Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

I live in Vermont halfway up a hill. Being an artist is a quiet life and mostly I like it that way because inside my mind and imagination things are anything but quiet. I have more ideas for paintings than I could get through in three lifetimes. Sometimes I don't leave the hill for a few days in a row and don't even notice: I'm busy, I'm thinking, I'm painting. And also I'm walking the dog. Up the hill from me, near the top but not quite at the top lives my friend Jasmine. She is an herbalist/nutritionist/energy healer/plant spirit medicine practitioner, you name it. Jasmine's house has an incredible view, much bigger than mine, and I like to think that that is because she is a seer. Practically every day we leave whatever it is that absorbs us, yield to the "big brown eyes" of our respective pets, and go outdoors to pace the familiar paths of our little world. There is a patch of woods at the very top of the hill; one of the exquisite pleasures of spring is walking that path and watching the fresh greens emerge: first from the ground, then from the trees, step by step, as the snow melts, the brook swells and the birches leaf out.

This year spring came early. In late February I felt the light and the air shift and knew that spring was on the move. One unusually balmy day in early March I went up to the orchard, pruned the apple trees, and cut a bunch of forsythia. I brought a huge pile of these bare cuttings into the studio and propped them up in a bucket. It was like having a tree indoors. I took a birch log from the woodpile and made it my model, standing it on end in a shadow box draped with midnight blue velvet. Then I grabbed a 6' x 4' canvas and for the next six weeks as spring unfolded outside and the forced buds bloomed in my studio I painted what it feels like to walk in the woods.