Monday, November 19, 2012

Where the Shadow Used to Fall

Where the Shadow Used to Fall
Size: 19x29 inches
Medium: Watercolors
Detail views, original painting, and prints: -here-

This was the original tree that inspired this piece. It's an Italian stone pine. You might notice that the final painting looks nothing like it.

At first I stuck pretty close to it. Had the title in mind already. And a vague concept of the piece. But it didn't quite gel. This was the initial sketchbook scribble:

I was actually all set to go with this composition. Wasn't 100% satisfied with it, but I figured I'd been noodling around with the sketches long enough; best to just try and paint and see what happened. But then Dragoncon happened and distracted me for a couple of weeks, so it got set aside.  And then I got caught up working on the first few cards for the Dreamdance Oracle, and it got pushed aside some more.

A few months passed.
The permits finally came through and the tree did get chopped down. I miss it. And in the intervening weeks, I had also somehow gotten embroiled in an effort to save a huge grove of redwoods, oaks, and other trees in our local park from being cut down.  "Why is everyone around us so intent on chopping down trees??" Dana sighed the other day.

One night, I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, and the approach I was looking for finally hit me -- to have the night sky showing through the silhouette/portal/shadowform of the tree. Hopped out from under the covers (trust me, the idea had to be good, to convince me to leave the warm sheets for the chilly air in my office) and ran to scribble the thumbnail and words down in my sketchpad.

We walked once where the shadow used to fall:
  watched the eclipse blot out the sun,
    and the streaming beams between the
      pinhole gaps of leaves became
        a cascade of glowing crescents across the ground.

Where the shadow used to fall,
  the rain did not.
    Dense, dry, fallen carpet of the years
      pooled at the Giant's feet.
        Blanket of crisp leaves and needles. Sap and compost.

My shadow falls, where its shadow used to fall;
  and when the sun fades to my back,
    I stand upon the hundred rings.
    I reach my fingers up up UP to a ghost canopy.             
    The sunset melts amber sap down my shoulder blades,
      down my spine.
        And I watch as my shadow grows tall,
          then melts into the shadow-less evening.


  1. Woahhhhhhh...! Constantly impressed by your beautiful work. It just gets better and better with each piece you make.

  2. ohhh...that's so sad and so beautiful... i think this is now my favourite piece of yours xoxo

  3. It is so beautiful. I am so glad that you share your work with us.
    Thanks, Stephanie

  4. This one is very special! I agree with your husband. We don't think about the fact that it takes YEARS for a tree to grow so tall...

  5. Such a beautiful artwork!
    Thank you very much for sharing the process and the WIPs of your work, it's very inspiring for me as a fellow artist to see the stages of your work and the development of an art project!