Thursday, April 23, 2015

Preserving the Trees

When we scoped out our property up north, the biggest decision was where to place the cabin. Where would be the best view? Where would the least trees have to be sacrificed? I cared most about the view, and Brad cared most about the trees. He didn't want to lose any trees unnecessarily. The three-acre property is strangely shaped, sculpted by two rocky washes and divided by the main road. Add into the equation an underground septic system and drainage field, and the building envelope became relatively small.

Brad spent days with the plot survey, labeling each tree. He would walk the property and eyeball the space, trying to guess where the cabin would fit best. He reconfigured the driveway and turned the cabin on a slight angle to avoid a few more of the established Ponderosa pine.

This tree was the biggest, most interesting, and in my opinion, the best on the property.
And it was unavoidably centered where the cabin had to be.

While the tree couldn't be saved, I had a great idea for preserving its memory forever at the cabin. In September, I sent the picture to a friend of mine who is an artist and asked her if she could paint the tree--not an exact copy of the tree, but a symbolic representation of it. I wanted this painting to represent our family and all of the memories we have made together and will make in the future. And I wanted Brad to be surprised.

A few weeks later, she sent me this sketch.
I loved how easy it was to see the original tree in her rendering--the angles of the branches and the texture of the trunk. I also love her interpretation of the tree and the exposed roots she added at the base, symbolizing the roots of our family digging into the mountain soil.
Months passed, and she would occasionally email me with updates or questions. I was anxious to see the tree, but since the cabin was delayed so many times, I never thought about it for very long.

Brad's birthday was last week, and I contacted Alyson to see if the painting would be done in time for me to give it to him as his birthday gift. I realize that art can't be placed on a timetable, but I was hoping it could happen. She is ready to deliver a baby at any moment (in fact, she's due today!), but she said she would have it finished in time.

When I saw it, I was speechless. It was exactly what I had been hoping for. And Brad was surprised.
If you look closely, each of my children's names is hidden on the branches, and B+J is etched into the knot on the trunk.

I love it. I love the textures and the colors. I love the mix of realism and impressionism. I love the symbolism--the history of the land and our family merging together.

I've always wished I could create something like this. I can't, but I am so happy that I know people who can. It was so interesting to be part of the process--the birth of the concept, the sketching out of the idea, and the creation of the final product.

It's already hanging above the fireplace, where I hope it will stay forever.
Thank you, Alyson. I will treasure your work every time I gather up north with my family.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful idea, and it's hard to imagine it turning out any better than it did. The picture looks perfect above the fireplace, too.