Writing + Art: Eyewitness

Detectives who write accident reports say that where you are when an accident occurs makes all the difference in what you think happened.

A Scene in an Eating House
Allston, Washington
American, 1779-1843
Oil on canvas
H. 27 7/8 x 36 in.
Layton Art Collection, Purchase
(L1964.3) Photo credit: John R. Glembin

Pick a painting in which some kind of conflict, accident, or stressful incident has occurred.


Position yourself somewhere in the painting. Given where you have placed yourself, what do you see and hear of the incident?


Imagine you are telling someone in authority, such as a detective what you’ve seen and heard. Don’t let your eyes wander. Describe the incident from only your position in the painting.


Read your account of the incident to the group. Can they tell where you were standing?



Modification: Consider practicing dialogue writing for this activity and encourage students to write their responses from the point of view of one of the figures in the painting.