Katchoo: It's not my place to say.
The creation of art between two people can reveal a lot about their feelings towards one another. The subject of a work is baring themselves to another literally and figuratively; they are allowing themselves to be seen and studied in an intimate fashion without resistance. The artist in turn is taking in everything that is being offered, expressing their own feelings and desires through creating a representation of their focus.
The scenes are often one of intimacy and personal connection, or can be used to indicate the absence of intimacy if it is handled as clinically detached. If the feelings between the two are one-sided the scene can highlight their different approaches to the situation. Might be a step on the way to a Relationship Upgrade if the characters realize their feelings during the situation, or the catalyst for the break in their current relationship. Can often serve as a metaphorical love scene.
The art creation does not necessarily need to be shown directly, but can be conveyed through the artist or subject reviewing the work afterwards or talking about it and what it represented. Sometimes instead of being about the connection between the artist and the subject, it is about the connection between multiple subjects, or the multiple artists working together.
Related to Significant Sketchbook, which covers one character discovering that another has such a collection of art. Might qualify as The Reveal if the feelings were previously hidden from the audience, or Once More, with Clarity! if the scene was originally shown without conveying the intimacy and is revisited later.
- This is used as the subject for one of Kaguya and Shirogane's many Battle of Wits in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War when they're paired up in art class. Kaguya ends up producing a photo-realistic drawing with roses on the side without even thinking about it, then deliberately tries to make it less appealing in order to hide her feelings for him (but keeps on finding the end result attractive no matter what she does). Shirogane, meanwhile, becomes engrossed in his work and accepts nothing but perfection, repeatedly tearing up his work until he manages to produce something that he feels captures her beauty.
- Art and its creation is a recurring theme in Strangers in Paradise:
First meeting between Katchoo and Sara, looking at old paintings of FrancineSara: Can I ask you something? Did you love her? Or is it an illusion—this feeling of intimacy in your work? Are you really this insightful...this tender...or just a gifted mirror?Katchoo: It's not my place to say.
- Main character Katina "Katchoo" Choovanski is a painter, and uses her art to express her anger, resentment and guilt spurred by her abusive childhood and drug/criminal early adulthood. She starts the series working mainly in male figures of exaggerated sexualization, but branches out into different styles as she grows and deals with her issues. Her portraits of Francine, who she has had feelings for since childhood, are regarded by everyone as an expression and profession of love.
- The trope is deconstructed when FBI agent Sara Bryan goes undercover to get close to the Katchoo, showing how the emotional connection can be dependent on the intent and thoughts of the participants. She originally asks to be Katchoo's assistant, but agrees to be an artistic model after Katchoo says that she does not need an assistant. To Katchoo, their interactions and resultant artwork are expressions of femininity and personal beauty (Not to mention a general friendship), but behind the cover identity Sara feels ashamed and violated by the semi-erotic portraits and the intimacy of the situations. She particularly dreads the reaction from her parents and the rest of the Bureau after the artwork is disseminated to galleries and collectors across the country. When the truth of Sara's background comes out, Katchoo feels crushed and betrayed.
- We never do meet the model (Or even see the picture itself), but part of Wallace's Establishing Character Moment in Sin City: Hell and Back is him showing a painting that he had been hired to create. Despite clearly being intended for some sort of pornographic magazine, Wallace had painted an intimate and artistic portrait that showed the model covered by a sheet instead of being naked because he felt it was the better picture. When his boss laments his decision, Wallace shows that he had also painted the completely-naked version, then rips the nude painting in half in front of him.
- In Tarzan, Jane is sketching a picture of Tarzan on a chalkboard for her father and gets lost his image, showing that she is already falling for him despite their brief encounter.
- In Brave, Queen Elinor is sewing a family tapestry of herself, King Fergus, and their daughter Merida. Merida splits the tapestry with a sword when she and Elinor fight, symbolizing their conflict and separation, and she stitches it back together when she is attempting to repair their relationship.
- In Titanic (1997), Rose asked Jack to sketch her wearing only the Heart of the Ocean necklace and nothing else. Rose's willingness and desire to have Jack sketch her naked showed her trust in him, compared to the distaste and fear she felt for her fiance Cal Hockley, and the sketch itself conveyed Jack's feeling for Rose through his expression of art. The discovery of the sketch at the start of the film is what sets the plot in motion, and symbolizes their love surviving even after the ship itself has sank.
Rose: Jack, I want you to draw me like one of your French girls. Wearing this. [holds up her necklace]Jack: All right.Rose: Wearing only this.
- Love Actually shows two different artistic connections:
- Juliet believes that Mark dislikes her for marrying his best friend Peter. However, when she watches the recording he made of the wedding, she notices that all of his shots are lovingly framed of her and she realizes that he is actually in love with her. Mark had been cold and distant because he did not want to hurt either Juliet or Peter by injecting himself into their happy relationship.
