Jacaranda Trees: Exploring the light!

I’ve abandoned the first rendition I painted for the Jacaranda painting commission I’m working on. It was too busy and too dark. Sometimes I have to get through a few attempts first in order to find my vision; the core experience that I want the artwork to invite the viewer into.

I’ve found it now!

My vision for this Jacaranda commission

I want the viewer to feel invited into rest and delight. A sense of sanctuary under a canopy of beauty.

And I want them to feel the warmth of a sunny November day, full of light and promises of the rest and joy of South African summer holidays just around the corner.

The challenge

I knew the first part of the vision but I guess I was stuck because I hadn’t yet heard / felt/ received the second part. Which I now realise is the most important part!

The first part of this vision is easier to achieve. The soft, calming, and cheerful colours of the blossoms, the shape of the branches that lean over to create a canopy, and the tree-lined pathway all speak to that experience of being invited into a sanctuary of rest and beauty.

The second part is much more challenging! How do you show that it’s a light and warm, brightly sunny day when so much of the composition is filled with that beautiful yet shady canopy of blossoms?!

The research

I’ve been researching and looking closely… how do you know there’s warmth and light when it’s not very visible? (Metaphor alert! I love when art has me asking great life questions!)

What I’m discovering is that the light is absolutely still visible when you’re in the shade. Sometimes you know it’s there because it’s implied or because you can see its impact. It’s the whole reason that shadows can happen!

But also, the light is always still sneaking through all the tiny open spaces, wherever it can. And while we can’t always see the source of the light, the effects of even the tiniest bit of light are visible. (Another metaphor alert!)

Collecting up the “signposts”

Like with so many things in life, I haven’t found all the answers and I still have lots of uncertainties, but I’m finding “signposts” to guide me forward. This visual map is a collection of some of the signposts I’ve found as I’ve explored these questions. I’ve also collected up my ideas and inspiration for mediums and methods I’ll employ in this mixed media artwork, including reminders of techniques and results from some of my previous artworks, and also inspiration from other artists’ work.

I have it posted up on my studio wall to guide me as I work. I’ve started a new canvas, and it’s feeling on track so far!

Is it art or is it life?

  • In what areas of your life are you finding it difficult to see the light in the darkness?
  • What are the sources of light in your life, however small they may be?
  • Where do you see evidence of light in your life, even if you don’t know the source of that light, where it comes from or how it came to be?
  • How can you do some research and observation, to hunt out and find more of the light? Are there contexts you need to place yourself in? Are there other people you know who are good at seeing the strengths/ hope/ positives/ resources/ possibilities you’re not seeing who can help you to search and notice more? Is it perhaps about needing to take the time out from the busyness of life to be able to look for and appreciate the light?
  • How can you collect up all this evidence of light?
  • In what ways might you be able to record and visualise the evidence of the light you find through words, photos, drawings, or other methods, so that it’s easy to remember all the light and your signposts for the ways forward?