Metaphoric illustration

odd art_0001
What is the metaphor in this image?  
  food chain


What is abstract story telling; most of it is infact about something not there. So where people go wrong in story telling is creating scenes with words (descriptions), then the next step backwards is descriptions of actions.

So how would you tell a story with out descriptions of what a picture maker would do.

  • Using metaphors and analogies;
  • Understanding relationships between verbal and non-verbal ideas;
  • Spatial reasoning and mentally manipulating and rotating objects;
  • Complex reasoning, such as using critical thinking, the scientific method, and other approaches to reasoning through problems.


Developmental psychologist Jean Piaget argued that children develop abstract reasoning skills as part of their last stage of development, known as the formal operational stage. This stage occurs between the ages of 11 and 16. However, the beginnings of abstract reasoning may be present earlier, and gifted children frequently develop abstract reasoning at an earlier age. Some psychologists have argued that the development of abstract reasoning is not a natural developmental stage. Rather, it is the product of culture, experience, and teaching.

While young children are often incapable of complex abstract reasoning, they frequently recognize the underlying lessons of these stories, indicating some degree of abstract reasoning skills.

I think that moving pictures of fighting take the place of abstract thought way too often as if publishers can’t conceive of selling intellectual thought to children.

Metaphoric story telling is the only thing left for illustrators. Most writers think that the illustration should be what the words describe, making the image redundant. Writers must understand how to not describe a scene for illustration.

Magic Realism

 prices and cards go here:

People tell me they think of “whimsy” when they look at my illustrations. But I have no idea what they are talking about. I work hard to make them look natural. And I always am trying to learn how to make them more desirable to look at, like the backgrounds; the most important part of a picture and hardest to do (except for the faces). I can’t do them purely from my subconscious, as some artists pretend to do.

small with name        light house on the rocks very small

circuis tracktor small

Some contemporary painting is illustrative, and the best of it implies a complexity that goes beyond the literal. But this isn’t the objective of illustration.

The problem is that illustration is too often perceived in terms of painting. It is literal, and by consequence, is often seen as simplistic when compared to painting. If modern art schools had not taught every one that simplicity of abstraction, is “art” then N.C. Wyeth’s illustrations would be the norm of illustration.

During the golden age of print media (a period that started somewhere just before, and ended somewhere just around the middle, of the 20th century), most illustrators did not have much influence over the content of their work. The exceptions were author/illustrators and creators of books where the illustrator had full rein over both image and story. 

Now that e-books are easily produced by artists, I expect to see more people like me that just want to by pass the commercial editors that control art and writing; and go directly to the consumer. But now that modern art has destroyed the narrative skill quality of art, it is hard to find people that know how to do visual story telling, and have it also be a picture that is a pleasure to look at long enough to keep it on your wall. Not that every one likes to sit and look at a painting.


Arthur Rackham, N.C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle are my most favorite illustrators.

The Mysterious Tiger Zebra

I hope never to make any more of this kind of disgustingly sweet art. I can’t stand it. I want to make deep dark forest, creepy eerie scenes. Whee the strange little creatures live. Yes some of these pixies live near me in the forest. They don’t let me see them much, but I know they are there.

Unfortunately I have started a series of steam machines for a book of “steam punk-ish” art. I may call the book “Living in some kind of dream world” showing all of the odd pictures I like to paint. But I will probably have to think of a better name, and restrict them to art suitable for children.

Or maybe I really should do several different books, with different genre’s.


mysterious tiger doulocorn

How to frame my pictures

I never recommend any kind of commercial products. But I have to make an exception of this one kind of frame. As far as I can see it is the only thing to use on my paintings, if you can find one to fit.

Take it to a framer and have them glue it onto a ½ inch or thinker foam board. Hard foam will not warp. Of course you can do this yourself and save a lot of money. Then put the mounted canvas into one of these frames.

Don’t let the framer stretch the canvas! I had some dolt do that and he put staples all around the edges of the canvas, despite that I told him not to. The canvas was ruined. Then I had to pay him to put a frame on it just to hide the staples. But the canvas was still ruined; it could never be stretched!!!

 Unfortunately I used to paint 8 x 11” pictures and some other odd sizes that there are no ready made frames to fit.

From now on I will paint only 8” x 10” and 16” x 20” ….except for possibly a few 4 x 5” canvas boards that do not need to be framed.


House foam insulation comes in one inch thick and will fit in some frames like this one.




Staple canvas only on the backside of stretcher bars (never on the edges) then use the wedges to tighten the canvas. Never ever staple my canvases on the edges of stretcher bars!!! You will destroy the canvas!