Telling a Painting's Story

One of the greatest qualities of art is the way it "speaks" to each one of us: People may share opinions about a work of art and even feel similar emotional responses, but ultimately our reactions to art and our interpretations of it are as individual as we are.

In this activity your students can express their unique responses to art by writing stories inspired by paintings in an art museum. Before they put their imaginations to work, each person will have a chance to get to know a painting by observing it closely, making a list of its details, and writing a description of it. Such an exercise will help them understand the value of careful observation as a precursor to descriptive and creative writing. It may also help them learn how to look at and truly see a work of art for the first time.

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Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies

Last Modified April 8, 1998