Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tree Bathing on Vancouver Island

This was the view, or part of it, as I sat in my camp chair next to my tent trailer at Little Qualicum Falls for the last three days. I've made it a goal to get out in the woods, to surround myself with the trees, that have been the subject matter of some of my recent work. There's something that happens when I'm in close contact with these trees that is missing when I'm working with photos alone. I need to get back out there and remember why they intrigue me so, and to listen to the stories they have to tell. It doesn't happen when working from images on the internet, or from my own images, or from my sketches. I have to soak in the essence of these trees, to feel them around me, and to be still enough to hear their whispers. I went on walks around the falls and through other forests, in particular visiting Cathedral Grove, but as I drove home, it was these three that I gazed on several times each day that seemed to reach me most deeply. And so tomorrow, when I go back down to my studio and begin to work again, it will be these trees that I'm thinking about.
Not too long ago I discovered that in Japan, going out into the woods is known as tree bathing. And the benefits of this are so widely recognized that tree bathing is often prescribed as an alternative treatment for things such as stress. This delights me. Of course, I thought to myself, of course. Even without this nomenclature, I know in my being that being out in the woods is good for me. And coupled with being in touch with my source material for my tree series, it is a marvellous way to spend a few summer days.
I hope you too are enjoying this summer, wherever you are.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Spring in the North Woods

I mentioned in my last post that I'm now involved in an online workshop for graduates of Lisa Call's Working in a Series workshop, and will be sharing my successes and failures with you on my blog. Affectionately known as "The Greenhouse", this group 14 participants, from places as diverse as Sweden, Thailand and the UK, has each of us working on our own series. Subject matter and the techniques used vary tremendously, as was evident when we had our first group critique session on Sunday. So exciting to see everyone else's work. I was not so happy with my own piece - something too regular about the spacing between the trees and the branch intervals - but am pleased to be back working with trees again. I achieved the depth I wanted, and the feeling of spring, but need to go back to the drawing board for the rest of it. And why I ended up fusing my trees when I had intended at the outset that I would be piecing my work, I do not know. What I do know, is that it's important to keep doing the work. To get up again after falling down (or maybe just bruising my knees), and make another piece. And another and another. As Maya Angelou so wisely said "They're not all going to be masterpieces, but the rest of the time you're just stretching your soul." Happy stretching everyone, and Happy Canada Day too!