Image Grammar Painting Pictures with Words

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					Painting Pictures with Words:
Basic Brush Strokes of Image
        Kathleen B. Scales
       Ozarks Writing Project
       Summer Institute 2008
A Comparison
                              A Comparison
The amateur writes: “Bill was nervous.”

The pro writes: “Bill sat in a dentist’s waiting
 room, peeling the skin at the edge of his
 thumb, until the raw red flesh began to
 show. Biting the torn cuticle, he ripped it
 away, and sucked at the warm sweetness
 of his own blood.”
(Robert Newton Peck as quoted in Noden, 1998, “Image Grammar,” p. 157)
                         Harry R. Noden
• 30-year career as an English teacher, Noden has taught
  every grade from seventh through college with the most
  of his teaching experience in middle school.

• Noden has contributed articles to The Reading Teacher
  and the English Journal, which honored him with the
  Paul and Kate Farmer Award for the best English
  Journal article of 1996-97.

• He has been involved with various NCTE committees
  and the NCTE Assembly for the Teaching of English
    NCTE Position Statement on the
       Teaching of Grammar

•   This resolution was prompted by the continuing use of repetitive grammar drills and
    exercises in the teaching of English in many schools. Proposers pointed out that
    ample evidence from 50 years of research has shown the teaching of grammar in
    isolation does not lead to improvement in students' speaking and writing, and that in
    fact, it hinders development of students' oral and written language. Be it therefore


•   Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English affirm the position that the
    use of isolated grammar and usage exercises not supported by theory and research
    is a deterrent to the improvement of students' speaking and writing and that, in order
    to improve both of these, class time at all levels must be devoted to opportunities for
    meaningful listening, speaking, reading, and writing; and that NCTE urge the
    discontinuance of testing practices that encourage the teaching of grammar rather
    than English language arts instruction., retrieved June 7,
“Image grammar developed from the study
  of the writer as an artist and of
  grammatical structures as the artist’s tools
  for creating images” (Noden, 1999, ix).
“These brushstrokes, which include
  appositives, participles, and absolutes, are
  simple tools to help students compose
  more interesting sentences” (Lilly, 2003, p.
“I discovered I could stop using labels without
   stopping grammar. Students created images
   with their sentences, and they didn’t even know
   they were using participles or writing complex
   sentences…these playful forays into label-less
   grammar ended up in students’ essays,
   enriching them with concrete details and craft—a
   grammar instruction that actually improved
   writing” (Anderson, 2006, p. 29).
       Absolute Brush Stroke
• Noun + ing verb

• Function: adds to the action

Core: The car went into the parking lot.

Engine smoking, gears grinding,
the car went into the parking lot.
Paint with ABSOLUTE Brush Stroke

  The man jumped out of the airplane.
      Appositive Brush Stroke
• A noun that adds a second image to a preceding
  noun, restate the noun

• Function: expands detail in the reader’s

• Core: The car went into the parking lot.

• The car, a 1936 Ford, went into the parking lot.
Paint with APPOSITIVE Brush Stroke

      My friend plays his guitar.
       Participle Brush Stroke
• ing verb or phrase

• Function: evokes action, makes the reader feel a
  part of the experience

Core: The car went into the parking lot.

Sliding on the loose gravel, the car went into the
  parking lot.
Paint with PARTICIPLE Brush Stroke

   The deer came out of the woods.
   Adjectives-Out-of-Order Brush
• Shift two adjectives after the noun

• Function: intensifies an image, gives it rhythm
     • Note: avoid 3 adjectives in a row. Place 1 before the noun
       and two after

     Core: The car went into the parking lot.

     The old car, rusty and dented, went into the
      parking lot.
              Brush Stroke

       The sun rose over the lake.
    Action Verbs Brush Stroke
• Verbs that do action
• Function: effective image tools, energize

• Core: The car went into the parking lot.

• The car chugged into the parking lot.
       Brush Stroke
   Rainy Summer Sky
Rolling, draping, folding
Clouds hang like icing
borders on a cake glazed
smooth with gray

Edges congealing, a
summer front, moist and
cool, slides over my street.

Dripping, sighing, sagging

Air, heavy and suspended,
rain settles in for the day.
Graphic Organizer and Example

                          Zooming In
           Ask: How does it feel? What
           does it look like? How does it
           sound? How does it taste?
           How does it smell?

Observation                Impression                 Brush Stroke
Cat, branch, dangle,       A cat in trouble,          Claws digging, feet
                           struggling, feet kicking   kicking, the cat clung to
                                                      the branch.
                               Practice Zooming In
           “Gessi the Great”
           Copyedit Activity
The famous escape artist was hanging
 upside down above a parking lot in a
 straight jacket. He was suspended from a
 crane. His name was “Gessi the Great.”
 He twisted and twirled in the wind as a
 crowd watched silently. The crowd was
 large with about fifty onlookers. Finally,
 Gessi wiggled out of the jacket and tossed
 it aside. He was lowered to the ground by
 the crane operator and greeted by cheers.
           Image Grammar Writing Activity
              Favorite Person or Place

• Prompt: Place your photo of your favorite place or
  person in front of you. Imagine you are attempting to
  describe your photo to a friend you are talking to on your
  cell phone. Obviously, your friend can not see the photo.
  Write an extended paragraph describing how you would
  “show” that photo to your friend.

The most effective image grammar writing will:
• Use each of the basic brush strokes at least once. May
  be used more than once or in combinations
• Demonstrate that the writer is able to “zoom in” and
  capture some significant detail or details of the photo
• Shows the reader instead of tells the reader
          I’d like to know…
• What ways can you think of to present the
  mini lessons on brush strokes that would
  be effective?

• If this was your first time to paint words
  with brush strokes, how was that
  experience for you? Like? Dislike? Why?
                      Image References


Harry R. Noden photo,, retrieved
   June 7, 2008
Noden, H. (1999). Image Grammar CD [CD-ROM]. Porstmuth, NH: Boynton/Cook.

Michelangelo’s David,,
   retrieved June 7, 2008.

Rusty Car photo. , retrieved June 13,

Anderson, J. (2006). Zooming in and zooming out: Putting grammar in
    context into context. English Journal 95 (5), 28-34. Retrieved June
    7, 2008, from
Lilly, N. (2003). Dead or alive: How will your students’ nonfiction writing
    arrive? The Quarterly 25 (4), 29-31. Retrieved June 7, 2008, from
Noden, H. R. (1998). Image grammar. In C. Weaver (Ed.), Lessons to
    share on teaching grammar in context ( pp. 155-168). Portsmouth,
    NH: Boynton/ Cook.
Noden, H. R. (1999). Image grammar. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.
Noden, H. R. (2007) Image grammar activity book. Logan, Iowa:
    Perfection Learning Corporation.

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