A Narrative Accent – A Small Question on Narrative Visual Art

Thinking on virtual paper: This is what’s showing now in the cafe’s gallery space. (I’m one of the owners of Sagebrush Cafe: Coffee & Art House, where we show (and sell) art work gallery style.)

The thing I’d like to note about this work, by Michael Clark Davis, is the water droplets on the leaves of the flower.

You see, there are droplets on the leaves and it is exactly – and maybe only – that special touch that creates a sense of narrative in this piece. That, to me, is sort of fascinating.

All it takes to create a narrative element is a detail. Those droplets of water are the narrative detail, in this case. With them, the work has a narrative accent. There is a situation outside of the frame or somewhat beyond the image. There is a story. A context.


In my own work, I think about story a lot. Sometimes people ask me (in the most random places and at the most random times) if I am a writer. I don’t like to say no. It’s true that I don’t often write stories or essays in the traditional sense. (And I am not a blogger pushing toward my 1,000th post…)

But I am a storyteller.

Narrative is at the heart of what I am most interested in creating. And there are lots of ways to tell a story.

That is my point here. I’m impressed by the effect of the water droplets on the petals in Michael Clark Davis chalk drawing (and impressed by the skill and quality of the drawing too!) because it points to the idea that there are many ways to make art that is narrative.

It’s easy to see. From the paintings of de Goya to collage artists using ephemeral pieces of history to depict a narrative, the world is ripe with examples of visual art that tells a story.

One question people might ask is, “does a work have to be “focused on narrative” to qualify as narrative art?”

I think a few droplets of water might answer that question.

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