I’ve been working in my yard this weekend. Cleaning up, weeding out, cutting back, moving this from here to there. Once again, as it does every Spring, the garden emerges differently. I never know quite what to expect. The limbs of the oak tree have grown again, providing shade to what really wants the sun. Several plants didn’t survive the cold winter, despite my best efforts.
Every year I question why I make the effort. It’s a lot of work to clean up this yard. What if I just let it all go, let it grow and twist and tangle into itself. But, then that vine would take over and choke out those smaller plants, keeping them from the sun and the rain. And that plant over there would invasively spread and spread until that’s all you would see. With little diversity, the garden wouldn’t be nearly as interesting, or as healthy. As I pruned and weeded and raked, I saw things I hadn’t noticed before. I was beginning to see clarity, and because of it there was contrast from one plant to the next--different colors, textures, sizes and shapes. There was a sense of calm coming to light.
This is so similar to my painting process. I usually start with lots shapes and forms and colors and marks until it becomes chaos. It’s confusing and competing and I don’t know what to look at first. This is the time to start refining. What do I want to see. What needs to fade away. What needs to emerge. What do I love. Slowly, I begin to find clarity and balance, and I start to feel peaceful again.
Both in my garden, and in my painting, I’m reminded of change, of the cycle of life. Something goes away and something brand new appears. Something is coming into its own just as something else begins its decline. It’s the rhythm of life and I’m fascinated by it.
I’m anxious to get back into the studio this week, inspired by colors, new growth, new possibilities, new life. And, of course, change.