I’ve never studied art. You won’t find me going to museums to look at the artwork for fun.
Disclaimer: I have visited several museums in the US and Europe, including the Vatican, and have seen a great deal of traditional and modern art.
It’s just not my cup of tea.
That being said, I know what I like. There are certain pieces that “speak” to me in a way I can’t explain.
One of those pieces is Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Cypresses, pictured here. I have a framed print of it on my desk.
When I bought it, I wasn’t shopping for art. (I was shopping for books, what else?) I passed it by several times. I returned to it several times, picked it up, put it back down again. Decided to buy it, then not. I really dithered.
But something in it talked to me. I can see the wheat blowing in the field, the motion of the clouds, and to me, it doesn’t look like it was painted in 1889. It could have been painted in any year.
It’s more than a wheat field and a few cypresses: Van Gogh has painted a fantasy land…and whenever I’m stumped for the right description of something in a world I’m building, I look to it.
The beauty of it is I never describe the golden field or blue and white sky. The picture takes me further, makes me think deeper about my fantasy world. It suggests in a way, under the surface, that it never can with its overt snapshot of the field. There’s more there than meets the eye, and I see a little glimpse of it each time I look at the picture.
Here’s Your Prompt: Go looking for art. Hit a local museum or the library for art books. Do a Google search for Van Gogh or Michelangelo, a modern artist, a performance artist. Anyone. For more variety, go to Google Images and search for “modern art” or “traditional art” or drill deeper for sculpture, carvings, weaving, etc.
Look for something that “speaks” to you: something that keeps you coming back for more. Find a piece of art that draws your eyes away from others over and over again.
Once you find your piece, write a scene. The scene could be dialogue, description, action — anything — that is inspired from the artwork.
Next: put your scene away for a while (a week, two, longer if you can) and let it rest. Then, revisit the artwork. Does it inspire something different? Does it inspire something additional? Add that to what you’ve written previously.