Having been a writer for more than 35 years, I love including words in my paintings—and well art in my writing. Lately, I’ve been working on an altered book as a way of preparing for a workshop I’m teaching. I thought of it as a quick way of telling a story with just a few words, but mostly pictures and markings. Then I began to question: is it the real story or just a sanitized version? Author Vivian Gornick might ask: Does it have texture?
In The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative, Gornick explains that while clarity of intention is important, a writer also has to tackle the complex feelings that materialize when confronting opposing truths. And yes, even these 5” x 7” pages have proven to possess opposing truths.
Can I really paint or write about family secrets? And if I can, how much do I include? Are my memories accurate? Am I even being honest with myself?
I have to admit though, working on the altered book has certainly proved to be a catalyst for my other work. It has become a way gathering ideas, testing, working out problems—and trying to be truthful, at least with myself.