A painting is not just an image of something, it’s a story that has been crafted with great detail to convey a narrative or concept. It is the artist's expression of his or her ideas framed by the laws of physics!
A famous painting tells its audience something about the painter, the time period in which it was created, and sometimes even the society in which it exists. In fact, many argue that some paintings are so powerful they effectively communicate a message beyond those mentioned above.
It can speak about humanity as a whole; our shared struggle to find happiness, our quest for love, friendship, family -- things that make us feel good and secure. Or it may simply portray beauty in form, shape, color, and/or composition.
Many consider The Scream (1954) to be one of the greatest examples of painted communication. This piece depicts a very human moment when fear outweighs hope and people show their true selves through what they see and how they react.
But what does all this have to do with writing? Let me give you two examples.
EXAMPLE 1: THE WRITER AS PAINTER
In his book Write Away!, Robert Schuler spent several chapters discussing why writers should paint. He pointed out that both art forms require creativity, and that artists are trained in making observations and drawing logical conclusions from them.
A famous painting is the birth of Venice. It symbolizes how artistic greatness comes from within, and that artists are constantly re-evaluating what they want to convey with their work.
The painting is of the goddess Venus rising above the sea in an intimate moment. She is wearing only a white dress as she looks out at the water. Her beauty is undeniable, but her expression is one of wonder rather than desire for the water or the other floating things in it.
Her left hand covers up part of her face, which is why some people believe she is crying. Some say she is looking at the reflection of herself, while others think she is just staring into space.
Since this painting was completed in 1513, many have interpreted different messages depending on who you ask and when you see them. For example, some feel that the woman in the painting represents Christianity, trying to reach heaven with Jesus. Others think she represents Islam, seeking wisdom through contemplation of Allah. Still more perceive her as a representation of Judaism, asking God to help find inner peace.
However, the most popular interpretation is that the painting is about love. People compare Venus’s look to those classic paintings of lovers lying together in bed after making passionate love. They read deeper meanings into the painting such as “love conquers all” or "you will always be my first love.
The School of Athens is one of the most well-known paintings by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. It was completed in 1514 and depicts eight philosophers or teachers surrounded by students, representing the ancient tradition of learning.
The painting’s setting is an open space with several large columns that create interesting vertical lines for dramatic effect. In this space, the men form a circle, showing their mutual respect and friendship.
They each face another person, demonstrating how each teaches his or her student. Each teacher looks directly into the faces of his or her pupil, emphasizing their importance to success.
There are also some similarities between these individuals, such as all have books or notes in hand and many seem focused on what they are reading. This shows that even though they may be teaching different things, they share a common bond – education!
Raphael included various symbols and references in the painting, including the ladder leading up to heaven, the laurel wreath symbolizing victory, and the bear denoting contentment.
There is one important painting in this chapter that requires some additional explanation. This is The Battle of Cascia, also known as The Fight Between Carnival And Christianity or The Triumph Of Reason Over Faith. It was painted by Italian Renaissance artist Pietro Torreano in 1510-1511.
The setting of the painting is Italy around 150 years after Rome fell to the Romans. During this period, there were two major religions in Europe – Catholicism and Protestantism.
Most people belonged to either the Catholic Church or the Reformed (or Calvinist) faith at this time, but many people were religiously mixed. This is common today in most countries.
Some people may have been raised in both faiths, with parents who practiced different versions of each, so they grew up with both parts of their religion. Others were never formally educated about Jesus Christ’s gospel, and only learned about it later in life.
There are several reasons why someone might choose to be Christian instead of Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, or Muslim. Many Christians believe that God exists and wants to connect with us personally, while religious traditions like Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam emphasize inner peace rather than external force to achieve happiness.
Religion can help people find community, love, and hope in a difficult time, which makes it worthy of our attention. By sharing his message with others, Jesus built churches and filled them up with followers.
This painting, also known as the Allegory of the Schools or the Great Schola, is one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings. It was completed in around 1505-1506 when he was twenty to twenty two years old.
The painting depicts twelve philosophers or scholars gathered together for an event. Each philosopher represents an academic field such as literature, music, math, etc. They are all looking up towards the heavens with their hands raised in praise, recognition, and reverence of God.
