Islam does not pose any restriction on the pursual of fine arts.
Reading novels, drawing pictures, making models/sculptures are all subtle
forms of expression that nourish creativity in a person, and are also a
means of providing constructive entertainment. This of course is greatly
beneficial for a person and therefore such activities cannot be considered
absurd in any way.
Islam imposes only two restrictions on such activities:
1. Over-indulgence should be avoided. This means that one should be careful
in devoting one’s time to such activities. Involvement which diverts a
person’s attention from God and from the responsibilities that God has
imposed upon a person should be avoided.
2. Immorality should be abstained from wherever found in these activities
since this adversely affects the inner purity of a person. Inner purity, we
know, is the objective of Islam.
The expression you have referred to with regard to occurs in the following a
وَمِنْ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ
لِيُضِلَّ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا
أُولَئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُهِينٌ (١٣ :٦-٨)
some who indulge in frivolous talk (lahw al-hadīth) so that they may without
knowledge lead men away from the path of God and hold it up to ridicule. For
these there shall be a shameful punishment. (31:6-8)
It is evident from the context, that the expression ‘lahw al-hadīth’ means
all those things said by the disbelievers to lead people away from the
Qur’ān because the expression is used in contrast to the verses of the
Reading novels, therefore, does not come under ‘lahw al-hadīth’.