When I was younger, I could never figure out how my mom chose art. We’d spend an afternoon looking at prints or pottery or jewellery. I’d be pleased by many things and would appreciate their beauty or artistry, but I could walk away. Nothing arrested me. But my mom would frequently find something and it would be just right. She’d bring it home to join her other treasures, making a house into a home, her home. Somehow, she knew.
And then, last December, I saw a picture, and I knew. It was part of a rotating slideshow on a website that I found through serendipity. I saw a glimpse of it before it disappeared. I did a double take – did I really just see that picture? When I looked at the artist’s online studio, I couldn’t find it. As paged through the other images, I was bewitched by the dream-like reality of her landscapes. I was startled by an eerie mixture of recognition and unfamiliarity. But I didn’t see the picture. Had I imagined it? I went back and watched the slideshow. It was there – I drank it in for a few seconds, then it disappeared again. I kept watching the slideshow. Each time the picture came up, I tried to see as much as I could, I stared into the scene, and when I was almost ready to step into the picture, it dissolved again. ‘Wait!’ I cried, ‘Come back!’
I wrote the artist, Gywn Michael. She is lovely and funny and brave and wise. Have a look at her website and let her tell you her story herself. She assured me the picture was there and I could get a print. Luckily, I had received two scarves for Christmas (to replace one that had been lost). I returned one and bought a copy of the print instead.
Here’s the picture:
I think I have been searching for this picture for a long time. It was waiting around the corner of the seasons when I started this blog. It was the space I imagined when I returned to writing here with my post ‘Space Between the Branches.’ I had such a tree and such a sky in mind. I tried to draw it, I tried to cut it out of black paper; I knew what it looked like, I couldn’t make it. Creating a spectrum that changes from the golden horizon to the deepest night sky seemed a sorcery reserved for the edges of the day.
Here is what I love about this picture: I can’t tell if it is dusk or dawn. I don’t know if the tree has just dropped all its leaves or if it is about to burst into new buds. The moon is half full, but whether it waxes or wanes is uncertain. I see a wide horizon as I look forward, but I have no idea what is behind. There is so much silence. There is so much possibility.
And how often do we find ourselves in such a picture? When we can’t read the sequel and have forgotten the details of the prequel? We’d be hard pressed to name all the threads that brought us to a particular field, on a particular date, when the light wears its most regal robes, and we look up to find ourselves in the sudden presence of majesty. The world drops away in these moments, and a blackbird alighting on a branch is mysterious and significant, burning the image in our memory.
It will hang near my desk. I have found a doorway to one tree bohemia.