Storytelling Scenes

This gallery is meant to show viewers the element of storytelling within the medium of painting throughout the ages. From scenes of biblical or classical events, to the everyday lives of normal people, and even into modern day works of fiction; stories can be shared through single images if enough detail is given to a viewer. These artist's work exemplify this idea using techniques developed by artists for centuries before them.  Doing so guides focus through a scene and capture levels of detail which is important for audiences to see in order for the scene being depicted to unfold before them.

This first piece shows angels, demons, and beasts all engaged in chaotic battle. The artist makes notable effort to put focus on Archangel Micheal directly in the center of the painting. From that focal point the viewer can move around the scene as they please taking in the detail of each bizarre creature or fighting angel. The longer a person views the work, the more details he or she can notice: such as the variants of half-men/half-beast creatures toward the bottom or the culmination of all these monsters far off in the distance rising into the sky towards the top of the scene.
A painting made in 1833 depicting a classical Roman setting; this piece utilizes perspective in order to guide viewer attention. Using contrasting value in the top-right corner of the painting to command focus from the audience at the erupting volcano; the artist then guides the view downward with a bolt of lightning leading to the people of Pompeii cowering in fear of their impending doom. Looking through the crowd, the audience can see the artist's attention to detail in individual people's emotions of fear and sadness during this tragedy.
The debauchery of the ravenous men in this scene is perfectly captured as the artist depicts a scene from the play, "Sardanapalus." The painting captures the image of the so called last king of Assyria sitting among men all participating in lewd and borderline violent acts. The focus is set on the nude woman placed before the king by one of the men. Fom there, attention is brought across the room passing by each other grouping of objects and people before finally resting on the king himself whom the nude woman is looking at. The artist also does an amazing job depicting what seems to be a burning kingdom far off in the distance implying the hubris of the king and how it is leading to his downfall much like in the play the painting depicts.
In this painting the audience is able to see storytelling unfold in the well organized composition of shapes. A warm atmosphere is created by bright color and light value and each table seems to capture a scene of people in a restaurant setting speaking and eating in an everyday scenario. The scene is true to life capturing the feeling of being a member of this Danish town in 1837 for outside onlookers to try and experience themselves.
This painting's story unfolds through the use of value and color by the artist to catch a feeling of afternoon light hitting the busy crowd of people in this scene. The focus can be split equally between the far off stage in the top-left corner with people dancing around it, or the sitting people up close grouped together in the bottom-right corner; but regardless of where the audience chooses to look first will make little difference as the eye is pulled throughout the scene by the intent in each person's gaze within the scene. The work is considered to be one of the most well made impressionist pieces to be made due to such details showing viewers another look into everyday life for people in that time period.
In the painting below, the audience can see a very striking scene where tired and beaten looking townsfolk are working to burn brush and debris in a cold morning setting. The people's clothes are ripped and dirty eluding to the fact that they have been working for a long time and can't afford new clothes regardless of the hard work they have been seemingly doing. These details make viewers understand that these people are refugees of some sort of conflict possibly trying to rebuild their home after it had been destroyed. The moving nature of this subject matter is made most harrowing to audiences by the main-stage presence of the young girl in the center of the scene, staring directly back at the onlooking audience to the painting with a mournful look and a soot covered face. The use of contrasting colors and values as well as the fine detail with soft brushwork make this scene haunting.
This Japanese print shows viewers a glimpse of Japanese culture through an art style that had been developed in Japan over the years. The depiction of a catfish sitting among powerful male figures shows folklore in Japan regarding a deity known as Namazu-e. The god shown here is famous for being a fictional origin to the sport of sumo wrestling in Japan. The simple artwork captures the esthetic of culture in regards to powerful ruling figures in Japanese history and a supposed link they shared to the gods. Additionally the piece shows the level of belief Japan held in that time in regards to their culture being influenced by gods by showing images of samurai and sumo wrestlers in the image alongside the god and various wealthy figures.
In this second print a scene of commoner men are fighting for currency falling from the mouth a more wealthy looking man. Behind him stands the god Namazu-e in a whimsical pose eluding to him being the reason the wealthy man seems to be expelling all of his money in such an unpleasant way. Again simplification in linework in this piece is strong and additionally the artist has taken good measure to make the wealthy man and god more prevalent to audiences by setting them higher on the page, adding a bit more to the notion that they are held higher in regard over the common men below.
Namazu-e is again shown in this traditional Japanese print this time spewing a fountain of coins onto the people standing by on the shore. The people seem to be celebrating Namazu-e showing how Japanese culture reflects an importance of fishing to commercial prosperity and societal happiness. The artist displays a command of linework again very common in this period of artwork in Japan and also makes the god appear powerful by making him very large as shown by the smaller people in the fishing boat off of the right of Namazu-e; as well as placing him at the top of the page.
In this more modern piece of art, the comic cover depicts the hero Iron Man battling a group of super villains in flight. The focus is placed directly on the hero as he is completely surrounded by the villains, guiding the viewers eye around the scene in a Fibanachi helix. Looking beyond the fight, the audience can see the setting below is a crowded office building floor thus conveying to viewers the urgency for Iron Man to not only overcome the unfavorable odds of the fight and protect innocents at the same time. the cover does well to capture an overall story event taking place in the current issue, trying to make new readers better understand the current events of the story through the comic cover.
This comic cover shows the audience a stirring event in the chronology of the hero Aquaman, as he is about to be killed by his former ally Aqualad. The cover eludes to the notion that the events depicted are being controlled by the Aquaman villain Black Manta who is seen in the background egging on the sidekick to execute the hero in gladiatorial style. With the focal point set on the trident pointed directly at Aquaman's throat, the audience is giving a sense of the hero's impending death being seconds away. The simplification of elements needed to effectively catch up readers to current events of the book works well for the commercial side of comic book art's creative practice.
On this cover, The artist shows events to be expected for the audience to view in the team-up issue of these two super heroes, Power Man and Spider-man. The cover details urgency in the situation presenting to us the heroes trapped in a collapsing building burning down around them as they try to save bystanders within. Additionally the audience can see a possible dynamic between the two heroes as they work in tandem to save the firefighter Spider-man is carrying. The artist seems to want to show the importance of saving this man for the heroes as he is placed as the focal point of the cover and is covered on either side by the the two heroes.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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