Use the following strategies with Tom Phillips’, Calligrapher Replies
- Locate three letters of the alphabet in this painting. Write an acrostic poem with the letters you find.
- Using the black-and-white detail of the painting [link], color letters systematically—all A’s one color, all B’s another color—so that the language of writing becomes the language of art.
- Print the text of a poem or a list of vocabulary words on a piece of paper. Reuse the same sheet of paper to print a different poem or list of words overlapping the first printed text. Using colored pencils or markers, incorporate color into the text to identify recognizable words, resulting in a work of art similar to the painting.
- Choose a printed text, such as a non-fiction easy reader or a book at an appropriate level. Search within the text for words or letters to string together to create another story or message. After you determine your story, mark out any surplus words with paint or markers so that all that remains of the text is your chosen message.
- Phillips includes a phrase with a date somewhere in the painting. Look closely to find it. See the detail [link] for a clue. (“On new years eve nineteen eighty six” appears near the two bottom rows on the canvas.) Write a story beginning with this phrase. Share your story with classmates. Compare and contrast narratives deriving from the same prompt. (As an alternative, change the date in the writing prompt to fit the age of the students or have the students select a date that is important to them.)