Friday Fun-Day Writing Prompt: Painting a Picture

Hello writers! Join me in ushering in a long-awaited Friday and an even more welcomed weekend. For my American readers, it’s Labor Day weekend, another long weekend which normally calls for celebration. Instead of all the drinking and salutes to the last days of summer, might I suggest a writing prompt? Today’s prompt involves visual stimulation and a famous painting.

Yesterday I gave you my thoughts on the tightly-knit nature of writing and other forms of art. Now I want to put that relationship into action. In particular, I want to focus on writing and painting.

One of the oldest tricks in the book, as far as jump-starting one’s writing goes, is to immerse oneself in art. Usually this includes visiting a museum or something of the like. For this prompt, you only need access to your favorite painting (the Internet is a wonderful thing).

Find an image of your favorite painting. Meditate on it for about five minutes; write notes, jot down whatever thoughts come to mind. Don’t put too much conscious thought into it. Just let the painting wash over you.

After five minutes, take a short break. Five minutes, ten, whatever you want or need, so long as you remember to come back to your notes. When you come back, get the image of the painting out of your sight and focus on your notes. Using your notes as a springboard, write a scene, short story, or poem inspired by the painting.

I haven’t done this exercise in this exact form but I have written pieces based on other art forms, from a painting to a statue and even an old photograph. Here’s one from about six years ago, based on Van Gogh’s The Starry Night:


Each inch of sight,

a smooth stroke

painted by gentle angels,

or perhaps a mad man

with perfectionist behaviors

and a steady hand;

All blues and greens

and blacks and browns

and muted yellows;

No screaming kids

or barking dogs

or yelling teens

or roaring motorcycles,

Just silence,

not even a whisper of wind;

Neither hot

nor cold,

Perfectly warm

and perfectly cool.

If only I could remain asleep.

The Starry Night by Van Gogh, retrieved from Wallpapers Wide

As I’ve said before, I’m no poet. Nevertheless, you can see the sort of work that can come from an exercise like this.

Don’t take this prompt too seriously. Just have fun with it. That’s why these are called “Friday Fun-Day” writing prompts, after all.

What did you get from this exercise? Care to share your piece or an excerpt? Share your work and experiences in the comments below.


Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011

2 thoughts on “Friday Fun-Day Writing Prompt: Painting a Picture”

    1. Well, I guess wine and writing aren’t mutually exclusive. Actually, a lot of writers will be in trouble if that’s the case…

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