(To my email subscribers. Click on the title EKPHRASIS AGAIN in the above box for full post, links—and color.)
Writing Leap #10. Ekphrasis Again
I wanted another go at Ekphrasis (writing inspired by works of art) with the same painting, Child Wearing A Red Scarf by Edouard Vuillard. The first try (August 27, 2012 post) left me flattened emotionally. Although–I’m very glad I had that particular writing experience. The process felt crystal clear if that makes sense.
Has your own writing ever stirred up disturbing emotions in yourself? Or joyful ones?
This time I tapped into my cherished Pollyanna streak and came up with a very different story. This one made me feel good about life and tender towards fathers and daughters.
So how about challenging your imagination with ekphrasis and writing different stories about this one painting? Great writing practice.
Maybe non-fiction? You saw a painting of a child in a museum and it touched you. Or maybe a short account of the artist.
Just remember, ekphrasis is not art criticism. It’s painting as writing muse.
I’d love to know if you try it and if it were fun or not. You can leave a comment about what happened.
Edouard Vuillard, Child Wearing a Red Scarf
October 20, 1774
Lucy Abigail Barnes pulled her new red shawl more tightly around her shoulders. The wind was blowing and she was trying to get warm.
“How come it’s always freezing on my birthday, Daddy?”
Lucy and her father walked with quick steps along the Boston wharf towards town, heading for the shoemaker. Boats of all sizes creaked and swayed in the strong breezes.
“Just to put a few birthday roses in your cheeks, Lucy-girl.”
She started to skip over the cobblestones. Oh, wouldn’t she skip high when she put on her new red shoes! Her second birthday present. She had watched her red shawl grow bigger and bigger on her mother’s knitting needles and now she was going to have shoes to match. Lucy’s mother and father thought that turning ten deserved two presents. She wasn’t a single number any more.
“Look Daddy. That little girl is standing on that fishing boat without a coat—and no shoes.”
The little girl waved and came to say hello. Lucy’s eyes widened. “But you have newspaper tied around your feet.”
The little girl blushed. “I wore out my shoes. My mother says we can’t buy another pair ‘til Daddy says the fish are biting.”
“Oh,” Lucy said. “I hope it happens soon. What’s your name?”
“Ezra. My father wanted a boy.”
Lucy and her father said good-bye and walked on. She couldn’t stop frowning. They crossed the narrow street with lots of shops. Before they got to the shoemaker’s to pick up her red shoes Lucy stopped.
“Ezra should have shoes too, Daddy.” She jingled a little drawstring purse she was carrying on her wrist.
“Do you think I have enough coins from Grandma to buy her a pair?”
Her father looked down at her. “Lucy, I am truly sure you will have enough money.”
Anybody passing by would have thought; now there’s a father who has love and pride in his eyes for his daughter.
Happy Writing Everybody,
LINKING THE ARTS
A Nice Word
Tender-hearted: in the sense of compassion and kindness. Lucy’s tender heart acted spontaneously.
Books I Like
Many children’s stories from centuries past contain explicit moral lessons. A wonderfully entertaining collection for me is still Aesop’s Fables from the Ancient Greeks. Who can resist the tender, “The Dove and the Ant.”
And if you love being transported back to Boston during the Revolutionary War as I do (I’m a Massachusetts-ite: born and bred) Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes will take you there. Did you read it in the seventh grade too? I loved it even more this year. I guess that’s why I put Lucy and her father back in old Boston.
Mussorgsky composed his classic piano suite, “Pictures at an Exhibition” in 1875 in response to an art exhibit of a friend who had just died. In the spirit of ekphrasis: the paintings themselves, the experience of walking through the exhibit and the composer’s deep sorrow became his muse.