In pieces that are balanced between the expressive action of the artist and the rendering of an imagined scene, a work of art can simultaneously bring the viewer into a new reality and allow the viewer to sense the emotion that charges the vision. This emotion might be the artist's reaction to the envisioned realm, and/or it might be an indication of the realm's emotional quality.
The brushwork, mark making, strokes, etc. that are woven into an imagined scene can serve as a reminder to the viewer that a living human being experienced this vision... that this painting/drawing is not merely a computer-generated view of a video game. The presence of expressive rendering throughout the piece keeps the viewer from entirely losing him or herself in the illusion portrayed, maintaining a sense of the artist's emotional response to the imagined scene.
An artist might begin a painting/drawing as a piece of purely expressive action and begin to see some fantastic scene within the mark making. Just a few intentional strokes might then be used to indicate this other world or fantastic creature. Or an artist might begin with an imaginary scene, a dream image, or a vision of some sort and choose to emphasize the emotional content of his or her reaction to this imagining. An artist might also make a conscious choice to merely hint at an envisioned alternate reality, affording viewers greater leeway to follow the emotionally charged piece into their own imaginings.
Featured: Skeletons Fighting for a Herring-saur by James Ensor.