- John and Judy meet as they are working as stand-ins on a film production of an adult nature. They spend all of their time together naked and simulating sex acts trying awkwardly to hold normal conversations in compromising positions; at the end of their plot John works up the courage to ask out Judy while staging the last scene.
- Parodied in the satire film Not Another Teen Movie. Janey's character is a parody of the rebel/angry artist character type who expresses her feelings through her painting. However, despite other characters talking about how good her work is, she is only ever shown producing childlike stick-figure paintings. In one scene, where she is actively shown painting in an energetic, angry style (Throwing paint at the canvas and overcome with emotion), the final result is again just a kindergarten-level drawing.
- In Zack and Miri Make a Porno, the titular characters decide to produce a pornographic film to help get themselves out of debt. The two are smart enough to realize that this will likely effect their friendship, so they both promise each other that they will not let the movie change their emotions. To the surprise of none of the characters, them filming together does cause both of them to realize their feelings for one another.
- In Austin Powers, Austin was flirting with Vanessa from the very instant that he awoke from his cryogenic freezing, but he only seemed to progress from purely-physical attraction to an emotional connection when she briefly posed for photographs for him when they were on a surveillance mission. After saying how beautiful she was he took her out for a night on the town, where she first began to return his affections.
- In American Beauty, Ricky Fitts takes his video camera with him everywhere and views the entire world through the viewfinder. Though extremely creepy and borderline (Or over the border) stalking, he is shown growing attached to and connecting with people and experiences much more deeply than any other character. He and Jane Burnham grow closer as he films her.
- In Pleasantville, Bill paints a brightly colored mural of Betty on the soda shop windows as an act of rebellion against the Culture Police and also as an expression of their newfound relationship. It is heavily implied to be a nude picture, but the audience never sees it in its entirety.
- In The Handmaiden, "Count" Fujiwara plans to seduce Lady Hideko for her fortune, and the excuse he uses to stay at her estate is to coach Hideko in her painting. He uses their sessions to flatter her and talk about how much her work moves him, and arranges for them to be isolated and alone on the estate grounds. At points during these lessons Hideko is absentmindedly sketching Sook-hee, Fujiwara's accomplice that has taken a job as Hideko's servant and is beginning to have her own attraction to Hideko.Hideko is in on the plan with Fujiwara and the entire escapade is intended to fool Sook-hee, but she does begin to honestly fall for Sook-hee which is why she begins to show up in her art.
- In the novel The Killings at Badger's Drift by Caroline Graham (the series that inspired Midsomer Murders), the discovery of an extremely sexualised nude painting of a woman by her artist brother confirms the incestuous relationship between them, which motivated the crimes.
- In the Codex Alera, First Lord Gaius Sextus has a half-finished portrait of his son, Gaius Septimus, who had been killed fifteen years before the start of the series proper. Sextus explains that his wife had been painting the portrait when she got word of her son's death, and had stopped at the news (Sextus points to a mark that indicates the exact point). Afterwards, she had the painting hung in her room and wasted away in despair looking at her dead son's image.
- In Small Favor, a novel of The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden awakens from a much-needed slumber on his living room couch and realizes that Anastasia Luccio is bathing herself at his fire. The aesthetic of the scene is so beautiful—her body backlit and colored by the flames—that he wishes he had the artistic talent to capture the visage with oil and canvas. Since he does not have any such materials at hand, and does not have any artistic talent even if he did, he instead just appreciates the beauty. The two of them begin dating at the end of the novel.
- In Gravity Falls: Journal 3, Dipper draws two rather flattering pictures of Wendy, one before he realizes that he likes her and once while lamenting that she'll never return his feelings. He draws a similar portrait of Pacifica alongside the entry for "Northwest Manor Mystery," along with Ship Teasing comments about her looking nice in an evening dress and the two of them developing a "vibe" together.
- In the opening scene of the episode "Bitter Harvest" from season three of The 100, Clarke sketched a portrait of Lexa as she slept. The sketching shows both Clarke's growing feelings for Lexa and also Clarke's general acceptance of Grounder living, as she hasn't done art since before being sent to the ground. After she awakes, Lexa discovers the drawing.
- In the Buffyverse, Angelus/Angel creates drawings which (Depending on who he is at that moment) he uses to psychologically torture or emotionally connect with people.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angelus would draw sketches of his future victims and leave them to be found as a barely-veiled threat.
- In Angel, when Cordelia has disappeared at the start of season four Angel sketches a photo-realistic portrait of her, which demonstrates his longing to find her and the fixation he has.
- In an episode of Farscape, Zhaan painting a portrait of Rygel symbolises their increasing friendship, despite their huge personality and moral differences.
