Bit o’ Honey ~ the little things that please

The little things that please . . .

Tree of Life ~ pt. 3

with one comment

I admit, my head was swimming when the art committee left.  My first design was raw, I knew, but given the chance to develop it and with the addition of glass I was certain it could stand on its own.  None of that mattered, however.  The chaplain wanted water, less yellow and no chalice; the project manager wanted sun through the leaves and a palpable sense of hope; both thought the symbolism needed to be strengthened. The art consultant, hired as a mediator between the hospital and the artists, only asked that I keep the process going, balancing my style with the others’ requests.

The biggest challenge for me as an artist working in stained glass is that of over-design, of the piece feeling contrived, or worse, kitchy.  Too often I encounter stained glass windows that have the subtlety of a brick to the head.   If my design lacked symbolic impact, it meant the viewer would be given the opportunity to fill in the blanks with color, line, and best, with imagination.  But to satisfy the committee, I had to give up at least a little of that.  The design couldn’t just suggest a botanical form; it had to represent a tree in all its glorious symbolism.  And more than that, the design had to accommodate the addition of water.  I had no choice but to take this as a new challenge: to blend my aesthetic with a more direct representation.  I tried not to fret over it.  I know how my state of mind can seep into the finished product.  While I may not always feel relaxed and balanced when I work, at the very least I want the work to reflect my desired state of mind.  

So, pencil in hand, I approached the blank paper for round two with a sense of curiosity and play. 

I’m most pleased with the canopy.  No chalice here! 

To create a sense of “verdant abundance” the builder spoke of, rather than complicate things by adding more leaves, I made them full and voluptuous, almost like fruit or buds.  I also varied their sizes, which I think inspires the eye to roam the flow of lines.  It’s that roaming along shapes and color I hope will serve as meditation, even more than the symbolism.

In most images depicting the Tree of Life the roots are a vital part of the overall design.  Not true in this draft.  With a more detailed root system the drawing became too busy.  After rubbing my eraser to a nub, I finally left three visible roots.  I’m not real happy about how it looks.  This area still needs some thought — or needs to be redrawn quickly, without too much thought.  I’ll experiment when I begin to cut the glass.  That should help determine what kind of shapes I want to use here.

I’m quite satisfied with how the bend in the stream works off the trunk’s curve to make a figure 8, the symbol of infinity.  I didn’t plan this, it just came about as I drew it.  Once I realized it, I worked the lines to enhance it.  The trunk could be bulked up.  You can just see a pencil line where I tried to do this. I’m a little concerned about the stream.  I think it looks too darn cliche.   But face it, it’s a tree by a stream in stained glass!  Cliches abound!  I remind myself that I’m helping create an important refuge in the hospital — no one will be as critical of the end results as I will.  I’m also working under some very specific parameters, including the unfortunate display in a light box.   But more on that later.  



One Response

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  1. That’s gorgeous. I love your lines. I like the water–it will be wonderful in multiple shades of blue. I’m excited to see this come to life.


    June 25, 2008 at 12:37 am

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