Symbolism as a Tool

for Expression


The Box

Painting by Margie Resto

Mirrored Consciousness

Painting by Margie Resto

I was looking through my old paintings and was reminded of the hunger I had to dig down deep inside of myself and express my stories onto canvas. I haven’t gone that deep in years, and perhaps I find myself wanting to revisit my old self.  Has that ever happened to you?


The artist's journey can be an amazing experience, we just need to be more present. We need to collect what we’ve picked up along the way and put it into action. All of these tools we’ve collected need to resurface.

One of the tools I love using is symbolism. I’ve hit the books lately to dig deeper into symbolism and these masters of the past intrigue me. I wish there was a time machine I could use to travel back to meet the Pre Raphaelites, or perhaps the Surrealists, oh...wait...maybe the Impressionist...Hi Van Gogh! 


Symbolism is one of the most important tools to give meaning and depth to your art.  It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can express yourself with colors, poems, symbols, and more. This was an art movement that started in response to Realism and Impressionism.  Artists, musicians, writers, they all used it to express the meaning beyond what they created at face value. Some symbols are super obvious, and others require you to research. If you want to know, you're forced to dig deeper and see beyond the surface.

Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh was English born in 1864 and worked  in Scotland. She was skilled in a variety of different mediums like textiles, watercolors, embroidery, and metalwork.

Her design work became one of the defining features of the “Glasgow Style” during the 1890s. She started working with her sister Frances and they opened the Macdonald Sisters Studio in Glasgow, Scotland. Their work was inspired by Celtic imagery, symbolism, folklore and literature.

“Truth speaks best in the language of poetry and symbolism, I think.”

Grant Morrison

Later in her life, she started collaborating with her husband who was the famous architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Her most notable works of art are the gesso panels made for interiors designed by Charles for tearooms and private residences. She was recognized during her career and contributed to more than 40 America and European exhibitions. She passed away in 1933, five years after her husband.

Her work reminds me so much of Gustav Klimt's work, come to find out he was heavily influenced by the sisters work. So much so that you see it in his own works. Margaret’s works also remind me of Alphonse Mucha’s work. It has an Art Nouveau feel to it.

There is so much you can do to add depth to your art piece. I challenge you to step outside the box and see how you can use symbolism in your artwork. 

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Happy Creating!



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