilion, until we end up in the Japanese garden with it's perfectly groomed gravel beds and bonsai trees. While Edward and I sit for a minute to review some of the pictures we have taken on our camera's digital screens, Jasper and Alice wander off.

Chapter 15-Hello Kitty Glitter Art

We move into the next soundstage. There is a Japanese girl-band playing onstage and clusters of tables with Hello Kitty themed centerpieces. The far wall is brightly lit, and we walk over to discover a wall of different Hello Kitty paintings. The mini-show is called Hello Kitty the Muse: Twenty Artists Interpret the World's Most Famous Cat.The artwork is fun and irreverent and nothing that will ever end up in MOMA. One image of Hello Kitty as an angel is rendered entirely in glitter.

Chapter 10-Farmers Market

Next we head over to an L.A. mainstay, Farmers Market, a little collection of permanent stalls with every kind of prepared food: stands with baskets of fresh fruit, bakeries, a doughnut shop, and a place where you can watch them make candy before your eyes. There are metal tables and chairs from the 1940s clustered around so people can pick up a sandwich or some coffee and hang out with friends. And since it is entirely outdoors, there are clusters of old-fashioned scallop-edged umbrellas in different colors to take shade under. It is always mixed with an eclectic group of people, from L.A. hipsters, to old people that grew up in the area, to tourists from all over the world. My favorite group is the game show contestants who wander over still wearing their name tags since CBS Studios is right next door.

Chapter 10-Robert Graham Bronze

James' assistant comes out to collect me, and we head down a long corridor to his office suite. She asks me to wait on a leather couch on the far side of his office, and she lets me know he will be with me momentarily. I look up to study the various black and white prints he has framed around his office: Vasily Kandinsky, Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, Paul Klee and Kara Walker. There is also a beautiful Robert Graham nude bronze on a pedestal by the window. Although I am pleased with myself for being able to identify all the artists, I'm fighting panic out of sheer intimidation. I'm not even a published writer, but I'm pretending to be one. I am really feeling out of my league.


Jacob carries the first screen we are going to run to the front of the shop, and it is perched over his head. I notice he is wearing a tighter tank than usual and his form-fitting faded jeans, making his muscles look particularly defined. Even when I'm steaming mad at him, I have to admit that he has a beautiful body. He is classically defined like Michelangelo's David, and his movements have an elegance that make him addicting to watch. He notices I'm looking at him, and it appears to diffuse his anger a bit. He is very proud and undoubtedly likes to be appreciated. It's all part of our love/hate relationship.

Chapter 3-Rothko

I wonder if the person that created this blend of colors and stack of rectangles felt as serious about it as the artists who are represented in the best galleries? Who is to say the Rothko hanging in the Museum of Modern Art, that this artist appears to be knocking off, is any better?

Chapter 3-Joan Miro

The current exhibit: Paris and the Avant-Garde Modern Masters from the Guggenheim Collection, is right up my alley. I take the elevator to the top and start the corkscrew descent that defines Frank Lloyd Wright's unique design for the museum. The exhibit is heady stuff, Chagall, Gris, Picasso, Braque, and my favorite Joan MirĂ³. I am delighted with MirĂ³'s Carnival of Harlequin, where the whimsical shapes create a surrealist party and I get lost in the little world. I take my time in front of each painting, savoring the experience of seeing the works of art that I have studied in books come to life in front of me.