If Art Could Talk

After a long night out, you return to your house to find that every picture and painting in your house can speak to you. What do the characters in the artwork and photographs say? Write a conversation between you and one of them, or a conversation between two of them.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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195 thoughts on “If Art Could Talk

  1. Icabu

    Reginald McMaster VII shrugged off his driver’s assistance and stumbled up the marble steps to the Estate’s imposing double oak doors. If Penelope wanted that stuck-up lawyer over him, well, so be it. He’d drowned the ache and would again tomorrow if needed. After multiple attempts, he finally got the door unlocked. They creaked open as if on a medieval castle.

    “A party?” he mumbled, hearing voices. Everyone should be cozy in their boring beds at this hour.

    Following the sounds, he came to his father’s den, pushed the doors open and fell into the dark, quiet room. Reggie was glad there wasn’t a party in here anyway. The room reeked of his father’s cigars and there were the portraits of the five Reginalds preceding him and his father that glared down condescendingly at him all the time. They made his skin itch.

    Crawling, he climbed onto the leather couch. He’d show the Dour Five hanging on the wall and pass out right in front of them.

    “Deplorable behavior,” R3 said.

    “Remember the glass house adage, R3,” R1 said. “I can recall your fondness of spirits.”

    “Appreciating fine wine is hardly the same as guzzling booze to the point of blacking out,” R3 countered.

    “Gentlemen,” R5 interrupted. “Young R7 is in much the same trouble that most of us have experienced at some point, including his father. I think it’s time for the same intervention we gave R6.”

    “Yes,” R4 said, “that worked quite nicely. R6 settled down, won the hand of the lovely Angelica and produced a first-born son heir.” Frowning down at the lump on the couch, he added, “Such as he is.”

    “Since you have so much in common with R7, you can take this one, R3,” R1 said.

    “That’s not funny,” R3 grumbled, “but I’ll take the lad.”

    “What do you need from us?” asked R2?

    “Just hang around.” R3 snorted a laugh.

    R3 cleared his throat. “Reginald McMaster the Seventh!” he boomed. “You are a disgrace to your lineage.”

    “I’m sick, Ma,” R7 mumbled from the couch. “I can’t go to school today.”

    “If I had feet I’d kick that lad’s ass,” R3 said. He cleared his throat again.

    “Reginald the Seventh! Listen to your elders. You will find the Light and put all of this behind you. Do this and life’s riches will come to you to be enjoyed and shared. Find the Light, Reginald. That’s all it takes.”

    The Dour Five repeated ‘Find the Light’ as Reginald VII slept off his drunk. As the new day broke, a shaft of light splashed onto the rumpled form on the couch in the McMaster den.


    “Who are they, Dad?”

    Reginald VII looked down at Reginald VIII, smiling, then up at the six portraits on the wall.

    “Those are the Serene Six, your name-bearing ancestors. They all built on the McMaster name and fortune.”

    “They look kinda mean.”

    “Sometimes you have to be, Reggie,” Penelope said, entering the den to stand beside her husband and son.