- Discussed and parodied in How I Met Your Mother. Barney has asked Lily to paint him in the nude, and is offering a large sum of money as payment, but Lily is worried that her fiance Marshall will be bothered by the thought of her painting another man naked. Marshall is actually fine with the situation, since he has absolutely no fears that Lily would ever develop feelings for Barney, but pretends to be angry in order to trick Barney into offering more money as an incentive. The episode ends with Marshall and Lily gleefully running off with Barney's payment, while Barney is angry that the painting gave him 'Ken doll' anatomy.
- In Scrubs, the hospital has an annual photograph of the staff taken each year. However, the majority of the staff are apathetic about the picture, or even outright opposed to the concept, resulting in most of their pictures having only a scant few participants. When Carla finally does manage to get the entire staff to pose, the Janitor (Who was not in the staff pose) sabotages the picture; after Carla confronts him, the Janitor admits that he was angry that Carla had not tried to get him to pose in the first place, as he wanted to be included as part of the Sacred Heart family. A second picture was then arranged, this one including the Janitor. note
- In House of Cards (US), Claire Underwood has had an on-and-off romance and affair with photographer Adam Galloway. When they resume their relationship after a gap of a few years, the two reminisce over photographs that Adam had taken of her in the past, and when political enemies of Frank Underwood attempt to expose the affair, they release the photographs as evidence. To defuse the accusations, the Underwoods claim that Adam took the pictures at their request as a present for them, and the romantic nature they contain is a reflection of Frank and Claire's relationship.
- Parodied in Community. One episode opens with Abed and Annie (Who are not in a relationship) filming a overly-sentimental morning encounter where they express their love for each other. When they are discovered, they mention that they are filming the encounter for if Annie ever disappears and they hold a news press conference where they present the overly-sentimental footage.
- Star Trek:
- Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The High Ground". While the Enterprise is visiting the planet Rutia IV, Dr. Crusher is kidnapped by a terrorist group. While she is being held captive, the group's leader draws sketches of her, which indicates both that he has artistic sensibilities (and is therefore more complex than simply "evil") and that he is growing attracted to her.
- In the episode "The Muse" of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the alien woman Onaya creates inspiration for Jake Sisko's writing and feeds off of his imagination and creativity. Producer Ronald D. Moore found the concept ridiculous and self-indulgent, feeling that only a writer would think up a story about a woman who fell in love with a man over the energy that came from watching him write.
- The second season of Dark Angel introduces the character of Joshua, who is a man-dog genetic hybrid that is ostracized from human society due to his animal-ish features. He expresses his feelings of isolation and passion through painting, and the owner of an art gallery falls in love with his work. When he needs to break into her gallery to retrieve his paintings (He had accidentally included important papers), she catches him, but is able to see past his appearance due to already having connected with his more important aspects.
- When Boyle gets a crush on just-convicted art dealer Genevieve in the episode "Boyle's Hunch" of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, he and Jake work to clear her of the charges. During their investigation, they learn that Nick, Genevieve's ex-boyfriend who they believe framed her for the crime she was convicted of, has an entire series of paintings that were created by him and Genevieve covering themselves in paint and having sex on canvas sheets. Boyle attempts to take one of the paintings, claiming that Nick doesn't "deserve it", but stops when Nick tells him that it costs several thousand dollars.
- In the 2/4/17 episode of Saturday Night Live, host Kristen Stewart was in a sketch parody ad for Totino's Pizza Rolls, which featured her seducing a housewife who was making pizza rolls for her husband and his friends while watching a football game. One of the scenes of their seduction montage featured the housewife sketching Stewart's character eating a pizza roll while naked.
- The Outer Limits (1995): In "Bits of Love", a man trapped inside a subterranean dwelling after a nuclear holocaust is kept company by the holograms of people he knew. He then decides to seduce the habitat AI because she's the only one besides him with a real mind of her own, bonding with her by painting a nude portrait of her (she can even sit perfectly still for the occasion by temporarily freezing her program). This proves to be a huge mistake on his part, since seeing herself for the first time gives her a new sense of identity and makes her clingy and obsessive of him.
- Averted in Columbo. In "Murder: A Self Portrait", the murderer is an artist who offers to paint Columbo's portrait during his investigation. He warns Columbo however that his painting will expose Columbo's true self. "Your policeman's soul!...Dark, tormented, pitiless!" When the painting is finally unveiled however, it's the same rumpled detective we all love.
- Parodied in Family Guy; Peter has an argument with a construction worker, and he finishes the fight by stating that the man's eyes are too close together. The worker agrees and counters that he only needs to wear one goggle when he goes swimming, but as he is storming out in a huff Peter stops him and says that he has to draw him. The scene then cuts to Peter painting the naked construction worker.
- In Daria, the relationships between Jane Lane and others is often conveyed through her art. Her friend Daria is included as a direct representation, but Daria's airhead sister is used in a pastiche/parody of romantic art, and the school's star quarterback is presented as a Neanderthal caveman.