Is there a specific term for a novel (or poem, or any other artwork) whose content is concerned with writing or creating a similar art? Some examples of the kind of novels I'm thinking of:
The closest term is the somewhat more general term metanarration, a terms that is related to metafiction. See Metanarration and Metafiction in the living handbook of narratology:
Metanarration and metafiction are umbrella terms designating self-reflexive utterances, i.e. comments referring to the discourse rather than to the story. Although they are related and often used interchangeably, the terms should be distinguished: metanarration refers to the narrator’s reflections on the act or process of narration; metafiction concerns comments on the fictionality and/or constructedness of the narrative.
Many resources on metafiction don't discuss metanarrative as a separate term, however (even though many mention "metanarrative devices"). See for example:
- Metafiction by Jeff Johannes;
- Metafiction by Victoria Orlowski (Spring 1996);
- Metafictionfree by Jerome Klinkowitz in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature;
- That’s So Meta: Writing A Story About Writing A Story by Taylor Houston on LitReactor (December 2011).
The term metanovel has been used in a few academic papers but does not to appear to be in wide use. See for example
- David Henry Lowenkron: The Metanovel, College English, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Dec., 1976), pp. 343-355;
- Alwin L. Baum: The Metanovel: Robbe-Grillet's Phenomenal Nouveau Roman, boundary 2, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Winter, 1978), pp. 557-576.
A novel that concerns artistic development is termed a Künstlerroman. The word combines the German word for artist, Künstler, with the word for novel, Roman. The Künstlerroman is a specific variant of the more general term Bildungsroman, "novel of education" or coming-of-age novel.
A Künstlerroman is specifically a novel about the coming of age of an artist:
The Kunstlerroman [sic] is a novel that depicts the development of novelists or other artists into the stage of maturity in which they recognize their artistic destiny and achieve mastery of their artistic craft. Examples of this type of novel are James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past.
"Kunstlerroman". In Companion to Literature: Facts on File Companion to the American Short Story, ed. Abby H. P. Wenlock. New York: Infobase, 2009. p. 387.
Roberta White discusses To The Lighthouse specifically as a künstlerroman. She says such a discussion "allows for a sharper focus on the many and varied transactions between the sister arts of painting and fiction":
The contrast between Woolf's hard-won confidence as a novelist and Lily's timidity as a painter reflects the historical fact that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it was more difficult for women to be accepted as painters or composers than as writers. (pp. 13–14)
A Study of One's Own: Fictional Women Painters and the Art of Fiction. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2005
Since your question asks about novels that take painting, writing, and other artistic pursuits as their general theme, rather than about novels that focus on the process of their own writing, metanarrative or metafiction seem misapplied here. A metafictional novel is one that foregrounds the process by which it is written and draws attention to the fictionality of the narrative. Either as a fictionalized version of the author, or as an invented persona, metafiction includes the narrator as a character. Examples include:
- Lawrence Sterne's Tristram Shandy (1759–1767), where the eponymous narrator has great difficulty in telling his own story, which he believes should begin with an account of his conception
- Percival Everett's Percival Everett by Virgil Russell: A Novel (2013), where a man (Percival) visits his father (Virgil) in a nursing home, who proceeds to write a novel about his son, incorporating stories from the other residents of the home
- Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions (1973), which includes Kurt Vonnegut as a character.
But if you're asking about works that specifically focus on artistic endeavor as a theme, rather than on novels that are to some degree self-reflexive or self-referential, then the broader category is Künstlerroman. The latter term covers novels that thematize artistic development. The protagonist of a künstlerrroman does not have to be a writer, but could be any sort of artist: a painter, a musician, a dancer, etc.