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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thiis Artist’s Heart is at one with the Earth

"Sand Crane Dreams" acrylic on canvas
I was a tomboy growing up. I preferred monkey bars or playing cowboys and Indians to playing with dolls. When my mother couldn’t find me, I was usually up a tree, literally. I viewed every tree as a challenge that must be conquered.

My favorites were the mulberry trees that grew near our street. I’d straddle a branch and stuff my face with unwashed mulberries until their semi-tart taste had satisfied my sweet tooth. When someone walked beneath me, unaware of my presence, I felt all knowing and powerful.

From up here, I could see into adjoining yards. I knew who was home and who wasn’t. It was a hiding place where childish secrets could be discovered and shared later when the time was right. It also gave me space and time to ponder the wonders of the world and my place in it.

"Beach Buddies" mixed media on canvas
In those days I often ran around in my underpants, especially on hot summer days. Once while helping my mother with the ironing, I burned an elongated triangle on my mid-section. That was the last time I ironed without being fully clothed.

The next day, dressed in a sun top and a pair of shorts, the burn now covered with a still-wet scab, I climbed a wide-spreading oak tree. By this time my legs were so long it was easy to step from one branch to another and scale to the highest gnarled branches.

In the process of climbing, I scraped my midriff against the rough bark peeling back the scab and revealing a seeping red sore. The pain was excruciating. I scrambled down so fast I turned my ankle when I hit the ground running for comfort and a bandage.

(My daughter, Paula's, poster she created for her art classes)
I once scaled a tree so high I was afraid to come down. My mother’s younger sister scolded me at the foot of the tree and demanded I come down the same way I went up. Although we were close in age, she was my aunt, and she loved to Lord that over me. If I didn’t do what she said, she was sure to tattle to my mother.

I don’t know what happened to the girl I once was? Later in life, I was afraid of heights. I wonder now if the scolding’s and threats I received put a fear in me that I later associated with heights?

At any rate, as a teen I climbed to the top of a water tank and then was afraid to descend the ladder and come down. This was the first time in my life I’d been afraid of heights. Later, I cured my fears by rock climbing, repelling and experiencing a zip line. I discovered that as long as I focused on the cliff (or my goal), I was unafraid.

(The mountains where I grew up)
I continue to love nature in all of its splendor. There’s nothing like the freshness of pine mingled with the smells of frying bacon and potatoes or fresh caught fish on a crisp morning in the mountains. I celebrate still the wonder of God’s glory in every sunrise and sunset. I rejoice as an artist in the finite beauty and detail that I’m privileged to paint.