An Old Painting As A Writing Prompt?

Surfing the internet isn’t always a waste of time. I was looking for something when I ran across the image of an old painting, namely ‘Gothic Church Ruins’, painted by Carl Blechen in 1826. (And yes, I’m permitted to use the picture for free without copyright problems, since the copyright has been ‘outdated’). However, that’s not the question at this moment.

Earlier this year, namely in March, when I was in the hospital for several days I drafted the outlines and main characters for three new books, which surprised me very much. (Apparently being in the hospital gave me an unexpected creativity boost) I have continued working on my books, but I only have limited time. And then, after I saw this old painting, I got lost in my fantasies.

Immediately I had visions of beautiful spiritual creatures and forms living in and around these, once handmade, structures, that are now claimed back by nature. Of course, fantasies alone don’t make for a story yet, but in many ways, Carl Blechen’s work has given me an amazing input to mine.

Now, when it comes to ‘Writing Prompt’… what is the meaning of it? Yes, I think, most of us know what it means… it’s generally of help to us, when our writer’s brain goes blank (which very rarely happens), but that’s another story…

According to the ‘Freelance Writing-Love-to-know’ website, a writing prompt is ‘usually a statement followed by questions you can use to craft a piece.’ Simple, and to the point.

Would I need a writing prompt to develop and have ideas? Usually, I don’t. But then, I’m a writer… some input is good for me. I’m sometimes afraid, I keep on writing within the same ‘drawer’ and am completely untalented for other pieces of work. That’s one of the reasons, why I decided to ‘break away’ from ‘The Concil of Twelve’ series for a few pieces, to see, if I can write different stories.

That particular picture gave me another idea. We are now talking about staying faithful to the genre, but still, writing outside of my series. I’m not sure yet, how that story is going to be, and in what direction it’s headed. But I’m sure, with time, we are going to find out.

Picture courtesy of Carl Blechen (1798 – 1840)

How do you try to find inspiration, when you’re running dry of ideas? Do you use writing prompts? If yes, where do you find them? Let us know in the comments, we’re curious!

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4 thoughts on “An Old Painting As A Writing Prompt?

  1. Oh that image got several ideas going through my head just looking at it. However, I’m more interested in what landed you up in the hospital. Nothing serious I hope. Hugs. E-mail me if you wish to. And getting back to the image, I could picture a number of characters roaming around in that image, including Nathan of course. I guess the old phrase a picture paints a thousand words should be updated to a picture can inspire thousands of stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I Enjoy writing prompts, always have, it keeps the mind limber and forces you to write “out with” your chosen field/genre.
    You Suggested here “A Painting” and I have done that. An Innocuous painting, until you add imagination. Read on.

    A Painting on the Wall.
    I do not mean to be on a downer here, but I never use writing prompts. Everything is a writing prompt; your dreams, your sleep, the sunlight as you leave it behind to start a new day, the feeling of the air as you throw back your covers, the feeling of carpet or wood or rug as your foot touches the floor. etc. You get what I mean, no need for further explanation.
    I glanced up as I wrote that and saw the wall that lies behind my computer, it is painted a dark rose, that I knew would cover the stained white paint below it. I had given up smoking you see and wished to neither smell the nicotine nor see the stains it had left upon the yellowing walls. A dark rose should hide it I thought, and my wife agreed. I am not sure that she even likes it but very much likes the idea of a smoke-free house and not much yellowing going on. There are marks upon the rose wall where my guitars have been placed back to rest, after having been played, machine heads scraping lines upon the paint. Ah but the music they produced whilst lifted makes a few scrapes little payment for the joy and horror that they have produced. I’m a Blues man at heart and if you like the blues then you may well have heard some wonderful sounds coming from the small dining room in which I sit typing this. Classical, Jazz, opera to your taste? well then all you will have heard is screeching guitars and weeping notes that you will have hated.

    Above the slender scratches lies a painting in an ornate thick gilt frame, an original oil that measures about five inches square, at first glance it looks bright and vibrant with vivid hues of lilac and violet above an azure sea. It depicts three cottages, whitewashed, all with different colored roofs. One yellow, another sage, and the last New England, faded, blue, it appears at the first glance jolly. Three pretty cottages sat above an azure sea and under a harvest moon. Can you see more in the windows of the houses? It is a small painting and so you may wish to retrieve your spectacles, my friend, and look closely at the yellow white glow issuing from the windows into the surrounding evening. The colours of candles burning in the windows upon a summer evening, lighting the night around. Now you have your spectacles you see that do you not?

    I can see from the incline of your face that you do that you have seen what I have, the glow of candles in the windows. You look at me quizzically but there is no need to my friend. It is the custom here in the country and by the sea to set a candle in the window for those lost at sea, so they will find their way home. Like a lighthouse beacon, warning sailors of rocks, this does the opposite it tempts their souls back home to their families and loved ones. I urge you now to take your spectacles and look more closely at the glowing windows. I watched as I knew what would happen as you wiped the coal dust and grime from your spectacles upon a handkerchief that you produced from your waistcoat pocket. I watched you hold the spectacles up to your eyes but not place them upon your nose, rather holding them farther away so you can magnify the painting well enough to see.
    I hear your in drawn breath first as the hand holding the spectacles drops and you turn to look at me.
    “The children found their way home?”, you ask quietly as though you do not wish to disturb them.

    They did, I said, seeing the shadowy forms around the candles in the windows, screaming to be let out, screaming to find their way into the nether world and so find heaven or hell or whatever was their due. Yet family held them and the candles and their longing for home and I knew that they would be held there long past their time.
    They are still there now, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

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