Monday, April 22, 2013

Pictures & Paintings to inspire writing - a Monet-inspired memoir

Any picture can inspire a story

I have long been a lover of Monet’s art.  I cannot see his paintings without my mind wandering down lanes of discovery.  Sometimes they lead me to research the specific painting, sometimes they provoke questions about Monet himself.  But almost always they inspire me to write about my own responses to them.  For me, Monet’s paintings are always lyrical, and seem to lend themselves to poetry. 

Consider the painting below. The Magpie was painted in the winter of 1868-1869 while Monet and his family were residing on the coast of Normandy in Etretat.  I think of Monet alone, out braving the snowy winter cold, capturing the light and shadow on his canvas, rapt in a fever of creativity.  I can nearly feel the crisp edge of frosted air that bites his fingers.  And my mind drifts back to memories of my own.

Monet painting - The Magpie

Reflections on a Winter Painting

I saw a winter painting and I smiled.
Then once again my brother lived—
tall and strong, he pulled the sled
when I was just a little child.
Trees black laced against                                                                                    
an orange smear of sunset,                                                                  
the evening star a diamond in the dusk.

Below, the crunch of snow beneath the runners,
toes numb in buckled boots,
frozen misted breath, and mittens caked with ice,
riding like a small princess across a frozen tundra.

Home at last!
Stomping, laughing, pulling off our coats,
breathing in the kitchen’s fragrant warmth,
fingers tingling underneath the tap.

Winter memories of my brother.
Rest in peace my childhood knight,
and angels guard your soul.

Now the rising pearl of moon
casts its ghostly pale
upon my withered lawn.
Frost lies everywhere—
like fairy dust turned cold.

                         ~Elizabeth Guy

Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.”  - John Boswell

So, my thanks to Claude Monet for a sentimental journey and a bittersweet memory that has me smiling through some tears—perhaps more precious for all of that.
Do you have pictures that inspire your memories?

Coming next week...                                         
Men don't understand women!

Also, visit my co-author's blog at  See his ten-part series on photo prompts to inspire writing at

 And Don’t Miss…

             English teacher Mara Dukats and writer-photographer Cynthia Staples’ poems “white on white” and “The Absence of Color.” They’re in Part Four of Hank Kellner’s  twelve-part series THE POWER OF PHOTOS TO INSPIRE WRITING at the Creativity Portal  website,  as well as Anna J. Small’s writing assignment in "Viewing and Writing about Photos from Around the World."

            Also, read more about Reflect and Write in the SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

                A Helpful Source for Inspiration
For more photos and information not included in this blog, please visit Reflect and Write contains more than 300 poems and photos; keywords; quotations; either “Inspiration” or “Challenge” prompts; a “Themes to Explore” section; a “Twelve Ways to Inspire Your Students” section; a special “Internet Resources” section, and more. Includes CD with photos and poems from the book. Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photos to Inspire Writing by Hank Kellner and Elizabeth Guy (Prufrock Press, 2013), 153 pages, $24.95.

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