Is it a picnic, and no one brought food? Or are they concerned the bird is headed for their clean cars?

As the old cliché states, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  For some reason, this statement popped into my head today and gave me an idea for today’s writing exercise.

Let’s get started!

Search the Classics

Use Google or Bing and search for “classic paintings.”  Feel free to add descriptors like “classic African American paintings” or “classic Latin American paintings.”  You’re looking for paintings that present a scene with people in a location doing things.

What Do You See?

Once you’ve found a painting to use, scrutinize it, asking yourself questions as you do:

•          What happened before this scene took place?  What led to these events?

•          Who are these people?  What are their relationships with each other?

•          Where are they?  Why are these people gathered in this location?

•          What is each person thinking about during the events depicted in the scene?

•          What is the significance of the events or actions displayed in the scene?

•          How do you think the scene ends based on what is shown in the painting?

•          Why are these events in the painting taking place?  Why are these people present?

All of the answers – and any responses to questions you come up with on your own – should be from your imagination.  Don’t research the painting or the artist or go down the rabbit hole of art historian interpretations.  This should be from your creative mindset and viewpoint.

Tell the Tale

Using your imaginative answers, write a 1,000-word story about the scene portrayed in the painting.  Utilize the visuals to describe clothing, characters, location, and other details.  You want to flesh out all the different story elements from your creativity.

You can make the tone funny, tragic, heroic, terrifying, mysterious, erotic, etc.  Whatever you decide, it’s all based on your personal creative interpretation of the painting.

Repeat the Process

Find another painting and do the exercise again.

You could also use the same painting and create a completely different story.  How might you interpret the images in a way that’s the opposite of what you initially came up with?

Why Am I Doing This?

Much like an artist uses paint to create vivid images and scenes, as authors, it’s our job to create them through words.  By utilizing the power of words to interpret a painting, we can elevate it further by adding a new creative context and additional meaning based on our own imagination and creativity.

Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!

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