Typical abstract art is objective, meaning that the art conveys a sense of some person, place, or thing in the real world. While in his art deco phase, Scott created a series of conceptual abstracts, which are abstractions of ideas rather than objects. Some are complex, some are simple. By adding stick figures to his art deco art, Scott found that he could convey ideas and concepts that were not possible otherwise. Below are four notable examples. Other story paintings include "On the Level", "Carnival", and "Mind Bender". See if you can figure those out on your own.
The Wheel of Life
The "Wheel of Life" tells a somewhat complex story about life, love, the pursuit of happiness, and success. The wheel is the central character of the story. The center of the wheel is the yin and yang symbol that represents male and female, the relationships between them and the central role they play in life. This is surrounded by a roulette wheel that represents the role of chance in life, relationships, and success; chance encounters between people, chance in stumbling across the right job in the right place, and chance of being born into a particular station in life. The arrows indicate the direction of rotation of the wheel. The people with ties represent the white collar privileged class, the working class has blue collars. The wheel is being turned by the working class man, urged on by his slave driver boss. The privileged class gets a high dollar education and is given a head start in life through high power connections. This is symbolized by the college professor handing the privileged initiate his red tie from a high dollar educational institution and pointing the way to success. The upper class begins their journey to success on the backs of the working class man. They zoom to the top and success with relative ease moving with the rotational direction of the wheel. When they get to the top they achieve success in the form of fast cars and their castle in the sky where the streets are paved with gold. The working man is on the other side of the wheel. They climb up against the rotation of the wheel and have to work much harder to achieve success. They are urged on by the promise of success in the form of a carrot held above them. Even if they work hard, they may get knocked off by a twist of fate (the all seeing eye with the hammer). Also note that the success they are allowed to achieve is an illusion. The ceiling blocks their way to the same success that is available to the upper class. The working man's life is filled with crappy jobs (the chimney sweeps) and they work in broken down factories and sweat shops. They live in their modest trailer house under the railroad trestle in a world that is difficult to escape.
The subject is global warming and some of the nasty business that results. The dark subject matter is portrayed with bright colors as a sort of irony. The yellow background gives the overall impression of heat. The people on top of the bowl from left to right are: sitting in the shade trying to keep cool, withered plants (drought), begging mother (famine), refugees fleeing the environmental catastrophe led by a raven which is the harbinger of death, and man with sunglasses looking up at the sun (depletion of the ozone layer). The buildings on the right are partially submerged (flooding of coastal cities). The iceberg in the background has a sign on top reading "North Pole 38 Km" (melting of the polar ice caps). Lower left corner depicts severe weather (hurricanes). The roof of the house is being blown off and man with his dog are being blown away. Through the window of the house is an image of bad luck (hat on the bed) and a vulture on the headboard is an image of impending doom. In the bowl are also images of bad luck. The number 13 is unlucky in Europe and America. The number four is bad luck in Asia, particularly when written in red which is the color of blood. 17 is unlucky in Italy, which comes from roman times as a rearrangement of the numerals to VIXI which, from latin, translates to "I Lived", which in present tense is "I am dead". The dice on the right are snake eyes, or craps in Vegas, which is a loser. The all seeing eye is a common representation of God. The eye is weeping and the inscription below it is the latin VIXI, "I am dead". The wheel to the left is the eight spoke wheel of Buddha and it is broken. The planet to the right is in the crosshairs depicting a planet in peril. The hourglass below contains the sands of time and they are running out (your time is almost up). The latin inscription below, (Monitus Es) translates to "You were warned". All in all, it is a pretty dark subject matter drawn in an ironically beautiful way.
Return of Kukulcan
"The return of Kukulcan" deals with the Mayan prophesy concerning the return of the feathered serpent god Kukulcan, also known as Quetzalcoatl. He is one of three gods that created the earth. He appears as a serpent in his natural form and was responsible for teaching the Mayan's about such things as how to run a civilization, agriculture, and medicine. The buildings in the painting are the pyramid temple of Kukulcan, the ball court, and the observatory at Chichen Itza. These were chosen due to the central governmental nature of Chichen Itza in Mayan culture. The pyramid was built to honor Kukulcan and was designed as a celestial timekeeping device that marks the passage of the summer and winter solstice. The ball court was central to Mayan culture and the connection to war, religion, and social structure. The observatory represents the Mayan connection to the stars and astrology. The feathered serpent Kukulcan is shown emerging from the dark void in the Milky Way under the winter solstice sun. The dark void is believed by the Maya to be the road to the underworld. There are two constellations shown in the painting. The one above the ball court is Cygnus, which was an important indicator for the arrival of the winter solstice and is also representative of creation and the Mayan tree of life. The big dipper is shown above the observatory. It had significance in timing the earth's precession and the passage of ages. Kukulcan is predicted to arrive on a specific date at the winter solstice, which in the Mayan calendar is 13 baktun, 0 katun, 0 tun, 0 winal, 0 kin, 4 ahau, 3 kankin which equates to December 21, 2012 in our calendar system. This date is shown in actual Mayan glyphs across the bottom border band of the painting. This is the end of the Mayan long count calendar and has been interpreted by many to predict the end of the world. In actuality, for the Maya, it represents the end of the current epoch and the beginning of a new cycle dominated by peace, intellectual awareness, and prosperity. The Mayan glyphs down the left side band of the painting represent the Mayan connection to the cosmos and are, from top to bottom, the sky, the sun, Lamat star, the moon, venus, and the milky way. The painting as a whole is a combination of Mayan history and popular culture due to the current fascination with the December 21, 2012 prophesy.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" deals with the subject of what to do in the case of an alien encounter. The painting highlights the opposing views of the intellectual class with their "Let's make friends and learn from them" attitude versus the paranoid military "Kill them all before they can enslave us" mentality. The alien craft is in the form of a star (star ship) and sports a peace sign on top (we come in peace). The intellectuals are represented by the figure wearing a graduation cap, backed up by cheering followers, and the press. The alien is handing the intellectuals a piece of paper with the formula for warp speed on it which represents the transfer of knowledge. On the other side of the painting is the paranoid military led by General Dickhead. They are ambushing the aliens from behind the trees, attacking with the full force of infantry rifles, tanks, and through an air strike from above. The two individuals tunneling beneath the star ship with a bomb represent subterfuge (can't trust those pesky humans). The building in the center is a movie theater which represents the theatrical nature of the whole event.