Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Power of Three

Image Top: Postcard of Gauguin's Vision After the Sermon

Image Bottom: The other side of the postcard. It is a collage I created, depicting three aspects of my life: "Father" (left); "God" (center); "Mother (right).

I call it "The Power of Three." It's an assignment I gave my university students this semester. I did the assignment along with them. First, some background: When I was an undergraduate at East Carolina University, I double-majored in art and English. When I went to Graduate School in English and then later in Creative Writing, I put away my pens, pencils, and brushes. I didn't have time to write and do artwork both.

Although I didn't do artwork for years, I remained intrigued by the idea that my two loves, art and writing, could somehow be combined. Now, after months of reading Judith Heartsong's blog and seeing the beautiful way she combines her art and her writing, I've decided I need to get back to image-making.

It's been so long now since I've done art that I feel like I'm starting all over again. And that's okay. I have no illusions about being a great artist, and "being a great artist" is not important to me, anyway. I simply want to use art as a way to make my fiction and essays deeper and richer.

Much of my creative output, whether visual or written, has been snuffed out through the years by unrealistic expectations, by what I think I should be capable of. Finally, I said, Enough! Just do something! So I did. I used the image-making as a way of "seeing" how I "see" the world.

It only took me about twenty minutes to create my image. That tells me that I probably could do one image a week. At the end of a year, I'd have about 50 images and probably a much richer connection to my own life.

"The Power of Three" showed me what I have always suspected: Doing Art can make writing better.

"The Power of Three" has several steps. There are discovery techniques used at the beginning, such as listing and webbing, to help students find aspects of their lives they want to write about. Finally, one of the last steps is to create a triptych, a visual representation of three aspects of your life. My triptych helped me to discover some surprising things about how I feel about "God," "Father," and "Mother."

I expected my images for "God" to be positive. And I expected my images for "Father" and "Mother" to be negative. But just the opposite happened. Through the prewriting assignments, I discovered the fruit imagery and ended up using an apple to represent "God."

The apple represents "The Fall." The eye and the tear (Apple of my eye) represent the pain associated with "The Fall." But there is also a golden snowflake under the eye, representing the beauty we can bring to our suffering. While "The Fall" is a painful process, it also leads to growth and transformation.

The strawberries in the left and right panels are simply a representation of how much both parents loved this fruit. My father loved eating them. My mother loved picking and preserving them. My father also loved birds and was very gentle with them. The pig represents one of my first memories of my mother, the time she helped some friends of hers load a big pig into a trailer so they could take it to the fair. I have always remembered my mother's strength and how surprised I was that she had that kind of strength. It is a memory I have held onto like a life buoy for many years. I need to explore why the memory is so precious to me.

My triptych surprised me in many ways. It surprised me because I chose unexpected images to represent the three aspects of my life that I chose to explore. It surprised me because it truly did deepen my awareness about my life, particularly in how prominent "The Fall" is in my thinking. Although leaving paradise is painful, it really does represent the beginning of our personal journey through life, our heroic quest.

I wanted to get this entry up before Thanksgiving. I have oodles of papers to grade tonight and conferences all day tomorrow. And I haven't even done my food shopping for Thanksgiving dinner yet! Have a great holiday, everyone.


Gabreael said...

Word up, I was having trouble too, and discovered I had used all of my temp. space blogger alots. So back to photobucket.com I went! I hope that helps you out. Just paste your pics from photobucket or an ftp space in that square.



V said...

Photobucket, or try Picasa!

I have both,

Cynthia and Gretchen said...

I love your triptych. I lack artistic talent, but I doodle endlessly, and I find that the non-linear thought that comes with visual expression is so important in that it reveals things our logical mind has pushed aside in a way that writing with its grammatical structure just begins to touch. Oh my, am I back to the shadow again? Anyway, have a very happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by Cynthia to Theresa Williams-Author [Exile Edition] at 11/22/2005 02:37:07 AM

"What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen."
-- Henry David Thoreau
Ah- the image! Your own folk art.
Have a delicious Thanksgiving.

