Picture-Writing Page/Handout

Download a PDF version of this handout

Listing details (15 minutes)

  • List every detail that you see in the work
  • Do NOT include emotions that the work evokes
  • Do NOT include reactions to the content of the work


  • List countable things, such as all the red, blue, or black items in the work.
  • Write all the things that are NOT in the picture. For example, do you see all the fingers on the subject's right hand? Did the painter portray both the left and the right side of the subject's face?

Writing a short description of the work (15 minutes)

  • Provide information but withhold all judgments.
  • Write so that another person could read it and instantly recognize the work.

Sharing descriptions (20 minutes)

As you listen to your classmates' papers, keep these questions in mind:

  • What details do you remember from the description?
  • Did the writer include any comments that were not just descriptions? If so, what were they?

Writing a story about the work (30 minutes)

Tell the "story" of the painting.

  • Think of the painting as a frame of a movie. "Unfreeze" the frame and set the painting into motion.
  • Write the story of what has just happened or what is just about to happen.
  • Mentally push the painting's frame back and tell the enlarged story.

Last Modified September 19, 1997