Almost since I began painting, I had the feeling that I wanted my work to represent something that was not only my expression of myself, but something to which the view could relate. I wanted my paintings to arouse feelings whether they be happy, sad or nostalgic.

I wanted my paintings to have a message. I still do, but certainly not all of my paintings could be said to be metaphoric unless you consider a simple flower to be representative of something other than natural beauty or new beginnings. After all, Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers were just that.


Black Iris (1926) by Georgia O’Keeffe


The word that comes to mind for me is that I was attracted to and had the desire to paint metaphors. The dictionary defines metaphor as something that is being used to represent something else, perhaps an emblem or a symbol. Some obvious, some not.

“The function of a metaphor in art, whether in painting, sculpture, or writing, is generally to evoke a certain feeling or thought in one who reads or witnesses the work. Metaphors use symbolism and comparisons to strengthen a point, and they may also act to represent certain ideas or thoughts. Visual metaphors may be obvious or abstract, depending on the artist’s emotions, ideas or experiences.”

Ann Hart Marquis- a chair that acts as a metaphor

Green Chair, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20 x1.5 inches.

The exact meaning, if there is one, behind a visual metaphor in art seems to depend on the frame of mind and feelings of the artist who created the work. It also depends of the frame of mind of the viewer. Otherwise, the meaning is lost to all but the artist. In other words, a chair is just a chair.

7 thoughts on “Metaphor

  1. Karen

    I am particularly fond of “The Green Chair” as I hang it on my walls. It is an evocative image, a study in curves, sensuality, rest…the colors, I think, support the concept…
    Peace, Karen

  2. Dotty

    So … Green Chair could be (for me) Solitude, or Lonely, or Where’s Linda?, or Rented Living Room,or Backed Into a Corner, depending on what I see in it, yes? I’m fascinated by your discussion of metaphor in your paintings. I’d love to have you select three paintings and tell me what their meaning is for you. How often do you paint with a conscious message in mind?

    1. Ann Hart Marquis Post author

      Dotty, I think that I start a painting with a metaphor in mind when I have a lot going on in my mind and heart. It seems to go in stages for me. Sometimes I will do a whole series with one idea. At other times one particular feeling will just pop up and it ends up in a painting. I would say that would be about 50% of the time. I will work on the idea of sharing some of the meaning in a few of my paintings. Thanks for asking.

  3. Linda

    As Dotty stated, it would be nice to hear what some of your paintings mean to you. The Chair represents introversion to me. Perfect place in the corner for an introvert to people watch the entire room without getting overwhelmed with participating in all the small talk.

    1. Dotty

      Linda, your mention of a perfect place for an introvert made me laugh as it instantly evoked a memory of my very introverted daughter as a 1-year-old at a social gathering with us; she found one of those toddler walker-seats in the room so she could scoot herself to a secluded spot from which to observe AND be surrounded by the play-tray that made up the entire circumference of the walker!

    2. Ann Hart Marquis Post author

      I like your interpretation Linda. One reason I don’t spend a lot of time explaining what a painting means to me is because frequently it will arouse something quite different in someone else. Thank you for responding.


Leave a Reply