Posted by Anonymous to Theresa Williams-Author [Exile Edition] at 11/22/2005 03:19:51 AM

V said...

Aww, Theresa. Hidden talents! I love your triptych. And especially that you joined your students in creation other than writing.

......It surprised me because it truly did deepen my awareness about my life, particularly in how prominent "The Fall" is in my thinking. Although leaving paradise is painful, it really does represent the beginning of our personal journey through life, our heroic quest...........

Theresa, for me, the Fall represents all that is great about humanity. The greatest gifts that God gave us; self-awareness, self-choice, and the pursuit of immortality through personal heroism.


ckays1967 said...

My mother, the Artist, keeps pushing me to create art and I in turn, keep pushing her to write. It offers us both sweet irony to do so. She believes she is only good at one and I believe I am only good at the other.

Interesting how you would choose the Fall to represent God. Being in the midst of your novel it leads me to all sorts of pondering but since I am only in the midst I will not entertain them.

The novel is small in length but huge in content.

I am absorbed by it....and do not find it nearly as dark as you think it to be. In truth, I think that all people have edges of darkness that they cleverly hide.

I like your artwork...is it an assignment?


Denseness prevails.

Vicky said...

So glad to see you using your artistic talents again, my dear. this is wonderful - I look forward to more!

Love, Vicky

Judith HeartSong said...

I love the image you created and the thoughts behind it. I want to see more as they are created... I am greedy that way:):):)

Tonight I took out the trash after dark and walked outside to see a velvety midnight blue sky with small Georgia O'Keeffe dusty blue clouds superimposed on it. It must be painted... the image is burned in my brain.

Life is art and art is life.

I am so glad you are here and writing..... you help my process as well.

dreaminglily said...

Sorry I haven't been by in so long. Things got hectic around here.

I loved reading this entry. Though that shouldn't come as a surprise since I love your writing. I think I might do this myself. It seems like something I need to do, something I ought to use to reflect on things in my life. I do need to think. A lot has changed. I need to think.

Thank you for writing this. It came at a perfect time for me.


V said...

.....Just love the euphemism, "Backed out." Sounds a lot like what AOL did with our journals by putting up the banner ads--backed out of their commitment to customer's right to self-expression: YOUR THOUGHTS, YOUR BLOG. I think you should rename this journal. Call it SMOKE AND MIRRORS.
Comment from theresarrt7 - 11/23/05 1:24 PM......

.....Although I know no one there is listening, I`m still not able to have entrance into my Journals without using IE. Of course, this problem pales into significance compared to keeping banner ads on our Journals......


Comment from deabvt - 11/23/05 2:18 PM

Great work, Theresa! By the way, was Virginia quoted in the newspaper column published in Washington, along with Armand?


beths front porch said...

Theresa, I love how you show us techniques to "grow" our art. It reminds me to be open to new ways to fertilize the soil of the imagination. Beth

Tammy said...

Theresa, I'm home with a cold on Thanksgiving, so I read your Journal and you are one talented lady! I wish the words in my head could flow to the computer, but somewhere in between things get jumbled. I'm learning and practicing because I have so much to say. I can learn so much by reading journals like yours and hope you will drop by again. Movie to check out sometime is Crash, let me know what you think.
Thanks :)

Ayn said...

Pardon me ... I'd like to take a seat up here in the gallery if that's ok. I've come to learn, would you mind if I take notes!??

ckays1967 said...

By the way....

Happy Thanks Giving.

TiAnKa said...

Theresa, you are a woman of many great talents! I wish that I could write as well as you do. Knowing that you are also an artist is very exciting and I look forward to seeing more of your artwork.

Stop by when you have time.




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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken


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From the First Chapter

The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

My Original Artwork: Triptych

My Original Artwork:  Triptych



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