Bougueareau & America: Writing + Art Activity

Engage your students in writing with inspiration from works of art. The following is a low-stakes writing activity designed to help students practice inferencing skills using visual evidence from works of art. This and a collection of other prompts can be used with any work of art you or your students choose. Use note cards or print off the following page to share with students for writing.

Before & AfterHomer and His Guide
Some pieces of art capture a single moment in time. An action scene can inspire us to think about what may have occurred before and what might happen after. We chose “Homer and His Guide” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

Choose a painting or sculpture of a dramatic scene, one that makes you want to know more. Hunt for clues that suggest answers to the investigative questions of when, where and why.

Take a few minutes to write what you think happened before the action you see in front of you. You may want to incorporate elements of storytelling such as the setting and characters. Then write down what you imagine might take place after the scene shown.

Share your story with someone else who chose the same painting. Are your stories similar or do they “paint” quite different accounts of what may have happened?
Excerpted from
Look, Write, See: Activities for Teaching Writing and Looking at Art