Sunday, December 7, 2008

Photos by Erik van Hannen

Many people have asked me the inspiration for the painting of Tyler running into the woods. I found an incredible photographer looking through FlickR one night named Erik van Hannen. He has a great series of tree photographs and that is what inspired the trees for Tyler's painting.

Click Here to view his profile and see his photos.

Here is the one I used for inspiration from a photo set called "In The Woods" (have a look there are several breathtaking landscape shots)

Photo Copyright Erik van Hannen

I've placed Tyler's painting below for comparison.

What drew me in about the photograph was it felt as if you could step right inside of an enchanted forest. I could feel the cool fog and smell the mist. As I was playing around painting I found myself inhabiting the space of the forest and it was indeed very magic. I had almost finished the painting and decided to paint the dog in as it felt so good for me to be "there"- I wanted him to go "there" too. As I painted it our last night together, I wanted to have a visual memory of our time together. A reminder that he would always be there for me in the enchanted space whenever I needed him. I am beginning to believe more and more that the ones we love never really leave us, they are always there, it's just they are in a different space. They are just a bit beyond where we are now. Too far away to feel, touch, hear, but close enough that if we are quiet and still we can know.

Another one of van Hannen's photos I feel really moved by is one called "Revenge of the Trees"

When you close your eyes and blur them a little it almost looks like a snowflake pattern in the spaces between the branches.

I did a painting of birch trees looking up for a child's perspective a couple months ago. I had so much fun doing it and it brought me so many memories of growing up in Wisconsin I wanted to do another one. This is my favorite of the photos I've collected from the "looking up perspective" for inspiration. The colors in this photo- particularly the slight sepia tone helped me pick the background for the current piece I am working on.

Photo copyright Erik van Hannen

Seems that many of my friends and family are going through big life events right now. When I was waiting on my cancer diagnosis after they took the tumor out in October/November (it's benign- everything is okay!)I worked on painting the trees that became Tyler's painting. It was very meditative and healing. Whenever I got into fear- I worked on another tree. It helped me stay calm but more then that I used it to train my mind to only think about healing and growth. Using it as an excise to find the beauty in each branch, gnarled and twisted, it was perfect. I imagined my body, like the trees, healing, growing, stretching with each branch, neurons firing, growth regenerating. Each tree I painted became a prayer, a good thought, a deep breathe. So I started that again with this painting. I have friends who are trying to have a baby- so I sat in the studio one night and focused on them, prayed, meditated, thought about them while I painted their tree, the joy with a positive test, the pregnancy, first ultrasound, holding their baby, another family with a baby facing health concerns, I did the same, focusing on love, Light, health, feeling of relief when they are all back together, a lifetime of family memories, first steps, first words, first day of school, joy with each, another tree, branches stretching growing, reaching out. My mother in law in India traveling alone for 5 weeks, all the new experiences, lots of growth, and then the bombing that happened 3 days before she left out of Mumbai. I did one tree where a branch had fallen and smaller branches reached out holding it up. Each tree has a story. Some of my tree/stories connect in knowing each other and their branches touch, meet in the air, others do not. Interesting how they come together and pull apart. What I am learning is how interconnected we all are, how we all need each other. Some branches block out the Light, others let Light through. Beauty comes through in the patterns and spaces that are created in the process.
Enough writing... back to painting.
Love to you all.

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