A CHAIR IS NOT A CHAIR… look again!

The Yellow Chair – Vincent van Gogh – 1888

This post is about a chair and not about a chair. It’s about meaningful mystical perception, the deep end of the awareness pool. It’s about Vincent Van Gogh, and a couple of sentient chairs in a disgruntled building with time on its hands. 

A chair is a support. A chair is a story. A chair can be the seat of profound knowing.

When a chair’s seat is removed, it’s no longer a functioning chair. It can serve as a handy receptacle for draping clothes or stand-in as a hat stand. Without its seat, a chair is an un-chair. It’s the empty framework of a chair – a potential chair. It can be a metaphor for being unseated.

In the framework of the written word, secrets are the hidden meanings between the lines. What is left ‘unsaid’ ‘frames’ what a character may want to say but refuses to say. The protracted pauses in dialogue speak volumes. When a character makes a declaration, it’s often a truth within an outright lie. Hiding is revealing.

In the topsy turvy world of fiction, reality becomes the fantasy upside-down time that makes sense of or denies a character’s negative thoughts and attitudes. It offers readers the experience of the mystical – the para (above) the normal and the super (before) the natural. 

Some chairs have things to say. Case in point, in my ‘Bede trilogy’ for *middle-grade to adult readers, Vincent’s famous ‘yellow chair’ is a teacher. It has a twin brother and a best friend from the eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt. So… not a regular chair!

Segue: before I go any further. Here is a quick art lesson. One of the best ways to draw a chair is to take a picture of it, turn it upside-down, and focus on its negative spaces. Force your mind to see an object by tricking your brain.

The brain ‘KNOWS’ what a chair is but it can’t ‘SEE’ what a chair is.

By separating positive and negative spaces, and focusing on the negative, a true image of the chair will emerge. It may be slightly wobbly. But in both the literary and art world, wobbly equates to character. In art, as in story, believing is seeing. May I add, tricking readers is a promise made at the onset by authors of fantasy, mysteries, and paranormal fiction.


Chairs and beds and paintings hung on walls painted by French impressionists were usually gravity-challenged. Abstract paintings are visions of the formless – the undefined spaces of reality. The same can be said of fiction.

In books, abstraction becomes the art of distraction


A room can be a sanctuary or a prison. A hallway can lead nowhere. A window can be glued shut. Ambiance is a big deal. A cold spot in an attic is more than a temperature reading.

In Bede Hall, the blue door of the Winter Room is more than a door. It’s a portal. A portal protecting the ghost of an abandoned child

Twin yellow chairs and precariously hanging paintings in Vincent’s bedroom – 1888

The shape of things to come arrives in plot points, reversals, and reveals. It lies in negative perception. (foreshadows, real clues, deceptions, and red herrings slyly inserted into the unsuspecting text to suggest, imply, and mislead). No shape of a physical object exists without the empty spaces that ‘frame’ it.

In the Bede trilogy: ‘Twinter’, ‘Time Falls Like Snow’, and ‘Tomorrow Again’, Vincent’s restless yellow chair is a time-travel device. Its legs twitch with anticipation as much as unease. It represents a character’s anxiety or eagerness. It shouts:

 ‘Hey, you over there. Look at me. Sit! We need to have a talk. I’ve seen more from my place in the corner than you can dream of, and you’re about to make a huge mistake. Please, be seated. Take a moment before you leap. Allow me to guide you.’

And speaking of famous yellow chairs… allow me introduce King Tutankhamun’s golden throne, from the eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt… another character with a starring role, visiting Bede Hall, a curmudgeonly stately home with a mind of its own and an eye to the future from the perspective of a distant past.


Vincent van Gogh – chair as a table – 1888


I spy with my little eye something beginning with yellow…

Cheers from me and…

About Veronica Knox

Veronica Knox has a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Alberta, where she studied Art History, Classical Studies, and Painting. In her career as a graphic designer, illustrator, private art teacher, and ‘fine artist,’ she has also worked with the brain-injured and autistic, developing new theories of hand-to-eye-to-mind connection. Veronica lives on the west coast of Canada, supporting local animal rescue shelters, painting, writing, editing other author’s novels, and championing the conservation of tigers and elephants, and their habitats. Her artwork and visuals to support ‘Second Lisa’ may be viewed on her website - www.veronicaknox.com
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