This week a lot of my mental space has been occupied by my daughter who will be entering high school next year. At school they got information on how to sign up for classes in the fall. I had a lot of questions, and am grateful for friends who are a year or two ahead of me on the journey and can help me, and my daughter navigate through this. One friend said to make sure she has a tribe to journey with her. That stuck with me, and I do find myself praying often for good friends for my daughter.
At the same time, this painting has been on my easel. This stand or grouping of mature Live Oak trees was inspired by Chisholm Park on East Lake Toho in St. Cloud, Florida. A group that has weathered life together, each different yet the same. These trees have been through more than one hurricane over the decades. At times a limb grows along the ground, but it still grows. I’m always amazed at how far branches spread outward. These are no timid trees closed in on itself and contained. They take up space, ever reaching outward, and upward, roots going deep. So I’ve been thinking of this group of trees a bit like that group of friends ones need to thrive in life, and in high school. There are some big branches that you might be able to follow with your eyes from trunk to tip. Distinct, definitely belonging to that tree. But as you look up at the canopy of branches, leaves, and moss, it’s harder to see just what belongs to each individual tree. They are living their lives intertwined, drawing from the same resources, weathering storms, together.
And so I keep praying that my daughter would have some friends to go through the challenges and enjoy this phase in life together.
Being a professional artist means I’m constantly painting and continually looking for inspiration. I have no shortage of landscapes I’d like to capture on canvas, but needing to sell my work influences what I paint and when. I love the Southwest, but live in the Southeast, so until build up my following or have some galleries representing me in the area, I mostly stick to scenes appealing to a local audience. I got some great photos of winter and snow, but I’m unsure if I have an audience for such scenes.
An opportunity came up with a tight deadline, and some size restrictions. Several paintings that would’ve worked were on display and unavailable. Wanting to submit a few cityscapes I went downtown for inspiration. I walked around taking photos. Many people have complimented one of my first cityscapes I did called “East Central Blvd” featuring an old oak tree and wonderful dappled shadows on the sidewalk. I returned to the area to see if I might capture a different perspective.
This painting is the result. I think it shows my growth. Getting more comfortable with my medium, developing my style, more confident in my choices. Growth can be hard to see from one day to the next, except maybe in toddlers who add new words to their vocabulary and new skills almost daily. But when you look back to where you were a year ago or five years the changes are more obvious. It’s an art to find the balance between reflections, dreaming, and living in the present. It’s encouraging to see progress made, and there will always be that next goal. Meanwhile, I am trying to enjoy where I am now.
The title refers to the tree which most likely is the oldest thing on the block, growing, enduring as new buildings have sprung up nearby.
Our front and back yard have Live Oak trees. They grow big and majestic, defying gravity with their long branches, great for climbing. Right now it provides shade and headaches. It has small leaves that fall, over several weeks, mostly in spring in time for new leaves to spring forth. The fallen little leaves get stuck in the grass, are hard to rake and cause the grass to die. (Why builders place them in the same front lawns that HOAs want to have a nice green lawn is a mystery.) They also drop acorns and pollen. And then you get lots of tiny trees sprouting in the lawn, some attached to the roots of the larger tree. Oh, and the roots decide to grow more pronounced and move things like sidewalks. And as they grow you want to be mindful to not have big branches that might fall and crush your roof when a hurricane decides to rumble through.
The oaks in my yard are an example of a good thing that’s poorly placed, therefore making it not so great! Sometimes we have things growing in inappropriate places in our lives. My ability to get things done, might get in the way of my sitting down with a friend. My being frugal might turn into a missed opportunity to be generous. Somehow Oak trees got associated with wisdom… the wise old Oak. It takes wisdom to know the time and place for things in our lives. It takes experience and wisdom to Place things so they are a blessing and not a headache.
This oak had spread out and was enjoying the space alongside the lake Monroe in Sanford. No HOAs making seemingly impossible commands. A great place to spread a blanket and have a picnic.