Have you ever wondered why we like to study the arts we see around us? Our eyes wander around, hoping to find meaning in it.
Artists convey their ideas using various methods; examples include performative art, video recordings, documentation, paintings, installation, and sculptures. However, storytelling plays a significant role here. Not everyone can understand everything from art directly; it is different for everyone. But many famous, pieces of artwork indeed have interesting stories.
A famous example is Monet’s Water Lillies, which has become a controversial issue. He wanted to have plants from Asia in his garden, but his neighbors opposed this idea, stating that it would destroy the ecosystems of nearby gardens. In the end, Monet pulled some strings and used Japan as an inspiration for his garden.
Monet's Water Lilies
Later on, when his eyesight worsened due to old age, he decided not to have a medical operation. However, a minister forced Monet to have an operation, which ended up saving his eyes and drawing skills. Right after, Monet found peace in his garden and decided to draw it. Learning the story behind it, how he almost lost his eyes and found the peace he was looking for, and got inspired by the whole process makes us more attached to the artwork. Maybe Monet’s initial intention was to draw his beloved water lilies, but the final piece sure had a much deeper meaning than simple flowers.
Artists do communicate directly with the viewers. The story they tell is alive and naked in front of us. To have an active narration, artists must portray some kind of action, which could be as simple as fruits in a picnic basket or a group of people in a workshop. To do this, artists let their inspiration run through the material they are working on and create a not-seen-before piece.
Sometimes first thing we see is the name of the artwork. It is the time when we first get the idea of the artist’s inspiration. Yet, naming artwork is difficult. Some artists end up simply naming them Untitled. Even though this could increase the attention on art, many view art as a whole package: name, canvas, medium, and more. There are some specific ways artists name their artwork; they look at colors, which represent their feelings, or get inspired by their emotions.
Naming the Artwork by Clara Nartey
Artists portray artworks for them to be perceived subjectively. This can cause misconceptions about whether the message is conveyed correctly or not. It is always best to get another look at another person’s opinion, perhaps someone who does not know what has inspired the artist, to prevent any bias. Even though art can be relatable to everyone with different messages, it is best when its meaning is related to the exhibit. Sometimes, this person who helps artists prevent bias can be a curator in an exhibit. They analyze the artwork and decide whether or not the story is there and/or visible. If not, artists work on simplifying the representation for better understanding through their comments.
It can be implied that drawing portraits are not always easy. When we look at a portrait, we may only see the physical properties, but, in reality, there might be a very deep, underlying emotion. The person in the portrait could be dead, a loved one, a lover, or someone the artists once felt their soul connected to.
Just like scenarists improve their characters by adding details, artists add stories to their artworks to make people get the message. Just like how storytelling is very important to sell in business, it might be the same with the art world as well.
Artists need to show their audience that an important thinking process has been left behind to create something magical. And, all these help people to get the feeling of seeing the portrait through the artist’s eyes. We need a story to feel that connection and share it with whoever felt that. Sometimes, art is not just about colors, skills, brush strokes, or patterns, but rather is about what was left behind and what forced the artists to pour their ideas onto a piece of paper.
Jordan, Courtney “How to Tell a Story on Canvas?” Artists Network, https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-techniques/composition/telling-a-story-on-canvas/
“How to Convey a Message or Story with Art?” School of Visual Storytelling, https://www.svslearn.com/3pointperspectiveblog/2019/5/9/how-to-convey-a-message-or-story-with-your-art