This representation comes from Plato’s dialogue “Allegories of the Universe.” In this story, there were twelve cosmic realms or universities that trained students in various areas. These realms corresponded to different types of knowledge or academics. For example, the realm representing geometry teaches about shapes and figures. Music corresponds to the next domain, which focuses on rhythm and melodies. Literature takes care of stories and narrations. And so on.
In the 16th century, intellectuals across Europe looked to Plato’s work for inspiration and teaching tools. Many considered him to be smart and clever, making his ideas popular. Because of this, many people learned about philosophy by reading his works.
For your writing assignment, choose either topic A or B depending on whether you have done it before. Write a paragraph based on the following topic and bullet point.
This painting, also known as the Allegory of Plato’s Academy or the Great Schools of Philosophy, is one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous works. It was completed in around 1510-1512 for an unknown patron.
The academic setting depicted here consists of eight philosophers representing different schools of philosophy that Socrates founded at his academy. Each philosopher represents one of the main themes of their school, which all aim to achieve knowledge of wisdom or “philosophy.”
Socrates himself represented the theme of truth, seeking it out by questioning others about what they know and exploring how they know it. His students included people who dedicated themselves to serving God or accepting his authority, such as the Christians. These students believed that there is a divine force within each individual person that leads them towards achieving happiness or wellbeing.
This belief in an internal source of guidance inspired many self-help movements today like those focused on mindfulness or gratitude. Since these individuals worked hard to develop their inner strength, they were able to enjoy life more than someone with little faith in this source of help.
Another student taught mankind how to organize society into groups based on shared values and goals. He influenced political ideologies including communism, fascism, and democracy.
This painting, also known as The Academy or The Scholars, is one of the most recognizable paintings in history. It was completed by Italian artist Raphael (1483–1520). He titled it The School of Athens to emphasize that this scene depicts an academic setting where Plato teaches his students while Aristotle listens.
The other individuals depicted look directly at each other with expressions of wisdom and understanding. Some scholars believe that these philosophers are teaching each other something about life through discussion.
This painting conveys a sense of wonder and inspiration. Artists often use familiar settings to inspire others. By using The School of Athens as your starting point, you can apply the lessons learned to different topics and areas of life.
Rafael was born in Spain in 1483. His father was Giovanni da Pontedera, who worked for Emperor Charles V. Giovanni passed down stories and artistic knowledge from his family, which included architects, painters, and sculptors.
Young Rafael received some formal art training before moving abroad to study under the leading artists of his time. While he never became famous himself, many recognized his talent and influence.
Inspired by Plato’s dialogue The Republic, this painting is arguably Leonardo Da Vinci’s most famous work. It depicts an eclectic gathering of philosophers in what has been described as his “School of Athens.”
The setting is rich with symbolic meaning. You can trace references to Greek mythology throughout the figures and decorations. For example, the figure directly above the word ‘Nature’ is Hercules, the mythological hero who saved Prometheus — the early human inventor of fire.
This link between nature and knowledge was a recurring theme for Renaissance thinkers. In their view, both needed each other for humanity’s progress.
In addition to depicting that relationship, the artist also uses strong colors and lines to emphasize philosophical concepts such as unity, duality, contrast, proportion, and symmetry.
He even included a visual pun by representing the words `knowledge’ and `science’ as if they were coming together to form a third term: understanding.
This is an excellent example of how artists use classic styles to convey powerful messages. Here, the artist uses a very classical style to emphasize the importance of education in our lives today.
The setting of this painting is from Plato’s Republic where he describes his ideal government. All citizens are educated up until the age of 30 when they begin working for their living. Only then can they start earning money.
After that, they spend two years learning a skill that will make them good at something before moving onto the next level. For instance, if they want to be a doctor or dentist, they must learn about medicine and dentistry. If they want to be an accountant, they have to know accounting. And so on.
Artists often use inspiration from real life to create new styles or genres. By doing so, they inspire other creators to do the same. In this case, the artist took one element of the school of art inspired by Plato’s writings and applied it to another area of study.