Tag Archives: Norman Rockwell

Tuesday Tryouts

7:28 a.m. — Atlanta

Hi, all. I hope you are well. For this week, we have an image prompt. As with any images I give you, you can follow suggestions, or ignore them completely and go with whatever idea flashes into your mind.

The artist we are looking at for a couple of image weeks is Norman Rockwell, an artist I believe has become… underrated? forgotten? pigeonholed? When I was looking around for the next artist, I came across his work and settled in to have a good look. It had been a while since I had looked at any Rockwells. I tended to think of his art as ‘very good at what he did,’ as magazine cover art, or as caricature. After an hour of looking, I realised I had been underselling his work to myself.

If you study the three works I have chosen, you will see that it is Rockwell’s incredible ability to reproduce what he conceived, as if he had taken a photograph, that puts him in the top tier of artists and, at the same time, often causes his work to be dismissed by modern audiences. Look at the wealth of detail in each painting. Not an impression of background, or a loosely suggested few things, but an exact accounting of every part of the scene. Look at the faces and their expressions. I felt as if I could call out to the characters.

Rockwell’s work was used as magazine cover art, he did paint caricatures, but his work covers far more. Resist looking up the paintings to see their titles. That plants too firm a direction. Unless you have a reason for making it part of the poem, we shouldn’t know a piece of art is involved.

In general, I would say, choose the painting that speaks to you and go with your idea for a poem but, should you want suggestions, here are a few. Choose a painting. List everything you observe about the main person. Look for details: physical, clothing, background, other people… Don’t draw conclusions yet.

Now, from the list of facts, spend several minutes writing what you think your person is like as a person, their character traits, based on what you observe.

What does this person look like s/he might be or do?

Write sketches introducing your character in two or three of the following ways:

through his/her own inner monologue
through two people discussing him/her in his/her absence
through a dialogue between him/herself and another person
show him/her eating
describe the possessions s/he values
describe his/her hands and the way s/he uses them


Pick any painting. Jot down everything you notice. Don’t miss the tiniest detail. Don’t draw conclusions yet. Now jot down the things you associate with some of the things you have noticed. See if anything forms a pattern.

From your notes, pick a direction that pleases you and write. You might try a prose piece, a haibun, or a form as tightly structured as a Rockwell.

Enjoy your last week of freedom, those of you who are about to embark on Poem-a-day. Me? Do I look nuts? Which is not to say I don’t admire you.

I shall see you Thursday for announcements; Friday for the roundup; and next Tuesday for a prompt that should satisfy everyone’s requests… sound ominous? Heh heh.

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 27/03/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , ,

  • creative commons license