Telling Stories

In Medieval Europe, Stained glass windows was the main point of contact many people had with the stories of the bible. The word story has it’s origin in the word historia. It has been noted that the term for a horizontal division of a building has the same root; the narrative friezes across the window. Here, a story literally as a series of horizontal images.

San Romano Battle (Paolo Uccello, London) 01.jpg

In the French Academy, History painting in Western art was seen as the highest form of painting. History painting originally referred to any painting that takes the stories of the Bible or Mythology as the subject of the painting but came to refer to painting of scenes from recent history as a way to tell stories about events of the past.

Task 1

You will need: pencils paper, paints if you have them.

Pick a story that inspires you and make a history drawing based on it in the style of traditional history painting. History painting takes the most significant elements of the story and puts it all together in one scene. Think about how you could position characters within the scene, the location, the costumes.


History paintings tended to focus on the stories that those in power at the time wanted to tell. Tracy Emin confronts us with her own personal story through the patchwork appliqué on the inside of the tent sculpture, Every one I have ever slept with 1963 – 1995. The choice of medium is interesting, traditional appliqué is quite a departure from the traditional oil history paintings.

Task 2

You will need: Pencils, paper, a significant still life object

Choose a still life object that helps to tell a story about you and create a drawing based on it. The object could be a gift from someone, a representation of your hobby or a favourite food. Consider how the object is presented and how you will use pencil to render materials the object is made from.

Comic or sequential art conveys stories on the page mostly in a linear way. Chris Ware exploits the leap our brain takes when we go from frame to frame to move us through the story in unexpected ways. Through a moment, through the life of it’s characters, through the life of the universe, all on one page.

Task 3

You will need: pencils, paper, ink pens if you have them

Create a piece of sequential art based on a perfect day. Put the memories into a series of panels maybe telling the story of your perfect day. Be selective about what imagery you will use, what you will include and what you will leave out to tell the story most effectively.