Can't Stop Trees, ink and watercolor

Can't Stop the Seasons, ink and watercolor

On my walk to Peets Coffee and the bookstore today I saw so many things along the way that I would have liked to sketch. But I was feeling tired and under-caffeinated so I made a mental note to take the same route on the way back to sketch them.

It struck me as ironic to see a sign saying “STOP” beside a tree (above) with leaves that are changing colors and falling. We can’t stop the seasons, time keeps steadily moving on, the days get shorter, and I’m so aware of each passing day being one less to do all the things I want to do.

As I wrote that, I pictured myself with a quiver of arrows that represent my days, and each day I select an arrow and shoot it from my bow…and that gave me an idea for a sketch….

Arrows of Time, ink and gouache

Arrows of Time, ink and gouache

And that made me wonder which is better:

  1. To carefully select the daily arrow (of time) and aim to make sure the day is spent intentionally, doing the things that matter;
    or
  2. To be adventurous, pick an arrow at random and shoot without aiming and (as my old yoga teacher used to say when instructing us to take a seemingly impossible pose) “just see what happens” — let each day be its own adventure.

UPDATE: Diane Patmore just left this most wonderful comment:

“Perhaps that sign is telling us to stop and look at the tree?”

That snapped me right out of my melancholic meanderings. Indeed, the only way to slow time is to live in the moment, and enjoy it as it’s happening! Yes! Stop and look at the tree; appreciate its beauty and the color of changing leaves. Accept its reminder that change is inevitable and resisting change causes suffering.

Breathe in the wonderful October air and be grateful to be breathing at this very moment. Ahhh. I feel much better now!

P.S. The book I bought was Imaginative Realism by James Gurney that I read about this morning on Making a Mark. It’s an excellent guide to illustration and art in general.

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Category:
Gouache, Ink and watercolor wash, Life in general, Painting, People, Sketchbook Pages
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Join the conversation! 14 Comments

  1. Perhaps that sign is telling us to stop and look at the tree?

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    • Oh Diane, I just love you for saying that! I was getting into this really melancholy place tonight and you just snapped me right out of it and made me smile!

      Duh!!! The only way to slow time is to live in the moment, and enjoy it as it’s happening! Stop and look at the tree! Appreciate the beauty and color. Appreciate the wonderful October air. I’m going to to go back and edit the post to include your wonderful insight.

      THANK YOU!!! Jana

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  2. I loved this post, Jana (and Diane’s comment too) – it seems that our minds work along the same lines. And yes – what’s the point of wasting the time we have in lamenting that it goes by too quickly? A great reminder, this.

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  3. Yep, this combined post (Jana’s and Diane’s) was an arrow that hit the target for sure!!

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  4. Excellent analogy (with the arrows) Jana! I often think about the fast passage of time and that not only sooner or later will our existence on this earth be done, but we have no guarantee that we’ll have good quality of life to the end. This kind of thinking energizes me (as it seems it has you too), and gives ME a REAL appreciation for each day and the opportunities it presents–which is of course how we all ought to be thinking from the beginning, but which you take for granted when younger. Ready? Aim? SHOOT THOSE ARROWS!!!!!

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  5. What a great post! Life is an adventure and sometimes we need a reminder to slow down and enjoy the arrow’s journey.

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  6. I also read the stop sign as saying stop and just enjoy the beauty of the tree! But maybe it’s also a reminder to us that being in the autumn of our lives brings out the best in us? 😉

    I’ve been thinking a lot about direction versus happenstance a lot of late. It’s particularly relevant if you’re doing a lot of travelling and the temptation is to try and fit in as much as you can – which then leaves you with little time to enjoy what you’re looking at.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that there needs to be a balance. We need to know what are our top priorities in terms of getting things done/seen – but we also need to make time and space for what pops up and asks us to ‘take a look’ – and we didn’t know it was going to happen.

    Bottom line – the experience of the journey can be as worthwhile as the place we aim to be when we achieve our goal.

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    • That’s another really important point to remember, Katherine: Not only enjoy where we are and where we’re getting to, but the whole journey as well. I used to think that travel itineraries had to be all planned out until I traveled through Costa Rica with a boyfriend who had severe ADD. He was used to everything in life being chaotic and so he had learned to enjoy being in the moment, never knowing what would happen next.

      I had planned the trip down to the minute but one of the places I had reserved for us to stay 4 days turned out to be a horrible nightmare and so we left with nothing booked for those days. We just started traveling across country, with no plan or destination other than being at the next reserved spot in 4 days.

      We had the most amazing adventures, met incredible people, one of whom owned the villa where the movie Congo was filmed and gave us a private tour, Howler monkeys and all. He reserved a cabin for us at a new inn nearby that wasn’t yet open to the public. There we were treated like royalty and had some of the best days of the trip in that wonderful, steamy jungle paradise.

      I learned on that trip to be open to adventure and to “just see what happens” for at least part of my time, which is so important in making art, too! (Though not in relationships–despite our nice time in the jungle, the relationship didn’t survive. A little uncertainty make life interesting; too much is just plain chaos!)

      Jana

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  7. What wonderful sketches, post and comments–we all do seem to be on the same page about the importance of being in the moment and enjoying the journey on our way to wherever.
    annie

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  8. You are amazing. I actually spent 2 hours painting today thanks to you. Can’t say the result was anything great, but practice was good.

    I love the tree and stop sign. I, also, see that sign as saying “stop and look at this tree”.

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    • Today was a perfect day for painting, with all that rain pouring down! I’m so excited to hear you were painting today too. I was thinking about our class while I was painting today (posted just now) and discovered that I was wrong about a couple of things I said in class. Despite my saying I don’t do much glazing I realized that technically I actually did quite a bit today. I also realized that when I said I don’t tape the paper down, I was thinking about working small. When I work larger I do tape it down, though I don’t wet it or stretch it. I’ll have to remember to correct myself next class. Sometimes my speaking just gets ahead of my thinking!

      It was so great finally meeting you! I hope your drive wasn’t too tough. Jana

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  9. Love the Bow quote. as an archer it is my zen to draw the bow slowly feel the wind, feeling the ground beneath your feet, aligning your posture and your breath and the control of your muscles as you draw, and then the feeling of your arrow leaving your presence and the sound of it hitting its target before you relax a singe muscle. It is the most controlled thing in my life, as in life I tend to just pull back not paying attention to tension on string, the tightness in my muscles, where my feet are rooted… I just pull back and release without thinking, I just go through life without that control, I think finding the balance is the hardest thing to do….

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  10. Reblogged this on ginger in the sun and commented:
    Love the art, but the quote hits perfect bulls eye in my book. Just what I needed… How I go so long without shooting my bow I do not know, it is the only time I actually pay attention to the entire world around me including myself and nothing else matters….. I will have to spend more time with her when I get back home…

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