The literary term for describing in words what you see in a picture is ekphrasis. The practice can be traced back to Plato and Aristotle, through the Renaissance and the works of the Romantic poets, all the way into literature of the 19th century. Typically, the word ekphrastic is applied to poetry.
|Creating collage with Judy Verhoeven|
But fiction writers, too, can derive inspiration from physical works of art. Herman Melville uses ekphrasis in Moby-Dick...Taking the practice a step further, visual images can become actual prompts for an entire story or novel.
|Eric Benjamin demonstrates the art of dragon drawing|
Whatever medium you choose— from painting to sculpture, pottery to pencil illustrations—art can trigger a story inside of you. Here are some ideas for finding your own ekphrastic story starter:
*Wander through a museum *Browse an art collection online*Visit a local gallery *Check out a book of art history from the library*View a collection of poster prints online or in a store.(Carol's addition: Visit your local arts camp or school!)
The old aphorism “a picture is worth a thousand words” is most often attributed to Arthur Brisbane, a famous newspaperman. In 1911, Brisbane urged members of the Syracuse Advertising Men’s Club, “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” He believed in catching a reader’s attention fast and forcefully. Don’t waste your time fumbling for words, he was saying, when an image can get the job done better. Inadvertently, perhaps, Brisbane was setting up pictures and words as opposing forces. Ekphrastic fiction reunites the two, as a picture can actually produce a thousand words.