  2. don potter

    I came home late from work one night and dragged myself into the apartment I call home on the Upper East-side of Manhattan. Rather than go to bed I poured a hefty drink and decided to enjoy the lights of the city twinkling below. Kicking off my shoes and settling into me favorite chair with the classical FM station playing seemed like a fine way to end the evening.
    Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” began to play in the background. I like this piece and turned the music up to enjoy the full impact of the symphony through my state-of-the-art sound system and speakers. Soon I was enveloped by the music. With a drink in one hand, I moved my free hand in a sweeping motion as if to conduct the orchestra.
    The musical tour began with the Promenade.
    While enjoying the genius of the music guiding me through an art collection in an old museum, I noticed the autographed photo of the great Leonard Bernstein. It was framed and sitting on the table next to my chair. The photo was a keepsake from the Youth Concerts I attended while growing up in New York City, and the famous Conductor seemed to be staring at me.
    The music continued.
    “Are you lookin’ at me?” I said to the photograph.
    “No one else to look at in this room,” Bernstein answered.
    “Whoa. I know you’re not talking, so it must be the booze.”
    “The alcohol relaxed you enough so we could have this moment together,” the maestro replied.
    “Well, I don’t need any more of this. Time for me to go to bed. Come morning, I won’t recall any of this insanity. Having a conversation with a black and white photograph of you is not something I plan to remember.”
    The Promenade movement played again.
    “Stay awhile and enjoy the music with me. I believe this is some of my best work with the New York Philharmonic,” Bernstein boasted.
    On went the music.
    “You can almost see the paintings. Can’t you?”
    “Yes, almost,” I said as the final movement began.
    “Use your imagination as I taught you back in the days of the Youth Concerts. It is the only way to truly enjoy music. Visualize it and you will feel it resonate throughout your entire body while melding with your very soul. That is the beauty of music” the great one said.
    “I’ll try.”
    My eyes closed momentarily. When I opened them again, my personal art collection had been transformed. Each of the paintings Mussorgsky captured in his symphony was hanging on my wall. I got up and walked to the nearest one. As I did so the opening Promenade played. I followed the music from painting to painting until the tour ended as the music came to a close.
    I flopped back into my chair, looked at Bernstein’s photo, and detected a slight smile.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Don, I have only a few comments to you. The first is I love this story; I could hear the music as I read it. You wrote as if you were there at the moment; that’s rare writing. May I make a suggestion to you? Post a note on the current prompt, to tell others about this story. It’s back a few weeks and many of the writers don’t go back and search for new stories posted on prompts more than a week back. If you don’t tell them, I will. Thank you for the music. Kerry

      1. don potter

        Thank you, Kerry, for the kind words. I’m pleased that you liked my story. It would be nice if you posted the suggestion on the current post to go back and read my work rather than me engaging in self-promotion. Again, I appreciate your support.

  3. throughdiscreteeyes

    Throws book bag on chair.

    Girl: I hate school! I wish it would hurry up and be over forever! “Turns on tv”
    Painting: school? Did someone say school?
    Girl: frightened “uhmm yes?”
    Painting:how could you hate such a magnificent place?
    Girl: magnificent? More like lame!
    Girl: wait a minute who’s asking?
    Painting : up here, dear!
    Girl: “looks up”
    Painting: higher, okay good! Oh gracious! How do I look?

    Girl: um you’re a painting? You don’t have to look good.
    Painting: I’m not just a painting!
    Girl: okay yeah whatever-i don’t care “switches channels”
    Painting: listen! I’m miss Agatha enchantment!
    Girl: “lowers down volume ” who?
    Painting : Agatha Enchantment!
    Girl: so?
    Agatha: So!! Turn off that garbage and listen to me!
    Girl: why?
    Agatha: don’t ask my dear, casandra, just do.
    Cassandra : how do you know my name? “Gets up frightened ”
    Agatha: because I’ve been watching you. Everyone! I see everything that gos on in this room. But for how I long to be placed on the bookshelf. Next to Hemingway and Fitzgerald.
    Cassandra: Hemingway? Fitzgerald? Who?
    Agatha: “sigh” if only you knew
    Cassandra:if only i knew what?
    Agatha: nothing it’s nor important, go back to your moving picture.
    Cassandra: no! I wanna know!
    Agatha: you do?
    Cassandra: yes!
    Cassandra : tell me!
    Agatha: okay! “Clears throat” you my dear are blind! Blinded from the world! From possibilities and knowledge! I sit here all day long abd watch you sit on your bum and waste away-where you could be doing much much more. You’re lazy
    Cassandra :no I’m not! I do plenty of things!
    Agatha : oh? Like what?
    Cassandra: “grinning” my homework
    Agatha: ahahahahahaaaa! Are you joking!? I’ve. Never seen you touch your book bag once from coming home from school!
    Cassandra : do too! You must of not seen me touch it. But i have.
    Agatha: child, Cassandra it’s okay to admit you’re lazy but at least try to fix it.
    Cassandra : but how? “Sad”
    Agatha: hmmm..oh! I have an idea , lift me up and bring me to the libray.
    Cassandra: “lifts up”
    Agatha: stop. Oh splended just what I was looking for! Gatsby!
    Cassandra: gassy? Eww!
    Agatha: no silly! Gatsby! A story of a young handsome richman who falls in love with a taken man who will do anything to win her heart.
    Cassandra: seems interesting, i think I’ll read it. Okay back to the tv room you go!
    Agatha: NO! Imean no, no can i possibly stay. Here?
    Cassandra : um sure. Why not
    and on that day Cassandra was happy to read and fell in love with characters more more than the ones on tv. She was very enchanted to meet Agatha in the small painting.

    l me!

