Friday, July 16, 2010


Taking a pastel workshop on Campobella Island, off the northern coast of Maine last week,
I hand the fun of painting water and trees, of how trees adapt to their environment,
and how trees in a limited space,
form their own families.

And so, I was entranced by
The Rock Mound Family,
Notice how the 7 trees
spindle and twist
and lean for their light.

This was a family of trees,
growing up on a little rock island,
off the coast of a little island,
(Campobella is pleasingly small)
in the Fundy Bay.
Notice the differences
as each has its place in the family
but grows in its own way.
And don't we too, growing up in large or small families, grow and adapt in our own individual ways?

The most unusual adaptation on this trip was
The Lollypop Tree.
What actually shaped
this very obvious tree?
Wind and winter ice,
other trees taking its sun space,
or a natural inclination
to grow higher
and get the sun?
Why did it's top blossom out?
What pruned its base?

Since this was a workshop week,
(although this wasn't
one of the paintings I did in class,)
I was thinking and composing the painting
in relation to the feelings I had
in that particular place
at that particular time.
I was alone, the tide
was creeping in around me,
practically at my feet,
and had appeared behind me,
leaving a path up rocks as my escape.
I decided to prune the lollipop tree, in keeping with the others on that island,
and focus on the tide and my own increasingly limited space.

Only later did I think, how much of ourselves do we "prune" or reshape, to "fit in"?
Or does our family somehow require the pruning?
Do we or can we create family communities that let our members develop individually, even when space is limited? But, the other side, it is our environments that shape us, and the shaping
can give us the particular beauty that sets us apart. As parents and grandparents in family groups, how can we encourage individuality, strength and beauty of character, and yet provide some of the "natural" pruning that is necessary to be part of the community we are in?