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Write without words

Creative project Factory

Key data

Techniques: Drawing, Painting, Creative writing
I can do alone: Yes
Required time: < 20 minutes
City: Home
Theme worlds: (Hi)stories, Text & Image


Thoughts come and go, but some we just can’t get out of our heads. Nevertheless, it is often difficult to put them into words. Cy Twombly shows how it could be done. Writing without using words—is that possible? It’s your turn: put your thoughts on paper!

Instructions for making it yourself

You will need

  • pen
  • paintbrush
  • liquid paint
  • paper or canvas (large format)

Step 1

Think of a particular subject or person you care about.


Do you need help? Watch the video to learn how to find sources of inspiration!


Now let your thoughts run free while your pen leaves traces, line by line.


Try to put the pen down as little as possible.

Look closely

Are your marks soft and flowing or jagged and rough?

Ponder this

Writing remains wordless here, but what does the image create with its gestures? Have you experienced situations where you were at a loss for words?

Ponder this

Artwork Factory

Artwork Cy Twombly, Nini’s Painting, 1971

In this work, Cy Twombly’s “doodles” with chalk, crayon, and pencil almost look like writing. We even believe we can read individual letters and words from the lines—for example the names Cy and Nini. But the curved lines do not reveal any message.

Delve deeper

Artwork Factory

Artwork Cy Twombly, Untitled (New York City), 1968

The dryness of the dark gray picture looks like a slate, its size resembles that of a school blackboard. On it are irregular white lines and light-gray splashes of color. The lines in “Untitled (New York City)” run directly from the left to the right edge of the picture. Each single stroke registers that the artist has walked along the canvas, and how. We can see when he slows down, when the pressure of the chalk eases or intensifies, how short interruptions during the stride create kinks and loops, and how the lines approach each other, touch, and diverge again.

Delve deeper

Artist Factory

Artist Cy Twombly

was born in Lexington, Virginia, USA, in 1928 and died in Rome in 2011.