Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Our Family Tree of Life
Kathryn decided that she wanted owls to be a decorative theme in Anna’s room and had seen a few owl paintings that she really liked. They were cute. They were not cheap. I stepped into the quandary and suggested that I would try my hand at an owl painting. Doubting whether I meant it, she gladly accepted. I’m not sure that I thought it through, but I’m glad that I offered because, though the painting took me a lot longer than anticipated, I really enjoyed the experience.
It was an experiment for me. I’d never painted an owl. I’d never painted with acrylics. I’d never painted on a canvas. I’ve always enjoyed painting and drawing, but only dabbled in pancakes, cakes, and watercolors. That said, I’d seen owls, could buy acrylics, and happened to have a blank canvas lying around. I was in.
Several weeks passed between agreeing to do the painting and actually beginning it. During that time I actually thought about the painting quite a bit. I came up with the idea of our family tree, a tree of life. I thought about having owls to represent each member of our family, and about how I would do that.
Here is some of what I was thinking and why I painted it the way that I did.
· Kathryn and I are snuggling on the bottom branch. She’s the pretty one.
· Caleb is reading on the lowest branch on the right side of the tree. He is our quiet, gentle, tender-hearted introvert. He loves to read a good book.
· Joel is bouncing on the middle branch on the left hand side, and that’s about right for him. Joel’s favorite color is orange. When he first saw his owl, he asked if it could have more orange… so I added orange toenails/talons.
· Samuel’s branch is the top one on the right hand side. His branch is empty, but his branch and leaf remain (there is a leaf for every life in our family). Though not with us, he is still part of our family his mark on us is unmistakable. You can see the silhouette of Samuel flying toward the sun. That felt about right.
· Anna is on the very top branch. As of the making of the painting she had not been born. We had not seen her and she had not seen us. Her eyes are closed.
· The words mercy, grace, and prayer are painted on the tops of several of the hills. This was just a fun tribute to Anna; her name means “full of mercy, grace, and prayer.” Kathryn and I knew that we would name our daughter Anna, but hadn’t told anyone. It was a fun way of acknowledging her name without revealing it.
One of the interesting and painful realizations that arrived with the blessing of Anna is the fact that we can’t have any family photographs with all 6 of us. We do have a treasured piece of paper with all of our kids’ handprints on it. Now we also have a family portrait with all of us. Of course, I hope that Anna treasures the painting for her whole life as a gift from her father. More than that though, I’m grateful to have done it. I’m grateful for the story that it tells of my family – the people that I love most in the world.