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The power of a picture

A few days ago, I had to pop into my daughter’s school for a socially-distanced meeting with her head of year which was held in the school’s art block. 

I’ve been home tutoring for a few months so it was like parents’ evening in reverse. I was the one giving an update on her educational progress!

Arriving a few minutes early, I walked around the lobby, amazed by the art on display, including quirky portraits, abstract landscapes and atmospheric scenes. Many of the talented, young artists had blended mediums from acrylic and oils to photography and fabrics.

But, there was one piece that I kept coming back to. 

I wish I could share it with you but we’re not allowed to take photos in the school grounds so I’ll try and paint it with words instead. 

The thought-provoking piece featured a pair of contrasting canvases. One showed half a woman’s face in shadow, her features barely visible, her face shrouded by a veil. The other half emerged from the light, her hair glowing like a halo, her eyes bright. Connecting the two was a scattering of diverse emotions from confused and tangled to joyful and fun.

I’m sure the artist’s intentions were to represent the mesh of emotions many of us feel as well as how these can both contrast and blur. But, what struck me was the powerful effect created by the images and words together. They combined to tell a story.

Visuals can have such an impact on what we write. That’s why we’ve begun sharing visual writing prompts here as part of our free, summer writing experience.

No two writers will look at the same image exactly the same way.

Our perceptions are unique to us. 

For example, the stories entered into our #100Words competition recently were so different from each other yet each was inspired by the same beautiful photograph of a lighthouse.

Imagination can be incredible and varied, coloured by our lives.

Writing prompts are a great way to stimulate your writing and can really help you out when you feel blocked. If you’re working on a long writing project, writing prompts can also give your creative life a little variety, allowing you to return to your project with fresh perspective. 

Why not have a little fun and play with words today?

Start by picking an image. It could be one we’ve published here or one you find in an album, on a postcard, in a magazine or somewhere else.

Look at your chosen image for a moment. Don’t just see it, experience it.

Consider the emotions you feel, the thoughts that come into your mind. Turn to your senses too. Do any smells, sounds or tastes come to you? Are people in the image or can you imagine them there? What are they saying?

A story should begin to emerge. Maybe more.

Write it down. Let those words flow!

About Loretta Milan

Founder and Commissioning Editor of Lightbox Originals. On a mission to get the world writing and finding wellbeing through words. Loves books, tea, travel and art.

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