What makes a great writer? Great writing evokes emotion, sparks an idea, and provides new perspective.
In Looking to Write, Writing to Look, art educators Barbara Bassett and Rebecca Mitchell of the Philadelphia Museum of Art believe that:
“Great writers are great observers. They consider the world around them, notice overlooked details, and make connections. Looking carefully at art helps us to develop these observation skills. Art encourages us to slow down, look closely, and reflect on what we see. When we accept this invitation, we are rewarded with new thoughts and perspectives. These ideas and insights provide rich material for writing.”
With this concept in mind, art and writing teachers participated in a creative writing workshop using 2012 Scholastic Award-winning art as inspiration on June 7 at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design. Led by Barbara and Rebecca, the goal of the workshop was to discover how art can challenge and inspire students to become more observant, articulate, and engaged writers.
We think it’s safe to say that everyone found the workshop to be fun, challenging, and insightful. “This is exactly what I wanted. I’m always looking for additional resources to help my students become better writers,” said one teacher from New Jersey. As a special treat, each teacher left with his or her own copy of Looking to Write, Writing to Look.
If you missed the workshop, don’t fret. Try some of the activities yourself and let us know what you come up with!
Select a color in the work of art below. Begin with the basic name of the color (for example, yellow, red, blue), then work to refine its description. To further describe the color you have chosen, discuss the following: What does it remind you of? Where does it occur in nature? What other objects are that color? What mood or feeling does the color create? Use these words to create a unique phrase describing this color. Several phrases can be used together to create a collaborative poem.
Before and After
Take a few moments to look at this piece closely and consider the following questions: What happened before the moment depicted in this work of art? What will happen next? If there is a conflict or problem in the story, how will it be resolved? What do you see that informs your ideas? Why do you think the artist chose to depict this moment in the story? Create your own story to this work of art.