I want to make sure I get one thing across very clear, I am no expert of art. Not just paintings or pictures, but art of any kind. I can not tell you about techniques being employed, or from what "era" a piece reflects. What I can tell you is when a piece resonates with me and connects. The piece above by Albert Pinkham Ryder is an example.
It very well could be because I am studying through the book of Jonah, but I really enjoy staring at this. For those who truly know what they are talking about, please forgive me while I give a feeble attempt at sharing my thoughts.
When I first look at this, I feel tense. Everything is out of order, chaotic even. The waves are tempestuous, uneven, springing forth to have its way in wreaking havoc for the mariners. You see their boat in the middle, seemingly being twisted to the point of breaking. Poor Jonah is in the forefront, hands lifted up, searching for help with a look of anguish as he begins his decent into the depths. Off to the right is the large fish, watching, waiting.
While I initially feel tense at first glance, I begin to feel relaxed and confident as my eyes find what is depicted in the horizon. Undoubtedly it is a depiction of God, who is almost bursting forward. With what looks like the world in his right hand, he is reaching out with his left, orchestrating...
The initial tenseness is replaced with a calming assurance that despite the situation, despite the struggles, despite the storms of life, God is sovereign over all.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)