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I tried to explain a few things to keep in mind when telling a story in a painting, using my painting "Follow" as a guide.
For young artists: From my own experience, I can say that you should not feel discouraged because some viewer tells you he "doesn't get it" (or worse, because he doesn't get it claims it's not there in the first place). Not everyone may understand the story in your painting, but if most do, that's enough. Storytelling is left to imagination and interpretation, and therefore people will read things into your artwork that you never put in; sometimes that is good, sometimes not.
Also, it is okay to leave mysteries even to yourself as the creator. You don't have to do a Freudian analysis why you put a red scarf on a figure or an apple in the corner if you just felt like it. All you have to do is to make your artwork consistent (don't be peaceful in the left half of the painting and warlike in the right, unless you intend to depict conflict, etc).
See the painting here: [link]
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