Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Tree of Life

I was working smaller to crank out ideas for large scale grid paintings.  As this study was nearly finished I noticed a shape lurking in the axes of all those squares:

An ideation sequence from 2012 ended in this shape (see “Finding the BrokenObelisk”) and I was excited to see it again.  To have it reappear naturally was surprising and a delight.

Suddenly I knew the direction.  It was as if the grid was the way to get to this hexagon shape.  Fine with me!  I dropped the grid and went full tilt, working the hexagon.

A hexagon is a six-sided figure with six angles and six vertices.  We all think of the honeycomb but a hexagon is not necessarily equilateral—the sides don’t all have to be the same length.  


I didn’t labor over this but it came to be more important as time went on.

I was rolling with this image, not worrying about anything except what the next idea was:  boom, boom, boom went the artwork!

The holidays were upon us and my wife and I went away for a week or so.  No art production, just vacation, visiting, watching football—a great break.  We come home and instead of jumping back into art production I took a day to organize my studio and clear out a storage area.

The next day I decided that I needed to do a little research about hexagons, look into their symbolism.  Without the Christmas break I would have forged on with my head down and furrowed brow, painting away. 

It was time to hit the search engine.  Things got interesting quickly.

First, some general connotations:  communication, interfacing, union (thinking about honeycombs and bee society), and balance.  I’m good with all of that, especially in light of The Stillness Project.

Then GOLD:  The elongated hexagon that I’ve been working with  is referred to as “The Tree of Life.”

As a Christian, this floored me!  I was steamrolling with this image; producing it over and over again in various forms, like the guy in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.  Then finding out its meaning…!  

This studio experience is good example of God’s “still small voice.”  (1st Kings 19:11-12)  You are motivated, you know it’s right, you aren’t struggling with it, you’re productive.  And you’re clueless!  That’s one of the best parts!  Then you find out what you’re doing, and THAT’S the best part!

Go boldly forward.  If the creative urge is that strong then do yourself the favor of following it.  In fact, push it!  Believe that it will become clear in due time, that what you are doing is meaningful; even if you don’t understand it now.

Greater forces are at work.


  1. James, Thank you for sharing your artistic process here. It is both inspiring and comforting to see how your vision unfolds. I love the idea that pushing our creativity serves to bring out what we innately believe in our hearts and minds. And the way your research confirmed it ... absolutely beautiful! I love those surprises!

    1. Thanks so much for your comments, Cheryl. We express ourselves out of the abundance of our's good to see what that abundance is! This has changed my outlook and caused me to be clearer about this portfolio's content. Hugs!