Tag Archives: Salvador Dali

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?

A Dress for Special Occasions

I find all genres of painting interesting. I am usually attracted to paintings of the natural world that were created by impressionists, expressionists or abstract artists. Sometimes I am drawn to figurative paintings but they don’t particularly move me.


I like some types of surrealism. Some say that Surrealism gets its inspiration from dreams and fantasies that are free from censorship by reason or moral values. I once visited the work of one of the most famous surrealists, Salvador Dalí at his museum in Figueres, Spain. I found myself most attractived to  his early, somewhat realistic work and all of the paintings he did of his wife. I found his more surrealistic work interesting and intellectual but not compelling.

Dorothea Tanning 

Dorothea Tannning

Dorothea Tannning

One of my favorite paintings was done by the painter, Dorothea Tanning in 1942 and is titled, Birthday. She did not like to be defined as a surrealist, but that is how she is usually categorized. I find the painting very compelling, moving and touching. I find her dress to be A Dress for Special Occasions

It is a self-portrait that she did on her 30th birthday. I especially like that she painted it for this particular birthday. When I was younger, I thought that by 30 I would have my life figured out and that I would be content. It took me a few more years after turning 30 to get my act together. In this painting, her face seems to be questioning what and how her life will unfold. She lived until she was 101 years old.

When I look at this painting, I am intrigued by the many layers of imagination involved, both hers and mine. To me it is a perfect painting. I love the composition, colors and the emotion. I am of course drawn to the organic quality of her dress. It is plant-like. I don’t understand all of the painting, especially the black animal-like figure at the bottom right. Still, it inspires me. What is your reaction?

Dorothea Tanning

Dorothea Tanning, Birthday