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Did you ever notice that artists tell stories without writing words, sentences, or paragraphs, or having to worry about spelling and punctuation? What's more, viewers don't need to know how to read in order to understand them.

Several tools that artists use are the same as those of writers—pencils and paper, for example. However, artists typically work with brushes instead of pencils, and they paint lines, shapes, patterns, colors, and values (tones ranging from light to dark) to create images that tell their stories. The paintings selected for this section, Stories, were made with a variety of materials: Peter Paul Reubens and Edward Hicks used oil paint on canvas; the Indian artist painted slowly and meticulously with opaque watercolors and gold on paper; and the Japanese artist painted on an actual coat worn by a fireman!

These paintings feature main characters and key objects in scenes that tell different types of stories. Several are ancient, dating from well "before the common era," or BCE: Prometheus Bound is based on a Greek myth; the painting of Sugriva and Rama illustrates scenes from the fourth book of the Ramayana, an epic poem from India; Noah's Ark depicts several verses from the book of Genesis; and the painting on Fireman's Coat highlights an exciting moment from a traditional Japanese folktale.

When artists become storytellers by creating powerful visual images, they provide continuity from one generation to the next, preserving intriguing ideas, lessons, and perspectives on life from people who lived long ago—without saying or writing a word.

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