Thursday, May 28, 2009

A month of Inspiration from Nature

Good lines. I was running out of good lines. My trees are symbols so I keep them simple, not realistic looking. That's why I don't observe a tree as a general rule when I paint, but instead let my body gestures and arm movements dance out a tree. They're more like stick figures. The Creative Everyday theme on nature got me thinking. They were starting to all look like three pronged forks, so for a little variety I went back to the source to observe. I took about 20 photos of trees that to me expressed triumphant lines- no weeping willows in this shoot.

I did a series of gesture drawings with conte crayon and taped them to my studio wall. These were very messy and loose. I practiced refining favorite trees in my journal and wrote some words from my artist statement underneath to guide me.

Then I came upon the perfect tree shape in a romaine lettuce leaf. Triumphant looking, yes? When I showed Jason I demonstrated it's perfection by singing my version of this. "Yes, the leaf is singing opera, Shayla." He didn't even lift an eyebrow. A benefit of living with another creative is they understand instead of having you put in a straight jacket like a non creative might be tempted to do.

A series of lettuce leaf "trees" followed. Lastly, inspiration from my new stretch video (major help energy wise). The setting is in the Canadian Rockies and the pines there are taller and thinner as opposed to our wind whipped, squatter trees. The wind whipped trees felt like isolation and trials to me. These tall trees look regal. In my last sketch, I've combined the Romaine "trees" with the pines from the Rockies and I'm pleased with these lines.

May was a tough month, health wise but I'm starting to recover. The stretching is a wellness practice I'm going to continue with. I can't believe what a difference it makes. The other wellness tip I learned, the hard way, was to be sure to cook fiddleheads very well. Have you ever tried them? Apparently if the spring is very dry they give off a toxin that gives a wicked case of food poisoning. Thought I'd send out the warning, since all my fiddlehead eating Maritime friends have never heard that and it's not too fun to find out the hard way ;)


Regina said...

How interesting that when I am thinking tree shapes (for several weeks) and just this morning realizing I have a wonderful one in my back yard just waiting to be sketched...
then I am catching up on blog reading and here is your WONDERFUL post. You have given me more ideas of how to look at the trees in my life and to transform them into symbols. I think this is where my thoughts and inspiration have been leading, but life has been much too full lately.
I hope you will soon be feeling refreshed and restored.
Thank you for sharing your sketches. I love them & thank you for the inspiration. xo

Robyn said...

This is such an interesting post Shayla. I've enjoyed all the tree sketches and your comments.
The second time I've heard of fiddleheads this week. I didn't know you could eat them. Stretching exercises have made an amazing difference to my life too. Such a simple remedy but it really works well. Hope you feel stronger by the day!

M.Kate said...

Interesting how inspiring nature can be! I love nature to the max..just not those caterpillars chomping on my bushes :P Happy weekend Shayla...hugs/M

Jeane said...

Shayla, this is one of your best posts - I really enjoyed this process and what you discovered! - oh, ugh, food poisoning - Jim and I got a terrible case a couple of years ago on vacation and my digestion has never been the same since! hope you are recovered :)

Juggling Jason said...

The lettuce IS singing opera!

MiKa Art said...

This is the most interesting! How amazing to see the process of your art brewing. Thank you very much for sharing it, Shayla.

I used to eat Zenmai(fiddleheads - I am glad to learn this new word!) in Japan. I hope that your food poisoning was not awfully bad.
Have a wonderful weekend!

picciolo said...

hi, I'm glad you are feeling better - what are fiddleheads? I love your exporation into lines, I love trees and could draw them all day but it was interesting reading how you use the idea of trees rather than the actual object.
: )

Shayla said...

Regina, can't wait to see your sketch. These new developments in personal symbolism sound exciting. Thanks for the encouraging feedback.You made my day.

Robyn, thanks for the comments on the sketches and for sharing about the stretching. It helps me confirm I'm on the right track and it's nice to have someone who understands. I can tell you've been there. It's the Ostrich fern that's most tender and has the least carcinogens so that's what everyone eats. Didn't know they even had carcinogens. Yikes! Maybe we shouldn't eat them.

M.Kate, I can sympathize with the garden pest frustrations. Around here it's the squirrel. Gardeners will almost foam at the mouth in fury from their shenanegans ;)

Thanks Jeane, It's all about the process, isn't it? Your blog has been a help in reminding me.
That's awful about the food poisoning. On vacation-that makes it 10x worse! I didn't know it could have long lasting effects. This is my second run in and that explains a few things.

Hey Jace! La, la, Laaaaah!!

Mika, thanks for the feedback. Sometimes it's surprising where we find our inspiration. "Zenmai" that's a pretty word. Didn't know they were eaten in Japan too, but it makes sense. The climates are similar.

Jane, fiddleheads are baby ferns before they've unfurled. They taste like asparagus, only a tad more bitter. The lines are what draws me to your work (great lines!) so it's no surprise that you love line exploration :)

Leah said...

Oh, I'm so sorry about the fiddlehead mishap! Ugh!

I just adore the exploration you've done with tree shapes here. Thanks so much for sharing what you discovered!

me again said...

I really like the photograph -- and the lettuce? Classic! I am currently in a love affair with trees; I started a project called Talisman Trees and it has just taken off with me. If you'd like to have a look, I post one every Tuesday on my blog and have for several weeks. I find the forms of trees, their shapes, their "arms", their fluidity, all so graceful and inspiring. Spiritual, if you will.

Ro Bruhn said...

I hope you're well again. I've never heard of fiddle heads, I gather it's something we don't have here in Australia.
I like the idea of looking for tree shapes in other things. Your tree sketch with the dots is very reminiscent of the blossom trees in Japan.

Tracy said...

This was a delicious post, Shayla! After having been away two weeks myself, this was the creative banquet I was needing. That you share so much of your creative journey truly inspires! I'm so sorry you've not been well though...and with food poisoning too--yikes! Hope you are doing better day by day. I didn't know that about the fiddleheads--thanks for the warning. They are delightful when simply, and safely, prepared--mmm...I'm feeling like going out on a limb after reading this post and seeing your experiments in the observation and rendering of tress.... ;o) Happy weekend ahead, my friend. ((HUGS))

Mira said...

i really love the one sketch in ure journal with the word yes on it. the trees with the dots for leaves are perfectly whimsical.

Shayla said...

Leah, thanks for the encoragement and fiddlehead sympathy.

Lennie, for sure. Trees make great symbols.

Ro, fiddleheads are the ostrich fern before it unfurls. That's neat you noticed about the Japanese similarities. It's been a big inspiration for me. Thanks.

Tracy, it's good to see you back home and thanks for the positive feedback :o)

Mira, thanks. They're fun to do.

postcardsfromwildwood said...

I think I love Jason!

Shayla said...

Hee, hee, Janice. I played him your duet and he thought it was awesome.