Searching for Stories
Episode 177 · May 8th, 2021 · 35 mins 1 sec
About this Episode
Since the beginning of time, artists have told stories with their work. Sometimes the messages are straightforward and other times open to interpretation. Stories can be told with recognizable imagery, with symbols, and even with purely abstract elements. At the heart of telling stories is our desire to communicate and the human love of narrative. Do you think of your work as telling stories? In today’s discussions, we hope to open your mind to the narrative aspects of your work and perhaps enable you to mine your stories for new ideas.
Throughout art history, storytelling has been a primary function of art, using stories from religion, history, and the legends of various cultures. We also find many personal stories, relating to individual artist's experiences. Considering visual expression as stories that record your life, your feelings and thoughts may be a new way of thinking especially in abstraction. But what is a story in its essence? It's something that takes us away from ordinary thoughts and perceptions, shifts our viewpoint, and transports us in some way. This magic happens visually as well as verbally, and for the artist as well as the viewer.
Although visual stories may not follow the conventions of plot development and narrative arc that we find in written or verbal stories, there are similarities, including the dynamic of conflict and resolution. As artists, we manipulate the visual elements on a journey that involves both contrast and harmony A useful term in thinking about this aspect of abstraction is "abstract narrative." Thinking about your own abstract work as a narrative may help you to have patience and trust as it unfolds, much as a novelist allows characters to develop and find a voice.
We can say things visually that go beyond words, but being conscious of your sources of ideas, the stories you want to tell, can strengthen your work. Stories bring meaning to any kind of art but in abstraction this perspective can help you find a voice and personal direction, because we all have stories to tell.
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