Writing + Art: I’d Know That Voice Anywhere!

Experts say that our voices are as distinctive as our fingerprints. Speech patterns are distinctive, too. Think about how you are able to identify people talking in another room, even if they never say their names.

Gabriele Münter (German, 1877–1962)
Boating, 1910
Oil on canvas
49 1/4 × 29 in. (125.1 × 73.66 cm) framed: 55 5/8 × 35 1/8 × 2 3/4 in. (141.29 × 89.22 × 6.99 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1977.128
Photo credit: Efraim Lev-er
© 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Find a painting that has three or more people in it.


Choose one of the people pictured, but don’t tell anyone which one you’ve picked. Then think about the voice and speech of the person you’ve chosen. Does this person have a voice that is loud or quiet, high-pitched or deep, expressive or dull? Does this person use slang, speak in long sentences or short bursts, have a big vocabulary, regularly use particular words or phrases?


Have a person explain what is going on in the painting. Try to use the words and expressions you think she or he would use. Write using this person’s voice.


Read you person’s story aloud. Can other members of the group tell which person it is?