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44.000 x 29.000 inches
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The Tree Of Life
Painting - Watercolour
"I painted this when I lived in India in 2001. Originally, I was commissioned to do a piece for a restaurant, so I had to come up with something quite large. Watercolour doesn't really lend itself to big works in the way that oils do. So I decided to work on a triptych. Although I didn't know it then, this evolved into an interesting painting where each part could tell a different side of the story. My inspiration came from what always inspires me to paint, LOVE. Because I love nature, especially trees, I started there. I found the most interesting photo of two parts of the same tree, intertwined, making a chain-like form. It spoke to me and I was reminded about the yin and yang of relationships. The two halves come together to form a whole, and the being is complete. I feel that when we meet certain people we can identify with them so completely, that we feel part of the same tree. This idea roamed around in my head until I came up with the idea of using imagery of the first man and first woman in the bible. Hence the image of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Using only a photo of the amazing intertwined tree, and some references to flowers from my other paintings, this work emerged mainly from my imagination. I can say that this truly was the turning point for my art when I could break free from the confines of working from photos and let loose all of my creativity.
The central image is the main focal point of the Lovers becoming One. The tree is obviously the symbolic Tree of Knowledge. I made it into an apple tree as this is what I thought The Tree of Knowledge was when I was a child and was just learning about stories from the bible. It fitted nicely with making the apples into hearts which promotes the idea of romantic love. The lovers' bodies are intertwined in the tree denoting sensual love. I linked the Euphoric feeling of falling in love with a spiritual 'high' where we feel we are God-like. In the ancient days, mere humans had to enlist the service of a Priest in order to talk to God. By feeling this high, were Adam and Eve blasphemers? Surely what they had was too good to be real. In this painting the two are creating their own Heaven on Earth and are by-passing all rules of culture, religious beliefs and constraints. Maybe by partaking of this this 'forbidden fruit' it lead them to destroy themselves and loose their security of the Garden. This was the ultimate fall from the Garden of Eden. (I saw a beautiful film called 'Stealing Heaven' where it tell the story of Eloise and Abalade's strong love for each other but theirs was a forbidden alliance.)
The painting on the Right of the piece shows the white lilies which I used as a symbol for peace, innocence, and beauty before the fall. In this part of the garden all is well.
On the Left side, shows the aftermath. When the Lovers have 'stolen heaven' they have to deal with the consequences. Here the apple splits open to show the beginning of decay in one of the hearts. The inside flesh of the apple represents intimacy. The Dove of Peace has become entangled in the clutches of the tree, while the serpent, representing desire, slithers through, consuming all in its path. At the top, in the left side of the painting, we also see a heart that has become constrained by barbed wire.
Although the painting can follow the biblical story of the fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, it can also be a reflection of the anatomy of a relationship, where we need to keep a balance in all things to avoid the strangulation of an over passionate partnership.
The Circle in the Background is the Moon which represents our inner, reflective nature - our imaginations. The Moon in the Tarot is also a card of great mystery where it can promote our creativity. But, when we see things by moonlight, we can sometimes become confused as to what is actually there. So, in this painting, the love affair stays in the realm of the imagination."
November 8th, 2009
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