Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winter Trees

It can get pretty grey in Spokane in the winter time as the clouds settle over the valley.  But occasionally, the sun comes out and brightens things up again.  I decided that it's all a matter of how   you look at it. The first couple of years here were hard for me in the winter, as I was used to sunnier sky's.  I remember grumbling to a local one winter about all the grey.  His response:  Yes, well it's a bright grey! 

So, instead of looking at the sky, I have learned to find inspiration in other things in winter, like noticing something surprising that is usually obscured by tree foliage; or the color of red dogwood stems in the snow, or an interesting seed pod.

As an artist, I find inspiration just about every where I go.  Whether it's the grizzled look on the face of the tow truck driver last week who towed our car to the shop or a poem I hear recited on the radio.  One particular gloomy day, I heard this poem by Linda Paston on the way to the airport.  I then sat in the parking lot looking at and having a new appreciation for winter trees and how they weather the winter winds. 


Perhaps the purpose
of leaves is to conceal
the verticality
of trees
which we notice
in December
as if for the first time:
row after row
of dark forms
yearning upwards.
And since we will be
horizontal ourselves
for so long,
let us now honor
the gods
of the vertical:
stalks of wheat
which to the ant
must seem as high
as these trees do to us,
silos and
telephone poles,
and skyscrapers.
But most of all
these winter oaks,
these soft-fleshed poplars,
this birch
whose bark is like
roughened skin
against which I lean
my chilled head,
not ready
to lie down.

When I got home that evening, I took out a Zendala tile and did this Zentangle which I call Winter Trees.

Then of course there is the Christmas tree. I started having other plans for this funky tree, but I'm pleased with the results: Pagoda Tree

If you are talking about trees, then leaves aren't far behind.  I was watching a movie with leaves as the theme this past week and completed another Zendala on that theme.  I was thinking while I was doing this about a line I read some where recently which said: The Earth Is Spirit and I love that, so the name for this Zendala stuck, Earth Spirit.
Taught some great classes this past week.  Last Saturday, I taught at The Mellow Monkey Yoga Studio in Millwood  introducing Zentangle to 15 wonderful women, who made this beautiful mosaic.  I was so jazzed, with all the good vibes in the class, that it took me until Sunday to calm down!  Thanks very much to Sara and Tamara for organizing and helping out with class.  Oh, yes, and David who packed my van for me after class!
Later in the week I taught Art teachers at Jefferson Elementary.  School teachers work so very hard, I was honored to be able to show them how they could bring calm to their days and pass on Zentangle to the children they teach.  I felt a bit daunted at first, but their enthusiasm carried me through.  We traded the tiles around the room, so different people worked on each section.  The one in the middle is mine from a different class, which was used to fill a hole. 
I end where I began, with the theme of trees.  Today, I was reading Mark Nepo's The Book of Awakening and he also talked about trees with this passage of December 13th:
"We start out thin and green, and each time the sky grows dark, we think we will break, but the downpour makes us grow, though never straight, always twisting for the light, and strangely, the more we reach above the earth, the deeper something in us, fingers its way down, and it is this-our unseen fingers reaching for the core-that keeps us from blowing away."


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