Metaphor Part II

Last week I wrote about how metaphor is used in art to express emotions and frequently abstract ideas. That also applies to having an object or phrase or dance move that represents what otherwise could not be expressed.

In response to my post, several of my readers suggested that I explain some of my metaphors in my paintings. As I mentioned last week, an artist may not always want to explain their personal feelings that appear in their work, or sometimes they don’t know themselves what or how a particular object or scene appeared in their work.

But I will attempt this mission by starting with one of my favorite paintings by Salvador Dali. This could simply be a painting of woman looking out of the window.

Salvador Dali-Person at the Window

Person at the Window, Salvador Dali, 1925.

But does it bring to mind any feeling or questions for you? It does for me. I wonder what she is thinking? Is she feeling lonely? She seems quite isolated in a bare room, but the view is lovely. Is she loving what she is seeing or does looking at the water make her wish she were somewhere else?  We could go on guessing. Dali never explained his art, he just painted.

Here is one of mine that I will try to explain to you. I painted this while at a week-long workshop in Taos, New Mexico, a truly beautiful place to paint.

Ann Hart Marquis- a metaphor of a swing

Red Swing, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 x 1.5 inches.

Obviously, beauty was not what I was feeling. I gave little thought to the subject matter of this painting. It just appeared on my canvas. What does it mean? Perhaps that life is fragile or perhaps one may want to be careful before trusting something that may seem appealing, but on closer look is not. This painting was the first one to sell at my exhibit in 2011. Several other people also inquired about buying the painting. I have no idea why it appealed to someone else, or why she bought the painting. It doesn’t matter.

Oneness as Metaphor

Ann Hart Marquis- a painting of a lone tree that is a metaphor for individuality

Summer Solstice, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20 x 1.5 inches, 2008.

Many of my paintings have to do with oneness, individuality, being alone, freedom. I also have a thing for ladders and monoliths. I haven’t figured them out yet. How about you? Any metaphors in your creativity?

6 thoughts on “Metaphor Part II

  1. Carol Watts

    Annie, nicely done piece on metaphors. I think oneness can also mean strength, vision, independence, being whole, and, as you already wrote, many other feelings and kinds of being. It is the empty space around the object that really intrigues me. What does it mean and how does it add to the picture? Carol

    1. Ann Hart Marquis Post author

      Carol, Thank you your comments about metaphor. It is such a mysterious topic in and of itself. The blank space is definitely part of the metaphor. You have a good eye for catching that. Maybe for me it represents room to breath, space, and freedom to wander.

  2. Dotty

    Ann, thanks for your further discussion of metaphor in painting in general, and metaphor in your own painting life in particular. Much food for thought here!

  3. sylvia

    Your posts are always so interesting and informative! I especially enjoyed this one. I love the idea of a metaphor just appearing on the canvas. I’m not used to thinking in terms of metaphors, but your words make me realize that there may be metaphors in my paintings that I’m not consciously aware of. I started wondering how I might “train” myself to become more aware of “my” metaphors. But, maybe it’s more fun to let them arise spontaneously. Your discussion helps me think about paintings (my own and others’) in a new way.

    1. Ann Hart Marquis Post author

      Thank you Sylvia. Yes, I think there are many metaphors in your paintings. I think one way to train yourself to see, is to take a long hard look at your paintings. I also think that we all have our own personal metaphors that are part of how we have lived and live our lives. For me, choosing a metaphor to put into a painting is usually a conscious decision. But I have been thinking about ladders lately. I don’t know why and I don’t know if they will actually appear in a new painting. I have already done 4 ladder paintings. I think that the way we create is all part of our unconscious in one way or another. For me, painting is a little like doing therapy.


Leave a Reply