Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Metaphors in a Paint Box

Scatter Creek Dusk
12 x 12
Available at Deborah Paris Fine Art

Metaphors are the fuel of the creative engine. Although we usually think of them as literary devices, they really have a much wider application in creative effort-from poetry and prose to dance, music and certainly painting. Metaphors are about putting ideas together, putting things in a different context - or as the poet Emily Dickinson said "saying it slant".

As a lover of words, I have always cherished metaphor. But, as a painter, I really didn't understand its importance to my work until the last year or so. At least since the 19th century, the landscape itself has been a metaphor in painting for many ideas- everything from the Profane to the Sublime, usually in the context of evidence of the Creator's hand. I have a well known still life painter friend who says that all landscape painters eventually become religious. An oversimplification perhaps, but its a well taken point. But, I think the real work of metaphors is to make connections- between our now and our past, and in the case of landscape, the natural world and our emotional world. The visual ideas I am most drawn to and compelled to paint are ones that bring to mind memories of events or, more often, strong feelings and associations. Since my paintings are not narrative in any way, these ideas remain in the background. But, if there is any emotional power to my work, I am convinced that is the center of it.


Robin Pedrero said...


I strongly agree with your every word posted. This is perhaps one of the elements what draws us into your work. Nice post!

Deborah Paris said...

Thank you Robin- I appreciate your comment!

Don Gray said...

Lovely painting and interesting thoughts--as usual. Thank you, Deborah.

Anonymous said...

Wolf Kahn once said that artists shouldn't paint thelandscape because there was no ideology behind it in our modern world. I think your work proves that statement wrong. I am always moved by your color choices and the sense of the sublime in your work.

Casey Klahn said...

Great post and artwork, Deborah.

Deborah Paris said...

Hi Don. Thank you and its nice to see you here!

What a incredibly generous compliment Sue! It goes to the very heart of what I want to do in my work. Its very much appreciated.

I am glad you liked it, Casey and thanks for visiting!

Trevor Lingard said...

Hi Deborah
Im glad I found your blog which is very inspiring. Very atmosheric and calming.
I look forward to seeing much more of your work.

Simon Jones said...

Fabulous painting Deborah, yes metaphor is great if you share the painters beliefs or frame of reference, christianity was perfect. But nowadays maybe its more fruitful to burrow a bit deeper and play with universal concepts like the mechanics of perception and understanding. Or maybe just enjoy yourself and have a good time painting! Rothko went progressively monochromatic, then ended it all, I think Duchamp gave up painting and concentrated on chess.

Deborah Paris said...

Hello trevor. Thank you and welcome!

Thank you Simon! I think you have to start with something very personal and make it universal. For me, that's the essence of great art (painting, poetry, dance, whatever). I also believe art's power is primarily emotional not intellectual.
I realize that many today do not have a deep connection to the natural world and that my metaphors might not touch them. I can't change that- I can only paint what's in my heart.

Linda Blondheim said...

Super post Deborah,
I often thin painting is greatly about language.

Steven P. Goodman said...

It's a real pleasure to read your blog and to discover a painter as articulate as she is talented.

Holly Friesen said...

just discovered your blog and am appreciating your written musings as much as the paintings.

Anonymous said...

This painting definately creates a strong emotion & a sense of peace for me. It has a stillness that is quite uplifting - (&I'm not religious! But I do think that probably what goes on at a brain/chemical level is pretty similar for all of us when we have a strong positive emotional experience. How we interprete it must depend on our beliefs & culture).