Art usually has a story to tell. You know that, don’t you? The artist paints, the musician plays or sings, the actor plays a part. The audience listens, watches, appreciates… and sometimes participates. Communication.
An early morning conversation with some art buddies segued into the idea of using story-telling as a way of helping the viewer understand the work whether it’s realistic or non-representational. I’ve noticed during open studios how the conversation frequently leads to me telling the story behind a piece that interests a visitor.
Here's a story for you....
This collage painting is called Homeward Bound and the story around it goes something like this:
"The woman is my mother when she was about 18 and Dad was falling in love with her.
255 was my phone number! Yes, I’m that old.
The bridge is similar to one that my father forced me to drive across when I was learning that skill. It had wooden planks placed wheel width apart and I had to practice keeping the tires on the planks (or crash into the river below, so I thought). Yikes.
The two men in the rowboat represent my father and brother… and me. Dad loved for us to go fishing with him; he made us row while he fished.
The handwriting is from a letter from my dear sister-in-law."
I think that because of this good story I could have sold this piece several times, but it’s not for sale for that same reason. It reminds me that my heart will ever be Homeward Bound.
Pull out some of your paintings and see if you can make up a story about it. The story could be about the content, the images. Or maybe it's about the process of painting it. Maybe the story is pure fiction but fits the painting. It could be the title, a short story.
Write the story, put it in an envelope and tape the envelope to the back of the painting for a buyer or your heirs to find someday. If it’s headed to a gallery you might make the story part of the label or contained in the artist statement. We all love a good story.
So....please tell me a story by leaving it in the comment section below.