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I liked the idea very much. Just a thought for you. What you have is a conversation between Cassandra, [An air head with a potential] and a [wise Agatha] who cares enough about Cassandra, to try to guide her. You’re telling emotions through the story, ie; ‘Sad’, ‘Grinning’ ‘Sigh.’ And setting stage directions, ie: ‘Lifts up,’ ‘changes channels’

      Try the whole story with conversation; for example,
      “Cassandra: how do you know my name? “Gets up frightened.” [Your line]
      Try it this way:

      “How do you know who I am? You’re frightening me.”

  4. sillyman23

    The room erupted with a bombacious explosion of voices, each dripping with thick, ancient, wild dialects. Italian, Greek, Pig Latin, German, Owl, Loon, rising to the hair and lingering like mosquitoes around fresh blood. “Und dann habe ich begraben, die betrunken in den Boden!” Soupy, garbled German flows from an oil bar. Peach, short, dashes outline the lips of the laughing men as they howl and spill their drinks to the floor. New streaks of paint flowing across the canvas. “Kumbuka mbele baba zenu! Kumbuka yao katika nyota!” The charcol dark men and women chant as the fire floods their faces in an golden sheen that absorbs their bodies. The voices beat against my ear drums and thunders in the depths of my heaving chest. With cane strapped to my wrist, I tap the ground, tapping for the stairs. The noise ceases, slowly until I can feel the eyes of man and animal burning with curiousity on the back of my neck.
    “Well!” The Van Gough corhuses.”
    “Another human.” He grins, his eyes enlighting with glee.
    “This,” the paintings begin to advance, “Is going to be great fun.”

  5. randi100

    I could have kissed the steps of my brownstone as I walked up them. I had been in meetings since 7am. That’s what happens when you are trying to start a business. I put the key in the lock, opened the door, and dropped my coat and bags on the floor. All I wanted was a nice glass of wine in my favorite wine glass. The wine glass that I bought in France six years earlier. It’s so beautiful and it looks even better with chardonnay in it. I started a fire in the fireplace, grabbed a blanket, and my drink and I sat down. That couch never felt so good. I opened a book that I had been meaning to read for months.
    “What are you reading that trash for” said a voice.
    I looked around, thinking that I was hearing things. Back into the book I went.
    “Seriously, why are you reading that trash?” “Didn’t I raise you better than that?”
    OK, now I thought that I was completely losing my mind. I got off the couch and started looking around. “Who’s there” I asked in a frantic voice.
    “Hello? Don’t you recognize my voice?”
    “Yes, you sound like my mother but she’s been dead for 7 years” I replied.
    “Well, at least your ears are still working. Why are you drinking?”
    Even from the other side, she still criticizes me.
    “Mom where are you” I asked.
    “My sweet angel, I”m over here.”
    Sweet angel. That’s what she always called me.
    I turned around and looked at her picture on the mantel. “MOM?”
    “Yes dear, it’s me”
    “How in the world are you talking to me? You are dead”
    ” I don’t know, but it’s great isn’t it?” Said my mom
    “Well, yes but you have to admit it’s bizarre ”
    “Not bizarre, amazing ” Said mom
    “Where are you , are you in heaven?” I asked
    “Yes, I am and it’s everything we think it’s going to be and more.”Said mom with a wistfulness in her voice.
    I have to sit down……
    I looked at her picture, just stared at it. There was so much I wanted to tell her and so much I wanted to ask her.
    The doorbell rang and brought me out of my trance.
    Grrrr, who could it be?
    I answered the door and there was no one there. I closed the door and went back to the picture of my mom. I knew the first question that I was going to ask her.
    I didn’t find the picture on my mom on the mantle but I found it on the floor. The glass was smashed. I picked up the picture and stared at it. It is astounding to me. I look so much like her. I started talking to mom again.
    “Mom, I have questions” ” Can you answer them?”

    “That was the craziest night of my life.”Amber said as she started her lecture at the University. She was the keynote speaker on the paranormal.


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