• Fatima Learn

Telling A Story

Updated: Jun 8, 2021


Do all paintings tell a story? Maybe not plein air paintings. “Plein air” has to do with painting outdoors what you see in front of you. This usually means a landscape. I am not a practicing plein air artist so please enlighten me if you disagree with my comment. There is nothing wrong with creating a painting that is well done and simply beautiful to look at. I personally prefer something that tells a story or has a message. Lets see if I can describe this from a verbal perspective instead of a graphic one.


When someone asks you on a Monday “How was your weekend?” Most people ramble a list of activities they accomplished. I usually try to describe my weekend in a way that paints a picture in the other persons mind. It can also be very dull to listen to, almost comparable to a shopping list. Sadly, I have caught myself inflicting this experience on others. I have learned to recognize it by the glazed over look in their eyes.


The Art Of Conversation


Listing off activities you have experienced is just small talk and does not engage the listener. It is not conversational. Paintings can also be seen this way, for instance, a landscape painting of Northern Ontario, Canada might not be relatable to many. I personally am more interested about hearing the experience then I am about the location. If you use your words to paint an image of someone chillin for the weekend then a conversation is surely to develop about their activities. The same can be said about some paintings.


Why Is It Important For A Productive Conversation?

You learn good listening skills which in turn teaches us to recognize thoughts, feelings and behaviours of people. We are able to see the world through their eyes and makes us more open minded and compassionate. I believe you make better choices in life with this skill.


I have began a different approach to responding to the question of “How was your weekend?” A method that can turn into a bit of story telling and engages the person. Depending how good or bad my weekend was, I will respond “It was peaceful”, “It was hectic”, or other more curious terms. Based on their response, I will decide what part of “peaceful” or “hectic” might be interesting to them. Sometimes the conversation will end with their response being “that’s too bad” or “that’s great”. This is a sign of their disinterest, that they have moved further down the gallery to the next painting.


Top Image - "Liz Says...", acrylic painting on canvas by Fatima Learn

Second Image -"The Conversation", a painting by Henri Matisse dated from 1908-1912