This is a selection from the short documentary Proteus, a film about Ernst Haeckel the 19th century German biologist, philosopher and artist. There are forms of radiolarian that he drew as he saw them under the microscope.
Below are some artists that come to mind when I think about intensity. Van Gogh can make a deserted field feel like two comets exploding. Schiele can pour a universe of focus and intensity into a single contour line. Golub captures the awkward jittery horror of violence through his brush strokes. Blake's compositions burst from the seams with spiritual vitality and verve. Goya's line-work slides, shifts and animates his grotesque scenes of despair and injustice. In each of the following cases I would argue that it is as much the "how" as it is the "what" and "why." How the image is made is as important, or in some cases more important, than what the marks represent. The psychological presence and vitality of the artist is sensed. Risk is taken. Life teeters on it's edge and the tightrope walk of creating a vital image holds us spellbound.
The work of Jenny Saville bucks notions of beauty by adopting a fierce aesthetic of slash and burn paint strokes. Here beauty is intensity not passivity, dynamic change not stasis, and rough-hewn individualism instead of a the homogenous airbrushed skin of the female form found in glossy fashion magazines. Her creative process is a brawl between paint and energy with both screeching and scraping their way towards a denouement of visceral bravado.
The film stills below were taken from http://film-grab.com/ and are intended to show the careful way scenes are composed in films. The rules of compositional balance come out of a long history of painting and design. Whether they are carefully planned or developed more intuitively, grids like these lend balance and harmonious proportion to paintings and movies alike.
There Will Be Blood
Guardians of the Galaxy: thirds and half
Guardians of the Galaxy: fourths and half
Ida: golden rectangle
Ida: golden rectangle
Iron Man 3: thirds / right: half
Iron Man 3: fourths and thirds / right: fourths and half