When the year begins to wind down and rest its bones, I contemplate aging and the fact that I too, like a wind up clock, am slowing down. I am no longer as flexible as I once was, have a memory that sometimes play tricks on me, and find I need to watch my diet a little more carefully. But it's not all gloom and doom. One thing has improved, my creativity. I find as I age, I let loose a little more, become more curious and take risks, not caring so much about pleasing an audience, finding it's more worthwhile to please myself. To my delight, I find aging to be a rather freeing adventure, and I like who I'm becoming.
Once again, nature has taught me a lesson, this time on aging. Young trees are flexible, still making decisions about which way to bend, who to be friendly with and who to push out of the way for their own well being. They are self-centered yet pretty to look at with their new bark and shiny leaves. But what makes me stop in my tracks are the older trees with arthritic joints, hunched over from the constant winds, wrinkles and lines scaling up and down their trunks, and dry, brittle limbs with thinning leaves. They have stories to tell, and I am eager to listen.
So when choosing a setting for my version of Little Red Riding Hood, I went to an old tree I've passed by many times at Aviation Park. I always stop to admire its self-confident stance and bold character, but have never done any sketches of it. Though I often take students to this location to sketch, this tree is a bit intimidating for a beginner, puffing its trunk up and foreshortening its limbs in a show-offy kind of way. It could slip into any fairy tale with ease, shielding villains, hosting a musical in its branches, or opening up a tangle of roots for an elf to slip inside. So with a bit of artistic license, I modeled my wolf's setting after this tree.
I've added a couple of pics of some of the other paintings that will be included in the show, just to show you what happens when the field sketching ends and the finished work begins.
Of course there are always exceptions to the rules, thank goodness. My sons, with their youth, are forging their way with so much to offer; one healing the body, the other healing the soul. And I "met" another exception recently. He'll know who he is if he reads this. This young man has it all, new bark, shiny leaves and stories of his own to tell. How lucky I am to be able to work with this multi-talented man and more importantly, to learn from him. So I guess the lesson is, age really doesn't matter, it's what we do with our time.
"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm." - Thoreau