Activity: Every Picture Tells a Story

  • Grades: All Ages
  • Subjects: Art Activities

In this art activity, take a close look at the sketches in Samuel Rosenberg’s Picnic and use them as a starting point to imagine a picnic of your own.

A drawing depicts people in a variety of poses, alone and in groups. Some are sitting or reclining, others are standing with hands on hips or in pockets. The drawings of people cover the whole page. 
Samuel Rosenberg, Picnic, ca. 1960-1969, Carnegie Museum of Art

See And Think

Just like artists observe the world around them, writers often study visual art for inspiration. Review these sketches by Pittsburgh-based artist Sam Rosenberg.

  • What stories do these characters inspire you to tell?
  • Scan the page to notice that Rosenberg did not compose one scene of this picnic but rather focused on individuals, capturing their gestures and activities.
  • All the picnic-goers are doing something different. What are some activities you see?
  • Which figure do you find most interesting? Why? Describe their posture, clothing, or personality.

Do: Write About an Imaginary Picnic

Materials Needed: Paper and something to write with (pen, pencil, etc.)

  1. Go on an imaginary picnic by taking the perspective of one of the figures.
  2. Write a short story about the picnic in their voice.
  3. What conversations might they have with the other figures drawn by Rosenberg? The setting of the picnic is up to your imagination, as Rosenberg did not provide many details about where these figures are.
  4. Have fun! It is your picnic to enjoy.
  5. Ask a friend or family member to complete the activity with you, maybe someone in a distant location or even a young child.
  6. Share your stories with each other. Did you select the same figure? How do your stories compare?