Blue Heron Writes

Sharing to Inspire through Words and Pictures
2015-2 The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

How Do You Find the Story in a Painting?

Girl With A Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

The Girl With A Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

In my Artist’s Statement,  I use the quote, A picture is worth a thousand words. I’ve always believed this to be true. A photograph, drawing or painting can convey so many meanings depending on the interpretation of the viewer. For me, I paint to draw the viewer in, to tell my stories and share my experiences. I know why I created a particular painting, what my message or story is, so I’m intrigued by what others see in my work. After all, each of us views the world through our own life encounters which influence how we interpret what we see.

Author, Tracey Chevalier, talks about this in her TEDX presentation on finding the story in a painting. She reminds us about our pre-disposition to story-telling as a way to make sense of our crazy world. Tracy found herself doing this while visiting art galleries. When attracted to certain work, her imagination would create a story to explain the image. Her lifelong fascination with Johannes Vermeer’s, The Girl With A Pearl Earring, resulted in her best selling novel of the same name.

So, what’s the story behind my painting, The Red Canoe? I leave that to your imagination and invite your comments.

2015-2 The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

The Red Canoe, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 24 inches, Copyright Wendie Donabie

If you would like to view Tracy’s fascinating TEDX presentation (14 minutes), please click on this link, How Do You Find the Story in a Painting.

About Tracy Chevalier

Novelist Tracy Chevalier is the author of Girl With a Pearl Earring. Chevalier pulls stories from paintings and historical episodes, finding the human thread behind opaque images. Her other books include The Lady and the Unicorn and Burning Bright, about two children who become neighbors of William Blake.

Please visit to view more of my paintings.



  1. Nice use of red in your painting. Perhaps you use this bold color to show your strength as a painter?

    • Interesting…Well, I actually struggled with putting in the canoe. I could see it in the painting but it took some time before I dared to dip my brush into the red paint…so it might represent the strength of my convictions finally acted upon. Thanks for commenting!

  2. As you say above “I leave it to your imagination.” The story will change according to the person who views the painting. We each bring our experiences that would shape the story.

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