Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! As many know if they read this blog, have checked out my “About” page, or have followed me since early on – I’m an artist and an art lover. Art has been on my mind a lot in the past few weeks as I’ve been getting paintings and drawings ready for my stint as “Artist of the Month” at Downtown Latte Coffeehouse here in Toledo, and last week I began teaching painting classes at Michaels.
In addition, I’ve always loved going to art galleries or to the art museums, taking my daybook and writing to art – whether it be to a two dimensional painting or a sculpture. I had been doing this for years before I found the proper name for this type of writing: Ekphrastic. It’s a hard word to pronounce in a hurry, but it’s a word that you should become familiar with.
I couldn’t write about Ekphrastic poetry without mentioning that my favorite poet, Frank O’Hara wrote many poems inspired by art (after all he was called “Poet Among Painters” and was friends with Jasper Johns, Grace Hartigan, Willem de Kooning, Larry Rivers, among many, many others), as well as prose. Here is a link to his poem “On Seeing Larry River’s Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Museum of Modern Art.”
It should be no surprise that I’ve written many ekphrastic poems over the years; two of those poems were really successful earlier this year. One, “Party Stiff” won an honorable mention at Toledo Museum of Art’s Annual Ekphrastic Competition in May 2013. It was written to the permanent installation, The Party, by Marisol Escobar. The other, inspired by seeing Vincent van Gogh’s painting Bedroom in Arles at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, “The Art of Seeing Value” appeared on New Verse News in early June, and was later explored by Great Writers Steal a few weeks later.
I’m always encouraging my students to try an Ekphrastic poem or a writing. I feel it’s a worthy endeavor (especially for those that don’t take the time to visit an art museum or art gallery on their own!) and can bring such wonderful results. And why wouldn’t it – when you’re putting your best observation skills to work for you…imagery inspired by an image…what could be better? Here’s your fifteenth prompt:
“Writing Art with Heart”
1) It’s ideal to go to an art museum or an art gallery with your daybook, walk through and find the painting or sculpture that you really respond to. That response does not necessarily have to be a positive response, as sometimes a negative response can bring out some really intense writing, or at least writing that you didn’t expect.
2) Along with the response that you write, make a list of what you see in the painting/sculpture – such as colors, realism/contemporary; what’s the medium? Don’t forget to write the title, the artist’s name, and any other pertinent information about your chosen piece down somewhere – as once you leave the gallery/museum these will become really important – especially as you polish your piece for possible publication!
3) If you don’t have a chance to go to an art museum or an art gallery (although I highly recommend it), you can always use the internet to pull up paintings from different galleries/museums from around the world, or check out a good library book that’s full of art. Another idea is to get postcards of art – they can come in handy too when you don’t have a chance to get away for that museum visit.
4) Once you’ve got your info written in your daybook on your visual piece of choice – freewrite on it for 10 minutes or until you run out of steam. Then as always revise, revise, and then revise again to get your poem or prose piece as lively as it can be.
As with the other prompts, I believe you will find that this works well with whatever genre you choose!
As with all writing, writing about Art should be fun! And I remind you that if you ever want to share any successes or attempts that you get from these prompts, don’t hesitate to let me know. You can contact me here.
Look for another prompt next Wednesday! Until then, keep writing!