Using Artwork for Writing

Inspiration comes in many sources. The most profound and thought provoking stimulation for me has come from works of art. During one of my early writing classes, our instructor gave us a picture of abstract art. The assignment was to stare for ten minutes…no writing, no taking notes, just stare. At the end of the time, we were given twenty minutes to write about the picture. When we gathered again, the results were amazing. Some writers created eloquent poetry that painted a picture as vivid as anything canvas could capture, while others had personal memories jolted from slumber. The end result was not only the act of creation, but the realization that this was my creative spark.

Since then, art has intrigued me in ways never thought of before. One of my favorite stories…and by far my darkest…sprang forth from this picture by Pieter Claesz, a 17th century European artist (picture credited from the Web Gallery of Art). I’m still searching for a place to publish this…one that won’t shy away from the horror of a story entitled “The Skull Artist.” While I am really a positive person, I use this piece as an outlet for the bad times in my life. Some people drink and some exercise to relieve anger, but I release these feelings by throwing them onto paper. It’s a cathartic exercise that I highly recommend! Here’s a taste of what came out of my inspiration.

“The path to the Skull Artist’s house lay hidden just past a long covered bridge. Wind howled through the structure, and the swollen river below added to the din. Anxious to reach his home, he scurried through the bridge to the other side and waited. The stranger’s footsteps pulsated throughout the structure. The thumps reminded the Skull Artist of a heartbeat…blood surging through the body, the crunch of bone as he freed his canvas, the tearing of flesh and muscle.”


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