Tag Archives: Passage

The Meaning of Three

When I create a composition, I have noticed that I usually paint objects such as trees in groups of three or an odd number of subjects. Frequently I will paint just one subject like a lone tree. I did a little research about the meaning of numbers recently because I have known that three is considered especially sacred or psychologically meaningful. An explanation of the significance of the number three can be found in different cultures around the world, in tarot and in many religions.

Meaning of Numbers

One symbolizes unity, agreement, simplicity. When something exists alone, nothing disturbs it. It remains completely at peace, without regard for anything else. Two symbolizes duality, tension and complexity. It is noted that the number three symbolizes a harmony that includes and synthesizes two opposites; three merges the two to create a new entity, one that harmoniously includes both opposites. Or three can unite two objects while excluding the third. Here ( Italian Cypress) is a painting that I did several years ago without understanding the symbolic meaning of three.

Italian Cypress

Italian Cypress, acrylic on canvas, 16×20, ©2009,
Ann Hart Marquis

Three in Religion

In some Asian religions three gets its roots from the meaning of multiplicity. Three is a moving forward of energy, overcoming duality, expression. There is a manifestation of something new and a synthesis. Three is also the first number to which the meaning “all” was given, it can also mean “a few.” It is the triad, being the number of the whole as it contains the beginning, middle and an end; past, present, future.


Passage, acrylic on canvas, ©2012, Ann Hart Marquis

Art and Design

In design and interior decorating, the Rule of Three is a principle used in various aspects of design:  architecture, graphic design and photography (the rule of thirds). The basic idea of the rule is that details and objects that are arranged or grouped in odd numbers are more appealing, memorable, compelling and effective than even-numbered pairings. It seems probable to me that this principle in design originated in classic art such as The Three Graces by Raphael (1500), “The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, (1510) and  Primavera by Botticelli, (1402).


Waltz, Acrylic on canvas, 24×36 inches, ©2012, Ann Hart Marquis

There is nothing “classic” about my art, but I do like to paint compositions with odd numbers. How about you? Do numbers have symbolic meaning in your art?


Portals to the Unconscious of a Nature Lover

When I think about what I want to paint I have many choices that appeal to me. I always like to paint trees and not so realistic landscapes. Usually, my trees and landscapes have a metaphorical aspect to them. Occasionally, an idea will come to me straight from my unconscious with little awareness of meaning to me. When that happens, it is always a challenge for me to try to intellectually and psychologically explore the concept that I have decided to paint. Many of my paintings have given me and others an idea of what may be lurking in my unconscious. For example, I have painted chairs in a jungle, ladders in a meadow and a tree leaving home.


Heaven’s Door, acrylic on canvas, 16x20. ©2012, Ann Hart Marquis

Heaven’s Door, acrylic on canvas, 16×20.
©2012, Ann Hart Marquis

Last year I had such an experience with four paintings that I completed. They were of doors that were somehow associated with water. Some people saw the doors as monoliths or pillars. Perhaps they are. While I was paintings this series, I gave little thought to the meaning of individual images. After I finished four paintings my practical self told me to stop. I stopped. I did not allow myself to explore more images of portals, thresholds, or entrances although I now see that there are hints of doorways in subsequent paintings.

Untethered, acrylic on canvas, 24x24. ©2012, Ann Hart Marquis

Untethered, acrylic on canvas, 24×24.
©2012, Ann Hart Marquis

Passage, acrylic on canvas, 16x20. ©2012, Ann Hart Marquis

Passage, acrylic on canvas, 16×20.
©2012, Ann Hart Marquis

Stone Voices

Adrift, acrylic on canvas, 24x24. ©2012, Ann Hart Marquis

Adrift, acrylic on canvas, 24×24.
©2012, Ann Hart Marquis

Much to my surprise this was a successful group of paintings. Two sold before I could formally show them and two were in my last show. One of them Adrift (left), received the Best in Show award for “The River” competition in the art and poetry journal, Stone Voices, Summer Issue.

Once in a while I look at these images and still try to figure out what I was trying to say. Sometimes doors are the opposite of entry ways. They can be blockades, barriers, obstructions. I am not sure what metaphor they represent or why they are in the water.

Do you have any insights for me?