Stories in Art: Tales Untold

in story •  2 years ago

 I chose the name storyseeker on Steemit because I seek tales untold.  

Sometimes the stories are my own, but most often they are the imagined memoirs of those who came before.

While people make for good paintings, I have long been fascinated with mysterious artifacts I find at flea markets or spy in dusty attics. And objects have stories too.

I remember one particular day when ideas wouldn’t come. I was working on a picture book, and having trouble connecting with the content. So I went for a walk. Walks are good for ideas. And if ideas don’t come, at least you went on a walk.

I walked past the heavy pieces of a large broken planter just outside of a flower shop. The planter looked like a broken face. This was intriguing, but I didn’t set out on my stroll to find it - so I walked on. When I got home, I remember not being able to let this object go. I can’t picture it clearly and will never know if there was actually a face hidden in its remains. I decided to draw it.

There are plenty of artists who would have made an exquisite drawing of this object in its realistic setting, but this is not my reason for making art. Before sharpening my lead to a fine point, I took away the context of this thing and pretended it was an artifact found. Its story and scale were now my own, and my mind was swirling with myths of statues and empires fallen.

The result was a much quieter piece than first imagined. I created a character to help bring the broken vessels to life and to provide scale. She helps allude to a bigger story by prompting the viewer to question her relationship to them. I remember that when the piece was almost done, it needed movement. I added the flowing sand to fill this void, and it offered the image a symbol of both sadness and time. 

The meaning of this drawing is not straightforward, but offers many solutions to those who seek one. Tales Untold could be a piece about the untold stories of those who came before us - stories we never had the time to request. It could be about the futile passage of time and a reminder that life is short. But I imagine there are more interpretations to be found.

Do you have a different interpretation of this image? Has an object ever inspired a piece of your art or writing?


Challenge: One of the assignments I gave when I taught college art students was to find a peculiar object or piece of ephemera at a flea market or in a lost corner of a junk drawer. Remove all knowledge of the object at hand and rewrite its history. Then create an image or a story based on that false history. This is a great way to weave original story into your work. I find that starting with an object is much easier than starting from scratch, and can yield more interesting results.

Technique: This image was drawn in my sketchbook with a sharp and very light 4H pencil. Contrast was added when it was scanned into Photoshop.

Images © Jaime Zollars

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I'm also big on things with history, found objects, broken, discarded and forgotten things. I believe she has the "what do I do now?" look on her face, as she immerses herself in mindblowing situations of the past. History spilling over even though the vessels levels are too empty to actually have active overflow. As we are--affected greatly by our history, somethings mindblowing, breaking us into pieces, reaching up through the depths, stunted growth with no life. rivers flowing from the eyes. Perhaps we give too much credence to history. it leaves us broken, dried up, leaking valuable content, stupified, left holding that which is already dysfunctional with no place to go and nothing to do. We'll have to clean out those vessels, add fertile soil to grow happy and healthy generations of those that follow, mend our minds, especially for the children. Great post. I love your art. Upvoting. I'm already following you. Thanks for sharing.


That is such an interesting take - thanks for posting it! It is interesting that you talk about giving too much credence to history. I totally get that now that you mention it - it appears in this image to be more of a burden than anything else. Very interesting, and a new take on this one!


I love how art is so open to interpretation.
I have an enlightened friend, @quinneaker, who once told me he was intentionally leaving behind his memories. I didn't really get it at the time as I was in the process of writing a book about my life for my children. But then I began to realize over time that he was right (as he always is!!!). Memories and things from the past often hold us back as we become entangled in them, wrap our identity around them, and are unknowingly controlled by them. History runs deep within our psyche, embedded ideas, thoughts, fears and limitations. We must let go and die to the past, before we can be reborn to the present.

Thanks for giving us the opportunity to question! Bless.

Beautiful words that you have used, very beautiful works of art, congratulations thank you for sharing

I like the emotions that we could read from that girl eyes. It's like she's asking me. What do I do now? Where do I go?
And that broken piece from her hands. I feel that she wants to hand it over to to me, telling me "It's yours".


I like this interpretation! She is definitely asking the viewer "what next?"

I like the illustration and its symbols.
And the challenge is very interesting.. I like to walk for inspiration too, but I never thought about found objects in this way. I'll test this :)


I'd love to see the result of the challenge! I find it fun to come up with alternate histories for things. I also forget these days to go on walks when I'm not being productive. Even if I don't think of something groundbreaking, I usually come back refreshed and more on task.

Beautiful and provocative illustrations as always. Thanks so much for sharing!


Thanks so much!

very provacative, very expressive....worlds inside worlds, history, mining histories, trying to understand who she is and the realities of those who came before.


Yes! I think so - what seems reasonably obvious now - a family history piece - was accidental until near the end. You never know what you'll make if sometimes you just begin. I'm not so good with this myself (I'm a planner) but when it happens it usually leads to unexpected favorite drawings!


yes I agree, that's when it feels like the magic is happening!

Ooooh I love this one. Super thought provoking!
Thanks for sharing @storykeeper!

An amazing story behind this beautiful piece.

Those days when you draw a blank - often they end up being gifts from the muses, because they make you step outside for a while to get a new perspective. And pay attention to what catches your attention! Lesson clearly illustrated here. Haunting drawing. I love that assignment idea! I may need to borrow it for my arsenal. Thanks for posting. I love how you noticed you needed to add movement. It's like all these elements just work if you listen and will show you what needs to be done.


If you only allow yourself to listen, yes! Alas, my brain is very very chatty and doesn't allow for this often ;)
I once bought a big package of misc. ephemera from Ebay and passed out random pieces to my class for this assignment so we could start immediately. This is good because then students can't think about it too much and have to learn to trust that they can make something of nothing!

Amazing, thanks for sharing this!


Top notch. Thing is though, I wish you hadn't really explained it so much. I love the mystery of a haunting piece of Art. Well, I enjoyed it quite a bit anyway, back up to look again! Have a great day. :)


Hi @hexagod , Thanks! I do get not wanting to know all of the explanation, and that is my aim when creating a piece. Alas, my Steemit "Stories in Art" posts are made precisely to reveal all aspects of the thought and execution process. You can always squint at my next one and just try to look at the art if you prefer ;)

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