Monday, April 11, 2011

Branching Out in a Book

I want to share a "branching out/out on a limb" story with you.

Yesterday I received my copy of a new book that has just been released.

Patti Digh has just written yet another awesome book that is just full of art from all over the world!
"What I Wish For You: Simple Wisdom For a Happy Life" is also a place that holds a piece of my artwork.

A very special piece of artwork.

I'll go out on a limb here and tell you the heartfelt sentiment of this piece.
For some reason, I've always been hesitant to talk about my inspiration for certain pieces of artwork.
I can talk freely in person and in my classes but tend to shy away from that on my blog or other places on the internet .

I have artwork in two other books that Patti wrote and received a special invitation to create for her latest book.
It had not been very long since my mother in law had passed away and my husband and I were beginning to become very concerned about my father in laws well being.

He was so sad, so lost...
He seemed so lonely.

We had been staying at his house some, helping with various things/just trying to be there for him, when I set up my easel in the sun room.
Behind their house is a large open pasture with a line of beautiful trees on the back property line.
I spent a couple of days there- drawing and painting, gathering inspiration and allowing art to begin heal my soul.

When I went home, I had several completed pieces of artwork. One piece really told the story of what had taken place.

A few weeks later, I received the invitation from Patti. I sent in this particular piece because I loved it - because it had an important message, told a story that was important to me but I never told Patti the story.
I had actually sent the piece in to illustrate an essay. Patti emailed me saying that they had picked a different piece of artwork to illustrate the story that I had  been sent but would I mind them using my artwork for a poem she had...?
I read the poem and I immediately had tears spring into my eyes.

I'll explain the piece of artwork and then you read the poem.

"The Sloan Tree"

The large tree is my father in law - bent in his grief, standing apart from his family. My husband and I are the two smaller trees, interlocked (and trying to figure out what to do while we're standing there). In the tall (father in law) tree, you may be able to see a little bird on the branches and a larger bird flying towards the tree. This represents my sister in law (who was at the house with us at the time) and brother in law (who was coming down to SC very soon). They had lived out of state for several years and were just moving back "home" to SC.
We were all gathered around the lonely figure of my father in law...not knowing quite what to do but standing there anyway...just being there, being close to him lest he needed us.
We cooked.
We walked.
We laughed.
We cried.
We listened.

I never told Patti or her editor this story (until after they choose the poem for my painting to illustrate)...
not a whisper of the story.

This is the poem that they choose to pair my artwork with -

"Stay Close"

When sorrow comes
to those you love
stay close.

When sadness is
more powerful than words
more powerful
than deeds
your warm hand
your quiet company
your self in a chair
saying nothing
will be a gift.

You may wonder
"What can I do?"
There may be
you can do.

You may wish
to run.
Do not run.

Hold hands.
Eat soup.
Trace a sunbeam
with your fingers
on the table.

Let yourself smile.
Let yourself cry.

When sorrow comes
to those you love
stay close.

When sorrow comes
to you
let others
stay close too.

 -contributed by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Isn't that just a powerful story?

So, today, I'm branching out- I'm being brave and sharing this story with you all.
Sharing the true inspiration behind a piece of my artwork...
and sharing what it touched in another.

And I want to give a very special shout out to Amy (waving!).
What a beautiful, heart-warming poem you wrote!
Your words gave me the courage to share my inspiration, they brought it to life on that very page.
Thank you!

So branch out, go out on a limb and share your art along with your stories.
You just never know when someone else will see what you were trying to say.


  1. A lot of feeling in your drawing... Simple and to the point... The words are very touching.. I so agree we should all try to show our emotion in what we draw/create in whatever way.

  2. Beautiful...all the way around!

  3. I really liked your picture before but after your explanation, I love it! Staying close to our "elders" is especially important to our family right now. Thanks for sharing!

  4. What a beautiful story and how amazing that the perfect poem was chosen for a drawing with so much meaning in it!

  5. thank you for opening yourself up to such tender things and sharing them with us.

  6. A fabulous example of synchronicity, Carol.
    Wonderful art, wonderful story, wonderful poem. A trio of wonderfuls is downright amazing.

  7. Wow! The poem/picture connection send shivers up and down my spine. Maybe this is a prime example of where the "artist statement" for a single piece isn't important...Maybe we should just sit back and let people hear what they want to hear from the piece because what we say we meant the piece may not be what they hear...and what they see it to be is more powerful for them.

  8. Beautiful and touching. Thanks so much for going out on a limb here and sharing!

  9. It sounds like you and Amy were connected out there somewhere, each going through your own thing. Thank you for sharing so that we could learn too.

  10. This is such a powerful message...from the start of your story about your Father-in-law to your Painting to the Poem...When something needs to be heard there will be a way made for who needs to hear it....and then to never forget it!!

    Thank you for sharing this with us all....It is a lesson to be learned and applied to so many situations in our lives.

    Hugs and Smiles,


  11. Carol, I'm so touched by your story. Thank you so much for sharing this piece of your heart with us. It is a beautiful piece on its own, but it is even more powerful knowing this back-story.

  12. Carol,

    When I saw your beautiful piece paired with my poem, I loved the quiet strength of those two smaller trees standing so protectively near the big tree. Now, reading your words, I do feel close to you. Especially tonight, as my own mother prepares to move to a new home in our cit tomorrow...from 4 hours away. I do think that you and I...and perhaps all of us...are connected.

    Thank you for sharing your art story. It is beautiful, and knowing this connection makes me want to hug the book right now!


  13. I so loved your story and the wonderful picture.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Billie in TX

  14. What an amazing story, the connections between the artwork and poetry are pretty amazing. The sensitivity to choose these two to go together is also amazing. I'm in awe of such wonderful synchronicity and serendipity. Thank you for going out on that limb and sharing. It's made my day!

  15. Thank you for sharing this story! I lost my mother 3 months ago, and both Amys's poem and your painting speak to me.

  16. How lovely, and what an evocative piece of work. My family have been supporting one another through a bereavement too. It was a piece of stitching that kept me going.

  17. What a story, what heart and compassion. Your painting speaks, shouts, whispers. And the poem. The poem. No words can be added in the reaction to reading. I will save it with your painting if I may. Yesterday my closest friend and I were talking about your painting and the poem, without realizing that our words had manifested some time before. So perfect. Thank you for being confident enough to share - so many of us need to know this.


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